I did this in 1990, shortly before I left home and moved south for the first time. I was just messing around, but the final result ended up like an art foundation course compressed into a single piece of work. The playing card came from a set my dad gave me in my early teens. The photograph was of the fields behind our house, now buried under a housing estate.
I recently re-read Let The Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 novel that has inspired not one but two film adaptations. Fans of the first film, a Swedish production, largely despised the idea of an American remake, but I like both versions. Each has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and both prefer to exclude much of the novel’s content in favour of a much more streamlined narrative thread, which is appropriate to a cinematic application but means that one of the underlying themes of the book – that the place where the horrors unfold is the real monster – is lost. Lindqvist is a talented writer (hailed at one time as “the new Stephen King”) but he’s consistently failed to match the quality of his first effort, which is clearly drawn from a certain amount of personal experience.
Anyway, above is a mock-up book cover/film poster, using my original drawing of Chloe Moretz below:
My daughter has recently got into Manga and wants to be an artist when she grows up. I was her age when that ambition first struck me, and I’m going to give her all the encouragement my parents gave me. Her drawings – like the one above – are getting better with each passing day, and her unbridled enthusiasm has re-ignited my own interest in the kind of work I used to do when I was younger.
Twenty years ago, I was a comics artist, drawing the biggest project of my “career”. Streetmeat was an 80-page strip that was published over two issues. Written by Noel K. Hannan, with whom I’d collaborated on several prior projects, the series was a futuristic noir thriller which owed a major debt to the ‘cyberpunk’ literary movement of the late 80’s, and incpoporated a broad range of influences, including everything from John Woo’s HK action films to The Church of the Sub-Genius. Set in 2020 Seattle, the series introduced street-kid-turned-cop Melanoma ‘Mel’ Solo and her paraplegic army veteran hacker partner Jimi Neuron, hurling them into an ultra-violent tale of political scandal, Japanese street gangs, ninjas and giant robots. Daft as all that sounds, we took it very seriously, and somewhere along the way I fell in love with the characters and started writing some stories of my own set in that world, some of which ended up in the collection Solo that we published after Streetmeat. Last year Noel & I met for the first time in a while and agreed to put out a 20th anniversary edition of the books, incorporating all the comic strips, short fiction, covers, posters and supplementary artwork in a single book that will have all the modern production values we never had access to. I’ve even written a new story especially for the book, and will be drawing some new illustrations and producing a couple of paintings, but first I have to get all the original artworks scanned. I recently dug out the originals, which I’ve not seen in almost twenty years, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it still looked good, and that it deserved to be published in a format that the project always warranted. I also found some drawings I’d completely forgotten about. Below is the front and back cover for a proposed second book of short stories set in ‘Mel’s world':
I do remember doing the graphics, which involved using a Dymo gun and the blowing up and stretching of the text and a ropey old office photocopier. The results were then glued onto the finished artwork and touched up with ink. It took hours. Nowadays I can do it in minutes with Photoshop (like the graphic below ), and I don’t mind admitting that I preferred it the old way, with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or Nine Inch Nails cranked up to full volume and my fingers covered in Pritt Stick.
After several years of doing nothing but realistic painting, this return to ‘genre’ and the realms of the imagination now seems long overdue. I thought I was finished with this kind of work, but it really feels like unfinished business and I’m glad to be back into it. All being well, the finished book should be ready for late summer. In the meantime, there’ll be more updates to follow as we approach publication date.
When did I paint this? Four years ago? I can’t remember. I’ve no recollection of painting it, nor what happened to it. When you’ve done the same job for decades all the years start to blur into one another, and what art gets done along the way has much less to do with the fire of inspiration than the fading hope that you’ll have something to show for your time on earth.
Nothing I am
Nothing I dream
Nothing is new
Nothing I think or believe in or say
Nothing is true
It used to be so easy
I never even tried
Yeah it used to be so easy…
My latest completed painting. See it’s various stages of progress here.
The Cure – The Last Day Of Summer
He had been bored, that’s all, bored like most people. Hence he had made himself out of whole cloth a life full of complications and drama. Something must happen – and that explains most human commitments. Something must happen, even loveless slavery, even war or death. Hurray then for funerals!
Albert Camus, The Fall