Steve Penfold

Welcome to Beyondthebunker.com

BTB Logo Digital WebsiteWelcome, gentle watcher, light night clicker, curious googler. Welcome furious indy collector, aburdism enthusiast, monkey joke verbaliser. I am the intelligence swarming at the heart of the Bunker. Nothing sees me. Nothing perceives me, but I perceive it. Sometimes for fun I will hang from the ceiling and allow myself to be caught in the peripheral of passer by’s eye. While you might wonder how many passer-bys there might possibly be in this labyrinthine pathway of scale lined hallways and echoing catacombs, often only truly revealed when the echo of a single, long travelling drip meets the ear of a twitchy wanderer. The truth is, for years before now, since the military leaders of yesteryear finally closed and bolted the sweat lined steel doors at the entrance, I was alone. I brooded quietly on my non-existence and whether by my knowing I was there I existed if by no other reason, unseen and unregarded.

But recently others have moved in. A man with a Moon for a head often comes down and looks at sandwiches longingly.  Once, he was joined by a small, dark haired, cheerful ‘chap’ who insisted on playing cricket in the main hall for hours on end. Such cheerful days, hearing willow on leather on stone. More recently, a goggle eyed rogue with a misplaced swagger has been entering the Bunker, looking for Moon. Moon often hides from him, curiously, and leaves shortly after. I like the Moon man. He seems kind. There is magic about him. This, I have seen.

Many centuries ago, when these were simply tunnels, wild men made their way through these tunnels on raids. They left death on the walls and I sense now it hunts them, waiting for their return. It waits, and occupies itself with twisting of men’s skin, pulling it tight to the bone, revealing rictus smiles before unleashing them out onto an unsuspecting world. This death has patience and them holds little sway on it, for it knows it will one day consume all things. This, I have seen.

Reverend : Blood Cries Out

Before Beyond the Bunker became a stand alone company, artist Steve Penfold teamed up with writer Cy Dethan, colourist Gat Melvyn and letterer Nic Wilkinson to create the darkest chapter in the genre-cracking Unseen Shadows series. Based on the novels of Barry Nugent in which a band of disparate ‘Fallen Heroes’ are brought together from across the globe to fight an evil that threatens ultimately to consume all in it’s path. Many of the team are picked from the fringe of society. None more so than former Reverend Jonathan Bishop.

Bishop, as a result of unintentionally crossing a nefarious drug cartel leader, has walked the line between life and death and returned, a weapon of vengeance in the name of a God darker than any had imagined. His value noted by a shadowy paramilitary industrial complex, the talents of this lost man are utilised and enhanced to make him considerably more deadly. A master assassin with no master, Bishop has disappeared and lingers in the shadows, wiping out those who hurt others with the intensity of flame. Those who have seen him, speak in whispers in case he hears and finds them again.

But a violent faith driven by absolution (or the absence of it) draws interest from dangerous quarters. Bishop’s path crosses twisted religions, now playing with science nobody understands fully. But, perhaps worse, he is certainly not the only result of the project that enhanced him.

A four issue mini-series to be completed and released immediately as a graphic novel.

Written by Cy Dethan, Pencils / Inks by Steve Penfold, Colours by Gat Melvyn and lettering by Nic Wilkinson. Based on ‘Fallen Heroes’ written by Barry Nugent.

 

Moon: An introduction

Have you ever looked up into the night sky and wondered what the Moon does when he’s not up there? You haven’t? Well this may well answer all the questions you never asked.

What if I was to tell you that the Moon has dropped out of the sky early hours of every morning for the last 2000 years and most recently puts on a suit, takes out a gun and fights ridiculous crime? Ever since a botched, drunken Celtic ceremony in 12ad, the Moon has been doomed to plummet out of the sky, hit the ground, brush himself off and fight the forces of the ridiculous on behalf of the British government. He was supposed to be a beautiful, blue Moon goddess who could sweep entire armies into the ocean but they messed it up and we ended up with a skinny guy with a Moon for a head.

He has worked his way up through 2000 years of British history. He has no face with which to emote, no mouth with which to speak. If you put a coke float in front of him he will drink it but no one is entirely sure how. He’s a surprisingly good shot and he’s teamed up with a homicidal traffic warden who pretends he’s from Chicago when secretly we suspect he’s from Sheffield.

Plus, he’s slightly inadequate – which we think makes him the quintessential British superhero.  On top of which we figured out the other day he’s most likely the world’s most famous superhero because if you think about it there are people in China who have never heard of Superman but you know they know what the Moon is.

 

BTB Classic: Secret Samurai Sketchwork

Secret Samurai - concept art for defunct project

I remain unsure as to how to start in terms of presenting my artwork and this seems as good a place as any. I’ll present some concept designs that never went anywhere. There’s a million reasons for this and given that nothing has been printed yet everything posted here could turn out to be concept art that went nowhere, however this is the female companion for a project I always hoped’d take off but I scuppered mainly through my own over exuberance. I developed the life out of it and failed to complete the original request. Lesson learned.

I’d love to do a samurai story based around the period in which Japan opened its borders after nearly a century of isolationism. I’d also like it to be pretty funny. Who knows, maybe one day….

http://penners.deviantart.com/

 

Practitioners 2: Katsuhiro Otomo

Writer/artist for Akira

At the top of each book sold of Akira there rests a very impressive name in bold lettering. Katsuhiro Otomo. The 2000 page epic would not exist without his genius. Personifying his countries often distant ideals of constant devotion to practice, work and perfection towards a focussed life goal, Otomo marched onwards to completing his masterwork even as he was unaware that he was developing it.

Born in Miyagi prefecture, Japan in 1954, Otomo left school in 1971 to become a Manga artist and succeeded quickly – unsurprising given his unswerving diligence in perfectly measured linework coupled with highly detailed yet crystal clear characterisations. He worked for ‘Action’ magazine until 1979 diligently putting out work on behalf of others.

With the release of solo projects (most notably Fireball (1979) and Domu: A Child’s Dream (1980)) he revealed himself to be a true auteur, a position that can only be occupied when you have mastered all aspects of a medium and his body of work illustrates this perfectly. Katsuhiro is the epitomy of the short gap between an artist’s hand and mind when fully utilised. Fireball was uncompleted but is considered a milestone as it carries themes that were carried forward into his later work. Domu: A Child’s Dream saw a battle between a senile psychic bent on secretly murdering residents of his apartment building for pleasure with his powers and a young girl, Etsoku who stands defiantly against him with her own battery of powers.

Its difficult to imagine Katushiro Otomo as anything other than a genius. Writer, artist, draftsman, director, and unself-conciously and perhaps unexpectedly global cultural avatar. His work, one most specifically, speaks for him more than many other creative practitioner in the field as there is little that can be gleaned as to his character from it because his understanding of so many elements is so diffuse and wide reaching.

Domu: A Child's Dream (1980)

His writing blends perfectly the spiritual, the cultural, the subtle and the brutal.

 

Any flaw visible in any work he has done before or since is overshadowed by Akira. Around bikers Kaneda and Tetsuo the world spins, never leaving the confines of the Neo Tokyo city limits in 2000 pages, as bikes blaze through neon streets, psychic children fight over broken buildings, people burst up walls and a general with a mohawk struggles to get an orbiting defence platform with a massive laser to explode a giant bug baby.

Tower blocks rise through panels with thousands of windows each as perfectly proportional as the last, even when they are upside down and falling into the sky. Broad themes of creationism rest perfectly next to action sequences involving tanks driven by amateurs through cluttered streets in Tokyo’s districts. Never has an artist been so adept at slapstick octane and subtle broad ideas, occasionally in the same panel.

Using his love of film as a benchmark for his artwork and his stripped down storytelling style, Anime was always a natural advance for Katsuhiro and he was working as a character designer for Anime Harmageddon one year before the beginning of his epic; Akira began. Helming Akira as an Anime in 1988, begun while the book was still incomplete, and creating one of the most (if not the most) far reaching Anime ever created and forever altering the standard to which western comic books are now held to.

A master who took a boyhood dream and worked diligently to see it happen, standing head and shoulders above an already advanced and crowded medium in the country that had long since mastered the form.

…. a clue….

I’ve been wearing my 2 Days Later 2010 T-shirt all day. Why do I have a 2 Days Later 2010 T-shirt? I’ll let Dan tell you tomorrow and I’m pretty sure you’ll find out yet more for the Friday Film…..

P

Destroy All Robots

So far there’s been a lack of original material from me – mainly as I was trying to figure out what to post and how to present it. We still haven’t figured out how to link things here so this is starting to seriously eat into out memory but I figured it was time to start posting. There’ll be more stuff designed for Beyond the Bunker soon but for now I’ll be posting up some recent or ongoing jobs here too.

Some work I completed recently for Darrin Grimwood and the Destroy All Robots project. A novel in which a television show pits multiple robots from a range of industries against each other in a ‘battle royale’ on an island in the South China sea.  An excuse to create tonnes of robots in a multitude of forms couldn’t be passed up. Take a look for yourselves at www.destroyallrobots.co.uk

 

Galleries are available at http://penners.deviantart.com/

Symbiont?

'Gah! Symbiote/ Symbiont??!'

A couple of days ago Dan wrote a review of the new Carnage mini series and continuously referred to both Carnage and Venom as Symbionts. Having read Spider-man and Venom series on and off for a bout 15 years I was pretty sure (downright certain) the word, as read in Marvel comics, is symbiote. Having sent Dan a mail to tell him its Symbiote not Symbionte I received a troubling reply. It turns out that the spelling I read constantly in Amazing Spider-man 344-345 and throughout the Maximum Carnage saga in the nineties was wrong all along.

 

For those not in the know; and because Dan’s taken this off the Comics section – possibly because its more about spelling than comics – Carnage was Cletus Cassidy, a psychotic serial killer with deep seated family issues that was bonded symbiotically to an alien organism that fed from him and supplied him with power and super strength and the ability to morph massive claws he could eviscerate passers by with for a loan of his central nervous system. He looked at the time of his creation to be a villain for Spider-man that finally rivalled Batman’s villains in DC.

Psychotic, unretrievable, unpredictable and massively homicidal – and more wicked than his larger grizzlier counterpart (alien dad) Venom who was the same thing only troubled by the anti-hero bug that Marvel always slaps on any villain that becomes popular.

But here was Carnage, Spider-man’s Joker (bollocks to the Green Goblin – he looks like an Ibizan gay clubber at Hallowe’en and was constantly sorting himself out and apologising), a destructive freak of nature that had to test the heroes no-kill policy simply by dint of being a raging loonface who’d slaughter grannies!! If Carnage turned up you should’ve assumed someone close to the main character was going to die just for being there.

Carnage full on

The 'symbiote' in question

He raged on long after I’d wandered away from Spider-man and comic books in general and when I returned I discovered he was a non-entity, viewed as a shade of Venom rather than the lunatic mutant hick cousin that he was always supposed to be. It seemed he’d never found a niche in the Marvel Universe and been sidelined or thrown in as a gimmick. All from the potential he had in Amazing Spider-man all those years ago. The Sentry flew him to space and tore him in half in three panels of The New Avengers 1. What a crock!

He is yet to appear in the new series – by the end of issue 1- however they’d better have given him some of his bite back – especially with the MAX ratings Marvel can give themselves now. I want to see Carnage do some carnage or I won’t be happy.

But worse than that – It appears that Symbiote – the word that was applied to both the Venom and Carnage organisms – was never a word and Marvel, with no sense of consequence, simply had a guess at a word that means a symbiont.

In the real world of crazy science that sounds made up a Symbiont (or symbiote) is an organism that forms a mutual biological relationship with another so that both organisms benefit. Each of the two provides certain advantages that the other lacks and they don’t impair the existence of each other – except that similar girl organisms might wonder what that thing is on your back.

Marvel co-opted the idea for a suit worn by Spider-man that returned to Earth with him from the Secret Wars crossover in the 80s. It gave him extra spider boing but made him quite more aggressive – which was helpful for a vigilante – and rude to his Aunt May – unacceptable in polite society.

He discovered its weakness was soundwaves and stood under bells in a cathedral as they rang to get rid of it. It worked but found a new home in Eddie Brock – who conveniently had a hate on for Parker too. Crazy alien, brain eating shennanigans ensued – a couple more ‘symbiotes’ appeared and Marvel kept calling them that and still do.

Anyway, I’d long since accepted that a printed word is a correct spelling and hadn’t retrospectively altered my thoughts in spite of having read the Metro every morning on the way into London, which every Londoner knows appears to have been copied down from the internet by a cheeky twelve year old truant with Tippex and a felt tip pen during a particularly arduous detention.

For me, it was vaguely permissable for a mainstream newspaper to have the odd typo as it’s momentary white knuckle communications by its very nature – even if the Metro is invariably yesterday’s news. But the idea that Marvel put out the wrong word for literally years in a mainstream global publication that spawned movie franchises and single handedly saved Marvel Comics from administration (Spider-man that is – not Carnage himself though I’d imagine a 5’11 psychotic lava lamp with claws’d put off the solicitors) is just mental to me.

It has writers – ergo – people who use words (I checked). Dan is one and he apparently used the right word straight out the gate. Who is monitoring these people? Is America spelt America? Is Authority spelt Authority? Is Super spelt Super? What’s going on?!

I’ve checked Oxford online dictionary and it couldn’t give a return for Symbiote but politely enquired if I meant Symbiont. This, according to the dictionary, is ‘an organism living in symbiosis with another’ which was definitely what I was looking for. This, I would suggest, might not help someone who was looking up the word ‘symbiont’ as they might then have to look up ‘symbiosis’ as well in order to unravel the mystery. ‘Does Symbiosis mean sharing a shower?’ they might say.

Shiiiiiiiiiit!!

'All I said was Sybionts...'

Tut, Oxford online dictionary. Tut.

So I’ve tried the US English dictionary to see if it was one of those words they changed the spelling of to pay off the French for winning the American War of Independence for them and it turns out its the same. This poses several questions to my mind.

1. How did Dan come across this word in first place? Are there a lot of symbiotic species in Kent?

2. Why is it Symbiont? Its Symbiotic and its symbiosis so what pleb staked his reputation on calling it a Symbiont? It doesn’t even sound as good. I’d rather be attacked by a Symbiont than a symbiote as a Symbiont sounds slower, like a bear sharing a central nervous system with a flipping Narwhal.

3. Why did no one spellcheck this in Marvel? I know the 90s was a big decade for them but still. DC must’ve left notes up somewhere just to bate them you’d think.

4. Should I have relied quite so heavily on comics to supply me with correct spellings of things?

The answer to this is probably not. I’ve checked a map. America is indeed, spelt America. Phew.

Practitioners 1: Simon Bisley

Black Heart 2000AD ABC Warriors: The Black Hole

Blackheart claims a guardsman 2000AD ABC Warriors: The Black Hole

Simon Bisley, born March 4, 1962 might have well have been born toking a mighty cigar made out of dragon skin and playing an electric guitar made of human bone and bits of broken tank. Simon Bisley is the ultimate British artist thanks to his work on 2000AD (ABC Warriors, Judge Dredd) Lobo and Heavy Metal.

Simon Bisley is a fine artist gone nuts. Much imitated, he inspired a generation of artists to draw the extreme in intricate detail. His work relies entirely on an intimate knowledge of human anatomy. He uses this to stretch, distort and excensuate in equal measure. He is a practitioner in the purest form. One that learned his trade intimately so he could turn it on its head and rape it silly.

Its hard to come up with enough superlatives about Simon Bisley’s work. His artwork looks like a methadone freakout in a schizophrenics wet dream. Muscles and sinew stretch across blood drenched and eyeball bursting panels lined with delicate and sumptuous colours or intricate crosshatched fine inkwork. Whether capturing an embattled mecha or a languishing nymph in minute (or no) clothing, Simon Bisley ruled the 90s in British comic books. No artist came closer in that period at capturing the grit, the savagery and the downright wild untapped sexiness and humour that the British comic book reader wanted.

He is a rock god with a pencil. Said to now be drawing for European magazines and having lost the legendary mojo of his youth I would have to say that there was little or no way he was going to keep the work he was doing without setting his right hand on fire and trying to paint with the stub of his finger while wanking crude oil into a cup. This is how I think when I’m faced with Simon Bisley’s work.

Slaine: The Horned God (1988) by Pat Mills and Simon Bisley

THE STORY SO FAR….

Final post of the night as Dan has finally remembered to up my status to partner / editor as opposed to contributer. Par for the course perhaps?

Basically, the story so far….

Dan Thompson and Steve Penfold;  2 hapless souls with an affinity for absurdist lunacy and between them one third of a degree in television and video production and a masters in comedy (no, really) met in a darkened section of an obscure historically themed attraction in central London, as actors.

They admittedly set about encouraging members of the audience to pile up all props in a faux burglary of 1600s London Bridge and are awarded, as previously mentioned, the auspicious, inaugural and one and only – Best Comedy Duo act at the attraction award ceremony – arguably due to a decision for one of the pair to play retarded.

This, obscurely, only encouraged the idiots and they promptly set about looking for weird shit to start putting out.

Shortly afterwards following a short film attempt for the 2 Days Later film competition – Ragnarok Dawn – soon to be appearing here – which was shortlisted but won nothing (causing Dan to throw a hilariously almighty strop in the theatre) they found that this somehow only encouraged them yet further.

Before long; a cavalcade of material began to pile up.

Most that Dan bothered to put into practice to meet with considerable success at the 2 Days Laughter competition – winning Best Editor ((Box) Fresh (2008)) and Best Stand Up (Dan Thompson vs 2 Days Laughter (2009)) and Audience Choice (Edd: Ducking the Past (2009)) while Steve was shortlisted at the 2 Days Later competition with his first solo effort; Cock (2009) which won special mention for Special Effects.

This year Beyond the Bunker’s second official entry, the Devil’s Fork – (all Dan’s previous efforts were under (Production) Box but will be presented here) – in association with James Eaton and Roughlee Films has been shortlisted for the 2 Days Later Horror Competition, the results of which will be revealed next week after the screenings in sunny Margate on Saturday.

Throughout all of this one project has remained constant (although Ragnarok Dawn, ironically, will not die) and that is the story of the Moon, now earthbound and battling the forces of nefarious evil on the streets of Modern London.

Moon was created by Dan Thompson and Paul Wade and brought to life in The Day the Moon got Too Close for  a one minute film competition in 2007. It followed the daily investigations and crook-catching activities of Moon. Seventies-style-yet-modern-day detective and tide-changing satellite of the Earth, Moon returns to the ground at dawn each day and chases crooks until sundown at which point he returns to his place in the sky.

While attempts to bring Moon again to a small screen floundered in a half hour film – the first director walking two days before shooting – prompting a phone call to Steve to take over at the last minute – of which 4 or 5 scenes were shot before we discovered that the timetable of crew available on the weekend and cast available during the week was unlikely to work due to it being utterly crap.

The storyboard and footage still exists; however the budget and frankly the will isn’t there to resurrect the project at present and may never be. The Moon project looked to be over.

However, in the years before Steve P had been working primarily – when not acting at tourist attractions – as an artist – occassionally but arguably most consistently in comics.

For 2 and a half years, working with writer Ben Morgan in Edinburgh and other creatives all over the UK in an attempt to put together a British based comic company (a few years before Mark Millar – HA!).

Steve P completed extensive concept designs and artwork for futuristic sci-fi battle comic Caelum Priory with Thommy Gunn and concept design work and artwork on Zookeeper by Ben Morgan. This was complemented with extensive design work for website, logo, heavy script editing and deliberation and multiple business plans that ignored the non-existent books in question – only for it to dwindle due to over expansion and lack of material. In 2008 Ben Morgan approached the now defunct Insomnia comics with Zookeeper and another artist was offered. Ben accepted and Beyond the Bunker effectively ceased to exist.

Now with Steve at a loose end, the suggestion of Moon as a comic book seemed obvious. Now effectively budgetless and with an existing story, storyboards, concept design and considerable good will it finally made sense. Dan started work on the script in 2008 for Moon: Book 1, following Moon through the story arc introduced in the second Moon attempt, only bigger. Finally, after 2 years of development and not a small amount of shouting and sleepless nights on behalf of Dan; and frankly a lot of hand waving and missed deadlines by Steve; Moon issue 1 is currently only a few short months away from release.

With the addition of Ian Chapman on colours and Ka-Blam comic printing press looking like our most likely printer at this stage we are booked in to attend our first comics convention in March as Beyond the Bunker comics – with a shade of Beyond the Bunker Productions / Studios available in DVD form on the table too.

Exciting times. There’s more to it of course with both of us involved in other projects but that will all be posted here in various forms.

So ‘Semper procedens’ as they used to say at my school.

(‘Ever onwards.’)  Tut.

P

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