Tuesday, 30 December 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Virus Of The Panda - Part Three Post Three

When I first started posting these comic strips on the internet one of the (constructive) criticism I received from the 'comic art community' was that the composition of each page was identical and as a result somewhat unappealing. I actually like the 'order' six identically-sized panels generates but I did take the point that others might not find it so. However as I was posting stories I had written and drawn some months earlier it has taken this long to finally post up one of the changes I've tried to incorporate in my most recent adventures. 

The final three panels are my first attempt to mix-up my panel arrangements and provide a glimpse of just how acrobatic Sensei Cheng Fu is. Initially I just depicted the British Kung-Fu expert in each separate panel. But found I actually preferred the idea of him flowing from frame to frame so allowed the action to 'bleed' into each adjoining panel.

The final assault by the British Law Enforcement officers on the Hospital begins. But does the Peking Panda has one final deadly trap in store for them..?

Thursday, 18 December 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Virus Of The Panda - Part Three Post Two

Continuing the 'off-screen' mass battle between Ninjas and law enforcement officers, these panels are still rather wordy. However they do finally set up the opportunity for Sensei Cheng Fu to get more involved in the action by 'foolishly' volunteering to take on the black-clad assassins single-handedly in order to distract the Peking Panda's men whilst the Police storm the hospital.

The final frame was actually reworked repeatedly as I wasn't terribly happy with Cheng Fu continuing to have his arms crossed as he 'walked into danger'. In the end though it seemed to be the best pose for the martial artist as he fearlessly believes he won't be attacked as it goes against the ninjas' rules of honour.

Surrounded by the Peking Panda's deadly assassins, Sensei Cheng Fu attacks in an all-action fist-fight..!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Virus Of The Panda - Part Three Post One

As with many of my four-parters, the third instalment is really all about setting up events for a final confrontation between the story's main two protagonists at the end of the adventure. These opening four panels are a good example of this philosophy, with the Peking Panda making it clear to the reader what he plans to do (i.e. infect his men's weapons with the virus and then contaminate the British), whilst Cheng Fu wants to storm the hospital. Both plans will inevitably bring both sides into direct conflict with one another.

The final panel also continues the 'running battle theme' of the British Authorities involved in a large fight with the ninjas outside the medical facility, with throwing stars peppering the law enforcement officers.

Determined to 'storm' the hospital and stop the ninjas with their diabolical plan, Sensi Cheng Fu makes a determined assault on the black-clad assassins single-handedly...

Monday, 8 December 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Virus Of The Panda - Part Two Post Three

These final panels for Part Two of "Virus Of The Panda" not only conclude the super-villain's explanation of why China hope to infect the United Kingdom mainland with a deadly virus; so they can woo the British survivors into becoming a Chinese province. But also continues the battle taking place outside the Hospital between Cheng Fu and the Ninjas.

Ideally I'd have liked to have mixed up the lengthy scene with the Peking Panda's dialogue and the fight. But because the plot is rather complex I thought it would lose the reader if it was broken up into chunks with other another scene interrupting it all the time. Obviously a series of endless 'wordy' panels is not that great either. But I felt the action 'book-ending' the dialogue was the lesser of two evils.

The action heats up as Cheng Fu faces another barrage of Ninja throwing stars as the Authorities attempt to enter the hospital...  

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Mooretoons - Early "Doctor Who" Adventures - The Doctor Battles Strontium Dog

Top: Johnny Alpha faces Impetigo     Bottom: Johnny Alpha blasts TARDIS crew member Viki
Many of my early “Doctor Who” cartoon strips were either heavily influenced or based upon actual monsters and events from the BBC Television series. But I never strayed so far into the IP domain of another comic book character as I did with the four-parter “Stronties Rage”. 

The 1986 “2000 A.D.” comic strip “Strontium Dog” had a profound effect upon me as a teenager and when the bounty hunter Johnny Alpha’s long-time partner Wulf Sternhammer was killed at the conclusion of “Max Bubba” I was mightily upset. The comic’s following adventure “Rage”, in which Alpha hunted down and shot Max Bubba and his gang did little to sate my anger at the demise of one of my favourite characters. So as a result I decided to write and draw my own ending to the lengthy “Strontium Dog” saga.
Top: The Doctor stupidly disguises himself as Bubba     Bottom: Alpha and Bubba die as lasers fly everywhere
Unfortunately “Stronties Rage” was a far cry from the excellent “2000 A.D.” storyline and the artwork, although far more detailed than that of its predecessors “Dual” and “The Earthboom”, was still very rushed, rough and ready.

The adventure was notable for several reasons however. Firstly Strontium Dog Johnny Alpha featured prominently throughout the story and dies at the end; a complete departure from the conclusion of “Rage”. The tale also features both Max Bubba and one of his gang members, Impetigo. Both of which are slain by Alpha. But lastly, and most importantly, the four-parter also depicts the accidental slaying of the Doctor’s travelling companion Kame Viki [Vicky] and introduces a new assistant, Katarina; who inadvertently wanders into the TARDIS whilst taking an armful of fruit home. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Virus Of The Panda - Part Two Post Two

Unfortunately this scene set within the hospital is extremely wordy. But essential for explaining the motivation behind the Peking Panda's plot. What I didn't anticipate though was just how much space the villain's Alpha Beta BRK font would take up within each speech bubble. As a result vast chunks of explanatory dialogue written in the script were either condensed on the 'drawing page' or simply discarded.

I also felt that the detail and colouring of the hospital's professor, which was admittedly an older 'Mooretoons' design, was just not working alongside some of the newer illustrations; especially as his all light blue attire clashed badly with that of Hua Qin. I therefore replaced him with a dark green-clothed junior doctor for the story's later panels.

The battle over the Britain's sole virus patient heats up as Cheng Fu battles an army of Ninjas... 

Friday, 5 December 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Virus Of The Panda - Part Two Post One

One of the things I wanted to try and illustrate with this particular story was a shoot-out between the Government forces, using modern-day weaponry, and the Ninjas, using just their throwing stars. Unfortunately I once again found myself rapidly running out of room within the four episodes to really give this a proper go, but the first two panels hopefully show some of the fast-paced action I wanted to portray. With hindsight the shuriken probably should have been larger and thus easier to see. However I really liked the imagery of the deadly throwing stars appearing from 'off-screen' and literally striking people dead in their tracks.

Having quickly realised how cumbersome the Ninjas looked in their isolation suits, and how silly they looked as a result, I swiftly removed them of their cumbersome attire in order to better depict their famous acrobatics... and I couldn't think of a better way of doing this than having the deadly assassins drop head-first down a rope.

With both Cheng Fu and the Police bravely battling his lethal black-clad ninjas outside, the Peking Panda finally starts to put his deadly plan into action... 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Mooretoons - Early "Doctor Who" Adventures - A Duplicate Doctor And The Ice Warriors Return

Top: 'The Two Doctors' meet     Bottom: The TARDIS lands in a variety of bizarre locations
In many ways my early “Doctor Who” stories “Dual” and “The Earthboom” are of little interest except as examples of a time when both my storylines and drawing style were possibly at their most sloppy and undisciplined. However despite the poor quality of my writing and shoddy penciling, both four-parters do hopefully have some elements of note within them.

“Dual” was a rather half-hearted attempt to bring back one of my Doctor’s former companions, Susan Foreman and a duplicate First Doctor. It soon becomes abundantly clear however that I quickly ran out of ideas for the adventure as the tale swiftly degenerates into the Timelord simply meeting an earlier version of himself and having to then briefly travel with him (and his grand-daughter) in order to return to his own timeline’s co-ordinates. 

The story was clearly drawn in a hurry as well, as the inking is splotchy and undisciplined, and many of the panels lack any background whatsoever. However the plot does contain several references to genuine BBC “Doctor Who” television serials, and I must have been heavily influenced by these adventures at the time. As a result the TARDIS lands in Brisbane, Australia during World War Three (Magnus Greel was the Butcher of Brisbane and started World War Six in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”), momentarily stops off in the year 1,000,000 B.C. (as does the real TARDIS in “An Unearthly Child”) and then briefly arrives in sunken Atlantis (inspired by “The Time Monster”). Even the planet Skaro and the Daleks make a single panel appearance before the Doctor is reunited with his own TARDIS once again.
Top: The Ice Warriors are swiftly replaced by a Terminator     Bottom: The Doctor blows up the Martian rocket
I still remember that at the time of my drawing “Doctor Who And The Earthboom” I was fleetingly filled with a lot of enthusiasm for the story, as it heralded the long-awaited return of the Ice Warriors; one of my favourite televised monsters. However my zeal for the tale quickly evaporated when I started making mistakes drawing the Martians and as a result I quickly removed their visible presence from the ‘screen’. Indeed after just a handful of frames during the second part, and yet another poorly executed Ice Warrior, they were never to be seen again.

Instead I replaced them with the Terminator character, who had accompanied my Doctor’s companion Viki during her initial story “Magma’s Return”. During that earlier two-parter I had only implied that the bald-headed humanoid space policeman had been eaten by the monster, Magma. In “The Earthboom” Viki discovers her former jailer was somehow rescued by the Ice Warriors, cybernetically enhanced (i.e. given the trademark ice Warrior clawed hands) and placed in charge of a rocket which had been built in order to destroy the Earth. A complicated, convoluted and unbelievable plot which only a young teenager could create.

In addition the story also gives my companion the full name of Kame Viki… a massive departure from the televised companion Vicky (Pallister) and in all honesty a bad mistake on my part. However as with its predecessor “Dual”, it was clear that I was in something of a rush to finish the tale and move on to the next one; my keenness for reintroducing the Ice Warriors clearly having been already exhausted. Needless to say the Doctor uses the TARDIS to land inside the Martian’s rocket, and blow it up prematurely, rescuing both Steven Taylor and Viki in the process.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Virus Of The Panda - Part One Post Three

These final four panels to Part One of "Virus Of The Panda" have actually taken far longer than they should have done to post but when I originally drafted them out I realised that there was a mistake within the dialogue of the final panel and as a result I have had to find the time to not only address the error but then adjust its composition and remove the ellipse which had been there beforehand.

To be honest this whole scene is rather wordy but I felt necessarily so in order to quickly get Cheng Fu and the Armed Services into direct contact with the Peking Panda's ninjas. The medical gowns were actually based upon genuine isolation suits, although they had to be slightly adapted to fit the 'Mooretoon' head-shape.

Sensei Cheng Fu uncovers a diabolical plot to abduct his sick passenger. But can even a master of Kung Fu survive a hail of deadly shuriken..!?! 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Virus Of The Panda - Part One Post Two

The opening panel for this posting alludes to an imminent fight between Peking Panda's Ninja mercenaries and the hospital security guards. It was only to be a couple of frames long but I ended having to cut the 'battle scene' as I found myself rapidly running out of room as a result of some of the heavy dialogue I wrote in order to 'set the story up' with. The role of the tropical disease specialist Hua Qin was also significantly reduced as I found myself desperately trying to confine myself to just four episodes for this story. With hindsight I also should have given the Chinese physician a different coloured costume as his oriental light blue weave is very similar to the blue used by the hospital staff.

 The penultimate frame shows the start of my attempt to move away from the use of ellipses; something my previous stories are loaded with. I also decided to illustrate the conversation inside the vehicle straight from the scene's start rather than use a photograph of the vehicle travelling down a street as an establishing shot first. This may have been a mistake, but I was keen to get Cheng Fu into the action as quickly as possible and start breaking up the sterile light blue imagery of the previous panels with his bright red costume. I also thought the interior scene, coupled with the "Vroom" sound effect would make it somewhat obvious the quartet were sharing a ride within some form of transport.

Cheng Fu delivers the patient into the hands of the waiting hospital staff so their life-saving treatment can begin. But just how safe will the British public be from the deadly virus once the doctors start work on the evacuee..?   

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Virus Of The Panda - Part One Post One

This four-parter is most definitely a journey of transition as it was drawn whilst I was receiving some considerable feedback from fellow blogger artists, and as a result it's composition was altered mid-way through in order to test some of their suggestions for improvement. Initially however this is a fairly straight-forward 'sequel' to "Embassy Of The Fist" and 'in order to get it out quickly' incorporates a number of figures I had previously drawn; some, such as the surgeon gowns, from as long ago as ten years.

The Peking Panda is an attempt to create a more worthy Oriental opponent for Cheng Fu than the rather dull-looking Yamamoto. Unfortunately the idea of a kung fu fighter adorned in the skin of a Panda Bear didn't materialise quite as I'd imagined him. But nonetheless I think he's infinitely more memorable than the honourable assassin of Kam Lo.

Unaware of the Peking Panda's presence within the specialist hospital, Cheng Fu escorts an important patient to the medical facility. But just whose life is in imminent danger..!?!  

Friday, 7 November 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part Four Post Three

These concluding panels to "Gloom Of The Glooms" gave me a brief opportunity to show the interior of the aliens' asteroid... and then promptly start blowing it up. The image of the Perishing missile on the Glooms' screen is the same one I used to 'colour' in the missile Galaxian and Tortoise-Shell Eddie rode on in some of the earlier frames. The missile is actually being launched vertically into the sky, as opposed to travelling horizontally; something you can just make out if you look at the clouds surrounding it. If I had had the room I would have added another panel with an exterior shot of the asteroid-spaceship being struck by the missile, but as I had run out of room I elected to show the Glooms' screen depicting the aliens' own demise.

The final two frames simply tie-up the story and set-up the return of the American superhero U.S. Armour, a bullet-proof metal suit equipped with missiles and machine guns, whose previous occupant had eventually been executed by the United States for war crimes. The reference also ties "Cosmic Custodians" into the same universe as the serial "Alternate Heroes".

 Next time Sensei Cheng Fu returns with more Kung Fu action as the Peking Panda attempts to infect the population of the United Kingdom with a deadly virus...

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part Four Post Two

As soon as I thought of a nuclear missile heading towards the Pentagon, I immediately thought of the idea that a couple of the Custodians would need to 'ride' on it in order to tinker with its course trajectory. The atomic weapon was drawn by simply creating the outline of a projectile and then 'colouring' it with a photograph of a genuine Perishing missile in order for all its markings to be correct.

With hindsight it is a little hard to see precisely what is going on, especially in the final frame when the missile 'throws' off its occupants. As a result I's probably make the first of the scene's three panels significantly smaller so you can see the entire missile and that the characters are up in the sky. I'd use a similar scale for the final drawing as well, and actually depict Galaxian and Tortoise-Shell Eddie as tiny falling figures.

Air Force One is about to fall to the alien invaders and so is the Pentagon. Mankind's future rests solely upon the flight of a single nuclear missile. But has Galaxian got his co-ordinates right..?

Sunday, 2 November 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part Four Post One

These opening two panels to the final part of "Gloom Of The Glooms" concludes the series of panels I set aside to simply show some interplay between some of the Custodians and highlight the 'super-power' of Sagittarius; his ability to actually absorb energy. These scenes do however suffer from the consequences of my changing the look of Mistress Tendril, as the character hasn't spoken a word during the entire adventure, nor will she do so. This was because she was originally designed to have a face full of tentacles, which would make speech somewhat difficult. I did toy with the idea of making her telepathic as a result, and figured I could draw some nice telepathy speech bubbles for her when she needed to communicate. Obviously though that all changed when I redesigned her with an actual mouth (or at least lips) but subsequently fell behind with my drawing schedule for the story.

The script for this four-parter was actually written in episodic chunks. I'd simply plot out the next part's panels only once I'd actually drawn the previous episode in its entirety. So by the time I made the change to Mistress Tendril's appearance I was close to finishing the entire storyline and didn't have the room or time to go back and reallocate some of the dialogue to her character.

Air Force One is in danger of being overrun by the Aliens, and there's still an atomic missile flying towards the Pentagon. Can Galaxian and Tortoise-Shell Eddie possibly kill two birds with one stone..?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part Three Post Three

These four panels are another attempt to establish that the Cosmic Custodians have been together for a while, and as a result there is some tension within the group due to past adventures. I also wanted to show Sagittarius' short temper and again demonstrate Tortoise-Shell Eddie's mischievousness.

The composition for these frames was a reasonably swift process as for most of the panels I was re-using previously drawn figures. However I badly ran out of room with the dialogue, something I now ensure fits the balloons, so there are several ellipses and the episode even ends mid-way through one of the dark-skinned celestial bear-worshipper's rants.

Capable of crushing a man's skull with his bare hands, has an irate Sagittarius succeeded in eliminating his fellow Custodian Galaxian, when an army of Glooms failed to do so..?  

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part Three Post Two

I really wanted to show just how calculating and mad Senator Somerville really was, and thought the United States government keeping a few nuclear missiles 'off the record' was a fairly plausible plot. I also wanted to ramp up the action on board Air Force One, as it had become the 'wordier' of the two storylines, so had the Glooms 'piggyback' themselves aboard the plane using Galaxian's teleportation frequency. I'm not sure just how clear that explanation is though as I found myself quickly running out of room for the senator's speech.

The 'longshot' of Sagittarius and Tortoise-Shell Eddie was simply an excuse to show off the strengths of the two Custodians and illustrate the carnage the two heroes were capable off. I also wanted to illustrate some of their interplay with one another. Sagittarius being a star-worshipping killer who sees all his victims as little more than sacrifices to his interstellar bear-god, and Eddie being a far more measured, realistic individual, who is also somewhat mischievous when it comes to his colleague's low intelligence. Unfortunately the "Dadadada" sound effect makes it somewhat unclear that the giant tortoise's mini-gun actually extends from inside his carapace. Indeed its probably hard to even see he's carrying such a heavy weapon.

Swamped by Glooms, can Sagittarius and Tortoise-Shell Eddie survive long enough for Galaxian and Mistress Tendril to come to their aid. And when they do, what welcome will the cavalry receive..?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Mooretoons - "Doctor Who" - Gallifrey

Top: The Doctor defeats a giant lizard in "Orckingdom".     Bottom: The TARDIS captures Ian the Were-Lizard.
I have tapped into quite a few sources of inspiration for my ‘original’ “Doctor Who” comic stories but possibly one of the strangest was my liking for the 1984 David Lean drama film “A Passage to India”, which I rented out on video immediately upon its release. The idea of exploring a strange land with a mysterious ancient history seemed like a cracking idea for a story so I simply replaced the British Raj for the planet of the Timelords and threw the TARDIS crew into an adventure which would illustrate the home-world of the Doctor.

Written as a direct sequel to “Orckingdom”, “Massage to Gallifrey” is a six-page tale which sees the elderly time traveller return to his people in order to obtain a cure for Ian Chesterton; who has been transformed into a were-lizard. Despite a rather action-packed opening, which involves the TARDIS itself incarcerating a homicidal Chesterton and the Doctor dodging the laser beams of the Chancellery Guard, things soon peter out and become rather dull. I clearly tired of the entire idea and quickly curtailed the TARDIS crew’s exploration of Gallifrey by having them all captured and sentenced to death by the Timelords midway through the adventure.
Top: The TARDIS lands on Gallifrey.     Bottom: The Timelords and Chancellery Guard.
Even an attempt to explain the motivation behind the Doctor’s travels through a series of flashback panels is soon replaced by my simply drawing the character alongside a huge word balloon. The artwork also deteriorates as my figures significantly increase in size in order for most of the panels to simply depict their heads.

However, all is not entirely lost with the story, as the ‘look’ of the Gallifreyans' ceremonial attire would remain for as long as I drew my “Doctor Who” comic strips, and there is a definite smoothing out of the mouth area for the majority of my characters; a significant step closer to the way I draw my figures these days. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part Three Post One

As mentioned in a previous posting, these panels containing Mistress Tendril had to be extensively redrawn following my decision to significantly change the appearance of the character. However this did provide me with the opportunity to try out a few ideas as to what weapons she would use during the stories.

Originally I'd conceived her as simply using multiple swords, but found four blades really cluttered up a frame. I then tried a single morning star and a laser pistol, but this combination did not really seem to work either. I then thought that as I’d already drawn Mistress Tendril’s tentacles, it would hopefully be fun if she simply battered and ‘suckered’ her opponents into submission.

Ordinarily I usually draw my figures carrying a scroll of paperwork when I want to illustrate the point that they have received information. In the third frame I thought this would look rather ridiculous though, as the Custodian’s spaceship would surely send down the results of any scan to Galaxian in a more sophisticated way. As a result I quickly sketched out a portable scanner display. Admittedly it is rather large and bulky, but I wanted the reader to be able to see something of what was being shown on the device’s screen.

Air Force One is protected by an ECM Electric Defence Measures System. But if Galaxian can teleport General Marietta aboard, then surely the Glooms can do so as well..? And just how goes the fight with Tortoise-Shell Eddie and Sagittarius against the alien invaders..? 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part Two Post Three

These final four panels to this second part of "Gloom Of The Glooms" introduce a favourite stereotypical character of mine, the maniacal statesman; in this case Secretary Somerville. It also gave me the opportunity to re-use the teleportation effect I'd drawn for the previous episode and apply it to General Marietta.
 
The last panel actually had me in two minds as to how to show that the intense fighting in the Pentagon was already badly damaging the building. Initially I considered drawing a long-shot of the Custodians and security forces blasting away at the aliens, but as so much of the story had already consisted of such 'footage', and I knew there was plenty more to come, I went with this exterior illustration instead, threw in some sound effects of the battle taking place inside and simply 'bookended' the frame with Somerville's insane plan of imminently nuking the building.
 
Desperately rescuing evacuees in the Washington Metro Pentagon Station, Galaxian and Mistress Tendril realise they have an even bigger danger arriving from above...

Monday, 20 October 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part Two Post Two

The opening panel finally depicts the entire Cosmic Custodians super-team, albeit it will be some time yet before all of their 'special talents' are revealed. However I did want to give some indication as to the character of the upright walking (and as shown later talking) tortoise and what role he will be playing in both this and future stories.
 
I also needed to establish that some additional subplots were going to be taking place on board Air Force One and the Pentagon basement. The action has already dwelt a bit long in one place concentrating on General Marietta and I always find it a useful technique to depicts events occurring elsewhere during a comic strip in order to hopefully help break up any monotony. In addition its a very good strategy if you want to imply the passage of time at a separate location without actually having to draw it.
 
For those who have an interest in planes, the photograph of Air Force One is of a Boeing 747. I actually used the (public domain) interior plans of President Obama's modified B747-200B to fill in some of the details as to what the plane can actually do for this adventure.
 
The White House has been overrun by the Glooms, but the President of the United States is safely aboard Air Force One. But it isn't the nation's Commander-In-Chief who is leading the fight against the alien invaders and the madman who is will seemingly stop at nothing to eradicate the extra-terrestrial menace. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Mooretoons - Some More Early Original "Doctor Who" Monsters

Top: The Dekkarian astronaut Dallos.     Bottom: The Earth is invaded by Chang Fang's Toilet Tube Army.  
Inspired by the 1986 UK video release of Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor adventure "Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks", as well as a rather impressive-looking astronaut action figure I owned, I wrote "The Daleks Return" simply to introduce the Dekkarians into my 'Mooretoon' world of "Doctor Who". Essentially they were created as a space-faring alternative to the British television science fiction series' extremely popular UNIT (Unit Nations Intelligence Taskforce) family and the anti-Dalek taskforce consisted of Captain Derek Manning, his trusty number two Dallos and a Rambo-like soldier called Botreil. However the four-page plot of the team almost single-handedly dispatching an entire spacecraft full of Terry Nations' 'pepperpots' didn't really work and it would be some considerable time before the Dekkarians would make a return.
 
To be fair "Invasion Of The Toilet Tubes" marked the start of a serious decline in my "Doctor Who" story telling and came at a time when I was seemingly struggling to both draw consistently and with much enthusiasm for the stories I was writing. In a nutshell the Earth is successfully invaded by a race of giant toilet tubes lead by their king, Chang Fang. The Doctor tricks a group of the cardboard aliens into chasing him through the TARDIS and 'drowns' them in the swimming pool. In the meantime companions Barabara Wright and Ian Chesterton distract Chang Fang long enough for the Earth resistance to kill the toilet tube King.
Top: Barbara Wright is captured by Orcs.     Bottom: Ian Chesterton battles a Werewolf.
"Orckingdom" was an attempt to combine two of my main hobbies together; cartooning and 'Dungeons & Dragons'. Unfortunately I quickly ran out of ideas whilst drawing the four-pager, and what started as a possible run of stories set within a fantasy world of goblins, wolfmen and lizard creatures, turned out as simply a series of set-pieces where Ian Chesterton and the (First) Doctor encountered a werewolf, a lizardman and some warty orcs; all in order to save Barbara who had once again been captured at the start of the story.
 
The plot was so rushed that I apparently forgot to even include fellow TARDIS companion Viki (or as it should have been Vicki) in the story until the last few panels. However the tale would lay the foundation for the next adventure; a six-pager which saw the Doctor return to Gallifrey and introduce my version of the Timelords...  

Thursday, 16 October 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part Two Post One

On the face of it this was a reasonably simple quartet of panels to draw. I wanted to show a bit more of the Glooms and their laser pistols, prove to the General that the aliens were real and show that Galaxian was actually a human; thus he momentarily takes his helmet off. I also thought that having 'proper eye contact' with the General would help the 'intergalactic interloper' more easily convince the old soldier that he was 'a good guy'. There's also a bit of a hint as to Galaxian's origin story hidden within the General's dialogue. Something I plan to cover in a future 'flashback' adventure.
 
Unfortunately at this point I had a moment of doubt as to how well the look of Mistress Tendril worked for the cartoon. As a result I swiftly provided some finished drawings of her alongside a rough pencilled alternative sketch to my 'greatest critic' and had all my fears and doubts confirmed. There were too many tentacles and she looked far too similar to an "Alternate Heroes" villain of mine called 'the Hooded tentacle'. This was actually unsurprising as Mistress Tendril, up until this point, was the only one of the Custodians I hadn't drawn from scratch, In fact in my haste to get her ready I had simply 'retouched' an old Hooded Tentacle drawing...
 
The Mistress Tendril in these panels therefore is an entirely new drawing, complete with four arms; albeit they're hidden by word balloons for these frames. I also took the opportunity to draw some new firearms for both the Glooms and Galaxian, as originally they were wielding previously created hand-weapons. However all this 'creativity' came at a cost, as I had to completely recompose all the panels featuring Mistress Tendril and redraw her teleportation effect.
 
As alien lasers fly around the Pentagon, General Marietta needs to decide whether to trust the Cosmic Custodians and then inform the President of the United States of his decision...   

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part One Post Three

In many way this entire first episode, and certainly the penultimate three panels, are all about setting the scene for the final frame - the arrival of the Cosmic Custodians. When writing this story I wanted the cliff-hangers to be especially good, and was somewhat torn between either having the aliens not appear until the last shot or have the heroes arrive at the last minute.
 
In order to get the action going as quickly as possible I had already written for the Glooms to be seen shooting up the Pentagon. This therefore left me with little choice but I was still in something of a dilemma as its always a bit of risk having a new serial start and you don't actually see the main characters until you're already a quarter of the way through the story.
 
The final panel took quite a bit of time to draw, as having pencilled, inked, scanned and then redrawn Mistress Tendril and Galaxian, I then had to erase most of my lining in order to create a simple outline for the teleportation effect. Having scoured the internet for a suitable effect, I eventually decided to superimpose some somewhat translucent light beams over my drawings to give the impression of them materialising in front of the General and his military staff.
 
What the last frame doesn't show is that all four Cosmic Custodians have actually teleported into the Pentagon. However the sudden appearance of Tortoise-Shell Eddie and Sagittarius do not become evident until Part Two. If I had my time again with this story I would probably therefore re-draw this scene, either resizing the final panel to include the entire super-team or cutting some of the dialogue from the earlier panels, and extending the last frame to encapsulate the entire bottom of the page.
 
The Cosmic Custodians have arrived. But why should the American Military trust the fate of the Earth to three more aliens and an arcade-machine obsessed Human..?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part One Post Two

Having set the scene in the first four panels, I wanted to leap straight into the action with the next few frames. As a result I threw in loads of laser beams ripping in between my characters and had the aliens, the Glooms, make a very early appearance. These scenes were actually re-drawn several times, as at one point I actually wanted to scale down the size of my figures in order to show off more of the mayhem the aliens were causing. In the end though I reverted back to these 'standard-size' characters and just filled each panel with as much movement and sound effects as I could muster. They're very cluttered as a result but hopefully this also imparts to the reader just how busy things are in the Pentagon during the initial stages of the alien's attack.
 
As aforementioned, I really wanted to get this story finished quickly, and as a result some of the figures are from some quite old former Mooretoons. A few I redrew (such as the more modern grey camouflage for the soldiers) but others appear exactly as they were originally drawn and to my eye it shows. However as the initial panels had already taken far longer than I'd wanted, I simply went with them. In hindsight this was actually a wise decision as I'd encounter some serious hurdles in the pages to come...
 
The President has left the White House for the safety of Air Force One but will General Marietta depart the Pentagon to join his Commander-in-Chief? Perhaps something 'Cosmic' about to happen...  

Monday, 13 October 2014

"COSMIC CUSTODIANS" Gloom Of The Glooms - Part One Post One

This particular science-fiction adventure was both written and then drawn in just a few weeks. It’s the first in a series of tales I’ve been sketching this year in order to scratch a ‘super-hero team in outer space’ itch I’ve recently been having. As I wanted to get the ‘introductory’ story out quickly I’ve utilised characters from a variety of older Mooretoons, and simply ‘tweaked them’ here and there. As a result it let me rattle through the panels fairly fast despite some quite major hiccups along the way.
 
As I didn’t simply want the plot to be a typical ‘this is how the heroes obtained their super-powers’ storyline, I went with a standard Earth gets invaded theme, and brought the Custodians in as an already established super-group who were determined to save the planet. Setting the tale on our planet was advantageous because as it let me re-use a load of military figures I’ve previously drawn and established that Galaxian, Mistress Tendril, Tortoise-Shell Eddie and Sagittarius were all part of the same super-hero universe I’ve created in series such as “Alternate Heroes”, “Heroes of Godwinson” and “Men of Mystery”.
 
The initial few panels are designed to set the scene of the half-asteroid half-alien space-ship coming into orbit of the Earth and settling above the United States of America’s Pentagon. I wanted to try and draw something a little different for the Gloom’s craft and I can’t help feel that it didn’t work out as well as I’d liked.
 
The satellite also took some reworking, as my actual drawing was much larger than it appears, and literally dwarfed the alien’s vessel. As a result it had to be scaled down significantly in size, so a lot of the detail I put into its panelling and exterior computers has been lost.
 
An alien invasion of the Pentagon is about to begin. But it’s not the only American military building the extra-terrestrials have targeted…

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Mooretoons - More Early Original "Doctor Who" Monsters

Many of my original “Doctor Who” cartoon monsters were inspired by the toys and games I was playing with in the early Eighties. The most prominent of these creatures was the Magma, a large carnivorous race of aliens who dwelt on the volcanic planet of Maglang. Unsurprisingly these terrors were based upon an especially big toy figure which I often used as an adversary whilst playing Doctor Who with my “Kenner” Star Wars action figures. It was therefore probably inevitable that my adventures with the plastic monster would transfer over to the inked page, but never did I anticipate that the Magma would feature in three of the first five stories I drew during my second phase of cartooning.
 
Interestingly the artwork to “Magma”, “Magma’s Return” and “Magma’s Curse” is especially detailed for its time, as I used a phenomenal amount of line-shading in almost every panel. This ‘technique’ would remain as part of my drawing style until I moved to a graphics editor on a computer, and even today I still utilise such line-work for scenery such as bushes and snow mounds. However I have never used it as exclusively as I did during this particular period in the evolution of the Mooretoons look.
 
This was however also a time when I tried to start adding some detail to my backgrounds, and this can clearly be seen in the six-page story “The Carrots”, a tale which followed directly on from the first appearance of the Magma. Inspired by the 1964 Doctor Who television serial “Planet of Giants”, I thought it’d be fun to have the TARDIS crew land in a supermarket shopping trolley, and then, having fallen out, desperately try and find their way back. However mid-way through the story I introduced the Karrots, an alien race of mind-reading vegetables who attempt to trick the First Doctor into letting them enter the TARDIS.
 
The story is rather forgettable, as you can probably imagine, apart from the fact that I kill off Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s grand-daughter, by having her fall into a meat grinder at the conclusion of the adventure.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Embassy Of The Fist - Part Four Post Three

In many ways this is a bit of a rushed ending, and ideally I'd have liked to have included one or two additional panels in order to mix-up the composition of the frames a little more. I think the simple punch - kick- punch frame combination makes the sequence look too repetitive or monotonous as a single page layout.
 
The last panel is actually a bit of a rush job as I'd scripted showing Sensei Cheng Fu leaping out of the Embassy's window from an exterior perspective. However I was somewhat stumped as to how to portray the Chinese soldiers discovering the combatants, and their arrival causing the British martial artist to flee so dramatically. With hindsight I could have composed a much smaller frame simply showing the guards' appearing, and placed that within a normal sized panel depicting Cheng Fu smashing out of the upstairs window.
 
Indeed I'm not sure its even clear that most of the action in this concluding part of "Embassy of the Fist" takes place on the building's top (residential) floor; although the Chinese soldier in the final frame does allude to it by stating "A masked intruder escapes into the gardens below".
 
I was also keen to show that Cheng Fu does not actually kill Yamamoto. Not only because I wanted the opportunity to be able to write a sequel at some point, or at least a second adventure featuring the Chinese assassin. But I also wanted it to be clear that despite his anger at the former Triad bodyguard, the hero of the story is not a murderer.
 
Next time Kung Fu action gives way to science fiction and alien invasion as the Earth is attacked by the Glooms in the first story of the serial "Cosmic Custodians"...

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Embassy Of The Fist - Part Four Post Two

The high kick from Sensei Cheng Fu was simply created by slightly rotating the angles of all the characters and then shrinking the much larger picture into a single panel. The composition actually took some time as I wanted to try and show that the British secret serviceman kicks one soldier into another, knocking them both cold.
 
As it turns out Captain Ji Song is rather easily overcome by a blow to the back of the head, but I was rapidly running out of panels to illustrate the third and final confrontation between Cheng Fu and Yamamoto. As a result the female Embassy assistant simply 'melts away', something I often do when I want all the attention to focus on something else. Doubtless she ran off looking to raise the alarm...
 
This is it, it's Yamamoto verses Sensei Cheng Fu in a battle to the death.!!

Monday, 6 October 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Embassy Of The Fist - Part Four Post One

In many ways this final episode to "Embassy of the Fist" is a single-part story in its own right, and as such I spent the first few panels trying to set the scene. It introduces all the characters needed for the plot within the space of four panels, including a new threat to Sensei Cheng Fu, a formidable captain in the Chinese Army called Ji Song.
 
I usually find that by the time I have started composing an adventure's last chapter that I have little appetite to actually draw anything else for the story, and as a result scramble around for characters I've drawn previously. In many ways I'm in a real rush to conclude the proceedings in order to start sketching out my next tale. As a result the Chinese Ambassador's female servant is simply a reused drawing I created for an "Ermin Meonstoke" yarn from a few years ago, and Captain Ji Song is actually just another Chinese soldier but I've flecked his hair with grey and given him a moustache.

Surrounded by Chinese soldiers with a foe stood on guard around every corner, can Cheng Fu reach Yamamoto for their final confrontation..?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Mooretoons - "Doctor Who" - The Meddling Monk - Part Two

Drawn with a black ballpoint pen, “Doctor Who in Game-Ball” was a twelve-page ‘epic’ based upon the plot that the Meddling Monk had somehow managed to trap the TARDIS crew within a VIC-20 home computer. The renegade Timelord then forced them to play various computer games in the hope that they’d be killed. Clearly a storyline heavily inspired by the 1982 Walt Disney Productions science fiction film “Tron”.
 
However, although at the time I did own one of Commodore’s 5kb RAM machines, my parents had more recently replaced it with a Commodore 64, and as a result all of the games played during the tale are actually my favourite ones (of the time) for the more powerful computer. “Game-Ball” also came at a time when I had settled into a somewhat consistent and distinctive style of drawing, which although still somewhat different to my current artwork, clearly enabled me to produce my cartoon strips at a good rate.
 
The first two episodes of this magnum opus would be based upon the computer game “Crazy Kong 64” by “Interceptor Software”, a 1983 “Donkey Kong” clone which saw the First Doctor hurdling giant barrels, clambering up ladders, leaping over fireballs and defeating a giant ape with a large mallet. Once the game had been successfully beaten however the Meddling Monk immediately loaded a second title into the computer…
 
“Spy Hunter” by “US Gold”. To be honest I don’t recall actually being overly impressed by this computer game. However I was totally enamoured with the 1983 arcade machine by “Bally Midway” as it came with a sit-down cabinet, steering wheel and gear stick. Either way the next two parts to “Game-Ball” would depict the TARDIS crew driving in the fictitious G-6155 Interceptor, made famous by the arcade game, avoiding head-on collisions with oncoming suicidal cars, dodging machinegun fire and finally blowing up gun-toting helicopters in a go-fast boat.
 
The next video game, the 1985 “Rambo: First Blood Part II” by “Ocean Software”, was based upon the Sylvester Stallone film and was probably more famous for its excellent Martin Galway soundtrack then its actual gameplay. However it gave me ample opportunity to transform the First Doctor, via a bi-generation with the game’s main sprite(!?!), into a muscle-bound killing machine, complete with head bandana, massive portable machinegun and huge hunting knife. And in a serious departure from his televised counterpart, my Timelord merrily massacred his opponents with nuclear bullets and knife slashes to the torso.
 Episode Seven of “Game-Ball” would provide a brief respite to the continuous stream of video games as the VIC-20 broke down and the Meddling Monk desperately tried to repair the home computer before the TARDIS crew escaped its internal workings back to the time machine. Needless to say at the conclusion of the page, and with the big blue box in sight, the Doctor, Steven Taylor and Katarina are once again caught by a multi-coloured loading screen and transported inside the game “Breakout”.
 
This single page episode was actually based upon my love of the 1987 arcade conversion “Arkanoid” by “Imagine Software”; a video game developed by “Taito” which was a considerable improvement upon the original Seventies “Breakout” by “Atari”. However I felt that the name “Arkanoid” wasn’t as well-known as that of “Breakout” thus drew the Meddling Monk holding a copy of a cassette with the older game’s title emblazoned upon it. In many ways the episode was actually quite similar to those involving “Crazy Kong 64” as the eleven panels portrayed the Doctor, Katarina and Steven dodging giant balls and leaping in between the gaps in brick blocks.
 
The final computer game to feature in this adventure was actually the first Commodore 64 programme I bought, alongside “Football Manager” by “Addictive Games”, and that was the licensed film tie-in “Ghostbusters” by “Activision”. This is one of my favourite games of all time, and even these days I will occasionally have a game using an emulator programme. As one can imagine not only did this plot twist enable me to sketch out the TARDIS crew in grey overalls with proton packs, but got me drawing some spooky spectres and a haunted house. As a nod to some of the first voice sound effects within a home computer game, I even had Doctor and his companions name themselves the “Geek Buckors”, as that is how the computer game sounded when it's sound chip tried to verbalise “Ghostbusters”.
 
The conclusion to “Game-Ball” is utterly bizarre and features two pages of complete nonsense. No computer game is actually featured or mentioned, though I get the distinct impressive I was trying to convey the impression that the TARDIS crew had become immersed within an adventure game of some kind. I also believe I was tiring of the story and wanted to finish it quite quickly. Certainly that is the only explanation I have as to why the First Doctor would suddenly find himself submerged in elephant droppings on the planet Nope and be able to simply saunter, covered in mastodon dung, over to the TARDIS. Deciding that they didn’t want to wait for Katarina, the Timelord and Steven depart determined to track down the person responsible for their plight.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Embassy Of The Fist - Part Three Post Three

One of the ways in which I always describe my cartoon stories is that they are really narratives with some drawings simply squeezed in between the dialogue to help show the reader what's supposedly taking place. These final four panels of "Embassy of the Fist" Part Three encapsulate this philosophy entirely. The plot isn't progressed at all by the artwork, it's advanced solely by what the character's are saying.
 
There's also an awful lot of ellipses spread across the various speech balloons. Ideally each balloon would encapsulate a finished sentence but as I wanted to include such a large amount of dialogue I'd have needed one or two more panels to include all of the British secret serviceman's explanation as to what was going on. I think four panels with nothing but talking taking place is pretty static, let alone half a dozen or more, hence the ellipses.
 
Will Sensei Cheng Fu risk the China-Britain business council talks and dare to set foot on sovereign Chinese soil, simply to have his revenge on Yamamoto...?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Embassy Of The Fist - Part Three Post Two

I’m not too sure the bullet streaking effects work that well with the second of these panels, as they look a little too thick to be a single projectile. I’m also not sure it comes across that Cheng Fu is too dazed to chase after Yamamoto, and probably could do with having the ‘swirling stars’ effect, which plays about his head, lasting for just one more frame. Indeed a wider shot illustrating the increasing distance between the two combatants would probably have proved more effective as well. However hindsight is a wonderful thing.
 
Yamamoto has escaped again as the British Intelligence Service arrive to ‘corral’ American enthusiasm. But will Cheng Fu be permitted to confront the Chinese martial artists for a third and final time..?  

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Embassy Of The Fist - Part Three Post One

Having built up to this rematch between Yamamoto and Cheng Fu in the previous episode I wanted to show that the British martial artist, no longer swayed by the anger he felt at the deaths of some of his fellow secret servicemen, was every bit as skilled as the Chinese mercenary. However within the confines of my style I found it rather difficult to show his evasion of Yamamoto’s strikes without resorting to a simple ‘Duck’ sound effect.
 
Now that it was clear Kam Lo was not the target of the International termination warrant, I felt the Chinese criminal gang leader was an unnecessary distraction to the battle between Kung Fu fighters, so simply had him killed off by the American black ops team. I thought this worked quite well as a twist to the story, and added to the sense of frustration and desperation the American’s were feeling having seen their own operatives killed by Yamamoto.
 
As Sensei Cheng Fu and Yamamoto trade strikes and kicks, their battle becomes increasingly deadly as they become the target of a .300 Winchester magnum bolt-action rifle...

Monday, 29 September 2014

Mooretoons - "Doctor Who" - The Meddling Monk - Part One

I’m rather confused as to where my inspiration to use ‘The Meddling Monk’ in my “Doctor Who” cartoon strips came from. It could have been some chance glimpse of a short clip from the British science fiction television series, but I doubt it. For although the character of the Monk, superbly portrayed by actor Peter Butterworth, appeared in two stories during William Hartnell’s tenure as the (First) Doctor, neither would have made it to VHS Video at the time I first started drawing my interpretation of the villainous Timelord. Indeed it wasn’t until 1992, some six-seven years after Mooretoons were born, that the surviving episodes of “The Dalek Masterplan” were released on PAL video as part of the “Daleks: The Early Years”, and the 1965 story “The Time Meddler” was not available on tape for a further eight years until June 2000.
As a result I’m far more inclined to believe that I took such a deep interest in the character from his 1983 appearance in "Doctor Who Monthly", when the Monk teamed up with the Ice Warriors against the Fifth Doctor. Whatever the reason, my Monk was a decidedly different creature from that of proper Doctor Who lore, for although he still retained some of the quirky humour Peter Butterworth invested into the television character, my Meddling Monk most assuredly wanted the Doctor dead.
Initially appearing towards the end of my first run of comic adventures in “The Fall of the Daleks”, the Meddling Monk was a skulking manipulative villain, who watched from the shadows as the TARDIS crew inadvertently stumbled upon (yet) another Dalek city on the planet Skaro. I clearly wanted the Monk to stand out from my usual drawing style, and as I wanted him to be simple to sketch (as I needed to draw him a lot) I went with a monk’s robe complete with blacked out hood and penetrating eyes. In many ways not dissimilar to the appearance of Jawas from the “Star Wars” motion pictures. Indeed with hindsight I distinctly recall previously drawing the adventures of a Jawa Bounty Hunter named Volcano as a child, so it could be George Lucas’ influence over the look of my Meddling Monk could have been stronger than I initially thought. Suffice to say the evil cloaked figure fails miserably to cause the Doctor’s death in “The Fall of the Daleks” and instead is blasted himself blasted to death by the Masters of Skaro.
It was quite a considerable time later, well within my third phase of drawing Mooretoons, that I finally brought the Meddling Monk back and in doing so I set the ground work for a series of stories that would take me the best part of two - three years to draw. “Id?” was a single page, eleven panel teaser story, designed to lay the foundation for a much longer twelve-page adventure I planned to draw a short while later.
Sketched in (trendy) red ink with yellow pencil panelling, the tale simply established that the Monk had survived being shot by the Daleks, and had remained on the planet Skaro building a Commodore VIC-20 home computer. Somehow this 8-bit machine was capable of sending a mind-beam into the TARDIS and momentarily disorientate the Doctor..?
Having briefly appeared at the conclusion of the following story “Stronties Rage”, a re-imagining of a 1986 “Strontium Dog” serial from the British science fiction comic “2000 AD”, The Meddling Monk would feature throughout “Game-Ball”; the longest “Doctor Who” adventure I ever wrote and drew…

Saturday, 27 September 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Embassy Of The Fist - Part Two Post Three

The conclusion to the second episode of “Embassy of the Fist” is all about setting up the rematch confrontation between Yamamoto and Cheng Fu. As a result the Chinese martial artist dispatches the American secret servicemen with relative ease, whilst providing me with an opportunity to manipulate my Kung Fu kick pose using my graphics editor once again.
 
The final panel drops the cliff hanger that the rematch will be to the death… as the International Arrest Warrant, thought all this time to be for the criminal gang leader Kam Lo, is actually for his bodyguard Yamamoto.
 
It is Sensei Cheng Fu verses Yamamoto Part Two and the winner will be the only man left alive…

Friday, 26 September 2014

"MEN OF MYSTERY" Embassy Of The Fist - Part Two Post Two

The first panel of this sequence is an attempt to once again break the ‘side-on waist-high’ look of my comic strips and include some driving action. Indeed it’s actually a reimagining of an overhead car chase look I used to draw a few years back but brought somewhat into the 21st Century by using Paint Shop Pro 8 as opposed to simply drawing them by hand. To try and capture a bit more motion I even rotated the vehicle layers so my graphics editor would slightly distort their edges and make them look a little blurry.
 
The next two frames introduce a rogue American black ops team, who decide that because the British are taking too long to execute the international termination warrant on Kam Lo, they’ll don balaclavas and take matters into their own hands. It’s a bit of silly nonsense to be honest, but most of the World’s Governments have these secret teams lurking throughout the plots of my "Mooretoons" stories. I guess I’m a big conspiracy theorist at heart.
 
Finally, it’s another solo shot of Cheng Fu racing towards the action. Originally I actually had the martial arts British intelligence serviceman running past the lion statue in Trafalgar Square, but changed this as I really wanted to maintain the illusion that he was leaping from rooftop to rooftop in his desperation to reach Yamamoto.

Yamamoto takes on the American Secret Service. But can the Chinese martial arts expert defeat them before Cheng Fu arrives for a rematch..?