Power Pack Classic volume 1

Written by Louise Simonson.
Pencils by June Brigman with Mary Wilshire (layouts, issue #5), Mark Badger (layouts, issue #8) and Brent Anderson (issue #9).
Inks by Bob Wiacek.
Colour art by Glynis Wein.
Letters by Joe Rosen.

Power Pack is one of the Marvel titles that really made an impression on me as a young reader. I think part of it was that all other comics had college students or adults as the lead characters. Whereas Power Pack were about the same age as myself at the time (eldest member of the team was only twelve!).

For those new to Power Pack, it’s a comic that follows the adventures of four young siblings after they are gifted superpowers from a dying alien. The alien was injured in their attempts to protect the planet from the villainous Snarks.

The team is comprised of the four Power kids. Alex (aka Gee) is given the ability to negate the force of gravity on himself, other people and objects. Julie (aka Lightspeed) receives the ability to fly at super-speeds leaving a rainbow trail in her wake. Jack (aka Mass Master) can alter the density of his mass meaning he can expand his density to become gaseous or reduce it to shrink his physical form while becoming less susceptible to injury. However he still weighs the same as he does at his regular size. And last of the four is Katie (aka Energizer) is able to project “power balls” from her chest that contain great destructive force. She must disintegrate objects to replenish her energy levels after creating the “power balls”.

As Power Pack are quite young, much of their adventures are a result of the impetuousness and/or innocence of youth. I was pleasantly surprised on reading this volume to discover I hadn’t read any of the issue contained within the volume before. So I had the added bonus of having new Power Pack reading material.

The first four issues in the volume server as the origin story of the team and their fight against the Snarks. Reading these issues, it was easy to see why young readers would enjoy this comic. A group of young heroes doing their best to keep the world safe, without the oversight of an adult figure. And should an adult appear in the story, they are either a threat or telling the team to leave the hero-work to the adults.

With volume one containing the first ten issues, it gives the reader a great sense of the personalities of the four Power kids. From their interests to how they tackle the challenges that Power Pack face.

The art is bright and cheerful particularly when it comes to the teams uniforms. Each have their own variation of the uniform with some sort of symbol denoting that members ability. There’s some wonderful art and you could be forgiven for forgetting you’re reading a superhero book at times.

It’s issue six before the team bump into other Marvel heroes. The issues with Cloak and Dagger were the stand-out ones in that section of the volume. There’s a wonderful moment where the young heroes pulled Cloak and Dagger back from venturing down a very dark path.

It was great to get reacquainted with one of my favourite comic teams, and reading some new (to me) Power Pack stories.

The team recently had a new one-shot. That paired with this new printing of the classic Power Pack stories gives me hope that Marvel might kick off a new series of Power Pack at some stage. Comics really needs some new Power Pack stories!

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Death Bed #1

Written by Joshua Williamson.
Line art by Riley Rossmo.
Colour art by Ivan Plascencia.
Letters by Deron Bennett.
Logo design by Tim Daniel.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m planning to update this blog more frequently. It’ll be a mix of some of my drawings and writing. The writing will primarily be about comics that I’m reading that wouldn’t be a good fit for Irish Comic News.

So to kick off this latest reboot of the blog is issue one of the Death Bed mini-series published under the Vertigo banner.

I had seen the cover art (which is wonderful to look at) and the first three pages teased via social media, and that’s all it took for me to put it on the pull list. I mean how could I not be intrigued by a comic feature a infant held aloft while the father proclaims,  “You will be the greatest man to ever live…. or die trying”?

That infant is Antonio Luna who grows up to become one for the worlds greatest adventurers before he disappeared from the public eye. In quite a contrast to that introduction, the meets Valentine Richards as she is sitting on the crapper taking a pitch from her editor. And what’s the pitch? Why to ghostwrite Lunas memoir.

As you can imagine, the comic is having a lot of fun with the adventurer archetype. Of course he has the large country mansion with the required staff. I did like how the artists gives the back story of Lunas life through grandiose paintings as a member of the staff guides Valentine to where a dying Luna awaits her. There’s also the shadowy figures that are ever present in the background of the scenes within the mansion which raises some questions in the early part of the comic.

I did like the splash page where things really kick off. It’s a fun page to discover on a page turn that totally changes the energy levels of the comic. I did have a suspicion of how the story might play out, which is nowhere as much fun as what the team came up with.

The art keeps things interesting even though the comic is pretty much set all in the mansion. Good use of the camera angles switch as needed to give the reader a sense of the scale of the mansion to close-ups that put the reader right in the middle of some of the quieter conservation scenes. And there’s the change in energy of the comic on *that* page turn. It’s almost like getting a shot of adrenaline from the comic.

The lettering is well done, which it needed to be as there are plenty of dialogue balloons and captions through out the comic. As the action doesn’t kick off until late in the first issue, there isn’t a huge amount of sound effects but it’s something for me to look forward to in the following issues. I’m on a bit of a sound effects kick lately when it comes to lettering. I like seeing the variation letterers have to sound effects.

Death Bed promises some over-the-top violent adventuring with a healthy does of humour thrown in. Plus how could I not want to find out how things play out for a man that was told from birth, “you will be the greatest man to ever live…. or die trying”? It’ll be an adventure if nothing else!

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Yet another re-start post

The road outside the house is turning to slush which makes now as good a time as any to defrost this blog.

Last year was pretty poor when it came to posting regularly to the blog. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even break 10 posts, that’s how bad it was!

With the exception of Inktober, I didn’t post much art here. Social media makes it too easy to share compared to composing a blog post. One need only take a pic of the art and the phone has the ability to instantly share it with most social media platforms. All of which means that a blog can end up going unused for periods of time.

In an attempt to make more use of the blog, I’ll now be aiming to post at least once a month with some new drawings as part of ‘Plan 2018’. That way the blog won’t be sitting idle for months at a time as well as doing more regular drawings in an attempt to improve my drawing standard.

As this is the first post of 2018 and I’m already somewhat behind the schedule, here are the most recent drawings that I’ve done this year.

The second part of ‘Plan 2018’ is to do more writing here in addition to the art posts. This will almost certainly take the form of posts about some of the latest comics I’m reading. The reviewing started to get pretty regular towards the end of 2017 over on IrishComicNews.com and I was beginning to see small improvements in the writing as a result.

The comics that I’ll blog about here will be those that wouldn’t fit over on ICN. It’ll generally be a mix of my regular monthly pull list and small press purchases/ Kickstarters.

The hope is that the two sides of ‘Plan 2018’ will get me drawing and writing more often, which can only be a good thing when it comes to improving the skill levels.

Before I finish up with this post, I’ll share with you a personal moment of happiness that is comic related.

As the two of you that read this blog might remember, I did a Black Bolt piece as part of Inktober last year. A few weeks after that, I had a ‘feck it, going to do it’ moment which lead to me putting together an email destined for the letter department of the Black Bolt monthly comic.

It’s a comic that I’ve been enjoying a lot and figured I might as well share my Inktober piece with the Black Bolt team. So I typed up the email, attached the Inktober picture and clicked ‘Send’.

I didn’t give it any further thought until I saw the cover art for issue 9 of Black Bolt being shared on social media. The thought went through my mind along the lines of, “How amazing would it be to have my art in the back of the comic with that cover?”.

Fast forward to when I have issue 9 in my hands, which may have been shaking just a little bit. I flip straight to the letters page and take a breath. And there’s my Black Bolt screaming at me from the pages of a fricking Marvel comic. It was the first time I’d ever had the nerve to send a letter or picture to a comic but I had the same reaction as if I had done it when I was 6 years old. Pure joyful giddiness.

And that was just getting printed in a letters page of a comic people around the world are reading. I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like if it was a comic I’d created. But I’m certainly excited to find out.

I’ll leave you with the cover and letters page of the comic below as well as the Black Bolt art.

See ya next time.






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Inktober 2017

I had a go again this year at the Inktober challenge and it went pretty well. I managed to get 19 pieces completed for this years challenge. I’ve included the completed pieces below for those who are interested.

The complete list I was working from is the Inktober Ireland prompt list as per this post on ICN.

Day 1 – Draw What You Like Sunday / Marilyn Manson

Day 2 – Judge Dredd

Day 3 – Defenders

Day 4 – Star Wars / Rey

Day 5 – Mad Max / Furiosa

Day 9 – Superman

Day 10 – favourite game / Joe and Mac

Day 11 – Deadpool

Day 12 – Jack Kirby creations / Ikarus (Eternals)

Day 13 – Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

Day 14 – weather / lightning storm over ocean

Day 15 – Draw What You Like Sunday / Wolfman

Day 16 – favourite song title / negasonic teenage warhead

Day 17 – Tattoos / Prison Break

Day 18 – Hellboy / Abe Sapian

Day 19 – Steampunk

Day 20 – Nature

Day 21 – Mecha / Guyver

Day 22 – Draw What You Like Sunday / The Scream – Black Bolt mashup

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Scurry – Book 1: Doomed Colony

Written, illustrated and lettered by Mac Smith.

Introduction to the Scurry series from the Scurry website (which also hosts the ongoing webcomic of Scurry):

Scurry is the story of a colony of mice in an abandoned house who are struggling to survive a long, strange winter. The humans are all gone and the sun is rarely seen. As food becomes scarce and many mice fall ill, the scavengers are forced to search farther from their home, braving monster infested lands in search of anything that will help the colony survive another day. Being hunted by feral cats and predatory birds is part of life for these mice, but beyond the fences stalks something far more fearsome…

Scurry is a webcomic that I had been dipping in and out of. It’s a beautiful looking comic that is similar in tone to some of the movies that I loved in my youth. Movies such as the Dark Crystal, Secret of NIMH and the Never Ending Story. Smith himself does mention that they had an influence on his work in the afterword of Book 1.

Once Smith announced his Kickstarter for Book 1, I just had to pledge to the campaign. The comic looks great on-screen but I really wanted a physical comic. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy webcomics but I do try get physical copies if the creators decide to release them. Especially with the previews Smith posted and the option of a slipcased hardback.

The story opens with Wix (a mouse) and Umf (a rat) searching an abandoned house for food to bring back to the colony. All the while they must avoid poison, traps and cats. The colony itself is facing starvation as they are running out of supplies with winter face approaching. Word reaches the colony of an overturned truck containing food outside the area the foraging groups usually travel.

The whole comic is of a really high standard and I find it amazing that it’s freely available to read as a webcomic. If you haven’t already made a start on reading Scurry, you really should make a start on it. The artwork itself, both characters and the sets/backgrounds are stunning.

You can read the comic (as well as buy book 1 whiles stocks last) on the Scurry website.

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Odie and Ferg

Okay, so we’ll start with the finished comic pages and pick up after with some thoughts on the making of it.

Page 1.

Page 2.

Page 3.

Page 4.

Welcome back! So that was ‘Odie and Ferg’. It’s the first comic I’ve completed in the best part of twenty years. And it could have another while yet before I finished one if Matt Garvey hadn’t posted his competition over on the Millarworld forums.

He posted a competition open to people who had long wanted to make a comic but had gotten round to it for whatever reason. The only rule for participants was that all involved in making a comic couldn’t have made a comic before be it a physical comic or webcomic. After that, Garvey outlined the spec for the submissions. At the basic level, it had to be a 4-page funny sci-fi comic. Solo creators could make the comic or a writer, artist, colourist and letterer could team up (once they were all newbies!).

It was exactly the sort of thing I needed to get making. I had a spec, a deadline and potentially an opportunity to see the comic in printed form. The fact it was all going to be newbies was an added incentive as it would be less intimidating to submit as it’s my first comic. That said, I did keep away from the submission thread until I was posting my comic as I still expected the comics to be of a higher standard than my own offering.

So, then came the actual making of the comic. The main characters were easy sorted. I knew instantly that it was going to be a duo. It’s a 4-pager so it necessitated getting the characters introduced quickly. The need for the strip to be funny was also a factor. A duo allows me play to the comedy writing that I can work best with, i.e. a ‘straight man’ and a smart-ass. I’d a pretty good sense of the duo before writing anything down so it meant I was pretty comfortable with their respective personalities.

The next bit of fun came from figuring out what works within the four pages without having the comic suffer due to unnecessary story or details. Initially, the story was going to be Odie and Ferg appearing in a ‘space gladiator royal rumble’. It didn’t take long to realise that 1) the idea was too much to pull off in four pages and 2) I didn’t have time to draw a large cast of characters. So a pin was stuck in that idea for now. Then the idea for the strip I actually produced appeared. The last page was the starting idea and I worked back from there. All I needed was a reason for the pursuit. Given that it was to be a funny comic, I slotted the idea of it being down to Odie eating the wrong pineapple.

Happy that I’d figured out the story and most of the dialogue, I moved to the arting. After the first day of drawing a tweet I’d seen had come to mind about drawing comics. Paraphrasing here, but it was something along the lines of, “pin ups are all well and good, but you need to draw sequentials!”. That was a hard lesson to learn. I’d started drawing regularly over the last two years and was pretty happy with the results. But as you have no doubt figured out from the quote, I’d mainly focussed on pinp-up/ one-off pieces. I’d given feck all time to sequentials.

This was one of the most frustrating parts of the comic making, the realisation that your ‘base level’ art is nowhere near the level you think it is. The one saving grace was that due to following lots of comic art folk, I’d been made aware that spending time on thumbnails could save you heartache and wasted time later. That said it was still had to swallow how I had to draw the comic if I wanted a consistent visual across all four pages. I wanted to keep reference photo use to a minimum (though there still is some there) for the sake of consistency and to establish where the art levels were at.

The next thing to push through was getting all the pages done even though the end product doesn’t match the comic in your mind. Though from what I later read, this is a problem for creators at all levels of comic making. But I have to say, even though the art is rough as houses, it still felt great to have the four pages finished and to be able to scan through them to see how the panels work for a reader. This is where the time spent on thumbnails had really paid off. I had an idea of what I wanted and I was pretty happy that I got as close as my abilities would allow.

Regarding the lettering, all I’ll say is that I apologise to any letterers who saw the comic. Placement wise they’re not too bad but how the text is positioned within some of the bubbles is pretty bad on review. Single lines where it should have been multiple lines with fewer words on each. But hey, I learned that much if nothing else regarding lettering!

 In the aftermath of making the comic for the competition, I’d say to anyone putting off getting a start on their comic making to just get started. You’ll certainly find no better way to discover what you need to work on. And even when you’re starting out, you can still get the comic close to what you intended. I just put in silly plot and dialogue that made me laugh. Some of the jokes landed with some of the people that read the comic. Which is nice when you’re apprehensive about putting the comic out into the wild. Another weird (but nice) side-effect was wanting to get onto the ‘next thing’ so that ‘Odie and Ferg’ isn’t where my comic making peaks. I want to push things on to show that the writing and drawing can get stronger from lessons learned on the comic I made.

I like Odie and Ferg, they make me smile and they deserve better strips that will come with time and work. It’s kinda exciting to have characters of my own that are recent creations. Really looking forward to seeing what they get up to next and what other characters start to make themselves known.

So if you’ve been putting off making your comics, I say just make a start. Find your ‘Odie and Ferg’. Make something that only you can make! And have fun with it!

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Some weekend arting

I had some time over the weekend for some drawing, so decided to have a go at the digital arting.

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March Art Dump

This is a brief post. Just doing an art dump of pictures I drew during the month of March.

I’d received some very helpful pointers about approaching composition as well as how to hold the pencil to get better lines. Overall, a very positive month for the drawing.

And I even managed to get in some digital arting!


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Some recent reading and art.

Seeing as it’s most of the way through February, I figure it’s about time to post an update here. Try to keep things somewhat regular in terms of posting on here.

At the start of the year I was mulling things over regarding writing, particularly with a view to doing posts for here or Irish Comic News. My main focus was to try and find things to read to try and improve the writing, be it websites, magazines or books.

As luck would have it a non-fiction book featuring such names as Warren Ellis and Alan Moore appeared on my radar (cover pictured below). It was an instant purchase for me, both as a fan of some of the writers involved and as a possible source for learning more about writing non-fiction.

The book was a wonderful read. It will definitely be one of those books I frequently re-read. It has a great variety of voices and styles. There are twelve pieces in total examining the ‘spirit of places’.

What quickly became apparent (from a learning point of view) was what each writer discussed, as well as the details they focussed on in their respective contribution. It emphasised the idea of the writer bringing something to a topic that only they can bring to it. Something to make it unique from a piece that another writer would have written.

Another thing was the almost conversational language used in the various pieices. It generally felt as if I was sat at a table listening to the writer tell their story. Which is close to what I’d like to get to with the reviews and blog posts. Definitely would like to avoid dry and stuffy writing which would just put people off. I want to try have the writing read much like what it is to listen to me chat about comics. That’s ethusiastic, interested and probably a bit giddy for those that I’ve not chatted to!

It’s an excellent book that I really recommend to people if you want to read some good non-fiction.

I’ve a couple of other non-fiction books in the pile but I’ll fill you in on them once I get a proper read of them.

On the art side of things, I managed to get back into the swing of doing some drawings during the week. I’ve included the most recent drawings I did below. That’s all for now.

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Brief update.

This will be brief update as it’s really just a post to put it online that I’m planning to take a swing at the competition Matt Garvey put up over on MIllarworld forums.

I’d started to get back into the swing of some writing and drawing and that competition was just the sort of motivation/goal to aim for. It’ll give a bit of focus to things. If nothing else, I’d (all going well) have a four page comic done. That in itself would be a good result.

In another comic related note, I’m very much looking forward to the Image 25 year celebration organised by Big Bang Comics. Should be fun!

For those of you interested in the Irish Comic News art picks, the January edition is now live. So go enjoy the great selection of arting!!

That’s all I have for you lot until the next post. I’ll leave with some arting I did towards the end of 2016.

Tested out caligraphy pens for inking. (reference photo used)

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