Tag Archive: interview


OneMonkey has been working away steadily on the ostragoth.co.uk website, which now at least has some links (to this blog, to my writing blog, and to Mark’s art portfolio). Once we’ve officially launched our graphic novel Boys Don’t Cry at Thought Bubble in Leeds on November 20th, we should be adding the facility to buy copies online. And of course as we produce more comics, graphic novellas or other similar collaborations they’ll be available there too.

Since we’ve had interviews with the artist, and I often air my views in these posts in lieu of interviews with the writer, I thought it was about time OneMonkey (letterer, editor, model, web designer, manager) spoke. Though he claims there’s not much to say.

Recently I’ve been fiddling around with registering a website and finding a webhost, sort of thing. At the minute we just have a very simple holding page up, but one that should be fully html5 and css3 compliant. Actually I should check that.

Then I asked for less technical stuff (once a sys admin, always a… geek, I guess):

I’m using @font-face for the fonts to try and make the website look similar to the graphic novel, but interestingly it doesn’t seem to work in Internet Explorer even though I thought it had downloadable font support in Internet Explorer 5. So far the website looks OK in firefox, chrome and safari but I guess I’ll have to poke at it a bit to make it render properly in IE.

Which is still quite technical…

For people using webkit browsers (safari and chrome) the holding page should have a gentle wind-strewn petal animation as a little extra (purple petals feature in the book). Firefox users might get css animations available in firefox 4. I haven’t made this css3 animation live yet because I was thinking it might just look out of context for people who haven’t read the graphic novel.

So if we skip the programming jargon, what OneMonkey seems to be saying is that he was going for the visual style and feel of Boys Don’t Cry reflected in the Ostragoth website. Coherence, if you will. Which (possibly) brings us nicely to the lettering style. I asked how he decided on the fonts, layout etc:

I had a reasonably clear idea of how I wanted the lettering to look – and no, lettering doesn’t mean I’m a tracer, because Mark did the inking of his sketches himself (everyone will get that, won’t they?).

Chasing Amy, if you didn’t spot the reference.

The text was essentially broken up into speech and prose. The prose was going to be like broken up blocks of distressed typewriter-ish text (which is the font you see on the website). The speech had to be visually different, and I essentially chose what I thought was a nice suitable font.

I asked if the dream sequence fonts were different again, as they fit with the more grainy unreal style of the art there:

Ah no, that’s the clever thing. The speech font is actually a little distressed also, and that shows up more at larger sizes. There’s very little speech in the dream sequences.

This page is a good example:

 

A page from a dream sequence in Boys Don't Cry
A page from a dream sequence in Boys Don’t Cry

 

For anyone interested, I did the lettering in OpenOffice Writer, with the art as a page background. The 80 pages were then exported to pdf to go to the printers. OpenOffice did have problems with this to start with but the art was at a greater resolution than necessary for printing so I resized it for printing. Is that incredibly boring?

Naturally I’m too polite to comment.

My current concern is getting the proof back from the printers in time for us to make any necessary changes to the print order in time for the deadline for the Thought Bubble print run. In the meantime I’ve been organising poster prints and postcard prints (for any fans of Mark’s art). These should be available with us at Thought Bubble, or perhaps even from the website when I get that bit sorted out.

I feature quite heavily in Boys Don’t Cry, being Mark’s photo-reference model for Hunter. I’ve had my hair cut since then though. It didn’t seem weird working with all those pictures of me. Mainly I was looking at the pictures in terms of dpi, aspect ratio and layout. I keep thinking I haven’t contributed much to this…

As OneMonkey walks away humming I’m Too Sexy again, I realise his ‘not much to say’ has expanded into a fairly long post.

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This time I asked Mark who (or which era of which comic) he would have liked to work with if he’d had the chance:
I’m tempted to say I would’ve liked to have worked with Stan Lee in the ’60s then I could have got no credit like all those artists! But seriously, I think 2000 AD of the late ’80s/ early’90s is my favourite period of comics, it would’ve been great to have been part of that. I wouldn’t have been in the same league as those people. I would have also liked a run on Daredevil especially under the under-rated DG Chichester years, Lee Weeks‘ work was great so I couldn’t have done better and I couldn’t have done 30 pages a month but it would’ve been fun to do one issue!
And the same question relating to current possibilities:
Tough one. Writers wise I reckon I’m already working with my favourite šŸ™‚ . But working with John Wagner & Alan Grant on a Judge Dredd would be cool (even though it probably wouldn’t suit my style), or Neil Gaiman on a Sandman story (which I reckon would *hint Mr. Gaiman if you’re reading*), or Clive Barker on a fetish horror comic,Ā  or a run on Daredevil written by me! There are lots of current artists I admire but I wouldn’t want to work with them as they’d show me up: Alex Maleev, Ben Templesmith, Glenn Fabry, Arthur Ranson to name but a few. Also I’d like to work with anyone who will give me..erm what’s it called..ah yes…money.
For the record, though I enjoy working with Mark (there’s the flattery, for one thing) I’d be prepared to stand aside for a Pexton-Gaiman partnership.

Further insights from sci-fi, fantasy and comic artist Mark Pexton – today he invites us (metaphorically. I don’t think we’d all fit) into the studio to watch him work. Or as OneMonkey put it, he answered my next couple of questions on techniques, tools and timescales (OneMonkey does love his alliteration).

Technique is usually the same: start with a pencil drawing, usually from a photo reference since life models are difficult to find. I prefer using photos I’ve taken but often I end up using stock photos from deviant art which sometimes is quite inspirational, I specialise in parasitising other people’s talent! Once I have a pencil drawing I scan it and mess about with it – I usually use Paint Shop Pro 8 for colouring, inking. I’d prefer to do everything traditionally but digital allows me to hide my multifarious mistakes and to do it all much quicker. I can usually do a page [of a comic] in a day or so if I’m in the mood, about the same for Interzone type things as well.

I figured it made sense to interview the star of our show, the artist Mark Pexton. In this first instalment he shares his earliest comic-related memories. Take it away Mark…
I first got introduced to comics by my Dad, at the local corner shop – for some reason in the early ’80s they used to stock some Marvel superhero comics, Spider-man and things – he used to read Marvel comics as a kid and I guess that inspired him to treat me and my brother to them (even though money was tight he was always spoiling us). The first issue that caught my imagination (it may have not been the first I read) was a copy of Daredevil. I loved (even as a 7 year old) the more serious tone to it than most other superhero comics (the issue I first remember reading featured the hero’s heroin addicted prostitute girlfriend and him losing his career and having his home blown up!). The issue in question was part of Frank Miller‘s return run on Daredevil (I didn’t know who Frank Miller was until much later) and featured great art by David Mazzucchelli (I remember clearly the beautiful panels he drew of Daredevil running across snowcovered brownstone rooftops, hisĀ almost photorealistic style still influences me today).
Subsequent to this first introduction I read comics off and on (but not regularly from issue to issue) until I made a friend at middle school (Ben Robinson, who even atĀ 12 had his own jazz band), he was very much into Judge Dredd and 2000 AD, something I had not come across before. After seeing one of his issues (aĀ trade paperback of the Judge Child quest featuring the wonderful art of Ron Smith and Brian Bolland)Ā I was hooked and started collecting them (even though my brother teased me that it was immoral to buy 2000 AD since Fleetway, the publishers, were owned by well-known crook Robert Maxwell!). I loved the dark humour and satire of Dredd (and the scantily clad sci-fi babes didn’t hurt either), and 2000 AD for years was my weekly treat (facilitated by the almost infinite patience of my Dad getting it for me from newsagents far and wide). 2000 AD showed me what was possible in comics: fully painted artwork, adult storylines, irony. The wonderful art of Glenn Fabry and Simon Bisley, and Simon HarrisonĀ inspired me, but most of all the brilliant dark scratchy ink art of David Roach on Judge Anderson. His work really was exceptional. I produced my own comics, (mostly just copies of 2000 AD) based on that.
Ben and I decided to create our own comic, he was a talented artist much more original than me, unfortunately it never came into existence and I lost touch with him.