Category Archives: A Bear Behind

Here Comes The Pitch.

Pitching is a big part of being a Freelance artist. If you can’t successfully pitch an idea you won’t get any work! Pitches vary from a script to a short synopsis, a black & white rough drawing to a fully realised piece. It really depends on what you’re pitching, and who you’re pitching it to.

Some artists like to fully visualise their pitch, others will just send a simple pencil sketch. Since I mainly work in puzzles (and have done so many before) I can usually pitch a puzzle page with a two or three line synopsis followed, upon commission, by a full script – yes, they’re scripted! Hard to believe, I know.

If you want to pitch to The Beano, (and you can – it’s open to anyone), I’d advise sending a sample of your idea alongside your pitch, with a synopsis of further strips you envision doing. Don’t be discouraged if they turn it down either, just keep pitching until they get tired of you and just say yes to shut you up! I’ve repitched some ideas 3 or 4 times before they’ve been accepted.

Here is the first strip I ever sent The Dandy, it was called Andy Social and was based around social networks. It features myself and fellow Dandy artist Andy Fanton, they say draw what you know. It was based loosely on a strip I used to do online, but crucially I forgot to make it in any way amusing.

AndySocial

The next strip I sent was an Easter strip, which I think was called Easter Enders. Again, it’s not really funny. The bird in the strip resembles Mr Peepers from my distinctly non-child friendly webcomic, Ray The Otter.

FunnyBunnySpp

After sending a bit more artwork I decided to stop drawing the pitch and just send ideas, I was working 2 jobs and didn’t have the time to fully realise every idea. I asked The Dandy to pick the ideas they liked and I’d draw the sample from that. As you would expect, it took me a while to successfully pitch my first strip and to be honest I can’t remember where the idea for it came from, I think it was one of those “That’s funny, that would make a good comic strip” things you say to a friend. I pitched as part of this list of pitches:

Street Dance Lance: Step Up/Got To Dance inspired strip chronicling the misadventures of a clumsy street dancer attempting to hit the big time.

Shane The Sheep: Shaun’s brother, and literally the black sheep of the family. Shane didn’t go to drama school and is fed up with people asking about his famous brother.

A Bear Behind: Kind of like the Phantom Pharter strip, but with a mooning bear forever ruining people’s holiday snaps etc

Dentist The Menace: Pretty self explanatory.

The Prince Of Fails: The adventures of the accident prone heir to the throne.

Justin Beaver: The hit singing sensation of the forest just wants to be left alone, but his fans won’t let him. Trampling through the woods and wrecking his peace and quiet in all manner of stupid ways.

Pineapple Dance Studios: Fruit-based reality show with terrible puns such as Fruity Spence.

Astonishingly, they weren’t interested in a fruit-based reality show, but Justin Beaver was initially chosen for a sample strip. It was (amazingly) picked up and ran for 10 weeks. I say amazingly, because looking back on it the first strip is very badly drawn. I hadn’t been drawing for a few years and had clearly forgotten how to use a pen.

JustinBeaver

A Bear Behind was also on the list. It was repitched again with sample artwork at their request and became a mini-strip, running for 12 weeks. It is one of my favourite series of strips I’ve ever drawn.

BearBehind

Tomorrow I’ll post a list of my rejected pitches. It might be part 1 of 37, there are A LOT!

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Filed under A Bear Behind, Comic Strips, Justin Beaver, Parodies, Pitching, The Dandy

I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost: Part 1

As It’s Halloween it seems like the perfect time to talk about ‘ghosting’. Though it sounds like some sordid thing involving ghoulies, in the comics world it usually refers to drawing in the style of someone else. Something that can be very hard to get right now that so many artists have their own style.

Aside from a few character cameos in Justin Beaver, my first proper ghosting work was It’s A Blunderful Life in The Dandy, which featured the World’s unluckiest boy, The Beano‘s Calamity James. James is one of the hardest characters to draw as Tom Paterson‘s intricate style is, like Leo Baxendale and Ken Reid‘s before him, extremely hard to recreate naturally. I gave it a good go, but Paterson’s manic lucidity still somewhat eluded me. It’s very much a character in his style sitting in a puzzle in my style.

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It’s A Blunderful Life: Calamity James & Alexander Lemming braving a festive failure.

A month or so ago I had another attempt at drawing a Paterson style James puzzle, and got much closer this time by spending a very long time image sourcing and pouring over his work. I found a whole strip set in space, as was the puzzle, and copied and adapted images from it to suit the puzzle. I’m very proud of the final piece, but I wouldn’t do it again. In fact I ditched another Calamity James puzzle, ‘Wheel Of Misfortune’, shortly after because I couldn’t face it!

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Intergalactic Idiot: Calamity James gets lost in space.

Ghosting is extremely hard to get right, there are some fantastic artists out there who can ghost with such accuracy that you can hardly tell it’s their work, but sometimes (as in Jamie Smart’s Roger The Dodger) it is best to ignore the original art style and draw your own. Drawing in another artists style can inhibit what you can do with a character, unless you are willing to take liberties (I always draw The Bash Street Kids in Baseball boots, as I simply can’t draw shoes like Dave Sutherland). The problem with Calamity James is that the art is so recognisable and weird that if you were to draw the character in any other way it just wouldn’t be Calamity James.

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Bash Street Kid: Danny wearing baseball boots in Canteen of Carnage from The BeanoMAX.

I’ve been lucky enough to get to drawn most of The Beano‘s familiar characters in puzzles over the past year, everyone from from Dennis The Menace to Little Plum. I can’t tell you what a thrill it has been getting to draw all my favourite childhood characters and having to ghost so many of my favourite artists. Some I found easier than others though, Dave Sutherland’s Bash Street Kids are fairly easy because you have 50 years of reference material to look at. Barrie Appleby’s Roger The Dodger was the hardest for me, due to his complicated shirt and hair.

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Beano Brawl: The Bash Street Kids, Calamity James, Billy Whizz, Minnie The Minx & Roger The Dodger take part in The Great Beano Pancake Bake Off from The BeanoMAX.

Ghosting is very much a skill, something I picked up from learning to draw by copying Jim Davis’ Garfield and later less successfully Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes. That’s essentially all it is. Copying. You can see clearly see both artist’s influences in this strip, A Bear Behind, from The Dandy.

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A Bear Behind: Background by Watterson, foreground by Davis.

Sadly I didn’t get to draw any of the big characters for The Dandy, aside from a few cameo appearances and repeated sightings of Phil Corbett’s Korky The Cat, which I’ll blog about another day. So when The Dandy ended and they asked me to do two strips for the final issue: Auntie Clockwise (originally by Wayne Thompson, who draws Bananaman for The Beano) and Hamish the Haggis Basher (originally a one-off strip by Tom Paterson) I thought was the last time I’d ever have the chance to draw Dandy characters.

Little did I know I’d be bringing back Desperate Dan just 10 months later…

Always keep a Dandy handy!

Always keep a Dandy handy!

The Halloween issue of The Beano is on sale from Wednesday 23rd October in WH Smiths, Sainsbury’s, Asda and all good newsagents, priced £2.

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Filed under A Bear Behind, Billy Whizz, Calamity James, Calvin & Hobbes, Comic Strips, Dave Sutherland, Dennis the Menace, Garfield, Ghosting, Halloween, Jamie Smart, Ken Reid, Leo Baxendale, Minnie the Minx, Puzzle Pages, Roger the Dodger, The Bash Street Kids, The Beano, The BeanoMax, The Dandy, Tom Paterson