Monday 12 July 2021


EarthWorks is live now on Kickstarter:

I blame Toppi. I picked up a collected volume of his work, The Enchanted World, and found myself swimming through the pages. His art looked chaotic, yet controlled and human and awe-inspiring. Dirty big dollops of black and careful controlled cross hatching built up. I wanted to have a go at some of that expressive, more free flowing style. In my mind I was seeing Toppi meets Creepy magazine ink wash art.

I previously worked with writer Martin Hayes on a number of projects, three volumes of Gentlemen Ghouls in Aces Weekly and within the short story collection Debris. As we had an established working relationship it was a no-brainer to drag him into my scheme of a more kamikaze freeform style of project. I wanted to work on something that wouldn’t completely work and Martin was willing to humour me while I made mistakes and stumbled. 

As I was attempting a more free sketchbook-orientated style I also wanted Martin to feel he had a blank canvas to come up with whatever type of storyline would get him fired up also. He duly dug in and dug up a plot inspired by his long running interest in the mystery of the Hexham Heads.

When the ball started rolling on this I found myself setting a few rules that deviated away from my usual clean line comic page drawing practice:

  • Work on a smaller page scale; just under A4 compared to usually just under A3. I hoped this would free me up to not get too bogged down in detail and maybe burn through the pages that bit quicker
  • No rulers: draw pretty much everything by eye, including panel borders to give things that bit more slightly skewed organic sketchbook look and feel
  • Make a mess: use rough washes, toothbrush ink splatters and inky fingerprints to rough it all up and make the human touch more evident
  • Differing pens for differing lines: I used a brush pen and sloppy ink washes. I also sadistically locked in to using a tiny 0.05 pen. I hoped this would create an intricate scratchy form of cross-hatching, in reality it was a massive time swamp to build up any degree of weight with such fine mark making

I was happy to commit to something that art-wise would be inconsistent, uncertain and at times just plain not work. Making mistakes is a freedom and it felt consistent with the times making this haphazard project while we made it through haphazard ‘what happens next?’ pandemic days.

As well as a different more scrappy drawing style, myself and Martin also set up a different more freewheeling style of working from script. Martin mapped out the overall shape and feel of the story but supplied script pages one by one sporadically as we both worked around life, day jobs and other projects. Instead of detailed panel breakdown script pages, Martin would supply an outline of the page and also dialogue. It was left up to me to breakdown and layout the page as I saw fit. In my head I wanted to tap into that flowing dreamlike page layout that Toppi does so well but in reality I found it hard to deprogramme from ‘little boxes’ standard square panel comic booking. 

As I had worked with Martin previously, I didn’t have to worry about the shorthand of my loose and stripped down layout sketches. In hindsight, I would have loved to spend a bit more time breaking things down and heightening the design elements of the pages at the layout stage. Have confidence to break things down rather than rely on realistic representation. But making mistakes is as much learning about your limitations as your strengths.

My big take away from this project is; no matter what working rules you set for a comic project, they take time. A lot of time and focus. When I started this I thought I’d blitz through this in a snappy, scrappy fashion but the reality was it took as long as any other comic project. I found it hard to untether from a lifetime of representational drawing and things got bogged down and laboured here and there. As stated before, this project was unashamedly about giving something a go and being unafraid to make mistakes and make something that didn’t fully work. At the end of the day it’s just a comic book, not life saving medical breakthroughs.

My other big take away from all of this is; just because Toppi makes that flowing dreamlike drawing and design look easy and natural, it isn’t. Bloody Toppi.

- - -

Unearthing Earthworks is a PDF document which contains process, full script and layouts of the project to give you a messy under the bonnet look at myself and Martins working methods on this project. It is available as a Stretch Goal on the Kickstarter project.

Friday 4 September 2020

The Gentlemen Ghouls - Lord of this World

It's been a long time and a lot of change since writer Martin Hayes got in touch with me in autumn 2015 to work on a project for Aces Weekly digital comic. Elevator pitch; The Sweeney meets Hammer House of Horror. It's been a bit stop start going through three volumes and approx 120 pages of art drawn and coloured in that time. In that time I've experienced leaving London after 10 years, relocating up north, bouncing through a job or two, home ownership, Brexit, Trump, Boris and a global pandemic. And in that time also our Gentlemen Ghouls have chased vampire overlords, decked dodgy occult-lovin' rock stars and been dragged through it by the scruff of their pointy 70s lapels.

It's been really enjoyable spending time in the company of these characters again on this third volume, especially the coppers Pike and Roach; they're car-crash creating areseholes but they mean well, relatable. And the world of 70s London grime and seediness and shoddy decor and clothes is a treat to work within. I've really enjoyed pencilling and inking this stuff but have had a bit of crisis of confidence when comes to colouring. I feel more and more like a pretend colourist and begrudge the time-swamp of colouring eating into drawing time. On this material actively tried to make it a bit garish and... shite. Wanted to create nods to the over-saturated stylised colour schemes you'd get in a good over the top Hammer production twinned with ropey colour printing limitations of the 70s time period. It becomes a very fine line though between creating controlled bad work and plain bad work.

Martin Hayes has really wrapped things up a treat on this third volume. Things get batshit crazy along the way, he must have dusted off some devious dusty occult tomes and VHS cassettes for this one. The letterer Bram Meehan does his usual lock it down hassle-free lettering, it's just right for the project. Been a treat working with these two gents along the way.

Hopefully will get a chance to return to these characters and the demon-riddled dark streets of 70s London. The Gentlemen Ghouls: Lord Of This World begins in volume 47 of Aces Weekly starting 7th September 2020 and runs through volume 48.

Opening page for the first installment - 'Leper Messiah'
which featured in Aces Weekly vol. 21

Opening page for the second installment - 'What Is And
What Should Never Be' which featured in Aces Weekly vol. 31

Opening page for the third installment - 'Lord Of This World'
which runs in two parts through Aces Weekly vol. 47 & 48

Sunday 10 November 2019

2000AD Art Comp - Thought Bubble 2019

I threw my hat in the ring this year for the 2000AD art competition at Thought Bubble Comic Book Festival in Harrogate.

It was a six page slightly spooky, slightly weird, slightly daft tale that involved drawing a bus, interior and exterior over and over again, so... challenging!

Got to the final judging panel stage where judges Leah Moore, Mike Dowling and Frazer Irving judged and chose a winner to have their art in an upcoming Future Shock.

Didn't make it over the line but was so interesting and enlightening to see so many different styles and problem solving applied to the same material. The winner Robin Henleys pages were a worthy winner; so confident with great strong composition.

Was a bit nerve jangly but really fun to be a part of. Below are the final pages (with clumsy lettering applied by moi) and also the pencils...

Sunday 24 June 2018


Some time ago completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for short story comic anthology 'Debris'
"Anyone who's seen Alfie's work will know that this is just quality through and through... Absolutely amazing. Such a consistent book. Tales of the Unexpected on crack."
- Vince Hunt, Awesome Comics Podcast
"A lovely little package... each story gives you a really different flavour."
- Pete Taylor, Comic Arts Podcast
Have been very fortunate to reach out to a high-caliber range of writers, some of whom I've worked with before; Ryan K Lindsay (ETERNAL, NEGATIVE SPACE, BEAUTIFUL CANVAS), Lee Robson (BABBLE, FUTUREQUAKE, ACES WEEKLY), Martin Hayes (ALEISTER CROWLEY: WANDERING THE WASTE, GENTLEMEN GHOULS, ABOMINABLE GLORY) and new creative swinging partner Fraser Campbell (ALEX AUTOMATIC, SLEEPING DOGS, THE EDGE OFF).
Having created all the pencil/ink work within (also colouring and lettering duties, unless otherwise stated), was also extremely fortunate to utilise colourists such as Ellie Wright, Chris O'Halloran, Triona Farrell and letterer Bram Meehan in helping to piece stories and elements together.
Full colour
Perfect bound
Physical copies can be purchased over at my Etsy store:
Also, copies can be picked up at:
Orbital Comics, 8 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JA
Big Bang Comics, Sandyford Road, Dundrum, Dublin,

Sketchbook 047

Sketches from an office...