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Just a heads-up that I've a table booked on the Artist Alley at the LFCC, which is at the tail-end of the month: July 27-29.…

I've never been to this con, before, and they're yet to provide any table positioning, but I'm sure that's all on its way. I'll let you know as soon as I do!

Feels like ages since I've attended a convention. I'm rather looking forward to it!
My mate Chris Phillips and I had a lot of fun waffling into a mic for the first "season" of Curious Transmissions so we're planning on recording a second (hopefully with slightly better equipment!)

As with the previous season, we're looking for questions and topics you'd like us to discuss (or ridicule). If you have any suggestions, please post 'em here!

Curious Transmissions Banner by jollyjack

New sketches and previews to be added soon:

B3TA Patreon Prod by jollyjack
My Patreon account is currently suspended because a handful of images posted three years ago were marked as “public” and the tick-box that marks the entire page as “Adult Content” didn’t seem to prevent that. I had to go in and tag them manually.
The page will (hopefully) be available as soon as the moderaters review the changes.
Unfortunately, when this problem came to my attention, all that Patreon told me was that “You have violated the community guidelines”. They didn’t actually say WHICH. In a panic-fuelled bid to appease, I started removing content that I thought might be the cause. Content that, it transpires, I needn’t have.
It’s the communication age. Why the f**k are people so bad at it?!
I was on a desert island when Solo was released (no, really), so I’ve only just had the chance to see it. Why the hell was this movie getting so much bad press? Not only is it the best of the new Star Wars films BY FAR, but it’s also an excellent, stand-alone sci-fi story. The kind of thing A New Hope was back in 77: a tale from a larger universe that you didn’t need to be familiar with in order to enjoy.
Up until now, I’ve held Rogue One up as my favourite Star Wars movie. I could go back to it again and again. It is, however, a very flawed film. The opening acts drag on and jump around, and the references to the wider Star Wars mythology are made too prominent, leaving newcomers scratching their heads as to why the camera was lingering on seemingly random objects or people. It feels like a fan film.
Solo, by contrast, is infinitely better crafted. The pacing is superb and the references so subtle that they’ll still delight series fans, but they won’t impede the enjoyment of casual viewers.
(I promise you: I was the only one in the theatre who knew what the f**k Teras Kasi was)

**** SPOILERS ****

Another thing that I don’t understand is the outrage over L3-37, or, as she’s been branded by some: the “social justice droid”. The whole, slightly-crap-revolutionary character has been a gag in cinema for f**king eons and are present for the sake of comedy rather than commentary. She’s no different to Korg in Thor Ragnarok, and no one got pissy over him. Those railing against SJWs are clearly as hair-trigger as the people they hate.

Maul’s presence was a big surprise. I know he has fans that’ll be absolutely giddy to see him return to the big screen. I was delighted to see him for a different reason: it means they haven’t given up on weaving the story threads of the Clone Wars and Rebels TV series into the cinematic instalments. I was worried they’d stop doing that after they botched the inclusion of Saw Gerrera in Rogue One. This fuels hope that a character will appear in a theatrical release who can potentially rescue Star Wars from the mire it’s waded into across Force Awakens and Last Jedi.

SOLO-Poster-Collection-Cast-2 by jollyjack

Just a quick heads-up that the Derby comic convention I said I would be attending on the 2nd of June looks like it may have moved to October.
That I had to learn this from a source other than the convention organisers has me a little pissed off.
I'll keep you informed.
Demoncon, the little convention that I've attended since it began, sadly looks to be no more. The store that it was associated with - The Grinning Demon - was unfortunately forced to close its doors due to a mixture of factors.
I'm not sure about the fate of the London Super Comic Con, either. There are rumours it's merging with another convention, but I've not heard a peep from the organisers.

So, with those two fixtures of my calendar gone, I'm trying out some new venues.
The first is in a couple of weeks time - June 2nd [NOTE: this may have moved to October. I'm looking into it] - in Derby:
and in July, I have a table on the Artist's Alley at the London Film & Comic Con -

Hamster Comic Flash 2017 by jollyjack

I was recently mentioned in a comment where my DevArt stats (views per day, comments per deviation, etc) were being compared with those of other (in my opinion: better) artists. The question over why mine were higher was being discussed.
Though they never touched on it, I think volume is the key.
Said “better artists” have around 300-800 images in their DA gallery, while I’ve sharted 2,750 or so onto the website.
Throw enough stuff around and something will invariably stick…. Or, at the very least, the stench will be noticed!
Content is king. If you want your work to sustain an audience, you have to keep producing it so they come back. One masterpiece might garner a few “oohs” and “aahs”, but a series of intriguing-though-lesser oddities, and the promise that more are on the way, will keep attention.
That’s not to say you should rattle out nothing but half-hearted bullsh*t (though I will readily admit that there’s a little bit of that in my gallery. We all have off days). You gotta love what you do, and it should be because you love what you do that you do it, not because you’re trying to rack up a high view count.
I promise you, I’d still be drawing my silly comics if there were only four of you watching me, because I have a lot of fun making them.
I would, however, still be an employee at a studio rather than self-employed. If you’ve made that jump, THEN you can fret over numbers, because you’ve reached a point where they have real-world meaning rather than just act as fuel for your ego. Low numbers would mean people aren’t seeing the work, meaning low sales, meaning unpaid bills, meaning a future living in a cardboard box under a bridge.
If none of that is a factor for you: f**k the numbers. Page one of your comic only had 5 views? Screw it. You’re having fun. Onto page two. Then page three. Focus on creating something that makes you smile. Because if it makes YOU smile then it’s guaranteed to make a few other people smile, and that’s the start of you building an audience.

I Make Garbage by jollyjack

That dumb little gif I made of Thanos flipping off Darkseid seems to have given people the impression that I’m a Marvel fanboy attacking DC fanboys. I’m not. I don’t regularly read comics from either publisher. I’ll pick up a mini-series or trade that they put out if the artwork is good, but generally I look on their books as what they are: promotional material to keep the characters in the public eye.
I used to read Uncanny XMen in the 90s. First issue I ever picked up featured the work of Joe Maduriera, so I was kinda spoilt. I thought this was a house-style that all artists on the series would have to try and emulate or match. I was slightly revulsed when this turned out not to be the case, and lower calibre artists took over future issues. I abandoned collecting Marvel comics completely when artists started being changed MID-ISSUE.
Pretty much everything I read these days is from Image. High quality artwork and interesting stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end. They’re not forever ongoing and they don’t rely on cheap stunts, like the “deaths” of main characters or universe resets.
They. Tell. Stories.
The quality of storytelling is what makes a comic, or a movie, good.
The DC movies have told sh*t stories. That’s the main reason I rag on them. Not because I hate the characters, but because they’re poorly used within those films.
Wonder Woman? If that’s held up as a highlight, your cinematic universe is in trouble. I loved the setting, I loved the concept, but the execution was f**king awful. It was a BAD film.
Justice League? The only highlight was hearing the return of the Danny Elfman Batman theme, and that’s 30 goddamn years old!! I wanted to love it, but it was just HORRIBLE. It was a rushed, charmless, unfocused mess of a movie.
Bad stories ruin a product, and it’s cathartic to say “they f**ked it up”. It doesn’t mean you don’t still adore the characters.
Star Trek: Beyond? They f**ked it up, but I still love Star Trek.
Star Wars: Force Awakens/Last Jedi? They f**ked it up, but I still love Star Wars.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Holy hell in a hand-basket, THEY F**KED IT UP, but I still love the Ninja Turtles.
I just don’t buy the DVDs.
A quick note to all budding astronomers out there: you can see a Marsrise over the moon in the early hours of this evening. The red planet will pop out from behind the lunar body just after dusk.
For those without any kind of telescope or binoculars, the best way to witness it is – believe it or not – through a bottle of Mountain Dew. It turns out that using a green/yellow plastic separates the glow of celestial bodies, dulling the light of stars but enhancing the reflective light of the planets.
The same unusual tool can be used to better see Venus tomorrow morning, should you get out of bed early enough.

So, to watch Mars do its thing: empty out a bottle of Mountain Dew and look at the moon through it as it comes up this evening.

Mountain Dew by jollyjack 

The stuff actually has a use!
After this question was recently posed to me, I thought I’d type up a more in-depth answer.
Ultimately, it really is just a case of: start. There’s nothing stopping you. You don’t need anyone’s permission. Just put pen to paper and let fly.
I think the major stumbling block for people at that early stage of things is the concern that what they put on the page does not do justice to what is in their head. You, of course, want it to look as good as the comics that inspired you to take up the pen. You’ll draw a few pages and decide it’s not worth continuing because your work isn’t on par with the big name artists and zillions of people aren’t showering you with positive comments.
1 - Don’t draw for anyone but yourself. Feedback is awesome, but the only prize you should be chasing is the giddy delight of finishing a project. That’s how you get things done.
2 - Practice is what improves your work and practice is easiest done when DOING work. Learn on the job. I’ll be the first to admit that my skills aren’t exactly of the highest calibre – certainly not compared to some of the masterful works posted here on DA – but if you look at my webcomic, Sequential Art, and compare the very first few comics to the latest, you’ll see a difference in quality, both in terms of writing and illustration.

Equipment is another issue people see as a block between them and creating comics. It’s not a block, it’s an excuse. I’ll wager most people interested in the medium started out by drawing everything on paper with whatever they had on hand: pencils, pens, paint. I drew everything almost exclusively with biro for YEARS. You don’t NEED a grand’s worth of Cintiq to draw a comic. Work with what you have and devise ways of achieving what you want with those tools.
If you want to bring your work to the wider world, you’ll eventually need a scanner and some sort of image editing software, but only spend money if what you’re buying will ultimately pay for itself.

Finally: publication. This isn’t something I can really advise on as I’ve never been published. I use print-on-demand services and my own website to display and sell my wares. If your hope is for a publisher to take your work to a larger audience than that which self-publication will provide, remember this: After Harry Potter, J K  Rowling started using a pseudonym to try and land an agent/publisher for her next book. She was rejected again and again. Getting a publisher’s attention, keeping it and being remembered over the thousands of other submissions they receive, is as much down to perseverance and luck as your own skill. If your work lands on the desk of someone who just isn’t in the right mood at that moment to appreciate your masterpiece, they’re just going to push it away.
Stick with it.
You only fail if you stop.

How to write Webcomics. by jollyjack
I just finished watching Outsiders on Netflix. Found it to be rather compelling – despite the amusing demand that the audience feel sympathy for an Appalachian-dwelling tribe of decidedly white folk who are at threat of having their land taken and culture destroyed. If you don’t get the irony, you need to read a bit more history.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed its 2 season run. Both the characters and concepts were really interesting. Unfortunately, it was axed, and left us with a cliffhanger that won’t see resolution unless the show is picked up by someone else.

This crap happens a lot and across all mediums. TV, movies, games, books, you can find many examples of series that just end without a conclusion. It’s all down to a mixture of laziness and arrogance. Lazy writing (it’s easy to start a story. Hard to end it) and arrogance that folk think they’ll get funding for a sequel.
With a TV series, the arc that runs through it is the story. Each episode should end with a cliffhanger, like a chapter in a book, to keep people coming back each week, but it shouldn’t end its run without a conclusion, lest it not return for another season. The hook that draws an audience back shouldn’t be desperation to find out what happens next, but promise of another good story. A satisfactory ending will also go a long way to cementing the series as a classic because people will recommend that others watch it. You don’t want people saying that “It was really good, but we never find out what happens”. That isn’t going to sell things to potential viewers. No one is going to pick up a box set for something they know will never be finished.

Outsiders by jollyjack
I'm determined to clean up my art-hovel this year!
I've a stack of prints that didn't sell at last year's conventions. Should anyone out there be interested, I've put them up on ebay:

[All prints sold. Keep an eye on my journal for future sales]

Hamster Comic Flash 2017 by jollyjack
OK. Simple, non spoiler review: it’s another Star Wars film, and it’s better than Force Awakens.
The story ground to a halt at one point and there’s a surplus of characters that we’re expected to care about and not enough screen-time available for that to actually be possible.
It’s fine, space-fantasy fluff and I DID enjoy it. The action scenes are great, there are laughs to be had, but the narrative they slopped in between those is average or less, which I shall now savage mercilessly, because f**k mediocrity…..


Force Awakens and Last Jedi are dumb movies. The original trilogy was just pulp adventure in space, but, while everything had silly names, it all made sense. The galaxy was controlled by a massive empire and a faction was rebelling against that authority.
In Force Awakens, Leia is leading “The Resistance”, which is strange because there’s nothing to “resist” at that point. The New Republic is intact at the start of the film, which I’m assuming is who gave Leia the rank of General in the first place, so she’s part of THEIR military. Then, in Last Jedi, they all start calling themselves “Rebels”. What? NO! It’s at THAT point, when the First Order is “weeks away from having military control of the galaxy” that you become “The Resistance”, because you’re, y’know, F**KING RESISTING.
I really don’t think the writers knew what the words “resistance” and “rebels” meant, and could really do with reading a bit of real-world history to get a better idea of what such groups are.

Skimming through a history book or two might have also given them a bit more inspiration for narrative, because what we get is clunky as hell.
Summary: the story picks up in the immediate aftermath of Force Awakens. The Resistance are fleeing their base on one big ship, which the First Order proceeds to chase. The heroes think they can escape by jumping to light-speed, but the bad guys have developed a way to track ships through hyperspace. With only enough fuel for one more jump, the First Order’s tracking system must be disabled or they’ll simply continue their pursuit. So, to get on board the lead Star Destroyer, two of the heroes fly off to a casino planet to find James Bond and…..wait….what?
You think I’m joking? I’m not. That is what happens, I swear.
The set-up was fine until that point. It was like Master and Commander, just in space: one ship trying to keep out of range of another until they work out how to best their enemy. But in Last Jedi, rather than spend time having the heroes come up with and execute a clever plan – they just bail! None of the many, many characters seemed to have any ingenuity of their own. The solution to every problem they faced seemed to be to look for ANOTHER character who would solve it for them. Need to know how the First Order are tracking you? Meet this movie’s hook for the Chinese market. Need a new leader for the fleet? Meet Purple Laura Dern. Need someone to crack a code? Meet Dirty Del Toro.
You cannot write a movie like this! If you try, it stops being a movie and just becomes an illustrated credit reel, because there is no time to get to know these characters. When you don’t know a character, their actions carry no weight. Their betrayals and sacrifices mean nothing, wasting time that really needed to be spent elsewhere.
Like on Snoke.
The big hologram dude from Force Awakens? Yeah, he’s back. He says some stuff, then dies. We’re never told who he is, what his motivations were, how he built the First Order, how he recruited Ben Solo, whether or not he was a Sith or why his head has a butt-crack. I’m guessing he was important, but we’ll never know, because Disney thought we’d rather be watching Finn and his love-interest free some space-ponies.
Time. Well. Spent.

Episodes 7 and 8 are also getting a little too hung up on making the funnies. Put laughs in there, sure, I have no objection to that, but you have to do so with care. Yes, watching General Hux get thrown around is a hoot, but when you start making your villains look like buffoons non-stop, it dilutes menace. How often did the Empire look anything other than terrifying? Never, because all the humour in episodes 4, 5 and 6 came from the heroes, through character-building banter.

It’s certainly not all bad news, though. The space battles are awesome, especially when Purple Laura Dern checks out. Now we know why they do calculations before jumping to light speed! The destruction of Snoke’s ship was f**kin’ beautiful, and the slaying of Snoke himself – while leaving way too many loose ends – was spectacularly badass.
After Carrie Fisher’s passing, I love that the movie wasn’t changed in any way to try and write Leia out, and the brief musical tribute to her in the credits made me glass up a little.

Episodes 7 and 8 just aren’t doing what they need to. They’re watchable trash, but they feel like fan-films rather than instalments of a continuing series.

B3TA Last Jedi Needs A Drink by jollyjack
Don't....don't do it, Luke. Please don't..... oh, god, he's doing it......oh god ......
I’d always hoped I gave enough away for free, via my website and DeviantArt, to win enough favour so that people wouldn’t mess with my revenue stream.
When I started up The Apsara Portfolio, I knew that the comics I posted there would eventually find their way onto forums and image boards outside my control. That I would lose them to the internet. It’s the fate of all digital content: once you put it out there, it’s gone. What I never expected was that huge archives of my content would be collated, or how damaging to my endeavours those archives would be. Even my Patreon page is scraped wholesale, now, with anything I post there – and even the comments legitimate patrons leave – appearing on mirror pages that anyone can view for free.
There’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop it. I have neither the technical nor legal apparatus to prevent it. All I can do is make a list, Arya Stark style, and hope that at some stage in the future I gain access to such means.
There are a lot of very helpful people who point me toward these websites, and I read the comments that get posted on them. The mental gymnastics people perform to justify why it’s OK to undermine the attempts of others to make a living is…. depressing. As is the fact they would rather give money to those who run the offending websites than the creators of the material they’re ripping off.
If you’re not angered by the concept of another person’s work being taken without there permission, and used by another to generate ad revenue or as an excuse to ask for donations that line their pockets, I’d really like to know why. Because my sense of what is fair, what is right and what is wrong, just does not allow me to adopt that mindset.
If you like a creator’s work, you need to support them, if not by buying their work, then by not supporting or contributing to websites that steal it.
I thought Wonder Woman was very mediocre. It’s held up as a high point of the DC movie series because it was better than the likes of Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman, but those dumpster fires make anything placed beside them look like high art.
This mediocrity continues with Justice League. Not a terrible film, not by a long shot. There are a fair smattering of good bits in there, but far more grating and downright stupid elements that put it very firmly in “meh” territory.

**** spoilers ****

I enjoy their films but I am not a Marvel fanboy that will defend them if they put a foot wrong. Incredible Hulk and the first two Thor movies were kinda dull, Iron Man 2 was f**king awful, Captain America: The First Avenger was a waste of a concept and Ant-Man was essentially just Iron Man retold. I do, however, prefer the Marvel movies because, even at their most dire (Iron Man 2), they are telling their story well. Even the most outlandish elements within them make sense. It’s not the same in DC flicks. A lot of content seems to be there because someone, somewhere decided that a particular scene had to take place, not because the story demanded it, but because it was a superhero movie and it needed to be shoehorned in there, regardless of how stupid and illogical it seemed.
For example: Superman gets resurrected in Justice League and, for no sane reason, has a fight with the other heroes. The excuse given is that he doesn’t know who he is. But that makes no sense as he has total mastery over his powers. They put a fight scene in there because they thought they had to, when a simple bit of emotive dialogue would have been far better.
Silly choices like that are rife across all the DC movies. Less so in Justice League, granted, but enough to tarnish it.
Its saving grace is, much to my surprise, Batman. He cracks wise far more than I think is right for the character, but this is undeniably a better Bats than the one we saw in BvS. He’s focused, tactical, very much a general and it’s a joy to see him going about his badass work. The fact that Danny Elfman used the classic ’89 Batman theme just made it all the better and is actually giving me cause to look forward to a solo Batman film set in this cinematic universe. Do I still think Ben Affleck is unsuited for the part? Yes. I would not shed a tear if he left the series.
I found the presence of Aquaman, Cyborg and (especially) The Flash to be actually something of an irritation. They didn’t bring anything to the table that a halfway decent writer couldn’t have easily covered using just Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman. Character surplus is what kills films like this. The only reason The Avengers films work is because of the groundwork that Marvel have laid down before we get to them. DC are suffering by trying to take shortcuts and it’s astonishing that they haven’t worked that out themselves, yet.

I’ve watched Justice League once. I’m glad I did. I’m glad it’s an improvement over the previous films and hope things continue to get better with future instalments. Despite stupid elements, I did not leave the theatre disappointed or angry that my time had been wasted. But there’s nothing drawing me back to watch it again.
A while back, I asked for questions that I and :iconmightymoose: would try to answer in a podcast we planned on recording -
Well, we got it recorded months ago, but I've only just finished editing it all, and setting up a new page for it on Collected Curios.
If you're short of stupid stuff to listen to: a new episode will go up each week for the next few months.

Curious Transmissions Banner by jollyjack
Like-minded people will always develop similar ideas independently of one another, and there's slightly more to designing a game than just saying "I'd make the focus exploration. Perhaps travelling to various islands", but I find it amusing that I said this at an interview for a design position at Rare back in 2009, and the first big thing they're releasing since then is "Sea of Thieves" - a game about exploration and travelling to various islands.

At the interview, they gave me a random word and posed the question: "what kind of game would you make based on it?"
The word was "balloons". I immediately thought: airships. Air travel. Exploration. Exploration is fun, rewarding and family friendly. Perfect territory for Rare.

Obviously, I didn't land the gig.

I think that my referring to the interviewer as a "hack" once or twice in conversation with others prior to this interview might have got back to him. That, or I'M the hack and am such an egomaniac I don't realise it. Either way: don't badmouth people you work with. It'll come back to bite you.

I want "Sea of Thieves" to succeed, simply because I know a few folk at Rare and I'd like them to have at least ONE "win" this decade. How well it will do will depend on one simple thing: how easy will it be to get from point A to point B if the people you're playing alongside are acting like arseholes? Personally, unless there's an AI crew you can hire, I'm not going to invest any time in it. How often are all your friends lined up and ready to play online at the same time? Do they even own the game? Teamplay, short-term, across games like Overwatch, falls apart very quickly when you're playing with random people.
I’ve been to a couple of comic conventions that haven’t gone that well, but I have to say: none have ever been stormed and shut down by armed goons.…

We have things rather good in countries not run by religious hardliners (of any denomination). Free thinking isn’t stifled by people who suggest that “fascination with foreign cultures" is a bad thing, and “weakness of religious faith” is reason enough for a beating.
God knows how I’d make a living if we did…..
Probably because of V for Vendetta and that iconic mask, the name “Guy Fawkes” and the date November 5th are more widely known beyond British shores than in years past, but the details of the infamous “Gunpowder Plot” generally aren’t.

It starts with King Henry VIII, around 1540, seizing control from Rome over the Church in England, pissing off every Catholic on the island. For decades after that, attempt after attempt was made to destroy the fledgling “Church of England”, by way of political manoeuvring, kidnapping and coercion, all in a bid to restore control of the Faith to Rome.
None of it ever worked, so, in 1605, a cabal of Jesuits drew up a plan to wipe out everyone that controlled the Church of England in one go: King James I, the privy council, the senior aristocracy and Bishops. They would all be gathered in the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament, and it was that which the conspirators planned to blow up.
Once everyone was dead, a popular revolt would have been sparked. King James’ daughter would have been kidnapped and installed on the throne as a puppet and power restored to Rome.
That obviously didn’t happen.

Fawkes is the famous name, because he was the one caught at the scene, matches in hand. He wasn’t the mastermind, though. A 3-part BBC mini-series, running from tonight until the weekend of November 5th, follows the endeavours of the plot’s architect, Robert Catesby (Played by the contractually-obligated-to-remain-unshaven Kit Harrington).
Looks to be as highly polished as previous period dramas from The Beeb.…

Gallery-1508173650-kit-harington-robert-catesby by jollyjack
Yew noo nuthin, Jon Snuuuu.