Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Annual Chores #1...

Cleaning my tea cup at work - 5 minutes of scrubbing, scraping and general mayhem, and my Muppets mug is ready for the new year...!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Xmas Card 2010

Merry Christmas everyone!

CCGB #73

This scored 10 points! Thanks all. Interesting bit of disection from Noel Ford...

"Believe it or not, yours was the first idea that came to me but I rejected it on these grounds: (...) I realised that, for the gag to work properly, there would have to be come logical reason for the inappropriate logo to have been used in the first place. Bren's cheese wedges making up the radiation symbol and my use of the initials, CC, for instance. The idea of the Nazis having a Mickey Mouse logo is funny but illogical since there is no obvious reason why that symbol relates to the Nazis."

Something to remember methinks...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

CCGB #72

Friday, December 03, 2010

CCGB #71

A good cartoon, but not good enough to score any points this week! Actually, the competition was so fierce this week, not one bad gag in the lot. It was an honor to lose to Rich Skipworth's suprememe effort "Snowman". If you want to find out more, pop over to the CCGB competition #71 and take a look...

Friday, November 26, 2010


Would you believe it - this cartoon managed a massive 25 points in the CCGB Caption competition #70 "Now THAT's just showing off", and a 3rd place spot on the podium! It's my highest scoring cartoon to date, and just goes to show that all my hard work has payed off. My thanks to all those who voted - now it's on to the next one!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Please place your husband in the Nagging Area!

Interesting story behind this one. Every week, the winner of the CCGB Competition gives a new caption for the next competition, and on week 67, the veritable Dave C (dc1) won. After talking to him afterwards, he said that one of the captions he had thought of and dismissed was "please remove the item from the bagging area", a phrase which, if you use the UKs favourite supermarket's self service checkout, you'll know all too well. Dave dismissed the caption, as he thought it was too difficult - I agreed, but in the back of my mind, I wondered if you could do something similar - thsi is the result. Cheers Dave!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

CCGB #69

Here is my entry for CCGB #69

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quick cartoon, drawn using a Kuretake Twin Graphic, and coloured in OpenCanvas.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CCGB #68

Latest entry for CCGB Compo #68 - "That's not mine." Drawn with the failthful Flair before being GIMPed and ArtRaged.
This scored 3 points - on to the next one!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Guy Fawkes - Mission Impossible...

I just love this one. Coloured version will come later on - oh yeeaahhh...

CCGB #67 - Dalek

My latest entry for CCGB Compo #67 - (Un)intelligent Design. This was done using my new favourite pen, the Papermate Flair. I don't care that it's not waterproof, I don't care that the ink is non-archival and will fade - I just love drawing with it. It's such an instinctive pen, and if Randy Glasbergen can use one, then so can I...

This received 6 points - my highest score yet!

Guess who's running the CCGB competitions?

Yup, it's me. After a wonderful run by Steve Bright (Brighty) and Helen King (Scotty), yours truly will be taking over the running of the Cartoonists Club Of Great Britain weekly/monthly competitions. I've mentioned these competitions before in these hallowed pages, but just as a reminder, the CCGB runs two competitions where cartoonists and caricaturists compete to be the best - the prize is... the adoration of your fellow artists - nothing more, and nothing less. It's all just a bit of harmless fun, that frequently produces some great gags, brilliant artwork, and some very heated debates! If you're interested pop over to the CCGB and have a look...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Come get some... Klingon!

Just a quickie today...

Monday, October 18, 2010

CCGB #64

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sorry about the lack of posts...

Sorry everyone - been dealing with a family berievement, so not many posts this week. Hopefully some more updates will come later, thanks for your patience..l

Friday, October 01, 2010

Hey, I made it!

Yup - my cartoon made the xaraxone cartoon gallery! Please take the time to look at the fab cartoons posted by some very talented cartoonists at the XaraXone Cartoon Show 2010!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Interesting fact - Star Wars

Number of times I have seen the movies...

Star Wars - too many to count!
Empire Strikes Back - Oodles
Return of the Jedi - Oodles

Phantom Menace - 1
Attack of the Clones - 1
Revenge of the Sith - 1

Draw your own conclusions... :)

Xara Xone submission

Just submitted "Keys to my heart" to the Xara Xone Cartoon Show - I wonder if they'll take it?

Friday, September 10, 2010

How times change...

Something that troubles me, is how times have changed computing-wise. The computer and I first met at school, when I tried to master that wonderful little beast, the BBC Micro. Oh, how I struggled with it, loading programs via tape, playing games that cost a small fortune, and realising that I'd never be able to afford one (£400 back in the early eighties...)

Fast forward 3 years to my first job... as a Computer Operator. I used to work on an ICL Mainframe called an ME29, the first machine I used that had 256k of memory (2 years later, my Amstrad PCW 256 surpased that). That wonderful mainframe started by turning a key...

Fast forward to 1986 - my first exposure to PCs - the Amstrad PC 8086 - I remember thinking that these were out of my price range, but loved the idea of a hard disk. In 1989, portable computing arrived with my Cambridge zx81, a lovely little laptop word processor with a rubber keyboard (Amstrad eventually took them over and released the machine under another name), but the real highlight was seeing IBM PS/2 PCs - I drooled over their lovely looks, and fantastic power (at the time) - it wasn't going to be long before PCs would rule my life.

Not soon after, I was introduced to the Atari ST520FM - and my love of computers for home use was secure. I played hundreds of hours of games, produced fanzines, programmed, trawled BBSs - in fact, I did everything I do today, on a machine that had 1MB of memory, and a floppy drive - I loved it! I upgraded it, cherished it, bought it presents - my wife said I spent more time with the Atari than I did with her (she was jealous I tell you)!

In 1994, I was given the chance to move to IT/PC Support, and I jumped at the chance. From that point on, I was a PC man. I always built my own to my own spec (a trend I only recently distanced myself from), and I learned the very deepest darkest secrets of their psyche. Not only DOS, but Windows fell before me, in all it's worst incarnations.

Today, I use a 3GHz PC PC at work, a Samsung net book for general surfing at home, and a HP TC1100 Tablet PC for my artwork, and I recently contemplated purchasing a one terabyte hard drive because they were so cheap - things have certainly changed in the last 30 years!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Music...

I'll admit it - I'm stuck in the Seventies & Eighties. My main musical influences all stem from around that era, and I've found little since then, to contradict my opinion that modern music is awful. I hold the opinion that music has stagnated since the end of the Eighties, and is now a homoginized product of the music companies who are looking at the "next big thing" to replace "the last big thing" - a never ending stream of the same old acts, that look alike, and sound alike - and that "alike" has not changed for the last decade. Look at any music channel - it's not about new music any more, it's about money and fleeting fame. Just look at X-Factor or the Disney Channel... (shudder)

I was having a conversation with my sons about this on Sunday. My youngest son is a fabulous rock guitarist, and he was trying to find something to listen to on the sky music channels.

"This is ridiculous!" he cried. I asked him what the problem was.

"The channels - they're all the same! The music is all the same!"

My oldest son (a bassist) agreed, which lead a long discussion, and some amazing revelations. Apart from one or two modern groups, they've started listening to, and appreciating, music from the Seventies and Eighties. I was gobsmacked!

"Why?" I said.

"Because none of the bands sound the same - it's all new and fresh!" So saying, they sat and watched a Thin Lizzy concert, and whilst they laughed at the clothes and poor video quality, one thing was agreed on.

Thin Lizzy rocked,

I kid you not. This actually happened. Now to get them hooked on Ultravox.. :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Unoffical Guide To Enjoying Your Works Bar-B-Que

For those who know me, you'll know that all this actually happens! It's worse than blood sports at times... however, we wouldn't swap them for anything. Colour version coming later on tonight.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


I make no bones about it - I hate spiders, always have, always will. But lately, my spider-phobia has been getting better, even to the point where when I pick my wife up from work, I talk to them (there are some really big ones where she works...)

Anyhow, Sunday night, we were having a family discussion. We often have these, where we all sit down (if somewhat forced) and talk about what's bothering us. They usually start out a bit heated, and then die down into a useful, and sometimes funny conversation. Sunday night was really hot (as a family, we don't deal well with heat, and one of the points made was that the heat had made us all extra argumentative), so my youngest son when to make a cuppa.


We rushed into the kitchen, thinking he'd burned himself.

"There's a spider in the kettle!"

Sure enough, inside the kettle, lay one of the biggest domestic spiders I had ever seen - legs and all. It took several attempts to remove it, after flushing didn't work (it was stuck to the side), extraction with a knife (still stuck) and shaking, it was removed with a wooden spoon.

"That was really stuck in there, wasn't it?" said my lovely wife.

That's when it hit us. We'd been drinking tea/coffee all day - how long had that spider been in there? How long had we'd been drinking boiled spider?


Needless to say, we check every time we boil the kettle now... :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tablet PC - first impressions...

Well, I've finally managed to get around to using the tablet pc (sorry for the poor quality, had to use my phone's camera)...

It's a HP TC1100 tablet pc (with the keyboard removed) running XP Tablet Edition, and ArtRage Studio...

I'm surprised by how quickly I managed to get something reasonable out of it. The pressure sensitivity is fine for me (although OpenCanvas doesn't detect it - boohoo), and there is still a very slight feeling of disconnection, caused by the thickness of the glass screen (the pen appears to be gliding above the paper by 2mm), but apart from that, it's great!

Anyhow, I'll be using the tablet on the strip soon (see if you can tell when). That reminds me, time to put the kettle on...

Friday, June 18, 2010


The tablet has arrived, and I'm currently playing with it - expect to see some work completed with it after the weekend!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Today, excitement was at fever pitch. At 7:15 this morning, my door bell rang...

"Parcel for you - sign 'ere!"

With trembling hands, I placed my mark on the postman's electronic tablet (me soon, I thought). Muttering my thank-yous, I closed the door. In my hands I now held a box, about the size of 3 reams of paper, but very light. Brown parcel tape enclosed what was obviously a shoe box - the sender had wanted the contents to remain safe. I whispered a "thank you" to the postal gods, for the safe arrival of the item. Carefully, I placed the box on the dining table, and proceeded to cut the tape separating the two halves of the box. My hands shook with excitement - not long, not long - as I removed the lid of the box. The contents were obscured, safely enclosed in thick bubble wrap, which I carefully removed, to reveal the wonderment inside...

... an Epilator.

Oh Globbitts!

Yep - wrong parcel - now I've got to go through all this again ... :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Technology Update

As mentioned on my web comic, my lovely wife has decreed that I can have a bit of a splurge, and a lovely tablet pc should be (hopefully) winging it's way to me with utmost speed.
Why a tablet pc? Simply put, although I use a graphics tablet, I just can't get the hand/eye co-ordination right. I need to draw on a computer, the way I can on a piece of paper, and with that in mind, I had three options:

1. A Cintiq (too bloody expensive - unless your name is noel ford :)
2. A iPad (too expensive again)
2. A tablet pc (just about in my price range)

I can't wait... :)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Request Work

A very good friend of mine, Chris, recently contacted me, asking if I could come up with a cartoon for his blog. In short, the company he was working for was being screwed by a certain ISP, to the point where my friend, a very competent network admin, could not administer his own network, whilst having to pay the ISP a substantial amount of money for the privilege. He wanted a cartoon that showed the rip-off value of what he was experiencing. He also wanted a cartoon for the banner of the blog, showing the sheer futility of his job...

I sympathize entirely of course, having been in similar situations myself. Hopefully mate, I've done you proud, and I promise, I'll get round to colouring them as soon as poss. Chris's blog can be found here, and will make very entertaining reading - once he gets round to writing it ;)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Bet you didn't know Melville & Frankie were Star Trek fans- did you? Mind you, TOS only... :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Its..ALIVE - is ALIVE!!

Yup - the webcomic is finally available - you can find the site at http://hypervox.co.uk/itsalive - you may notice that the next few posts are known to you - let's just say that you've had a sneak preview... :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hypervox Site Redesign - under way!

Yup - my old Hypervox site is currently under reconstruction, in preparation for it's re-incarnation as IT'S...ALIVE! Have a look if you wish - but don't annoy Frankie...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Alive! 5 & 6

Technical Notes: Inked using Zig Graphic Brush Marker (similar to a Tombow ABT) and a stinky big black McKie Marker. Lettered & corrected using ArtRage, other adjustments using GIMP. Yes, I know I forgot to do the background tone - my fault, lost time fiddling with ArtRage. Personal Note: Drop the table line down...

I think I'll do 12 initial strips, and provided I'm happy with the progression, I'll start building a buffer for web release.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Things to remember when creating a cartoon strip - 2

Hand lettering is quicker than computer lettering - although it may not look better to start with... :)

Friday, May 14, 2010


Yup - that's the official title of the comic. Above you'll find parts 3&4, and I've tried a couple of new things here which worked / didn't work.

  • Panel borders were drawn freehand - didn;t work, too messy to look at!
  • Lettering done in Xara - much better, but I think I might have to change the main font
  • The process of drawing/scanning/converting was too long. I might consider for the next two drawing them in Xara.
Let me know what you think people - as I said before, this is a work in progress.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

OpenSuSE Linux - kernel parameters for Virtual PC

If you're having trouble installing OpenSuSE 11.x in Virtual PC, try the following boot options when installing...

noapic nolapic noreplace-paravirt

Works for me!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Meet Melville and Frankie

These little guys will be the stars of my comic strip (name to be decided). This is still a work in progress, so the characters and strips will probably change appearance as I go along.

Melville is a ten year old mad scientist type, who likes nothing more than creating havoc from his laboratory (the families outside shed). Frankie is Melville's assistant. Formally his toy rabbit, Frankie was brought to life as one of Melville's experiments. He's a more than a bit miffed by the fact that he has a teddy bear ears instead of his own (long story, which I won't go into now), but he a good sort really, even if he does have psychopathic tendencies... :)

I've completed 2 strips so far, but these are more tester strips than anything else (which also explains the character differences) so don't take these as gospel yet...

Things I've already noticed: the lettering is horrible - future strips will be lettered in xara. Frankie's bolts need to be drawn before his hands... :)

Inking is a Binary Art...

While I've been working on my comic strip (it's coming, I promise), I started thinking about inking. I tried an experiment during the inking phase of the strip - in short, I've used a different pen for inking each strip, and I came to the conclusion that every cartoonist who's created black and white line art has come to eventually.

It doesn't look any different.

Sure, pens can have different thicknesses, they can have differing properties, but at the end of the day, what you're left with, especially if you're trying to get a particular appearance, doesn't look any different. It's black ink, on white paper. Most cartoonists colour their art by computer (that is, digitally), so your black and white image you have created will eventually be reduced to computer data - in short, numbers.

Computers think in terms of numbers. In fact, everything that a computer does, eventually gets reduced to 2 numbers - 1 & 0. A computer brain is essentially a series of electrical switches, which have 2 states, on and off, which are represented by the numbers 1 (on) and 0 (off) - this system we call Binary.

Thinking along these lines, we can say that inking is a Binary art form, where Ink is ON, and no Ink is OFF. Therefore, with my pen, I'm already creating digital art.

So I say this to all cartoonists who's end product is eventually reduced to a computer file. Stop worrying about pens. It doesn't matter if it's waterproof, washable, gold plated, limited edition, expensive, cheap, nice smelling or foul. The art comes from within, not from the pen. Use a pen that you like the feel of, that you feel happier with, and your artwork will show the difference.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Best quote from the election...

...came from my daughter.

"Daddy, what's a Clegg?"

Friday, April 30, 2010

Things to remember when creating a cartoon strip - 1

  1. English comics read from left to right - this means that the character with the final say in the strip should usually be on the right...
  2. Always do a thumbnail sketch first (see 1. - DOH!)...
  3. Take your time. One full strip will take at least a couple of hours to produce in the beginning...
  4. Write in quiet, draw however you feel comfortable...
  5. You are the artist - at the end of the day, it's your creation, and you alone decide if it's worthy...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Inking Test

In preparation for a webcomic, I tried inking various character studies using different methods. Top left with a copic brushpen, top middle with a PITT brush pen, top right with a papermate nylon, bottom with a PITT Fine. all are outlined using an old PITT brush pen with a bad tip.

In all fairness, I can't see much difference. The PITT gives a finer line than the others, but that's about it. Obviously, the inks differ, but in usage terms - nothing in it. I found this when looking at fountain pens - in most cases, there is little to no difference in the output - just how the pen feels when you're using it. It's a valuable lesson. As I'm using normal paper, I may go back to the Rotring Art Pen...

Friday, April 23, 2010

More DS pictures...

3 quick cartoons taken from the DS, all using the DS Colors software. All are in their raw format. Above is a little scientist..

Here is a youngster in a parka taking a walk in the country,

..and here is Frankie (again). What I've noticed is that because I have only a small resolution to work with (512 pixels square), I'm having to draw cartoons with more geometric shapes for them to be successful. But this is what you can do with them once they're vectorized...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Can't afford a cintiq? How about drawing with your DS?

I've always wanted a cintiq, but I've never been able to afford one. Recently, I discovered that some people use their Nintendo DS to create art, so I decided to find out more...

For those who still don't know, a Nintendo DS is a pocket sized games console, that has a touch / pressure sensitive screen it uses for input. Put that together with some wonderfully talented coders & hardware hackers, and the result is the DS Homebrew Scene - a collection of applications and games written by enthusiasts, and freely available to the public. To run these applications, your DS has to have a plugin memory card containing the applications you want to run.

One of these applications is DS Colors, a simple sketching program. It has a limited resolution, no undo feature (yet) and no layers. but it's pressure sensitive, which means you can vary the size / opacity of your strokes, and it has a nifty playback feature, which can be used as a sort of undo (play to the point you wish to carry on from), and which can also be used to resize the picture using a nice java application.

Enough talk - lets look at the results.
This is Frankie - a toy rabbit with a teddy bear's ears (it's a long story). This little character was drawn on my DS using colors, and here is Frankie after being vectored and coloured...

In short, this could be a great way to create cartoons, so I'll let you know how it turns out, but for more information on DS Colors, go to http://colors.collectingsmiles.com.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The state of UK Web Comics

As anyone who reads this blog will know (if there is anyone out there :) ), I'm a amatuer cartoonist. I've been interested in cartoons for as long as I can remember, but it's only recently that I've become active as a cartoonist. When I got started over a year back, I started checking out web comics, and I've come to notice one important fact - most of the best web comics are American.

Why is this?

The UK has enormous talent, our cartoonists are some of the best in the world, so why are the UK web comics (with a few exceptions - don't expect me to name names) so poor? Is it because of the size of our beloved isles (less cartoonist per square metre), or our work ethic? I can't believe it's our sense of humour - british comedy is widely recognized as being some of the best in the world.

Something has to be done to correct the balance, so perhaps I should put my money where my mouth is and do my own. I've been thinking about it for a while now, so we'll see what develops...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ultravox ROCK!

It's official - the guys are back and they can STILL rock!

If you're an 80's kid (like moi), and you know anything about the synth rock / pop scene, then you'll know about Ultravox, the british band responsible for the grandest piece of synth rock/opera ever produced - I am of course, talking about the mighty Vienna.

Well, I couldn't make any live gigs when they were at their height in the 80's, and would you believe it, I couldn't make any of their live gigs when they reformed last year. But now however, I have in my hands the live cd/dvd of their reformation tour "Return to Eden" Ultravox Fan Site

Midge Ure - Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals
Chris Allen - Bass/Keyboards/Vocals
Billie Currie - Keyboards/Viola
Warren Caan - Drums, Electronic Percussion/Vocals

The band always have been a great inspiration to me. Warren Cann is my 2nd favourite canadian, and my all time drumming hero (yes Warren, I picked up sticks because of you). You guys changed my life forever, and I am forever in your debt.

If you're a synth rock/pop fan, do yourself a favour - get the album/dvd, and enjoy!

RainyEyes - Lips

Another commission piece. If you compare the previous "RainyEyes", I hope you'll notice that my style has progressed significantly over the last few months - let's hope it continues to get better...

Friday, April 09, 2010

Crash of the titles... :)

Got home last night, to find my lovely wife shoving my tea into my waiting hands with the phrase...

"'Hurry up - we're going to the pictures tonight!"

Turns out she had made plans for us to go and see "Clash of the Titans" at the local cinema, so off we trotted. After taking our seats at the back of the cinema (don't get any ideas you lot, I'm a good boy ;) ), we settled down with our Roy Orbison cast off 3d specs, and watched the show.

Oh dear.

Hollywood is going through a phase right now called "lets do a remake of an existing film ,rather than think up some original idea for ourselves", and "Clash - the remake" suffers terribly from this sickening syndrome. It's almost like having a film making recipe

Take one former Hollywood blockbuster
Remove any hint of original storytelling
Cast "Top" actors (i.e. those that are currently popular, or cheap)
Add characters / monsters that could be made into "cool" action figures
Liberally add CGI effects (optional)
Stir until grey, reheat and serve on a bed of good old fashioned spiel.

Former recipes include Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes.

Ray Harryhousen is still the man - If you watch one "Clash of the Titans" this year, make it his - you'll be less disappointed.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Zoo time...

Went to my local zoo over the easter holiday, and it inspired some cartoons. I'm going to post some raw cartoon ideas, and see how they develop over the next week - during the process, I'll post some of the stages - here is a quick concept sketch (with adjustments) - it's a bit raw, so please forgive me...

This will probably be redrawn, as I'm not that happy with it, but we'll see...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wall Papering....

Guess what I may be doing this weekend? Just a little bit of silliness... :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Another commission, but this was inked in ArtRage - I was actually quite impressed! Just noticed that I've signed the wrong year - what a dilbert...

Sharon - Inks

Quick semi commission. Colours will follow later

Friday, March 19, 2010

Keys to my heart - coloured

Hello Sailor

Whoops! Forgot to post this one....

Keys to my heart

Meant for valentines, but a bit late - expect a coloured version later on...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Sendmail & MTA refusing connections with Puremessage

This is more of a reminder for me than anything else. If sendmail MTA starts refusing connections, it's probably because you have a lot of messages in the mail queue that are undeliverable, and are taking their time timing out. The refusal is caused because the sendmail demon is trying to run it's delivery queue too many times over the course of an hour - you probably have -q5m or something on sendmail's command line (process the queue every 5 minutes), change it to -q30m (30 minutes).


Here is the final finished version of smcose...

Inked & coloured in Xara.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Red Shelled - coloured

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


For some reason, I'm sure that pencils hate me.

Recently working on another pinup (this time, the stunning Samantha (smcose)) when my 2mm green lead broke. Extend, sharpen, draw, SNAP! Repeat until lead runs out... I hate days like this, it breaks your concentration. Add to this that I've just bought 2 packs of leads (one staedtler blue/green, one staedtler F/HB), and I'm hoping I haven't just made a huge mistake.

Anyhow, managed to finish the nude sketch (clothing comes later in pinups), but my inking as usual, let me down I feel. This time, the sketch was inked using a bayard nib, a no.2 brush, and indian ink. It's better than my previous inks, but still not good enough - into Xara it will go, for final inking.

Have I mentioned how much I love Xara? It's so simple to use, gives great results, and I currently use nothing else. It's especially great for toon like pinups, as you can experiment with differant body shapes, colours etc, and it's all so non-destructive. It's also great for creating a collage as a reference for your sketches.

Next on my shopping list, is "The Wonderful World of Bill Ward, King of the Glamour Girls". This book is huge I tell you, and it's filled to the brim with Bill's wonderful cartoons and sketches. His use of conte crayon is fabulous - so good in fact, that I'm thinking of buying some to try...