Comic conventions and an unconventional comic

There’s a new comic out this week. In many respects it is rather unusual. It isn’t American or colour or interrupted by Sea Monkey ads. The protagonists eschew lycra. No female characters are scantily clad. Only one gunshot is discharged and the number of punches can be counted on one fist. WAIT! Come back! It’s a new comic! It’s funny! And also rather mysterious! Based on a popular BBC radio series!
Scarifyers issue 1

It’s The Scarifyers issue 1 and people have said it’s very good. Being the artist I couldn’t possibly say that myself, it just wouldn’t be British. However, I can tell you I worked very very hard on it, and I had a great script from the series creator Simon Barnard.

Simon created The Scarifyers about 5 years ago, as an audio series which continues to be the main platform for the adventures of Messrs Lionheart, Dunning and Crow. But when we first met at Bristolcon 2011 he revealed a plan to make a Scarifyers comic. I was enthusiastic – having heard The Magic Circle on BBC Radio 4 Extra I could see the stories were robust enough to work in different formats – and before long Simon sent me a script which had me itching to draw. I must admit, I thought a comics script by a radio writer would need a bit of tweaking to work well in a visual medium, but in his adaptation of The Nazad Conspiracy Simon seemed to instinctively understand what would and wouldn’t work.

Garen Ewing's Scarifyers cover

All the Scarifyers CDs benefit from handsome cover art by Garen Ewing, the very talented writer/artist behind The Rainbow Orchid among other things. I took Garen’s elegant ‘ligne claire’ style as the starting point for the look of the comic strip itself, but I knew the darker moments of the story would need light and shade not normally associated with this kind of illustration. I looked at Blake & Mortimer, Hellboy and The Iron Wagon while I was developing the style of the strip and Simon pointed me towards parts of my own Bristol Story artwork which he thought worked well.
I felt that the 1930s period would be better evoked if the pages themselves looked old. I used halftone screens for the greys to mimic older printing technology and even scanned in dozens of pages of blank paper to provide a range of newsprint rough paper textures! In the end, these background textures were abandoned but a slight texture was retained for the black areas.
Garen’s covers used the likenesses of The Scarifyers lead actors Terry Molloy and Nicholas Courtney as starting points for his portrayal of Professor Dunning and Inspector Lionheart. I began the same way.
This is the first drawing I made in preparation for Scarifyers issue 1, a fairly close likeness of Nicholas Courtney, but the more I drew the more Lionheart the character replaced Nicholas the actor.
Through a very productive email correspondence with Simon, the artwork for Scarifyers issue 1 started to take shape. It was completed just in time to be printed ready for Bristol Comic Expo and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy where we road-tested the comic; Simon at TGSITG, me (in costume as Professor Dunning!) at BCE. [Photo: Mike Molcher]
Photo copyright Mike Molcher
I was delighted with the reaction at Bristol. I sold a lot of copies and talked to many fans of the radio series who were pleased to see a new format for The Scarifyers. I also had the pleasure of showing the comic to Garen Ewing for the first time.
A week later Simon and I manned the Scarifyers table at Kapow! Comic Convention in London. I have to say this was the most positive convention experience I have ever had.
Simon and Simon at Kapow! Convention
Our table was very well located and we had a more or less steady flow of visitors; some coming simply to talk, others to buy CDs and comics. We were kept busy on both days, ably assisted by Simon’s wife Anya who provided much-needed biscuits and even managed to get a copy of the comic to Peter Serafinowicz! (Peter’s show on 6 Music was one of the things that kept me going as I neared the end of the deadline!)
I came away from the conventions feeling very grateful and excited by the reaction to the new comic. I hope it does as well as these events suggest it will. I’d certainly love to draw more!


I’ll be at Kapow! Comic Convention this weekend with Simon Barnard, writer of the new comic The Scarifyers #1 (and creator of the original audio adventure series). Find us at the Cosmic Hobo Scarifyers table and say hello! I’ll have my original art from issue 1 to view or buy:
The Scarifyers original art
and original art from the Time Twister in this week’s 2000AD (prog 1783):
2000AD Time Twisters original art
and a chance to buy my MCA portrait before I put it on eBay:
I’m at Kapow! primarily for Scarifyers but as well as the original art, I’ll have some postcard-sized prints with me in a stop-me-and-buy-one style. They are: ‘Lucien’ my Serge Gainsbourg portrait after Lucian Freud, Adam West, The Skarasen from Doctor Who: Terror of the Zygons and the Siren from Doctor Who: The Curse Of The Black Spot.

Western Front sample art

This is a sample I did for a young adult fiction book set in 1917 on the Western Front. I didn’t get the job so can share it here. Here’s the pencil drawing:
And this is the final version, using Photoshop’s layer effects to build up the colour:

I have to say, horses are hard work to draw. A single image was difficult enough, I dread to think what a comic about a six-horse gun team would involve!

Original art for sale at Bristol Expo

As well as the original art for all 32 pages of Scarifyers issue 1 I’ve packed a handful of drawings from other projects:

A Solzhenitsyn

A pair of Pitts

Three chanteurs

More than 80 pages from Darwin: A Graphic Biography

Some pages from The Day Of The Triffids

And the Master from DWM #433

There’s no obligation to buy, if you’re interested enough to come over and have a look I’m more than happy to show you.

Bristol Comic Expo 2012

I have a table at Bristol Comic Expo this weekend, May 12-13, where I’ll be selling copies of the brand new Scarifyers comic. (I can say this with confidence now, as the box arrived from the printers this morning!)

I should be easy to spot thanks to this rather smart, Garen Ewing-illustrated banner from Cosmic Hobo (the people behind The Scarifyers in both comic and audio adventure form).
Scarifyers banner
Here’s what you can expect from my table:

Scarifyers issue 1

The Scarifyers issue 1 – Bristol Expo is the first place you can buy this 32-page comic, based on the BBC radio series. Written by series creator Simon Barnard, with interior artwork by me and a beautiful colour cover by Garen Ewing, this instalment tells the story of DI Lionheart and Prof. Dunning’s first meeting.

original art example

All the original art from the first issue.

Character sketches

Character designs and behind-the-scenes artwork from the making of the comic.


Biscuits! And other items from the 1936 desk of Professor Dunning himself…

Raffle tickets. Yes, anyone buying The Scarifyers issue 1 from me this weekend will be entered into a daily prize draw, with a CHANCE OF WINNING EITHER THE LATEST SCARIFYERS CD, The Horror Of Loch Ness starring David Warner & Terry Molloy, OR A PAGE OF ORIGINAL ARTWORK!

There will also be a few copies of 200-page graphic history epic The Bristol Story, by Eugene Byrne & me. And, appropriately enough for the Expo venue of Brunel’s Old Station, I’ll have my Brunel postcards and copies of Brunel: A Graphic Biography.

I’ll be drawing all weekend so if you want anything sketched or signed, just come and say hi. I’m the one in the Professor Dunning costume!

The Scarifyers

It’s always nice to be able to blog about big, exciting news. I’ve been working hard on the first issue of a brand new comic which is at the printers now and will be available to buy in just a couple of weeks at Bristol Comic Expo, then at Kapow! a week later available from the Bafflegab shop. That comic is THE SCARIFYERS issue 1, written by series creator Simon Barnard and sporting a very handsome cover from ligne claire legend Garen Ewing.
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