Author: R T Allwin

R Thomas Allwin is a freelance illustrator, graphic designer and writer from Stockholm, Sweden.

Comic book cover story

I drew a comic book cover today.

In honour of Todd McFarlane hitting the 300 issue milestone with his comic book Spawn, I decided to make the first sketch cover for Lady Phantom issue 3 an homage to his iconic Spider-Man 300 cover. It is perhaps the most homaged, parodied and copied comic book cover in the history of comics, and for good reason!

Here’s the result : a one-of-a-kind hand-drawn comic book cover.


McFarlane’s Spawn blew me away when I was young, long before I ever seriously dreamed about making comic books, and here I am 300 issues of Spawn down the road, getting ready for my second year as an exhibitor at the Stockholm Comic Con, with the third issue of a comic book I co-created fresh from the printer (well, technically the fourth issue).

It feels surreal, and drawing this homage reminded me of all the comic book magic from when I grew up.

There is something humbling and empowering about following in the footsteps of your idols, and the journey I’ve had during the three years since I thought ‘hey, how hard can it be to make a comic book’ (hint: a lot harder than it seems) has been nothing short of amazing.

McFarlane has made a huge imprint on the comic book industry, through his art as well as his stories of course, but perhaps mostly as the co-founder of Image Comics: a handful of creators who took on Marvel and DC and not only persevered, but raised the quality of comics and changed the industry forever.

And here I am, on the verge of putting pen to paper in the creation of not only my own comic book character or comic book mini-series, but my very own comic book universe with a whole pantheon of characters and ideas for at least thirty issues worth of stories – an insane undertaking, to say the least, and something only a handful of comic book creators have succeeded in bringing home, but hey…

…how hard can it be to create a comic book universe?

Lady Phantom, Issue Two

This morning I put the final touches to the coloring and lettering of Lady Phantom Issue Two…

…and discovered that I had inadvertently missed an entire panel! When putting down a layer black borders on the ink, I accidentally filled in and convered one panel of page 23, and by the time I got around to colour it I didn’t notice my mistake.

It wasn’t until I was making the file for printing that I discovered a speech bubble sitting in the blackness, and so I had to quickly flat and colour it to match the rest of the page.

Hopefully, everything is now in order and the printer won’t serve the file back.

Making this issue has been a ride, and not a very pleasant one at that! I drew several of the pages for this issue over two years ago, and it showed. Trying to fix poor lines with ink isn’t my strong side, and in the midst of inking I suffered an eye injury.

The show had to go on, and my inking suffered for it…which in turn made flatting a challenge and a bit. As I went into renderinh, I desperately wanted to redraw at least half a dozen pages. Preferably more.

But, now that the colours are down I’m happier. Not as happy as I want to be, but I can at least and it out to you all without being totally ashamed…

…even though it’s four months late.

Lesson learned.

As I move forward with Issue Three, I will take all this with me and do a little extra work on the lines. A stitch in time saves nine, they say – and that certainly applies to comic book creation as well as clothes maintenance.

Now comes two weeks of preparations for the annual Swedish Comic Book Festival, which celebrates its 20th Anniversary.

If you are in our near Stockholm on the weekend of April 6th, come say hi and take a look at Issue Two in person!

Comic Con Stockholm

This past weekend I took myself and Lady Phantom to Comic Con.

I had my own booth, staffed by yours truly and two lovely helpers, and together we did our best to present Lady Phantom to the audience.

We had fair success considering that our title is still fairly unknown and illness had prevented me from going above and beyond in my preparations.

We met a lot of people, we connected with some who were already fans of Lady Phantom, and all in all we had an excellent time.

I had the fortune and pleasure to get personal meetings with both the editor-in-chief of Marvel comics and veteran comic book artist Barry Kitson – both really nice and helpful people – and thanks to their respective advice and input I now have a much clearer plan for my future as an illustrator and comic book artist.

All in all, it was pretty much the best experience I could have hoped for.

As we move forward with Issue Two of Lady Phantom, there are other comic book opportunities on the horizon for me and Chimaeral Creations, and as of this writing I have already started to make plans for next year!

Besides Lady Phantom comics and merchandise, I also had the pleasure to sell some original art and make connections which may give me other artistic opportunities in the future.

I was interviewed by one of the big Swedish newspapers and I talked to some other reporters, creators, retailers and people in the comic book business and other media production.

I want to extend a big thank you to all the arrangers, exhibitors, guests and visitors who helped make this an unforgettable weekend!

Closing Time

The crowdfunder for our Lady Phantom comic book mini series is fully funded!

We are on our last day with nearly $1,600 raised as of writing this, and it has been both nerve wrecking, stressful and a lot of fun. And now it is almost over…

…but really, it has just begun.

Now comes the past that will take the most work – fulfilling orders, creating custom rewards, getting the stuff out to our backers and finishing the next 150 pages of comic.

There’s A LOT to do now.

Me and Julie ate both very grateful of all the help and support we’ve gotten during the past two months, and it is really exciting to see the growing interest for Lady Phantom and what we do. Creating a comic book is hard work when you do everything yourselves, so every little bit of encouragement goes a long way.

We are also examining the possibility of taking Lady Phantom to a few cons over the next year and a half.

We are still very small, and cons can be costly affairs when all expenses are taken into consideration, but at the same time it is an excellent opportunity to get Lady Phantom seen by tens of thousands of comic book fans.

After all, we can’t succeed if we don’t try!

At the end of the day, we know that realistically or little comic book will barely make a dent in the market. But being realistic is not the way to acheive big goals.

So – thank you to everyone who has followed us and supported us so far, we hope you will stick around!

International Women’s Day

Just over two years ago, I got in contact with an amazing woman – writer Julie K Taylor. She had an idea for a new strong, black female superhero, someone young women of colour could look up to.

Now, two years later, we celebrate having released the first promotional issue of Lady Phantom.

We hope to make the Lady Phantom comic inclusive and diverse, focusing on deeper issues in addition to providing four-color superhero comic book action!

“Sometimes, when no one else takes action against injustice, you have to become your own hero.”

When Tara was nine her father died and she was adopted by the Satos, owners of multi-million dollar enterprise Mirai Technologies. Ten years later, the young woman once again abruptly had fate pull the rug from under her feet.

Faced with a situation she could never have dreamed of, threatened by those she had considered friends, Tara had to make a choice. So she put on a mask and cape, becoming someone who could do what no one else seemed prepared to – protect the city and fight those who explored it for their own ends

She became Lady Phantom. This is her story.

***

Written by Julie K Taylor and drawn by R Thomas Allwin, the prequel to our upcoming vigilante comic book Lady Phantom is now available for free download here:

Lady Phantom Issue Zero, high res (116MB)

Lady Phantom Issue Zero, low res (7MB)

The first six issue mini-series is in production, with Issue One scheduled for digital release in May, 2018.

Green Grass

The grass is always greener on the other side, or so the saying goes.

Where I live we currently have a daily mix of snow, rain, sun, and storms turning any excursion into a wet, slippery, cold adventure.

In stark contrast, my social media feed is filled with fantastic vacation pictures from friends and acquaintances currently in Sri Lanka, California, Indonesia, Colombia and Nairobi.

It would be easy to envy them and long for similar adventures, and yet I’m perfectly happy exactly where I am.

My days are spent with my one and a half year old son, playing, meeting friends, taking walks. My evenings are spent on the couch with my girlfriend, talking, watching movies or series, cuddling. And when they sleep I squeeze in some creative work, toiling away on the comic I’m drawing or working for clients.

To me, that’s the greenest grass there is.

I don’t have to travel to the locations above (though a few of them are on my list of places to visit), I get to see and experience them through the lens of my friends – and that’s plenty.

I’ve never travelled all that much, but I have been to various places around Europe and North America. During my younger years I spent a fair amount of time partying – burning the candle at both ends and indulging in a variety of pleasures. The remaining time I spent quietly reading, watching movies and playing games with a handful of close friends.

I’ve lived an eclectic life. Now I just want to spend time with my family and my art.

Undoubtedly there’s still a lot for me to experience – both at home and abroad – but I hope the next few years will be spent close to the loves of my life – my son, his mother, and my art.

It doesn’t matter if the grass is found wanting for colour – I have a lot of paint!