Tuesday, 28 February 2017

"HEROES OF GODWINSON" "The Mermen's White Death" - Part Three Post One

As mid-story openings go, I think Part Three of "The Mermen's White Death" contains a couple of nice surprises. The first being that the Fish-men are actually part of some long-forgotten chapter of the Axis Powers, and resultantly are carrying weaponry which even sixty years later is still considered advanced.

Whilst the second is the appearance of one of my favourite super-villains, Carcharodon; a walking man-shark who also originates from the Nazi's vile experiments during the Second World War. Indeed, in the future, this former guardian of the Fuhrer predominantly provides me with an excuse to feature some lengthy 'flash-back' sequences to the war days, on account of the creature's constant reminiscing. 

Its Bearman verses Carcharodon, with Controller Gardner's life at stake...

Sunday, 26 February 2017

"HEROES OF GODWINSON" "The Mermen's White Death" - Part Two Post Three

The opening two frames of this sequence are fairly 'run-of-the-mill' examples of how both Lady Luck and Bearman's main super-powers work; albeit at the time of this story, the pair were still reasonably new creations. Unlike many of the other heroes I designed at the time, Bearman has two noticeably different heads and is literally assembled from numerous body parts for each of the panels... A rather time-consuming process as you can imagine.

The final scene for this episode gave me the opportunity to utilise another wonderfully detailed photograph of an oil rig and have Lady Luck demonstrate her formidable powers once again. However, in felling the Merman I think the 'cliff-hanger' rather loses its 'edge' as the protagonists don't end-up visibly being in any imminent jeopardy.

Surrounded by Mermen, Lady Luck and Bearman discover that the ocean-dwelling invaders are inspired by something far more formidable than a desire for oil; something which harks back to the days of World War Two, and something which has teeth...

Saturday, 25 February 2017

"HEROES OF GODWINSON" "The Mermen's White Death" - Part Two Post Two

Owing to this particular story being from the first season of "Heroes Of Godwinson" Controller Gardner's bafflement at his companions' abilities is part of a 'golden thread' illustrating that the British public are unaware of their Government having its own super-hero team. This ignorance soon evaporates in subsequent stories, and even later leads to a series of tales which focuses upon the group being unpopular with the people they've sworn to protect.

The 'wide shot' is one of the few ways I like to break-up the monotony of my six-frame sheets, and always takes quite some time to compile and 'get right'. This particular one quite nicely shows the protagonists surrounded and about to be impaled by a trio of Mermen.

With Controller Gardener's very life in their hands, Bearman and Lady Luck must battle through the Mermen's invading force and seek sanctuary elsewhere aboard Rig Hope...  

Friday, 24 February 2017

"HEROES OF GODWINSON" "The Mermen's White Death" - Part Two Post One

The first two panels of this episode hopefully get things off to a rip-roaring start with a savage, bloody death. It actually demonstrates a fairly common place storytelling technique which I like to use where the lead character/s encounter someone yelling "We're doomed!", who subsequently dies horribly in the very next frame.

This sequence also features the fish-faced Mermen, an underwater race which I have used in numerous stories since they were first drawn for this one. Indeed, the scaly warriors have not only appeared in both "Heroes Of Godwinson" and my long-running super-hero serial "Alternate Heroes". But have also encountered "The Rambler" in a 2012 adventure entitled "White Star Liner".

Determined to rid Rig Hope of its invading Mermen, Lady Luck and Bearman quickly discover just how badly outnumbered they are...   

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

"HEROES OF GODWINSON" "The Mermen's White Death" - Part One Post Three

This entire sequence is really designed around illustrating Bearman's transformation into his were-bear form. It also gave me an opportunity to play around with some different fonts in order to ascertain which ones worked as sound effects.

The flames are actually from a photograph of a genuine explosion which has been manipulated for use on my Mooretoons, and crops up throughout many of my adventures as I think it looks rather good.

Shaken to its very foundation, Rig Hope totters on the brink of destruction. But such a dastardly attack upon the British installation is only the start of a far more sinister invasion...

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

"HEROES OF GODWINSON" "The Mermen's White Death" - Part One Post Two

Ordinarily I try extremely hard not to use a simple "Twenty Four Hours Later..." caption and then immediately return to the characters my narrative was focusing upon beforehand. I much prefer to depict the advancement of time by concentrating on another event, even if only lasts for a panel or two. On this occasion however, I really needed to hurry the super-heroes arrival on the oil rig, so they'd be somewhat settled with the lead driller before the episode's imminent cliff-hanger.

Bearman is undoubtedly one of my favourite characters and was actually created a year earlier in a different series called "Alternate Heroes". As a result, if you compare his face with that of the story's supporting cast you'll spot that its a slightly different shape due to my utilisation of the older drawing of him.

Without any warning Rig Hope falls under attack. But just what can Bearman and Lady Luck against a seemingly angry sea-bed.!?!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

"HEROES OF GODWINSON" "The Mermen's White Death" - Part One Post One

Written and pencilled in July 2007, this opening scene, set aboard a North Sea Oil Rig, follows the basic formula I like to employ for most of my super-hero stories, by immediately making the audience aware that there is a problem which the titular characters are going to have to fix. In this case the British Government are expecting great things from Rig Hope, but the project is clearly encountering difficulties.

This sequence also let me utilise a great photograph of an oil rig to start the adventure off with, and utilise a similarly authentic picture as a background for the interior panels. I was clearly having fun working on this four-parter as I actually had to stop drawing it for a while in order to give me time to finish the script.

With Rig Hope falling behind schedule, Bearman and Lady Luck are parachuted in to ensure nothing more sinister than harsh drilling conditions is the cause...  

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part Four Post Three

This concluding segment to "Slaying Of The High King" is a little disjointed, as I wanted the Rambler's placation of Danny to be interrupted by Brodir's arrival at Brian Boru's prayer site. With hindsight though, I think the sequence is a mistake, and it would probably have made more sense to have the story end with the High King's final moments rather than the time-traveller's colourful departure.

What I was pleased with though is the fact that, for once, I was actually able to have the Beorge Agent inform the audience as to what 'historically' happened after the events he participated in. I always enjoy providing this additional closure; albeit the explanation is somewhat rushed in these final panels.

British North Sea Oil operations are under attack from a mysterious assailant, and the Department of SO10 are called in to investigate. But can a were-bear and a lady capable of manipulating fortune really get to the bottom of a plot which has lain on the ocean bed since the Second World War?

All will be revealed in the "Heroes Of Godwinson" adventure "The Mermen's White Death"...

Saturday, 18 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part Four Post Two

This is a particularly dark moment for the protagonist, as he acts in order to allow the loss of life rather than to actually save one - not a terribly heroic thing to do. This seemingly 'heartless' response to Hook's meddling really reinforces the Rambler's crucial role in ensuring the smooth flow of Earth's Time Stream and sets a standard of potentially callous-looking behaviour I occasionally later tap into for my stories.

Mister Hook's recovery from a "mere Himalayan Flesh Wound" is the start of an ongoing joke which runs through several of the character's appearances over the next few years. Those familiar with narrative to "The Yeti Hunters" will know that the enemy time agent suffered far more extensive injuries than just a few scratches, but such an inconceivable recovery seems to be something the villain can conjure up again and again...

Having previously fled to the woods following his contest with Wolf the Quarrelsome, Brodir discovers a helpless Brian Boru, and decides to have his revenge.

Friday, 17 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part Four Post One

I was very pleased with how these four frames open this adventure's final episode, as they start to bring together a number of plot-threads, as well as add an anachronistic M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle and the enemy time agent Hook into the mix. Indeed, up until Longphort produces the American weapon, made famous by World War Two, it looks as if Brian Boru is simply going to die whilst praying; something this entire tale has been heading towards since its start.

Hopefully, this sequence also conjures up a real conundrum for the audience's sympathy, in that the series' hero, the Rambler, is making a stand for the smooth flow of time and thereby going to allow Brian Boru to die, whilst the story's villain, someone who readers of the previous adventure "The Yeti Hunters" will already recognise as an 'evil piece of work', is actually trying to save the High King's life!?!

As Longphort reveals himself to be the enemy time agent Mister Hook and takes aim at the Rambler with his M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle, Danny must decide whether to save his time-travelling companion's life and allow Brian Boru to meet a most grisly end...

Thursday, 16 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part Three Post Three

This quartet of frames is predominantly about just how fickle some of the time-traveller's adventures can be and rather nicely demonstrates one of the darker sides of the titular character; in that he isn't always present to ensure that 'good' people survive. I rather enjoy depicting this aspect of the Rambler as it hopefully makes such stories stand-out from the norm.

In addition Brian Boru and his bodyguard's frame provides yet another 'historic' insight into the Battle of Clontarf by referring to the plight of the High King's Dublinmen, who died whilst crossing the river Liffey. With hindsight this particular tale is overloaded with such 'snippets', but at the time of its writing I wanted to populate as much of its dialogue with as many ancient Irish excerpts as I could.

As Longphort desperately tries to convince his sovereign to take up arms against his mortal enemy, the Rambler discovers that the King's noble bodyguard knows far more about weaponry than an ancient Irishman should... 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part Three Post Two

All four of these frames continue my narration of the Battle of Clontarf with varying degrees of success. The Rambler's sequence with Danny at least now gives the duo some additional purpose rather than simply stay out of harms way; something which they could so easily do if the Beorge Agent just 'jumped' time zones.

Longphort's account of the fighting to Brian Boru is potentially more confusing as their almost 'Homeric' dialogue is crammed full of different notable warriors of the period, most of whom have met some grisly end. Their scene does however reaffirm one of this adventure's central plots, that the High King refused to fight himself during this conflict as, in his mind, it was a day of prayer.

As the Rambler and Danny battle their way through formidable Viking warriors in a desperate attempt to reach Brian Boru, the time-traveller reveals just what must occur in order to ensure the smooth flow of time... 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part Three Post One

Rather than simply portray the Battle of Clontarf as a series of panels containing lots of similarly-dressed warriors, I decided to focus on a 'famous' duel between the 'sorcerer' Brodir and Wolf the Quarrelsome. This fight allowed me to include some more interesting dialogue rather than 'charge' or 'die' and continue with my attempt to inform the reader as to whom was thought to be present during the conflict.

In many ways, the Rambler's recovery is admittedly a 'cop out' considering just how bloody his head injury initially appeared at the end of the previous episode. I also don't explain why the time-traveller's opponent didn't finish him off. Suffice to say he was left for dead and then dragged away by Danny. But these events aren't satisfactorily depicted in the panels.

The Battle of Clontarf hots up, and as Brian Boru orders his army forward, the Rambler and Danny find themselves well and truly trapped between the two warring forces...

Monday, 13 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part Two Post Three

This conclusion to Part Two of "Slaying Of The High King" is a little 'choppy' in that I usually like to plot my scenes in pairs or quartets, and yet for this episode I was forced to 'squeeze' up the Rambler's battle with a Viking Hersir in order to make room for Sigtrygg Silkenbeard's speech.

The description of the Viking warrior's armaments, decorations and clothing dye were all historically accurate and based upon archaeological evidence/findings. I always like to include these facts in my stories, and the Rambler is perfectly placed to make such observations. In addition the decoration on the time-traveller's shield is supposedly thought to be similar to that used by soldiers of the time...

With Brian Boru's champion defeated, Sigtrygg Silkenbeard's army launches a vicious attack upon the forces of the High King. Is this already the end of the Rambler..?

Sunday, 12 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part Two Post Two

These first two frames quite nicely conclude the Rambler's initial meeting with Brian Boru and help to set-up this episode's cliff-hanger ending, with the time-traveller being nominated as the High King's champion in a personal duel of honour. I did hope to try and capture some feeling of 'David verses Goliath' in the frame where the Rambler is holding his head in one hand as he knows he hasn't got a hope against a well-armed Viking, but I don't think the drawing makes this terribly clear.

The second scene continues to describe the positions of Sigtrygg Silkenbeard's forces, and the army's different units. Admittedly such dialogue doesn't necessarily move the story long all that much, but it does hopefully add to the interest of the period being explored within the adventure...

Armed with sword and shield the Rambler faces a Viking Hersir in deadly close combat, and it isn't the time agent of Beorge who draws first blood...

Saturday, 11 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part Two Post One

Despite being a dialogue-heavy sequence, I wanted the opening to Episode Two of "Slaying Of The High King" to not only quickly introduce the man about which almost the entirety of this story's first part had been talking about, Brian Boru. But also establish that despite being a monarch of men, he was (at least according to my sources) something of a peaceful, God-fearing man, who himself didn't wish to join battle on a holy day.

To try and reinforce this somewhat simplistic attitude to the world, I purposely steered away from making the High King look too regal, settling on a simple head-band for a crown and red cloak. Only his blue-linen shirt appears particularly fine (as a result of some texturing over a flat colour), in order to make the garment hopefully stand-out as something that 'bit special'.

As Sigtrygg Silkenbeard continues to manoeuvre his army into position for the battle ahead, the Rambler discovers that the High King's "simple solution" to determining his loyalty is definitely not to his liking...   

Thursday, 9 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part One Post Three

Eager to make as much use as possible of at least one of the time-consuming costumes I had drawn for this story, this particular scene features all the 'Irish actors' wearing exactly the same attire; albeit with a few texture tweaks and colour variations. In addition, I was able to include plenty more references from my historical source material, as well as pack the dialogue with even more notable names from the time period.

The final two frames feature a fairly typical ending to so many of my opening episodes, where the story's main characters encounter their adventure's 'nemesis' and are immediately threatened with instant death. I really like this sort of cliff-hanger, although this one lacks the opportunity for the central protagonist to make some sort of pithy retort, even if at times that simply consists of "Gibber."

Facing instant death, the Rambler has but one chance to live by seeking out the protection of the High King himself, Brian Boru. But will such an act save him from so determined a bodyguard as Longphort..? 

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part One Post Two

This particular sequence starts off with both the Rambler and Danny having already arrived in ancient Ireland, and seemingly in mid-conversation. I've always liked doing these sorts of 'entrances' as I feel it gives the illusion that the characters may well have been on other unseen travels beforehand; albeit the lead protagonists' identical clothing from the previous story would suggest not...

There's a lot of dialogue taking place in this scene, but its predominantly used to further describe the circumstances within which the time-travellers have found themselves. Indeed, this four-parter is actually a very action-packed affair once the 'main playing pieces are all aligned', but until then there's a lot of historical scene setting required.

Playing the part of an Irish Cleric amidst a troop of blood-thirsty warriors, the Rambler's ruse is soon unsurprisingly discovered. So just how will the Earth time agent escape his summary execution at the point of a sword.!?!"

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "Slaying Of The High King" - Part One Post One

With hindsight the amount of pre-production required for this story was massively disproportionate for a simple four-parter, and ultimately resulted in my designing, drawing and colouring six Viking/Irish costumes; including those of a Viking Hersir, Viking King, the High King of Tara and an Irish maiden... And that doesn't include some chain mail and Viking leathers for the lead protagonists.

These opening frames were designed to set the scene and probably contain far too much information, with numerous names being bandied about, as well as the opening battle deployments. However, despite my disappointment as to how his mother appeared in her simple attire, I thought Sigtrygg Silkenbeard looked truly excellent.

Determined to defeat Brian Boru in battle, a confident Norse King of Dublin sends forth his army, only to discover that perhaps a humble rambler, found closeby in the woods, could put paid to all his plans..."

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "The Yeti Hunters" - Part Four Post Three

These four final frames are not only about concluding the story by reinforcing the suggestion that Sir Edmund Hillary was actually a spy using his travels to find a Yeti as a cover story. But also hopefully cement the relationship between the Rambler and Danny, so that after eight episodes the duo are now finally ready to 'hop' from adventure to adventure fully accepting of their roles within each tale.

This 'sense of comfort' between any of my series' leading protagonists helps me be able to write individual stand-alone stories, rather than string together a handful of interconnecting tales which have to be read in a specific order; something I personally dislike and have found hard to both write and draw in the past.

Next Time... with The Himalayas and 1960 finally behind them, the Rambler and Danny find themselves trapped a thousand years in the past, and facing a familiar enemy with a very sharp spear in "The Slaying Of The High King".

Monday, 6 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "The Yeti Hunters" - Part Four Post Two

I was a bit disappointed with how the Chinese Radio Station scene turned out, not least because the Rambler's blur line, used to imply the figure is travelling at some speed, sits over the top of his companion Danny, rather than beneath him. In addition, the interior background is actually a genuinely authentic radio station of the period, yet because of the positioning of my 'actors', you can barely see any of its intricate detail.

"Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology" is a genuine book but was actually written by Loren Coleman and not published until 2002; some forty odd years after this adventure takes place. As a result there's no real way that Sir Edmund Hillary would have known the book was going to be written. However I thought it would be fun to have the adventurer ruminating about how 'history' would record his exploits.

Overrun by Yeti, and facing a gory death, the Rambler's desperate final plan is all that stands between his friends and them being eaten alive. Will it be enough, or is this the last journey of the time-traveller..?

Sunday, 5 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "The Yeti Hunters" - Part Four Post One

In many ways this final episode is something of a rush, and Mister Hook's death in the first two panels demonstrates just how 'pushed for space' my script for "The Yeti Hunters" had become. Initially conceived as a simple tale of mountaineering and espionage, I had decided to embed the enemy Time Agent into the plot in order to reinforce the fact that the Rambler doesn't ordinarily just 'jump' to a random time period. But is usually directed to a problem by his (off-screen) Beorge masters.

Having made that point, whether successfully or not, I then found myself needing to get rid of Hook in order to allow me to conclude the adventure as planned. However, having intimated that the character had a history trying to alter the Earth's time-line, I decided at this point to re-visit the white-haired villain and incorporate his shenanigans into the 'screenplays' for this series' final two stories... 

The Rambler discovers a secret Chinese Radio Station. But with Sir Edmund Hillary fast running out of ammunition, and the flesh-eating Yeti increasing in numbers, the time-traveller must think of a solution to their furry predicament soon...

Saturday, 4 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "The Yeti Hunters" - Part Three Post Three

There's an awful lot of figures appearing within some of these panels, and with hindsight, a couple of the frames may well have fared better if I'd 'zoomed out' from the action a bit more; especially the scene where the Chinese soldiers are eaten by the genuine Yeti, as both Sir Edmund Hillary and Danny appear a little 'squished' to one side.

I can't recall where the inspiration for the Nyalmo's look came from, but the red eyes were created in order to exaggerate just how angry they were at their territory being invaded. I also included the throwaway line by the Rambler about Doig's gun to reinforce the point that this current Time Man is not yet in full control of his role's time-travelling powers, and as such still can't recall/sense the enemy agent he's just encountered, nor similarly be recognised as 'an operative of the Beorge' himself.

Running low of ammunition and facing a seemingly endless horde of Yeti, the Rambler must desperately race to find shelter within the apparent safety of a Chinese Communications Centre. But not all of his party will survive the headlong dash...

Friday, 3 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "The Yeti Hunters" - Part Three Post Two

Featuring a 'classic clip' from this series' early Nineties hand-drawn forerunner "The Timeman", this particular sequence heralds the return of a recurring character last seen in June 1994; the enemy Time Agent Mister Hook. It also, hopefully, once again alludes to the fact that not only does the Rambler have a 'rich history' of past adventures, but that the 'role' has belonged to more than one individual. Indeed, the 'pen and ink' hat-wearing fellow scanned in the panel was actually already the second such Timeman I'd drawn, with the (then) current computer-drawn incumbent being the fourth.

Storywise, this sequence is once again used to try and educate the reader with more information as to Sir Edmund Hillary's exploits, and establish that because the Chinese were firing rockets from Tibet that there was a good reason why the Western authorities might be spying upon the People Republic's activities.

Captured by both the Chinese Army and an enemy Time Agent, the Rambler mistakenly believes matters can not get any worse. But then Hillary discovers that the costume-wearing soldiers of the People's Republic aren't the only furry horrors stalking the snow-caps...

Thursday, 2 February 2017

"THE RAMBLER" "The Yeti Hunters" - Part Three Post One

This opening to the third episode really turns what had been a jolly(ish) mountaineering adventure with monsters, into a gun-toting tale of espionage, and as a result within the space of just four frames the yeti are revealed to be nothing more than camouflaged Chinese soldiers, Sir Edmund Hillary a British spy, and Desmond seemingly a traitor..!

I was very happy with the design for the Chinese uniforms, complete with their famous red star, and as always with such successful 'costumes', the People's Liberation Army would suddenly feature in a few more of my serials; such as the "Heroes Of Godwinson" final adventure "Lon Chaney"...

Threatened with imminent death, the Rambler discovers that Desmond's treachery isn't as simple as it seems, and that behind all these abominable machinations stands an old enemy from one of his predecessor's final adventures...