Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Best Comics of 2012! A DEFINITIVE LIST.


Bunny VS Monkey (c) 2012 by Jamie Smart

I meant to write one of these ‘Best-of-the-year’ posts for the Forbidden Planet International blog but completely failed to get it together in time to do so. Anyway, it is still 2012 (just) so I thought I’d post mine here: sticking to the same format as the FPI posts (which you can read here): my 3 favourite comics from the last 12 months...


 
Gary's Garden (c) 2012 by Gary Northfield

Having spent many weeks attempting to decide which of these was my favourite, I eventually decided I couldn’t, so we have a tie. I love both of these strips for similar reasons – that they are very, very funny, and wildly imaginative, and that my son loves them and I love reading them to him. Each also has a special claim in its favour that kind of balance each other out: BvM has achieved the highly admirable feat of being amazing every single week in 2012. And in the other corner, Gary’s Garden produced amongst its many riches the single best  page of comics I saw all year.* So that is why it’s a tie!

*I don't have it to hand, sorry. It was the one with the pond and the tadpoles. If you saw it, you know which one I mean.


Corpse Talk (c) 2012 by Adam Murphy

Yeah, yeah, another Phoenix strip, I know. But if you can show me another comic out there that is – week in, week out - as funny, clever, inventive, silly, gross, imaginative, fascinating, and beautiful as Adam’s work on Corpse Talk... well then I will be very grateful to you for introducing me to such a wonder.


The Nao of Brown (c) 2012 by Glyn Dillon

I don’t feel like I need to say much about this one, as I assume it is on everyone else in the universe and their dog’s Best Of 2012 lists already. An absolutely glorious achievement, one of my favourite comics I’ve read in ages, by probably my favourite comics artist in the world. Yeah, it’s a bit good.

HONOURABLE MENTION: pretty much everything else in the Phoenix. I utterly love that comic. Not sure if I mentioned that.

I think if this was an FPI post I’d have to come up with lists of my favourite movies, and TV shows, and books and such, too. But really, who has time to watch movies or TV or read books? We went to see Looper, that was quite enjoyable. Ooh, Catfish, I liked that. Um... Doctor Who? Cheers? I watched quite a lot of Masterchef?

I would also then be called upon to give you a quick plug for what you can expect to see from me in 2013 but hey, this is my blog, I talk about that stuff all the time. More Pirates of Pangaea! Coming Soon! Coming, in fact, NEXT WEEK!



And that right there is why I have had so little time to write these sort of blog posts. But while I am here and in a ‘reflecting on the Best of 2012’ mood, let me just say how delighted I was to see Pirates of Pangaea and the Phoenix pop up on just such a list – and from no less august a journal than the mighty Comics Alliance! Given what an undertaking it is for a reader outside the UK to even get hold of the Phoenix, it really is appreciated. And hey! We are mere weeks - no, days - away from international access to the Phoenix getting a whole, whole lot easier. Brace yourselves, 2013 is going to be fun...

Friday, 21 December 2012

Santafest 2012 round-up, plus SINGING

I've been a bit slack at posting my daily Santa drawings here on the blog, so here is a bumper omnibus round-up of Santas 13-20!












Check out the full set (and all the names of the Santa-suggesters) over on the Art Monkey page on the Phoenix site!

I thought taking requests from Phoenix readers would be an interesting exercise, and was really just hoping it would throw up some New Things For Me To Draw - something that, after drawing several years worth of Santas, was actually becoming a little challenging. Anyway, I think I can safely say this objective has been MET. Met with bells on.

Anyway, a further delightful surprise was supplied by those fine folks at the Phoenix who took some of the Santas and applied some cutting-edge animation techniques and high-end musical production, and produced... THIS.


It is very silly but it did make me laugh. (And also my son absolutely loves it - I think he probably accounts for half it's views in YouTube single-handed.)

Only a few Santas left till Christmas! I think I have just one spot left open, so if you or any young Phoenix fans in your family have any ideas for Santas you'd like to see, get 'em in fast to: artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Pirates of Pangaea: Escape From Razorbeak Mountain

Starting on 5th January 2013 in issue 53 (I think) of The Phoenix is the second FRANKLY EPIC run of m'colleague Dan Hartwell and I's Pirates-and-Dinosaurs-and-Pirates-RIDING-Dinosaurs adventure tale, The Pirates of Pangaea. It's another big one. OH MAN is it a big one.

Here are a couple of not-too-spoilery choice panels of the inked artwork, to give you a taste.






Such fun stuff coming up. To make sure you don't miss out on a single teeny tiny pterosaur, why not rush out and subscribe to the Phoenix? Go on. This Christmas, give the gift of PIRATES RIDING DINOSAURS.


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Advent Monkey, day 12: Junk Food Santa!


Behind Door Number 12 on Art Monkey's Advent Calendar, it's... Junk Food Santa! Suggested by Phoenix reader, Roisin McAuliffe!

Dammit, why are all these Santas making me HUNGRY?
  
Check out Art Monkey's page on the Phoenix website for all the Santas so far, and to get started drawing your own! And please keep the Santa Suggestions coming, to: artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk



Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Advent Monkey, day 11: SQUID SANTA!



Behind Door Number 11 on Art Monkey's Advent Calendar, it's... Squid Santa! Suggested by Phoenix reader, graffiti knitter and noted squid afficionado Lauren O'Farrell!

Mmmmm, Calamari.

  
Check out Art Monkey's page on the Phoenix website for all the Santas so far, and to get started drawing your own! And please keep the Santa Suggestions coming, to: artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk
 
 

How To Make (Awesome) Comics COMPETITION!




This week's How To Make (Awesome) Comics strip in the Phoenix - which by kind permission I have reproduced in its entirety here - features the start of a brand-new and very exciting Create-a-Comic COMPETITION!

It's kind of the wrapping-up of a year's worth of Professor Panels and Art Monkey's lessons, and I thought it would be nice to go out in style by encouraging the comics' readers to pull it all together and have a go at making their own panelologist publications! The rules are very simple - comics should be at least 4 pages long, and have a title, and THAT'S ABOUT IT. Go nuts! The closing date is the 15th January 2013, so there's plenty of time to plan and make and create - maybe as a little project over the Christmas holidays?

M'colleague Sarah McIntyre wrote a great blog post the other day for librarians about getting started with kids' comics, and mentioned some of the many benefits that comics - reading them and making them - give to children. I'd strongly recommend reading her post; it's something I couldn't agree with more, and this competition is part of my ongoing bid to help get every child in the country busily making their own comics.

Pick up this week's Phoenix or head over to the website for all the details (scroll down past all the Santas), and for loads of page templates and activity sheets and all kinds of FUN STUFF to get you started. And I hope to see MANY FINE COMICS in January!

(A final note: if this week's strip is the 'last lesson of term', then the next couple of weeks see us closing out 2012 with the comics equivalent of Bringing In Games. Much fun stuff coming up!)


Monday, 10 December 2012

Advent Monkey, day 10: Chocolate Santa!

 Behind Door Number 10 on Art Monkey's Advent Calendar, it's... Chocolate Santa! Suggested by Phoenix reader Emily (age 9)!

Mmmmm, Chocolate Santa.

  
Check out Art Monkey's page on the Phoenix website for all the Santas so far, and to get started drawing your own! And please keep the Santa Suggestions coming, to: artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk

Advent Monkey, day 9: Spinosaurus Santa!



Behind Door Number 9 on Art Monkey's Advent Calendar, it's... Spinosaurus Santa! Suggested by Phoenix reader Freddie Walker!

 
Check out Art Monkey's page on the Phoenix website for all the Santas so far, and to get started drawing your own! And please keep the Santa Suggestions coming, to: artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk

Advent Monkey, day 8: Banana Banana Santa and his Bananas Bananas Bananas

Behind Door Number 8 on Art Monkey's Advent Calendar, it's... Banana Banana Santa (and his Bananas Bananas Bananas)! Suggested by - well, by several people in fact, including Phoenix readers and pals James Christie, Jez Higgins and Craig Naples! Thanks all!

(Here he is without his Santa hat on, in case you have no idea what this is all referring to.)

By the way, while I'm here: just in case anyone thinks I have been corrupted by the filthy lucre of Big (well, medium-sized) Comics,  I just wanted to make clear that this year's ridiculous Santafest is, as in previous years, done simply out of the spirit of the season and because I like drawing Santas. I just thought that this year I could sort of tie it in with the Phoenix - well, as my Christmas present to them, really. It's a publication and a readership that have made 2012 pretty much the best year of my creative career to date, and I just wanted to do something to say thanks.

Okay, awkard moment of genuineness over! Check out Art Monkey's page on the Phoenix website for all the Santas so far, and to get started drawing your own! And please keep the Santa Suggestions coming, to: artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk

Advent Monkey, Day 7: Ballet Santa

Behind Door Number 7 on Art Monkey's Advent Calendar, it's... Ballet Santa! Suggested by Phoenix reader and comics superbrain Jenni Scott!
 
(I was particularly happy to draw this one because, as we have learned this year, it turns out I quite like ballet.)
 
Check out Art Monkey's page on the Phoenix website for all the Santas so far, and to get started drawing your own! And please keep the Santa Suggestions coming, to: artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk


Advent Monkey, day 6: Hot Dog Santa

Behind Door Number 6 on Art Monkey's Advent Calendar, it's... Hot Dog Santa! Suggested by my own dear nephew, Phoenix reader and budding comics artist Lex Cameron!
(Keen-eyed readers will spot a copyright-infringing guest appearance from The Pilot, star of James Turner's brilliant Star Cat, which I hope James will forgive as Lex is a big fan and, well, I just thought it woudl be funny really.)
Check out Art Monkey's page on the Phoenix website for all the Santas so far, and to get started drawing your own! And please keep the Santa Suggestions coming, to: artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk


Advent Monkey, day 5: WRESTLER SANTA

 
Behind Door Number 5 on Art Monkey's Advent Calendar, it's... Wrestler Santa! Suggested by Phoenix reader and noted Santa afficionado Chris Sims!

(To be precise, Chris' request was for Macho Man Randy Savage Santa, but - well, frankly, I wasn't sure I could type those words into the Phoenix twitter account.)
Check out Art Monkey's page on the Phoenix website for all the Santas so far, and to get started drawing your own! And please keep the Santa Suggestions coming, to: artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk

Advent Monkey, day 4: Jelly Santa

 
Behind Door  Number 4 on Art Monkey's Advent Calendar, it's... Jelly Santa! Suggested by Phoenix reader Luke Reid!

Check out Art Monkey's page on the Phoenix website for all the Santas so far, and to get started drawing your own! And please keep the Santa Suggestions coming, to: artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk

Monday, 3 December 2012

Santas Santas Santas! Also, Santas.

 

Yes, it's that time of year again! The time when for some reason, despite having way too much work to do already, I decide to draw a different Santa every day and post it on the internet! (For new followers: seriously, every year. 2008, 2009, 2010... I took a year off in 2011 and look, apparently now the world is going to end. Sorry about that.) Actually, this year's is going to be a little different - rather than drawing them myself I will merely be facilitating the event for my colleague Art Monkey, famed sketching simian star of the fabulous Phoenix Comic. Every day he'll be drawing a different Santa, based where possible on suggestions from readers of that august periodical. So if you - or any young Phoenix fans in your family - have any Santas you would particularly like to see, email them to artmonkey@thephoenixcomic.co.uk (I hope he doesn't mind me giving out his address like that). Or, you know what, just tell me and I'll make sure I pass them on next time I see him.

Here we are on the 3rd so we are 3 SANTAS IN ALREADY. Day 1 was Sheep Santa (suggested by Gemma Collins):

 And then on day two we had THIS funky fellow:

Hippy Santa! Suggested by Gemma Stephens. And today's entry was (my favourite so far): VALKYRIE SANTA, who you met at the top of this post - suggested by Phoenix fan Holly (daughter of @miss_sb on twitter).

More tomorrow - and indeed every day until Christmas! Follow the Phoenix on Twitter to see 'em as they appear. And I will try and collate them here. (I'll just check with Art Monkey that that's okay.)

AND as if that wasn't enough early-seeming festive cheer: I spent Thursday evening and then much of Saturday this week at the Oxford city branch of Waterstones, where my Phoenix colleagues Kate Brown, Paul Duffield and I were helping put together a funky window display. 

 Paul and Kate finishing up the logo!
Santa Cornflower! Having her feet tickled by Bob.
Paul Duffield, touching up a T-Rex.

The window painting was a lot of fun - it took a bit longer than originally planned but I genuinely loved the results, it just looks brilliant and hoepfully will entice lots of curious punters inside to buy comics and gift boxes. Seriously, if you live in Oxford, drag your kids down to Waterstones childrens section to check out the Phoenix Nest that's currently on display. It is RATHER MAGNIFICENT.

 

If you look closely at that image you'll see they're not only selling the weekly comic, they also have a stock of the rather excellent new Phoenix Gift Boxes. Each contains a brilliant little mini-comic, some badges and stickers and postcards and stuff, and- most important - a 5-issue gift subscription to the Phoenix! "BEST PRESENT EVER!" the box cries out, and frankly I rather agree.


If you are thinking of christmas gifts for any children or comics fans or indeed just persons of taste, discernement and awesomeness in your lives: Phoenix Gift Boxes! And hey, if you get them now, your subscription'll kick in in time for you to catch the start of...

 

...and let me tell you, you will not be wanting to miss THAT.

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