Behind Al Cook’s “Necropolis”: Blood Test.

Whenever I get an illustration commission I occasionally get asked to provide ‘idea sketches’ to show what the finished piece will look like. This type of request usually results in me turning down a lot of artwork job offers because I almost never ever produce any ‘idea’ sketches and if I do, they never really resemble the eventual illustration and I tear them up just as soon as I’m finished with them. Besides, I think that sample and ‘idea’ sketches could subliminally put someone off of your work.
Is that crazy and paranoid?

If it’s not crazy and paranoid it’s probably arrogant of me but I’d rather turn down an illustration job than waste my time churning out sample sketches just to please someone who doesn’t have the faith in me to just let me get on with things.

That said, sometimes I do produce ‘working’ sketches for my horror comic-strip to help me place where characters and objects will be in the panels and today I’m going to break my own rule and show them to you.

All of these working sketches come from the “Please Give Blood” installment from my comic-strip, Al Cook’s “Necropolis” and as you will see, these were never meant to be seen…

* Working Sketch:

* Eventual Illustration Panel:


* Working Sketch:


* Eventual Illustration Panel:


* Working Sketch:


* Eventual Illustration Panel:


* Working Sketch:


* Eventual Illustraion Panel:


* Working Sketch #1:


* Working Sketch #2:


* Working Sketch #3:


* Working SKetch #4:


* Eventual Illustration Panel:


I decided to upload these scribbles because aside from my own, I like to see work in progress. Be it a building being built or a half finished song, I’m interested and so I hope those sketches were of some interest to you.
You can view “Please Give Blood” in full HERE.

You May Also Be Interested In…
* Al Cook’s “Necropolis”
* Graham Humphreys: “Zombie Flesh Eaters” Artwork
* Sketches For Nobody #6

Al Cook’s “Necropolis”: Please Give Blood.

Hi folks, this is the latest entry in my macabre Glaswegian comic-strip, Al Cook’s “Necropolis”.
It’s called “Please Give Blood” so please do!

As always, the main place to view Al Cook’s “Necropolis” in all of its complete and black biro penned, sinister hand-drawn wonder is HERE.

* Footnote:
I sent this “Please Give Blood” strip off to the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service asking them to get behind the comic etc… and they said:

Hi Al,
Many thanks for your enquiry.
I’m afraid this is something we will not be able to support.
Best regards,

Leigh Taylor.
Donor Recruitment and Publicity Officer
Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service
25 Shelley Road
G12 0XB
Tel: 0141 357 7740“.

That aside, please do give blood. It’s very very important and not painful at all.

* Give Blood For Scotland
* Al Cook’s “Necropolis”

You May Also Be Interested In:
* Cut Loose (Complete Version)
* Cracking Open A Cold One

Books That Are Better Than The Bible…

There is hope for all of you rubbish aspiring authors yet!























Bouncy castle

All of those classics of literature and more can be purchased from Abebooks which is HERE.

You May Also Be Interested In…
* Make Mine A Harlot
* Happy Birthday To Me?
* The Alternate Mr. Men Books

Photography: Water Experiments.

Here are some photos I took of my massive face back in 2004 when I actually had the time to spend entire days messing around with cameras and glass and ink and lots of water.

There’s quite a few of these pictures and you can see them all on my Facebook page.

Buckfast In The New York Times.

Did you know that Buckfast Tonic Wine once got a mention in The New York Times last year?

Aye well it did and if you come from anywhere in Lanarkshire like me then you might find this article a wee bit funny.

The New York Times.
Published: February 3, 2010.

COATBRIDGE, Scotland — What is it about Buckfast Tonic Wine that makes it so alluring to consumers and yet so repulsive to politicians?

Buckfast is considered a regional favorite in Coatbridge.
Perhaps it is its special caffeine-and-sweet-wine recipe, which allows overly enthusiastic consumers to be tipsy and bouncy at the same time. Perhaps it is its array of snappy nicknames, including “Wreck the Hoose Juice” — hoose being a Scottish pronunciation of house — or its exotic provenance as the product of wine-making Benedictine monks at an abbey in England.

Whatever the cause, Buckfast has emerged as a symbol of Scotland’s entrenched drinking problems at a time when it is urgently debating how to address them. “For a large section of the Scottish population, their relationship with alcohol is damaging and harmful — to individuals, families, communities and to Scotland as a nation,” the Scottish government said in a recent report.

Buckfast does not seem to help. In a survey last year of 172 prisoners at a young offenders’ institution, 43 percent of the 117 people who drank alcohol before committing their crimes said they had drunk Buckfast. In a study of litter in a typical housing project, 35 percent of the items identified were Buckfast bottles. And the police in the depressed industrial district of Strathclyde recently told a BBC program that the drink had been mentioned in 5,638 crime reports between 2006 and 2009 (the bottle was used as a weapon in 114 of them).

A spokesman for J. Chandler & Company, which distributes the drink, said that Buckfast accounted for less than 1 percent of the alcoholic beverage market in Scotland and was being unfairly singled out. Nor, he said, is wine-making a sign that the monks of Buckfast Abbey have strayed from the teachings of St. Benedict, an accusation recently leveled by an Episcopal bishop.

“It’s always wise to remember that Jesus turned water into wine,” the spokesman, Jim Wilson, said in an interview.

Britain as a whole has finally accepted that it has a drinking problem that goes beyond fears about binge drinking. It is also realizing that the measure enacted in 2005 to address it — allowing pubs to remain open 24 hours a day, to avoid the last-minute rush — has failed. But if the problem is grave in England, it is worse in Scotland.

On average, Scots age 16 and older drank the equivalent of 12.5 quarts of pure alcohol each in 2007, the eighth highest rate in the world (In England, the figure was 10.5 quarts per capita). The government estimates that alcohol misuse costs Scotland $3.6 billion annually in health and social problems and loss of productivity.

A multipronged bill wending its way through the Scottish Parliament would, among other things, force retailers to charge a minimum price per unit of alcohol, ending the special deals that have helped reduce its price by 70 percent in real terms over the last 30 years. But opposition lawmakers oppose the bill, in part because it would have no effect on Buckfast, which already charges more than the proposed minimum amounts.

Legislation to curb drinking is of particular interest here in Scotland’s old industrial heartland, or the “Buckfast Belt,” where Buckfast is considered a regional favorite. The drink is so ubiquitous in this working-class town, not far from Glasgow, that some people call it Coatbridge Table Wine (others call it “loopy juice,” or, adding their own twist as they channel Travis Bickle, “Who’re you lookin’ at?” wine.) Buckfast is no newcomer to the market, having become popular in the first half of the 20th century, when it was prescribed by doctors for down-in-the-dumps miners and sold in drugstores.

One person’s helpful mood improver, though, is another’s worryingly effective stimulant. The drink is 15 percent alcohol by volume, a bit stronger than most wines. Also, each 750 milliliter bottle contains as much caffeine as eight cans of Coke.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is considering banning caffeinated alcoholic drinks, which can make people uninhibited from the alcohol but also hyper, anxious and combative from the caffeine and sugar.

“It’ll blow your head off,” said James Grimson, smoking a cigarette outside a pub near the center of Coatbridge recently, speaking of Buckfast.

“It’s why a lot of fights happen around here on Saturdays,” said Umair Ansar, who works at a newspaper store in town.

The drink is favored by young, rowdy men with a taste for making trouble — “neds,” they are called in Scotland. Hard-core aficionados drink two or three bottles in succession, right down. “They say it doesn’t taste the same out of a glass,” explained a passer-by, Martin Rooney, 48.

“It goes straight to your head,” he said, “but it’s not my cup of tea.” (Mr. Rooney noted that his cup of tea is half a bottle of vodka a night.)

Buckfast comes in an attractive bottle illustrated with a friendly looking bunch of grapes. It would seem to be an acquired taste. To the neophyte sampler, it evokes a thick, sweet wine — sherry, perhaps — fortified with cola and Vivarin.

“Have you ever tried Benalyn cough syrup?” asked Sharon Macauley, a sales assistant at G & B’s Newsbox general store, which does a brisk business in Buckfast.

In walked 30-year-old John Miller, ready to procure his daily dose, a bottle and a half.

Mr. Miller was hard-pressed to articulate what he likes about Buckfast. “You get used to it,” he said.

He said that Buckfast had been unfairly singled out as the cause of all the drink-related ills in Scottish society. “You see people with lager and vodka who are fighting just as much,” he said. “It has nothing to do with Buckfast.”

Five years ago, Cathy Jamieson, then Scotland’s justice minister, said that Buckfast was “related to antisocial behavior,” and called on liquor stores to limit or ban sales of the drink.

But Ms. Jamieson’s message was diluted by the boisterous presence of a group of local youths, who surrounded her, chanting, “Don’t ban Buckie! Don’t ban Buckie!” as she spoke. And the plan backfired, anyway; regional sales of Buckfast soared.

End of article.

It’s hard to pick a favourite part of that story but I liked how they described the bottle as attractive and illustrated with “a friendly looking bunch of grapes”.

As oppossed to evil looking grapes?
Evil alcoholic stabby grapes?

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