“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity”
- Amelia Earhart
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Get Beatrix Potter's top taxidermy tips! In The Phoenix issue 238.
I'm thrilled to have been asked to speak at the next Laydeez Do Comics in Glasgow. I'll be speaking primarily about my journey to comics making in the hopes that it might be useful for other creators.
If you'd care to join us, it's on Wedneaday, 22nd July, 2015, 6 - 7:45pm
More info on the event here.
Hope to see you there :-)
Lisa and I will be at Glasgow Comic Con this year! You'll be able to find us in The Art School Venue on July 4 -5. We'll be selling CorpseTalk: Season 1 and The Curse of Barry Starkey. We'd love to see you there!
Ahem....I'm on the break-out talent list! :-)
And a HUGE congrats to Neil Slorance for a cool poster design!
May 26-27 I'll be at the Hay Festival for Children & Families with The Phoenix and other Phoenix creators! There will be a host of Phoenix Comic Workshops at various times on both days. Booking information can be found on the Hay Festival's website.
Also check out Phoenix comic artist, Zak Simmonds-Hurn, who did the illustrations for this programme. Lovely work Zak!
I'll be at the Bradford Literature Festival on Sunday the 17th of May. If you're in the area, I hope you'll join me at one of my events.
I'll be running two events:
Sunday 17 May10:30 am – 12:00 pmThe Midland Hotel, Irving Room
Sunday 17 May1:00 pm – 2:30 pmThe Midland Hotel, Irving Room
This is a ticketed event. Please click on the links above to book your tickets.
So, last year I was at the Edinburgh Book Festival, doing kids' workshops with The Phoenix, and I got a strange request. Would I like to be a part of a collaborative graphic novel, being commissioned by the Book Festival, to celebrate their 30 year anniversary?
Well, not likely I was going to turn it down. Especially when they explained the premise: Scotland 30 years into the future (30 years of the book festival - 30 years in the future...) after a massive global-warming-induced flood has left all the major cities underwater, and a new city of refugees (the Internally Displaced Persons of the title) has sprung up around SkyFarm, a new high-tech farming skyscraper in New Wanlockhead, the highest village in Scotland.
Complicated, high-concept and full of social injustice; just how I like 'em. My job was to take the characters of the first chapter (written by comics legend Pat Mills, although at the time I didn't know that - they were very cloak-and-dagger about who was actually involved in the early stages), tell the story of how they met and flesh out the world a bit.
Well, the result is IDP:2043, a glorious sprawling bastard mutant of a book, throwing 10 wildly different writers and artists together and kind of just seeing what comes out. Comics and crimewriting goddess Denise Mina had the unenviable role of story editor, in charge of herding this group of cats into some sort of coherent narrative.
Articles and reviews:
The Edinburgh Book Festival - official press release
The Scotsman "It’s great to see the book festival try something new but IDP: 2043 isn’t the “white knuckle ride of a thriller” promised on the jacket, it’s a plodding presentation of a few interesting ideas and a lot of clichés." Brian Ferguson (Ooh, burn!)
The Herald "But what I'm hopeful for is … God, am I hopeful for anything?" Hannah Berry, in interview with Teddy Jamieson
The Guardian "It's far from tidy, and the final chapter has to make some improbable leaps to get to its conclusion, but this is a quirky and thoroughly enjoyable work." James Smart
The Independent "Special note must be made of Murphy and his larger than life chapter, focusing on Cait’s anger at a dinner party for the rich, and exposing the class tensions that have been bubbling away. It is here that our protagonist truly comes into her own, more than just paper and ink, demonstrating real emotion that pulls the reader in to her life, crackling with anger alongside the fiery redhead." Laura Sneddon.
Wow 24/7 "Those who have caused most of the issues can’t see those who suffer. “I think it’s a wonderful metaphor for what’s going on.” Me, quoted from the EBF panel discussion by Heather McDaid
Earlier this week, The Phoenix took over the G2 section of the Guardian. CorpseTalk graced the pages with Daniel Hartwell and Neill Cameron’s Pirates of Pangaea, Neill Cameron’s How to Make Awesome Comics, Tamsin and the Deep by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown, Squid Bits by Jess Bradley, and Von Doogan by Lorenzo Etherington.
If you would like, you can read the full Guardian article here.
You can read more about the feature from David Fickling Books here, and a more in-depth article on The Phoenix by Dan L.
For those in the back row…
'The Phoenix is a phenomenon: a beautiful, enjoyably silly story magazine for girls and boys – it’s advert-free and it’s the longest-lasting new launch in the market in decades.'
- the Guardian
You can get your weekly copy of The Phoenix by subscribing here.
Check out The Phoenix shop for the Phoenix Presents series:
CorpseTalk Season One by yours truly.
Von Doogan and the Curse of the Golden Monkey, by Lorenzo Etherington.
Bunny vs Monkey: Book one, by Jamie Smart.
With more amazing titles due out soon!
Still curious about The Phoenix? How’s about a little peek into what goes into the weekly comic. Here’s a little comic I created with interviewer John-Paul Flintoff, about the Ficklings, which featured in the Guardian last summer (2013).
In other, ahem, news… I also appeared in The Metro in a piece called Desert Island Books. Check it out:
If you made it to the bottom of the post - well done and thank you :-)
Woo hoo! A great review from Richard Bruton at The Forbidden Planet blog.
"Each strip races by, a delight every time, Murphy getting the tone spot on, lightweight but thorough, information bundled with the laughs."
"I simply love that panel. The kinetic delight of Cleo being spun out of hiding, her vivaciousness to the fore, Caesar thrown back in surprise. So much going on, great cartooning. And yet so easy to miss. He does this sort of thing all the way through, you just need to stop and take it in.""Corpse Talk is funny, it’s entertaining, it’s educational and information packed. What more could you possibly want?"
Pre-orders available here with a special drawing of your favourite personage from history as a corpse.
Also, discounts available this week on pre-orders from The Phoenix Shop!
So here’s what I did: A HUGE single image that can be read like a comic. The three kids are walking past the forest when they see some evil goblin-type dudes capturing forest animals. Oh no way! Immediately they spring into action! The rest of the images sees them disrupting the evil dudes in various slapstick ways, such as sneaking past them to free animals, distracting them with long, complicated stories, or just straightforward beating them up, to save the forest. There’s even an evil scientist/goblin king who’s castle they infiltrate, so they can release all the animals and he can get his comeuppance!
I hope that the kids will have as much fun reading it as I did drawing it.
Here are a few pics:
P.S, just received pretty much the best possible thank-you note:
...and who's at NUMBER 2, beating out such serious heavy hitters as Jim Woodring, Gene Yang, Michael DeForge for chrrissakes, and DAVID FRIKKEN B!? (Not that it's a competition of course, but for someone that's been labouring in pretty much total obscurity for years, it's quite a big deal.) That's right, it's The Phoenix, with a special mention for BEST FEATURE: CorpseTalk! http://entertainment.time.com/2013/12/04/arts-and-entertainment/slide/top-10-comics-and-graphic-novels/
Pretty sweet huh? Things I'm selling include the Fever Dreams book at £8, Fever Dreams-themed postcards (they look amazing btw - they're on this incredibly thick card that just feels nice) - £1 each, which is already an amazing deal, or the whole set of 8 for £5! I have a limited number of those sweet posters at £10 apiece. Also, I'm available for commissions - ink and watercolour on swanky watercolour paper. I will happily take requests or just make up something I think is funny - £10. (I reserve the right to distort any requests in inappropriate ways for my own amusement. And yours. I hope.)
Also, in case you're wondering "where IS this guy?" here is a map with handy directions to my table:
Couldn't be easier. Also, The Phoenix has a table almost directly opposite, and I know they have some amazing subscription deals on, so you can also stop by there and I'll be totally happy to sign and draw something on whatever you buy from them as well :-)
As well as being a talented creator in his own rights, Neill turns out to have hidden talents as a generous and thoughtful interviewer. He somehow manages the Herculean task of keeping me (almost) on topic as we discuss the inspiration and process behind my new strip Lost Tales in The Phoenix. Podcast available here.
Just received proof copy of Fever Dreams from superstar printer George at Ripe Digital and they look friggin awesome! Man, making a book is fun! And really hard work. I'll be doing a post shortly just about colour correcting watercolours for print.
Also...postcards!!! Will also be available at Thought Bubble and now at http://adammurphy.storenvy.com/.
Now available through Sequential, Fever Dreams, my new book for adults (no seriously - in fact it's probably not suitable for some adults as well). Fever Dreams is a collection of 14 short stories, created over the course of about 3 years, as part of an ongoing project to create by listening, without judgement or fear, to whatever was churning in my subconscious mind. Turns out my subconscious is full of sorrow, joy, sexual obsession and a constant wrestling with the nature of God. Much like most people I'd imagine. Anyway, some of that somehow made it onto paper - this book is the result.
Back cover blurb: From the fevered imagination of Adam Murphy, creator of Phoenix favourite CorpseTalk, comes his eagerly anticipated first book for adults. At times funny, sad, ludicrous, disturbing and surprisingly tender, 14 short stories of love, lust and loss, delved from the depths of the subconscious, weave together in a profound exploration of desire, creativity and being human.
Plus another eleven never-before-seen stories! Mined from the feverish depths of my subconscious brain for your comics edification.
This is how I do colour flatting for CorpseTalk. Each week I think "maybe this would be useful for somebody" so I've finally gotten around to writing it up. Colour flatting is basically just filling all the areas of your drawing with randomly generated colours, which you can then go back and easily fill with the actual colours you want. We're going to be using the excellent (and free) BPelt plugins, so the first thing you need to do is go to their site and install them, if you haven't already. BPelt does most of the hard work for you, but there are quite a few steps that you need to go through to prep the files to get the best results. That's where you need my Photoshop Actions! Right click, download and open with Photoshop to install them.
Then I shrink it down so it fits on the page. I like to think this is giving me the tightest possible linework. Maybe I'm just being superstitious... Anyway, it means I end up with this Notice that this file now has anti-aliased edges. Not ideal, but my computer can't handle 1200 dpi colour files.
I copy and past this is a new file [CTRL A > CTRL C > CTRL N> Enter > CTRL V] Then run MULTIFILL STEP 1 from the bpelt_multifill_helpers actions. [spoiler intro="What does this do? Click here to find out, or ignore completely - the choice is yours... "] First it resizes the image to 300dpi - on my computer, the BPelt Flatten plugin can't handle larger files. Then it converts the file to B&W - BPelt doesn't like anti-aliased edges, so this removes all the anti-aliasing. Then it converts back to CMYK. It copies the current line art layer (we'll need it in a moment) Then it runs the BPelt multifill plugin - this assigns random colours to all the areas of your lineart. Note: you may need to play around with your settings depending on your drawing style. These are mine: Then it runs the BPelt Flatten plugin, this removes all the black lines and expands the areas of colour so they meet up. Then it pastes the line art layer on top of the colour layer (from when we copied it before), selects the new line art layer and chooses the pencil tool. [/spoiler]
Now you have your line art with random colours for all the areas. However, if you look closely you'll see that there are lots of areas that are joined with one colour when they should be two, because your line art is full of gaps (at least mine is). Also, there will be many areas where there are two areas with separate colours which should be connected, but you drew a line between them. So now go around the line art layer and wherever you see a line that should be connected, connect it using a black pencil tool. And wherever you see a line separating two areas that could be connected, break it using white pencil (the line art layer is set to multiply). Does that make sense? Essentially, you are fixing all the bits of your lineart that BPelt can't handle. Don't worry about making a mess here - all of this is just to get the best colour areas you can, we'll be going back to the original lineart shortly. Make sure you have pure black and white selected as your foreground and background colours. Remember that you can use X to toggle the background and foreground colours. When you've done this for the whole page, run MULTIFILL STEP 2 [spoiler intro="Again, you may or may not need to know what it's doing... "]
If you still aren't happy with the colour flatting, you can press CRTL-Z about 5 times, until the 3rd layer disappears, and do the previous step again, but it's probably easier to just fix it at the next stage.
Now you have your colour flats done. Note the edges are quite jaggy, but that doesn't matter too much as they're going to be hidden. Copy the colour flats back into your original file [CTRL A > CTRL C> go to your original file > CTRLV].
Line up the colour layer with the lines - I reduce the lines opacity so I can see through them, zoom in and then move the colour layer so the lines hide the jaggy edges.
One more trick - I've assigned the other action in that set that you downloaded, Expand 4px, to the F2 button. So any time you find an area that hasn't been correctly filled, for whatever reason, you can go Wand tool [W] > select the area or areas > F2. This will expand the selection so it's underneath the black lines, avoiding any antialiasing jaggies. Note you need the wand set to no antialisaing, contiguous, all layers.
And there you go! I hope this will speed up your workflow and free up time to make more awesome comics. If you have any further suggestions for improving this system, or this post for that matter, please share in the comments. I'm always looking for ways to make it better.