December 12, 2012

Mini Epics 31–34

Happy 12/12/12, everyone. I'm posting this at 12:12 just to add to the nerdity. Also, the pageview count is 10,212...coincidence? Anyway, these four Mini Epics strips are favourites of mine – a sequence featuring Gertrude and Psyche in a bookshop. I'd been in quite a few bookshops at the time I drew these and that's what inspired it. Buying books can be quite an intense process for some people, as you will see below.

December 1, 2012

Mini Epics 29–30

Today makes five years since my first Airbury Academy comic premiered online (on a site called ComicSpace, which is now defunct). I didn't wait until today to make this post, I just noticed that I haven't uploaded any more Mini Epics for a while now. Anyway, you'll notice that there are only two strips in this post, instead of the usual four. That's because strips 31–34 are sequential and need to be read together. Well, enough talk; read comics.


November 30, 2012


On Monday, November 26th, this blog's view count hit 10,000! Thanks to all those who contributed to that figure. This blog has been going since April 2010, so it's taken a while to get to this point, but the blog is getting more views than I imagined. My very first website, back in 2000, struggled to get to 200 pageviews, but then only 65 people were using the internet at that time.

It's pleasing as a blogger to know that people out there are actually reading this stuff. That's why I won't be updating my deviantArt page any more. You'll notice I posted on this blog more infrequently in 2012 than in the first two years, but it's all about quality than quantity here, I'd like to think.

November 24, 2012

Sonic 2: 20 Years On

I did a similar post two years ago which was much more detailed, and oddly enough, it is the most viewed entry on this entire blog by a LONG shot. I suggest you go read that first. I'll wait.

Good. Now you know that today is the 20th anniversary of the release of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Megadrive. (Or "Genesis", if you will.) As this landmark game reaches the double-decade, let's dust off our ROM emulator and take another retrospective look.

Sonic 2 introduced several elements to the series. A new character, Tails the fox, or Miles, as his creator Yasushi Yamaguchi wanted him to be called. A new move, the Spin Dash, for taking off at speed from a stationary position. The ability to become the gold, invincible and permanently sped-up Super Sonic after collecting all the Chaos Emeralds (collecting them all in Sonic 1 did nothing apart from a slightly different animation in the ending sequence). And finally, a split n' squished-screen two-player mode, with three playable levels plus the Special Stage.

The excellent British gaming magazine Mean Machines Sega rated Sonic 2 at 96%, their third-highest rating for a Megadrive game, right behind Ecco The Dolphin (97%) and Street Fighter II (98%). According to Sonic Retro, Sonic 2 has been re-released 25 times so far, on such platforms as Saturn, Gamecube, PS2/3, Xbox/360, Wii, iPhone and more. Yes, the Nintendo Gamecube. If you'd told me in 1992 that Sega's flagship character would one day appear on Nintendo, I'd have told you to cut back on the LSD. But enough about that –

"Watch me, Sonic!" Tails didn't come into his own until 1994's Sonic 3, with his ability to swim, tail attack and airlift Sonic, but the little fella is still useful to have during normal play. When controlled by the CPU he can still get the occasional hit on the bosses...

...but during the Special Stage, get someone to control him as the ring tally requirements are ridiculously tight. (These pseudo-3D stages are crazy, by the way. I'm still no better at them than I was when I was 14.)

I received this game for Christmas in 1992 along with several million others (you know who you are), and the cartridge (left) was used at length. Especially as the game was very long, with 11 levels. So, how does the game measure up in 2012?

Well, it's still challenging. Thanks to the magic of emulation software, I've been able to keep playing it long after my actual console went kaput, so my Sonic skills haven't gone to ruin. In fact, a couple of years ago I was still able to whip some cocky kid at it in the ACMI's Games Lab, thanks to extended sections of this game – the terrain and enemy placement – being permanently ingrained in my memory. I'm sure the same is true for most gamers (with whatever game).

Even now I find some levels quite tough. The Casino Night Zone boss is still frustrating beyond belief, and two decades have not made that seahorse enemy in Oil Ocean Zone any less of a pain in the ass. Ditto the crab that punches you. I hate that thing. And it's even harder controlling it with a battered Mac keyboard instead of a joypad.

I always found Sonic 2 the most difficult of the original Megadrive 'trilogy'. I couldn't even get Super Sonic without a cheat. After 20 years I still struggle to get past some parts. In a way, I guess that qualifies the game's continued success.

All artwork in the screenshots © SEGA/Sonic team, but the cart photo is mine!

October 24, 2012

Mini Epics 25–28

I'm back! In a metaphorical sense. I've been here the whole time, actually. Anyway, has it really been two months since the last four Mini Epics? Well, wait no more. #26 and #27 are my personal favourites.

October 3, 2012

Palace Club, Delta Episode: "The Merger"

Paid work has to take preference over personal projects like making comics, as all freelancers know, but during a brief week of downtime with work, I was somehow able to churn out 17 pages of the fourth and final Palace Club episode, "The Merger", and finally complete it! I started writing it back in May 2008, so this comic has been sitting in my 'To Do' files for a very long time.

This is my first comic ever to be entirely pencilled and inked digitally. I no longer have to draw the lineart on A4 paper, scan it, and then colourize/shade it in Photoshop. Now the entire artwork is produced in Photoshop and then the dialogue added using Comic Life. For someone who used to spend hours getting just one page done, this has really sped up production! I could have never produced 17 pages in five days using my old methods.

Anyway, enough about the vagaries of life on the comic circuit. Here are a couple of sample panels from "The Merger". Drawing it with a graphics tablet really makes an improvement to the artwork; you get much cleaner lines. Scanning lineart and then adjusting the contrast creates 'noise' around the lines – speckly coloured pixels that then affect colourization.

You'll notice I said this was the fourth and final episode of the series. I'm not retiring it for good though! It will make a comeback some day I'm sure, because I really like the series and characters (and, let's face it, making fun of the media and the internet). So I guess it's the final episode just for now. There are plenty more projects in my comics pile that are crying out for more attention! Next comic will probably be Rebirth, the opening story of Airbury Academy Volume IV, which will be in black and white from now on and will also be released in instalments for those of you who want to follow it.

The whole Palace Club series has been compiled into a 176-page omnibus edition, containing all four episodes, and it's called Alpha Beta Gamma Delta. It's got a new colour cover page as you can see on the right here. There is more info on the Palace Club page. At the moment it's in PDF format, perfect for reading on a computer screen, which is what we all do all day anyway, isn't it?

September 24, 2012

Geeks In Space #49

Greetings, friends. I'm cold, I'm tired, my nose has been running for hours, my brain feels like it's about to blow up and there's plenty of work to do, but will I still make time to do a new Geeks strip? You bet!

Get into it, one more of these and I'll be able to claim an anthology!

September 11, 2012

Two Wheels, Six Strings

A couple more sketches from my shetchbook:

Here are the main characters from Juliet Prime. The illustrations for Juliet and her friends tend to be a bit violent, so at last, here is one that shows the lighter side. I can't draw bicycles very well, so this gave me a chance to draw different types of bike and how the characters sit on them. It's all about the bike, as Gandhi once said.

If you don't know which one is Juliet, she's the one with yellow hair on the right, playing on her mini-bike she got from Tokyu Hands!

And there's always time for rockin' out with an oversized guitar. This one was done with a brush and water-soluble black paint. I prefer it to ink because it's a very rich black, although shades of grey are very hard to keep consistent. So, now you know!

September 8, 2012

Geeks In Space #48

Moving swiftly on...this strip was drawn yesterday, like #47, and refers to the recent mind-shattering revelation that the prices of certain brands of bottled water, compared to the price of tap water, represent a markup of around 180,000%. What?! People who filter and bottle ordinary tap water and sell it on the basis of "funky" packaging are ripping people off? Say it ain't so, guv'!!

Although it'll never happen, I'd like some marketing bod to see this cartoon and begin producing a brand of water called "Fauxhemian Poseur".

Thanks go to Jason Phelan for coming up with the name "Mount Spanklin" (five years ago...).

September 7, 2012

Geeks In Space #47

For anyone who doesn't live in Melbourne (and I suspect each one of you), this is based on the recent big deal made about what slogan should appear on Victorian car number plates. A long time ago it was "The Garden State", then "On The Move", and then recently "The Place To Be", which very few people liked (apparently). Now they've come up with a new one, which is something to do with road safety.

XCM 748 was the number plate of my family's first car in Australia, just for some added useless info.

August 30, 2012

Mini Epics 21–24

I recently 're-jigged' Ischia, the font I created for comic lettering. Even though it's just my own hand lettering, the font had to be fine-tuned several times. I went through it again because the letter 'N' and the number '4' still bothered me, but it's looking okay now.

August 23, 2012


Good news, the blog has now reached 9000 views! Thanks to all of you who have been checking it out.

I've put in the above screenshot to gloat about it, I mean, commemorate the occasion. And the minty-green layout is preserved for posterity as well, in case it gets changed in the future. Which I suppose it will.

August 9, 2012

Wikipedia Humour

I was looking at the Wikipedia entry for the Australian late '80s/early '90s sitcom Acropolis Now! just now – for gawd's sake don't ask why – when I noticed this little gem. Whoever placed the inverted commas on the word 'hilarity' is a winner, and should be entitled to shout "Opa!" in a comically ethnic fashion.

August 8, 2012

Geeks In Space #46

Not Seen As Weird/Seen As Weird is the first Geeks strip this year. I had the idea for it months ago, when I saw something on TV about brainwashing babies, but didn't draw it out until last night. Funny 'ow that 'appens, innit.

There's also a blog redesign, which you can't fail to see. Minty green, to soothe your fried eyeballs. After a hard day of staring at the computer screen and crying intermittently, come to Nonesuch and check out a comic strip or two. And fry your eyeballs some more.

August 4, 2012

RAQ (Randomly Asked Questions), Part 2

I checked my blog audience stats today. Don't know why I waited until 2 years and 4 months into this blog's life to finally check who my viewers are, but there you go. There were a lot of views from Australia of course, but I discovered that my blog also has quite a few viewers in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Malaysia, Russia, Indonesia, Portugal, Latvia, France and Italy.

I have no friends at all in any of these countries (except the USA and UK), so thanks to all of you for checking the blog out! Don't be afraid to leave a comment, either.

It's time now for the 2nd instalment of Randomly Asked Questions – I haven't posted one of these since October 2010. Thanks also to the friends who each asked a question in the hope they would get a sane answer out of me. Submit a question if you like – or don't. Your life.

Why don't you do a post bagging out the London 2012 logo?

On this blog, it's not my focus to denigrate others' work – go here for that. I personally don't like the logo, but if it was red, white and blue and the numbers were a bit clearer, then I might like it more.

You should review movies on your blog.

No I shouldn't.

Why is it that those comic lettering fonts you can download for free are all buggy? Some of them don't have the numbers 1 to 9, or apostrophes, or quote marks or whatever. There's always something missing.

I don't know. I designed my own, so I don't use them anymore. I spent 4 days straight on it, so not including the numbers 1 to 9 is a bit slack if you ask me. I even did 10 ligatures that I'll never use. Sad, isn't it.

You know the Kirin cycling...I heard that was a Japanese thing, but the Japanese word kirin means giraffe! wtf?

The word is Keirin – 'professional cycling'. It was invented in Japan in the 1940s for purposes of gambling. 'Kirin cycling' – ha! An animal with such a long neck would not do well in such an aerodynamically-oriented sport.

Why don't you do a drawing of 18 characters each wearing a different AFL team jumper?

Only if you ask nicely.

August 1, 2012

Mini Epics 17–20

¡Wa-hey! It's another four comic strips, including the one where Jezebel eats a cockroach. Why does she do this? Perhaps she couldn't be bothered squishing it with someone's pencil case. Or maybe her butler wasn't around to do it for her. Rich people are like that.

July 26, 2012

July 18, 2012

Mini Epics 13–16

Well looky here, four more strips of the "let's see what goes on in a boarding school for girls" variety. And to think that on New Year's Day I thought I could churn out one of these per day for the whole of 2012! It's more than halfway through the year and I've only done 19! Still, I suppose this means what has been done is of higher quality. That's what I tell my therapist, anyway. You don't mind waiting for quality, do you?

In the last strip below, Miss Sleepyhead herself makes her return to my comics canon after an absence of 12 years!

July 4, 2012

Mini Epics 9–12

I know it was way back at the end of April when I posted Mini Epics 5–8, so you may want to go back and refresh your memory. Or, you can just jump in right here. I'm not gonna tell you how to read comics. I'll let the newspapers do that.

June 24, 2012

Safari! Still More Album Artwork

Thanks for hanging in there while my Mac hangs in there. We'll continue to fight the good fight, and so on. To all of you who checked out Mini Epics, many thanks. There will be more. Well, even though my computer isn't in the best of health, the work must go on and finally China 5's 6th album is complete! It's called Safari and here is the recently-completed cover art:

Sometime during July the physical CD will be put together and then I can post a photo of what it looks like. Below is the rough sketch for the cover illustration which I drew in America on Christmas Eve last year.
And I'd like to return a shout out to my friend Sharna in England – thanks Shaz! It's the first time I've been mentioned on Twitter...that I know of.

June 6, 2012


After a month short of five years of loyal service, my Mac has suddenly (although it would be nice if you got prior warning for this sort of thing) decided to have a meltdown and develop hard disk damage. At the moment I'm facing losing the entire hard disk's contents, if it comes to me having to erase and reformat it. So while I'm spending my days backing up files, do me a favour and get that page count up to 8000! Go on, do it just to please me. And this goes without saying, but expect delayed postings on this blog for a while – don't worry, I'll be back. The blog-o-sphere can't contain the Birdman, etc.

(By the way, anyone know when the new iMacs are coming out? I heard June or July 2012, and it's June or July 2012 now, so...)

Despite my filebackuppage however, I will definitely lose my carefully time-dated photos in iPhoto (but stuff using that from now on) and, worse still, my iTunes play counts. So for posterity here's a screencap of my final iTunes Top 30 Most Played. I REGRET NOTHING!