A look at the short lived comic from the early nineteen nineties…
I thought today I would take a look way back to when I drew the Dreamstone comic for London Editions in the early nineties. Back then I had been working for Marvel UK for about seven or eight years, or so and for London Editions for around three or four.
Back in 1990 when the TV animated show first aired, I caught the first episode, having heard of a new children’s show airing for the first time that night and decided to video it for my two children, Joanne and Simon. When I saw the episode I was instantly hooked. I loved everything about it and it and it spoke volumes to me about my initial direction I had wanted to take myself with my comics career.
It was only a few weeks later when I received a phone call off Brian Clark, then Managing Editor of the Manchester based publisher, London Editions, whose offices resided inside of the same building as World International Books. He asked me if I had heard of a cartoon on TV called the Dreamstone and would I like to work on the comic book version?
The answer to both questions was a resounding yes!
The book was to be a twenty-eight page book plus cover…twenty-nine pages per month. I replaced the receiver on the hook and sat back in my chair at the drawing board. I had never produced a full book before, and certainly never produced twenty-nine pages of continuous artwork before and definitely not both pencils and inks and it was a licensed character(s) book.
I made a cup of tea, as is my wont in these kinds of situations and then returned to the board. When it came time to pick up my wife, Margaret from work (she wasn’t driving herself at the time) I shared the great news with her and then my reservations about the sheer volume of work on a licensed book, which (as anyone familiar with working on licensed product will attest) is always open to the maximum scrutiny imaginable.
Margaret asked me if I thought I was going to be able to produce the amount of art necessary and I answered I simply didn’t know, but this was going to test my ability to do so, after all I had always wanted to be a comic artist and this was a great way to see if I could hack it with a full length book.
It was, as well a simple case of in for a penny…
The first issue took me a month to produce as I scrutinised every character, every panel, the layouts, everything to keep on model and keep things exciting for the reader.
The second issue was easier as the first one passed with out a comment, or amendment and took around three weeks to finish.
The rest of the issues were all produced inside of two weeks and got easier and easier for me, as I finally got a handle on the characters and the feel and the look of the series. I found it wasn’t a million miles away from the way I naturally drew this kind of stuff anyhow, plus I loved the show and the concept as well, which helped enormously. Looking back at the comics I think there are obvious differences between issue 2 (issue one was produced from screen grabs from the TV show) and the rest of the issues, especially from three onwards, due for the most part in my settling in to the schedule and getting to know the characters better.
For me they still remain some of the best comics I have worked on and were a joy to produce. I find it incredible now that they were done without ever having to amend anything, something I cannot say for some of the other licensed jobs I have worked on, which have been horrendous in this respect.
The comics also have the privilege of being the first UK comics to employ digital colouring throughout their pages. The colours were digitally produced by an Irish company on their computers, from the colour mark-ups that I provided for them.
It was around the time I was setting up Wizards Keep that we began requesting and placing reciprocal links on the website. One of the websites I came across was the Ultimate Dreamstone Guide website, which had a small and uncompleted page on the comics I had worked on, so, impressed as I was with the site, I contacted the owner and sent along the complete set of covers and some extra artwork regarding the unpublished comics too via email.
It was a little while later as I was surfing the net checking keyword functionality and the like when came across a forum which was singing my praises, something which both amazed me and was quite nice to read.
Anyhow the forum was Mike Jupp’s, the creator of the Dreamstone and one of the members there was actively promoting the fact He had found my site. As a consequence of all the commenting and Mike becoming aware of the Wizards Keep website he very kindly asked me to join up to his forum and also arranged for a section on his website to host some of my artwork, which was a great honour.
Since then, Mike and I have become friends over the Internet and we both hope to be a in a position to meet up very soon to discuss all things Dreamstone, Worlds End, our families, and everything in between.
At last year’s Birmingham International Comics Show in November I met up with Claire Green who had a letter printed in issue 6 of the comic. I was very honoured to have her buy four pages of original artwork from the comics, no less!
So, all in all, Dreamstone has not only been a great comic for me to have worked on, it has enabled me to meet up, albeit, as yet only via the net, not only its creator Mike Jupp, but a lot of fans of the series and comic both here on the net and at conventions up and down the country. Something that both amazes me still and pleases me too, is that Dreamstone along with my work on Earth Worm Jim still stands up to the scrutiny of these same fans.
I suppose to end this particular Blog, I can safely say it has been…“Better than a Dream!”
Until next time have fun!
March 24th 2009
8 hours ago