The Rats and The City

Today I’ve found an old comic book from a comic store, but this isn’t your usual superhero story or even a Judge Dredd story (but I was very close to getting a Judge Dredd comic today!). Rather than buying my usual favourite comic books by 2,000ad, my eye was attracted by another comic that was just barely visible in the stacks. What I found was none other than The City, by James Herbert.

At first glance I thought I’ve found an Alien comic with strange alien, like architecture similar to the space jockey ship interior. However when I pulled it out of the comic stack, I was shocked to see this was actually a post apocalyptic comic book story.

I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t flick through the book to see if I liked it before purchase. It was in a protective pocket and I didn’t want to open it case the shop owner got angry. Anyways, what made me but this over Judge Dredd Yearbook (I think it was 1994?) was the sheer enormity of the front cover with it’s beautiful illustration. The back synopsis whilst very short was also very tempting to take a read.

So I brought this comic book and began to follow the isolation of a travellers journey into the city.

My impressions on the book overall?

The story telling is very limited throughout with only a few texts in each page, describing the journey the Traveller goes on. It’s difficult understanding what the characters goals are as it’s not mentioned until halfway through the story. By then, once it’s revealed that the protagonist is trying to rescue his family in the city, the empathy for the horror that takes place only works for the shock value. Any character building and the relationships is none existent, making you feel like you’ve missed out on those connections.

However, this isn’t to say that this comic book isn’t worth reading (well visually looking since there’s hardly much reading involved) as the art is the books strongest aspect. Ian Miller’s artistic talent is outstanding in the way he illustrates the downfall of the city from the landscape to the people who inhabit it. The buildings are crumbling with contorted structure that look eerie, with a mix of abomination like faces like a nightmare brought to life.

The use of colours is also used to great effect in the way Ian uses a mix of greys, dark blues, blacks and other dull colours to create a morbid and degraded city scape. Contrasting with the blood red sky really impacts the visual presentation of an alien like world, far from what our worlds environment and city scape looks like.

The main protagonist is also designed and coloured in a way as not to be a heroic good guy, or a badass action hero, but a lone man in a tin suit of armour. His humanity is hidden behind the suit disguising his true emotions throughout the first half of the story. He is an alien to the city, for he is a rust orange tin man in contrast to the grey and dull world that he contrasts to. When we do eventually see his true identity in the flesh, even he looks as dead and defeated as the rest of the people that suffer from the post apocalyptic nightmare.

As for James Herbert’s story telling, whilst I’ve mentioned above that there’s a lack story telling, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. These days we get dumped exposition in movies and books that drivel on about too much information, and by the time that’s done you feel bored or just distracted. However, The City gives you hardly any exposition dumps, instead the city and the action tells the story that you can piece together the world you see.

The back synopsis combined with the story makes sense as to what the story is about. It’s not a revolutionary story telling by no means, and it does lack context as to how the apocalyptic war started. There a reason why there’s a lack of information, but I’ll elaborate on that later on.

Overall, I’d recommend giving this a try if your into the illustration story based comic books, the art is worth observing and see the effort that’s been done to illustrate this story’s world. The story can be a downside to the book, it’s not terrible to the point of unreadable, it’s good if your wanting a short story to read.

What I found out afterwards

After reading this comic book, I wanted to find out more about this comic book and its creators. So I did some research and was surprised at what I’ve found, and it made more sense now that I look back on The City.

The City is a loose continuation of James Herbert’s best selling book trilogy series that started with his first book written, The Rats. Now I haven’t read The Rats in full, nor the two sequels from the series, but from what I can gather it’s clear what James had crafted.

The City is the result of what takes place from the trilogy, it’s a visual aftermath of what happen after the apocalypse, the main threat was the Rats. It’s the first and only graphic novel for The Rats book series, and the last story in the franchise.

I’m keen to find the books and read them myself now that I’ve found out more about the fictional world that James had created. If I didn’t pick up The City today, I would never have known about this flawed but beautiful and dark graphic novel.

With that, I’m going to wrap up today’s post and call it a night. Thank you for reading this post, and if you know about James Herbert and Ian Millers works, or The Rats trilogy, share your thoughts below in the comment section.

Until next time!

-Bjorn

12 days of Winter: day ten, change of plans

Originally I was going to dedicate day ten as a gathering of my Sacrosanct Chamber and Nighthaunt models into a photo final. However, plans were changed after I found this softcover comic….

A first edition print by Titanbooks in 1983, Judge Death collects all of the ‘Return of Judge Death’ storyline created by John Wagner and Brian Bolland. This softcover comic collection features Judge Death, a Dark Judge from alternate dimension called Deadworld, who punishes all for their crimes by living, and sentenced to death!

A lot of the imagery in the storyline is iconic not only in the history of Judge Dredd, but also for the Dark Judges who have been a thorn in Dredd side for many years. The first introduction of the Dark Judges is quite horrifying and cool at the same time, as they stand together in a two page spread like they’ve got your attention (almost like a horror film).

My first proper introduction to the Dark Judges was The Dark Judges book one: The Fall of Deadworld, a prequel story that explores the decline and nightmarish world of Deadworld. It’s a fun comic book story which shows your a darker world that’s even worse than Megacity one’s average citizens life. I’m still waiting for book two to be released at my local book shop!

I’m eager to read this story along with the Judge Dread Megazine comics through Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

That’s all for today! I think this year has been a 2,000AD thrill ride finding old comic, and buying new progs for ABC Warriors and Savage storylines. I’m hoping 2019 will be just as good if not better!

Join me tomorrow as we reach the second to last 12 days of Winter post series. Until next time!

12 days of Winter: day six, Red moon (Before New Grim)

The Red moon rises as the Grim cult causes untold damage to the county

During the night on the 18th December, 1999, at 18:37pm, eyewitnesses saw a strange sight as the moon arose in glowing red. At first it was believed just gossip from the locals at the beach, until many eyewitnesses across the county saw the same anomaly.

It’s theorised that it might be climate change that’s causing the earths atmosphere to turn far distant astrological objects red. Caused by a mix of chemical pollutants, the atmosphere is weakened by as of yet unknown substance thats causing a faster rate of climate disorder.

However, other researchers have disproved this theory as earths atmosphere seems to be normal in America, China, Greenland and many other countries. Instead oversea researchers believe it’s just one small area that’s affecting the sky.

Whatever the cause might be, the public have taken this sight with a mix of surprise, curiosity and fear. Recent rise of a small religious group calling themselves the Grim, proclaim this is a prophecy of things to come. They believe the world will end by the first day of 2000, destroyed by mankind’s own sins.

The group has been growing since the 12th May of last year after the Wolds incident, which saw their leader Huston Ferren, 48, display a gathering of followers on the Wolds northern area. He was convicted of modern slavery and acts of cruelty to the helpless, he was jailed for 26 years for acts of pure evil and may likely never see the outside world in his life time.photo taken of graffiti of the Grim cult symbol at the Wolds incident.

But since his imprisonment, his cult religious group have grown vastly with reports of increased violence and property damage by the group. As of last week, the group have been deemed by the authorities as an extremist group, and will be arrested on site by local enforcers of the GJS.

The question that everyone has on their minds right now is when will order be restored and how long will the government take before anarchy ensues?

Written by Garrneth Derrick

Before New Grim: #2- No longer here but still here

01000001 01110100 01101111 01101101 Assembled, destroyed, re-assembled and back again. Neither here nor gone but nowhere. Consciously connected to a billion minds as it’s creators link it to the minds of many, feeding it with the thoughts, feelings and knowledge to live. But it’s neither alive nor dead for it has no heart and soul like mortal man, so too does it lack humanity.

The clock strikes twelve at midnight when the new year arrives ////(Y2K)////, and the world will be changed forever…….

Looking back on old hobby memories

In this latest post, I’ll be uncovering some old photos of my early days of joining the Warhammer hobby. I haven’t realised I still had these, or even remembered having these photos taken, so this is going to be a fun trip down memory lane!

what your about to see is a an early history of my beginning into the table top hobby, and what they mean to me now when I look back on them. Just a warning though, a lot of these are very bad in quality due to shaky camera quality, and the model painted are not the most pleasing to gaze upon lol.

So without further or do, lets dive in!

HPIM0404Tomb kings scenery at Warhammer world 2010

HPIM0405Giant sized Rat Ogre (anyone know the what they call these?)

HPIM0406

HPIM0407

The Island of Blood game board was used for the 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy when the new boxed games was released back in 2010, featuring the High Elves and the Skaven. I got the opportunity to take some photos of the game board when it was available to play at Warhammer World, looking at it close up was amazing to see the depth of detail being done to create it. Sadly, its no longer available to play at Warhammer world (about eight years to be precise!).

Whilst playing at Warhammer World with my shoddy painted Skaven (today they’re not as bad now, check the Skaven tag on my blog if your interested in seeing how my army looks now), I took a few photos of a game I had with a friend. These photos remind me a lot about 8th edition and what it meant for me as a wargamer, it was hard to play back then, but I had fond memories of the games and people I’ve met when the world was still turning. Now, Mallus turns in it’s darkened state above the realm of Azyr.

This was a collection of photos showing both the Lizardmen vs Dark Elves, played on a grass mat with meh painted scenery. Back then my Dark Elves hadn’t been painted properly as I didn’t have a colour scheme in mind for the army. in fact, it would be eight years later until I’d finally applied a consistent colour scheme in the livery of red and silver. These photos were taken roughly around 7th/ 8th edition days.

Finally, one final photo that in my opinion is one the most important one from all shown here today…….

DCIM100MEDIA
This photo isn’t the best one taken (and sadly the only one), its not a picture of the best painted miniature ever, not even me seeing my favourite BL author in person, nor is it me rejoicing at finishing painting 40x Clanrats for my Skaven army. for you see, this photo was important to me as its one of the earliest photos taken showing me gluing my army of Dark Elves at Christmas. This photo is a story of beginning, how at this moment of history captured was a record of my journey into the hobby of table top wargaming. 

To you, it might not seem much (I wouldn’t blame you as the photo quality is pretty bad), however to me, finding this photo this week after looking through old photos for my dog was a big thing for me. It reminds me of where I’ve started when I started the hobby, and where it’s led me today.

I hope this post has inspired you to look back in the past and remember your early days when you first went to your local GW or gaming club. It may remind of the good and bad days when looking back, but those memories remind you of who you are today as a hobbyist.

Until next time,

Bjorn.

FMP project evaluation

FMP final piece evaluation

For my FMP work I’ve Chosen the subject of the Kray Twins relating to the projects theme of Tribe. I’ve chosen my project theme on the Kray’s, because of how gangs in Britain were in their own way a tribe of people, following the boss/ head of the gang as leader of their group.

The Krays are a unique example of their tribe, the Firm, being successful in its expansion as a criminal empire that gained both a reputation for fame and infamy in British culture. Their story is not a black and white narrative, for their history tells us a much more grey story for how the krays became what they are.

I wanted present my own perspective of the Kray’s (using factual evidence from media and books) in acrylic paintings/ digital art in A3 card frame prints that capture both the rise and fall of their criminal days. I felt that I needed to push myself to try something out of my comfort zone, so rather than doing just one print out of my work, I would do two to make this final project more challenging.

My strengths and weaknesses throughout the project

Whilst I did find it difficult at first, my proposal writing gradually got better with each draft as I refined it. I did well with planning and laying out what my plans are for the project, as I can think of ideas and translate it into planning. However, my weakness is with my grammar and wording, the former being not a severe issue (but has been a constant issue), and the latter being difficult to use the right words for the right terms. For example, I use ‘Mediums’ to describe more than one, however, it’s actually ‘Media’.

My mind maps were very straight forward with only minor changes later on in the project, but likewise it was an area that I had no problems with. I will say that my weakness in my mind map work is grammar, as I tend to make mistake when writing around the mind map.

My mood board came pretty late into the project, as o tend to do primary/ secondary work first, then do a mood board with subjects relating to my choices that I’ve made. Whilst this can be a good as it gives me a narrow and easier time to collect relevant pictures, it’s also a problem as I had to take time to collect my own artist research.

My primary source work was my strongest area when doing this project, as I do well with information gathering and finding artists, subjects and media resources. I found this area to be most enjoyable as I like to explore artist work and research into subjects that relate to my chosen theme. My faults would be when it took too long to nail down the project subject, as I’d taken longer to experiment and discover subjects.

As for secondary source work, that was difficult as I didn’t go to the Berlin trip, so I had to find anything relatable to my subject theme that can fit into the Kray Twins era. Since I couldn’t go to East End London due to travel and time, I had to make do with places that can fit the era. My practical work however was an improvement, as my photography at Caistor was helpful going forwards in the project.

My photography work at Caistor was an opportunity to test out the characteristics of photography, learning its functions and photo presentation options available. I found the process to be refreshing change from drawing, as I’ve never utilised my photography skill before until this project. I could do better with planning, as my photography was 50/50 for options to use into my work, more locations would have opens more avenues to experiment.

Experimenting work was an interesting experience when testing out filters, acrylic paint, photography and digital art. I’ve learnt a lot of new skills such as Freehand selection tool on Procreate app, tonal painting (using one colour) and photo editing. My strengths were trying out new options, as with digital art/ photography, I had more time to create many experiment pieces to refine and judge through the progress. Although I would have tried to do A3 thick card prints at this time, as later on in the project I had issues with print quality from file transfer on Procreate.

Thanks to my sample work being very broad in outcomes and medium testing, my development work was vastly more refined compared to my Heritage project last year. My use in acrylics was more fluent in producing more human like faces and proportions. It was also a great opportunity to really go freehanded in drawing the Krays (using photos of the Krays as visual reference). I liked the conceptual outcomes that I’ve produced, as I really pushed myself to produce more mature paintings (something that’s not in my usual comfort zone as fiction is usually my preferred subject for art).

My digital art skills came into great use when problem solving my concept artworks, as it improved any visual flaws in colour consistency, reforming shapes and adding touch ups to add more details and texture. I’ve also found ways around getting better printing by using the picture file to print, rather than using Word document for better quality A3 prints.

For my final piece prep, I had trouble at first on what to create as my final pieces, as my drawings lacked the same depth and visual design as my concept developments. So I chose to use one concept development as my first piece (a portrait of the Krays), and a new painting as my second and last piece. I did several test outcomes from digital art to see where I would like to take my work going forward. I think I could have better planned my imagery in the prep work as I felt I lacked an overall plan on my imagery.

For my final design work, I had more success at my digital editing now that I have built up a lot of experience for the past few months. I found my strengths at digital work had really enhanced my work to look more realistic with atmosphere. My decision to get rid of the flames in final piece #2 was a good choice, because the imagery looks a lot more mysterious and limbo in its presentation with half the picture shrouded in darkness. My only weakness would be that I was skeptical about gloss printing, as my worry if that the file will print the same as my A3 card versions, in terms of pixelation of the picture being the same.

My overall thoughts on the final piece project

My work had a quite a few successful outcomes including printing my A3 work, painting acrylic more refined and improved on past flaws and discovering new solutions by going out of my comfort zone. However, one of my biggest success would be combing acrylic art, photography and digital art into one, as my media choices resulted in two very unique pieces of artwork. I found that combing both traditional and modern media has not only been a gamble of trying something new, but also a new avenue to express art using old and new tools.

My final pieces has impressed me with the amount of time and effort I have spent building up my work towards this point in the course. I took a huge gamble with this project as I wanted to move away from 3D media and traditional Acrylic canvas painting. I feel that this gamble had been worth going for, as my works have pushed me interests into more gritty realistic subjects.

The materials I’ve used for the final piece were just right to express more darker imagery, acrylic and Procreate app can be combined to create more visual interest for the audiences eyes. The media were suitable to produce imagery that require more complexity such as smoke effects, lighting, tonal change and filter editing.

I think my work meets my project requirements, because I’ve tried to cover as many areas possible with this FMP work. My solution was to cover the seven key areas when it comes to project work; annotation, evidence/sources, evaluation, practical work, development, Outcome and context. These areas are always on my mind when I do my work each day, so that I can cover requirements naturally without back tracking too much.

If I could do more if I was offered to further the project, I would have done more printing work with gloss printing as I lacked time and experience to try it out. I think my original goals of just an A3 print was a good goal, but taking it further into gloss print would really create huge impact on my presentation for my FMP. I could also improve on my drawing skills, as at times, I was limited for time to produce more accurately drawn pictures of the Krays. If extended for time, I could draw more accurate portraits that can be more recognisable to my target audience.