VS Secret 7's charity CD submission


Here's my failed submission for this years Secret 7's charity CD event. The talent on show was immense both those that made it those that didn't. As always I learnt a lot. Bring on next 2016!

VS Business Cards

Shiny new Monkeys Vs Robots business cards from the lovely people at @MOO just in time for my visit to @Shillington_. I'll be rubbish but a least the cards look the part!

MAKE GOOD ART by Neil Gaiman

MAKE GOOD ART by Neil Gaiman - Maybe one of the most creatively inspiring words you’ll hear ever or at least today!

If you are in any sort of artistic or creative field, or you aspire to be, you absolutely need to watch this!

Obviously you to NEED to watch the video, but thought I’d highlight some of his thoughts and comments that resonated with me the most.

There’s no need to introduce Neil Gaiman, you know who he is, and about the most amazing worlds he creates, (and if you don’t know, you need to get to know!) but in May he did something even more important, he gave back. Cause he’s a very nice man.

During an address to the University of the Arts Class of 2012, he not only explained what it was to be and live as a creative, and provided solid and invaluable advice for artists or any kind of creative, to be used at any stage in their life and career — but particularly when starting out - he also inspired, explaining how all that was needed was the desire to create to get you to your goals and achieve your dreams. These are my top 10 thoughts:

1.       Don’t put so much weight into training. Neil never went to Uni!

2.       If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that

3.       Approach your creativity with joy, or else it becomes work. (I’m trying!)

4.       Enjoy your work and your small victories; don’t get swept up into the next thing before being fully present with the joys of this one.

5.       Embrace the fear of failure. Make peace with the Impostor Syndrome and the Fraud Police when it comes with success. Don’t be afraid of being wrong. (I’ll try to remember this when it hopefully happens)

6.       The problems of failure are hard. – “The problems of failure are problems of discouragement, of hopelessness, of hunger. You want everything to happen and you want it now, and things go wrong”.

7.       “The problems of success can be harder, because nobody warns you about them”

8.       “Make your art, tell your story, find your voice — even if you begin by copying others. - The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can”.

9.       “Make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for you being here”.

10.   “Make good art”.

“Make good art.

I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

Make it on the good days too.”

Thanks Neil!

The full keynote text can be found here http://www.uarts.edu/neil-gaiman-keynote-address

Q: What is your favourite computer game?

My favourite game is Homeworld, released on the PC in 1999.

I was going to do Windwaker, or Metroid Prime, Goldeneye, Unreal Tournament or even Skies of Arcadia, as it’s a struggle to dig out a true fav. But, in the end, I chose to do the one game that has been on my C.V. as my favourite game, since I entered the games industry some 11 years ago!

Homeworld is both an excellent game and one, considering it was the first fully three-dimensional RTS, that should have shaped the entire real-time strategy genre!! Unfortunately, no one can hear you shout, “BEST GAME EVER!!”… In space! (Yeah! I went there!)

Relic’s Homeworld is the sort of game that inspired deserved unbridled hyperbole in game reviewers. With its stunning 3D engine, uniquely challenging gameplay, great audio, and terrific story. But it is a largely forgotten game that wasn’t played by as many players as it should have been! A classic 10/10 game that no one bought! *sadface*

With a classic plot, simple and to the point and something you can quickly get behind. And, for those geeks amongst you, plays out a lot like Battlestar Galactica (minus all that spiritual nonsense!!)

It begins with an epic discovery; an ancient starship, buried deep beneath the sands of your home planet Kharak, contains evidence indicating that your people descended from aliens who colonized the planet many centuries ago. Spurred on by this discovery, your people construct a massive Mothership with hyperspace capabilities and undertake an expedition to find their trueHomeworld. However, you complete your first hyperspace jump only to run smack into a swarm of hostile aliens, which proceed to reduce Kharak to a burning wasteland. Now, with only the Mothership to call home, you must lead the fleet onward to your fabledHomeworld, exacting vengeance for Kharak along the way.

But forget all that! One of the main reasons I sat of hours on end, just playing the skirmish mode repeatedly was because Homeworld had some of the most impressive space-based graphics ever.

This 3D engine is stunning, with an acute attention to detail that is staggering. Every ship, from the tiny scout fighter to the lumbering heavy cruiser, is amazingly detailed, right down to markings on the hull and individually animated gun turrets. One of the coolest features in the game is the ability to zoom right in on a single ship and follow it through a battle –every turn, manoeuvre, and shot fired is brought to life, and you get a front-row seat for all of it.

The ship design itself is also pretty impressive. And though the two sides in the conflict have nearly identical arsenals (there are only two unique ship classes per side), each has a completely different stylistic approach that is consistent throughout the fleet. Weapon effects are suitably spectacular, and explosions are also very cool, especially when the doomed vessel is penetrated by a beam weapon as it blows up – an effect that recalls those great ship battles from the Battlestar Galatica. And the large scale battles!!! Oh shit the battles!! 

Hollywood on its best day has yet to capture the feel of the massive fleet battles in Homeworld!

And the audio? Ahhhhh the audio, the always forgotten element that can make or break a good game! In a word. Awesome! The audio in Homeworld is just as impressive as the graphics engine. The score (a score that won the Best Score Award in 2000)alongside the unit acknowledgments and sound effects does a great job of setting the whole “space is really, really BIG!!” mood of the game.

The slick presentation of the game also extends to the plot injections. Most of the plot unfolds by way of simple yet elegant cutscenes, created using the game’s 3D engine. The game also makes use of some slick hand-drawn animation to convey other elements of the story. These black-and-white scenes have a simple but gritty look to them, and they work exceptionally well with the flashy 3D cinematics. They hold up to scrutiny even now and proof that flashy FMV’s aren’t always the way forward.

But the most obvious difference between this and other real-time strategy games and some that has only really been recreated maybe by EVE ONLINE (but far more complicatedly than required) is the true 3D nature of the game world.

You’re in deep space (and you’ll sure as hell know it!!), so there is no restriction on the direction in which your units may travel. As a result, you’ll have to learn to think and move using three axis at all times.

To keep that true cinematic feel going, there are practically no HUD elements to see!! This can be extremely confusing if you jump right in especially with no difficulty settings to test out. But you are taken through Homeworld’s excellent tutorial (a useful tutorial? remember those?), which are perfectly paced and required, regardless of your experience with real-time strategy games.

Fortunately, I never minded retrying some of Homeworld’s missions a few times until I got them just right. (This was usually me stealing/salvaging as many ships as possible.) This is because Homeworld nails one of those elements few games give you; you never get the sense that the computer is cheating you. (What!? No difficulty setting??!! Just a perfectly balanced game!? Surely I jest?).

And would you believe this game came out in 1999!!!?? They, literally, don’t make games like this any more!! – And what other game built 12 years ago, looks and plays like it was made yesterday? (Duke Nukem sure as hell didn’t!)

So Homeworld:

  • ·         Amazing Graphics, both in Design, Tech and Audio
  • ·         Brilliantly-told story
  • ·         A tutorial (that doesn’t take you out of the game) that actually teaches you how to play
  • ·         Immense sense of scale and vastness of space
  • ·         Revolutionary 3D interface and controls that somehow work!
  • ·         Perfectly balanced difficulty
  • ·         A forgotten Masterpiece!!

Homeworld  - The game I use to convince industry peeps that I know what a good game is!

This is my favourite game.

Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl, Gorillaz) on the joy of drawing!

“Drawing Is An Escape From All The Unnecessary Things In Life That Get In The Way Of Being Free”

 “It’s about reaching that moment of pure ecstasy when a drawing just happens. Where every move you make with your hand and every thought you have in your head grows in front of you without any mistakes; no rubbing out, starting again and getting frustrated. It’s like being in a trance – it’s a fluid – and you almost don’t remember doing the picture. Drawing is an escape from all the unnecessary things in life that get in the way of being free"

#Bartkira x @MonkeysvsRobots - a tale of two journeys! (Note! There be Spoilers!)

26 panels in 7 days = A wall of Bartkira

A little while back artist Ryan Humphrey (@Ryan_Humphrey) created an inventive mash-up of Akira and the Simpsons! (Jeez! Geeks will mash any and everything together! J) Those pieces can be found here http://ryanhumphrey.co.uk/Bartkira and are definitely inspiring because Comic book Artist and Designer James Harvey (@jamesharveytm)took the original idea and ran with it! Expanding it into the monster I signed up too. 

Bartkira – a complete remake of Akira with all the characters exchanged to be Simpsons characters. 

Here’s the brief!

“A comics event where every participant takes five pages from the original AKIRA manga, to collectively redraw the entirety of Akira, in our own styles, with characters from The Simpsons.

I saw Ryan Humphrey’s incredible Bartkira piece and realised ‘ok, this needs to be a whole book’. So I took this idea to him, he gave it the go-ahead. Milhouse is Kaneda. Lisa is Kei. Bart is Tetsuo. [sic]

I figured it all out. If you’re down, email the address below. In a few days, I’ll send you the cast list (which character from the Simpsons is which Akira character, though the minor characters will be left up to you) and I’ll tell you which 5 pages you’ll be working on. You can request a particular page, but it’s first come, first served.”

I was happy to see I wasn’t the only lunatic in town, because in no time 468 artists signing on for the task!

Checking out the #Bartkira hashtag on Tumblr reveals a group of artists from every quarter and level of skill. Something that was an instant confidence boost, I would be surrounded by other artists simply attempting to do their best to make the project happen. 

I’m guessing many of the artists joined the Bartkira project out of love of both or either source materials. And as James’ brief suggested the project would be fun and good exercise to attempt to merge them together, either faithfully or with a personal spin.

But I had other motives. I have been a massively lapsed artist, locked away from the thing I love. For years I haven’t been mentally able to put pen and pencil to paper. Bu with help I’ve recently been able to unlock some of those mental blocks and have started drawing again. To say its been therapeutic would be a massive understatement!


The reason for doing this project was two fold: Firstly, I’ve always wanted to be involved in making a comic since I was a kid. Creating and drawing a whole one, is currently beyond me, but surly 5 pages isn’t!? Secondly, through working on this project I wanted to test my ability to create a large batch of work to a deadline and keep a consistent style across that work.

So why did I think drawing 26 panels on individual A3 sheets was a good idea? Pfft! I have no idea! It was probably alcohol related! J  So it worked out to be 26 panels in 7 days! No surprise that I also delivered it late then! 

Ridiculously long blog-story short: Through attempting this project I’ve ticked quite a few boxes and put to rest a number of ghosts! Ultimately its simply just another step on my road to recovery, but also a step that allowed me to rediscovered my passion for drawing comics. I also now have 26 pieces of art to turn into prints, t-shirts and other stuff! 

Thanks to Ryan Humphrey and James Harvey for creating this project and the 468+ other artists who contributed, because when this project comes together, its gonna be an EPIC read!

*Also here's hoping Katsuhiro Otomo-san and Matt Groening get involved!