Thursday, 31 March 2011

A is for... Astro Boy Attacking Ayanami. In Atlantis.

A is for... Astro Boy Attacking Ayanami, in Atlantis

Here is the very first entry in Neill's A-Z of Awesome Japan!

  • Astro Boy is a robotic star of manga and anime, created by the great Osamu Tezuka. He's kind of like a robot pinnochio, but with machine guns in his butt. He is awesome.
  • Ayanami Rei is a character from Studio Gainax's classic anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, which I am sad to say I've only seen about an hour of, and it was one of the more mind-meltingly confusing hours of my life. But I am going to give it another try, before you all shout at me.
  • Ayanami was also the name of a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, which saw extensive deployment in WWII. If you look carefully you can see it's wreck there in the background.
  • Atlantis is a legendary sunken island or underwater kingdom. Aquaman comes from there. He is not in this picture.

Today's picture was suggested by the marvellous @teamsmithy on Twitter, although I threw in the Atlantis bit for @pretzelsncheese.

Phew. Did I really say I was going to do one of these every day? What the hell was I thinking? Ah well, only 25 more to go. If you would like to suggest a topic for future letters, you can do so via Facebook, Twitter, or right here in the comments on this blog. And you can of course sponsor me at my JustGiving page - all proceeds to the Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Fund.

EDIT: updated 04/04/11 with a redrawn and hopefully less rubbish version of this picture.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Neill's A-Z of Awesomeness 2: JAPAN

A_Z JAPAN colour

From Akira to Dragonball Z, and all manner of awesomeness in between.

I'm not going to go on about how shocked and saddened I've been by recent events in Japan; I don't really have the words. What I'm going to do instead is briefly outline what I'm going to try and do as my small bit to help.

Starting on March 31st, I will be drawing and posting a picture a day, one for every letter of the alphabet, of Things That Are Awesome. I did something like this once before and people seemed to like it, so I thought I'd try it again but with a couple of differences: 1) this time we'll be focussing on the insanely rich field of JAPANESE Things That Are Awesome, and 2) I will be asking people to sponsor me in this endeavour. I've set up a JustGiving page where you can go and support the project, at All money raised will go to GlobalGiving's Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund, where it will be used to support organizations providing relief and aid to victims.

Please do chip in if you can! This is going to be rather a lot of work and if no-one sponsors me I'm, uh, going to feel totally stupid.

To join in, you can suggest things for me to draw in comments on this blog, at my twitter feed or on the A-Z of Awesomeness Facebook Group. Feel free to suggest anything you like from the worlds of Manga, Anime, Gaming, Movies, Music, and I will attempt to draw the best suggestions. Bonus points for alliteration, and it might be nice to get a bit of cross-cultural exchange going on in there - if, for example, for 'D' you were to suggest Doctor Who and Doraemon Dunking Donuts Daintily, well then I would probably have to draw that. You get the idea.

I'll be posting the first picture on Thursday 31st March, and then one a day every weekday till we're done (Bank Holidays excepting). That sound okay? You've got a few days to start thinking of awesome things, and then we're off!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Comics, Hills, and Big - REALLY BIG - Pencils

DFC Library Wave 3

Here is some very exciting news to come back from holiday to: it looks like the next batch of DFC Library titles have been officially announced! They are, from L-R:

  • Super Animal Adventure Squad - a hilarious and hugely enjoyable strip by one of my very favourite cartoonists, James Turner,
  • Baggage by The Etherington Brothers- your guess is as good as mine, as excitingly this one is ALL NEW, but based on Bob & Lorenzo's previous form, and the sneak tidbits I've gleaned about it here and there it promises to be pretty mind-boggling, and:
  • The Boss by the marvellous John Aggs and the similarly marvellous (it's genetics, see) Patrice Aggs - one of the great early strips in the DFC, a fantastic mystery crimebusting school story - great mix of old-school British comics feel with something fresh and modern, I'm really happy to see this one being collected.
So yes, hooray for that! And hey, other news: it seems that the aforementioned Bob & Lorenzo Etherington's first DFC Library title, Monkey Nuts, has completely sold out of its first print run! Enormous congratulations, chaps, it's fantastic news and a salutary lesson in what is possible when hard work and indefatigible enthusiasm meet sheer mind-boggling, jaw-dropping talent. GOOD THINGS that's what.

And hey, quick: go buy Mo-bot High WHILE STOCKS LAST.

Asha 600px

Did I mention I'd been on holiday? Look, proof:


Me, awed by the majesty of nature.


Me and the boy, awed by a REALLY BIG PENCIL.

That last one is, in fact, the BIGGEST PENCIL IN THE WORLD, as seen at Cumberland Pencil Museum. Yes, really. That is a place that exists. And we went there. Come on, I'm a comics artist - you think I can see a sign that says 'Pencil Museum' and not go in? Well I cannot.

Right, that's enough of that. More - and possibly, if I don't talk myself out of it again first, a Bit Of An Announcement, tomorrow!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


buttercup comic

I had an absolutely fantastic time the other week doing a Fun Comics Workshop Thing at Stanford-in-the-Vale primary school in Oxfordshire. We had all morning so I got to test out a few new ideas on the delightful and enthusiastic members of Year 2 (Buttercup) Class. We did a spot of live audience-participatory comics creation, and then to the main business of the day: getting all the kids to make their OWN characters and draw comics about them. Ninja schoolkids, stunt-riding dolphins and evil panda dentists abounded, and I think a lot of fun was had all round. (Well, a lot of fun was had by ME, certainly. And that's the main thing after all.) There are lots of pictures and stuff from the event - and some of my TOP SECRET COMICS CREATING TECHNIQUES* REVEALED - over on the school's website, so why not have a look?

It's so much fun doing these kinds of events with kids and seeing all the different personalities coming through in their comics and their approaches to it. There's always someone who's finished while everyone else is still on their first panels, and someone else who's still painstakingly and seriously working out their plot while the rest of the class have all finished drawing already, and there's always at least one kid who just seems to *get* it so effortlessly and comes up with something so brilliantly entertaining and original that they are clearly a future comics superstar in the making.

Once everyone was finished we thought it would be cool to collect everyone's strips into a Class Comic, with the suitably pulse-pounding title of Buttercup's EPIC COSMIC COMIC and I drew a cover for it featuring a bunch of the newly-minted characters. Or as many as I could fit on, anyway. That title was already about 70% of the cover, right there.

Huge thanks to Debbie Turner and the rest of the teachers and teaching assistants who made me so welcome at their school, and of course most of all to Buttercup Class themselves!

* not necessarily that Top Secret actually.

Batman VS Carrots

gardening batman

Here is another recent commission - this time of the Caped Crusader himself, harvesting carrots. Drawn for a customer of great taste and discretion, who apparently likes Batman, and gardening.

A companion piece depicted Spider-Man, knitting a nice scarf. I think this is a fine way to come up with a subject for commissions. Want a piece of original artwork, but not sure what the subject should be? Use this simple formula:

Your Favourite Superhero


A Hobby That You Enjoy


A Drawing That Would
Totally Be Awesome On Your Wall

By this reasoning, if I was ever to order a commission from myself, it would be of... hmmm. Kitty Pryde from the X-Men... watching Masterchef while eating yoghurt? Yes, that sounds about right. And now I think I need to draw that.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Judge Dad


Bedtimes were strictly enforced in the Dredd household.

I was going to save this for Father's Day but, dash it, that's ages off. It was too cute, I had to blog it. A commission of "Judge Dredd, with two little dredds - toddler dredd and baby dredd." Quasi-fascist comic-book anti-heroes and parenting; thanks to Nikki who asked for it, for giving me the excuse to draw something so entirely fun.

Do you know a Dad? Do they have a nerdy thing that they are into? Would you like to buy them a lovely present? Still taking commissions here!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011



I thought as an experiment I'd try offering a few commissions for sale in my web shop. To quote myself:

A piece of original artwork! Of WHATEVER YOU LIKE! Yes, if you've always wanted to own a picture of Batman punching out a Robot Shark, now is the time! Doesn't have to be that, it could be Deadpool playing tennis with Johnny Alpha. Or Lois Lane sharing a pizza with Captain Picard and a vampire rabbit. I'm happy to draw pretty much anything, is what I'm saying.
Single character A4 drawings and multiple-character A3 drawings available! We'll see how it goes, if lots of people want one I'll probably withdraw the offer rather quickly. BUY NOW for your chance to own your very own piece of Artwork By Me of something Awesome / Stupid / Awesomely Stupid, as you prefer.

UPDATED: due to demand / popular opinion / me coming to my senses, I've now put the prices up a bit: £25 for an A4 drawing, £45 for A3. STILL A BARGAIN.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Fun in the Devonian Era

An excellent start - tickets TOTALLY SOLD OUT in Exmouth! Well, okay, they were free. But STILL.

I've been doing lots of talks and workshops lately, including three jam-packed days at various libraries around Devon. I did a talk in Exeter a few months ago back when the book came out, and yet for some reason that didn't put them off wanting me back. You can't say they weren't warned.

Anyway, as part of this little Mini-Tour of Awesomeness I visited (deep breath): Exmouth, Exeter, Crediton, Cullompton, Tiverton, Sidmouth and Seaton. Reasons of space and sanity prevent me giving a full blow-by-blow account of how they all went, so suffice to say Fun Times were comprehensively Had. I think we ran the full gamut, from quiet sessions where the challenge was getting everyone warmed up and into the whole 'shouting out ideas and making up silly comics' thing, to sessions so full of joyous unbridled lunacy that the only problem was trying to keep a lid on it so that things still made some sort of sense and didn't spill over into outright revolution-in-the-streets-level craziness. Happily, I think most of the sessions hit that sweet spot known as "somewhere in between".

(Me drawing a Ninja Duck. Or Crocodile. The debate rages. Thanks to Susie at Cullompton Library for the photo! Check out more pictures, and even a couple of short but rather entertaining videos of me drawing stuff, over at the Cullompton Library Facebook Page!)

Things drawn, to name just a few, included:

- vampire pokemon and their takeover of the lib-con coalition government
- time-travelling chainsaw-wielding rabbits with a fatal weakness for cheese puffs
- a branch of KFC floating on a pirate ship, under the sinister disembodied gaze of Colonel Sanders' evil floating head.

Yeah. And seriously, that's only about 5 percent of the craziness. Needless to say, I had a fantastic time throughout, meeting the certifiably fruitcake children (and adults) of Devonshire and (hopefully) teaching them a little tiny bit about the fun of making comics. A bonus extra lovely thing was getting to see the fantastic Luisa Plaja (whose books I love and have been known to draw fan art of), who brought her charming, cheese-puff-fixated kids along to the Exeter session.

Huge thanks to everyone at Devon Libraries for making me so welcome and running everything so smoothly, and particularly to Hazel Skinner, Mark West, Kate Mackenzie and Lynda Bowler for looking after me so well and keeping me plied with cups of tea and pasties.

Completely knackered now, of course. Am typing this on the train home, and by the time I get a chance to post it I'll have done another school event already, in the wilds of Oxfordshire tomorrow morning. (I hope it went well. Good luck, Future Neill!)

UPDATED: It went great! Thanks, Past Neill!