Keeping Notes

Since switching to a better smartphone earlier this year (an LG G3, for the curious) I’ve taken to using a notetaking app on it. I started off with the phone’s default app, which was adequate, but had a few issues that might have been fine on a paper notebook (ticked list items not disappearing, for […]

Good News, Everyone!

I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. Most of these are radio programs from the BBC that are handily delivered through RSS, but over the years I’ve found that while cooking, drawing or sitting at the computer plugging away at a design, nothing works quite as well to pass the time and alleviate work tedium than a bunch of people talking.

My go-to Bunch of People Talking podcast for years used to be Around Comics — sadly they’re semi-officially ended (though they do bring out a show every month or two), but for the past year or so I’ve been listening to the Sarcastic Voyage, a fun hour-or-so of general geeky banter. Run by two very funny hosts, SV is the kind of show that doesn’t need to be about anything to be entertaining, and before long you will be sucked into it, and will pick up its lexicon of in-jokes. That the hosts and many fellow fans are on twitter also helps, like some kind of perpetual fan convention.

I’m also a huge fan of Futurama, so when I heard that Sarcastic Voyage was doing an episode about it, I basically talked them into letting me do an illustration for the cover. That image is what you see above, but overachiever that I am, I was thinking a little bigger. How big? This big:

(Click here for a Wallpaper version at 1920×1080 resolution*),

This handy wallpaper-sized illustration isn’t quite as grand as I intended — the monster isn’t as elegantly bloodcurdling as I would have liked — but I did manage to successfully:

1) Make Futurama robot versions of the hosts (even though they’re just Bender & Hedonism Bot with wigs — er, metal hair… um…)

2) Make a bad pun on the guest’s name

3) Include one SV-specific in-joke (a very large, cupcake breathing-one, in fact)

4) Insert myself as a giant statue head. I have always wanted to do this in an illustration.

Here’s a couple of WIP shots:

Above are the pencils for the main figure set. I drew the image in stages on four separate A4 sheets — it was a relief when they all sort-of fit together in perspective (the cartoony quality of the image helped). You can also see corner right the smudgy bit where an other discarded version of the Chris Pager-bot was drawn, then hastily rubbed out to make room for this one. Also, the shape and course of the rope kept changing as figures moved around and were drawn in.

Here’s a little shot showing the pencils in-progress, as well as my initial rough sketch. A lot changed in-between; many poses were tightened up, character designs too, and the overall ambition of the piece was brought down to fit the deadline. Ideally I could have worked on the piece for days and days (this took me about 8 hours over two sessions).

Coloured in inkscape, of course, since I’m not very confident in colour theory and like mucking about with things until the very last minute.


*(I would be arsed to provide further resolutions for other aspect ratios and iPads and whatnot, but I am lazy — gimme a shout out on twitter.)

The Future of Human Transportation

Let's talk about the Future
Everybody talks about the future of cars...
Pfft! Let's talk about the future... of movement itself!
The Future (featuring Rockets, Observatories & Robot Apartments
Everyone is sexy in the future...


...except Indians, of course.
...Me? Oh, well there's and exception to every rule, y'know. (I'm a force of nature...)
Anyway; Shopping is still very popular in the future...

The Malls are bigger, but the people are more unfit. In the mid 21st century, the leading cause of human death was... Mall Fatigue.
Strangely enough, the solution to this problem had existed for decades!
The Baby Carrier!
22nd Century Robotics met 21st Century Laziness, with stunning results!


Behold... the Personal Transport Robot!
Peters are everywhere...
Peters playing in the park (holy alliteration!)
Two Peters at a urinal. Please wash your hands!

They literally build themselves...
...and get 8 miles to the gallon!
Road Rage is still all the rage...
Only now it's a little more exciting


All this 'Assisted Transportation' has made Humanity even more lazy and unfit!
In the 22nd century, the leading cause of death is... Attempted Fornication!
O, cruel Fate! People are sexier than they've ever been, but nobody's gettin' any sex!!!
...except Indians, of course.


Like most truly great ideas, this comic started off as idle chit-chat over the phone. A few months ago a friend and I were talking about the people who park on the sidewalk at the mall even though there’s plenty of parking nearby, and that, given the option, they would take their Range Rovers inside the mall itself and drive around the aisles of the Hypermarket. We talked about the rising number of five-to-ten year olds we see being carted around in prams (or strollers as some call them), and how we were never considered so delicate by our parents and had to walk around just like them (to no ill effects, I might add). My gears started turning, of course, considering the future of Human Laziness, and thus the idea of giant robot baby carriers for adults was born.

We’ve already seen people come up with personal transport; the Segway is probably the most famous and visible — indeed, one mall here in Dubai uses them to transport security guards (the same mall also has a golf-cart shuttle service to take people along its length). Recently at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, a couple of personal transport concepts (from Suzuki and Toyota) rekindled my robot transport idea, and figured it would make a good comic.

I didn’t really decide on a page count for this, figuring that perhaps like last time it would only take two pages. Indeed, had I stuck solely to the robots it may have been, but I think the other stuff about the consequences of Human Laziness are worth the extra page. I wondered if it might come out to two-and-half pages or some odd amount, but luck was on my side and it comes in at three pages even (of 8 panels each).

This time when pencilling the comic I put in more shading in the pencils themselves, but it’s still rough. I coloured it in inkscape but integrated those colours with the pencils in the GIMP (instead of vector-tracing the pencils or inking them seperately). I did it on the new laptop, mostly to see how the colours translate across monitors. On my net computer’s wonky monitor it looks very dark and some of the text isn’t well defined. It looked fine on the laptop which, I assume, is closer to most people’s experience, but if any of it doesn’t look right to you please tell via a comment below.

There are a couple more comic ideas floating around my head of a similar nature (i.e. with ‘me’ narrating) but I don’t know when that will be done. It depends on how fired up I am about them or if, like with this one, something shows up (the Tokyo Auto Show concepts) to remind me of it.