The77 comic was launched by The77 Publications in May 2020 as an oversized British anthology comic and has self-funded and published six editions, each having been crowdfunded. Voted second favourite comic (only behind 2000AD) in the 2020 ComicScene Poll it has attracted a loyal following.who during lockdown used Zoom, Facebook and Twitter to participate in launch events, submit scripts and art, of which several of which have since been commissioned and published. The77 Annual is a step up that required more funding to produce a limited edition classically styled 144 page hardback, (which was an exclusive crowdfunding reward) and the 136 page softback retail edition, which is on sale from 15th November.
As well as over a dozen strips, The77 Annual has features on the history of The77, its cover art, text stories, a ‘spot the difference’ puzzle, a board game, and two colouring-in and ‘cut out and keep’ activities – all which add to the retro feel of British annuals from the past. The publishers were keen on producing an ‘all-ages’ book but advise that some content is 12+.
Cover art, Mark Montague Contributors: Glenn Fabry (Preacher/Aliens vs Predator), PJ Holden (Judge Dredd/MurderDrome), Lew Stringer (Beano/Combat Colin), Stephen Pugh (Hellblazer/Harley Quinn) among the professional talent and breaking artists and writers from The77 stable: Ade Hughes, Andrw Sawyers, Ian Stopforth, Ben Macleod, Brendon Wright, Peter Western, Damian Edwardson, Kish Williams, Toyin Morby Ajetunmobi, Antonio Gonclaves, Morgan Gleave, Andrew Richmond and Drew Marr, (a 12 year publisher of Gold Lion books. Scripts by: Steve Bull, Dave Heeley, Jo Heeley, Dave Bedford, Ben Cullis. Paul Neal, Christoff Rodriguez, Anna Everts, John Charles and Mamode Obegwele.
Other publications: Blazer 1, by Steve MacManus (pub April 2021) #2 Jan 2022. Pandora, (pub Mar 2022), Haunted (pub Oct 2022).
The process behind Andrew Sawyers finished cover for The77 issue 5
“I use Canson Bristol Board ‘Comic Art Paper’ – Rotring Artist Pens, Pilot Parallel and Fude Brush Pens, drawn initially in Staedtler Blue Line pencils, and then redrawn using any propellant pencil, I’m not fussed, whilst I prefer softer pencils such as a 2B It smudges !!!
I then color using markers, and often using an old toy spraying on the markers !!!
There’s a little paint in there, chalk, acrylic and water colour and soft pencil work and white pens which you can spray over using markers to colourize !!!”
V: Created by Steve Bull and Ade Hughes (Pat Mills’ Space Warp)
Trackless Depths: Created by Dave Bedford (Tempered Curse, Trompe la Morte) and Mac (2000AD)
Extinction 2040: NEW SERIES! Created by Paul Goodenough and Ian Stopforth (debut)
Undertow: Created by Joe and Jeremy Dunn
The Cell: Created by Bambos Georgiou (Marvel) and Andrw Sawyers
Penny Pentagram: Created by David Thomas and Jon Roydon
Division’77: Created by Dave Heeley and Sinclair Elliott. Artwork by Gary Burley (debut)
I know the Secret of the Alien: Created by Michael Powell (The Last Man and Matilda Atkins)and Mike Collins (2000AD, Doctor Who, Marvel)
Martian Law: Created by Brendan Wright (The Tinkling Triangles by Steve MacManus)
SGT. Shouty of the Moon Force!: Created by Lew Stringer (Beano, Tom Thug, Brickman, Combat Colin)
Red by Night, Black by Day: NEW SERIES! Created by Jo Heeley (debut) and Rupert Lewis Jones (Demon for Dinner by Jim Tomlinson) Recommendations:
“The77 looks amazing!” – Henry Flint
“It’s a tremendous achievement” – John Wagner
“The77 gets it right!” – John Higgins Reviews:
“A high quality comic, with plenty of variety and great production values”
There’s some good stuff out there and this is one of the best… British comics anthology only gets better.
“Three issues under it’s belt…and looking set for even greater things in 2021!” –
Dave Bedford: is a Director of The77 Publications and The77s Twitter persona plus writer. His previous scripts include The Tempered Curse and Trompe La Morte. He’s currently writing a war story for The77 Annual and a new series ‘Memento Mori’ with Morgan Gleave. Dave’s stories are influenced by old horror comics, history, and folklore. Outside The77, Dave spends his time working for the public sector, reading comics (esp. John Byrne and Jack Kirby), and playing Minecraft (badly) with his daughter Honey.
Steve Bull: As a Writer I surround myself with insanely talented people because they make you look good. At The77 I’m proud to be a Co-Creator, Sub editor and Art Director. I also enjoy sitting in the Crows nest looking for icebergs. I once sang in front of the Queen Mum and gave Pele a cuddle. *Not at the same time
Gary Burley: has been honing his craft for three decades and has relished his chance to work on one of The77’s favourite strips; Division’77. He debuts in issue #5 and is going to make a huge impact with his beautiful and intricately observed line-work.
Mike Collins: has worked in comics, TV and animation for over 30 years: at Marvel and DC he’s drawn all the Big Guns; on Doctor Who he’s written and drawn adventures in Comics, Games, animation and storyboarding the TV show. He still regards 2000AD as Home, and contributes to the Prog when he can (there’s a cracker of a 3riller coming up, written by James Peaty)
Ben Conan Cullis: My first creation, SkAte Worm, was published in the cult zine, SM5D in 1986. Then followed a ten year film and video-making stint. After a 25 year creative hiatus and as the COVID pandemic struck, The77 was launched.
Now five editions in and ‘Blazer!’ under our belts, we aim to release three more titles in the coming year.
I’m currently rocking the lockdown look, with a similar hairstyle from 1977.
Jeremy Dunn: Artist on Undertow, written by my son Joe. 1977 was as important a year for me as so many others, bringing both Star Wars and 2000AD. Around this time I decided that I’d like to be a comic artist, since Colonial Viper Pilot wasn’t realistic. I’m now a Learning Experience Studio Manager at the RNLI, running a team producing training resources for Lifeboat crew, Lifeguards and staff.
Filippo: Artist, Letterer and Colourist, has worked on various strips for The 77, Blazer, Paragon and Dogbreath. As a young child in the early 70s, I fell into the amazing world of British comics and never left
Bambos Georgiou: Entered the comics field in the 80s with scripts for WHIZZER & CHIPS, STARBLAZER, HE-MAN and SHE-RA comics. Founded ACME Press. Freelance work for Marvel UK, IPC Deadline, A1, DC Comics, Marvel US, Titan Books, The Sun and DC Thomson. Co-founded ACES WEEKLY with David Lloyd in 2011. Apart from THE 77 currently working on DOCTOR STRANGEGLOVE & MISTER CUSTA for ACES WEEKLY and inking adult horror comic strips for SCAR.
I guess it’s too late to get a “proper job”.
Morgan Gleave: Sometimes Morgan writes and draws his own comics and stories, and sometimes he draws stories written for other comics. Morgan loves comics and cartoons, especially those with bold artwork and colours. He loves skateboarding too.
Morgan often wears his favourite trucker caps and tee shirts, but has been known to wear a shirt and tie on occasion… He has also created artwork for skateboard companies and publications. He does love skateboarding…
He is currently developing a child friendly skateboarding magazine, which encourages positive attitudes, inclusivity and mutual respect. Morgan is always happy to discuss new projects, and help people who want happy, bright and colourful art.
The77 work includes: Tempered Curse, SkAte Worm and Memento Mori.
Paul Goodenough: Debuts with ‘Extinction 2040 with Ian Stopforth in issue 5.
Hailing from a digital and entrepreneurial background, Paul founded production company, GBK Hybrid, with Gary Kurtz (Star Wars, Dark Crystal) and Richard Bazley (Iron Giant, Hercules) where he works as a development executive, writer and executive producer. Paul works on both sides of the Atlantic as both a writer and producer, and his first feature film – The Chimeran – combines his love of hard hitting, gripping dramatic propositions and fact-based science fiction.
Paul also sits on a sustainable broadcast consortium at BAFTA as well as being a leading figure, inventor and innovator in the digital world through another of his businesses Aerian Studios.
IMDb Mini Biography By: GBK Hybrid
Paul Goodenough has a few words to say about Extinction 2040 here:
Dave Heeley: resides near the Rad wastes of Birmingham and in between home-schooling and work, writes Division 77, GRID and Silver Jubilee for the77 comic and the upcoming story Filth and the Furry for the77 Annual.
He actively campaigns for an extra hour in the day and spends his spare time sampling I.P.A beers and binge-watching Spaghetti Westerns. Big Dave
Jo Heeley is a lifelong comic fan and has written her first comic strip for The77 after working on the title since its inception. She will be helming another new comic coming from The77 Publishing, scheduled for release in March 2022, called “Pandora”.
An illustrator and sculptor in her own right, Jo uses clay and mixed materials to construct her art but her main weapon of choice is now wool and using a single needle, creates amazing wool felt sculptures and dioramas influenced by film, comics and books from her childhood.
As a proud Black Country woman, “Red by Night, Black by Day” is her love song to her home town in the industrial heartland, taking fantasy and occult themes, interweaving them with the rich history of the West Midlands.
Ade Hughes: Raised by hamsters until the age of 11, escaped to the theatre to pursue A lifelong dream of becoming a curtain operator. These dreams were cruelly snatched away in an horrific hoola-hoop accident. After extensive reconstructive surgery I decided to head for pastures new. A life on the ocean wave was the order of the day, and I followed my new calling as a row boat attendant during office hours and a costumed vigilante by night. After many successful years in the Pond Vessel/Superhero business I was awarded the Order of The Sponge Finger by a grateful public & retired to a small coffee shop in the Cotswolds, where I spend my days reading poetry, crocheting and being a general Dandy in the style of Byron or Shelley. All I ever wanted to do was to fiddle with thespian drapery, funny how life turns out.
Rupert Lewis Jones is a freelance artist working in film, TV, animation and games. As an artist, Rupert believes in developing his art style around the needs of each unique project, seeking to continually develop his creative skills. Having made his debut in issue 4, Rupert now returns to The77 as the artist for Red By Night Black By Day.
Ben Macleod: I often refer to myself as a Star Wars baby. I was at the right age, 6 years old, to catch the first movie and this has indelibly left its mark. In my opinion the storm-trooper is one of the best pieces of sci-fi design of all time. In comics , Akira, Dark Knight Returns, Marshal Law, Slaine The Horned God, Hellboy, anything drawn by Kev O’Neill or painted by Simon Stalenhag are all winners for me.
Quite a few years ago now, I made the difficult decision to set my artistic aspirations in order to help run the family business. The 77 has enabled me to reignite my earlier artistic ambition. I’m very happy to be involved and excited to have the opportunity to bring some of my shelved projects back into the light of publication. I’ll be bringing one of them to the77 (should be issue7). It’s called Black Dog Lane and its an occasionally humorous, sci-fi romp.
So I get to play out my own Star Wars creator dream. Happy days!
Annie Parkhouse: I began working in comics in 1970 on Lion comic at IPC. There I was preparing pages for printing, making lettering corrections and cleaning up the artwork. Two years later I went freelance, lettering full time.
As well as Rebellion, I have worked for DC, Dark Horse, Marvel UK and US and Warrior amongst many other publications. I live in Carlisle with my husband Steve.
Michael Powell: is a writer and comic journalist. His strips ‘Matilda Atkins’, ‘The Last Man’ and ‘I know the secret of the Alien’ have all appeared in The77. Mike wrote the book ‘Circus DeNiro’, illustrated by indie comics legend Phil Elliot which was published last year. Mike has also worked with Lew Stringer, Paul Grist and Mike Collins. He is currently writing Monkey: Irrepressible’ with artwork by Gavin Pollock and the new graphic novel ‘Starcrossed’ illustrated by Phil Elliott. Mike has written for ComicScene and writes a weekly review column for Pipedream Comics. He also runs the popular Facebook group “Why I Love Comics”.
Jon Roydon: Finally picking up the pencil in 2014, he’s since been furiously pursuing his life-long dream of visual storytelling. Franco-Belgian comics, manga, and many forms of animation influence his characters and worlds. He’s been the artist on Webtoon’s “The Lost Graveyard”, The77’s “Penny Pentagram” and is soon to be published on Macroverse. Currently you can keep up to date on Instagram @JonRoydonART.
Andrw Sawyers: ‘They don’t make no seatbelt for the mind !!! So you can’t fasten up for this ride …’
Illustrator on The Cell and Silver Jubilee making his debut in issue two of The ‘77 !!! He produced the album art for the Aggros (Cro Mags) and Vertical Noise. Originator of the Cyco Vision™ color STyle, coffee drinker, hardcore punk ‘Drokktober’ veteran !!!
‘You come to see me ‘bout comics ? That practically makes us family !!!’
Neil Sims; Since its launch, his unique style and vision has been widely evident in every issue of The77. His character designs for Filthy Luca which kicked of issue 1, the Benksy cover for #2 and his SkAte Worm for #3 have won him plaudits and commissions. Neil is adept at any artist endeavour he turns his attention to – be it sculpting ROK for John Wagner (see below), diorama and bust commissions for customers around the world, as well as his tattoo designs and comic art.
Darren Stephens: Based in Portsmouth, Darren has been a comic artist and colourist on and off for around 20 years and his work has appeared in 2000AD, Sonic the comic, Red Dwarf Smegazine and more recently the Phoenix comic, as well The77.
Ian Stopforth: I have been fascinated with art since I can remember. In my early school years I craved the time and opportunity to draw and this need to doodle constantly has never left me. My love of art was ramped up in the mid 80s, when I discovered 2000ad and Judge Dredd. I was in total awe of Brett Ewins, Mike McMahon, Ian Gibson, Brian Bolland, the list went on and on. For me, it was inspiring to see art with a purpose in telling a story whilst producing breath-taking imagery within a sprawling dystopian Mega City.
In the late 80s as a teenager I discovered Stray Toasters, Black Orchid and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. I was captivated by the layers and textures of Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave McKean and the expressive imagery of Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley. These stories opened Pandora’s Box for me and I became much more interested in the layers and textures of the both the story telling and the imagery and this ironically led me away from comics to pursue a fine art and painting degree.
The older I get the more I’ve realised that Art interests me very much indeed, but the alchemy and joy of making pictures interests me far, far more, and I feel blessed to be working with Paul Goodenough, BOLT-01 and all the creative team at The77.
Lew Stringer: I work as a professional humour comics artist and writer and have been freelancing full time since 1984, creating many characters such as TOM THUG, PETE AND HIS PIMPLE, COMBAT COLIN, BRICKMAN, ROBO-CAPERS, DEREK THE TROLL, SUBURBAN SATANISTS and now SGT. SHOUTY!
I’ve freelanced for IPC, Marvel Comics, Egmont, Panini, D.C. Thomson, and many others, covering the comics field from originated characters to licensed properties, pre-school to adult on comics such as BUSTER, OINK!, BEANO, DANDY, TRANSFORMERS, SONIC THE COMIC, TOXIC, VIZ, CiTV, THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL, and many more.
David Thomas: is the writer and creator of Penny Pentagram. His work has been published in the UK, USA and Japan. He also paints and writes screenplays. He is also working on his second short film.
Brendon Wright: is a freelance commercial illustrator in Christchurch, New Zealand. While his preference is for comic styled artwork and logos, caricatures and silly animals have been his bread and butter.
The77 was his first opportunity in ‘real’ comics.
His first gig was artist for TMO Steve MacManus in the77 #1 and since then his series ‘Martian Law’ has been a regular feature and concludes after four parts in the upcoming issue. He also serves as the77’s official card-carrying art editor. Risks and challenges
POSTAGE COSTS: We’ll do everything we can to keep it to a minimum but this means international shipping will by surface.
PLEASE NOTE: Artwork will be sent to International backers (Non EU) by INTERNATIONAL SIGNED/TRACKED ROYAL MAIL service – if you want AIR MAIL you are welcome to email us at The77Publications@gmail.com to discuss your preference. Due to a disrupted delivery service in the UK and beyond, shipping timing could be affected.
If any goods arrive in a less than satisfactory condition, please contact us at The77Publications@gmail.com in the first instance.
64 oversized pages of today’s hottest talent brought to you by the UK’s newest comic publishing company – The77 Publications. Voted UK’s best independent comic in the ComicScene 2020 poll. Now available from Big Cartel
“Professionally, I work in understanding ‘future threats’ – and the wars of tomorrow will not be conflicts between nations, where a line on a map is the reason we are enemies, but rather our enemies will be decided based on their opinions and which camp they identify with.”
Paul Goodenough is an Emmy nominated writer, producer and creative director, working for companies like Warner Bros, Cartoon Network, Sky and BBC; with environmental organisations like Greenpeace, World Land Trust, Born Free, Global Wildlife Conservation and predicting future trends and threats with governmental agencies. Extinction: 2040 brings together all Paul’s work, research and experience into one story…
The77Publications: Paul, we understand you’ve a new comic project that is seeing the light of day this spring. Would you care to tell us a little about ‘Extinction 2040’ and how you got involved with The77?
Paul: Sadly, I really can’t remember how I got involved in The77! I met Ben at Thought Bubble when I was chatting with John Wagner, and I assume Ben and I just chatted from there. I know I was particularly taken with his vision and the core principles behind The77. As for EXTINCTION:2040, it hopefully channels some of that 1980’s/1990’s feelings about future nationality and societal collapse, but you know…. in a cool way. So I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But being British will go the same way as landline calls and milk deliveries. It’ll be for the few not for the many. Professionally, I work in understanding ‘future threats’ – and the wars of tomorrow will not be conflicts between nations, where a line on a map is the reason we are enemies, but rather our enemies will be decided based on their opinions and which camp they identify with. Social media and media at large will continue to drive a wedge between us. Previously calmly and carefully held considered opinions will be replaced with supercharged ideological fervor. It happens now, we can see the seeds. For example, I’m a keen environmentalist, so I associate far more with the views and the goals of Greenpeace than I do with any political party. So what will that mean for tomorrow? Well, in my opinion, groups will replace countries. So I won’t be British, I’ll be a citizen of Greenpeace and identify as such…. keep that in mind when you read our story. I’ll help 😉 In terms of the actual story, our narrative revolves around the very real probability that climate change will cause billions of people in the global south to be unable to live and grow food in their own countries. So they will be forced to emigrate or die – creating literally billions of ‘climate refugees’ and causing an ‘us and them’ situation – as there simply won’t be enough food for everyone. These climate refugees will have no choice but to brave the long long trip to the global north to the less affected areas of the world…. places like Britain… So in response to the growing fears that refugees will break the already strained communities of the global north, they turn their otherwise unemployable young people into a child army to patrol their borders and keep out those who would take what’s theirs. And EXTINCTION:2040 follows the struggles of three young people as they’re forced out into a world they don’t understand, to fight an enemy they don’t hate. I guess if you’re looking for likeable stories, it’s a little bit of a mash up between CHARLEY’S WAR and BAD COMPANY.
The 77Publications: You’re working with the artist, Ian Stopforth, who will be a new name to many. What does he bring to the strip and could tell what it’s been like working with him?
Paul: Ian’s bloody marvellous. He’s the best of us. I don’t think I’ve met many people in my life who are as wonderful, thoughtful and amazing as he is… He makes me seem like an utter crapbag in comparison. And his art… wow! If you don’t know already, Ian is a fine artist, working in oils and mixed media – and what I think we’ve both found is a natural rhythm between us. He from a perspective of mood, tone, beauty and poise, and me from sequential storytelling and overarching aesthetic. It just works. But that’s mostly because he’s easy to work with, as I can be quite demanding. I’m absolutely not comparing us, but in terms of the partnership, we’ve got this whole thing going on a little like Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack – in as much as I write the general script, Ian paints his vision, I then re-work the script based on his art. It’s very fluid and his art for episode 2 will knock you on your ass – it’s breathtaking.
The77Publications: How does this type of project differ from the work you do on a day to day basis?
Paul: Weirdly, it actually doesn’t! It combines a lot of my day-to-day work which is: working to stop species extinction, writing and producing comics, films and TV shows and helping predict the future societal threats that face humanity. So yeah, this is basically my entire day job wrapped up in a comic 🙂
The77Publications: When creating narrative fiction what advice would you give new writers?
Paul: Get your stuff made. Really. Nothing tells you how good your script is, or how honed your talent is, like seeing in drawn. Also, it’ll really show you where your scripts need more, or less, description – because I’ve worked with some artists and I (for the life of me) can’t understand how or why they’ve drawn a certain thing a certain way. Almost every time I get art back from any of the artists I work, there’s something new I learn and am struck by. It’s a beautiful thing. So if you’re starting out, either find some aspiring artists online or draw it yourself. Learn pacing, learn the structure. Writing for comics isn’t hard (in terms of the technicals), but writing good comics is an art. And art takes practice.
The77Publications: Which other projects of yours that you’re able to discuss are in the pipeline Paul?
Paul: Argh!! Very little sadly. I’ve got a few TV series in the works, an animated series, hopefully another thing with Marvel/Disney – and a massive international charity project that hopefully will launch in April… but it’s all currently under wraps. Sorry!!! I’m always doing something though – games, films, tv shows, radio interviews, gag shows…. I’ve got an open Facebook and Insta profile, so just add me there. That’s the easiest way to keep up to date. And trust me, once I know I can talk about it, I’ll be telling the world!
… well, to give you a very short version of the story as some of you may well already know. I essentially gave up on, and did no illustrative work for 25 years !!!
Then in late 2019 I jumped on just for fun, out of an absolute love of The Judge Dredd, the Everything Comes back to 2000ad boys ‘Drokktober’ event – and put out a volume of work for that with such proliferation, it led to an album cover for Vertical Noise and some early commission work !!!
Ultimately The ‘77 chased me up for some stuff for issue one, but the deadlines were just too tight – I was crestfallen and thought I’d missed an opportunity of a lifetime. As luck would have it, they came back with another script for issue two – The Cell with none other than Bambos Georgiou, the rest as they say is history !!!
So, to book end what is a ‘chapter’ break in the first arc of The Cell, Steve Bull commissioned me for a cover to commemorate that very occasion for issue five.
I’ll always remember the extensive conversations we had discussing virtually over the phone of what that would look like.
I’ve enjoyed a very productive and constructive relationship with Steve, and as such whilst we had very diverging ideas of what we wanted to do, this usually leads to something completely different and ultimately far more satisfying !!!
I originally wanted to pay homage to Uncanny X-Men 141 and Excalibur 23 with 5T3V3N and 8AR8RA against a spotlighted wall surrounded by guards, and as it was to be an ‘Artist Edition’ wraparound variant have that very wall extended onto the cover rear and have and undisclosed ‘tertiary’ character on an old poster bill !!!
The concern being this would be far too much of a plot reveal for the strips future plans and shared universe !!!
We essentially settled on, thematically something more in the vein of old British comics that essentially conveyed, in part the thematically episode of that issue – which by the time you read this you’ll shortly have in your hands !!!
So, I proposed a new idea which initially saw our ‘villainess’ the vicious vixen herself VALKYR13 having bested Lt. 73V3N in mortal combat and 8AR8RA and 5T3V3N on the rear of the cover !!!
I mapped out a very crude thumbnail, Steve warmly gave that the thumbs up and I literally set about penciling it out in rough form working out the composition and locking in the characters position and posture !!!
The VALKYR13 portion, as this was to be drawn on two separate art boards and later linked together with a unifying background came together very quickly and was more than happy with the look and feel of it all !!!
But, I quickly realized a supporting cast member was really deserving of selling the magazine or despite her popularity enough to sell the ‘story’ !!!
As late as it was, I grabbed the other art board and literally off the cuff started drawing 5T3V3N going head on with one of the Troops of Doom – we had the front, and loosely matching up the art boards I realized I had pretty much what I wanted and it was nearer to what I’d envisioned for my debut cover !!!
This design change was essentially that this would be the portion of the cover the reader would potentially see on the shelf of a comic store or even the venerable newsagent !!!
As such had to be strong enough to standalone as a singular image and be visually striking enough to arrest a potential readers attention !!!
It was around 05:00 Hrs at this point so I slunk off to bed.
I think if memory serves I was back up around 09:00 Hrs and after coffee pretty spent the morning tightening up the pencils and after lunch, turned my attention to locking in the rear cover. I think the rear of the cover is a great piece in its own right, was too much fun and whilst it has it own charm, is part of a far bigger sum – I pleased I decided to make the rear of the cover .
I’d love confidently state that I know what I’m doing, I don’t and often in the instance of this cover – my usual frenetic work place slowed continuously checking and working out every design decision, knowing that one fatal mistake could lose me valuable hours, even days worth of work !!!
So, to mitigate that risk, that’s why the cover was split in two separate pieces to be inked separately.
The inking process is fairly straightforward. I first drop in the black line, whilst not absolutely definitive these essentially mark out what’s to be kept and everything else gets pencil wise gets erased, more or less …
These then get further work using Rotring Artist Pens (traditionally used for Calligraphy) Pilot Parallel Pens, Pentel Fude and Pocket Brush Pens and a variety of markets, white out pens and even spritzing on ink and white paint for certain effects and texture, later to be utilized with color.
A lot of work here if thickening up the black line work, adding in detail, equipment, patina and initial shadows and feathering to create form and direct light.
Next up is spotting the blacks and continuously working in detail and working on the inks and pushing them up to where I want them to be, not necessarily standard perspective but to create at this juncture something as close to the image in my head !!!
A lot of what appears on any page from me is almost like some weird video playback taking form in pen and ink !!!
Initial images where sent over of progress to Dave Heeley, Bambos and Steve and by all accounts where met warmly and with encouragement – aside from raw line work the front cover sat incomplete for several days as I toiled often late at night into the small hours working on the inks of the rear cover !!!
Once complete I had a day or two off, I think just to freshen my mind and get some perspective and summon the courage and energy to attack the cover front !!!
“I think I worked on it virtually continuously for 18 hours”
Possibly spurred on by what had been learnt and exercised on the rear of the cover the front image was inked really quickly – if memory serves, I think I worked on it virtually continuously for 18 hours, including the background which unify and bring the two pieces together !!!
As instructed I got an initial scan of it black and white, I’d like to say this in part was purely to produce an ‘artifact’ edition of this at a later date – but also served as a good safety net in case things went wrong at a later date !!!
Trying to find somewhere with an A2 scanner during Lockdown was problematic. So the solution was to make do with what I had and I scanned 2/3rds of it for either side, this was at over 600dpi HD and captured every smudge, pencil mark, dent and ink transferred from the side of my drawing hand – and makes for quite the historical document !!!
Anyhow, Editor Ben and Art Editor Brendon, whilst all of that stuff could of been cleaned up in post production encouragingly agreed to keep it in, preserving very much, what was very much now a living thing !!!
Testament to Brendon’s amazing editorial skills he was with the high resolution scans able to seamlessly stitch them together with no issues.
I cleared hot to get on with coloring what was now a singular A2 monster !!!
I initially had a visions for a two tone cover working across the spectrum of a very limited palette, in part to mimic the very stark contrast I use on the luminescent artificial lighting of The Cell itself !!!
Hot off the success of The VALKYR13 pin up I did for Issue Four I wanted to revisit that two tone effect, but in orange !!!
“The process is relatively simple – unlike paint, where traditionally you block in the darker colors first, with markers I start with the lightest colors and the reverse in the darker colors !!!”
I was mindful that this could either make or break the aesthetic of the cover and reduce its effectiveness to grab the readers attention !!!
So I chose to illuminate 5T3V3N and The Troops of Doom in greens to play off the bright gun flashes and set that against a colder blue background !!!
Conversely VALKYR13 and Lt. 73V3N where dropped back in warmer oranges created by initially coloring them in yellow and working over in pink to create this strange orange glow !!!
This pitched then perfectly against their half of the background without diminishing the attention from the cover front !!!
The process is relatively simple – unlike paint, where traditionally you block in the darker colors first, with markers I start with the lightest colors and the reverse in the darker colors !!!
Whilst it’s a slower process, I do this over several stages to let the colors cure and prevent bleed or muddying the colors.
After that it’s a small amount of post production using chalk paint markers, pencils and working in some of the black inks which often get dulled reacting with the markers and spraying some effects with all sorts of paints, ink odd colors, essentially almost giving a colorized texture to the piece !!!
After nearly two weeks, pretty much working on and off everyday it was complete, scanned and digitally sent off to Brendon to edit and scale to best fit the cover dimensions and add the custom battle damaged trade dress and barcode !!!
He’s done a fantastic job and couldn’t be prouder !!!
There’s a few things I’d perhaps in hindsight like to change, but as Herculean a task it was to get this done, for once without be overly self deprecating I think it works as a complete piece, and ultimately serves its purpose of capturing a potential readers attention – I surely hope you genuinely enjoy as much as I had fun creating it !!!”
Steve MacManus is a British comic writer and editor, particularly known for his work at 2000 AD and Creator of the New upcoming Comic Blazer!
What is Blazer!
Blazer! is a 32-page, indie anthology comic in the style of the British newsstand weeklies of the 1970s such as Battle Picture Weekly, Action, 2000 AD and Starlord. In one sense, it is more a reflection of Lion comic or Valiant comic in that its strips cover a variety of genres rather than being specifically about war, sport or science fiction.
Who are the crew working on it?
In real life, the group editor is Ben Cullis, ably assisted by the designer and sub-editor Andrew Richmond. Dan Cornwell, Colin Maxwell, Peter Western, Filippo Roncone, Andrew Richmond and Ian Baker draw the strips. Dominika Brodowska appears as sub-editor Dom Tom and the photographs of her are by Peter Western. Blazer! Is published by The77 Publications Ltd.
Will it be ongoing?
The Kickstarter went so well, exceeding £8,000 pledged, that Ben Cullis and his publishing team have green-lit a second issue. However, as you will understand, the notion of Blazer! being a monthly or even a weekly is unrealistic at this time. Think of it more as blazing comet-like ball of nostalgia that will shoot across the firmament from time to time in the future.
Is it connected to your novel The Sheerglam Conspiracy ?
Yes. Indelibly! The SheerGlam Conspiracy tells the tale of a circulation war between two rival comics publishing companies in 1970s London. To establish an outright dominance in the market, one of the companies hires two scriptwriters to create a new title, which is codenamed GNP 13. As the novel progresses, we see the different strips for the title being created and learn that it has a working title of Blaze. The scripts for these strips are presented at the back of the novel and it is these scripts that form the strip content of Blazer!
What was the first comic story you wrote?
Ignoring a rather verbose attempt at the Swots and Blots, my first comic story was episode one of The Running Man for Action, the comic created by Pat Mills.
Where did you get the idea for Blazer! ?
I found some preparatory notes about it in the dustbin of a well-known comic strip writer, whose name must remain a secret for a jolly long time.
How do you come up with names for your characters?
I follow the Gerry Finley-Day method, which is to find a name that suggests the character of the owner. For example, to me, the name Clive Clitus sums up perfectly someone who would edit a horror comic (especially when you add the nickname ‘Cobweb’). As such, I thought the name Gloria SheerGlam would do very well for a powerful female figure in the 1970s comics publishing industry.
Writing is a solitary pursuit. Editing is highly interactive. Take your pick!
Do you think 2000AD fans will enjoy it?
Indubitably, my dear sir… it will be a hit with them — a very palpable hit!
The Brew Gooders episode 74. “This Week, we will have Steve MacManus (former editor of 2000AD) and Dan Cornwell (artist on Rok of the Reds) joining us to talk about the launch of Blazer, a comic straight from the 1970’s. Speaking of the 70’s Benksy , editor of the 77 might pop by too!” https://youtu.be/nquEmUlO6Xw
Cover Penny Pentagram by Jon Roydon Penny Pentagram pt 2/3 Colour David Thomas, Jon Roydon 6 pages Bounty on the Mutie (Colour) Bambos Georgiou, Neil Sims 4 pages Prodigal (Colour) Mal Earl – 4 pages Trackless Depths pt 2/3 (B&W) Dave Bedford, Ben ‘Mac’ Macleod -5 pages The Cell pt 3/4 Colour Bambos Georgiou, Andrew Sawyers – 6 pages V pt 4/10 (Colour) Steve Bull, Ade Hughes, Darren Stephens -2 pages Vpin up by Hughes, Darren Stephens Demon For Dinner “Chi77er” B&W Jim Tomlinson, Rupert Jones-5 pages Martian Law pt 3 Colour Brendon Wright -5 pages 77Stars poster Bambos Georgiou Scarred for life feature by Jo Heeley-2 pages Undertow pt 3/4 Col – Joe Dunn, Jeremy Dunn 4 pages FunSShun (Colour) Paul Duncan, Robert Wells -6 pages Division ’77 pt 4/5 Colour Dave Heeley, Sinclair Elliott, Darren Stephens – 2 pages SGT. Shouty pt 4 (Colour)Lew Stringer -1 page Valkyrie pin up Andrew Sawyers Sk8te Worm – (A5 Zine insert) B&W Conan and Gleave