Sunday, June 26, 2016

FORGIVE US OUR SINS


OR,
WHY SINS OF THE WRECKERS WAS DELAYED


This coming Wednesday, June 29th 2016, the fifth and final issue of Sins Of The Wreckers will be released. Of course, we should be on the tail-end of the coccyx-quivering comedown by now, but unfortunately the series has been hit by a not inconsequential series of delays of the most personal kind. I don't really indulge in the old online over-share (I'm the opposite in company) so what I'm about to slather all over you is as intimate as you and I are likely to get...

Before that happens though, the bottom line is: I'm sorry. Unavoidable as the whole thing was, it was tough on my co-creators and editors, and especially on retailers and readers. If you've stayed with us, or helped keep the series alive online during its breaks, you have my heartfelt thanks.

Since around this time last year, when I had already commenced art on Sins (all five scripts had been completed by then), my family have collided with an array of Lifeburps. All the big ones, basically. My wife lost her father, our son was born (the best of Lifeburps, and one accounted for in the original Sins schedule) and my mam, Carol, was diagnosed with lung cancer. (All those things happened within about five weeks, if I recall.) When something like the above happens, time obviously needs to be taken; time spent with the person suffering, time spent in consultant's waiting rooms, puckered and sucked-in; time when your brain breaks and dissolves at the same time, and you just need the dark of a curtained room and the hug of someone you can scream about unfairness to.

But we stayed the course. The book was on track. It had been such a long time coming - a chance to write AND draw five issues of what was already a personal and intense story. The best thing that ever happened on Last Stand Of The Wreckers was the head-bashing and tectonic tweaking of the early approval purpose. That delay, after all, lead to James Roberts coming on board improving that series, Transformers itself, and my life in general. But the chance to get a clear shot; write and draw all five issues; just nail this sucker... it was my everything. Until I realised it wasn't. How could it be. My everything was changing day by day, minute by minute. Life now was lost children wondering where their parents were.

In November things got bad. Mam a run of really bad luck healthwise just after Hallowe'en, and work had to stop. Then start. Then stop again. I told my editor John Barber about how my situation had developed, and that IDW would need to know that after #3, #4 wasn't going in jeopardy. I was looking at my work process at this point, seeing what corners could be cut, and which pages I could hand over to an inker in order to get the book back on track, make sure Josh and Tom got paid for that month's work, ensure retailers had their stock, that readers didn't have to wait... John made the call, the kindest, most surprising call. We could solicit #4 a month late. When I needed something to go right, to earn a win that could let me breathe, and spend time with family, AND get the book done, John Barber came through.

Mam's cancer must have had a far crueller editor. What we thought were just a few setbacks were teaser trailers for The End (or as it now feels like, tone poems as portent for 2016 itself). The cancer had spread like an inconsiderate subway passenger. I'd have to move my family the ninety or so miles from our home of ten years to be help Mam out. The week after Christmas. Time to ruin another editor's day...

John Barber, like Nixon before him, had gone to China. I'll be forever sorry for the crapsalad I had left him on his return. In his absence, I had to speak to IDW's editor in chief, Chris Ryall. I wasn't looking for extra work-time at this point. I just needed to let someone know about the situation, and salvage what I could of my involvement in the project. It was a ridiculously emotional phonecall, with us having far too much in common on the parent mortality front. I'll insult Ryall by saying this, because seemingly he was there already, but for me it was the realisation that Chris had gone from 'friend' to 'Friend, capitalised 'F', "got-your-back, N-Roc". I needed to hear - from him, right then - that comics will be waiting for me, and to go and take time with my mam. Wreckers will be there when I come back.

We lost Mam back in February. There's a page in #4 of Sins that I finished pencilling on the day she popped off. It's my favourite issue of the series partly because it contains the line, "On Earth, life is short and it FEELS it." She died early enough in the year that she didn't seem like she was jumping on the tedious griefwagon that is 2016. She went after Bowie, but EVERYONE goes after Bowie. Her last words were Wreck and Rule

#4 came out in April. #5 was due in May, but I had a few wobbles; grieftershocks. It was completed in time to come out for the first week of June, but I fear some production snafu somewhere along the way. It's no one's fault; these things have happened before, even without a bereavement to clog up the works.

I feel I have to state here quite coldly to readers, retailers, future-collaborators and potential editors: This was a one-off. Don't let the stop-start nature of the series - facilitated through the kindness of my publisher - reflect my workrate or ability. And now that I've gone full Bruce Wayne, after losing both parents, I'm actually infinitely more employable that someone with a functioning set of immediate ancestors.

Comics is a good place with good, good people. Apart from my pals at IDW, The crew at The Big Bang and Dublin City Comics, and the gang on the Irish comics scene - Will Sliney, Declan Shalvey, Stephen Mooney and Ben Hennessy especially (Kieron Gillen is included here too due to that Oirishest of names) - all helped out at various stages, offering portable graphic set-ups for my trips up-and-down the country, and help when I had to move house.

I'd be so impressed with myself if the above was a massive publicity stunt in order to boost sales for #5. (No one in comics has stooped that far yet, but we all know who it will be when it happens...) But we definitely need the love. I think we stick the landing. It's ridiculously emotional, but earned I feel. Josh Burcham who - no, really - should and will be a superstar, just continues to make it look unlike anything else out there, and certainly not any other Transformers comic. Lost of shops still have earlier issues. Urge a friend to download the previous four ahead of this one. Read it all in one sitting (I did it while prepping the MASSIVE amount of process articles for the TPB) because, I think that's where the song it sings sounds sweetest. Five-page preview here: https://t.co/971b82N8bu I'm @NickRoche on twitter, so let me know what you think when it's all put to bed.

Thanks for your time. Who knows if and when I'll get to write AND draw a project like this again - for the first time ever, I have more writing gigs booked than art ones - but if you've enjoyed it and want more tell IDW (and anyone else you fancy!) and do what you can to let folk know that this was genuinely worth the wait.

It was, wasn't it?


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

CURRENT COMICS SEQUENTIAL SAMPLES


Series of sequential samples from my work with Marvel Comics and IDW Publishing.
Pencils and Inks: Nick Roche
Contact: nicksbiscuits@gmailcom        Twitter: @NickRoche


SINS OF THE WRECKERS #1 - IDW Publishing










NEW WARRIORS #5 - Marvel Comics













DEATH'S HEAD - Marvel Comics























MONSTER MOTORS - IDW/Brian Lynch










SINS OF THE WRECKERS #2 ARCTIC SEQUENCE

Sequence from Sins Of The Wreckers #2 from IDW Publishing. Story and Art by me. Robot Dawson's Creek, The Holy Grail's Killer Rabbit and a nod to Lars Von Trier's Antichrist. In the Snow.



SINS OF THE WRECKERS #1 OPENING SEQUENCE


The first seven pages of SINS OF THE WRECKERS #1, my "Wikileaks with sad robots in the snow" saga from IDW Publishing. Script and Art by me, series colours by Josh Burcham.










SPOTLIGHT MEGATRON DOGFIGHT SEQUENCE

Starscream vs Megatron dogfight sequence from Transformers Spotlight: Megatron. Story and line art by me. Pew, and indeed, pew.








Monday, August 3, 2015

AUTO-ASSEMBLY 2015 SKETCH LIST OPEN!

I have been a victim of a time-burglary, leaving me mere moments in my schedule to get this message to you. So forgive the Simon Furman-level of word economy when you all deserve a James Roberts-sized essay. My love for you has not diminished in any way.
Pre-Order Price for an A4 Black & White HEAD/SHOULDERS shot (20 available) is£25

To be eligible for these, all you need to do is:

* Reply in the comments section below,
* State YOUR name, the name of the CHARACTER you want, and an idea of the day you'll be available to collect the piece.
* Sorry, no fan/original characters, but feel free to request non-TF characters!
* PLEASE only order a sketch if you will be able to attend to pick it up, and, you know, pay for it.
* The numbers available are as stated above. Once they've been filled, please don't send any more requests unless further slots become available.
* I will be providing more sketches AT Auto-Assembly. I tend to get booked up VERY quickly there, but if you don't want to commission me here and now, you could take your chance at the show.

See you there where I can be elusive about Sins Of The Wreckers to your face.

X

Friday, February 27, 2015

I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LUCK, or, THE MAKING OF 'BARBARIAN', THE DARKNESS' NEW MUSIC VIDEO


Hey you - do you remember me?

As is often the way, you can be beavering away on a job in utter secret for so long that it feels weird and a little bit rude when details of it gush all over the place so fervently. That's how it felt this week when The Darkness unveiled their new album campaign only for their record cover to be painted by me and their lead-off single to consist entirely of animated examples of my artwork. I was as surprised as you are.

To go into my love of The Darkness - the whys and hows, of what they represent to me, of the face-aching giddy enjoyment their pop-infused hard rock has given me over the last twelve years - is a blog for another time. (Basically it boils down to their knowing absence of self-consciousness; their rejection of shame and their insistence on being what people don't think they want.) But cut it any way, this job meant a lot. As in, 'Alexander Wept' - A Lot.

What started as me lucking into being their album cover artist when it looked like they had run out of options (last-minute changes in direction had left them in a spin - I made it all a-okay), I happened to contact them and offer my services. The artwork - a rare foray into full colour for me - is seen below, and was the product of very strict guidelines and directions from the band themselves and their carer, an old dear called Phillis.

The Darkness: Last Of Our Kind. Artwork by Nick Roche

As the band (MY band; THE Darkness) were chuffed with the result and happy with the turnaround, Phillis asked me to provide the artwork for the video for the pre-album single release, 'BARBARIAN'. It was initially going to be a plain lyric video, but the band's management saw an opportunity to come up with something a bit more eye-catching and clickable. (Nearly 100.000 views in under five days on Youtube!) So, with, like, not much time at all (The fastest and hardest I've worked in many awhile, all while trying to meet day-job deadlines) and resources to match, I set about putting together the artwork that would then be animated by Phillis, who is weirdly adept at After Effects for a septuagenarian.

They needed an image to show the record company first. So, the best bit of the job happened early; getting sent a copy of a new Darkness song ahead of anyone else but the and and their management. I loved it instantly, in a way that I don't always on hearing a new track from them. Basically, it just had a confidence and swagger that they hadn't tapped into for a while. They weren't second-guessing themselves by trying to write what the record-buying public might be looking for. They punched out a riff-heavy gallumpher of a track with obnoxious-levels of histrionics, TWO monologues...and all about the Viking invasion...of East Anglia.

The image I cooked up was this one, of a stylised longboat. Haven't drawn one since primary school history class. It's just as much fun now than it ever was.

                                     

Then, it came time to storyboard it. The content was a relatively even mix of stuff generated by the band's camp, and ideas I had for visual gags and beats. The Sons of Ragnar - 'real' characters from the Norse Sagas were imagined in various different ways. They went from being babies, then to being inverted dark doppelgangers of the band themselves, to being stylised Fantasy creatures; Ivar the Boneless became a sluggy, Jabba-like warrior; Sigurd Snake-In-The-Eye became a reptilian warlord; Bjorn Ironside was decked out in iron, with metal plates attached to his head, and Hvitserk became a billowy white shirt-wearing Byronic assassin.

Yeah, I thought a lot about this.

First Pass at Storyboards; Sons of Ragnar are babies here.



Some panels were unused and replaced with more striking ones to compliment the song.
Once most of the boards were agreed upon, we went into production on the finished art. I drew it all at a high resolution - 600dpi - in Manga Studio, with touch-ups in Photoshop. The sharper the image, the better it looks in HD. Or on t-shirts. Or posters.

So, below are some isolated examples of panels from the video. Compare and contrast with these originals versus the wondrous animated counterparts hewn from raw data by Phillis.

Opening panorama. First name you see in the video is mine. Looks wrong. Feels right.

Sketch for 'Shirtless In The Rain' lyric...

...And finished image. All characters and their limbs are drawn separately for later manipulation and animation.
First shot of the Sons of Ragnar.

Sigurd looking super-comic book-y. 
A closer look at The Sons, with better details of their different characteristics.

One of many stupid gags that have gotten little lives of their own in the last week.

I just like this scene featuring a slab of foreground gore.

Everyone's favourite panel...after the 'Shirtless' one. 

Unused panel originally intended for 'Our Legend May Grow'. I like the old ladies.
I want this to be Google's number one result for 'Man Carrying Horse' image searches in 2015.
That sketch of the boat came in handy.
Maybe the most labour-intensive but fun scene to draw. There are dozens of layers of individual Vikings drawn here.

I got to draw the flipping Darkness. Again, all limbs and facial expressions are separate to help Phillis out. Check out the totally-unnecessary animation on Justin's solo in the video. Phwooarrr.





And then I got to kill them. I made sure I got paid first.
Once all these images were fed to Phillis,  I sacked off to get back to work on my day job (MONSTER MOTORS: THE CURSE OF MINIVAN HELSING #1 by Brian Lynch and I is out NEXT WEDNESDAY March 4th! Try the first MONSTER MOTORS here! ) and let her watch a colour wheel go round and round on a screen while the project rendered. 

Then cut to last Monday. Billboard. Rolling Stone. The Quietus. Stereogum. All filled with news about the new Darkness song. All heralding the new Album, 'Last Of Our Kind', out on June 1st. All featuring my artwork from the cover. All with an embedded link to the finished video: BARBARIAN


And then the merchandise started to appear. Barbarian T-shirts! Barbarian posters! (and yes, I get a cut, so y'know, clothe yourself. Cover up that patch of dry rot on the wall.) Head to their online store and sort yourselves out.



As with all these things, it's another 'Win' ticked off. There's plenty of chat about me working with them some more, but if this is all we manage together, it's enough for me. They're playing (a sold out) gig in Whelans here in Dublin over a week, so it'll be cool high-five them, and be in the same room as Justin's moustache. It won't be cool when I wig out, fangirl all over them and try and put Justin's moustache in my mouth, but that's how all good relationships come to an end.

Thanks for reading along with this screed. And thanks again to Phillis, who Obi-Wanned me through the whole process. (By that, I mean lied to me to achieve her nefarious end.) She does a great job of looking after the guys and keeping http://thedarkness.co.uk/ ticking over. 

I'm delighted they're back. I'm delighted they sound this good. And I'm delighted to be part of it.

I'm just off to try and get that video up to 100.000 views...