Stories with pictures

Alright, people. I guess I need to tell you about this. I wrote a book! Like, not a real book. A comic. It’s got a story in it. With a beginning and an end, and stuff in the middle. And a couple of goodies and a couple of baddies, and all those sort of things.

angry copy.jpg

This is the main character, Hala. She goes on a sort of adventure. It is impossible to put into words how weird I’m being about actually talking about this.

Several years ago I decided I would never be a comic artist, because I’m no good at coming up with stories. Back during my apprenticeship, a few friends and I did a comic about two rabbits, Zwill + Inge. Scan 6.jpeg

(This is one of the later attempts, the beginnings looked much less impressive. I found this recently trying to throw out some of the old crap I have lying around). At the time I liked the idea of keeping this going and making it into something, but the plots were a real struggle.

So eventually, I did other stuff instead. Then last year I surprised myself by spending one morning in bed frantically texting myself the story I had just thought of. At the moment, it looks like this:

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I’ve not got a title design yet, partly because I’ve let my crazy ideas run away with me, and partly because other stuff is trying to take over. But eventually, there will be a finished thing and you’ll be able to look at it in all it’s weird-ass glory. I hope you’re excited.

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Lang may yer lums reek

I was going to say, Happy New Year, but I get the feeling that’s how I start all my posts (what with only blogging about once a year…). So I’m shaking it up! Look after yer lums, people, and make sure they reek, for a lang time.

I’m sorta kinda just back from holiday. Not really, it’s been at least two weeks, but that’s what it feels like. I gave this TFF-X anthology away for Christmas. It’s got me in it, an interview of sorts. The pics don’t really work in the paperback, sadly, I’m assuming the kindle version is better. Or just revisit their original home, and take the opportunity to read a lovely story whilst you’re at it.

Some more games have appeared since I last posted, and some have even gone to new homes. Yay!

You can see more of them on flickr!

 

Board game shenanigans

Approximately 380 years ago, a friend stupidly decided to lend me a copy of this book. Initially I carefully avoided reminding him of that fact, because I didn’t want him to ask for it back. Then I carefully avoided reminding him of that fact because I temporarily misplaced it. Eventually, though, it reappeared and it turned out he was fine with me keeping it for the time being.

I love this book an awful lot. And over the years, I’ve hatched (and dismissed) many plans of recreating some of the games in it. This summer I spent some time thinking about it properly, and folks, hold onto your pants, coz this thing is happening fo’realz.

Just a few ideas...
Just a few ideas…

For quite a while, what held me back was the board. Well, and the playing pieces, but mostly the board. I liked the idea of a nice wooden thing, but frankly, woodworking isn’t my thing. Much as I’d like it to be. Now that I’ve arrived at my grand idea, I can’t work out why felt hadn’t occurred to me earlier.

baghbandi

The first game I completed is a bengali game called Baghbandi. In this two tigers try to kill twenty goats, whilst the goats try to block the tigers from being able to move. I made it as a combined test run and housewarming present, and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

The felt I used is actual real natural coloured wool felt, rather than the synthetic crap I usually use, and the lines are stitched-on embroidery floss. Also, I discovered fairly recently that you can sand and varnish cured fimo (who knew? More importantly, who can be arsed?) (Me, these days, actually), so my goats and tigers are not very goat- or tiger-shaped, but shiny.

I’ve got loads more games earmarked for production. The one I’m currently working on is Hneftafl, a Viking strategy game. It’s quite large and I’ve got superfancy embroidery planned for the edges, so watch this space.

That's a horse. No really.
That’s a horse. No really.

I’m having a lot of fun just arsing about with stuff for this project at the moment. One game requires horses, so I made a somewhat kack-handed attempt at whittling. Also, nettle string! A couple of years ago I already played about with making nettle thread, but kinda failed. But nettle string is easy! It’s quite tough, so it may not work the way I want it to, but it may well make an appearance in the embroidery.

So there!

As a proper German, I of course grew up with fairy tales, and I have to say I’m quite taken with all the ‘new’ incarnations they’re appearing in these days.

A few years back now, I was blown away by Neil Gaiman’s Snow Glass Apples (which appears in Smoke and Mirrors). I totally love the Fables series, and, most recently, I’ve started watching Once Upon A Time, which is also quite fun, although I get the impression that whoever came up with this has never seen a spinning wheel (or a bean plant, for that matter) in real life.

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Of course I like to pretend that I’m better than other people because I don’t have a TV, but well. Netflix. So as to not completely waste away those hours of my life, I’ve taken to doodling whilst watching crap, at least. (This has in the past led to a teeny tiny portrait of Spike on a note pad which I was quite pleased with, but which is now too smudged to scan, so I try to make sure I keep my actual sketch book nearby these days.)

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15-08-19 pattern15-08-18s
Fun Fact: That red pencil, incidentally, is a funny shade of red, is pretty old and  – *I think* – is supposed to be one of those that don’t show up in photocopies (or whatever happened before photocopying was a thing). But I’m not sure. It was made by Hardtmuth Koh-I-Noor (now Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth), the first company to patent a pencil lead (in 1802. This particular pencil is a wee bit younger than that.) That is all.

Für Frieden und Sozialismus

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I’ve always had a soft spot for the modern propaganda-type arty stuff (technical term) that was used in the former GDR (and other communist countries, no doubt), for general decoration. Might be ‘Ostalgia’, but I just like how positive they mostly are. (Brainwashed? Me?)

No, but seriously, the colourful crazy geometric thing a lot of them have going on, is really beautiful. And I kinda like the message that, you know, workers and farmers are actually an important part of society, and that if we all do our bit, stuff can be achieved. I think there’s a definite lack of inspirational murals in current architecture.

So recently I came across a stained glass window I must have seen before but had forgotten about. Unfortunately all the photos I took of it with my phone are crap, so I’m showing you the wee pidgeon it inspired, above, instead.

I see dead people

Earlier this year, Edinburgh World Heritage Trust commissioned me to illustrate some more graveyard maps. This time round is was for the five graveyards situated in the World Heritage Site; Calton Old, Calton New, Canongate, Greyfriars and St Cuthberts.

yester
Lady Yester’s Gravestone in Greyfriars Kirk

‘Twas fun, again. My favourite bits were probably drawing a bunch of birdies for St Cuthbert’s…

wildlife

Also, as we’d already done Canongate last year, this time round we made a more family-friendly version for this one, with games ‘n’ everything!

Canongate-inside

Fancy giving it a go? You can download all of them as .pdfs from HERE, and print versions are also available from each of the kirks and EWHT.

This is a rock dove. William McGillivray (buried in New Calton) trained one to follow him to school when he was a kid.
This is a rock dove. William McGillivray (buried in New Calton) trained one to follow him to school when he was a kid.

Houses ‘n’ stuff

If you’re wondering what I’m doing all day (as surely you must), I’m working on some maps of the Canongate – something for you to look out for at Doors Open Day this year! Here’s a sneak preview of the Parliament for ya.

parliament

Competition time!

Whoa, maybe I should do more blogging. I had a moment of panic there when I realised wordpress has gone all funny since I last was here… Anyways, onwards and upwards.

A is for... #animaldoodleaday 14!

So, here’s the news: As a direct result of entertaining myself in January by taking part in that #animaldoodleaday thing, my very first competition is finally happening! Exciting, non?

It’s been suggested that I should have some of the images printed up as postcards, so here’s the deal: Help me decide which one to print, and maybe you’ll win one. All you need to do is, go to my Facebook page (go ahead and like it if you don’t already!), then have a look at all my pics and SHARE the one you’d most like to see as a postcard.

On 16 February, I’ll count up all the shares, and get the most popular one (or two) done in postcard form. Then I’ll draw ten lucky winners out of all the people who shared and send them a postcard, easy!

You can share more than one, of course, I’ll put your name in the hat once for each pic you share. You can also get all your friends to play, and if you win, I’ll send you a postcard, no matter which corner of the world you’re currently hiding in. (They’ll be blank and in an envelope, so you can post them on if you want).

Facebook hater? Well, go ahead and have a good moan at me, maybe I’ll be more non-FB friendly next time… Or wait, I suppose you could have a look at Flickr, and tweet me the one you like best, or something. I don’t know, make something up! I’ll try and not forget anyone when it comes to counting up the names!

Look, I made it all shiny!

Na gut, dann jetz nochmal auf Deutsch:

Also, wenn Ihr ne Postkarte gewinnen wollt, dann müsst Ihr mir erstmal beim Aussuchen helfen. Also, kuckt Euch erstmal auf meiner Facebook-Seite  alle meine Bilder  an. Sucht Euch das aus, was Ihr am liebsten als Postkarte sehen wollen würdet und TEILT es.

Am 16. Februar, zähl ich dann die ganzen Teilungen und das am öftesten (??) geteilte Bild wird gedruckt! Unter allen, die geteilt haben, verlose ich dann 10 Postkarten.

Ihr könnt natürlich mehr als ein Bild teilen, wenn Ihr das wollt, Euer Name wird dann einmal für jede Teilung in die Verlosung gedingst. Ihr könnt auch all Euren Freunden sagen, daß sie mitmachen sollen, und wenn Ihr gewinnt, kriegt Ihr ne Postkarte geschickt, egal wo in der Welt Ihr Euch rumtreibt. (Wobei ich für lokale Postvermittlungsunternehmen keine Verantwortung übernehmen kann…) Die Postkarten kommen unbeschrieben und in nem Umschlag, auf daß Ihr sie weiterschicken könnt, wenn’s Euch reißt.

Nicht auf Facebook? Dann kuckt Euch den ganzen Scheiß auf Flickr an, und zwitschert* mir!

(*Vereinigung für die Wiederverdeutschung des Deutschen, Präsidentin Carmen)

Na dann, viel Spaß und ich drück Euch die Daumen!

#animaldoodleaday No 10