Red Dwarf X: Cat and Kryten Synchronise

There’s a countdown going on the Dave website to mark the confirmation start date of Red Dwarf X (according to Rob Lewellyn it’ll likely be the end of September. There’s a bit of a buzz on this one (more so than the last 3). The live audiences are back, giving the show it’s homely, old school, theatrical feel that was lost back in Series… um… VII.

I love Red Dwarf, so far ahead of it’s time it’s cheerful and apocalyptic at the same time. It’s capacity to just be damn silly sets it miles apart from anything else. I started watching as a teenager, when I was bought the videos of Red Dwarf I and II, having asked for any Red Dwarf video that could be found after watching 10 minutes of Polymorph in Red Dwarf III before my Nan switched it off. From The End, through to Confidence and Paranoia and Better Than Life, it wasn’t what I remembered but it was awesome none the less. Absorbing all of the books that inspired it the only thing I haven’t heard is the audio book.

Firmly trapped in the era of the Crystal Maze, Knightmare and Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor Who this was a time when Sci-fi didn’t take itself too seriously (alla Battlestar, Star Wars and Star Trek) and I loved it twice as much for that. I even drew most avidly a comic strip called Star Nutters, lifting pretty much directly art and ideas from Red Dwarf, Val Semeiks’ Lobo and Hitchhikers (with a few ideas of my own thrown in).

I lived Dwarf for years and steadily, as I’ve got older, I kind of left it behind. But I’d love the idea of going back to then and watching I-VI back to back one last time. Maybe one day I’ll be able to do I-X.

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Diary of a bum artist 01.05.12 : C’mon Moon 2!!

We continue to work solidly on the second issue of moon 2. Moving (very swiftly) towards the last pages now, iv is doing all she can to complete the colour work on the second edition of our semi-orbital hero.

It’s been a long while now and I can only apologise profusely to all those who are waiting so patiently for the second edition of Moon. Rest assured, that while there have been delays we are sincerely working as hard and fast as we possibly can to get it completed.

In the back of my mind, particularly because of the length of time it has been between issues I am not prepared to put out anything less than an excellent issue. Those who have supported us, and Dan, and Iv for all her hard work deserve to see the best outing (of two) for Moon there has ever been.

Moon is out benchmark, Moon feels like our way out of the amateur field (much as we love it) and present ourselves as the professionals we want to be.

Course, being a professional means finishing the damn book so I’m lacking slightly in that respect. I’d like to point out that danno completed the script for the first volume of moon 2 years ago so frankly he deserves an award for patience beyond the ken of icici.

It’s coming!!! – and by Jove it’ll be awesome if it kills me.

Diary of a Bum Artist: 22.04.12. Crossroads.

There comes a time when you are at a crossroads. There at the intersection sits the devil offering all you ever wanted should you choose the right path and potential damnation if you don’t. In American folklore, the blues player meets the devil at this lonely intersection and is granted a rare and precious talent for the cheap price of his immortal soul. But the devil for me isn’t sitting brazenly in the failing light on a Midwestern crossroad, puffing sulphuric ash from curled nostrils and bearing his hog teeth beguilingly. The devil for me is in the dust under my feet and the air that I breathe. The devil, this time, is in the details.

There are times when your choices slim. Where you have pushed too far in a journey and no obvious end is visible – and you are tired. Somewhere down the more inviting, familiar path you have followed so long lies darkness, a blur of uncertainty of a destination uncertain. You swore when you started the journey it wouldn’t be quite so far. You should have arrived at it by now and alternatives are beginning to appear more appealing to your tired body and mind. The other road offers solace and an easier, shorter path. There are lights on it and a reduced chance of failure. While there are pitfalls, they are well lit. The sight of the sanctuary is easily approached and readily available. There is room at that inn. It offers obvious comforts and warmth and rest and is so much easier to reach. It just wasn’t what you set out to find…

The road behind me is darkened and full of ghosts; at present disquieted and accusing. I have a feeling those ghosts, who’s true nature before so nurturing and kindly and close, now stirred and angry and wailing, will follow me forever, perhaps become more muffled and subdued with each passing mile I put between me and that which stirred them. I have made mistakes and I’m not sure that I ever want the assembled ghosts to be silent. Not truly. They form a circle of whispers and warnings from the past and one well worth listening to.

But more importantly, your companion is growing tired. While they travelled with you, your burden has become theirs. Worse – at times – while trying to reach your destination you let them carry you at times, causing them now to buckle under the greater strain. While you could push on it would be a selfish act and one that doesn’t acknowledge the shame of letting others carry you.

Tonight, on the train Dan and I talked very seriously about what was next. I think it’s time I chose. And whatever I choose, I have to give my nearest and dearest a break. I have an interview tomorrow for a sales position. Today I spoke to Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett about comics. Whatever happens I’ll be sitting in the chair tomorrow at an interview in a lit room in East Finchley. While the bustle of a publishing office clatters around me I can assure you I will be sitting on a very darkened crossroads trying to decide on what to do next. To anyone else it’ll look like a man taking an interview – but as I said – the devil is in the details….

Diary of a Bum Artist: 13.03.12 – Gallery of Discoveries

Sometimes you can’t just draw all day. Due to a change of arrangements I’m clearing space for me to move back into my old room (for the time being). Here’s some of the stuff I found over while clearing it all out… any claims I’m not a geek were always misplaced.


Diary of a bum artist. 04.03.2012

So here is my situation. With the success of the lscc (london supercomicon – last weekend) still lingering in my mind I have no time to revel. Much as I’d like to bare in mind the record number of moon’s sold and the people we met I have much more immediate concerns.

I am stood on the platform at Romford station on my way up to london. I have £6.00 on my oyster card. I’m trying to get to streatham hill on the far side of London as quickly as possible. I have been out of work for 2 months. I have no jobs. I have no transferrable skills that I have recent experience in. My cv reads; freelance artist, department store Santa, actor for the past four years – excluding a brief stint back at the recruitment consultants I used to work for in 2009. My local branch has shut. Oddly, in the current economic climate (distinctly chilly) recruitment firms are finding things a little more difficult than they used to. I am living in my parent’s house in the guest room – which remains a guest room (an act of wishful thinking on behalf of all parties) my clothes are in neat piles on the floor. My computer and art equipment is upstairs in the loft surrounded by boxes from my old flat. Wifi is intermittent but chicken sandwiches are pretty regular. I have £46 in my bank account. My mobile bill is £45 and goes out in ten days. I’d like to go to ireland with my girlfriend for St Patrick’s day including a trip around the guinness factory. A quick check of cycle paths across the Irish sea proves inconclusive. They were apparently washed away by the massive waves and broken to silt by money grabbing ferry companies. I have no credit card (destroyed) and I can’t get a loan. I don’t think I can get an overdraft.

My hair is long enough to look simultaneously threatening and unreliable (according to my parents). I am wearing my Santa boots as neat shoes – which are already falling apart. My coat has very few buttons left on it as they silently burst off when left untouched. My jeans are old with a hole in the crotch and the shirt I’m wearing is my favourite circa 2002 – possibly 2001. There is literally nothing I wouldn’t change right now.

My future would appear in theory in comics. In order to be taken seriously in comics you have to … erm…make comics. This does not pay but remains pretty much only option to really break this cycle of difficulty. If I take any old job I will not finish the comics. If I prioritise the comics I will have to give away an awful lot of my stuff. To bailiffs. Against my will.

There is hope. In one and a bit months we plan to have the moon launch. An opportunity to sell the second installment of our flagship title. In order for that to happen I have to finish moon 2. Iv (our incredible colourist) is waiting on the pages to finish the colour work. Then it’s just lettering, designing and sending to stu at Ukomics. If I can get moon 2 done it should prove a proper shot in the arm for btb and mine, dan’s and iv’s careers. No money but a definite step closer. Perhaps.

All of this is my fault – so I’m trying to shake the pressing feeling of being put upon. It rarely helps in these situations. The answer is answers. The answers are solutions. All I need is an answer that will solve all my problems. Hmmm…

….. See this space.

…….. Right here?

Could you watch it for me.

With a bit of luck something might happen in it.

Sketch week!!

Not all of the work we do at Beyond the Bunker makes it up on to the site. These are the delirious, subconscious scratchings of an artist fighting to finish our title, Moon 2 in time for our proposed deadline. Still, I took a minute to knock this up to show – I dunno – some of the stuff lying around the work space at any given moment. More random pieces of artwork will be appearing here very soon. Please keep an eye on Wednesdays for Beyond the Bunker Classic as well as some scraps to illuminate the edges of the work we do here at the Bunker.

Diary of a Bum Artist: Part 2: 00:08 25.12.11

After a long year in which a lot has happened and I’ve tested the boundaries of everyone’s patience waiting for me to sort my life out, it’s Christmas that’s given me a little perspective. For the last six weeks I’ve worked in the basement of Selfridge’s as one of a staff employed in one of the foremost Santa’s grottos in the world and it has reminded me of everything I wanted to achieve when I’d lie on my front in the living room, drawing on computer paper with a biro.

In the last six weeks I’ve spoken to a lot of kids. Some too small to talk, some too old to believe any more. But in the moment where you catch their eye and watch their imagination illuminate, even for a moment, it’s like fireworks for any soul watching. In a single moment, a child’s capacity to not question and enjoy and embrace is the cleverest thing any single person can do in their entire lifetime. As we get older we talk ourselves out of it and I finally see the madness in it.

At some point – as happens to so many as they grow older – they lose the thing that made them want to be the thing they strive to be as an adult, while always searching for the same feeling they had when they were a child. In many ways, I’ve been railing against the thing that would offer me a chance at succeeding as an artist. I forgot to enjoy it.

So here, as Christmas Eve turns into Christmas Day, I realise how they do it. The Alan Moores, the Mike Mignolas, the Speilbergs and the Jim Hensons. At the heart of every commercial choice is the child they once were. Nothing sells better than dreams because they’re more valuable than anything real, whether they come true or not and they should never be let go of. But it has to be sincere and heartfelt. If you ever need a more perfect example it’s here – in one of my favourite movies of all time, and one me and my girlfriend watch to know it’s Christmas. Ladies and Gentlemen, I think I’ll let the Frog take it from here…

Merry Christmas.

Diary of a Bum Artist: Part 1 12.12.11

‘As you climb the ladder of success – make sure it’s leaning against the right wall.’

Kabbala

Only it wasn’t. It was an ad for the kabbala centre in Stratford. It’s rare you see words of wisdom on a wall in the London underground. Given that I stood at a three arm width distance from the ad taking a photo of it on my I-phone at the base of the escalators in Bond street with Oxford street shoppers, disgruntled office workers and less harried Westminster media types and commuters changing to the central line trying to pass me means it didn’t inspire an intelligent response, but it did give me my starting point for the first diary of an artist blog here on BTB.

‘Blogging is not writing. It’s graffiti with punctuation.’

Elliot Gould, Contagion (2011

I’d been struggling. I feel like an ongoing diary at undecided intervals – when something interesting happens – might be cool and helpful to others that come up behind us. Whether it’d be a diary on how not to do it is another matter and remains to be seen. At a recent con (thoughtbubble) much was discussed about the likelihood of the blog ever seeing the light of day. The problems facing the project were multiple…,

Firstly, time. Time is not my friend when it comes to these things. This is something I’ve since conquered slightly by discovering how to use an I-phone properly. It’s a common problem, particularly for artists- who need a zen like calm and paper and pens to be able to complete the work. But that is definitely coming up in a future blog so I’ll leave that until I have more ….(ahem).
Secondly, what would it be about. In spite a predilection for the use of the letter ‘I’ in my sentences, specifically at the beginning – I struggled to think of a reason to write this. What was the angle on this one. I don’t even tweet. If I was going to take a crack at this it was fairly obvious which one to go for. I’m going to write about the difficulties of getting started as an artist. Which brings me onto my next point.
What if I fail? Writing on a weekly basis about not working, living on beans and borrowing other people’s pens might make great reading. Frankly, for the sake of this blog I hope things don’t take off too quickly. However, in the real world – should beyond the bunker start to sell moon in their thousands to syndication and distribution around the world then screw the blog. I hope by then I’ll have suffered enough to make it a happy resolution for anyone who reads.
Fourthly, who cares? Guess we’ll just have to find out. If no one reads it that’s alright. I’d happily sit alone in a room talking about myself and my view on the world, marvelling at my own echo. But it’d be great if someone wants to take a look every once in a while. I’ll try to make sure it’s as entertaining as possible. Given my capacity for finding odd ways to achieve simple things and the fact that we write a comic book about a man with a moon head and my partner Dan is an ex stand up I’m pretty sure we can offer up some entertaining moments from cons all over the country. Hopefully, one day the world!!

So, to the basics of the blog – my name is Steve Penfold and I’m an artist (sort of). I hope to work with some of the greatest companies in the world and develop new and old characters in the pages of famous comic books. I run a website and comic company with Dan Thompson (writer) with whom I’ve developed a title involving the Moon dropping out of the sky in the early hours of the morning, putting on a suit, taking out a gun and fighting ridiculous crime. We think it could be quite popular. Only, to bring you back to the original quote at the top of the page, I’m not only an artist. To bring you up to speed – I am 31, I’ve accidentally ended up living with my Mum and Dad (again), have somehow found myself working as an actor for 5 years and am currently dressed as Santa Claus in a basement of a famous Oxford street department store. So not quite going to plan. My beautiful, adventurous, sexy, girlfriend lives on the other side of London to my computer and equipment. I plan, as promised, to make 5 short films in the next 6 -8 months based on a script by Samuel Lewis and have 3 issues of Fallen Heroes and 5 issues of Moon to complete (one currently on it’s way). At this stage I have no idea how to get into a studio and I’ll be unemployed as of Christmas Day. What will our hero do? Read on to find out… (honestly, I don’t know how this is going to work out so it’ll be interesting for all of us)

My current place of work - lovely and impressive but sadly not a comic book company or artists studio