| Martin has prepared notes
exclusively for the website. Please choose from the issue numbers listed
3 4 5
6 7 8
9 10 11
12 13 14
15 16 17
18 19 20
21 22 23
24 25 26
2.3 2.4 2.5
Issue 1 Notes
Page 1, Panel 2
A little background on The UK Ultra Knights and their powers:
Ultramind (Ruth Stone) is telepathic; Union Jack (Jack Connor) has flight
and strength; Shadow (Shevaughn Compton) can summon and control areas
of darkness through which she can also teleport; Density (Bill Compton)
can control others' body mass. Doctor O and Starman's powers will be
revealed sooner or later. Density and Shadow are married.
Page 1, Panel 4
A little background on PSI-SQUAD and their powers: Perception (Isabelle
Carlson) could create and control illusions; Spiral (Mark Harris) had
hypnotic powers; Inferno (Scott Smith) was a pyrokinetic; Shine (Mary
Turner) had healing powers; Quest (Rob Connor, team leader) had cat-like
agility and strong precognitive powers (the latter have since weakened);
Ultramind II (Grace Carlson, daughter of Ultramind I) is telepathic;
Astral (Denise Fletcher) existed in astral form, her physical body was
in a coma; Debris (Stuart Carlson) was a telekinetic.
I'll tell you what I can about Rob's visions: panels 2 (sort of), 3,
5 and 6 come true in volume one.
Page 4, panel 2
To use the 'F' word or not to use the 'F' word? That is the question.
I want to make the characters as realistic as I can, so part of that
is employing swear words (rather than have them say '$£@* off!'). Put
it this way, in the interests of realism, I had thought about doing
a scene with Abby on the toilet chatting to Rob in the shower (don't
worry, it ain't gonna happen!)
Page 4, panel 3
I was really worried that The Spice Girls reference would make the scene
feel dated, but it's worked out OK as they are still around (at time
Page 4, panel 5
The first of Rob's premonitions from page 2 comes true.
Page 8, panel 1
Note the pictures on Doctor O's office walls: that's Hotfoot from the
USaviors on the left (we'll be meeting her (and them) soon), behind
Doctor O is 'The Superteam' which consisted of Rob, Brainstorm, Vixen
Page 8, panel 3
A little background info on these ladies: Lorelei can kill with her
touch, Spider can control arachnids, and the Twisted Sisters create
energy blasts which are particularly powerful when they are in physical
contact with each other. None of these ladies' true identities are known.
Page 9, panel 2
Note the portraits of Seraph and Shadow and Density in the background.
Page 12, panel 1
Note portraits of Seraph (again) and Mr Green in background.
Page 18, panel 1
At the risk of sounding like a total psycho, a couple of the people
in this massacre picture are modelled on people I know!
Page 19, panel 4
Sneaky reference in Grace's dialogue to the Tori Amos song 'here. In
Issue 2 Notes
Page 5, panel 4
Who's Doctor O going to phone...?
Issue 0 Notes
Greg is a character from the Tori Amos song 'Pretty Good Year'. He's
a bit of a loser, and gets no sympathy from Tori.
Page 14, panel 6
This panel gave one of my mates nightmares!
Page 16 It's too small to read, but Stephanie is reciting the
first lines (in Latin) of Virgil's epic poem 'The Aeneid'.
Issue 3 Notes
'Violence in Mind' is a lyric from Tori Amos' song 'The Waitress'.
Page 3, panel 1 I struggled for ages to think what Molly would
be singing here. I sat down to draw the page and that Corrs song suddenly
started playing and it fit perfectly. I figure Molly would be a 'Top
40 chart' kind of girl with a crappy little pink stereo.
Page 5 My revenge on bouncers. Scum!
Page 7 I originally wrote and drew a version of 'Frenzy' six
years ago, when I was at college. I redrew the whole thing for this
incarnation, and was surprised that there was only one topical reference
that need to be changed: I altered a reference to 'The X-Files' to a
'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' reference. Sadly, 'The X-Files' isn't
as popular as it used to be, and I don't think everyone talks about
it in pubs anymore!
Page 10 My brother taught me most of these drinking games on
my 21st birthday!
Page 1, panel 5 'Sexy bitch' is a phrase from the Austin Powers
films, which were out at the time of O Men 4.
Issue 5 Notes
Page 6, panel 9
I got bored of drawing that outfit, so decided to get Miss S to change
Page 7, panel 7
Those 'thugs' are some of my workmates at Titan Magazines (Simon, Ness,
Stephen and Oz all designers). I think they got off lightly with a
bit of brain damage!
Page 15, panel 4
This was my small tribute to 'The Invisibles', my favourite comic at
that time. There's another 'Invisibles' tribute on the next page, but
that's a little less obvious.
Page 19, panel 5
Sneaky reference to the Tori Amos b-side 'Samurai'.
Issue 6 Notes
This is the reverse of Issue 3, page 14.
Page 3, panel 9
Another of Rob's premonitions comes true.
Page 18, panel 4
That security guard is my dad!
Page 22, panel 7
Issue 7 Notes
There's lots of stuff going on this issue which I won't go into here,
things like parallel scenes and the significance of Annie and June.
Hope you caught 'em!
Page 3, panel 2
Okay, how many people have woken up in the middle of the night and thought
they'd seen someone in their room, whereas it's just a pile of clothes
or a ray of light or something? Doctor O obviously does... (Or does
Page 4, panel 6
Page 7, panel 1
Is Red saying ³Damn² because she regrets what she did to Molly, or simply
because she thinks she's got a cold coming? Y'know, I'd suspect the
Page 8, panel 1
Page 18, panel 4
Page 23, panel 4
Erk! Anathema! She turns up in 7 other (obscure) places throughout this
issue. You'll have to look very closely.
Page 23, panel 8
Who's that then?!!
Issue 8 Notes
Page 1, panel 3
Hannibal Lector is obviously
from the excellent Thomas Harris novels.
Page 1, panel 4
Maya is a character from Kim Stanley Robinson's 'Red Mars' book.
Page 4, panel 3
This is Rob's old group 'Superteam'. It consisted of himself, Brainstorm,
Seraph and his sister Vixen.
Page 6, panel 1
Pictures on the wall include (from left to right): PSI'SQUAD'S Inferno,
The Usaviors (who I might now call Hardcorps), PSI-SQUAD'S Astral, Grace
and Stuart, Nonna, the Hound and Molly Valentine.
This scene was inspired by an edition of the awful daytime TV talk
show 'Kilroy'. The topic was ghosts, and people were basically talking
about their paranormal experiences while Kilroy was being extremely
patronising and sceptical to everyone. Anyway, in amongst all this,
a woman was talking about how she had once been alone in her house and
she was strangled by a ghost of herself. This really freaked me out,
and translated itself into this scene. Sort of.
Page 13, panel 8
Who's said that before?
Issue 9 Notes
Yes, you're right, I can't draw dogs, and I have no idea why I gave
I have no idea what Rob and Abby are saying. I don't think I want to
even go there.
Page 8, panel 6
Does anyone get this? I was watching an edition of the Harry Enfield
show, and there was a sketch based around a yuppies' dinner party, where
they were talking about their lives and saying "I am Bridget Jones",
"No, I'm Bridget Jones". Well, I thought it was funny!
Page 9, panel 1
This is my version of the front cover to Harper Collins'1993 version
of Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None'.
Page 14, panel 1
'And Then There Were None' is probably in my all-time top ten favourite
novels. It's actually very disturbing, and the movie versions have supplied
alternate, 'happier' endings! And don't worry - I haven't given anything
Page 18, panel 7
Blathnaid was a monster from a 'Slaine' story in one of the very first
issues of 2000AD I ever read. I loved that story.
Page 19, panel 1
No, I can't draw sheep either, but c'mon I'm not even trying here!
Page 19, panel 5
This is a kind of Jane Austen type book. It's not really based on any
specific one, though.
Page 20, panels 1 - 3
This is Akira!
Issue 10 Notes
Grace is Sylvia Plath in this issue. I had tinkered with the idea of
doing something about Virginia Woolf, and originally Abby was going
to play this (or Sylvia Plath's) part, but I figured Grace would be
the better option. The Grace/Sylvia Plath scenes are amalgamations of
events from her 'Letters Home' and her semi-autobiographical 'Bell Jar'
novel. 'Letters Home' are, as the title suggests, a collection of the
letters which Sylvia Plath wrote to her mother. The scene on page 1
is from the December 15th 1952 letter of 'Letters Home'. The other two
Grace moments on pages 4 and 9 of this issue are adaptations of incidents
from 'The Bell Jar'.
I was really averse to reading any Sylvia Plath, because I thought it
was the sole domain of depressed teenagers, but when I actually read
'The Bell Jar' I found it to be one of the most profound, touching and,
surprisingly, witty novels I've ever read.
Pages 6 and 7
My little 'tribute' to '60s comics (with maybe a hint of Image-ness
thrown in). Imagine Red in The Avengers!
Page 16, panel 7
Okay, so as Abby explained, Malice is quoting from all sorts of different
novels and comics. I won't list all of the quotes' sources as that would
be really tedious, and I've forgotten most of them anyway! A lot of
them are from the novels which The O Men become trapped in, and there's
a line from 'Hannibal' in there, too. There's loads of comic quotes
in there: from Stormwatch, The Avengers, Top Ten, The O Men #1 (ha!),
Doom Patrol (a quote from good ol' Crazy Jane). My fave quote is one
from Ragged Robin of The Invisibles, which appears on the last page
of Issue 8 and continues in Malice's first appearance in Issue 9 ('Feels
like murder every time... doesn't it feel like murder?').
Throughout Issue 9 there are quotes from a novel called 'The Regulators'.
This is a Stephen King novel written under the pen-name Richard Bachman.
It's one of King's best books in absolutely ages it tells the story
of the residents of a street who basically start getting gunned down
one by one by a group of strange creatures. The first 100 pages or so
take place in a 20-minute time frame, and it's some of the most shocking
and fast-paced writing I've ever read. The Regulators' quotes in Malice:Part
2 generally revolve around a character called Marielle following her
progress from getting shot (complete with arm dangling from shoulder
nice!) and then dying (which is supposed to reflect the fact that
The O Men's situation has gone completely downhill).
The Sylvia Plath stuff here is a quote from one of her most famous poems,
AAAARGH! 'American Psycho'! One of the most disturbing novels I've ever
Page 18, panel 3
Who's said that before?
Based on a promo pic for 'The Man with the Golden Gun'. 'Interestingly'
enough, I noticed that Brian Bolland used a similar pose on a couple
of his Invisibles covers. Wonder if he used the same image for inspiration?
Issue 11 Notes
Anathema's pose is based on Tori Amos' pose on the cover of her Cornflake
Girl single. You all noticed the (murder scene-type) chalk marks around
Anathema, right? That's basically just to indicate that Anathema's a
bit of a weirdo/sick freak, rather than to spoil the ending of this
You've already seen all this at the end of Issue 10 (without Anathema).
Notice someone's missing. In fact, she's not even in the issue. I only
just noticed that. But there is a reason.
These full-page panels occur throughout the issue, featuring each of
the O Men. Note that they all say "oh", they are the "oh"
men after all.
Page 5, panel 2
Grace's powers kick in to tell her that Anathema is leaving them and
that they are safe to talk freely.
Page 5, panel 4
The first of Anathema's many blackouts during this issue.
Page 6, panel 3
There are pills on the floor here. Stephanie has tried to slow Anathema
down with an overdose (but Ana woke up before she could do it).
Kelly's first appearance.
Page 9, panel 10
When Kelly says "you chose the wrong side", she's referring
to Rob's nose-ring. Rob got a nose-ring so that he could pull off the
whole undercover thing during the UK Ultra Knights party in 'Reunion'.
I suppose Kelly could always have taken the nose-ring out, but I think
Rob wanted one anyway, and he's going to get more piercings throughout
the series. Kelly's comment here is supposed to make you think she's
talking about choosing battle sides.
Underground sequence, pages 12 -
Stephanie is trying to get Anathema away from the O Men, hence the tube
journey. I was really going to go to town with this scene. I wanted
to vent my spleen about how shit the tube is but in the end I ran out
of room. I was going to have Anathema beat up an underground guard (because
he hassled her for a train ticket), and I was going to show loads more
commuters reading John Grisham and Harry Potter books (I hate the way
tube travellers always read the same thing. Yawn. Needless to say I
hid the covers of my Harry Potter books when I was reading them on the
Page 12, panel 2
That's me on the right. The bloke on the left is an old workmate.
Page 12, panel 3
I've tried to make Anathema kinda pretty in this issue. I wish I'd made
her pretty from the start, to be honest. I gave her a sort of hooked
nose, and a kind of unpretty look, but I wish I'd made her more of an
unconventional villain from the start - make her a pretty villain.
Page 15, panel 1
Page 16, panels 6-7
This bloke is listening to a Garbage song, can't remember which one.
I don't think it's particularly significant, although I think I chose
it cos the lyrics kind of 'go with' what's happening.
Page 22, panel 2
Compare with page 13, panel 7.
I was quite pleased with this issue - it's one of my faves I think.
It was originally going to feature Abby, Anathema and Colin in equal
amounts in a story called 'It Never Rains', but I decided to just go
with Anathema. I was quite pleased with the art - I decided to make
it more of a straight-forward black and white style, ie, not do lots
of shading and funny lines all over the place. Still a few dodgy panels
Issue 12 Notes
I had been getting more confident with the whole comic and was seriously
considering printing The O Men in glossy US-format (someone had advised
me that people were more likely to take note of it). The 'Reunion' arc
was the first 'jumping-on point' available for this although it still
was potentially confusing to new readers which is why I did the 3 first
3 pages as a kind of introduction to the series. However, I didn't go
through with the new format thing anyway!
I'd been playing around with the idea of doing a spotlight cover (a
nice circle/'O' behind the characters), and was all set to do a boring
old standard pose when I decided to play around with shadows a bit more.
Also, I was watching this VH1 programme called 'Making the Band' and
there were lots of strobe effects in the title sequence, so I basically
taped the show and used that for reference. I quite like the cover it
would probably make a really nice t-shirt or giant poster.
Page 1, panel 4
Miss S is listening to Tori Amos' version of The Beatles' 'Happiness
is a Warm Gun'.
Page 3, panel 7
Doc O's whole speech has been for Anathema's benefit to mislead her.
Safe and Sound are a gay superhuman couple who will appear later in
The titles for the 'Reunion' arc all refer to parties so here we have
I don't know who half these people are I just made most of them up on
the spot. I do know that the three people furthest to the right (towards
the middle) are from the right: Limbo (bloke with glasses, he'll probably
turn up in volume 2), my original version of Psiren (girl with hair
in the air, Psiren is the superhero name of Peri, Colin's girlfriend)
and Insomniac (bloke with moustache). Psiren and Insomniac were characters
in the original version of The O Men I drew 10 years ago.
I really like this page. (Which makes up for the appalling page 4.)
Abby is still devastated by the death of girlfriend Sam. Snow Leopard
is the creation of my friend Marcus Scudamore, and Mr Green appeared
in my original version of The O Men 10 years ago.
Page 11, panel 1
I don't know what happened to Grace's breasts here. They seem to have
Page 12, panel 9
Gemma phones her sister.
I might talk about Union Jack's first wife later in the series. Puppet
Girl is Molly Valentine's mother. Beelzebub pops up in issue 16/17,
and Sister Slaughter appears as a corpse in issue 16, too.
I came up with the perfect real name for Kelly and then completely forgot
what it was. It was going to be Kat, but I wasn't too keen on that.
I've gone with Kelly, which I quite like, although I don't think it's
that perfect one which I'd thought of.
Issue 13 Notes
Who will die? If you look closely, it looks like Mr Green thinks it's
Page 2, panel 4
Who called the ambulance? Stephanie - at the end of Issue 11.
Page 4, panel 6
I didn't really make it clear enough as to what's going on here. Peri
actually lied to Gemma about not sleepign with anyone else.
It's a legendary myth that if the ravens of the Tower of London ever
desert the tower a great disaster will befall England.
Page 9, panel 5
These are the ghosts of the two Princes of the Tower - apparently killed
by Richard II (or Richard I, I can't remember. I should know, because
I studied the play - whatever it was - at university). Many people report
to have seen their ghosts in the Tower of London.
Page 10, panel 4
As you'll find out later, Doctor O has just been talking to Molly Valentine.
Issue 14 Notes
As usual I was struggling with what to put on the cover, and I was doodling
around with a biro while watching Blind Date (!) and this was the result.
Some people say they can see faces in the backgrounds, but that's not
intentional. There does seem to be something there, though.
I noticed that it seemed to be raining in every issue, so thought I
should address it. Rain helps out with backgrounds!
Shame I dropped the 5-panel page format for this page it would have
been nice to keep it consistent, but I thought this panel would work
better like this.
I was going to have Kelly's mom, the original Vixen at the funeral,
but I just didn' t have room for her. I was also going to show what
happened between Miss Scarlet and Kamikaze at the funeral, but for space
reasons decided not to. I think it worked quite nicely in issue 15.
Issue 15 Notes
This issue was quite a funny one I actually didn't have the Molly twist
in mind at all, until very late in the day. The original inspiration
for this issue was the insane idea of Miss Scarlet being head-over-heels
in love - like one of those cheesy adverts with her and her partner
walking along a beach accompanied by lurve songs. And then I wanted
to bring Grace and Red closer together - get a bit of bonding going
on, and then I decided that Red should get dumped (from a great height)
and need someone to turn to. In the middle of all this, I really wanted
Molly to come back sooner than planned, and that somehow brought up
the idea that Molly was responsible for the whole of Miss S's woes -
and it all turned out to be one of the major bombshells in volume 1.
This kinda helped with the whole (fairly) unbelievable thing of Miss
Scarlet spending 2 days shagging a bloke she'd only just met - although
I still wanted Miss S to go through genuine emotions as a result of
it, rather than ones manufactured by Molly.
Art-wise, I really, really wanted to
do a more lifelike style in this issue, ie, use references and get a
bit more realism into it - but I didn't have the time or the resources.
I think the art came out quite well though. Less shading, I think -
I always struggle with covers - just with what to actually put on them.
I used a promo shot of Amidala from Attack of the Clones as a basis
for Red's pose, although I wasn't that pleased with the drawing. Also,
she has slightly curly hair here, which she doesn't normally have (although,
spookily, I think the hair is a little bit like Molly's).
I then toyed with going for a really iconic image Miss S in the 'Scandal'
pose, 'Basic Instinct' or 'In Bed with Madonna', but it wasn't working
out. I decided to stick with my original as quite a few people liked
it. I wasn't that happy with the actual drawing, but I figured it was
slightly different stylistically to my usual stuff, if nothing else.
Originally it was 'Seeing Red', although I thought this was a bit obvious,
and it had only just been used as a Buffy episode title. I changed it
quite late on to 'Kamikaze' I thought it tied in quite well with the
whole notion of Red committing suicide at the end.
Red and Kamikaze are in the same position as the lovers in the Rodin
sculpture (even though you can only see them from the shoulders up!).
Molly had a miniature version of the statue, as seen in issues 3 and
7. It's sort of a clue - although you'd be an absolute genius (not to
mention telepathic) to spot it.
Colin finds out he is HIV Positive. He also had it in the very first
version of The O Men I did when I was about 20 - plus he was gay (with
a boyfriend called Justin) in that version too.
Panels 1 - 4: Miss S really hates asking for help.
Panels 6 and 7:
There's football on the TV because there was football on TV while I
was drawing this page!
Panels 9 - 11: Miss S was actually supposed to say something here,
but I managed to miss it out!
Panel 4: I just couldn't kill them. Things were getting too grim!
Panel 6: My piss-take of DC's Elongated Man - what a bloody stupid
Panel 5: The original script had Red saying that she didn't even
know Kami's superhuman name - but of course she heard it on that news
clip earlier. Luckily, somehow, as I always seem to do, I caught it
at the last minute.
Page 19, panel 4
In the background here is my friend Matt and his girlfriend, Steph.
Steph managed to get herself wings.
Page 22, panels 1-4
Molly's talking about Red/Kami, Abby, and Colin here.
Page 23, panel 4
'uhn' - we're back to the very first word of this issue - but in a different
Page 24, panel 5
Oh my god, I've just noticed there's a strand of hair here which should
be black!! arrrgh! No matter how many times I check an issue, there's
always something. No one in the whole world would notice/give a shit,
but I bloody do!!
I was going to do a scene with Ingrid (Union Jack's wife) and Rob, to
show what happened to her after issue 14. However, the issue was already
going over 25 pages, and I didn't want to do any more than that, so
I'll probably do this in a future issue. Ingrid never actually made
it back into the comic, but I managed to get a mention into issue 18.
What a doofus! After issue 7's punishing 8 panels per page, I swore
I'd never do anything like that again but I managed to do something
worse here. I'd been enjoying the new Catwoman series, and someone in
the letters page pointed out that the artist used a classic 4 rows of
panels per page type thing (something I'd never picked up on before).
So I decided to give the 4-rows of panels thing a go which basically
means I could be drawing anywhere up to about 12 panels per page. Which
is a lot. Luckily it only struck me towards the end otherwise I'd probably
have given up.
I think I spent over 3 months on this issue, and then towards the end
I was so determined to finish it off that I locked myself in the house
one weekend and spent about 30 hours in all getting it done. Blimey.
Almost went mad!!
Issue 16 Notes
I struggled with this one for ages (as usual!). I wanted to get a Grace
pic in there, as I'd drawn a nice one on a post-it note and wanted that
on the cover somehow. I was then going to do character shots in a broken
mirror type thing but it wasn't working. Then I decided to do a post-it
note type cover (yes, they're post-it notes it doesn't really matter
if you didn't pick up on that, though!). I overcame my fear of drawing
hands for this one hope it came out okay. (A bit chubby maybe...) It's
Eclipse's hand, by the way.
The concept for this issue came from the idea of starting off with Grace
(or maybe Abby) suddenly going from one 'scene' straight into finding
herself in a locked room with someone badly injured (Molly) and having
to work her way back to find out what happened.
Then I decided to bring back Eclipse, as I had been doodling her quite
a bit, and was enjoying her new 'look', and Molly got involved too.
It's kind of a little tribute to The Invisibles 'try to remember' was
a recurring phrase in that series.
Page 2, panels 1 and 4
That's Seraph in the picture on the wall.
Page 3, panel 2
Isn't it always the way. You check an issue with a fine toothcomb 10
zillion times before it goes to the printers and you still miss things
you should have finished off or sorted out. Hence the unfinished curtain/window
in the background (the left side of it). Still, this one doesn't annoy
me as much as the mistake later...
The secret origin of Molly
Page 6, panel 5
You got the Scarlet O'Hara reference, right? Miss Scarlet has 'killed'
(from left to right) Taurus, unnamed hero who popped up in the Reunion
arc, Mr Green, Frenzy, Pain-Killer, can't remember his name, Malice,
Sister Slaughter and Lorelei.
In case you're reading these
issues in the wrong order, we last saw the real Blackie, Spider and
Twisted Sisters in issues 1 and 2. This was one of the first pages I
drew for this issue and I was kicking myself that I missed Lorelei off
this page, so I added her on page 6 (I did page 7 before page 6 - that's
the way I work!).
Page 8, panel 5
My vendetta against Magnolia continues. I don't know why I watched
it again a while back and it was okay. I probably should have put Batman
and Robin in here.
Page 8, panel 6
This was the last panel I drew of this issue (you might have gathered
by now that I do it all completely out of sequence). I don't like it!
Page 9, panel 7
Hope you all noticed the Powerpuff-style Miss Scarlet on Grace's t-shirt!
Page 10, panel 5
Miss S is still channeling memories. Here we get a scene from issue
4 had to throw Jeopardy and Eclipse in somewhere.
Maths: '3 more people I don't recognise'
so that would be Jeopardy, Eclipse and... Stuart? Surely Kelly would
have met Stuart... so why wouldn't she recognise him?
Page 10, panel 6, background
Another old image from issue 4.
Page 12, panel 2
So how many times have superheroes been rescued by their teams, and
wound up completely naked and yet no one bats an eyelid. It always seemed
to happen to Snowbird and Jean Grey, didn't it? Oh well, at least Miss
S seems to notice something's wrong.
Page 12, panel 6
Well, I couldn't really keep him naked for what happens next issue.
Page 12, general
A lot of this two-part storyline actually came about from the film Thirteen
Ghosts (the remake). Even though I didn't particularly enjoy it, I loved
the way that the ghosts were all such scary, frenzied beings the way
they attacked was so frightening. I wanted the O Men to be relentlessly
attacked by enemies in this storyline I didn't quite achieve the feeling,
but it's what I was aiming at with the attacks by Rob, the Insect League
and Blackie and co.
Page 13, panel 4
Deliberate mistake #1: The door is on the wrong side when you compare
it to the later panels on the same page. I could have changed it but
decided to leave it. Doubt anyone noticed. I think it should actually
be on the left (if I remember correctly from earlier issues).
Page 13, panel 7
Isn't it always the way. You check an issue with a fine toothcomb 10
zillion times before it goes to the printers... blah, blah, blah...
Redrew Rob here (ponytail, right, with back to us) and pritt-sticked
him in (ah, the age of computers!), but forgot to 'black in' some of
his lower half. Now I doubt anyone else will have spotted this at all,
but it really bloody bugs me! Perfectionist and all that. I think I
went through all 100 printed copies correcting it, as with some of the
other mistakes this issue!
Page 15, panels 9-13
These are some of the last panels I drew for the issue (mainly because
I had no idea how I was going to draw it), but I do like them. I love
panel 11. Very dirty.
Page 18, panel 2
Red and Kamikaze from issue 15.
Page 18, panel 10
Ah, the Insect League! Old enemies from my early drawing days. From
left to right: Dragonfly, Flea, Money Spider, Beelzebub, Arachnid, Mistress
Web and Spidra.
Page 19, panel 3
Deliberate mistake #2. Eagle-eyed readers will spot that the door is
opening in the wrong place (considering it's supposed to be a double-door
thing). D'oh. Let's just think that Grace has slipped out the back door.
Page 20, panels 5 and 6
I hope this is clear. I spotted one foul-up and changed it in panel
5, but then Abby's ³just like you² comment in panel 6 doesn't really
follow ('cos Molly doesn't manipulate memories). Hope it's clear what
I'm getting at in this scene. Again, I may have changed it, I can't
remember, and I don't have the issue to hand, and I just want to get
these issue notes finished!!
I love this kinda weirdo
revelation thing in comics. I hope I'm not the only one.
It's not the strongest issue, but I think the second part will more
than make up for that. I was a bit concerned about the amount of set-up
in the issue, so I added the page about Miss Scarlet seeing the murder
of herself (?!) (page 13) to spice things up a bit.
The issue was made:
Between: June and September 2002
Listening to: Coldplay's second album,
amongst other thingsŠ
Watching: Big Brother 3, Help I'm a Celebrity...! 1, Six Feet Under
season 1, Scrubs, and loads moreŠ
Seeing: Reign of Fire, Spider Man (for the third time), Thirteen Ghosts,
Eagerly awaiting: Tori Amos' new album (out end October)
Issue 17 Notes
This was probably the first one in ages I didn't struggle with. I knew
I wanted Eclipse on there looking either mad or evil (the shadow-face
thing was inspired by a panel from a Wonder Woman comic drawn by Roy
Martinez a couple of years ago), and I knew I wanted to have some kind
of 'controversial' nipple thing going on.
This picture of Perception was based on a picture of an actress - can't
quite remember who - maybe Cameron Diaz.
I'd been dying to use this Cluedo reference. Some people were confused
as to how Red had managed to change costumes so quickly, but she's changed
them with her powers.
Ah, the Insect League - old villains from my younger days. Left to right
they are Arachnid, Beelzebub, The Flea, Dragonfly, Mistress Web, Money
Spider and Spidra. Arachnid turns up in Issue 19 and he will hopefully
be appearing in a solo story of his own in 2004's small press O Men
anthology. We find out that Mistress Web and Money Spider are killed
by the Vicious Circle in Issue 19.
Page 3, panel 5
A reference to the film Eight Legged Freaks.
Page 4, panels 3 and 4
Eclipse speaks dialogue from people's memories - normally people in
her vicinity. These are bits of Miss Scarlet dialogue from earlier in
the series - the first from Issue 10 - I can't remember where the other
one is from.
Page 6, panel 3
Again, Miss Scarlet dialogue from Issue 10.
Page 6, panel 5
There was actually going to be a Jeopardy flashback scene here, but
I didn't have room for it and I thought it would confuse the readers.
It was going to be a memory of her origin, where we'd find out that
Jeopardy isn't the woman - it's the gun - a gun that takes over people's
bodies. The current Jeopardy host was taken over during a mugging.
Page 9, panel 1
When Eclipse is talking normally her eyes go back to normal (instead
of black and white) and her speech goes into capital letters. Unless
I forget, as in Page 8, panel 9.
Page 10, panel 2
I got the idea of AIDS being airborne from the film Outbreak, where
the disease became airborne. The future Rob/Anathema is probably saying
these things just to freak our Rob out.
Page 18, panel 4
Note the images of past-Grace, some of which have appeared in the series.
There's a couple of mad-breakdown Graces in there.
The issue was made:
Between: September 2002 and February 2003
Listening to: Aimee Mann's 'Lost in Space', Poe's 'Haunted', Ryan Adams...
Howie Day 'Australia', and Tori's new album, 'Scarlet's Walk'!!
Watching: Alias, Buffy season seven, Firefly.
Reading: Stephen King's 'Christine'; Mark Z Danielewski's 'House of
Leaves', Stephen King's 'Dead Zone', Angela Carter's 'Nights at the
Seeing: Signs, Donnie Darko, 28 Days Later, Iris
This picture of Grace is based on a picture of Sheryl Crow which appeared
a copy of Entertainment Weekly magazine. The issue featured loads of
beautiful portrait photos of famous people and gave me the idea to do
the Vicious Circle covers as a series of model-type shots. The O Men
going to look a million dollars.
This picture of Grace is based on a picture of Tori Amos from the concert
program to her Scarlet's Walk tour.
I struggled with the cast picture for quite a while, but finally nailed
in an hour in bed one Sunday morning. I like it, although I'm slightly
worried they look like a bunch of hairdressers.
This image was taken from one of my first attempts at the cast picture
this issue. It was originally going to go over a double page spread
would have been on the right (along with Abby, who got tippexed out
because it was a bad drawing).
Vicious Circle - it ties in well with the themes of the series, as you'll
Confrontations - I actually couldn't
remember if it was originally supposed
to be Confrontation or Confrontations. Ah well, it's Confrontations
Miss Scarlet's t-shirt logo is my reaction to the FCUK-type clothes.
Oem - just pathetic. But of course Miss S looks great in it. Grow up!
O...strong female character' - Ocos I can't help myself from writing
female characters, so I thought I'd let Miss S take the piss out of
Oh god, a dog. Thank the lord I don't have to draw him for long...
Page 7, panels 4 and 5
I love these panels.
Page 10, panel 6
Ah, poor Ingrid (Union Jack's wife). I had planned to include some sort
reconciliation scene between her and Rob ever since Issue 15, but there
just no room whatsoever. Ah well, back to Sweden for her...
Page 11, panel 8
Beady-eyed readers may spot Rob in the picture behind Doctor O - kind
symbolic after the events of this scene.
Page 12, panel 1
Ah, the Cheeky Girls - what's not to love...
Page 12, panel 3
This guy's called Disease. He'll be back.
Page 13, panel 3
Who's that chap then? You know him.
Page 13, panels 8 and 9
Ruth is crouching here, that's why she looks up and behind her in panel
Ah, who cares, the dog's dead, thank god.
Page 16, panel 8
Thanks to the evils of Tippex and pritt stick and general stupidity,
always at least one mistake in an issue of the O Men, no matter how
times I check it all. Here I forgot to fill Ruth's cardy in.
Page 16, panel 9
This is kinda my homage to the scene where Drusilla kills Kendra in
the Vampire Slayer season 2 - awesome.
Page 20, panel 1
This is the last panel of this issue to be drawn. It was a bit of a
nightmare to be honest - how do you draw everything that's going on
panel a couple driving, arriving at a house, about to get out of a
looking anxious. It took about 5 attempts, attempts which included the
ever picture of Grace.
Page 21, panel 4
You know this place too - it's appeared before.
Page 22, panel 1
Ruth almost gave away a major secret here. She actually did in the original
version, but I felt that she wouldn't make such a revelation at that
There are several clues in the issue and a couple of readers have guessed
I'm pretty happy with this issue. The second part should be a bit more
paced but then things will REALLY kick off in the 3rd part, and from
there's no looking back.
The issue was made:
Between: January and March 2003
Listening to: Tori Amos 'Scarlet's Walk', Joni Mitchell's Travelogue,
Watching: Farscape season 4 and other things
Reading: Clive Barker 'Abarat', Philip Pullman and more
Seeing: Tori in concert!
Issue 19 Notes
Not based so much on an exact picture from Entertainment Weekly (like
the Sheryl Crow one on Issue 18), but the idea came from a very cool
EW shot of Sonic Youth.
Based on a picture of Julianna Hatfield.
Pages 1 + 2
I had recently seen The Ring (the US version) and it totally freaked
me out. I really wanted to try and scare the reader with this scene.
Page 3, panel 1
I call my flatmate 'The Actress'. We don't get on...
Spider just seems to get weirder as the series progresses.
Page 7, panel 4
Miss S is going to ask Rob what she asks Molly later - but she feels
I like the way you don't really 'see' Anathema properly in this scene.
Until the next page.
Another 'homage' to my horrible flatmate - Glimpse's real name is quite
similar to hers and she looks a bit like her too.
Page 13, panel 4
This actually happened in Issue 13.
Page 17, panels 2 and 3
This couple is my friend Paul and his girlfriend Michelle.
Page 20, panel 1
Mistress Mind was actually an early version of Grace from my early drawing
The issue was made:
Between: February 2003 and April 2003
Listening to: Tori Amos 'Scarlet's Walk', Zwan, The Be Good Tanyas 'Chinatown',
Zwan 'Mary Mother of the Sea', Mary Lorson and Bill Cote 'Piano Creeps',
XFM radio, Aimee Mann 'I'm With Stupid'
Watching: Taken, The Salon (!), Killer Corrie, Farscape season 4
Reading: Philip Pullman 'Northern Lights', Alias, The Tommyknockers
by Stephen King
Seeing: Daredevil, The Ring, Metropolis, Cube 2
Playing: Resident Evil 2
Issue 20 Notes
Not actually based on anything. I just wanted a Rob/Kelly cover. Originally
Rob had a hideous leather jacket/medallion thing on him (you can see
it on the editorial page of the previous issue) but I decided to change
Page 1, panels 7 - 9
This actually happened to me (no, not being attacked by a team of super-villains)!
It was a summer and I'd had my windows open in my flat for ages, and
one night I looked up at my ceiling and saw a weird daddy-long-legs
thing, and then slowly I started to realise that the whole ceiling was
covered in the bloody things. Weird.
Page 3, panel 1
A reference to the fact that Kelly beat the Twisted Sisters up in Issue
Page 4, panel 4
Obviously a reference to Sixth Sense.
This one's 'Secrets', the next one's 'Lies'.'Secrets and Lies' (the
Pages 8 and 9
A lot of people think that these two pages are way too rushed, and I
probably agree. To be honest, I had real trouble fitting the whole Colin/Peri
subplot into the story, what with everything else going on.
Page 9, panel 1
You know how sometimes you just look up and see a beautiful sunset or
a weird arrangement of clouds in the sky and you forget your problems
for just a minute? That's what I wanted to accomplish here - although
I'm not sure I pulled it off.
Page 12, panels 3 and 4
This is in the future at a funeral - you probably can't make out that
it's Rob's name on the gravestone. You should be able to recognise Miss
Scarlet and Stuart, we've also got upcoming characters Asylum and CJ,
and I'm not saying who the other 2 are.
Page 12, panel 5
This is another future scene - this time with Doctor O with white hair.
Note the similarity between this and one of Rob's visions in Issue 1.
Page 13, panel 1
That's me, in my old bedroom in Victoria. I'm apologising for having
to kill off a certain character in the future.
Page 19, panel 5
The logisitics of the 'Vicious Circle' story were an absolute nightmare!
Certain people had to be in certain places at certain times for it all
to work. I'm actually amazed that it all came off so well - the only
things I would have liked to work out differently are Anathema rushing
off from the Sahara here (I'd liked for her to have suffered a bit more
in the heat and to have been stranded for a bit longer) and the aforementioned
Pages 20 and 21
I think this scene is heart-breaking.
You'll see this again next issue.
Issue 21 Notes
Story-wise, I was very lucky that everything worked out and that I could
have a solo Doc/Anathema issue - I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it
- I thought I'd at least have to finish up the Colin/Peri stuff in the
same issue, as a 'b' plot - but somehow it all worked out. I just thought
it would be a really cool, unexpected twist to have a talky issue in
the middle of this big ongoing war storyline. It's the last thing you'd
expect. I wanted Doctor O and Anathema to basically have an issue to
themselves and, essentially, have a fight without actually fighting.
I toyed with different ideas - at one point Doctor O slapped Anathema
across face and she flew over the table early on, and another idea had
Doctor O not actually saying a word until he launched into his climactic
I wanted this to be a Doctor O cover, but I just couldn't come up with
an image of him that was cover-worthy. I went for this shot instead
- based on a magazine advert for a perfume.
Believe it or not, this is based on a picture of John Travolta.
The reason I wanted this page here was so that the 'C*nt' pages would
be opposite each other, later in the story.
I wanted this issue to be book-ended, featuring other characters, so
that it wasn't too isolated. Here, Doctor O talks to Girl VII from the
USAviors. Originally, I had planned to kick the issue off with Doctor
O contacting parallel universes - but I felt that would be too confusing.
Page 1, panel 5
Otousan is the term used by an android to refer to its creator.
A (sort-of) repeat of the final page of the previous issue, with certain
panels enlarged or shrunk as necessary. (So I wasn't just being lazy
- I still had to work on it!)
Page 2, panel 7
Page 3, panel 5
Page 4, panel 2
The background picture here is of a superhero called Glitter.
Basically, the idea here is that Doctor O has tormented Anathema throughout
the centuries - in the Witch Trials, as Jack the Ripper, in World War
II and as Victrix in the Ultra Knights. Some people got confused as
to why Victrix is put earlier on the page - apart from her, they're
all in sequence. There's no real reason for this at all.
Page 8, panel 7
This issue is called 'Lies' even thought here aren't really any lies
in it - and Doctor O makes an interesting comment on lies here. I think
he adopts my own policy on lying - I hate it, I hate having it on my
conscience, so I try to avoid it wherever possible. There are ways of
lying without actually lying!!!
Page 9, panel 3
The 'children' will come into the series in Volume Two.
I think it's interesting to play around with people's motives. A hackneyed
plot idea would be for someone to get really sick of all the misery
and pain in the world and have that as his motive. Here, the Doctor's
motive is that he's sickened and surprised by the fact that people *aren't*
shocked by all this death and misery - that it's become so commonplace.
It's a sorry sign of the state of the world.
Page 11 - 12
I had all these things worked out in my head and then when it actually
came down to writing it all, I'd managed to forget most of them and
had to really think hard.
I just find it incredible that people move from problem to problem so
much - and I'm guilty of it myself. The way that you can pin all your
hopes on getting a new job and then you hate it when you get it. The
final panel on this page is kind of talking about murderers and paedophiles
- and if you face up to the harsh reality of it, sometimes they are
victims themselves. They've been forged by the people around them. I'm
not excusing what they do, just looking into the psychology of the whole
This idea didn't come into it until very late - the idea of actually
working appearances of The O Men into this Ana/Doc issue. I think it
really works (although, again, I really had to struggle to remember
what the Doctor was supposed to be saying about each of them).
I do believe that people have become more selfish and shallow, in general.
More self-absorbed, more self-centred.
I was really worried about this page.
I was worried that the readers would take it the wrong way - that they
might think that what I'm saying is 'hey you bunch of losers, buck your
ideas up', which would be unbelievably arrogant and patronising and
is not what I'm saying at all. With panel 3 I wanted it to be one of
those wake-up calls - you know, how every now and then you'll have this
moment of awareness, where you've been coasting along in life and then
you suddenly realise, 'this is it - i'm living this now, I must make
the most of it.'
Page 14, panel 4
This addresses why the Vicious Circle started with the villains in Issue
Pages 16 and 17
So this is it, the central point of this issue. It's as if Doctor O
is punching her right in the face with that word - and you might have
noticed that it's the first (and probably the last) time I've used the
c-word it in the series. This is what I was aiming for in this issue
- a battle between two sworn enemies, with no violence involved - but
Doctor O's words have the full force of a punch. (Although, if you think
about it, the word 'c*nt', which I think was quite common in Mediaeval
times, wouldn't be all that shocking to Anathema.)
Page 18, panel 2
Note that Anathema did this exact same thing to Rob in Issue 20.
I really had no idea how people would respond to this issue - whether
they'd enjoy such an insular issue - but it got some great responses.
It's even about to get a 10 out of 10 in Comics International!
I was so lucky with this issue - my regular printer had a posh new photo-copier
in and he wanted to try it out - so he used the O Men and it got printed
on some very nice glossy paper. It would have cost me over 1000 quid,
but just cost me the usual 60 quid.
Issue 22 Notes
Based on a gorgeous picture of - guess who - Tori Amos looking exhausted
but happy after a concert. Grace is exhausted but probably not too happy
at the moment...
Panel 1: The perspective on the building is pretty terrible. I didn't
have a clue. It took me ages, too! The scene of Miss S breaking into
the building was actually inspired by an awesome scene from an early
season two episode of Alias - really cool music, really exciting - Miss
S is pretty much doing what Sydney did in that scene. I don't quite
know how she actually got to the top of the building in order to scale
down it in the first place - but those are just, er, minor details…
Miss S is expecting heavy security, especially considering the last
time she visited in the 'Frenzy' storyline.
Note that Anathema hasn't had time to change her dress since last issue.
Panels 1 - 3 - can you spot Abby in bed with Rob?!
Panel 9: Grace was originally smiling manically in this panel to show
how much she's losing it, but I thought it looked stupid, so I changed
Panel 5: What a nightmare panel - so much exposition! I bet you never
knew Stu had been so busy!
Panel 2: Grace is quite rude here -
it's kind of a sign that she's not herself.
Panel 3: Note the subtle cricket reference...
Poor Pathe. I was really reluctant to kill him off, since he was so
popular... but sacrifices need to be made. The fight between Pathe and
Doctor O was supposed to be a lot longer but I had no room for it.
To be honest, Pathe and Colin were always destined to die, from an early
stage of writing the storyline - but when it came to doing it, I had
problems carrying it out. And then Joss Whedon went and stabbed one
of his characters' eyes out on Buffy and I thought 'ah well, if he can
be horrible, so can I'.
Panels 8 and 9: You think Doc O is upset
about Pathe - but he's upset about his shirt...
One of those happy coincidences - I didn't really know what to do here,
but it became a handy way of giving Colin time to explain himself a
bit, to show where Grace is and also to clear up a bit of a mistake
regarding the Colin/Peri business. I think I messed up on who did what
to whom earlier on, especially since Peri told Gemma (in 'Reunion')
that Colin gave her HIV and I never made it clear that Peri had been
lying. I also think it's interesting that Colin is explaining that he
really hasn't been himself. I never got to grips with the character
- maybe he would have been fun if he'd been himself.
Panel 4; Strange Little Girls - a sneaky Tori album title reference.
A bit regrettable that I didn't have room to show Colin's body - just
to ram the point home. Poor Colin.
In the early stages this issue would
have played a lot differently. We'd have followed Miss S to Jeremy Skinner's
building (she'd have been trailed by the Vicious Circle girls) and then
she'd have had a cat and mouse fight with Ana all over Skinner's building.
I don't know why it changed, but I like the new version. It's a bit
Panel 5: Originally Grace is shouting out a massive 'Colin' but i felt
that was a bit silly.
Pretty happy with this issue - it contains a lot of stuff that I've
been dying to do since day one, especially the 'Smack my Bitch up' at
Issue 23 Notes
What a struggle! It was originally supposed to be a pic of Grace lying
on the floor as if shot (based on a Tori promo pic), but I just couldn't
get it right (I must have tried at least 30 times). Eventually I used
a gorgeous pic of Kiera Knightly on the cover of Time Out as a starting
point. I like that Grace looks quite cold and corpse-like.
I like the title, 'Debris', based on Stu's original codename and the
fact that everything's a right bloody mess.
Based on an image from an advert. I did consider having Grace and Stu
on the cover but couldn't come up with a decent image. So Grace gets
the most covers in the Vicious Circle storyline - along with Anathema.
Panel 1: I wanted this to be like when you wake up and you think all
these thoughts, not realising that they're not all accurate. For instance,
Grace thinks about visiting her mother, who's just died.
Panel 5: I had this really cool image of Rob just being hurtled backwards
and smashing pictures on the wall. Note in the page's last panel that
the backgrounds are made out of Rob's memories - past panels from the
Panel 2: The image that Anathema planted in Rob's head a couple of issues
Note that a lot of things being described here have turned up or will
turn up in this series.
Panel 3: I love this panel! Brains!
Wow, this stuff is so far-fetched, and there's so little room to explain
it all! Note I forgot to fill in the right-hand side of the background
to panel 8!!! Must have been too excited by the goings-on!
Note the mention of Girl-7 here - you'd really have to be on the ball
to catch that and relate it to next issue though!
I love that Doc O tries to kill Grace with the same gun he used to kill
Pathe. What a sicko. And that he basically sowed his own doom by killing
Pathe in the first place.
I actually don't know if Pathe is Grace's father or not! He never was
at the start, but it started to seem like a good idea. It's up to the
reader to decide I guess.
When Grace loses it - and the whole
scene from there and when Anathema enters the house - it all very much
stemmed from a Radiohead song from OK Computer called 'Climbing up the
Walls'. Intense, mad... scary. Would be great in a film adaptation!
The printer actually phoned me up, thinking that half the page had dropped
off. Wouldn't be the first time something had dropped off at the printers,
to be honest.
Everyone seemed to assume that Doctor O is dead here... I don't know
The final 'This is fucking ridiculous'
of the issue - note that they were the first words of the issue, and
note who said them. It's kind of important... (And note the bit where
Abby is smoking and doesn't even seem to realise she's doing it...)
All very intense, I quite like the art - very excited at this point!
Issue 24 Notes
Since we're shifting to America I wanted the book to have an American
look - hence the colour cover. I used my usual pencil crayons on my
first attempt to colour it, but it looked utterly shit when it was printed,
so I coloured it on Photoshop - thanks to Oz for showing me the ropes
and to Matt Ramsdale for helping me out with the flag extending into
the logo (very tricky!).
We've had '24 Hours', now we've got '7 Days', and we'll eventually get
'12 months' and perhaps further down the line, '10 years'.
I knew the USAviors would come back at some point, although I didn't
really think about giving them their own issue until quite late in the
day. I thought it was a neat idea to shift the focus completely, to
flesh out the characters a little bit, and, most of all, to piss off
all the readers by essentially taking a bit of a break from the main
storyline just as it's hotting up.
I wanted the issue to be a lean 20 pages for several reasons. First
up, I knew I would be doing a colour cover so it would help to save
costs where I could, and secondly, I wanted to complete the issue in
time for Comics 2004, so the less pages the better! It fits quite nicely,
although I would have liked a bit more room for the Day Two scenes -
more on that later.
SUGAR - there's actually a Tori Amos song called 'Sugar' but I think
the name comes more from Rogue from the X-Men - when she used to call
everyone "sugah". Sugar is essentially a purer version of
Rogue (the cool Rogue from the 80s, rather than the bland character
of the present day). I hope the readers like her, although the might
think she's a bit miserable!
SUPERBMAN AND MR MUSCLE - I knew I wanted
two expendable, completely ridiculous new superheroes for this issue,
and I actually didn't even come up with them until I'd drawn about half
the issue (bearing in mind that I don't draw in sequence - so I was
leaving spaces to fill them in when I'd eventually invented them!).
I think I eventually came up with them in about 5 minutes.
GIRL 7 - Her name is based on a St Etienne
song called 'Girl VI'.
ELITE, HOTFOOT, GIRL-7 AND UNDERDOG
- Part of the fun of this issue was in maiming the whole team! It would
have been nice to be able to have done a 'What happened to so-and-so'
at the end, but I thought it would give the game away that the world
wouldn't be destroyed in the near future. For the record - and this
is a spoiler warning, so look away now if you don't want to know - Hotfoot
ends up in a wheelchair, elite is in a coma, Girl-7 is reconstructed
and Underdog is definitely dead, but will be replaced by one of his
fellow Underdogs - yes, there are more of them! I'll probably feature
the USAviors again eventually, but I don't have any major plans for
them, except maybe Sugar.
Panel 3: I was going to name the cosmic being, but I realised I'd already
done a Galactus thing in the Malice storyline, so I left it vague.
Panels 4 and 5: I always thought it
was hilarious how Captain America - who doesn't have any really big
powers - could get into a fight with someone like the Hulk and always
win through tactics - so I thought I'd try it out with Underdog.
PAGES 2 AND 3:
I would really have liked to make this scene longer but I didn't have
the room. I had an absolutely beautiful photo of the New York skyline
which I was going to use as reference but I lost it at the last minute
(after keeping it for 2 years!). I'd actually have liked to get a shot
of Ground Zero but I couldn't find one. Maybe if I get decent reference
pics I 'll revisit the scene and do it as a pin-up in the future or
I wanted to address September the 11th,
something that saddens me immensely. I just found the whole thing so
fucking horrible and I wanted to address it somehow. I wasn't particularly
bothered by addressing where the superteam actually were during the
incident, but I did it anyway. In an early draft of the story, we found
out that Sugar was actually there when Sept 11 happened, but she was
just discovering her powers and was scared to do anything (she actually
confesses this to a priest when she goes home). I didn't have space
for all this, though, so I abandoned it.
Last panel: I like that it's gone dark
here - as if Sugar's been stewing for ages before answering. I also
like the idea of Hotfoot running so fast that she can run up the side
of a building.
Panel 1: Trina Trishby is sort of based on an old Marvel reporter called
Panel 2: Henrietta Greenwich is sort
of based on an Avengers government liaison called Henry Gyrich.
I love it when superteams meet up and then just fight each other!! So
silly and pointless. The panel is based on a panel from the recent JLA/Avengers
mini-series. Note the piss-takes of Vision, Mr Fantastic, Captain America,
Iron Man, Wonder Woman, Superman, Plastic Man, Aquaman, Black Canary,
Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Fire, Batman, the Flash, some weird bloke
at the bottom and, oh yeah, little Wasp and Antman.
This is all a bit Clark Kent/Smallville.
Kamikaze's Japanese comes courtesy of my Japanese-speaking friend Jonathan
Clements - former editor of the UK's Manga Max magazine, author of several
manga-related books and all-round unbelievably clever bloke.
Panel 4: I had a lot of fun with the monitors in this picture - it's
a mix of images from Alias, Angel, Kill Bill 2 and The Invisibles.
I'm not even sure myself what's going on here - it's up to the reader
I guess. You could interpret it as Hotfoot inviting Sugar in for a threesome,
but I kinda see it as Hotfoot being a bit of a bitch. I like the way
that we see elements of the USAviors' characters, but we don't actually
pin them down. I mean, Hotfoot can be a bitch, but she's not a total
Obviously the bottom panels are a reverse of what happened in Issue
21 - the conversation between Doc O and Girl-7.
Panel 3: The alien butler Javros is a homage to the Avenger's trusty
Note that Underdog is shaking his head here. He doesn't actually speak!
I like Underdog though - I see him as my Wolverine.
OVERALL: I'm so evil to change the entire
storyline after the events of last issue, but I thought a change of
pace would be interesting, plus it does update you on where things have
got to too. I wanted to flesh out the USAviors a bit, plus I thought
it would be dramatic, fun and unexpected to decimate an entire superteam.
The cover is based again on an Entertainment Weekly pic - this time
of Courtney Love. Again, I struggled with this one - you can copy a
photograph, but it somehow looks really odd on paper. I almost abandoned
it and went with a Rob or Grace (holding Stu's head) pic instead, but
I thought I'd done enough Grace covers, and Seraph was always supposed
to be on this cover so I persevered.
This was one of the trickiest stories of the Vicious Circle storyline.
Part of this was because plans for the final issues were always very
vague, but the main reason was that I had so much exposition and set-up
to cram in, and this would be my last chance to do this (because Issue
26 is a Miss Scarlet issue and Issue 27 is the big finale). So I thought
it was going to be really shit, and then somehow I came up with the
Now and Then (and Later) story-telling idea and it all came together.
It was only afterwards that I realised that this method was used in
Stephen King's 'From a Buick 8' novel, so I referenced it in Issue 23.
Alarmingly, a week after O Men 25 came out, Bendis used a similar Now
and Then method in an Avengers, but he didn't do the Later stuff and
he didn't really make much of it, so that's okay.
Seriously, the last few issues have been so unplanned. I knew the USAviors
would be involved, and Grace and Red and Colin and Kamikaze, but I didn't
really know what exactly they'd be doing. I didn't even know that Kamikaze
would rescue Red from this situation.
Poor Mr Green. I did like him. In an original version he had sex with
Seraph (still wearing his mask) but I had no room for it here. Note
that his final words are a famous quote from Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons
(just before getting nuked).
Panel 1 - note this is quite similar to the dinner party scene in Issue
Panel 7 - so Nonna and Doctor O had some kind of connection. Did you
spot who Doctor O was sleeping with in Issue Seven?
The flashback scene took place after the conversation at the start of
With the whole 'now'/'then' thing, it would have been nice to use different
panel-border thicknesses to differentiate them, but Grace's telepathy
scenes traditionally have no frames, so it wouldn't have worked here.
Panel 3- Kamikaze hitched a ride on the back of the USAviors jet.
Remember when Abby went to see Doctor O at the end of Issue 19…?
Panel 3- the t-shirt thing is just a private joke between me and a friend.
Don't you just love private jokes…
Panel 1 - Note that this panel is sort-of repeated 3 times over the
next few pages.
Panel 4 - This takes place before issue 15.
For this approaching-the-mansion scene - if O Men ever becomes a movie
or an animated series, this bit would be accompanied by the end of Nirvana's
'Scentless Apprentice' from their In Utero album.
I had a vision that it would be Miss S and Kami approaching the mansion
together - kinda cool, like Steed and Emma in the Avengers movie trailer
(when they're in those bubbles), but Kami didn't make it. I only decided
to kill him off so early quite late in the day, but he would have died
on the battlefield in Issue 27 anyway.
Issue 26 Notes
Based on a behind-the-scenes pic of Lady Penelope from last year's god-awful
Originally it was going to be 'Violences', but I changed my mind. I
know 'violences' isn't really a word, but I like it.
As with most of the final issues, this story wasn't really pre-planned
all that much. Plans became a bit vague towards the end of the series
- although I knew what would happen in the final issue. I think a lot
of this issue originated from the fact that Miss Scarlet hadn't done
all that much in the Vicious Circle storyline so far (well, okay she
had done quite a bit, but she hadn't appeared much), plus also I think
Kill Bill had a massive influence. I was quite tempted to call it 'Kill
Blackie'. It's a shame comics can't quite capture manic-ness, as I would
really would have liked the frenzied nature of the attacks to come across
a bit more.
Page 2 Spider really has evolved in this series. It's
very sub-conscious on my part. It's as if she's taken on a life of her
Page 3, panel 5 Notice the 'o'.
Page 6 I dunno if it's clear or not that the Twisted
Sisters are pinned to the wall.
Page 8 These are kind of variants of the Justice League.
Page 10 Panel 1 Elongation Man from Issue 15 reappears
- a very last minute decision to include him - kind of concludes his
storyline. Note the similarities with the DC version - his wife 'Susan'.
Panel 6 Another illusion. I hope it's clear that these are illusions.
Page 11 So this is what really happened. If you think
about it, Colin was practically dead. Miss S helped him out. She really
did do him a favour.
Page 14 Lorelei has a whole back-story that I'll never
ever get into! She was an abused wifey, who went nuts. Her sister was
having an affair with her husband and she killed them both. She can
kill by touch (I don't know why I came up with that idea) and she doesn't
feel pain (never alluded to in the comic) - hence the fact she's scratched
half her face off.
Page 15 Panel 5 Think about who's really asking these
questions - and, therefore, what that person really knows. Panel 8 'Mur'
- another stupid in-joke.
Page 20 Panel 2 Old incarnations of Miss Scarlet.
Page 23 Panels 1-3 This is a total steal from a Season
Five Buffy episode. Buffy's mom has just died and after the funeral,
Buffy's on her own by the graveside, and Angel just walks up to her
and they hold hands - really naturally. I thought it was so sweet. Miss
S's mini-speech I don't know if it baffled readers or not. I truly believe
that people should make their own minds up about what they read, so
I'm not going to explain it. But you should think about what those 'ghosts'
are that appear in the story, where they're from, what they're saying.
What it says about what someone probably already knows. The answers
are all there to be worked out, but I will definitely explain everything
at some point. Also, on this page, Rob was actually going to say something
else, but I thought it was too early for him to say it. Don't worry
if you have no idea what I'm talking about. You might be able to work
it out, but don't worry if you can't!
Page 24 Panel 5 One of the other superheroes is helping
Rob and Red fly.
This is partly based on the original film poster for Open Range (I’ve
never seen the film). I just thought it was cool how the characters
looked off into the distance, and it is a nice image for the final cover.
I wasn’t very happy with the pic of Grace and I think Red’s
arm is a bit fat.
I had no idea what to call this one. I had titles like ‘Ground
Zero’ and ‘Full Circle’ in mind but wanted to use
them down the line. ‘Survivor’ came to me the day before
I went to print.
As I’ve said before, I knew the basics of the final few issues,
but not how I was going to tell the story and the little specifics.
A lot of it wrote itself, really. There were some scenes that I have
wanted to do since I started Issue One six years ago – Grace punching
Anathema, Miss S getting shot, etc.
I dunno if anyone notices things like this, but I really like playing
with the storytelling and panel designs of some of the issues. This
one’s 6 panels per page with splash pages for big events.
Actually loosely based on the famous Marvel Secret Wars image.
Pages 2, panels 4 and 5
In case you don’t remember, this is Safe and Sound. Panel 5 sees
the death of – er, actually I don’t know who that is. I
think I just made him up back in issue 12.
Page 3, panel 4
I think it’s ‘Fluke’ that bites the dust here.
Page 6, panel 4
This is a lyric from a Tori Amos song (‘Taxi Ride’ from
the ‘Scarlet’s Walk’ album).
Page 9. panel 2
I don’t know why, but I originally had Red send Frenzy after Molly.
Jeremy makes so much more sense!
In case it’s not clear,
Red sent an illusion in to ‘deal with’ Disease and then
put the Miss S illusion out of her misery.
Someone commented that they liked the circular effects here. I guess
it ties in well with the themes of the comic but it wasn’t intentional!
Page 12, panel 5
Ana was going to say something like ‘ew, don’t give me AIDS’
here, but I figured she’d said enough anti-‘gay’ things
and, even though she’s the baddy, it was a bit too much.
These guys are (the original) Psiren and Insomniac – another brother/sister
duo. They were a bigger part in the original O Men series I made when
I was about 20.
Page 16, panel 2
In case it’s not clear, Abby’s turned into a glass-woman
who can turn things into glass at a touch. Sort of inspired by Chrysalis
from the Wild Cards novels.
In the original version, you actually get to see where Rob and Abby
go, but I decided not to show it to tease the readers! I have no idea
where Vortex went. He won’t be back, I don’t think.
Yeeeeah! At last, the punch-up!
“I believe in peace, bitch” is another Tori quote –
from ‘The Waitress’ song on her second album, ‘Under
Page 23, panel 3
“Oh really”. Just a small thing, but this is what Ana said
earlier in the issue.
Originally, Grace was supposed to bash Ana thru the mansion in a longer
scene, but I ran out of space.
I really wanted this to be a heart-breakingly sad scene. I don’t
think it worked on that level, mainly because I rushed it. Just the
idea of saying goodbye to your loved ones like that. I like Grace’s
expressions at the bottom of Page 26 though.
Page 26, panel 3
This is probably one of the most important panels of this issue. Notice
that it was Stu who talked Grace into making her decision. But if Stu
didn’t exist… It explains why Red is crying in Page 27,
Page 30, panel 5
I don’t know what happened here, but Girl-VII isn’t in a
coma, she’s being rebuilt!
Page 31, panel 3
Thurein. I knew someone called Thurein and the name does mean ‘sunshine’.
I don’t know him any more, and it’s kind of sad, but this
was my little tribute. To be honest, this section was hard to write,
but I wanted to continue with it. It’s kinda funny how he’ll
probably never read this issue either.
Page 32, panel 2
That’s Jeopardy, one of Molly’s friends, in case you don’t
remember (because one of my friends didn’t).
Page 32, panel 3
I’m amazed at the amount of upset this panel caused! I mean, knowing
how much I like the character, and what that means about the chances
are of her coming back…
Page 33, panel 3
I guess you could interpret this as something to do with Anathema, but
I like to think she’s reacting to Doctor O.
Page 33, panel 5
That’s my mom!
A lot of people thought he was dead, which surprised me a bit! Ah well.
To be honest, I’m quite proud of my little shocks/surprises in
Ad on Inside back
Volume two! Or rather, season two, as it’s now going to be called.
If you want to know, the people in the background are: (left to right)
Limbo, Diva, Busybody, Liberty (front), Phenomena, Random and Outcast.
They’ve all popped up in Volume One as background characters,
except for Busybody and the final two.
Regular readers seemed to love this one, but most said they’d
have to read the whole of volume one again. Some said they found some
of the characters confusing (although I mainly only killed off one-note
characters who didn’t really matter). Most people generally called
me a ‘bastard’. But all in all, I think most people enjoyed
ISSUE 2.1 NOTES
These issue notes contain plot points and story details, so please read
the issue before you read them.
Normally when I do an issue, the cover is the last thing that I do,
because, oddly, I don’t really have a clue what I’m going
to do. Strangely enough, the cover for 2.1 was the first thing I actually
did on this issue. For once it’s not actually based on any specific
pictures, but the idea came from the popular cover to Book Four. Book
Four has got a spotlighted picture of the team, and I thought it would
be a good idea to show a similar image of Kelly, completely on her own,
as that kind of reflects the issue’s events. I also liked the
fact that you can’t really see Kelly’s pointy ear, meaning
that non-superhero comic fans might be tempted to buy it without realising
ho ho. I had ideas to use yellow paper for the cover, but felt like
it worked best on white.
As it came close to printing the issue I started to wonder if a team
shot might not work better (perhaps a take on Book One’s cover
– updated), but I went with my original idea (always good to go
with the original idea).
The big changes
As you can see, I’ve gone all digital for the new season. It’s
something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time, and I finally
treated myself to a new laptop at Christmas. It took a while to get
to grips with the whole thing. Layers baffled me for a while, and it
took me ages to get a font sorted (I wasted a whole day lettering/ballooning
four pages only to find that it just wasn’t working and I had
to redo it all again).
It took a long time and it’s a totally different way of working.
Instead of being free to just doodle and do what I want to do, I have
to do things in stages and leave gaps for the lettering at a later stage,
and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve rushed a
page just so that I can scan it and get on with completing it.
I set myself a deadline for this issue for the Bristol Comic 2006 Convention
and I was really lucky to make it. A week before the deadline, I did
my final corrections and got the issue ready on disk and then my bloody
laptop died! Was very lucky that I got it all done half an hour before
my laptop packed in...
This is based on the classic cover to Justice League Issue One, from
back in the 80s.
Wot no Previously?
A lot of people said I should have put a ‘previously’ update
with this issue. I probably should have, but in a way, I just wanted
the issue to speak for itself, and we do kind of get a recap of Issue
27 in the first couple of pages. I’m a big fan of just dropping
into a Grant Morrison run and seeing all these weird names and hearing
about weird events, and getting excited when I can finally piece stuff
together. But maybe I should have done a ‘previously’…
Here we flashback to the final issue of Volume One, in the middle of
the big Anathema battle. Some familiar faces are dotted around, and
you’ll definitely spot Rob and Miss Scarlet from Volume One’s
team. Will this be the only time we see them in Season Two? Actually,
you should get the answer to that in this issue.
You can also see Phenomena and Diva in the background (they appeared
here and there in Season One) and also Lord and Lady who feature later
in the issue.
The battle continues, and on this page it’s directly from Kelly’s
point of view. If you read Issue 27, you’ll recognise the action
here - where Sugar attacks Vixen and her mom, picks them up, flies them
into the air and drops them from a great height.
Page Two - I was thinking for ages what I could put in the hospital
room’s picture frame, and the simple weather scene tied in well
with the overall underlying themes of the issue, which I’ll talk
This is a page which really benefits from Photoshop - where I can just
draw one image for the page and then manipulate it and jump around with
I think this is actually one of the very first pages I completed in
The title ‘12 months’ is actually following an O Men theme
- we already had ‘24 Hours’ in Issue Seven and ‘Seven
Days’ in Issue 24, and we may get a ‘10 Years’ in
Not much to say here, except that I did feel the scene suffered from
the fact that it’s such a short one. Quite a few scenes in this
issue suffered in a similar way, but I guess it’s the sort of
thing that happens when you’ve only got so many pages to tell
the story. I had to add a very last-minute “oh, you’re going
already?” from Grace, as it might have looked a bit silly otherwise.
I think at one point Kelly refers to Seraph and ‘Mr Universe’
and I think he should be called ‘Starman’. Lol, I can’t
even remember my characters’ own names…
Kelly detects the scent of Doctor O here, which will be clear if you
read the final issue of Season One.
The guys at the end of the page will make sense in the next issue.
Took me ages to find a decent church for reference here. In the end
I spotted a church in Brighton that was perfect and I used that.
Commissioner Jordan is a mix of Commissioner Gordon from the Batman
comics and busty British model Jordan. Officer Montella is a take on
DC’s Renee Montoya.
A lot of these panels are just taken from Issue 27 - the joys of Photoshop
The dialogue from panel 4 is taken from Issue 27, panel 5 has Kelly
talking to Busybody, pisstake on the shameful over-exposure of Logan
in panel 6, and panel 8 was a last-minute addition to explain why Gemma
doesn’t get involved this issue.
Okay, let’s talk about these guys...
As you’ll see, these guys don’t last very long, so I needed
a team that were pretty expendable. In fact, this issue’s ghostly
villains were supposed to be particularly nasty and violent to the new
team - although predictably, I grew too attached to them to be too horrible.
Anyway, here’s a little guide to them...
Diva - At some stage, I really wanted my own Wonder Woman character
and I think Diva is that. Her look is based on Britney Spears in her
‘Born to Make You Happy’ video (I think - it’s around
that period). Of course, she couldn’t just be straight-forward,
she’s kind of an alter ego of a small, dumpy lesbian woman...
Outcast - As is the case with a lot of my characters, the name came
first with this guy. Well sort of. The character has been with me for
a while - predictably called Shadow in older days - but when I was thinking
of characters for the new team, Outcast and Random seemed to be the
right names at the time.
Phenomena - Not much to say about Phenomena really. She just naturally
developed. I think she’s like some sort of ancient Greek hero
character. I dunno if Promethea was in my subconscious when I created
her. She popped up in the first volume of the O Men a couple of times.
At one point this issue we were going to see her speak in Greek lettering,
but I never got the space.
Limbo - This guy... There’s a small story. When I first moved
down to London, I lived right by Victoria Coach Station and often went
down to the Victoria Library’s Internet room, and there was this
really funky looking bloke who worked there and always rushed about.
His look just stuck in my head (for ten years!) and he became Limbo.
Limbo has got voodoo-type powers.
Liberty - Ah, Liberty. I thought of her ages ago - my first transvestite
superhero, which I think is a fantastic idea, but it’s probably
been done before. Now, Liberty is also a part of another superteam I’ve
got in mind called Spandex. It’s a gay team, which I don’t
think has been done before, but probably has. If I had more hours in
the day and more energy I’d love to do a Spandex comic - I’ve
got quite a few ideas, and it’d be quite a fun comic. The Spandex
team (see picture!) consists of Liberty, Diva, Mr Muscle, Butch, Metallica,
Glitter and a little chimpy chap who I haven’t got a name for
Busybody - I was walking
back from my local supermarket, down this hill, and I saw this woman
zooming up the hill in front of me, carrying some heavy shopping bags.
I just looked at her and she seemed such a character. She looked like
she’d be a bit of a gossip, and the name Busybody came into my
head. So this is Busybody, and obviously she had to have speedy powers,
and somehow she also became the mother of Hotfoot from the USAviors
(although you never really find that out in this issue).
Random - Perhaps the most made-up-on-the-spot character in the new team,
although he came quite fully formed. I dunno where his relationship
with Kelly came from, it just evolved really. I do like him, and if
I can figure a way to fit him into future issues, he might be back as
I think he would be good for Kelly.
One of several homage pictures this issue. I really wanted to move straight
on from the boredom of Page 11 into a big action scene and there were
four options here (the others ended up on Page 15). For a long time,
the Dr Light homage was on this page, but I just felt it was too cartoony,
so I went with this homage of an Authority cover (suggested by Kelvin
Green), because I just liked the way it worked on the page.
Pages 13 and 14
Hopefully it’s not too difficult to work out the true identity
of Liberty on this page - ie, that ‘she’ is really a man.
Also hopefully not too obscure to realise on the next page that Diva
is transforming back into her dumpy alter ego.
If you look closely at the Busybody panel, you can see a pic of her
with her daughter Hotfoot. Hopefully, some other stuff on these pages
fleshes out the other guys slightly too, although, to be honest, it
wasn’t a massive concern for me. I think comics have moved on
from the days where you’d introduce a new character and have to
immediately explain everything about them.
Who could that be at the bottom of the page...?
I love that Kelly says that in panel 3.
More homages on this page. Panel 4 has a take on the first Fantastic
Four cover, Panel 6 is the Galactus v FF/Avengers Byrne cover (if I
had room I’d have explained that this is Galactica, the sister
of Galacticus from Issue 24!), and the classic JLA cover which is on
the cover of the Showcase collection of JLA.
Page 17 onwards
A lot of this issue was conceived (is that the right word?) while I
was going through a big Japanese horror phase. I found the ghosts in
those films soooo malevolent, and I just got to thinking, what if you
pitted a group of tough superheroes against a group of unbeatable ghosts.
The ghosts that appear here are takes on some of the baddies from Ju-on,
Ring and Audition (and if you haven’t seen them, go see ‘em
Page 18, panel 3
Thanks to Jamie Barras for providing the Japanese for ‘attack!’.
I just hope I wrote it the right way around...
Panel 2 - you have no idea how long I’ve waited for Kelly to say
that. Email chum Jamie Barras, who now lives in Japan, pointed out that
‘moshi, moshi’ (ie, ‘hello’) is actually more
commonly used to answer the phone, but it can be used like this too.
Even if it was wrong, it’d have been Kelly’s mistake not
Panels 3 and 4 - the manga speed lines weren’t planned, but I
thought they were a nice touch to add to the Japanese-ness of the current
Panels six and seven - I thought of a great line for Kelly to say here,
but it totally disappeared from my head when I came to write it. Shame
that, but I think the scene works well anyway without it.
Another scene that could have been longer, but I just didn’t have
the room. Kelly could conceivably have ranted for a lot longer than
that, but I ran out of pages, so never mind.
Another of those pages that I just to get to draw one drawing for and
then have Photoshop fun with. I’ve been wanting to do this sort
of thing ever since I first saw Brett Ewins doing it in Bad Company
in 2000AD (and I think the thickening of the lines is cool, even though
I guess I should probably have tried to do something about it).
In many ways, I think the germ of the idea for this issue centres on
this scene and I kind of built the events around this. I went through
a depression when I was in my 20s and it was pretty rough, and I think
getting Kelly to talk about the confusion and the nastiness of medication
here is quite theraputic for me!
Panels 5-7 - ah, again, the joys of Photoshop! (The picture in the frame.)
You can see that Kelly throwing the picture, broke the mirror, which
leads into the next development. A lot of things this issue are very
Obviously this harks back to the Vultures subplot of Volume One.
The surnames here are totally random, no pattern really. I guess the
bottom middle panel indicates that a family is wiped out in the car
Panel 6 - who’s this then?
Note that she indicates that the next 12 months will be Kelly’s
hardest - so maybe this issue’s title relates to that...
Who are these guys then. I will say that you should recognise three
of them. Hopefully Molly Valentine is easily recognisable. If you don’t
recognise any of the others, I’ll direct you to old pictures of
PSI-SQUAD, which should help you with at least one of the others...
Being an English Literature graduate, and having studied Dickens, Hardy
and the Brontes, etc, I’m a big fan of themes, although I don’t
always get round to thinking of any of my own. There is a theme that
crept its way into this issue and I was really pleased with the way
it turned out. All through the issue we’ve had a subtle theme
involving the weather. It kicked off on Page 3, with the close-up of
the painting, on Page 8 it’s pissing it down with rain, we get
the sunbathing on Page 11, the light-powered villain on Page 12, the
steam ‘clouds’ from the shower on Pages 13 and 14, then
Kelly in the dark in later pages, and finally on Page 25, where it comes
to a head, the clouds clear, and Kelly starts to feel better. All along,
the weather has been commenting on Kelly’s current situation,
in a way. Of course, later on, Kelly tries to step out of the darkness
- the darkness of that room - and gets exposed to a whole new light
- from Doctor O’s mysterious room and then from the new O Men
So actually, I don’t know if you’d call them themes so much.
Maybe subtleties, and there are lots of those in this issue. Things
that just occurred to me as I was writing. Like Kelly starts the issue
in a dire situation, going, ‘shit, shit, shit...’ and towards
the end she’s left in another dire situation going, ‘shit...’
I like to link things up like that.
As a lot of people will know, I’m a big fan of people like Grant
Morrison and Neil Gaiman, and I think their ability to create strong
characters is amazing. It’s something I try to do with The O Men
- sort of create ‘types’ - but some of them are hard to
pin down, and Kelly is one of them. I never felt she was the strongest
of my characters - partly because she hasn’t been with me for
as long as some of the others - but there’s something about her.
All along, I’ve written her as someone who tries so hard and just
always seems to mess up. I don’t know what made me choose her
as such a central character in Season Two - I guess she just evolved.
Issue One of Season Two is very much all about Kelly. How she tries
to bring the team together, and maybe she has good intentions at the
start, but it soon becomes a selfish crusade to get her brother back,
and she uses people. I hope the reader sympathises with her, because
I feel like she can’t help herself. She heads into a depression
and isn’t totally in control of her actions. There are certain
times throughout Issue One, where she says something a little out of
turn - or for example, when she quite callously cuts short her visit
with Grace (who hasn’t had a visitor in months) - and it’s
a sign that she’s acting so out of character. The telling thing
to me is that we don’t see her cry until the end. She isn’t
into self-pity and she only cries when she finds out about Doctor O’s
scheming at the end - and I think that’s a good sign. I also think
that the final scene crying isn’t the only giveaway sign - I think
the fact that Kelly has her O Men shirt on seen in Issue 27) is such
a sweet thing - she’s not given up and she’s ready to keep
I was quite pleased with the issue. I liked the story and the way it
hung together. I like the art and I think Photoshop really improves
it and gives it a lot more shape. I’m hoping that I can develop
it in different ways over the next few issues. I think the one area
I’m less happy with is the lettering - I think the font is okay,
but it’s a bit too tight in some of the balloons, but I can sort
that out next time!
Issue 2.2 notes
Ah, the cover. This was in the works for over a year and, as usual,
things didn’t go to plan. I’d seen this amazingly sexy picture
of Paris Hilton at the time her House of Wax film came out so I tried
to use this as a basis for the Molly issue’s cover. And then of
course, when it came to drawing the cover, I’d lost the original
picture. And then I found it really difficult to capture the image (from
memory), and after about 30 attempts I pretty much gave up. I did get
a final version of it, but I just felt it was too tacky and wasn’t
reflecting what I want the tone of the O Men to be. Then I saw a cool
picture of Madonna in an issue of Q Magazine on the plane back from
a nice Greek holiday and this, folks, is what we have here. I wanted
to go for something sexy and iconic and cool, and I think this version
is something really different, that hopefully leaps off the comic shelves.
(Well, the Gosh Comic shop shelves, which is pretty much the only place
I sell The O Men lol)
So then I needed a frontispiece and my initial idea of a drawing based
on a plain-looking picture of Jodie Foster wasn’t working, so
I went back to the original Paris Hilton idea. I just drew over one
of my rough, original attempts, and at the last moment - voila.
Due to popular demand, I included this. I think it gives it a nice,
US TV drama feel.
Okay so as you can see, I’m experimenting again with this issue.
I’m not sure where the idea came from, but as you’ll have
seen, I use my old. scratchy, hand-lettered drawing style for the flashbacks
and the Photoshop style for the modern-day story. I think maybe the
idea partly came from wanting to see which version the readers prefer,
partly from just wanting to go back to the old style, which was a lot
less complicated than involving a computer, or it may partly have just
occurred to me at the last minute, before I started working on it. The
only dilemma I had then, was whether to put all the lettering throughout
in capitals/the same style or not, to keep it consistent. Hand-lettering
works best in capitals and Photoshop works best in the mixture, so I
just went with what worked best for each section, and hoped the readers
wouldn‘t be bothered by it.
Page 1, panel 1
Originally there was a bald jogger here, but I didn’t like him
so I popped the lady jogger in instead. (This was thru using Photoshop
-as will become clear, a lot of the old style pages still have a lot
of hidden Photoshop work on them). It took me ages to find a photo of
a Miami hotel that I liked, and this first panel was one of the last
panels I drew.
Page 1, panel 2
The Whispering Sands Hotel is the name of a hotel, or rather an apartment,
I stayed at for a while when I travelled around America for 4 months
after I graduated. I stayed there for around 2 months (after being practically
homeless for 3 or 4 days). I was working at Wendys, and a workmate told
me he had a spare place (three people to a room, ants all over the place!).
I have very fond memories of staying there - it was right on the beach.
It’s the kind of stuff you wish you could go back and do all over
again. And this is my small homage to that place here. (Interestingly
(?), the Whispering Sands hotel housed a small replica of that Rodin’s
Lovers statue - the one associated with Molly quite a lot in the early
O Men issues).
Obviously, these events take place shortly after Molly’s final
appearance in Season One. There was the question over whether to show
Molly’s missing year in a linear form, but I felt that was too
similar to Issue 2.1’s set-up.
I didn’t really want to add the ‘Now’s and the ‘Then’s,
particularly since it was such a massive part of Issue 26’s structure,
but I felt that I had to make it clear what was going on, particularly
in the early pages.
As usual, the title of this issue was a bit of a struggle. While I was
drawing my ‘Lost’ pages (the ones that come later) it just
came to me and I thought it was quite a cute title.
This little gag came to me ages ago, and I was dying to use it - the
DaVinci Code/’Jesus Christ’ one - geddit?
Page 4, panel 1
Another example of my old back-to-basics drawing style - but with Photoshop
sneakily used. I drew in some book and magazine covers at actual size
and then shrunk them down and dotted them around Molly’s hotel
room. Personally, I love the fact that Molly has spent months in a hotel
room just reading Dan Brown novels, ‘cos, let’s face it,
once you discover Dan Brown, that’s all you read for the next
few months. Incidentally, I do get a kick out of drawing/copying book
covers, TV imagery and posters.
Also, Photoshop is used in Molly’s reflection in the mirror above
her head - except as you can see I forgot to flip the image, so it doesn’t
quite work! I check every issue over and over again before I get it
printed, but I know mistakes creep in, and it does annoy me - but I
did find this one quite amusing!
Page 4, panel 5
Originally, there was going to be a whole page after this one where
the hotel worker/bell-boy from page 1 comes back and inadvertently helps
Molly decide to rejoin the outside world, but I needed to lose a page
and I’m glad I got rid of that one.
Page 5, panel 4
I like this panel. Photoshop can really add to the art.
Originally, Molly and Kelly were going to discuss the fact that Stuart
used to be dead, but I felt that would make things too complicated,
so I went with this instead.
Page 6, panels 1 and 2
I’m not sure this works. Originally I wanted to go for a Chris
Bachalo-like angular panel, plus the dialogue is a bit all over the
Note that the two female doctors are the same ladies from the end of
This panel doesn’t quite work for me. The O Men are supposed to
be looking a bit surprised that this new guy has suddenly spoken - because
he’s been silent up til now - but I think the O Men look a bit
more concerned about the whole Thought Police revelation instead, which
isn’t particularly the case.
I wasn’t sure it was obvious that Molly is snorting coke here,
but people seem to be able to tell.
Note the club is called Vice, and the issue is partly set in Miami...
Panels 9 and 10
Again, Photoshop is used on the pages where it’s supposed to be
my back-to-basics style. Basically, I drew these two panels at almost
A4 size, and then shrank them down.
Hopefully it’s obvious here that Molly thinks she is seeing the
Twisted Sisters - well, their addition to my Previously page should
help make that obvious!
I made a mistake here - Molly originally talked about the Vicious Circle
etc in panel 2, but of course, she keeps this a secret until the scene
on page 13. Thank goodness for Photoshop, so that I could rearrange
the dialogue a bit - although if you look closely on panel 2, you can
see where I’ve tippexed a word balloon out.
Page 10, panel 5
I don’t think this panel would have existed if I’d never
read any John Byrne comics - he always did panels like this.
I think this is my favourite page in the issue. Mary is one of these
characters that just surprises me and writes herself.
Okay, so I guess this is quite controversial really, laying into Lost.
Let’s get this straight, I thought season one was phenomenal,
and I was lucky enough to see the show before it really took off in
popularity. But then Season Two just suuuucked - it was so slooooow.
I can see what happened - the creators only wanted it to run to 2 or
3 seasons but of course the network wanted more. Plus, I guess the show
still works if you have a boxset and can watch it all in one go - but
week after week - maaaaan, too slow. One revelation or ‘cool moment’
per episode and other than that, they just seem to pretend to answer
And anyway, if anyone disagrees with me over Lost - hey, it’s
Molly’s opinion, not mine! ;-)
For the record, season three is much better than I thought it would
Lots of catchphrases from the show here, with images of Michael and
I don’t quite know why Marina starts talking with a Little Britain
catchphrase. Maybe they’ve been watching BBC America.
Page 13, panel 2
The Hard Corps was the original name for the USAviors who appeared in
Season One, until I reconsidered it.
Page 14, panel 3
I’m not sure if this is obvious, but the Thought Police’s
HQ is just a simple white block, no windows or anything.
Hooray, no backgrounds!!
I’m not quite sure what happened to the third balloon of dialogue
here. Maybe it’s just a printing thing.
I don’t like this panel. I mean, I like the design, and I popped
a few of my friends in there, but I hate the simplicity of the faces.
Let’s talk about Molly and Marina. First up, I have to admit that
I am a big fan of The Sandman, and in particular the Brief Lives story
arc. There’s this issue in the middle of all that which features
a couple of friends who are strippers - and I thought the dialogue was
just STUNNING. It’s something I’ve always wanted to emulate,
and I still don’t think I’ve ever done that. So that was
the basis for Molly and Marina’s friendship.
The second thing to note is that I really wasn’t quite sure where
to take these two. I quite liked the idea of them remaining platonic
and just having a convincing friendship, and at one point they were
going to have a very erotic relationship. I just wasn’t sure what
to do with them, and then I read an issue of DC’s Checkmate comic
- and I think it was issue 4, 5 or 6 - and there was a beautiful picture
of a black guy just kissing this woman, and there was so much love in
that image, and this is what I decided to go for. The lurve.
Incidentally, I wouldn’t class Molly as a lesbian. She just does
what she does! Incidentally, Marina’s name is stolen from the
Marina who appears in lesbian drama The L Word. Such a great character
(played by Karina Lombard) who sadly only appeared in the first season.
A small point, but Strange was going to say ‘Hm’ here, but
I didn’t want people to get confused by the fact that the other
guy, Asylum, says it a couple of pages later.
That’s based on my phone.
My palm trees suck.
Page 19, panel 1
I think this is one of my favourite panels in this issue.
Hoorah, Grace is back! I really wanted to give her shorter, more stylish
hair in this season, although as I am starting to find, working on Issue
2.3, the new style makes it hard to distinguish between her and Kelly
- plus you lose the signature wavy hair, somewhat.
I like it, it’s a solid issue, with some cool ‘moments’
and a nice shocking ending. I like that I was able to use a technique
- the old vs new style - that you don’t get in TV or movies. I
think the art was a bit unsophisticated in places - a lack of detail.
A lot of this is due to my still getting used to using Photoshop - I
tend to rush the pages just so I can get it scanned and on my computer.
Incidentally, this issue took me over six months to complete, which
is disgraceful! It was just a mixture of being busy, and the summer
being so hot, etc. I can say now, that I made a start on Issue 2.3 last
night (the script is done) and I think this is going to take a shorter
amount of time (touch wood) - I’m really getting into it, and
it’s a bit simpler and more straight-forward to draw.
Issue 2.3 notes
I like this issue a lot. It didn’t quite go in the direction I
wanted it to, but that’s fine. Really, I wanted it to just be
a big issue about Grace and Stuart sorting things out - which it is,
I guess - but I did want it to be more ‘real’ and adult
and less to do with super-heroics. It just turned out that you can’t
have an issue with these two guys without talking about their past and
the more far-fetched side of the way they live.
I think the scenes between Mary and Kelly are cute, and Mary is just
a character that is coming to life and writing herself - and she is
great to draw too.
Yet another struggle! Obviously I wanted to make the most of Grace coming
back, and I tried a couple of solo Grace covers but I thought Stu should
be on there too. I played around with a couple of ideas, before I sketched
a thumbnail one night and that was just the one. I know better than
to try and redraw something that I really like, so instead of trying
to draw a bigger version of it, I just blew it up on Photoshop.
Also, I should mention that while I was thinking of cover ideas, James
Jean created what would have been the perfect image of Grace and Stu
almost kissing on one of the recent Fables trade paperback covers, and
I was soooo tempted to steal it...
Getting better at this, aren’t I...
This isn’t my favourite picture I’ve ever drawn of Grace
and Stu, but it’ll do. It’s based on a picture of Jack and
Audrey from 24.
The start of this issue went through so many alterations and changes
while I was in the middle of creating the issue. Originally, the idea
was to do the origins of Grace and Stu - and have them run down the
side of the page, Grace on one side, Stu on the other - and it’d
be wordless, which would make the full-page PSI-SQUAD flashback an interesting
change of pace.
At one point I decided to drop two of the pages and just run the PSI-SQUAD
one (partly because I thought it was too confusing), but then the end
of page 2 didn’t really imply that the couple were going to get
married etc, which would spoil the impact of the first ‘present
But as is often the case, the first idea is the one I normally go with,
and I’m glad I did. It gives the readers a glimpse of some things
that have been briefly mentioned in past issues - kind of a definitive
The idea of having Grace and Stu running down different halves of the
page was going to be a theme in the issue. I didn’t really mean
to stick to it that strictly, but it does seem to have followed through.
Going through the first page then...
Panel 1 - Stu and his wife, who was discussed in Issue 24. (I hope it’s
clear what’s going on in this page, by the way - I’m really
not sure it is!) This is the first time I’ve even thought that
much about what his wife looked like, and I made her up as I was drawing
her. I wasn’t sure what she should look like but I knew that she
shouldn’t look like Isabelle, his sister, or like Grace (because
it would be too confusing). So I came up with this little option, as
you can see!
Panel 2 - okay, so now this is Grace’s
‘side’, and we see her in action as a solicitor, which I
think has been mentioned in a previous issue - I really can’t
remember. I faced the challenge of drawing a court-room and all the
wigs etc, and wasn’t sure how to go about it. I did ask my friend
to lend me his Fish Called Wanda DVD as I know there’s a court
case in that - but he kept forgetting it - so I just taped a bit of
Kavanagh QC one day, and so I came up with this.
Panel 3 - I’ve never really thought
that much about Stu’s past, but this is a scene I’ve wanted
to draw for a while. This is where he first manifests his powers and
they injure his wife. Only just before typing this, I checked the info
that Rob threw at us in Issue 23 about what happened, just to make sure
nothing clashed. So the wife was pregnant when it happened! Gosh, I
don’t remember that at all.
It’s probably not relevant at all, but I was watching the Hills
Have Eyes remake when I drew this panel, I remember. Second time I saw
it, gorier than I remembered, and the Pyro actor guy is so unrecognisable.
Panel 4 - This is the last panel I actually
drew of the whole issue. I wasn’t that happy with it - I’m
not sure how clear it is what’s going on - but you know, it’ll
do. This is where Grace’s powers first manifest themselves, and
she sees into the mind of the guy she’s prosecuting. You might
be able to recognise the guy? Don’t worry if you don’t -
it’s not the last we’ve seen of him.
Panel 5 - Stu is being led away by the
police for hurting his wife. This does slightly clash with what Rob
says in Issue 23 - he says the wife pressed charges later - whereas
he’s been arrested just after the episode. Another struggle -
how do you draw police outfits - so I checked out some episodes of ‘Spooks’
on Virgin Media TV lol. And then the next day I saw loads of policemen
around London Bridge station. They have radio receivers near the top
of their coats, but what the heck, my two guys don’t.
Panel 6 - As Grace’s powers grow,
her brown hair falls out and she gets a nice magenta crop instead.
Panel 7 - Stu in the police interrogation
room, as Doctor O looks on.
Panel 8 - Grace’s mother, Ruth,
takes her to the Institute.
So a slight change of pace here, with
a full page focus plus dialogue. Hard to stick to the Grace-on-the-right-Stu-on-the-left
thing here, as it’s all over the place.
Panel 1 - hehe Doctor O’s silly
names. As is often the case, when i came to put the dialogue in, when
I’d nearly finished the issue, I’d only come up with about
3 of the made-up names, so i had to rack my brains, which was a bit
annoying, as I wanted to get the issue finished.
Panel 3 - Pathe! And not his only appearance
this issue, either.
Panel 5 - It’s probably not clear
here, that that’s Mary by Grace, which is a shame as it’s
kind of ironic. Hell, I’m not even sure it’s clear that
that’s Grace in this panel and in panel 4, but ah well.
Panel 6 - I was a bit worried that Stu
would look a bit sleazy here, but I think he just about gets away with
Back to the side-by-side flashbacks,
again, difficult to keep them to different sides with the nature of
it all, but it worked out quite neatly.
Panel 1 - A fun panel with PSI-SQUAD
versus the Insect League.
Panel 2 - Grace and Stu’s marriage
- and you can see Ruth, Isabelle, Rob and Doctor O as just some of the
guests. If it had been a bigger panel I probably would have attempted
a homage to the Reed and Sue Richards wedding - that recent issue with
the cover by Gene Ha.
Panels 3 - 5 - Ah, the joys of Photoshop,
getting to just use panels that I’ve drawn in previous issues...
It did cross my mind to just run Panel 4 as a blank panel, but I’ll
keep it as it is, I think.
Panel 6 - Grace in Sutton Asylum after
the battle at the end of Season One.
Panel 7 - Stu rebuilding himself.
Panel 8 - Bringing us up to date as
Stu and Grace get reunited at the end of last issue.
So now we’re right up to date.
I hope the effect works here - we have 3 pages of rapid flashback and
now we get to the present time and it’s absolute silence. This
page was one of the first ones to get finished, which was good because
it set up a lot of ‘colouring’ templates for the issue.
I like the banter between Mary and Kelly.
Funny that Strange, Molly and Asylum only really appear here for most
of the issue - although they do pop up later.
I had a lot of problems deciding on the time-scale of this issue. Originally
it was supposed to start at like 4am in the morning or something (assuming
that Issue 2.2 took place at night-time), but that would mean that they’d
then basically take the whole day off the next day (assuming that the
Molly-Strange scene takes place later that night), which doesn’t
make sense - they need to crack on with the whole Vultures thing. So
I had a think about it and decided that the issue takes place late in
the night, like 11 or 12 or something, and the Molly-Strange scene happens
just a bit later than that. So then they can get on with the Vultures
stuff the next day.
Back to these guys. Originally, Stu’s top was a lot lower cut
than it is here, but he just looked like a ballerina so I changed it.
I’ve decided that i don’t like Grace’s hair this issue.
It’s a logical step - she’s become a bit more like her mother
and she’s become a bit more Thought Police-ish - but I do miss
the curliness etc, it’s less fun to draw and she does look a bit
too much like Kelly. So next issue she’ll be a bit curlier.
I’ve been criticised a lot for my lack of backgrounds in my drawings,
and it’s funny because this issue is consciously minimal. Stu
and Grace are in an empty room, basically, kind of symbolising the cold,
barren state of their relationship at the moment - which is fine by
Another key to the issue is that it takes place at night and in a dark
room - and it’s moments like this that are supposed to stand out
- as Grace uses her powers and her and Stu’s eyes go bright white,
and later on with Shine showing off her powers. I guess the effect is
lost a bit though, with the white word balloons.
I wanted the Stu bit here to get its own page, but it didn’t really
work out like that. All the flashback scenes are from Season One, again,
the joys of Photoshop.
Panel 3 - I don’t like these feet...
Panel 4 - Grace is looking down on Stu
here, but I think I got the angle of her face wrong.
I enjoyed drawing some of the panels on this page - and I like doing
things like the upside-down Mary panel. I’m not sure panel one
works quite as well as I wanted it to, but ah well, it’s different.
The idea with that, by the way, is that she is balancing herself upside-down,
if it’s not clear.
Good to get a chance to mention a bit more about Asylum here.
I like the pictures of Stuart and Grace in the middle of this page.
I do prefer drawing the female characters in general, but I liked doing
the Stu pic here.
Panel 3 - Stu saying ‘getting back together’ here reflects
back on the title of this issue. So maybe they aren’t going to
’get back together’ after all - maybe the title just refers
to what has happened to Stu. Which it does.
I like the phrase Grace says - of stopping the world. It’s hard
to actually put what has happened to Grace and Stu into words - it is
I think this is one of my favourite pages I’ve drawn in the series.
It’s very simple, but Shine’s powers are so fun to draw.
Originally, this was actually just going to be a small panel at the
bottom of Page 13 but I’m so glad I decided to give it its own
This page was going to appear later, but I shuffled them around at the
I like the ‘boom’ here. Kelly and Mary looked very butch
on this panel originally, but I managed to tone that down.
I wasn’t sure what to call Grace’s husband. For a while
it was Dennis, then for a while Clifford or Carlton, but I decided to
pay a little homage to my friend Marcus, who has been a huge help for
me with Photoshop. I didn’t really have a look for Marcus planned
until the last minute. I fancied doing a beaded afro thingy, but that’s
a bit like Limbo in Issue 2.1, and I thought about having him bald,
but that would make him too much like Random in Issue 2.1 too. So I
just gave him a bit of stubble on his head.
I like that Molly is smiling in the last panel.
As you’ll see in the letters page, I had a letter criticising
the lack of information on some of the new members, which I kind of
agree with, so this was my chance to redress the balance a bit. I knew
this scene was going to happen and am glad I got the chance to put it
I think this is the most explicit page I’ve ever drawn, by the
way lol. I think it throws a nice curveball - since this guy is supposed
to have killed Molly’s girlfriend.
As I mentioned, the script chopped and changed quite a lot - with the
intro pages, some panels becoming full pages and some full pagers just
becoming panels on a page. This Asylum page was another result of that
letter in the letters page. I was originally going to just have a single
panel of him here, meditating, but I decided to build him up a bit and
add to the intrigue a bit. It’s probably not clear what’s
going on here - but hopefully you recognise a couple of the names. All
will become clear soon.
Panel six - I actually really don’t like this panel, and really
meant to redraw it, but I just decided to leave it as it is. I just
have this thing about sticking as close to the original version/idea
as possible - often it’s the just the easiest and best way, and
also I feel that this is the way the issue wants to be.
I did this page, and originally the Grace panels were on the left and
the Stu panels were on the right, which meant that the final panel was
going to feature a pair of curtains, which wasn’t very exciting
(I thought of it as a kind of ER ending - they often just end on a quiet
note). However, as soon as I finished the page, I decided to swap it
all over, which meant completely reversing all the panels and it took
ages to do.
In panel 6, Grace originally whispered ‘Stuart...’ but I
just thought it might look like Stu was in her bed and it would be confusing.
These seem to be the longest notes I’ve done - I have no idea
why. I wonder if anyone read it all!?
Concept and execution
I knew this issue was going to be big
on action and the original idea was to just have an issue with lots
of crazy cliffhangers that there would be no way out of (and then be
really naughty and not address any of the cliffhangers until the next-but-one
Hand in hand with that was the fact
that I’d been reading a lot of manga and also Scott Pilgrim and
I loved the layouts and the use of double page spreads. So this is what
I wanted to go for. Also, the scene where Asylum attacks Grace was pivotal
to the issue, and I thought it worked best on the double-page spreads,
so I just went for it.
I used A3 paper for the issue - whereas
I normally use A4 - and it worked out fine - no probs at all really.
I also decided to use a thicker pen than normal, and I’m not sure
how successful that was.
Now this cover came together really
easily and quickly - very unusual for The O Men! I just wanted a well
drawn group shot. Was difficult to decide where they should all go -
and there are so many women in the team, but I kind of like it.
This is supposed to be the Vulture room
screens, with clips of the O Men from the issue.
For this arc, I kind of went for office-talk
titles/cliches. I can’t remember if there was a reason why. Maybe
cos the issue starts in a meeting.
This is a style I thought of doing for
my Spandex spin-off comic - close-ups followed by a big meeting. I had
thought of showing everyone getting ready - the standard Molly in the
shower shot lol - but felt that close-ups were cooler and easier.
This is one of the first spreads I did
in the issue - and bear in mind I normally start in the middle of an
issue or at whatever panel I want to draw first. I guess I just wanted
to see how it was all gonna work out.
We find out Mary’s full name here.
It’s funny this, as Mary is Indian, and obviously Mary is not
a typical Indian name. I was writing this scene at home with the family,
on a laptop, and I just shouted out if anyone how this could work, and
my brother just straight away said ‘Marinder’ lol. So I
have no idea if it works, but just blame my bro.
Marcus’ surname came from a TV
character - on a show I was watching at the time. I just wanted to get
an authentic name for a black guy lol. I had to spread the leading out
on his name here as it looked like ‘Wedderbum’.
Not my fave spread in the issue, as
it’s very texty.
This prob won’t mean anything,
but the bottom part of the right-hand balloon caused me no end of trouble
and I had to draw it free-hand - I hate it.
I also seem to have somehow done this
page at A4 rather than A3, so the page numbers are larger than elsewhere
in the issue. I just couldn’t work it out at the time.
Let’s talk hair here. I always
loved Grace’s long hair in Season One, but felt she needed a reboot
in Season Two. I got really bored of drawing her hair last issue, short
and straight, so I decided to go for a cool curly style. But then after
a few attempts, that wasn’t really working either, lol, so you
might notice it loses a bit of its curliness as the issue goes on.
Pages 6 and 7
I kinda love the top part of this spread
- although the gag is lost a tiny bit by being over the page from the
previous bit. I like Strange’s face hehe.
Took me a while to decide on where to
put Vixen here and which angle to go from, but I ended up using photo
reference from Tottenham Court Road tube station - although I made up
Pages 8 and 9
The text in the screens is actually
some script text from a future O Men issue.
if you notice Asylum going a bit weird
here - showing different powers and speaking in different styles - well,
you’ll find out all about that next issue.
Pages 10 and 11
Ha - this scene - it didn’t exist
at all originally. I just started to feel that if this issue was full
of spreads, it wouldn’t be great value for money for the readers,
so I decided to add an extra scene starring Molly, Mary and Strange.
Pages 12 and 13
I’m not entirely sure how successful
the scene was, however, but I guess it’s fun. Originally, the
cranky old guy, I was gonna have him recognise Molly from the UK Ultra
Knights book, but I decided not to go into that - too complicated.
Pages 14 and 15
If you’re wondering why Shine’s
t-shirt says that - it’s, yes you’ve guessed it, a Tori
Amos lyric. It’s from her new album and it’s a barely audible
background line from the song ‘Bouncing Off Clouds’. I just
think it’s a lovely sentiment, putting on a silver lining.
I love this Strange panel.
Pages 16 and 17
This black Mercedes belongs to my friend
Mike. I can’t draw cars and I totally redrew these panels as they
were so bad the first time round. I guess they didn’t get much
better... Everyone mentions how utterly rubbish my car is in this issue.
Pages 18 and 19
Not my favourite spead - a bit too simplistic
- not helped by Shine’s look in panel 2. Of course I did have
grand visions of doing a huge, spectacular car crash, but I can’t
draw that kind of thing lol.
Pages 20 and 21
This lyric really struck a chord with
me - from the new Bloc Party song The Prayer. I just wanted Kelly to
chant it as a kind of mantra.
The guys on the tube - I really wanted
to choose some of the people who take the same morning train as I do
(hello, Gipsy Hillers to London Bridge, 8.13!), but I just made up most
of these guys. The gal with the thick glasses is Natalie, a contestant
from the third series of the Apprentice.
I love this drawing of Kelly here, although
I think I forgot to finish drawing the background behind her.
Pages 22 and 23
The guy nearest Kelly in panel 2 is
my friend Mike, the owner of the black Mercedes from earlier.
Ah, as if this issue didn’t go
badly enough towards the end, I realised that this speech bubble went
over the middle of the page and so it couldn’t be read - and then
I found out I hadn’t layered it for some reason (if you don’t
know Photoshops, basically you create layers for most things you do
- like speech bubbles - and if you flatten the image, you can’t
move speech bubbles etc). So basically I had to draw this one from scratch
Pages 24 and 25
One of the first spreads I drew for
this issue, and possibly one of my favourite parts of the entire O Men
Pages 26 and 27
I always intended for Kelly to get the
biggest cliffhanger of the issue - and for a long time the bomb was
going to be on a plane and would feature her falling from the plane
at some point. But, you know, you need to be able to work back from
cliffhangers and figure it all out, and it was just a bit far-fetched
I wish I’d drawn Kelly’s
hat in here, even though technically you shouldn’t be able to
I like Grace’s expressions on
this page. And finally we get some progress with Asylum.
It’s a cool issue - I think it
succeeds in what I wanted it to do. The thick pen maybe made some of
the art look a bit basic than I wanted it to, but ah well, it was an
My feelings for the issue are kind of
affected by some of the problems I had while doing it. I’d set
myself the task of getting this issue out in June and then the next
Anthology issue in August, so it was a heavy schedule - and then when
i was about three-quarters of the way thru doing it, my laptop packed
in and I lost two weeks out of the schedule while sorting it all out.
But ah well, all done and dusted now...
It’s the Anthology issue! Well
I wrote all about the origins of this at the back of the comic itself,
but just a quick recap. Was originally going to do a ‘Stories
of O’ anthology a couple of years ago, but it fell thru for various
reasons. Really wanted to do it though, so I decided to do this funky
Asylum origin issue as an anthology.
First plan was to approach some of the
original Anthology people - but only the people I felt could spare the
time and also the people who had actually done some hard work for the
original project. A few didn’t seem all that bothered (unless
I misinterpreted them lol) but some were very keen. I also asked a few
mates and then we were pretty much all set! I did feel guilty about
not asking certain other people - but it was a question of making it
all fit, and balancing the styles.
Timing: I knew this was gonna be difficult
but I did set a deadline for myself. I wanted to release this at Caption
in August. So I released issue 2.3 in Feb or March I think, then wanted
to get 2.4 out for June of July, and then wanted to get 2.5 out for
Aug. Sounds impossible in the small press - but i had a cunning plan.
2.4 was a funky double-page spread issue, so wouldn’t have been
much work (in fact I felt so bad about skimping on the story that I
added extra pages lol) and 2.5 would only need around 13 pages from
me - which in a month was do-able.
How wrong it went...
But more on that later.
Well, for the Stories of O, I asked
Gary Spencer Millidge to do the cover. I didn’t even have to ask
him this time round to know he’d be too busy to do a cover for
me in a month lol. Then I had a brainwave to ask Steve Yeowell - one
of my all-time comics idols - but he declined. But that got me thinking
of Roger Mason - whose style was similar to Yeowell’s. Roger had
contributed a couple of things to the Stories of O - I know he’s
a busy chap, so didn’t think of him for a normal page - but a
cover should be fine - and he did it!
He did a first version which I didn’t think was quite right as
a cover - and then he nailed it the second time.
I am kicking myself that I didnt’
use the first version as the final page of the issue - that would have
worked so well. Shit!!!
I did ask if I could make a couple of
changes on the cover but Roger wasn’t too keen - artistic interpretation!
Of course, I have to put my own stamp
on the issue, so I got the first drawing lol. Obviously including the
main 7 ghosts here, but also hinting at Pathe and Marina at the top.
A bit of a cheat - just closing in on
one picture (from a different page lol) - but hey, it saves time. So
there you have it - this is what happens when you die - didn’t
you know? hehe
I’d seen Tori in concert at the
time, so when I was writing it, a couple of song titles worked their
way into the script - Tori’s Body and Soul and Here in my Head.
Graham was great - I knew he’d
be perfect for this page, and he’s such a good artist that I wanted
to showcase his talents.
Bless him, he was convinced he was the
last person to send his page (he was around the middle) and he put a
lot of thought and effort into the character designs etc - sending me
The page is supposed to be a piss-take
of old Thor comics and all that Surtur stuff. Graham did a fantastic,
perfect job, and when I went back to him with a couple of ideas that
I thought might make the page pop even more (mostly just little things
like making bits of text bigger) he was more than happy to do it.
The idea of Thundorr dying saying ‘zounds’
and then baby Asylum saying it, was one of my earliest ideas for the
issue, a long time ago. I had toyed with them saying fuck, but it didn’t
work as well.
I wasn’t looking forward to drawing
this page - you know, backgrounds - but I did actually enjoy it. Once
I’d come up with the terrible carpet and wallpaper it was quite
The li’l baby Asylum is based
on a pose provided by my brand new little nephew Harry.
I met Oli at a Bristol con a couple
of years back, and his comics are amazing. I’m glad he decided
to do the page, as he has such a unique style. Vision isn’t quite
as Chinese as I wanted him to be, and maybe you can’t quite make
out who those guys at the bottom might be*, but at that stage I was
all about these artists interpreting it their way and it didn’t
matter to me. The page is just so individual and interesting.
* Those three guys, go on, have a look,
you have seen them before. Think about it.
Another page I was dreading, but it
came together quite well. Of course, drawing this so long after drawing
Page Three, Asylum’s mom’s hair managed to change colour
without me noticing lol.
Did you spot Asylum’s He Man t-shirt?
Springy’s page, and right from
the start I knew he should do Puppet Girl. It was actually inspired
from a page of his own Pest Control comic. A great page and very popular
with the readers. And yes, that is young Molly Valentine in the last
panel. I like the way that the current O Men team all turn up in this
issue, in some way or form (and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t
add Shine onto the Castle page for that reason. OH my god, i just looked
at that page and she IS there! I thought it was Astral. I‘m so
I soooo rushed this page. This was one
of the last pages I drew and at this stage I just wanted to finish the
issue. Bad me.
Horror! I’m so glad Gary was up
for doing this page. I did struggle writing it, actually, but Gary kind
of collaborated with me and we nailed it. Well done and thank you, Mr
Lol I’m not sure I pulled off
that whole ‘flecks of paint/blood’ thing in the last panel.
I knew Sina would do this page exactly
like this, the little gem. Awesome.
I dunno where Rose came from. She just
popped into my head one day, and it felt right for Asylum to have a
Another page that I think you have to
follow closely, but if you know the comic well you should get it. It’s
so much fun seeing other people draw your characters and I love Spiral
and Astral (or it’s Shine, as I just realised lol) in the background
here. I knew Sean would do a nice gritty job with Castle.
I realised at one stage later on that
I was making my pages so simple that I was in danger of making myself
look completely crap lol! This page was very dull at the start, just
five horizontal panels closing in on Asylum, and then I just thought
nah, and decided to do a nice big brain-splattery picture. Worked out
quite well I think.
Now this was the first page I received.
Gary and Andrew were the first. I just think Andrew’s page is
exquisite and I got a lot of comments from people who said it was their
favourite. I have thought of asking him to draw another issue, but I
know he is busy and I know I am too selfish to let anyone else draw
Doctor O was a very late addition to
the comic. In an issue like this you want to throw in a little twist
like this, and Doctor O was my little twist and a little wink to long-time
readers. I didn’t list Doctor O in the contents page so as not
to spoil the surprise. And I hope you guys don’t think he’s
The whole father thing was just another
natural evolving thing - not really planned, but it did kind of fit
in with my plans.
Another page I struggled to write, but
it came together in the end. This was another favourite with the readers
and I have to say, Kelvin’s style has really come into its own.
People seem to love the little background details/references in this.
Do you remember Fluke from volume 1?
He got his head zapped off in the final battle. lol that final row of
panels was inspired by a deleted scene from Infinite Crisis where Pantha
gets her own head knocked off. I asked Kelvin to add Miss Scarlet into
the panel at the end, cos it’s been a while since we saw her.
People seemed to like the ‘tiger’
reference just after the other comic references. I’m glad I was
able to throw in people like Strange into this issue. Damn, if only
I’d thought to get Sean to include Shine into his Castle page
- then we’d have had the whole current team!
Back to me now - it’s all mine
bwah ha ha!
Obviously this takes place at the end
of 2.4, and I wish i’d come up with some more memorable dialogue
back then to make this more reference-able.
This is kind of a twist, but I don’t
know if it paid off? You’re supposed to think that Asylum only
has 7 or so friends in his head - but in reality he has hundreds!
Lots of familiar faces and old favourites - Glimpse, Mistress Web (Web
Mistress would have been better wouldn’t it), Lord and Lady, UJ,
Sound, Money Spider and did you spot Marina. And of course Pathe.
Asylum’s name was important to
me - it had to have some significance - whether it was a personal one
or an interesting reference. I did change it from something at the last
minute and made it David, the name of an old friend who helped me through
a very difficult time. My little tribute.
I’m still kicking myself that
I didn’t use Roger’s other picture here. DAMN!
Oh, I didn’t even mention an art
style thing here. This was the first page I drew for this issue, and
I did want to make my sections more inky and shadowy - inspired by Roger’s
cover. I got the old paints out at first, but then I just went for markers.
Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
The back pages
I always think an important part of
the small press is all the extra texty stuff at the back, and this is
what I wanted to give here. It was also a nice opportunity to show the
pages that those people worked so hard on for me - and which up until
now have only been on the website.
I couldn’t remember the name of
the guy who did the Seraph drawing - i’d only met him at a convention
once. Did try to get in touch with him!
Was a shame I couldn’t show more
of Kelvin’s pages - but they’re on the website. Was glad
I could show John Paul Howard’s strip - now he really worked hard
for the original Stories of O.
I’m not sure this hangs together
so well script-wise, maybe a bit disjointed - but that’s my only
criticism. I think overall it was a success and such a blast to get
so many of my mates to draw my characters!
And the bad news...
We all worked so hard, it all went so
well (despite losing over 2 weeks out of the schedule thanks to a broken
laptop adaptor and 2 wrong replacements sent thru the post - which i
had to go all over London to pick up from various DHL places), and it
all got done just in time for Caption. And then I got struck down with
a bug just days before Caption, which knocked me for six and left me
at home. Which wasn’t very good when the disk of 2.5 was at the
printers, miles away from my home!
So sadly I missed Caption, and I missed
a couple of weeks of normal life, but hooray eventually I got back on
my feet and the issue got printed. The best thing was that all the contributors
were fine with that whole thing, and all very understanding and supportive.
As for now - I’m gonna take a
small break from The O Men - maybe til Christmas, which basically gives
me a whole six months to promote this superb issue!
Going into this issue, all I knew was that I had to resolve issue 2.4’s
cliffhangers, I wanted to show the bit with Grace in Kelly’s mind,
there was gonna be some business about interrogating the captured Vulture
- and that’s as far as I got, really. I didn’t really have
all that much planned, to be honest, although as always I was confident
it would all come together. I had also planned a series of one-pagers,
showing some superhuman Vultures in action, and also a page where the
mysterious leader of the Vultures decided to up the ante.
Then somewhere along the way, things changed. After some, let’s
say, personal ’traumas’ earlier in the year, I thought it
would be a lovely idea for a relationship break-up to be a part of this
issue - as you don’t often get to see that kind of thing in comics.
I’d toyed with Molly and Strange’s relationship coming to
a head in the back of my mind, and decided to go ahead with it here.
That last page of him - it’s just sadness.
A couple of other things stemmed from this new storyline too. Molly
and Strange were supposed to carry on in the team as normal - but how
realistic would that be? Plus to be brutally honest, Molly’s powers
just weren’t working for me as a member of a superteam. I did
have a ‘back-up plan’ for Molly’s powers, which would
make them more exciting, but it was just too complicated to go into
at this stage. So then it crossed my mind that this should be the end
of the road for Molly and Strange in the O Men. Molly’s exit is
the sort of nasty, unexplained fate I love to read and see myself. And
even I’m not sure where she is, or if she’s even alive.
The other big element is that I had to finally decide who really killed
Marina, as this is what Molly would confront Strange about. It looked
like Strange killed her, back in issue 2.3, but i just felt that was
too obvious and that there should be a more inventive explanation (and
I think most readers weren‘t convinced that Strange really killed
her). I knew what was going on with Grace, so both these elements came
together and voila! I must admit, that when I wrote Marina’s death
in Issue 2.2, Grace wasn’t even a factor...
So the issue bascially became a big bitch fight, relationship-centred,
with the big Grace revelation - and I decided that the extra Vultures
stuff was too difficult to slot in, so I completely abandoned it, except
for the ending.
Wasn’t quite sure where to go with this. I always had this image
of Molly kissing Marina in my head, and I wanted Strange there too -
but I thought it would look too much like issue 2.4’s cover. Then
I saw a really cool image of Russell Crowe on the cover of Entertainment
Weekly - amazing shadows - and it gave me this idea.
The plan with issue 2.4 was to end the issue with a ton of cliffhangers.
I was going to have Kelly being attacked on a plane (and having to jump
off) - she’d have been saved in the same way as here, but I felt
that her being on a tube train was an easier thing to pull off. I felt
a bit mischievous just jumping in there and not showing what happened
straight away, but you find out, sort of, eventually.
The blood splatters are from a page of Issue 2.5 - I had fun splattering
The title: The idea for this arc’s titles is that they are kind
of work-orientated phrases... Although I don’t think I did one
for issue 2.5...
I had to quickly explain why Vixen had changed her outfit
- as I didn’t want her all bloody. I guess you just have to assume
that Grace has changed outfits since her tussle with Asylum.
Panel one: Who are these guys...!
And so the big row begins...
I must say, a big, big influence on me was the first part of Sandman
Season of Mists - the one where the Endless family all get together
and chat. It was just such a stunningly good read - and it’s something
I try to emulate in my comics when I can. I like the fact that the scene
here is quite a long one - I don’t normally do long scenes - and
I hope it is quite absorbing.
‘Keeping your enemies close...’ in Molly’s way - this
is a line of dialogue I’ve had in my head for absolutely ages.
I think this is something you don’t see a lot in comics - a guy
hitting a woman (in a non-superhero way)...
You see, one of the points of this issue is to decide whose side you’re
on and to look at what makes us choose sides etc. Strange hit Molly
- and that’s bad - but he was provoked. Here I’m looking
at the fact that in a lot of soaps and dramas and comics, sometimes
you get the ‘all men are bastards’ thing. Yeah, STrange
is a bit weird and can be a bit of a twat, but he doesn’t really
deserve to have all these gals pick on him and treat him like crap.
Asylum sticking up for Strange here is a parallel to when Strange vouched
for Asylum - I think it was in Issue 2.2 or 2.4...
Pages 10 and 11
Things that don’t quite work here... Molly saying ‘did they
fuck’... I’m not sure it quite translates on the page -
it’s like ‘did they heck...’
Also not happy with panels 3 and 4 of page 11 - they look like they’re
happening together (Molly and STrange) when they should be apart. Also
Page 11 is a bit too simple I guess, especially at the bottom - this
was one of the final pages I drew. Towards the end it did become a bit
of a chore... I pretty much finished the issue in February, but then
it took 2 or 3 months to fill in the paintings and do extra Photo-shopping
Pages 12 and 13
I had real problems with the size of Marina’s dialogue - making
it legible (it was photo-shopped in from scans).
Lost - wow, it’s got so much better since I wrote that Lost-criticising
scene in Issue 2.2! I was on the verge of giving up on it and it suddenly
picked up massively.
Originally, Shine and Kelly were going to talk to the Vulture a bit
- but since I’m still kind of figuring out the Vultures, I decided
that they weren’t going to be able to...
Grace is bad...?
I knew she was going to go off the rails a bit this season, but I hadn’t
planned to introduce it so early...
I do think that season two has been very different to season one...
I’ve deliberately taken my time in fleshing out the characters
and getting the story off the ground, but hopefully now, with the Grace
scene and also you’ll see some stuff next issue - you’ll
see that it’s always been heading somewhere.
Poor Molly. This was a very last-minute idea.
Okay, confession time - I stole this twist - that the Vulture was found
in the dead files - from season three of 24. But it was such a good
twist... And dont’ worry, it’s one of the many homages in
the O Men, and there’s a reason for that...
I think this was the first page I drew of this issue. It’s just
about sadness really, when a break-up hits you. I’m not totally
satisfied with what I did here - I was going to have STrange do a bit
of narration about how he felt - but I couldn’t really get into
it... Would probably have been too depressing anyway lol...
A last-minute addition to the issue. There were a lot of Vulture elements
in this issue, originally, but I took them out as it was all a bit too
confusing. However, I did feel like we needed something to propel the
story along, so I added this page in.
A very different issue - not hugely action-packed, and lots of developments
and a couple of shockers. It’s an issue that kind of ambles along,
but I quite like it - I think it’s quite a satisfying read.
||Book One –
pretty self-explanatory. I intend to do at least one more ‘take’
on this cover in a future issue. In fact, the new website banner
art is unused art from a recent version of a cover.
||Book Two –
At one point, I really liked the idea of basing my cover drawings
on sketches of pop stars or actors from glossy magazines. This
was kind of based on a sexy picture of Rosario Dawson, except
it didn’t really end up much like the real version. I think
Molly’s boobs are too big too.
||Book Three –
I knew that Rob and Miss Scarlet wouldn’t be on many of
the O Men collection covers so I popped them on here. It’s
just a bit of fun, really. A bit weird, in that, Miss Scarlet
Witch doesn’t make her appearance until the next collection.
I hate things like that lol
||Book Four –
The cover to Issue 12 of Volume One went down really well. You
can read about that in those issue’s notes. So I decided
to use it as Book Four’s cover, but I used yellow paper
instead. It was a bit of a cost-cutting exercise, really.
||Book Five –
Again, I didn’t think poor old Colin was getting enough
exposure so I thought I’d pop him on this cover. Actually
quite pleased with this one, as long as people don’t think
he has a big stormy hat coming out of his head.
||Book Six –
I got the idea for this from a recent issue of the amazing Optic
Nerve by Adrian Tomine. ON’s cover had a pic of a girl in
white, popped onto a brown cover. My printer guy did a bang-up
job of this on blue paper, but I don’t use him anymore so
I just print it out myself on white paper and it doesn’t
look quite as impressive.
||Book Seven –
not much to say about this, but I do like it. If I was more successful
and rich I’d probably make the ‘I’m With Psycho’
t-shirts up. The image is kind of an expansion from their Issue
||Book Eight –
Aargh this cover!!! For years, I had this gorgeous image of Tori
Amos – she was lying down looking completely defeated. I
tried to use it on the cover of Issue 24 and I think I went through
about 30 different versions before giving in. I decided that I
had to do it for this collection though and I finally did a version
I was happy with. Not 100% happy, but happy enough.
||Book Nine –
just Issue 27’s cover in colour! I think I just wanted to
get these last collections out towards the end, and I liked the
image, so I just cheated and covered in this existing image.