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The reason why: page 12

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 12

I haven’t died.

During the last nine months I did a little graphic design project that turned into a massive design project and earned three GCSEs (probably – results day is 20 August). I also rewrote the second half of this book. Twice. I think it is a much stronger story now.

Now I’m back and I’m so happy to be working working on the book again!

Updates may not be weekly quite yet. Over the next week I will be getting the book ready to show to a professional editor that I am planning to hire for a consultation. It may be two or three weeks until the next page but it will definitely be less than nine months.

18 June 2015
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In which Neil Gaiman explains the quick and easy way to become a writer

Someone asked Neil Gaiman for writing advice because he found it difficult to get his thoughts onto paper. Gaiman replied:

Write the ideas down. If they are going to be stories, try and tell the stories you would like to read. Finish the things you start to write. Do it a lot and you will be a writer. The only way to do it is to do it.

I’m just kidding. There are much easier ways of doing it. For example: (This is where you click to go to Gaiman’s Tumblr and read the brilliance contained therein)

14 January 2015
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I bet Mika read Hop on Pop when he was a little boy (because putting obscure-ish pop music references in children’s book posts definitely draws the reader in)

Hop on Pop by Dr Seuss is a collection of fun storylets for very young readers. What the little stories teach is not without controversy. Earlier this year someone in Toronto asked the library to ban the book and apologise to fathers for promoting violence, yes violence, against poor helpless dads who have been hopped upon by their offspring. How silly.

I want to show you the story of Mr Brown (p.42–51). Mr Brown is living in an amiable but chaste marriage to Mrs Brown. Then some event turns his life upside down. We assume it is somehow precipitated by a manic pixie dream girl in the form of Pup.

Hop on Pop, p.42–43

Pup then facilitates Mr Brown leaving his life and wife behind for a journey of self-discovery.

Hop on Pop, p.44–45

Hop on Pop, p.46–47

We don’t know what happens out of town, but Mr Brown returns from his journey arm-in-arm with someone new.

Hop on Pop, p.48–49

And if we’re in any doubt about the nature of their relationship, we need only have a look at their snack.

Hop on Pop, p.50–51

While I’m pleased to see Mr Brown to accept his true identity, This story has some serious problems.

‘How silly!’ you say, ‘My young reader will never notice.’ That’s okay. Dr Seuss was all about silly. He also knew how to slip in some serious without becoming overbearing.

Someone else wrote about this before, but I came to most of my conclusions before I read it.

Part of Mother, Daughter and Son Book Reviews’ Kid Lit Blog Hop 45.

10 September 2014
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The reason why: page 11

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 11

Last week I read an interview with new children’s book author Rob Biddulph. In speaking about his drawing process, he said:

It takes quite a bit of sketching to perfect a character, and it’s not until I can draw them in any position and from any angle that I’m ready to get them onto the computer.

That’s a really smart way of working. It would bore me to tears. I work in a really dumb way. I get one good drawing and then assume the next one will work out okay. Last week when I drew the rocket bike from the side, I had no idea how to draw it from an angle. One of my early attempts looked like this:

rocket bike sketch

It was only this morning that I finally figured out how to do it. I’m pretty pleased with the result.

It’s not perfect though. In addition to the usual clean up, this page will require some extra work in Photoshop. Somehow mum ended up with one weird fat leg. I’ll make it match the other one. Also, the plane is shoved too far up into the corner. I will lower in the sky to strengthen and unify the page composition.

I hope you figure out how to do the things you want to do this week.

8 September 2014
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The reason why: page 10

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 10

This week I start filling some gaps in my education. I’m doing GCSE English, Science and Maths. I’ve also taken on a little graphic design job for a client that I’ve worked with for many years. I will be be busy, but I will do my best to continue giving you a page every week.

1 September 2014
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The reason why: page 9

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 9

‘Be not afraid of poetry: some are born poets, some achieve poetry and some have poetry thrust upon them.’ —Bruce Willis

25 August 2014
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The reason why: page 8

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 8

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed the the trampoline’s jelly is no longer in a tray. Thanks to some input from Caroline, my friend and one of my email subscribers from southern Arizona, I realised that showing the jelly is better than hiding it in a tray. (For readers in US America, jelly = jello.)

23 August 2014
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The reason why: page 7

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 7

One of the aspects of the artwork that will need the most adjustment is the lettering. Pretty much every bit of the lettering will be adjusted to make the letter, word and line spacing right. I am barely good enough to do the lettering myself, and during the planning phase, I tried a bunch of different fonts. None of them felt right. Only the hand-lettering really seemed to fit. Fortunately, Photoshop allows me to turn my wonky words into lines of tidy type with reasonable speed.

18 August 2014
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The reason why: page 6

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 6

Cora hasn’t made it to the moon, but if she fulfilled the promise of the title in the first quarter of the book, it wouldn’t be much of a book would it?

18 August 2014
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The reason why: page 4

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 4

We meet Cora. Sort of. From the back. I realised while working on this page that I have created a rod for my own back with the design of Cora’s trampoline. All those bouncy balls and springs take a long time to draw.

4 August 2014
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The reason why: page 3

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 3

I learned how to use the scanner this week. I drew a million circles and spirals this week.

4 August 2014
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The reason why: page 2

I haven’t learned how to operate the scanner yet, so this is a photo again. You can see that I did the lettering a a separate piece of paper. I left out a letter on my first try.

28 July 2014
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The reason why: page 1

Page 1 scan

Here I go. The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday page one.

  1. This is supposed to be a scan, but I don’t yet know how to use the fancy dancy A3 network printer/scanner that I have access to, so it’s a photo of the page this week.
  2. I was going to do the book in pencil. Now I’m doing it in ink, and I already like it about 10 times more.
  3. In addition to cleaning up and colouring, a lot of the text spacing needs to be adjusted.
  4. The prettied up version of this book will be available to buy in print and on iPad in 2015.
  5. Please feel free to share your thoughts. Your feedback will make this book better.

Thanks for taking the time to look and read.

21 July 2014
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Enough messing around

A cropped portion of the first page of my children's picture book

Last summer I wrote a children’s book. Then I didn’t illustrate it because I needed to finish my degree. Then— I dunno. I completed the degree in May. Since then I’ve illustrated 1.667 of 32 pages. I’m good at starting things, but not so great at finishing (e.g. Cooking tips). Two notable exceptions are said degree (BA Culinary Arts, first class honours) and a weird little bird book I made a few years ago. I want this children’s book to join the notable exceptions. And so…

Every Monday starting 21 July I will be posting a page of the book in the Secret Comics Club section of this site and on my Tumblr blog and probably on Flickr. The page will just be the raw scan, pre-photoshopping and colouring, but it will give people a chance to enjoy the story and maybe become interested in buying the actual book when it is finished sometime in 2015. It will also give people the opportunity to give feedback. I haven’t got an editor or publisher, but there are a bunch of you, and you are clever and have thoughts, and you might like to share those thoughts with me.

I’m trying to take my own advice.

UPDATE (27 August 2014): It’s going very well.

15 July 2014
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PerChiBooWriMo update

Life is busier and progress is slower than I hoped, but I have completed a draft of the text and descriptions of all the images. The book will be 32 pages. The working title is The reason why I’m going to the moon for my birthday.

12 August 2013
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I am thoroughly dissatisfied with the amount of writing and drawing I have done so far this summer. I work best to deadlines. I have wanted to write a children’s book for a long time. I can’t get myself in the mood to draw more The Reverend and Amy right now. Thus: August is my Personal Children’s Book Writing Month. The story is already in my mind. If I do a decent job of getting it out of my head and onto a computer, I will release it somehow, probably on paper with Blurb or Lulu and/or on iBooks for iPad. I will post updates as I go.

13 July 2013
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A writing tip (because I’m totally an amazing writer and anything I have to say about writing is guaranteed to be pure gold)

I am much better at editing that I am at writing. Unfortunately, Llandrillo College doesn’t give me the option of editing other people’s papers for my grades. Since most of the writing I do these days is for my grades, I’ve had to figure out a way to do actual writing of lots of words in a row. My solution is to get to the editing as quickly as possible. I slam words into my word processor as fast as I can until I’ve met the word count (this still takes hours). I’ve learned not to care about spelling or using exactly the right word or even finishing sentences.The important thing is to get through the necessary hardship of filling the blank page with words as quickly as possible. Once I’ve got a terrible first draft, the work becomes much easier for me because I’m doing the much more natural (for me) work of editing.

So here’s the tip: think about the part of writing that you are best at then adjust your workflow to turn the majority of the work into the thing that you do best.

1 April 2013
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In olden times before phones were smart we called this a ‘blogroll’

A thing we old people like to do to amuse ourselves is to subscribe to ‘blogs’ via ‘feed readers’. Many of you youngsters won’t understand these things because you haven’t found the secret click combination to get outside of Facebook or else you aren’t sure what to do with writing that is longer than 140 characters. But some of you kids might want to experience the old-fashioned Internet. If that’s you, there is a small chance you may enjoy some of the things on the non-exhaustive list of what I like to read and look at.

Comics, illustration, design

  1. Doodlemum – these are way better than doodles
  2. Dresden Codak – cyborg sci-fi in a weird world
  3. False Positive – webcomic tales of the surreal, fantastic and macabre
  4. Happle Tea – a funny and insightful webcomic about mythology and other things
  5. Hark a Vagrant – Kate Beaton is excellently superly excellent
  6. Doodlemum
  7. Illustration Art – insightful commentary on the world of illustration
  8. Jill Lorraine Turpin has a great take on family life
  9. Marlo Meekins is much funnier and stranger than most people
  10. Nimona – when the sidekick has actual powers and doesn’t follow the supervillain rules
  11. Punching the Clock – surviving the daily fail of big box retail
  12. RUTH AND ANNABEL RUIN EVERYTHING – it’s in all caps for a reason
  13. Ryan Andrews – beautiful engrossing short story comics
  14. Sin Titulo – It’s going to take a while to read, and it will suck you in. Clear your afternoon schedule
  15. The Abominable Charles Christopher – he’s actually not abominable at all
  16. the johnson banks thought for the week is the blog of my favourite UK design studio
  17. Thrillbent’s Insufferable – What happens when you’re a crimefighter and your sidekick grows up to be an arrogant, ungrateful douchebag? What on Earth could draw the two of you back together again?
  18. Willow Wood Starfall – gorgeous comic in a nouveau style
  19. XKCD – a webcomic of romance,
    sarcasm, math, and language.

Lots of words in a row

  1. Doors of Perception – John Thackara’s blog about design, energy and the planet’s future
  2. Heresy Corner – questioning received wisdom on culture, politics and religion
  3. Kester Brewin – Peter Rollins’ mate writes about pirates, theology, education and stuff
  4. Michael Rosen – author and former children’s laureate blogs mostly about education, especially how Michael Gove is ruining everything
  5. Peter Rollins – pyrotheology
  6. What If? – the author of xkcd answers hypothetical questions with physics and funny

Good blogs I’m not reading right now because I’m taking a break from American Christianity and politics

  1. Greg Boyd – with all the shouty Calvinists about it’s nice to be reminded the bible has other salvation metaphors and visions of eternity
  2. Matthew Paul Turner – obvs
  3. John Michael Greer – Druid perspectives on nature, culture, and the future of industrial society. Don’t let the ‘druid’ throw you. This guy is a genius
  4. Larry Shallenberger – author, pastor, writer of this blog that I really like even though he sometimes writes about sports
  5. Love is what you do – she’s actually living the gospel in real life
  6. Rachel Held Evans – obvs
  7. The Beautiful Due – I’m not a fan of poetry. I love this guy’s poetry
  8. Two Friars and a Fool – theology and culture with an emergy kind of vibe

What do you like to read and look at?

21 August 2012
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… So as you might guess that means I’ve had to pass more than
one large stone plus chit-chat with a rather annoying host of young men, all
dressed in white linen, who consistently parrot ‘not here, not here.’ …

If you are not reading John Blase’s blog The Beautiful Due, you should stop being bad to yourself right now.

10 April 2012
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15 December 2011
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Tum tum te tumblr

I have this blog on Tumblr and I’m posting to it more and more and I love it because it is so easy and fun and I don’t feel the need to improve it. My thinking at the moment is that the beloved D Train is going to reserved for writing about Important Things for now at least.

Bonus: My Tumblr blog automatically imports anything I write here.

27 March 2009
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There is a wasteland not far from here that is more like the desert around the Land of Oz than anything in the real world. It just starts. There is a straight line as far as the eye can see. On one side is plenty of nice green grass. On the other is black wasteland where nothing grows. There is no dirt for anything to grow in, just hard black ground and rocks.

When the traveller comes to this wasteland there is no question about what to do…

Keep reading
9 September 2008
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That's well neighbourly! - updated

This weekend our church is looking at the story of the good Samaritan. I want to rewrite it for my class of 10-13 year-olds and set it in high school. (For those of you outside the UK secondary education starts at age 11 here.) I found some interesting retellings laying around the internet: here (scroll down), here and here, but none of them are really what I need. How do you think I should update the cast?

Who are the attackers?
Who is the victim?
The priest?
The levite?
The Samaritan?
The innkeeper?

If all goes well, I shall put a working draft story online in a day or two for your further comments and sugestions.



I ended up not rewriting the story beforehand. Instead, I did it live as a mad lib with my class. They loved it. And they heard the story three times, once proper and twice silly. AND they all asked for a copy of their own. Here is their story with a little help from the TNIV:

Once a footballer slide tackled Jesus to test him. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit fantastic life?’

‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’

He answered, ‘‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’‘

‘You have answered Jeffly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’
But he wanted to sit himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’

In reply Jesus said: ‘Conor was going down from Tesco to i61, when he fell into the hands of terrorists. They stripped him of his table, karate chopped him and went away, leaving him half hairy. A referee happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side of the Aston Martin. So too, a fit, sporty girl when she came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side of the elephant. But a nerd, as he read, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on 7up and lemon juice Then he put the man on his own ferret, brought him to Jamaica and took care of him. The next day he took out two dollars and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will paint you for any extra expense you may have.’

‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the terrorists?’

The footballer replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’

Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

20 April 2008
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Six proof-reading tips

Access Elevation is a behind the scenes blog of a young, fast-growing multi-site church. Their graphic designer Ryan Hollingsworth has posted six very good tips for avoiding the dreaded typo. Go read them.

Mr Hollingsworth also wrote:

Good design goes a long way when you’re developing print materials for your church. But it quickly can become all for naught if your print piece comes back from the printer with misspelled word or misplaced period. Like a pimple on prom night, it doesn’t matter how pretty your dress is – everyone else is only seeing the zit. Without good proofing, one glaring error that would have taken just a second to fix now seemingly negates hours of quality design work.

Notice the word seemingly. This is important. You’ve probably realised by now that the pimple on prom night isn’t disaster they told you it was in the Clearasil ads.

Do follow Ryan’s advice. Make sure at least three people proof everything important. But when a mistake slips through, remember: It’s just a pimple.

8 April 2008
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Good Writing

I am reading The Book of Dave by Will Self and I am reading to my son the first book of the Nomes, Truckers by Terry Pratchett. tonight I came across some great writing in both of them.

From The Book of Dave:

Dave Rudman looked at the faces paled by resentment, the eyes bright with anger. How’s this going to help? Adding his own can of pain to this slopping tank of loss?

From Truckers:

‘It’s a good job you don’t believe in him, then’ said Masklin
‘Of course I don’t,’ agreed Gurder.
‘Your teeth are chattering though.’
‘That’s because me teeth believe in him. And so do my knees. And my stomach. It’s only my head that doesn’t, and it’s being carried around by a load of superstitious cowards.

Interestingly, a central theme of both books is how religions are formed over time.

12 January 2008
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