How to create your own comics

How to create your own comics

If you’re looking to start producing your own comics you’ll need to expand a hell of a lot of effort, but my advice is to start small.

If you’re a writer, then scour universities or arts and crafts events for potential artists.

If you’re an artist, then there’s no reason you can’t start documenting the stories you encounter on a daily basis.

Aim to produce something, say, a small lo-fi black and white comic.

Run it off on a photocopier and hand it out to locals within the next six months.

Upload your comics to your website.

Get feedback and repeat until you’ve done several comics.

From there on in it’s just a matter of scale.

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posted by JP at 4:44 pm  

Sunday Night, Monday Morning

Sunday Night, Monday Morning

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posted by JP at 11:38 pm  

Last night’s TV: Alien vs Predator: Requiem

Last night’s TV: Alien vs Predator: Requiem  

I’m watching AvP: Requiem and asking myself why it’s devoid of any excitement.

It’s got two aliens punching the shit out of each other in extended battle scenes, but the film fails to stoke any interest.

By the same token, I saw the recently released Predators film and while it was tipped as a return to the roots of the Predator series, it didn’t rouse any interest either.  

I enjoyed the first two Predator films, so what’s gone wrong here?

Why does, what on paper sounds like fun, fail to register as a hit on screen?

The first Predator film had several things going for it: a genuinely new movie monster, a gripping structure which begins one way, twists in the middle and ends another, characters deftly drawn in swift strokes and whose responses to the situation kept you guessing.

The second one had the above structure, and although the mystique of the Predator was lessened, we were still kept guessing to see how the Predator would play in its new environment and how new characters would react against it.       

What made these Predator films compelling is that they present an extraordinary challenge to seemingly ordinary people, who, prior to the Predator’s arrival, are already knee deep in a tense situation.

When we get to Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, the focus seems to be more on giving screen time to the film’s title concept then it does using the Predator itself to tell an original story.

The premise seems to be, what story can we bolt on to make our extended fight scene last 90 minutes, rather than what’s going to make compelling viewing for 90 minutes?

The Predators film tries as hard as it can to keep to the format of the first film, which isn’t a bad starting point, but it doesn’t move beyond that in its ambition.

You end up watching a 2010 film that was done right the first time in the 1980s – doing it again is pointless, especially as you know what the characters are up against right from the start, when they spend 30 minutes laying out territory that’s already apparent.

If there is another Predator film in the works, consideration should be given to putting the lead star in an entirely new situation and setting.   

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posted by JP at 1:42 am  

History, TV and Comics

History, TV and Comics

Historians will have little trouble documenting politics in the 21st Century, but how will comics compare?

Widespread multi-channel rolling news coverage, speedily published ministerial memories and archived web coverage will assist academics in building a comprehensive picture of just what went on behind the doors of power.

Filmmakers also benefit because they’re able to construct a narrative cross-referenced from a variety of sources, which you’d assume would get you closer to a version of the truth.
Couple the narrative with news reports of historic events as they unfolded and you get a film that can blur the lines between what is fact and what is fiction.
     
The Special Relationship – Saturday 18th September, BBC2, 9.30pm used this format well to document the relationship between Blair and Clinton.


The relationship was dissected though key events, starting from Blair’s pre-election win in 1997 and taking in the Northern Ireland peace talks, Monica-gate, Kosovo and ending on Bush’s election to power.

The relationship began as one of shared ideology and excitement, with each giving the other peer-to-peer support throughout their own trails.

The hesitancy over taking action in Kosovo strained their friendship and foreshadowed Blair’s eventual action in Iraq.

However, what struck me while watching the programme is how a medium like television can react and build a historic picture of events far quicker than anything we’ve seen in comics, when comics themselves could provide a far quicker response that’s just as – if not more – detailed.

Indeed, you could have an evolving maxi-series comic book, which could document the relationship as it happened, over an extended period of time, much like a newspaper.

This would have the benefit of the writer and artist rapidly documenting events as they impacted on people, rather than through any pre-determined spine given to a story.

We’re only able to connect the dots of relevance between events looking back at something and seeing it as a whole.

But by looking back and giving a shape to a set of events we run the risk of making it fit the narrative, rather than depict how people were actually affected.      

As a pulp medium, comics could easily rise to this challenge. So why doesn’t it?

Comics have a strange relationship with documenting history.

While most of us can riffle through our comic collection and remember where we were in our lives when we bought a particular issue, the comics themselves very rarely reflect the times they were created.

Apart from the adverts printed in comic books, the worlds presented in mainstream comics are virtually indistinguishable from those featured in works from 10 years ago.

In fact, the worlds presented in comics seem more a function of whatever trend the publisher was following at the time, or whoever was thought of as a hot writer or artist.

The reason why a lot of seminal comic books or graphic novels are still mainly those created in the eighties are, I think, because they reflected the attitudes and textures of the times they were created.

Granted, they can appear slightly archaic in today’s ultra-informed society, but they do have a historical resonance that will see them remembered long after a lot of newer works, which have no connection to the times they were written in, will be forgotten.    

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posted by JP at 12:26 am  

The Prisoner

The Prisoner

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posted by JP at 10:30 pm  

Big Brother Final and (a tenuous link to) Comics

Big Brother Final and (a tenuous link to) Comics

The UK series of Big Brother ended last week. Producers brought to a close a series that spanned 10 years and which set the tone for reality television formats throughout the noughties.

Big Brother was a show created for its time: the heightened use of the web, sophistication of phones and emergence of interactive television in 2000, which is when the show started in the UK, foreshadowed an audience that would become hungry for 24 by 7 updates, as well as controversy.

All this played into the hands of the Big Brother format; chuck a handful of personalities into a house and film and broadcast the whole thing (almost) live.

The anthropological qualities of watching a human zoo made the show compelling in its early days. It had never be done before on UK TV.

But by the time viewing figures had dropped substantially, producers realised the show had started delivering diminishing returns in drama.

Paradoxically, the very contestants recruited for their explosive or quirky behaviours became stale imitators of contestants from earlier seasons, albeit with the volume turned up.

What made the show compelling in earlier seasons was seemingly ordinary people getting involved in bizarre yet emotionally identifiable situations.

In later seasons, it was bizarre people clamouring for fame and whatever media deals they could cook up by acting as outrageously as possible in the house.

And ultimately, a TV show on terrestrial television could never be as outrageous as half of the stuff you can find on the web nowadays.

The decision to end the show was sensible. Licensing opportunities could have kept the show’s producers in Christmas turkey for the next few years, but the danger was being reliant on a brand that had a limited lifespan and growing irrelevance in the cultural conversation.

The decision to close it will force producers to think of something new and just as contemporary.

What’s all this got to do with comics, though?

From looking on shelves today, there hasn’t been a forceful wave of watermark books that have raised the bar sufficiently to affect mass change in the way Big Brother has in television.

Equally, there has been little in the way of closing older lines of books to make way for new and more contemporary work – if anything, the current situation in the comic book industry is the reverse.

The comic book medium can be infinitely faster than television at reacting to the news agenda and chronicling social trends, but ironically its television that’s been more forward-looking in the past decade.

Big Brother, The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, Dr Who, Sherlock Holmes, The Street, The Office, The Thick of It – all these shows have raised the bar in what viewers can and should expect.

While the current honeymoon between film producers and comic companies will undoubtedly continue to stir interest in comics over the next three to five years, after that, screen producers will be looking for the next property that speaks to movie goers in a compelling and new way.

If all the comic book industry has to offer them is Iron Man 33, to an audience, who, at that point, may have had enough of super hero chic, the divorce is going to be messy.

If movie and TV licensing deals are what the majors are pinning their hopes on, then it would seem that now is an opportune time to start new and exciting lines, away from the super hero genre, that will preserve the comic book medium over the next 10 years.

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posted by JP at 8:37 pm  

Comic Book Heroes and Zeroes

Comic Book Heroes and Zeroes

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posted by JP at 5:49 pm  

London 2010 Photos

London 2010 Photos

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posted by JP at 11:25 pm  

CLiNT #1 Launch: Mark Millar and Jonathan Ross Signing at London Victoria

CLiNT #1 Launch: Mark Millar and Jonathan Ross Signing at London Victoria

The first issue of Mark Millar’s CLiNT comic magazine hit general retail today in the UK with mainstream stockists such as WHSmith and Tesco supermarkets selling copies.

This is big news for the UK comics scene as it potentially provides an accessible means for the general public to access new comics work without the associated stigma of walking into a comic shop or buying a comic.

CLiNT #1 is a mixture of features, articles and interviews as well as comics. The non-comics content is the sort of thing you’d find in magazines like Bizzare, Nuts and FHM. The actual comics content makes up 68 of the 98 pages and draws in big names like comedian Frankie Boyle and BBC talk show host Jonathan Ross, as well as Millar himself who handles duties on Nemesis and Kick Ass 2.

mark millar jonathan ross jp kamath clint 1

mark millar, jp kamath and jonathan ross @ CLiNT 1 Launch

It’s going to be interesting to see how this develops. Super hero movies are big right now and are going about increasing public awareness of super heroes and comics in general. Until now though there hasn’t really been a mainstream access point where the general public can converge and delve a little bit deeper into original material.

Here’s hoping CLiNT #1 goes the distance.

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posted by JP at 7:13 pm  

Who am I?

Who am I?

My name’s John-Paul Kamath, I’m the writer and editor of the critically-acclaimed London Horror Comic, a UK anthology of horror stories.

You can preview three separate stories from each of issue of the London Horror Comic for free online and you can also buy printed copies of each issue here.

You can also read reviews of the London Horror Comic here which includes praise from BBC comedian Stewart Lee, director of the award-winning musical, Jerry Springer: The Opera and Garth Ennis, Writer of Preacher and Punisher.

You can also listen to an interview I did about horror comics on BBC Radio 4.

I can be reached at:
contact london horror comic

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posted by JP at 12:48 pm