June 2011

Concept Art From Clancy Wallencheck: Band of Butchers

This is the first bit of concept art from my next comic. It is obviously not drawn by me as I can’t draw for toffee, but is rather the work of Rob Carey who will, I’m delighted to say, be drawing the whole book. I was a fan of Rob’s work on Indifference Engine before the project and after seeing how well he’s nailed Clancy in what he called “a quick sketch I did in my lunch break” I couldn’t be more excited about seeing the rest. This comic is going to be something special.

You might notice that I’ve re-labelled the “Fallen Heroes” section of the menu to say “Unseen Shadows”. With the Unseen Shadows universe expanding beyond Fallen Heroes, it seemed to make sense to tweak the menu. You’ll still find all the old stuff there and I’ve added a link to the official Unseen Shadows site too.

I’ve actually had another bit of BoB concept art through in the last few hours, but it needs to go through Barry Nugent before we can think about making any of it public. Suffice it to say, it’s fantastic.


X-Men First Class: Meet the Class 1

Banshee: Sean Cassidy in X-Men (introduced as part of the second gen X-Men in Giant Size X-Men 1 along with Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Warpath and Storm). Banshee lived on in the comic books for some time, a stable, reliable side character and came into his own as leader of Generation X (alongside Emma Frost) in which he, Frost and Sabretooth kept the next generation of kids out of the way of the Phalanx. In X-Men: New Class he’s almost the only character placed pretty much in line with continuity in the books as his age in the sixties reflects the age he’d be now (relative to Prof X). A mainstay of the books for some time Banshee was killed trying to stop a plane crash.


Havok has occupied most of the theories surrounding the decision to start at the beginning. Havok’s most notable feature in X-Men is that he is brother to Scott Summers (Cyclops) and has always lived slightly in the shadow of his brother. That clearly isn’t the case here as Cyclops is part of the modern day canon of the previous movies. At the X-Men: First Class panel at MCM it was a question aimed squarely at the writers. All they could say was that Havok is related in someway to Scott. Hard to figure out where they’re going with this but if a franchise is built hopefully all will be revealed.


The inclusion of Mystique is an interesting choice. Most viewers of previous X-Movies’d be aware that Mystique has a very clear resolution to her plot line. Her association with Erik Lensherr in this adds a neat reference point to both sets of movies (with the Wolverine Origins franchise sandwiched in the middle).

Incredible Photos of American Ghost Ships

Afternoon chaps,

I stumbled upon this article the other day and thought it was too cool to not share. For decades scores of ships have been slowly decomposing in a Suisun Bay, north of San Francisco. These ghost ships, officially called The National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) but more commonly called The Mothball Fleet, were supposed to be kept on standby in case of a national emergency, however the emergency never happened and the ships have long since fallen into ruin.

Over the last two years, a team of guerilla (or perhaps ‘pirate’) photographers led by a man named Scott Haefner have been sneaking aboard these ships in order to document this fascinating site before it vanishes forever. Risking prosecution, as well as the other things one risks when running around giant rusting ghost ships, they have conducted several clandestine missions to the fleet in order to bring back these amazing images.

The Fleet is due to be broken up once and for all over the next few years but thanks to the work of Haefner and his team, we still have a chance to experience these haunting images.

For a full gallery of the photos as well as the fascinating story of how the team infiltrated the ships in the first place, HAVE A LOOK AT THEIR WEBSITE.

Finally, here’s a google map so you can have a closer look from above of this rather spooky landmark.

[googlemaps http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&sll=38.078186,-122.072382&sspn=0.140599,0.256119&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=38.071068,-122.099047&spn=0.023649,0.036478&z=14&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

Ghost ships are cool.


Practitioners 31: Tim Sale

Tim Sale, was born on May 1st 1956, in Ithaca, New York, but spent most of his early life in Seattle, Washington. He attended the University of Washington for two years before moving to New York to study, in part, under artist John Buscema at the School of Visual Arts.

Sale has an incredibly distinctive style. His characters rarely represent realistic proportions and his style of art is decidedly abstract, relying on impressionistic and silhouetted ideas as much as clear visual representation. His compositions are carefully applied, often at dizzying or deliberately engaging perspectives. He is assured in his use of space, very much in the same way younger, more technically complete artists are, but he feels no compulsion to fill open spaces. This gives his work a compelling and assured feel that draws the reader in.

The physicality of his characters is always exaggerated which reinforces the innate characteristics of the character. Batman is big and broad, his neck long and ascending into darkness. The linework is clear and precise when necessary but betray emotional lines when necessary. He is an economical artist, assured enough to apply his own style.

Sale does divide opinion, in part because of his continued association with Jeph Loeb, a marmite figure in comic books. Most artists do not like to be compared to Sale due to his disproportionate bodies and arguably loose compositions and detailing. In spite of his considerable talent he has fallen down the same path as McFarlane. A pronounced and distinctive style that has its time and moves on, Sale has perhaps been left in the 90s.

But that doesn’t reduce his relevance. He pencilled and inked Dark Victory and Long Hallowe’en alongside Loeb 15 years ago and it continues to sell today. His compositions and the realisation of the Bat-universes character offered a visual insight distinct and intriguing enough to represent familiar characters such as the Joker and Two Face in ways previously unseen. Some later incarnations of Catwoman were lifted from Sales work on Dark Victory.

The problem for Practitioners such as Sale and Loeb is that the industry advanced. Techniques continued to develop, the demand for greater sophistication and accuracy increased from the readership. Its hard to say whether the industry will swing back towards the more cartoon strip years of the ’90s. However, it was a period of unprecedented and unrepeated growth for the comic industry and Tim Sale became a legend during that period.

Tim began doing art for the series Myth Adventures in 1983 and was soon working on Theives’ World, a shared fantasy series created by Robert Lynn Asprin in 1978, comprising of 12 anthologies. After meeting Matt Wagner and Diana Schultz (who were at the time creating for Comico Comics) and Barbara Randall of DC Comics at the San Diego Comicon, Sales career began to develop.

The majority of Sale’s work has been with Jeph Loeb. With him, they developed a cooperative style of creating books, in which the art and the writing influenced each other. The duo, creditted as ‘storytellers’, produced extremely popular work such as Batman: Long Hallowe’en, Batman: Dark Victory. Most recently they have worked on the so-called ‘color’ books for Marvel Comics involving mainstay characters from Marvel such as Spider-man, Daredevil and the Hulk.

Through his association with Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale worked on the artwork for Heroes. He was responsible for the paintings created by precognitive artist Isaac Mendez as well as other artists on the show. He is also creditted as creating the comic book font used throughout the series, based on his own handwriting.

Sale is another marmite character in the comic book hall of fame. His dereliction of standard artistic practices such as proportion and physicality means that very few artists want to be compared to him. I have to admit that if my work was assocaited with Sales I would look for where I had gone wrong as on a technical level, Sale does not deliver. But that is his strength in the eyes of a great many comic fan. Artists are by the nature technical, but Sale moves beyond that and offers up artworks taht are deliberately abstract and caricatured. Hs Wolverine is broad shouldered and bubbled, his Gambit gaunt and haunted. His London is empty and uncongested and yet, as the first time I ever saw his work I have been unable to forget it. As an artist I admire Sale’s willingness to apply his own distinctive style to the comic book page. An industry should thrive on individuals like Sale as they push the form outwards towards alternative modus. If everyone in comic books drew like the Kuberts, Quitely and Coipel, with infinitely careful pen lines, consistent detailing and carefully applied physical proportions comic books’d be a dull place. Sale comes from the same stable as Jon Bogdanove, Erik Larsen and Todd McFarlane. Artists that contributed to the single most successful period in comic book history. While they may not be fashionable now clearly they have a great and broad appeal beyond the kernel of uberfans and tightly monitored comic book applications. An artist like Tim Sale would not get work in the comics industry right now, however the more I think about it – looking at a struggling comic industry – even with the money turning over in associated features – the more I think tahts not such a good thing. Men like Sale didn’t need to be optioned by a film company to pay their bills. They paid it through sales. And if you’re working in popular culture how many other benchmarks are there?

Monday Movie: Bitey of Brackenwood


Without a doubt one of my favourite pieces of animation on the web. I discovered the Brackenwood series about 5 years and have guarded it like a band that haven’t made it big yet. Featuring Bitey, a hairy faced little blighter with masochistic tendencies who darts about Brackenwood effectively being a goat hooved chav. The whole thing is imbedded in so much delirious anarchic charm that you can’t help but grin like an idiot. The design work and the detailing and choices of frenetic angles and the creature design makes this a series thats well worth checking out. We’ll be posting up the rest on here every Monday (why not?)

Moon 2: Sketch post

One of my main worries about drawing several books at the same time is stylistic. Moon and Fallen Heroes look very different in style. My intention is that The Reverend will also be a little different as the focus on its central character sort of asks for a more naturalistic style. Just to brush off the cobwebs for each project I try to sketch the characters just to get them clear in my head again before they start going back onto the full page. Who am I telling? No one. Its not very interesting but frankly a picture with no blurb underneath looks well weird. With Iv and Gat waiting in the wings Moon and Fallen Heroes pages will begin to appear inevitably before the end of this week. Check back here Thursday for FH updates and Monday for more Moon.

Dropping Science: The Tale of The Immortal Jellyfish

Ok, I promised that we’d talk about jellyfish this week so here we go. More specifically I want to talk about two cases of incredible jelly-based evolution that are as odd as any comic book…well any book not written by Warren Ellis.

The video above is by photographer Sarosh Jacob and was filmed while swimming in “Jellyfish Lake” in Palau. Twelve thousand years ago the ocean around Eli Malk island (where the lake is located) receded, cutting off the lake and trapping the jellyfish inside. With no natural predators to worry about the trapped jellies not only thrived but gradually lost almost all of their stinging power. Today it’s possible to swim through literally thousands of near harmless jellyfish. A more alien experience surly must be hard to find without leaving the planet.

Now the video is pretty cool but if the attributes “safe” and “numerous” aren’t impressive enough to sell you on the awesomeness of jellies then how about we throw in the word “immortal!”

In the waters of the Mediterranean there lives a species of Hydrozoa (basically a jellyfish) called Turritopsis dohrnii which has a very unique way of defending itself from harm.

When under threat from starvation or serious injury Turritopsis, rather than dying, sinks to the bottom of the sea and reverts to a younger version of itself on a cellular level:

The jellyfish turns itself into a bloblike cyst, which then develops into a polyp colony, essentially the first stage in jellyfish life.

The jellyfish’s cells are often completely transformed in the process. Muscle cells can become nerve cells or even sperm or eggs.

Through asexual reproduction, the resulting polyp colony can spawn hundreds of genetically identical jellyfish—near perfect copies of the original adult.”

–          National Geographic

Yeah, that’s right, not only does it become younger, but it duplicates while in the process. Quite literally, if you strike this jelly down it will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

So there you are, it turns out that immortality does exist in the animal kingdom, albeit in a very odd form. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman can now be said to be rooted in fact…but only if they recast Dream as a jellyfish.


The Extraordinary Tales of Monsieur Poppaleux #16 – La Marseillaise

In 1993, famous Belgian author and spring onion connoisseur, Dr Jean-François Bacharach created a series of books for children. The aim of the project was to use state of the art digital technology to educate and inform on a wide range of topics from maths and theology to poetry and tennis. Using pioneering clip-art techniques, he produced a staggering portfolio of work that continues to be widely distributed in schools across the world and Belgium. Sadly DrBacharach himself was eventually imprisoned due to his being ahead of his time and because he killed a quite staggering number of cats. However his work lives on here at the Bunker! We have secured the entirety of Dr Bacharach’s monumental work and now present it to you. C’est formidable!

Today’s contribution comes from the French version of M. Poppaleux. While they are considered by many to be over politicised imitations that fail to capture the essential essence of the Belgian strips, the French Poppaleuxs are, nonetheless, considered to be canon.

Unseen Shadows: Creative Teams confirmed…

Getting back into the game I’m already playing catch up. Unseen Shadows is now well underway with pages already in for Stephanie Connisbee: Operation Solomon and Clancy Wallencheck: Band of Butchers. Scripts will be ready soon for Napoleon Stone and the Fragments of Fate. Cy finished Reverend: Wrath of God some time ago. Myself, Gat and Barry are agreed it can be done and if it is – then Wrath of God may well be our proving grounds.

We have a long way to go but we’ve got our driving caps on and the engine is revving. Check back here for updates every Thursday about progress on all Unseen Shadows and Fallen Heroes titles…. Cheers

The Reverend: Wrath of God by Cy Dethan, Steve Penfold and Gat Melvyn

Napoleon Stone and the Fragments of Fate by Pete Rogers and Roy Huteson Stewart

Stephanie Conisbee in Operation: Solomon by Richmond Clements & Conor Boyle


Clancy Wallencheck: Band of Butchers by Dan Thompson, Robert Carey and Vicky Stonebridge

£1 Off Moon #1 Mail Orders…Forever!

Following a clever bit of negotiating we’re happy to report that we’ve been able to slash a whole English pound off the postage costs of Moon #1! It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while as we know not everyone can get down to conventions to buy them in person but it took a little bit of work to get it to a point where we could afford it.

Rather than a fiver, a mail order copy of Moon #1 will now cost you a mere £4!

Now you can own a copy of the critically acclaimed comic about a detective with a moon for a head, without breaking the bank! Hurrah!

Click the image below, use the secure paypal button and a bagged and boarded copy will be on its way to you in no time at all.


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