Hello! I’m Gareth Sleightholme. I draw and write comics amongst other things, mostly about monsters and the people that hunt or are hunted by them…

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And we are “Iron Shod Ape“! A creative collective of comic book fans now making our own books…

We had a Great time at Thought Bubble this year (Sept 2017), the new set up seemed to work, we got to meet a bunch of lovely people as always, and it was great to get some regulars back to pick up the new stuff… thanks to everyone who came by the table, and particularly to those of you who said cool stuff about us on the internet, you have no idea how much it helps, so cheers.

If you want to catch up with us, our next gig is at the Hull Horror Fest on Saturday the 21st October 2017. See you there!

Iron Shod Ape Team Shots

00 001 Thought BubbleLeft to Right, Sarah, Gareth and Kate at the Iron Shod Ape table #TBF16

Over the last few years we have showcased titles such as:

The Boatman, Beached Rockets and several books from The Cthulhiad, as well as joining forces with indie powerhouse Madius Comics to publish two of a loose trilogy of Viking Saga books; The King’s Leap and Ake’s Trial (the third is coming soon!).

You can see the kinda fun we’ve had doing the shows here -> #IronShodApe

The Cthulhiad books look a little like this:

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…people in the comics world have been kind enough to say things like this about the books:

Praise for “The Cthulhiad”:

“Dialogue is great, the story moves at break neck pace.”

“Glorious thick, dark inking and great use of shadow. Add to that great character work and design and it all adds up to make this book a pleasure to look at.”

“…this is is the first book I’ve read in The Cthulhiad series. Severed Head Cult has left me chomping at the bit for more. I want to know everything there is to know about this comic universe.”

Stevie Robinson, Other Worlds Than These.

a harrowing tale of monster hunting. Sleightholme choreographs an excellent fight scene with a creature that flows like water…”

“…part of Sleightholme’s Cthulhiad series. If this is what can be expected from it, I’m definitely interested in seeing more. He’s created a terrifying world dripping with mythology and lore.”

James Ferguson, Horror Talk

“In a world of quick, efficient storytelling and conventional three-act structures, the Cthulhiad stands alone like a bewildering tower of Lovecraftian passion and excess.  Challenging to read and gorgeous to look at, this is a series designed to reward the patient…”

“Intricately detailed and packed with expression and dynamism,”

“…it’s Sleightholme’s artwork which is clearly going to provide the main selling point for the Cthulhiad.”

– Craig Neilson-Adams, The Big Comics Page

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Praise for “The King’s Leap”:

“Rob Jones (Madius Comics) actually has some pretty damn impressive ‘straight writing’ chops. The narration is bold and dramatic.”

“Sleightholme’s artwork is an absolute delight… with a cinematic flow to his panels that keeps the story moving forward smoothly throughout”

“The King’s Leap serves as an eye-opening broadening of the Madius Comics horizon, and firmly cements Gareth Sleightholme as an absolute must-watch artist.”

– Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej), Big Comics Page.

“Robin Jones has captured the essence of the epic tale and twisted it…”

“I was unfamiliar with [Gareth’s] work before this, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for it from now on… action sequences are as fast-paced as the script. Here there be monsters, and Sleightholme draws some fantastic ones, creatures that recall Lovecraft and those great beasts in Pacific Rim.”

Brad Gischia, BagAndBored.

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…elsewhere including praise for (writer and artist on the Cthulhiad) Gareth Sleightholme‘s other comic art on books like Horrere.

“…gorgeous”, “…stunning art” – (Shane/Dawn of Comics), Comics Crusaders.

“[Gareth] packs a hell of a lot into his panels. The details in the line work are jaw dropping and the panel layouts are just great…”Stevie Robinson, Other Worlds Than These.

“…look at this artwork. Isn’t its messiness grand?” – Jessica Maybury, Girls Like Comics.

“The visuals were amazing too …almost overwhelming but in a really good way that adds to the buzz of the terror” – Susan Omand, Garbage File.

“[Gareth’s] art is surprisingly evocative” – Max Deacon, Scream.

“The artwork by Gareth Sleighthome is incredible; packing each frame with more details than you’ll take in right away”Kieran Fisher, ThatsNotCurrentBlog.

Sleightholme does another stellar job with the visuals, proving that he’s equally adept at zombies as he is with swords and sorcery…”Craig Neilson-Adams (AKA Ceej), Big Comics Page.

“[Gareth’s] work in this short is fantastic, looking like something that would be at home in 2000 A.D. or any of the other top anthologies on the market.” – Brad Gischia, BagAndBored.

“Geof Darrow-esque detail” – Pipedream Comics.

On that note…

IF YOU PICKED UP ANY OF OUR BOOKS, LAST YEAR’S “AKE’S TRIAL”, OR “100 DRAWINGS” OR PREVIOUS YEARS BOOKS SUCH AS “THE KING’S LEAP”, “VANITAS”, “SEVERED HEAD CULT”, “THE WHITE SHIP” OR “DRAKON”, AND YOU LIKED WHAT YOU READ… PLEASE, PLEASE LET US KNOW.

TWEET US @hesir, thank you!

…this blog is a work in progress, put together as we geared up for our first gig (back in November of 2012) at ThoughtBubble, where we launched Beached Rockets and The Cthulhiad/The Indian Fighter.
Let us know if there is anything we can do to improve it or anything else you would like to see on here.
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…Okay, so if you’ve been following my Twitter feed (@hesir) you might have seen some of the work I have been producing for the new book (see last post also). If not you can find a whole bunch of process work, sketches and page layouts by either just following me @hesir, or checking out the #TheCthulhiad hashtag on twitter.

I thought it might be interesting to show a slightly more ordered version of that process, including what happens both before and during the production of those pages etc (and that’s all this is, I’m not suggesting that this is the best method, but its the process that is working for me – at the moment).

So here it is…

Rough Script:

This might be loose notes done during research phases, at this point maybe just notional lines of dialogue, or the names of characters etc. All joined together with arrows denoting the beginning of a plot or scene direction.

Typed Script:

This is the culmination of an editing stage, bringing all the script ideas and plot points together in order, then editing out all the unnecessary ideas and scenes that would work better later or in a different book maybe.

This doesn’t mean its the end… I’ll often add more hand written edits and notes to a script as I get ready for the thumbnailing/layout phase.

Thumbnails:

These can vary in size, from actual thumbnail sized images (3.5x2cm) through to these my average sized images, which are usually about 7x5cm.

Mostly this is about pacing the story, breaking the script up into visuals, single images that incorporate several pieces of dialogue or multiple narrative.

Script edits might still be happening at this stage on my own work, visuals might spark connections, that suggest dialogue or narrative additions, I tend to just add the notes to the sheets and then look at incorporating them fully when I get around to adding the balloons…

Pencils and Inks:

My pencil work is pretty loose as its really just for me to decipher. Usually I pencil up from the thumbnails, and then scan these, then print off a blue line version to work over in ink… this builds in a redundancy and is less destructive over pencil originals.

Sometimes these scans are resized to actually print ready size, allowing me to add type and balloons and SFX in a separate layer, meaning the finished art can simply be “slipped underneath”.

See this example of balloons and PS boosted pencils >HERE< from the previous post.

Sometimes though, I work straight in over the original pencils.

Below you can see this latter process.

You can also see that once the pencils are complete, that even that might not stop changes happening.

Whether to pencils (see below where I have rubbed out the original panel centre and replaced the extreme close up of the figure with the camera with a midshot)

And the inks of the panel in which we see the shooting victim (above) which just felt a little “pedestrian” once complete…

and so I sketched out a new composition in my sketchbook,

…and then made a “paste-over” (a piece of white paper stuck over the previous artwork) added new pencils based on my sketch and inked it up…

The inks are then rescanned, any flashbacks of previous panels added, and the artwork cleaned up in Photoshop.

Here (below) are the most recent pages I’ve been working on.

Then its just a case of adding these scans to the existing text/ballooned files and adding any final tone/colour examples of which can be found >HERE<.

…and so on, and so on, usually for me in small cycles, finishing batches of pages then going back to thumbnail a new section.

Here’s the cover of this year’s Cthulhiad book… which you will see on the table at #TBF17 later this year.

We are looking at around 48-54 pages (at least) of black and white/grey-toned art…

Comic Cover Oil Paints 3

This and the preview (rough layout) pages below where all previewed in last years Sketchbook “100 Drawings”.

Page 001 – The Cthulhiad/Origins

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Page 002 – The Cthulhiad/Origins

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Page 003 – The Cthulhiad/Origins

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Page 004 – The Cthulhiad/Origins

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Page 005 – The Cthulhiad/Origins

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Page 006 – The Cthulhiad/Origins

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Page 007 – The Cthulhiad/Origins

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Page 008 – The Cthulhiad/Origins

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Page 009 – The Cthulhiad/Origins

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So … back to the drawing board.

Last year’s Thought Bubble UK 2015 saw Sarah, Kate and myself rock up with a new Cthulhiad book and two other collaborative comics projects.

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We had (as always) a great time meeting old friends and new collaborators and all of you who came up and chatted, looked through the books and took books away (Thank you all!).

We have been at the event for the last four years (it’s our only convention so far, though we hope to show further afield this year) and we have, over those four years, had 9 books on the stand, at least two new books each year, with most of them being 48 page books.

ThoughBubs THe Books

Previous years saw Beached Rockets / The Indian Fighter / The Boatman / The White Ship / Severed Head Cult & Vanitas

Whilst 2015 saw us touting the follow up to The White Ship, called Drakon (pt 2 of The Lance Askelon), a 48 page comic continuing the story of Georgius of Lod and his journey from a monastery retreat on Cyprus to the cities, deserts and mythological temples of North Africa, and to the creature that awaits him there.

IRONSHOD STUFF

There were also copies of “The Kings Leap” with art by me (Gareth), and written by Rob Jones of Madius Comics (our neighbours at TBF15), which got some great reviews…

“Hugely clever, very nasty and one of the best comics you’ll pick up at Thought Bubble.” – Travelling Man

Kings Leap - Postcard 002…along with some copies of issue one of the new books to which I contributed artwork: (Tragic Tales Of) Horrere – a new horror anthology co-produced by Little O and Madius Comics.

Since then Book 2 of Horrere has already been made, and again has been hitting the cons this year, debuting at Glasgow Comicon in June 2016 where issue 1 also was shortlisted for a SICBA award for “best single issue”, a great follow up to our Ghastly Award nomination earlier in the year).

YAWYE (SMEAT) - Horrere - Postcard 002We also got some great reviews for Horrere #1 & #2 from the indie and broader comics community and press…

“Smart, pacy, nasty stories… ‘You Are What You Eat’ continues that strong run with art from King’s Leap’s excellent Gareth Sleightholme. His Geof Darrow-esque style is great…” – Travelling Man

“…fun and unique short stories. These talented writers and artists have created a must for the horror comic fan.” – Starburst

We also had some great publicity and  comments outside the comics press, this interview on the horror comics we recommend for the Herald Scotland was great fun to be involved in.

You can find copies of the book online via the official Horrere twitter feed.

So at this year’s Thought Bubble (we are in the New Dock Hall again this year), we will have all the books mentioned above, plus (I hope) a couple more new books, I’m currently working on Ake’s Trial (with Rob Jones of Madius plotting and writing), which is an extension of the world (rather than a direct follow up) in which The King’s Leap was set.

So more Vikings, this time pitting their wits and steel against Giants rather than Draugr…

Detail - Akes Trial

In addition I hope also to have another instalment (at least one) of The Cthulhiad. Lets see how I get on. There may yet be some other surprises along the way…

If you have stopped by the table at Thought Bubble in previous years you may have spoken to any one of us:943018_10151735050791373_562800227_n

Photos from 2013 with the full table crew…

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We are… Gareth@hesir, Sarah – @wildflowerfaery, Damian – @DamianStreet, Andrew@Cosmonautilus and/or Alex – @AlexWeinle.

We also are also still holding out, hoping for possible future contributions from the great Mr Clarke (@SimonsBrain).

So,

If you picked up one of the books, and liked what you saw/read, or just have something to say about the books/art/writing/us, please, please, please let us know! …It really helps!

We love feedback. You can always tweet us (see above) any links to reviews, comments or selfies with the books (I don’t know, people might do that, people are crazy about comics), yours, or ones you’ve seen by other people, or email me (Gareth) at: hesir@hotmail.co.uk.

On that note:

The lovely guys over at Inter Comics Podcast – @InterComics – can be heard being very nice about both “Vanitas” and “Horrore 2” on their great comics review podcasts, so thanks guys, much appreciated.

…So, what now?

Well, for the time being, why not go have a look at what we’ve been doing so far, with work in progress scans and the like in the posts below… Cheers, g (@hesir),

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So, today is that day.

I picked up the proofs of the this years output.

The Viking Saga book I’ve been working on with Rob Jones, (the sort of follow up to The King’s Leap), Ake’s Trial. From Madius Comics and Iron Shod Ape

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24 pages, b/w – With a colour cover.

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As well as Ake’s Trial, we are also going to have this…

“100 DRAWINGS”

90 (soft cover, b/w) pages of sketches from the imagination and observational drawing with a few notes on drawing and keeping a sketchbook, that has a sketch preview of the next Cthulhiad book at the back.

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Drawings of cars and other vehicles…

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Props and objects…

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and Character sketches, and places and environments…

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…alongside the drawings from the real world which inform them.

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As well as these new books, we’ll have books from previous years.

Scan 58

 

 

 

The first two books of The Lance – “Drakon” and “The White Ship”

Scan 54

 

 

Scan 51

Vanitas & Severed Head Cult

(Read a review of Severed Head Cult here.)

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There will be copies of Tragic Tales of Horrere (books 1 & 2) available. From Little O and Madius.

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And of course The King’s Leap (read a recent review of that here, and others here), from Madius and ourselves.

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Plus sundry postcards and larger prints of the artwork from the books.

We’ll be at Table #185, New Dock Hall, @ThoughtBubble, in Leeds this coming weekend. 

Right next to Madius (Table #186-187b).

See you there. g.

Okay, so way before the press copies go out, and way before you’ll get a chance to pick it up at Thought Bubble in November, comes this four page taster of the new Viking comic, that is a “follow up/prequel” to Rob and I’s The King’s Leap from last year… featuring the characters and events from the tale started by the old storyteller but then abandoned in the last comic.

Enjoy, any feedback or comments to @hesir on Twitter if you can.

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These Viking stories remain a Co-porduction between Madius Comics & Iron Shod Ape. With Rob Jones Plotting and Writing and myself providing the art and occasion dialogue.

And thanks for taking a look.

g.