Friday 31 August 2012

Character model pose sheet: SPODE

I find it helpful to keep good ref sheets of my characters performing, to keep them consistant and grounded in their core mood on the comic page...



Wednesday 29 August 2012

Sketches on a Train: World Building

Well, as Robin said yesterday, our Edinburgh excursion involved lots of time on trains and planes. I find long distance travel to be a great oppertunity for grabbing some pens, diving into a sketchbook and going somewhere else, and so I present here a few concepts conjoured up whilst hurtling from one end of this this little country of ours to the other...



Tuesday 28 August 2012

The Excellent Etherington Edinburgh Excursion!

Yesterday marked the end of the 2012 Edinburgh International Book Festival. It was a triumph of 12 months of hard work and immense planning that saw over 800 authors appear in 750 events for adults and children.  Crazy stuff.  And we were there to add to the nonsense!  My wonderful wife Mimi snapped most of the pictures you see, which probably explains why she's in so few photos herself!

The evening we arrived was warm and calm, and the streets were uncharacteristically empty.  Based on this evidence either I'm shrinking or Lorenzo is still growing.

Our hotel was opposite the festival site in Charlotte Square Gardens. At night the entire space is illuminated with greens and blues and splashes of neon.

A brief sleep and we were into Day One. No time for a big breakfast as Lorenzo and I were bound for the Kingdom of Fife. Hopping aboard a train we crossed the mighty Forth Bridge (1.5 miles long! Gulp!) and arrived in Kirkcaldy where we were greeted by Maggie Gray, our Outreach organiser for the day. She whisked us off to the stunning Adam Smith Theatre.

As scary as a mile long bridge can be, a 475-seater theatre can look a LOT scarier. Especially when empty...

...but it looks AWESOME when full!!!  If you love comics raise your haaaaaaaaaaaaands!

A fantastic show was followed by an EPIC signing session.  Below you can see some of the happy pupils with their books, displaying both Lorenzo's sketched pictures and the best collection of daft expressions ever.

Then it was on to the next event where we spoke to two second year classes at a local school.  Schools in Scotland have only just started back, so this was an early year bonus event!

Our work done we returned to Edinburgh for a quick shower and a breather ... and then we were off again! Yep, you can't visit this city without enjoying the sights and sounds. But there are still some rules to obey.

Rule Number 1...

Last year Mimi and I caught a great comedy show so we decided to hunt down something different. Lorenzo had heard a radio interview with beatboxing legend, Tom Thum, and so we purchased three tickets, headed to the inflatable cow venue (better known as the Udderbelly) and had our little minds BLOWN!!!!

If you ever get the chance to catch Tom's solo show, do it.  Do it IMMEDIATELY!  This was one of the most incredible live performances I've ever seen.  It was absolutely brilliant on every level.  The things this man can do with the human voice ... wow...

Buzzing with post show happiness we bounced down to The Dogs (an excellent little restaurant on Hanover Street for those who are taking notes) to meet the world's greatest publicist and our dear friend, Lauren Bennett. This is the lady who really makes the magic happen ... and also ensures that we turn up to events on time!

Unfortunately it was not to be one of our classic late nights on the town (ahem) as we had a VERY early wake up call the next day. At 7:15 we were whisked to the train station, two brothers bound for Falkirk and a rather magical event, as we were visiting a BRAND NEW building, St Bernadettes Primary School.

And a pretty cool school it was!  

Even better than the school and the show, was the discovery that we had been invited to also officially open their school library.  When you work in Children's Books, honours don't come much higher than this.

And here we are, seen struggling with child-proof scissors and a large ribbon. Fools.

We quickly jumped back on the train and headed to the festival for our second presentation.  This was a big one, as part of the RBS Children's programme, and it was SO MUCH FUN.

One of the nicest parts of our work is meeting all the young creators out there.  Seeing the breadth of amazing talent and passion that so many children have for both writing and drawing (especially their own comics) makes it all worthwhile.

But we don't just get to appreciate cartoons.  This boy brought us his very own TWIG.  Now, for anyone who's seen our Lost and Found show, my opinion of TWIGS is well known.  For everyone else ... well ... you'll just have to try and catch us at another festival!

Day Two for the Etherington Brothers had reached an end and it was the turn of my talented wife. In all the ways that Lorenzo and I are blissfully idiotic on stage, Emylia Hall (as she's known in the world of books) was gracefully magnificent!

Oh, and Mimi/Emylia has also been nominated for the Anobii First Book Award - you've got until the 12th October to cast a vote for her debut, The Book of Summers, HERE!

Wonderful stuff ... but then the battery in my camera died!  AGH!
You'll just have to imagine the evening spent in the company of Mimi's agent and publishing team, the plates of tapas, the laughter, the fun. Sigh ... good times.

Finally, after two early starts Saturday began with a leisurely breakfast of, well, pretty much everything the Roxburghe Hotel buffet had to offer. Which was a LOT.

We waddled over to the festival grounds for our final closing performance, a public show that saw us performing to such luminaries as legendary Journalist/Presenter/Radio star/and best selling author, Jeremy Vine. Wow. Um, no pressure then!

Thankfully everything went off without a hitch (Lorenzo was on TOP comedy form) and we even managed to sign a copy of Baggage for Jeremy's daughter!  HaaZaa!  Hope you enjoy the adventure, Martha!

Elated, sated and ready for bed, we bid our farewells to Edinburgh and jumped aboard the seven-hour return train home to Bristol.  As tours go, this was a good one.

Thank you to all the festival staff, event hosts, publicists, publishers, the book shop crew, outreach workers, school teachers, librarians, drivers, parents, authors, comedians, musicians, chefs, publicans, train drivers, hotel staff, wives, brothers and most importantly KIDS who made this trip the greatest.  We can't wait to see you all in 2013.

Monday 27 August 2012


On this rather miserable (Bristol weather-wise) Bank Holiday (well, in England) Monday (er ... yep, it's mainly Monday wherever you are), we're happy to bring you the first of two back-to-back event reports. Tomorrow we'll be posting a MASSIVE celebration of last week's four day tour of Edinburgh, The Kingdom of Fife and the County of Stirlingshire, but today it's the turn of somewhere much closer to our home.

On the 19th August I traveled to the City of Oxford to attend my first ever CAPTION small press comic show. I had been invited to join two panels to talk about a variety of comic subjects - a pastime I thoroughly enjoy.

Under a beautiful clear blue sky I arrived for the first session with mere moments to spare - having hopelessly mistimed my walk from the station (whoops!).  Undeterred I leaped into action and so began a most enjoyable hour and a half discussing the highs and lows, differences and similarities between working on creator-owned projects and licensed characters.

From left to right I was lucky enough to share this chitchat with Al Davison (Dr Who), Richy Chandler (Wallace and Gromit), Charles Cutting and (via the magic of a video interview) David Baillie (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

It was a thoroughly enlightening session with as many professional insights and anecdotes as there were laughs.  Which is always an important balance to strike, especially on a hot day.

Phew, and hot it was!  As the first talk ended, the audience were allowed outside for a quick breather - during which I sprinted off for a quicker drink - then it was back and all systems go as the second afternoon session got underway.  And this was a rather special one as my fellow Phoenix Comic compatriots had arrived in force to discuss the uniqueness of our weekly children's story comic.

From right to left this time (I like to mix things up), Neil Cameron (one half of the talented duo behind Pirates of Pangaea - Daniel Hartwell was also on the panel but had disappeared when this shot was taken) Adam Murphy (creator of Corpse Talk) and Patrice Aggs (Blimpville and Zara's Crown) took to the stage to share their cartooning know how.

These folks are all true professionals, but even I wasn't prepared for the level of technical discussion that evolved during the panel, as we debated the worth, the importance, the lasting value and the responsibility of strip comics for younger readers.  We dissected our own work and each others, casting light on our different artistic approaches and goals.  I can only hope the audience had as much fun as we did!

Many thanks to Alex Fitch and all the festival organisers for inviting me along to be a part of such an engaging and entertaining day.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Astounding Stranski fanart by the AWESOME Ben Caldwell!

Getting a piece of fanart =  WIN
The subject of which is STRANSKI  =  +100 WIN
By one of your favourite artisits = +500 WIN + bonus HUMBLE WIN

All these things together in one awesome bundle = SUPER-HAPPY-FUN-TIME-BIG-BIG-WIN!!!

Yes that's right! The ridiculously talented Ben Caldwell sent me through this frankly awesome Stranski fanart yesterday, and I have to say - HOLY GOOD GRAVY! Ben's work is ridiculously good, and I've been a long time fan of his superb creator-owned project The Dare Detectives. To see his exceptional take on the world of Stranski has blown me away! Thank you bro!!!!

Click the pic below to see the art in all it's glory!


Tuesday 21 August 2012

Get Ready Scotland ... It's SHOW TIME!!!

1 Plane
2 Comic Book Adventures
3 Hotel Breakfasts
4 Days of Non-Stop Giggles
5 Trains
6 Fully Booked Shows
...and 1000+ children!!!

This is how to rock the Edinburgh International Book Festival, ETHERINGTON style!

If you managed to catch any of the Edinburgh action in 2011 you might remember that Lorenzo was in the hospital so he couldn't make the festival. You may also remember that we'd only published Monkey Nuts at that point. You might even recall that I solo hosted just three shows.

Well, we've literally DOUBLED everything for our 2012 Scottish tour!

We'll be bringing Baggage and Monkey Nuts to three outreach shows at schools across Fife on Thursday 23rd; we'll be ceremoniously opening a brand new School Library and hosting a show in Falkirk, before returning to Edinburgh to do a second show for the RBS Children's Programme on Friday the 24th; and finally we're going to end in grand fashion with a sold out public show on Saturday 25th.

Epic is too small a word...

And the good news keeps coming as my wife will be joining us and is appearing with her own book on her own panel!

We look forward to seeing you all there. It's going to be HUGE.

- Robin

Monday 20 August 2012

Monday Art: Excuse me Ma'am...

A sneaky-sneak-peek at Long Gone Don book 2 this morning....


Friday 17 August 2012

Etherington On Air - TOMORROW MORNING!

Please forgive us for this extremely last minute piece of news but we're only just heard.  Tomorrow morning I shall be talking live on BBC Radio Oxford!

Yes indeedy, I will be joining Alex Fitch, comic guru and one of the main CAPTION convention organisers, on air from about 7:50am (ish), to chat about the weekend's festival and, well, COMICS!  A delightful way to start a Saturday morning, and with the rather sad news of The Dandy's imminent closure splashed across the news, it promises to be a most interesting chat.

For those listening via radio you can tune in on 95.2FM. For those listening through your laptop, BBC Radio Oxford online can be found HERE!

And don't forget, I'll be at the CAPTION show on Sunday for two special panel talks from 12:30.

See you there!

- Robin

Thursday 16 August 2012

Thursday Art: VROOOOM!

One from the sketchbook archives here, to get your Thursday off to a suitably silly start!


Tuesday 14 August 2012

Comic CAPTION Action in Oxford - this Sunday only!

For those of you looking for something fun to fill your days now that the Olympics have come to an end (and before the Paralympics kick off on the 29th) look no further!  This weekend (18th-19th) the magnificent city of Oxford will once more play host to the annual CAPTION small press comic convention, a two day celebration of all things comic-y.

For the humble price of £5 for a single day pass, or £10 for a weekend pass (that's roughly 1000x cheaper than the worst seat available at the velodrome!) you can feast your eyes on the very best self-published and independent press the UK has to offer.  And US!

I will be representing the Etheringtons on two back-to-back comic panels on Sunday 19th.

12:30-13:30 Playing in Someone Else's Sandbox
I'll be joined by comic stars Richy Chandler, David Baillie and Charles Cutting to discuss the good/bad/ugly differences between publishing your own creations and working on licensed characters.

14:00-15:00 The Phoenix: A Gallimaufry of Graphical Goodness 
It doesn't get much better than this! Neill Cameron and Daniel Hartwell (Pirates of Pangaea) Adam Murphy (Corpse Talk) and hopefully Patrice Aggs (Blimpville) and myself will be waxing lyrical about the magnificent Phoenix Comic. Should be a corker.

The action kicks off at the East Oxford Community Centre around midday - full directions can be found HERE!

Friday 10 August 2012

Friday Art: "Skeletons" - never before seen comic by Lorenzo

So, I'm just about to embark on the second Von Doogan book, which features a lot of flying machines, and was reminded of something I drew a few years ago that I thought you guys might like to see. When I first got my Intuous 4 I was working on Baggage, which had hand drawn lineart, so I decided to create a few practice comics just to experiment with digital lineart, of which skeletons was one (I also created a few pages of Stranski, which I'll show in coming weeks). I had no story planned for Skeletons, I simply made it up panel by panel as I got to grips with the wacom. I present it here for you guys, in the hope you get a kick out seeing something a little different!


Wednesday 8 August 2012

Wednesday Art: Vehicle Concepts

A few vehicular designs to kick off today. Hundreds more in HERE.


Monday 6 August 2012

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Wednesday Art: Von Doogan Exclusive!

A sneak-peek here at the artwork for an upcoming episode of Von Doogan...