Archive for June, 2012
Here’s a new picture story thingy called The horse tests.
The idea of using a horse and a hyena in a story first came about in 2003 when I was asked to make a promotional video for Giardini di Mirò’s song “Given Ground.” Silke Krieg’s beautiful artwork for the group’s Revolution On Your Pins! and Punk … not Diet! releases featured both of these animals. In the end, the horse and hyena idea was ditched, and I made another video instead, but I always wanted to go back and do something with the horse and hyena idea. I’ve finally done it. Hope you enjoy.
Drawn using the Brushes app for iPad, and then fiddled with in Photoshop.
I have quite a nice view from my apartment. It’s fortunate that there area few areas of the view with good kinda passages of low-ish buildings. Looking straight ahead from the apartment affords me a view of the Torre Mayor, Mexico City’s tallest building, and standing to its left, the Estela de Luz.
More finger painting here.
A simple three-panel comic strip. See it here.
This drawing is called Pepinster. You can see a bigger version here. It has a fairly long history. I drew the first elements in March 2003. Actually, I should explain the name first. In 2002, when I was living in Berlin, I went to visit friends in Belgium. The train went through a town called Pepinster, not far from Liege. It struck me as a fairly British-sounding town name. And an anagram of “pert penis.” I’d be lying if it wasn’t the latter of those two things that helped keep the name in my mind.
I did a sketch of a town with flat two-dimensional houses in a notebook, and then decided to do a pixelly drawing of what a town called Pepinster would look like. I started with the pub. And a bunch of other buildings, all of which have been discarded. The only elements from the 2003 version of this drawing that still exist are the pub, the train station, the river, and the bowling green. Over the years, I’ve opened the Photoshop document intending to finish it many times. I did a little more work on it in 2008. Last weekend, though, I opened the document and added a row of terraced houses. And kept on going.
It’s difficult to remember what I was thinking nine years ago. I vaguely remember some grandiose plan to animate it (cars moving, people walking) and having a narration that, in my head, would be kind of along the lines of – but obviously not as good as – Under Milk Wood. I also find it difficult to pick up old things later; it’s hard to get the feelings in my head back, and re-start with the same enthusiasm and goal. But that was kind of what allowed me to finish it. Working on it in June 2012, I viewed it as simply a drawing of a made-up British town drawn by a British person who has not lived in Britain for twelve years.
Whilst it’s mostly a made-up town, there are references to various things from my own history in there. The pub is based on the Harrows Inn in North Hykeham, not from from where I lived as a teenager (Google Street View). The parade of shops either side of the pub and next to the river are influenced by similar parades in Crystal Palace (where I lived in the late Nineties), and Barnet (where my friends John and Sarah live, and where I usually stay whenever I visit London). As anyone who has tried will know, drawing “random” is tough. The brain doesn’t work like that. (If you’ve never tried, and feel like giving it a go, try drawing a skyscraper at night, and choosing which lights in the building should be on or off; it’s really difficult to get it looking randomly realistic.) So when it came to deciding on what the terraced houses would look like, I used Google Street View to find colours and styles of windows and doors. Mostly I looked at houses I walked by on the journey from my house to the university in Derby. The church is All Saints Church on Brant Road, Lincoln, near my Mum’s house (Google Street View). The bus is a Lincolnshire Road Car bus. My grandfather drove one of those buses. And the swans and boat on the river are yet again influenced by Lincoln. The overall layout of this section of the town is kind of based on Brighton, if you imagine the river is where the sea would be.
It’s not really meant to be some horrible Little England, idealised version of a British town, even though it might look like that. When I’m drawing something like this, with lots of elements, my mind drifts and I tend to get into the details and back stories. There are Polish immigrants here in Pepinster. There’s a Chinese take-away, an Italian barber, and no St. George’s Cross flags. Fuck that shit. I guess there are things that would set this drawing in a time that isn’t the present (the British Rail train, the old design of the Road Car bus, the lack of billboards everywhere, no graffiti), but that’s mainly because I feel more comfortable drawing things I have personal experience of seeing. Because I’ve been away for such a large chunk of my life, whenever I go back, seeing the different designs of buses and trains these days feels a little disorienting. One of the fun things about getting really into the details of things is how I’ll take half an hour or more to draw a shop front. I’m entirely aware that nobody else will ever look at this drawing as closely as I have, just because nobody else has spend such a long time drawing it. I’d guess there’s over 50 hours worth of work in this drawing. Anyway, that’s enough explaining. Hope you like it.
When I was back in Lincoln at Christmas, I had a look at some of the stuff from my childhood that my mother had kept. Here’s some photographs of what my work was like at the age of seven.
Here’s a Malaysian man getting rubber out of a tree:
I like the juxtaposition of forest and plank:
A fairly accurate drawing of my mother and I:
Here’s the whole family.
We had a black cat called Sambi when I was little. This is something I’m not overly proud of. It was the Seventies. (My sister reminded me that the cat wasn’t black, but tortoise shell, so I guess it was just a name. Hurrah!):
“Father hen is called a cock.” And so began a life of sniggering:
I think it’s safe to assume that this must’ve been my first ever infographic:
And here’s a series of pages from a stapled-together book I made called Flight:
And here’s a poem:
I really like this drawing, love how big the clouds are:
Five Things I Could Do with a Certain Degree of Confidence Were I to Be Named in Tonight’s Yankees Line-up
Five Things I Could Do with a Certain Degree of Confidence Were I to Be Named in Tonight’s Yankees Line-up
Swing my bat standing in the on-deck circle
Tap the catcher’s shin guards with my bat
Have my ass patted by the first base coach
Chat with the first baseman
Argue with the umpire
Five Things I Absolutely Could Not Do with a Certain Degree of Confidence Were I to Be Named in Tonight’s Yankees Line-up
Hit the ball
Field the ball
Steal a base
Not have a beard
Spit sunflower seed shells without them dribbling down my chin
I know what I’m like, no matter how many books I’d like to read, have vague intentions of reading, “should” read, there’ll always be a baseball biography or something that will come along and delay me getting around to reading books considered to be great. I have only read nine of The Guardian’s 100 greatest novels of all time, and four of the World Library 100 Best Books of All Time. That’s a lot of pages of great stuff I’ve not read. So I’ve decided to write my own short stories based on the titles of books I’ve not read. No idea how many I will do, but here’s the first, The Old Man and the Sea.
Albert stood on the promenade, eyes watering from the wind. He stared out at the dark, grey, sea. Waves broke silently in the distance, loudly on the beach. Albert stared, his hands deep in the pockets of his overcoat. He stared at the horizon. He was building in his mind. Building structures, pillars in the sea, solid as oil rigs. The pillars should be arranged in a zig-zag pattern. On top of each structure would be a mirror. He made a mental note to research the geometry. And Albert would build these structures at precise intervals across the ocean. Then he would put 50p in the coin-operated promenade binoculars, focus on the first mirror, and he would see all the way to New York.
For a while now I’ve been keeping a note of the misheard and/or misspelled names I’ve had in Starbucks and other places since living in Mexico. I’ve also been taking photos of a bunch of them too. It’s time to put them online all in one place. So should you give a monkeys about such things, you can see them here: http://flipflopflyin.com/wreck/
My local supermarket is about as local as one could wish for. It’s directly across the street. I can leave the house to get milk in the morning in flip flops, shorts, and without having washed or brushed my teeth should I so desire. (I so desire.) It’s kind of a shitty supermarket. I think you can tell a lot about a supermarket by walking straight to the refrigerated deli section. Do they have hummus? No? Shitty supermarket. Shitty supermarkets also tend to sell those DVDs with three movies packaged together that feature the same C-list actor for just 50 pesos. Anyway, the Sumesa supermarket across the street is shitty, but it’s across the street.
This evening, around 8pm, I went over there. I wanted bread and a six pack of cervezas. It was relatively busy, they had three cashiers working, which is pretty much the maximum I’ve ever seen working at the same time, even though there are six checkout things. (An aside: you never ever see all cash register aisle thingies working these days. I remember when I was a kid, we’d go do the big weekly shop at Asda, and it seemed like every one else was doing it to, so they’d have like 20 or 30 cashiers working, typing in the price of each thing by hand, not just scanning the barcodes.)
I picked the checkout row nearest to me. The other two seemed to have lots of people with a few things, but my row just had a few people with lots of things. Whatever, I’ll take the nearest one, I’m not really in any rush. This is what happened.
The lady in front of me was around 50 and had copper-coloured hair and copper-coloured skin. She was holding one brown bag from the bakery part of the store. The lady in front of her had orange-hair and a trolley full of stuff . She was a pensioner. The lady in front of her, who was about to be served, was the orange-haired lady’s daughter. The copper-haired lady asked the orange-haired lady if she could sneak in front of her, because she only had one thing. She said yes. She saw me there with just two things and turned away. (It’s a tough one, that, though; if she let one person through, she’s not really obliged to let everyone through not matter how much I was eye-guilting her.) Copper-haired woman, though, was a minor Trojan horse. The moment she got in front of the two trolley-ed mother and daughter double act, her husband appeared from nowhere cradling a bunch of stuff in his arms. Five or six items. Well, that’s just taking the piss. Not the amount as such, just that the missus had specifically used the “I have one thing” gambit to get in front.
Anyway. The daughter started unloading her trolley. Another older lady behind me, in her 60s, skin like raw chicken, hair like a flourish of golden sunlight (not really, it was like straw), had some chops wrapped in cellophane on a polystyrene tray. She thought the second trolley was mine because orange-haired lady was in front of it helping her daughter empty the first trolley. She asked if she could go in front of me because she had one thing. I said that I only have these two things myself, so, no you can’t you cheeky fucking cunt. Words to that effect, anyway.
The daughter, had emptied the first trolley. The mother was removing items from the second trolley. And they started having the cliché old lady discussion, “No, I’m paying for that,” “No! I’m paying for it.” Eventually they got that sorted out. The daughter would pay for virtually everything apart from some cakes and a plastic dog bowl. The chicken-faced lady behind was chuntering away impatiently the whole time. At one point, she jinked past me, to help the orange-haired lady get yoghurts outs of the trolley. The orange-haired lady looked a little surprised at that. I reached for a Kit Kat from the temptation racks next to the conveyor belt. Not because I wanted a Kit Kat particularly, just that one more item would probably annoy Chicken Face a little bit.
The first-trolley lady had paid and was stood watching the packing person pack her stuff, like the Queen of fucking Sheba. Orange-haired lady checked the price of everything as it was scanned. The plastic dog bowl was 29 pesos. No, she said, it should be 22 pesos. Chicken Face was into a pissed-off monologue by now, like a crazy person. She kept trying to engage the bored-looking and overly-gelled teenage cashier boy. He smiled weakly as he called for a price check. Another bored-looking teenager came along to look at the item. Cashier boy showed him. Orange-haired lady pointed to it, too. And told him where it was in the store. She kept on telling the cashier exactly where he should be going. No, right. A bit further. The other chap came back walking slower than a slow thing. He had a different dog bowl. The cashier scanned it. This different, smaller one was 22 pesos. Orange-haired lady consulted with the daughter. Yes, they should buy the cheaper, smaller dog bowl. Good. Her points card was in her purse. She needed to find it. Which one is it? Her daughter told her that it’s the orange one.
Beep, beep, beep. Bread. Beer. Kit Kat. One hundred-odd pesos. I had the approximate amount of change in my hand. A few seconds going through it; passed it to the cashier, told the packing person that I didn’t need a bag, got my receipt, and I was done.
I walked out of the supermarket, screwing up the receipt as I left and Blake Griffin-ed it into the bin next to the entrance. I walked across the street, walked up the stairs, unlocked the door, put the bread on the side, five of the six beers in the fridge, opened the sixth beer, and sat down and watched the Cardinals and Mets play baseball on my computer screen. Not, y’know, players all stood on top of my computer; I watched a live broadcast of the game. And my life went on, as it rightly should.
Some hills about an hour north of Oaxaca. Used a photo as reference. There’s a lot of trees on the hills. Couldn’t be arsed to draw them.
More finger painting here.