06th Feb2012

Linktastic – More Animated Comic Covers By Kerry Callen

by Chris Thompson

Halo & Sprocket creator Kerry Callen has done it again – and this time he’s turned his sights on something a bit more modern! You may remember Callen’s incredible animated GIFs that I linked to a couple of months ago (popculturehound.net/?p=418) – they were unlike anything I’d ever seen and really captured the joy of comics.
In the latest batch, which have just gone up on his blog today, Callen turns the spotlight on Daredevil and Batman (featured below) as well as perennial favourites Calvin & Hobbes. Callen’s blog always has something interesting on offer, so why not bookmark it and see what he gets up to next?

Kerry Callen: http://kerrycallen.blogspot.com/



06th Dec2011

Small Press – Killjoy #1 by Robert Brown

by Chris Thompson

I have to thank Camila at Orbital Comics for pointing this one out to me. I wasn’t at all familiar with Robert Brown’s work, but his new series Killjoy is a joyous exploration of childhood memories and simpler times (despite what the title may suggest).
Described as ‘a comic for the discerning nostalgist’, I can certainly see where Robert is coming from with that sentiment. The I Am David homage cover immediately drew me in, and for anyone else who was forced to read Anne Holm’s novel as a child it will bring back many memories (although not necessarily good ones).
The interiors maintain the same standard as the cover and perfectly straddle the line between poignancy and awkwardness. There are moments to make you laugh, others to make you cringe, and an overwhelming flood of sentimentality for the innocence of childhood. In an age where that’s all but disappeared, Killjoy makes for a delightfully indulgent read.
I look forward to issue 2 in 2012 and trust it will once again transport me back to a time when life was simpler yet somehow felt more complex. Although these are Robert’s own stories and experiences, they awakened a whole host of memories in me which, I believe, is one of the intended by-products.
Killjoy #1 is available now from Orbital Comics or direct from Robert himself. For £2 you really can’t go wrong! Check out his website at: http://pygmyking.blogspot.com/
(Apologies for the incomplete image of I Am David. I couldn’t find a better picture of the original, so hopefully this is enough to jog your memory or give you some idea of the similarity between the two covers.)

03rd Dec2011

Linktastic – Classic Marvel & DC Covers Get Animated

by Chris Thompson

Halo & Sprocket creator Kerry Callen has come up with a clever new twist on some classic Marvel & DC covers. Credit goes to Chris Muscat from Malta Comic Con for pointing them out, which I knew just had to be shared. I’ve included a couple of samples below, and the rest can be viewed on Callen’s blog (along with some other interesting bits and pieces) … Enjoy!

Kerry Callen: http://kerrycallen.blogspot.com/



30th Nov2011

Lucio Parrillo Painting at Malta Comic Con 2011

by Chris Thompson

Over the course of this year’s Malta Comic Con, Marvel & Dynamite artist Lucio Parrillo completed an exquisite portrait of The Incredible Hulk. Started on Saturday morning and finished late Sunday afternoon, the end result will be auctioned on eBay to benefit local Maltese charities.

I was able to film Lucio in action for a few minutes each day, so you can get a brief glimpse of the artist and his process. Feel free to comment on the videos and bid on the piece when it becomes available soon. You can see more of Lucio’s work at his website: http://www.lucioparrillo.com/



28th Nov2011

Malta Comic Con – Day 2 in Pictures (November 27, 2011)

by Chris Thompson

Here’s a brief photo parade from Day 2 of the Malta Comic Con – November 27, 2011. I met so many wonderful and talented people over the course of the weekend that this can only represent a small sampling of them. Further information is available by clicking on the links below each picture.


The girls from PILOT


PILOT Anthology: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pilot-Comic-Anthology/126138640812046


Bernard Micallef & Jeanelle Zammit


Bernard Micallef: http://arcanacrusade.weebly.com/

Jeanelle Zammit: http://natsume1990.weebly.com/


Gary Erskine & his wife Mhairi


Gary Erskine: http://garyerskine.blogspot.com/


Emma Vieceli


Emma Vieceli: http://www.emmavieceli.com/


Fabio Giangolini


Fabio Giangolini: https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Gallantry-comic-book/160956277269620


Kate Brown


Kate Brown: http://danse-macabre.nu/


Lucio Parrillo


Lucio Parrillo: http://www.lucioparrillo.com/


Marco Santucci


Marco Santucci: http://www.marcosantucciart.com/


Steve Tanner (with his daughter) from Time Bomb Comics


Time Bomb Comics: http://www.timebombcomics.com/


Thomas Gosselin, Sonia Leong & Sonia Muscat


Thomas Gosselin: http://rocambolebijou.over-blog.com/

Sonia Leong: http://www.fyredrake.net/


Gorg Mallia & Samantha Abela


Gorg Mallia: http://gorgmallia.com/


Posing with Fat Spidey


Urban Artists create a giant mural at Malta Comic Con


Dealers Room at Malta Comic Con


Gaming Tournament at Malta Comic Con

27th Nov2011

Malta Comic Con – Day 1 in Pictures (November 26, 2011)

by Chris Thompson

Here’s a brief photo parade from Day 1 of the Malta Comic Con – November 26, 2011. I met so many wonderful and talented people over the course of the weekend that this can only represent a small sampling of them. Further information is available by clicking on the links below each picture.


Maria Isabella Grech


Maria Isabella Grech: https://www.facebook.com/MariaIsabellaGrechart


Michael Golden


Michael Golden: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michael-Golden/44937601170


Mark Ellul, Fabio Agius & Taylor Lilley


Mark Ellul & Fabio Agius: http://www.tincanmalta.com/


David Lloyd


David Lloyd: http://www.lforlloyd.com/


Sonia Leong


Sonia Leong: http://www.fyredrake.net/


Joseph Bugeja & Sean Azzopardi


Joseph Bugeja: http://www.josephbugeja.com/

Sean Azzopardi: http://sean-azzopardi.com/


Roderick Pace


Roderick Pace: http://www.maltacomic-con.com/?artist&id=30


Dean Fenech & his brother Chris


Dean Fenech: http://deanfenechanimations.deviantart.com/


Aurelio Mazzara & Salvatore Di Marco


Scuola Del Fumetto Palermo: http://www.scuoladelfumetto.com/palermo.htm


Shaun Kami


Shaun Kami: http://www.maltacomic-con.com/?artist&id=29


Tim Perkins


Tim Perkins: http://www.wizards-keep.com/


Jon Haward


Jon Haward: http://www.jonhawardart.com/


Laurence Paul Zrinzo


Laurence Paul Zrinzo: http://www.maltacomic-con.com/?artist&id=5


Me with Joseph Bugeja & his girlfriend Rachel


Joseph Bugeja: http://josephbugeja.daportfolio.com/


Marios Constantinidies, Poppy Aristidou & Chris Malapitan


Marios Constantinides: http://www.capetanpatatas.blogspot.com/

Poppy Aristidou: http://popzzz.tumblr.com/

Chris Malapitan: http://www.1000eyed.com/

26th Nov2011

Launch Night At Malta Comic Con (November 25, 2011)

by Chris Thompson

After a wonderful day of wine, food and song (scratch the song part), last night marked the official opening of this year’s Malta Comic Con at St James Cavalier in Valletta. All the guests were in attendance, including a few I hadn’t expected, as well as the organisers and some local artists.
Wicked Comics, the team behind the show, introduced themselves and explained a little bit about what would be happening over the next few days. They then gave us a tour of the facilities which were both expansive and impressive. St James Cavalier was originally a watchtower for the Knights of Malta located near the front gate of Valletta. It is now a centre for creativity and the arts with Malta Comic Con being one of its popular annual events.
With formalities out of the way, we all headed for a lovely meal in the shadow of St John’s Co-Cathedral. There’s such rich history everywhere you turn in Malta that sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. I opted for a delicious pizza with mortadella and pistachio nuts (amongst other things) plus some of the amazing local soft drink known as Kinnie. Over dinner we laughed, chatted, ate, drank and laughed some more. The atmosphere was warm, friendly and inclusive – just like the organisers themselves. You can see all the lovely folks behind Malta Comic Con right here on this page.
Above – Chris Le Galle & Mark Ellul.

Below (L to R) – Joseph Bugeja, Chris Muscat, Tamara Fenech, Samantha Abela, Fabio Agius & Mike Quinton.

25th Nov2011

How Do You Spend Your First Day In Malta When It Rains?

by Chris Thompson

That’s a pretty good question … When the famously sunny country turns on the waterworks you have one of two choices: tough it out and hit the streets or stay in your hotel room and mourn your losses. Of course, if you’re British – and you’re into comics – then there’s always a third option. Sit around the lobby and chat before heading out for a drink – which is exactly what we did.
With sight-seeing off the agenda, we spent our morning downstairs chatting with David Lloyd, Jon Haward, Gary Erskine and his wife Mhairi about malaria, education, rollergirls, and other things associated with comics (really). We then headed out for a leisurely lunch with David and Jon, complete with wine, scotch, lager, and just a bit of food too.

We heard some fantastic stories over the course of the day – some of which we can tell you and others which we can’t – while having a great time with these incredible creative talents. I was quite happy to share a bottle of Maltese Falcon Merlot with David Lloyd, while Taylor matched pints of local beer Cisk with Jon Haward. Take that rain – it’s been a great day so far and it’s only 5pm!
Tonight we head down to the convention venue, St James Cavalier in Valletta, for some last-minute preparations followed by dinner and drinks with all the guests. The convention hasn’t even started, but everyone’s in full swing already … Looks like it’s going to be fun! You can check out some of Jon’s work at www.jonhawardart.com and visit David’s website at lforlloyd.com.

25th Nov2011

It’s Time … Malta Comic Con Has Arrived (And So Have I!)

by Chris Thompson

This morning I sit here typing from the comfort of my lovely room at the Hotel Santana in Qawra, Malta. We arrived late last night (very late!) in preparation for this weekend’s third annual Malta Comic Con. I first heard about the convention almost two years ago – just after the first one had taken place – and my interest was immediately piqued.
Malta is a beautiful country, so any excuse to come here (especially for comics) is a welcome one. The people are as warm as their surroundings, and there’s a pervasive sense of relaxation that settles in while you’re here. Wicked Comics, the organisers behind this wonderful event, have put us up in the same hotel as the other guests, so it’s shaping up to be a great weekend.
David Lloyd, Gary Erskine, Tim Perkins, Jon Haward, Marco Santucci, Renee Witterstaetter, Michael Golden, Thomas Gosselin, Marco Santucci and Lucio Parrillo are already here – and I’m told Emma Vieceli, Kate Brown, Sonia Leong and Sean Azzopardi will be joining us later this afternoon. If you haven’t already seen the full guest line-up I recommend checking out the website and plotting your trip for next year. In the meantime, I’ll be reporting live from this year’s show so you feel a little less left out in the cold …

21st Nov2011

Event – Uli Oesterle & Mawil in Conversation

by Chris Thompson

While 99% of the comics community were in Leeds for Thought Bubble (and reminding us of that fact every five seconds), a small handful of us held the fort at the latest Comica Festival event at Gosh! Comics in London. This time around it was for a conversation with German artists Uli Oesterle and Mawil, who are both published by Blank Slate Books.

The discussion, which started just after 7pm, was preceded by a signing with the pair who really looked after everyone that made it down. Sadly I couldn’t get there beforehand, but the smaller numbers ensured some amazing sketches for those who did … I was quite jealous when I saw their handiwork later on.

The talk itself was interesting but, unlike the two previous discussions, lacked the deft hand of Paul Gravett when it came to moderation. As a result, it didn’t feel like there was as much to write about or to make sense of, but I’ve done my best to summarise what was said in the notes below:

  • Uli uses thumbnails to create rough layouts for his comic pages. Much of the work is done digitally using a Wacom tablet, then the finished page is composed and put together.
  • A lot of his work is done by inking the page digitally and ‘scratching the white out of it’. It’s very much about economy of time and maximising the amount of work that can be done in the time that he has.
  • Hector Umbra, his first book through Blank Slate, is a combination of fantasy, noir and surrealism. Book One was published in Germany back in 2003 and was part of a planned series of three. In 2007 Uli moved to Carlsen Comics who decided to release it all as one volume.
  • He worked on Hector Umbra for 8 years, but could only spend about 3 months a year on it. Uli lives in Munich and says it’s expensive, so he has to take on other illustration work to make ends meet.
  • Uli decided to adopt the ‘typical graphic novel format’ as used in Germany to tell his tales. The use of the term ‘graphic novel’ has taken off over the last 4-5 years and was first introduced to help publishers penetrate the lucrative bookstore market.
  • Uli didn’t read a lot of comics when he was growing up (outside of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck), and between 10-20 he didn’t read them at all. Superman, Spider-Man and the other costumed heroes held no interest for him.
  • In his early 20s he started drawing comics because he wanted to tell some specific tales. He didn’t have any particular influences since he hadn’t been reading comics prior to this.
  • Much like Frederik Peeters, a lot of his storytelling influences comes from cinema, particularly the work of David Lynch. He loves ‘spooky stories’.
  • He appreciates the work of Mike Mignola, but wouldn’t credit him as a direct influence on his work in the way cinema is.
  • Uli feels it’s important to guide the reader along, so he often uses one ‘colour family’ in his work and will change it to reflect a change of scene.
  • For Uli, colours can communicate time of day, mood, atmosphere, etc. Colouring and drawing are simply functions in service to the story itself.
  • Lighting is also really important to create mood. It’s all about emotions and helping the reader to experience these emotions.
  • He takes a lot of photos to understand how things look – doors, windows, exteriors, etc. – but admits it’s much easier to just Google them when he’s feeling lazy.
  • When asked why he chooses to work in comics, Uli says ‘it’s inside him’. Since his early 20s it’s been important to him and he just has to get his stories out. Despite being the most time-consuming, he still feels it’s the best medium for him.
  • Storytelling is very important to Uli. He wants to hook the reader and not leave them feeling confused. With that in mind he can never separate the story from the art – they’re both equally important and need to work together. The same goes for colouring which plays a big part in his work.


  • Mawil (which sounds a little like ‘Marvel’ spoken with a German accent) was born in 1976 and grew up in East Berlin before the Wall came down. He was 13 when it finally did, so he has a clear view of what it was like before and after.
  • Growing up he read a lot of comics. These days his idols are mostly French, though he doesn’t know why. Like many people he cites Tintin as a major influence early on.
  • He often wonders if there would have been more comic artists from East Germany if it had been encouraged or they had been exposed to it early on.
  • He admits that the country would’ve been too small for him if things didn’t change, but they did and he still lives in Berlin today.
  • Mawil didn’t really know what he wanted to be, but he definitely wanted to do something with drawing (preferably comic books). Unlike Uli, he’s able to spend most of his time working on comics because he lives quite simply and doesn’t have a family to support.
  • Most of Mawil’s work in Home & Away (his most recent book for Blank Slate) comes from fanzines he worked on in Germany. He’s happy to work in colour or black & white based on necessity and the resources available to him.
  • He doesn’t consider himself a colour specialist, but has embraced it as certain fanzines have gone to colour.
  • In the graffiti story featured in Home & Away, Mawil originally used some cheap markers to colour the tale. He doesn’t always know why he makes the choices he does, but feels it’s good not to think too much about these things.
  • Mawil does a page a month for a German newspaper and always tries to keep it different so it’s not boring for him or the readers.
  • He often uses the character Sparky O’Hare (in addition to his own character) to comment on his stories and showcase different methods/styles of storytelling.
  • He’s comfortable working in Photoshop, but much prefers working by hand.
  • Earlier this year Mawil went to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) and was surprised at the universal appeal of his work. He wonders if the East German experience is more Westernised than he thought.
  • He often takes a sketchbook with him when he goes out, but usually just writes things. He calls himself a ‘lazy guy’ and prefers to draw things the easy way rather than making them more detailed or difficult.
  • Mawil feels that some books use too many words, which makes them less effective. Sometimes it just takes the right expression or mannerism to communicate something.
  • Both artists made mention of Bastien Vivès and expressed their admiration for his use of ‘silence’. Uli feels that ‘even in silent panels there is text … subtext’. Silent books can be amazing if done right, but it is a very niche market.
  • At this point, Blank Slate translator Iz Rip spoke up to answer some questions about Mawil’s work. They really loved his stuff and were surprised that no one had approached him earlier about an English translation. They now have him and Uli, but feel there is still a lot of untapped talent in Germany.
  • Blank Slate picked We Can Still Be Friends as the first Mawil release because they liked it the most and it was the most popular in Germany at that time.
  • Iz says that translating can be quite difficult when it comes to the use of slang, tense, etc. but both Mawil and Uli’s books are very faithful to the originals. She finds German quite easy to translate thanks to similarities with English.

Sadly I didn’t get any photos this time around, but it was great to have this fascinating and  insightful look behind the scenes with two great German artists. Despite being poles apart in both style and content, Uli Oesterle and Mawil made a wonderful double-act. Thanks once again to Comica Festival, Gosh! Comics and Blank Slate Books for a great night out … Take that, Thought Bubblers!