Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2016 New Years blog post, thingy


Hello. How was your Christmas? Did you get anything nice from Santa? Jolly good! Well, as the time of celebrating long held customs and traditions draws to a close I shall end it with my own annual tradition of uploading a blog post devoted to the previous twelve months... Without a doubt 2016 has been a Knightmare year for me, partly as it was the year I met Hugo Myatt the man that played Treguard (of Dunshelm) the dungeon master on one of my all time favourite television programs Knightmare! I met him at this year’s Wales Comic Con and it was a genuine delighted to meet him and discover what a genuinely nice man he is! I told him how much of a highlight the show had been for me and how Mrs Jones had teased me on how I had found certain scenes in the programme to be quite intense at the time. Scenes such as Corridor of Blades, the sound of a Goblin horn in the distance or the series’ antagonist Lord Fear, (played by Mark Knight) realising he was being watched through the spyglass had me on the edge of my seat back in the day! Although it was the year I was able to say “hello” to childhood heroes sadly we have had to say “goodbye” to a great many others. We lost David Bowie at the start of the year and being the trend setter that he was he set the trend for heroes, legends and talented people who died one after another! Much like previous years this list reflects people that ‘inspired’ me personally in some way or their work I have enjoyed over the years (at the time of posting this post! *) RIP  Paul Daniels, Michu Meszaros, Ronnie Corbett,  Sir Terry Wogan, Prince, Frank Kelly, Pete Burns, Gene Wilder, Kenny Baker, Caroline Aherne, Victoria Wood, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Vivian Gray, Frank Sinatra Jr, Joe Alaskey, Tom Neyman, Harambe, Andrew Sachs, Don Calfa, Bruce Lacey, Van William, Robert Vaughn, Peter Vaughan, Steve Dillon, Florence Henderson, Ted V. Mikels, John Glenn, Ian McCaskill, Bernard Fox, Chyna, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Deddie Davies, Liz Smith, Richard Adams, Rick Parfitt, George Michael and Carrie Fisher.
With Treguard himself Hugo Myatt
When I wasn't shocked over the latest celebrity death I was working in the studio (or in one case in a care home) working on a woodland mural or something for the Eccentric PartyCannibal Cop, Slashermania or the final issue of Slaughterhouse Farm. I also worked on  some arfon.net Badges and T-shirts, a tribute to my former school teachers, something for the Heath Robinson Museum and the InternationalCryptozoology Museum and if I wasn't doing any of those things I was out exploring....


Altar dedicated to Nemesis, Chester
The Chester amphitheatre is one of the largest known from Roman Britain. Half of the Eastern and northern sides are visible and accessible to the public and well worth a visit. Constructed at around 70AD by Legion II Adiutrix and abandoned at around 350. To the right of the northern entrance there is a small room called the 'Nemeseum' which contains an altar dedicated to Nemesis the goddess of fate, divine vengeance and retribution. The inscription reads: DEAE NEMESI SEXT - MARCI ANVS V S - EX VISV ("Dedicated to the goddess Nemesis by Sextus Marcianus, after a dream.") Discovered in the excavations in the 1960's it is believed that offerings would have been made before a performance at the amphitheatre to prevent an untimely death. This is a replica, the original is on display in the Grosvenor Museum equally worth a visit.

 
 

Jurassic Golf Bridgemere
Located at the Bridgemere Garden Centre Jurassic Golf Bridgemere is worthy of its own Prehistoric Pining post! This 6,000 square foot 12-hole adventure golf course is brilliant, because it offers fibreglass dinosaurs and a roaring animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex! Family fun assured as it offers you the chance to test you crazy golfing skills while learning about these magnificent beasts!

 
Creswell Crags, Holbeck
Not only was this limestone gorge on the Derbyshire/ Nottinghamshire border once inhabited by Ice Age animals such as hyenas, mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, and migrating herds of reindeer, horse and bison but humans too! The site contains several caves that were once inhabited by nomadic human groups between 55,000 and 10,000 years ago making Creswell Crags the most northerly point on earth to have been visited by our ancient ancestors. Having not only discovered tools formed from stone, bone and ivory there they also recently discovered 13000 year old engravings of deer, birds, bison, and horse there making it the oldest art gallery in Britain? At the East End of the gorge there is a museum and education centre filled with wonderful finds that I strongly suggest you look round, oh and book their tours- well worth a visit.


Ruthin Castle, Ruthin
Constructed on a former Iron age fort during the late 13th century by Dafydd ap Gruffydd brother of former Price of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. Standing on a red sandstone ridge 100 feet above the Clwyd valley and overlooking a strategic river crossing the land was granted to Dafydd ap Gruffydd by Edward I in gratitude for his assistance during the invasion of North Wales. It was then taken over by Reginald de Grey who strengthened and extended the castle in 1295. Many years later, 1826 in fact a grand house was built over the south-eastern quarter of the castle and in 1923 the castle became Britain's first private hospital for the investigation and treatment of obscure internal diseases before closing in the 1950's. It was then transformed into a hotel in the 1960s and has remained one ever since. One notable guest who stayed there was Prince Charles who spent the night before his investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969.
Mrs Jones and I spent the night there too in 2006 having attended one of their Medieval banquets, we retuned there this year and were treated to a tour of the castle and its grounds (previously off limits to the public) by the Ruthin Castle Conservation Trust. A trust formed this year in order to raise awareness and funds needed for urgent repairs. Despite all its history the castle has not been awarded a world heritage site status, and so as a result it has been slowly crumbling away and the trust hopes to restore it and establish the site as a visitor attraction in its own right giving it the clear identity that it so richly deserves (visit this link to make a donation or become a member). Oh, the castle (the hotel) is also mentioned in my favourite travel guide 'Haunted Britain: A Guide to Supernatural Sites Frequented by Ghosts, Witches, Poltergeists and Other Mysterious Beings' written by Antony Hippisley Coxe and published in 1973 which brings us rather neatly to the subject of haunted hotels. Whenever we go travelling, Mrs Jones and I (when possible) check into reputed “haunted hotels” and this year we visited three, the first I previously mentioned the second was...


Bestwood Lodge Hotel, Arnold, Nottinghamshire
Ten miles from Sherwood Forest and reputedly haunted by orange seller, actress and long time mistress to Charles II Nell Gwynn who's spirit is said to be responsible for the mysterious smell of oranges discovered in rooms frequented by children. Staff at the hotel have also reported figures walking around the corridors and disappearing shortly after along with disembodied voices coming from the cellar, where bodies are said to be buried. In one instance a member of staff changing a barrel reported the lights going off and a voice asking, “Can I help you, Sir?” Bestwood Lodge has been a hotel since the 1970s and a very nice one it is too, a popular venue for wedding functions and as a result the lady at the front desk had no interest in answering my questions regarding the spectres at the hotel.

The Manor House, County Durham.
Once a farmers’ dwelling built between the 15th and 16th centuries this building has at some point existed as a convent, a court house and orphanage before becoming the rather nice hotel and country club it is today. Apparently room six is haunted by a young crying boy looking for this mother who may or may not be the ghost seen on the upper floor reportedly searching for her son. Random cold spots and floating objects have been reported throughout the property, although Mrs Jones and I did not stay in room 6 we did hear a strange child like sounds early in the morning... make of that what you will.

Well, I hope that was of interest, aside from doubling the work load and producing content three resolutions have been made for the new year the obvious promise to loose weight, post more of my work on here and think of a better title for these end of year blog posts! As ever a big thank you and Happy New Year to all my friends out there old and new, all that have supported my work this past year and visted the site not forgetting the special ‘shout out’ to Mim, Kid, TwoHeadedBoy, Moira and Ddraig Goch for commenting on my posts its always good to know that someone is actually reading these posts!
Ok then, Last one to 2017 is a rotten egg!

* A few hours later we lost Debbie Reynolds!

"Tradition"? Previous Years
2015
2014

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The second arfon.net Christmas staff party

Last year I speculated that the arfon.net Christmas staff party at Hooters might well become a “thing” and by Jingle now it officially is! You will recall that having enquired why should I miss out of a staff Christmas 'do' just because I was self-employed and a work force of one? And so decided to do something about it and held the first ever arfon.net Christmas staff party at Hooters, Nottingham! The party was such a hit with staff (providing all the widely regarded staff morale boosting benefits) that it seemed only natural to go back again this year, however to make it fair it was first put to a vote, Hooters won by a resounding majority!

So this lone worker returned to Hootersof Nottingham located at the Hicking Building on London Road along with my "plus one" Mrs Jones (other companies restrict their functions to the 'employees only' rule or make spouses or partners pay for their meals and drinks. But not this business!) for the second annual arfon.net Christmas staff party!
Having been greeted by one of the Hooters girls, and shown to our table, drinks and food arrived shortly after and once again I had the Hooter’s speciality, the chicken wings with Cajun sauce and curly fries and Mrs Jones had the choice America steak with coleslaw. Not terribly festive I grant you but the Christmas decorations, Mrs Jones's owl themed Christmas Jumper and Christmas crackers helped set the mood. My cracker contained a wind up Christmas owl, a joke (“What kind of shoes do frogs wear? Open toad sandals!”) and a paper hat of which I wore (see photo). Then it was Secret Santa present-giving time! This year I got a '1960s Childhood Memorabilia pack' containing a replica Ellisdons catalogue, Batman, Thunderbirds, Land of the Giants, The Monkees and the Dr. Who and the Daleks trading cards and various toy flyers (how did I know that I would like that?!). Having finished up and posed for some photos I also picked up the 2017 Hooters calender (of which proceeds go to a breast cancer charity). And that was the second arfon.net Christmas staff party and just like last year a good time was had by all, and I predict that also like last year morale in the studio will have been heavily boosted, guaranteeing a productive New year! My sincere thanks to everyone at Hooters of Nottingham, especially Lauren, Jade and Helen for the warm welcome and for making my second staff party a Holly Jolly one! Merry Christmas!

 

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


Monday, 12 December 2016

From the Vaults: 2015 Slaughterhouse Farm Christmas Card


Not an ancient relic from the past I grant you, but at least its Christmassy! Last year I sent Slaughterhouse Farm writer and co-creator Matt Warner of HellboundMedia a Slaughterhouse Farm themed Christmas card featuring the comic's protagonist PF (name abbreviated for the benefit of our younger audience) about to have Matt for Christmas dinner...


© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

2016 Heath Robinson Museum Secret Art Sale


The Heath Robinson Museum had their 2016 Secret Art Sale at the Upstairs Gallery at West House, Pinner Memorial Park last week. Offering over 170 6”x 6” canvases for sale with all proceeds going towards the newly opened Heath Robinson Museum. Works of art were donated to the museum by both aspiring and renowned professional artists, cartoonists and illustrators and yours truly was one of the 143 artists that participated and I understand it was a great success.
I was artist number 58 and donated this glow in the dark portrait of the ideas man himself Heath Robinson with a symbolic light bulb above his head. As always with my glow in the dark paintings it allows the owner to enjoy the piece day and night and also acts as a convenient locater of light switches in the dark. It was a genuine honour to be able to create a piece devoted to one of my favourite illustrators, more so knowing that proceeds made from its sale will further fund the very museum devoted to him.
A gallery of all 170 canvases can be viewed on the museum's site- if you are Pinner be sure to visit the museum and show your support!

© Arfon Jones  2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Slaughterhouse Farm T-shirts

Seven more days to go of HellboundMedia's Slaughterhouse Farm kickstarter campaign, they achieved their target goal after only a week! I mentioned in my previous post that there are several great rewards on offer to all campaign supporters and this still stands! For example this Slaughterhouse Farm t-shirt designed by Chrissey Harrison and featuring my artwork. The designs are printed on black high quality Fruit of the Loom T-Shirts and available in a variety of sizes. Remember, also, if you back at the £50 level for the T-Shirt, all back issues of the comic will be included for free! So as I said before, join in the fun and support the independent comic scene by following the link and pledging your support!

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Slaughterhouse Farm#4 Kickstarter


My good friends at Hellbound Media are currently looking for supporters to help fund the fourth and final instalment of fan favourite Slaughterhouse Farm! I've illustrated this comic series for four years now and I am delighted with how well it has been received. Even though the kickstarter campaign was only launched four days ago it has already reached the 45% mark! Proof of how much of a hit this title is with readers. But fear not, there is still time to get involved (at the time of writing this) twenty six days in fact to sign up and support the campaign and gain some marvellous rewards including art cards, back issues, badges, t-shirts and also the opportunity to feature in the comic as a gory corpse as drawn by yours truly! So join in the fun and support the independent comic scene by following the link and pledging your support!

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Slashermania! Kickstarter

Just wanted to tell you about an exciting project that I’m involved with, Freaktown Comics are currently looking for Kickstarter backers to back their latest title, Slashermania! This 168 page graphic novel celebrates the slasher movie genre serving a “tribute to, and an examination of, the eighties slasher movie phenomenon”. This terror tale set in 1983 tells of a group of troubled teens that are taken to a summer camp facility to be trained as counsellors. But unbeknown to them they are actually part of a bizarre contest that sees 10 masked maniacs attempting to win the coveted Slashermania Slasher of the Year award! Written by Russell Hillman and illustrated by Ron Joseph and CJ Camba Slashermania promises “It’s mostly played straight but with an undercurrent of post-modern self-awareness and some appropriately inappropriate laughs along the way - carefully designed not to undercut the scares.
Inked by Jake Isenberg, coloured by Harry Saxon and lettered by Sergio Calvet the book will also include a 12-page pin-up section featuring work by “the best artists in the world of indie and alternative comics” such as Phil Buckenham, Dennis Booth, Agustin Calcagno and yours truly!
The book promises to be great fun so follow the link, show your support and back this project and help make this book a reality! Tell your friends, spread the word and share the love!

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Loren Coleman and the International Cryptozoology Museum

If you have ever watched a documentary relating to Cryptozoology (the study of hidden or unknown animals) it is very likely you will have seen this man, Mr. Loren Coleman. He is one of the world's leading cryptozoologists and spokesperson for the science, an honorary member of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club he is also a life member of the International Society of Cryptozoology. Not to mention an author (one of my favourite books written by him is Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology) and in 2003, Mr Coleman realised his lifelong dream of someday opening a museum devoted to Cryptozoology. The International Cryptozoology Museum is filled with all manner of items relating to Cryptozoology achieving its primary mission to educate, inform, and share Cryptozoology with the general public. The museum is filled with an array of sculptures, paintings and souvenirs from around the world and not forgetting an 8 feet tall representation of Bigfoot!
This year the museum relocated to its new premises at Thompson’s Point Portland, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make the 2,976-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean myself but I strongly suggest you do so if you are in Portland! In the "Coleman's Corner" section dedicated to the man himself, you will find my painting.  Following on from a painting I made back in 2013 of Professor Philip J. White, curator of Bangor University’s natural history collection for the Bangor Science Festival, we see Mr. Coleman amongst his exhibits. As I previously indicated, I wasn’t able to visit the museum to make sketches and take reference photos so I had to use what I could find on the Internet and this is why some items are not necessarily to scale. But Mr. Coleman was delighted with it never the less and I am equally delighted that it now resides in his museum, and thank him for sending me a photo of it on display.
Remember now, if you are ever visiting Maine, specifically Portland, be sure to visit the museum and show them your support- tell them that Arfon sent you!

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Cannibal Cop Poster

Over the past 30 years Donald Farmer has brought us such movies as Cannibal Hookers, Scream Dream, Vampire Cop, Chainsaw Cheerleaders and Red Lips starring the great Ghetty Chasun!
Now following on from the success of Shark Exorcist he brings us his latest “gore-drenched new horror shockerCannibal Cop! Boasting an impressive cast (including a cameo by legendary Scream Queen legend Linnea Quigley) the movie shot in Nashville and New Orleans  is based on a true story and asks what if there was a cop that wanted to do more than just bust the bad guys? What if he actually wanted to eat them?!Yours truly painted the poster for the movie, which gets its World Premiere at the Reel Cinemas in Pennsylvania on August 19th!



Check out the trailer and then join the facebook group for more information!


© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Comic Consciousness: The Comic Book Price Guide for Great Britain

Back in 1993, I had an after school/summer job at a vintage comic warehouse which immersed me into the world of American comics, forever changing my outlook of comics in general. After several years of buying numerous Fleetway reprints of Batman comics I was now not only able to obtain actual first editions of the comics that I desired but I also learned that those first editions would be an investment for the future!
Being the early to mid 1990’s this was the time of the speculator comics boom a topic that has been covered in far greater detail by others so I shall try and sum it up as briefly as I can… When the public (spurred on by the press) realised the finanical potential of rare first editions of comics the mainstream comic book publishers leapt onto the collectors' market bandwagon and produced a barrage of variant covers, cross over stories and gimmick covers. Comic retail prices increased and many of those comics were polybagged sometimes forcing collectors to buy two issues one to read and the other to remain sealed and put into storage as a future investment. One factor had been grossly overlooked however, the reason those early comics sold so well at auction was because they were genuinely rare, where as these newer editions were produced in their millions. Inevitably the bubble burst and the bottom fell out of the "collectible" issues market. Many comic shops went under and many publishers could not cover the costs of distribution and went out of business, most notably Marvel declaring bankruptcy in 1997. Despite that I still look back on those gimmicky, hologram-enhanced, glow-in-the-dark, embossed foil covers with great fondness as it was an exciting time to be a comics fan. During those exciting times comic price guides such as Wizard Magazine, Comics International and Previews were produced that advised investors on the hottest comics to buy. But there was one definitive guide that I look back on with fondness, stirring those nostalgic memories for me, Duncan McAlpine’s Comic Book Price Guide for Great Britain.

Duncan McAlpine’s guides first began back in 1985 and between 1989 and 1997 he published eight guide books (I came in on book #4) every trader at a comic convention, that took their trade seriously would have a comic price guide to hand. If you were looking to sell your comics the dealer would get out their well used, creased price guide and give you an accurate price. I never quibbled, because for me the guide was gospel the price the guide quoted was the going rate. Prices aside it was also filled with informative articles about comic shops & comic shop etiquette along with information on how to collect and sell comics (even how to pronounce certain characters names!). They even offered tips and advice on how to start your own comic trading company. It had numerous guest contributors, many of whom worked within the collectors market, who would write about lesser-known titles, report on sales and speculate on the next best seller
Not only that but they also had cover artwork from some of the most prominent comic artists of the day and forwards written by an eclectic mix of people working within comics or entertainment.
Looking back through them recently I was amazed at how much I had committed to memory. Nostalgia flowed as I recalled all the times I would leaf through the guides and immerse myself in the world of ‘Mint’, ‘Near Mint’, ‘Very Fine’ ‘Fine’ and ‘Poor’.
So who was Duncan McAlpine the man behind the guides? And what was his story? Duncan McAlpine started collecting comics at a very young age thanks to his mother who was an antique dealer that took him to various sale rooms in the local area of Fleet and Farnborough in Hampshire and Camberley in Surrey. In order to keep him quiet she would buy him comics, not knowing much about comics, she chose American ones from the newsagent rather than British and by the latter half of the 1960s he had amassed a collection of a few hundred issues. This collection continued to grow after he discovered a second-hand bookshop called Wicks in Farnborough. Ever the entrepreneur he would ask the owner to keep any American comics that came in to one side for him, any doubles of a comic he would swap with the other children at school! In 1973 he visited his first comic mart in London, (chaperoned by his sister) and spent the princely sum of £20 on as many comics as he could buy including Superboy #12 and Superman #100. He recalled how even then he was already quite picky about condition and not afraid to bargain with the dealers. Even back in those early days he always catalogued his comics at around 1971 he had bought comics from Alan Austin author of the fanzine Fantasy Unlimited who had attempted to produce a price guide in 1975. McAlpine regarded this publication to be a great achievement and recalled how quickly his copy became dog-eared and crumpled due to constant referencing. It was during this time that Bob Overstreet had produced Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide the annually published comprehensive comic book price guide but as extensive as it was it did not cover British comics.  
Alan Austin continued to revise and expand his guides in 1979 and then 1983 however his guides did not include Golden Age comics from the 1930s onwards, which was an area in which McAlpine was increasingly interested in because as he explained, “I could just about start to afford them!” 
Having enrolled at Warwick University he started drawing up sales lists of his own and advertised them across one or two pages in Fantasy Advertiser, although in hindsight he felt that he priced them too low as they all sold very quickly and he was constantly having to turn people down and send money back. He didn’t have stock in depth so if he sent out independent sales lists outside of fanzines ads he was forever Typex-ing and altering the lists. Then in 1987 having left Warwick University to work at the BBC’s Drama Series department Apart, he not only set up his own table at London comic marts on the weekends (buying directly from the States) but decided to catalogue his own extensive collection, (an estimated 12,000 comics at this point), creating his own comic price guide. His task was quite ambitious, compile a comic book price guide that was more pertinent to the UK than America that included British comics as well. That covered golden age comics and address pence variants (British editions of American comics printed at the same time as American editions for distribution in the UK after 1959). He recalled what a labour of love it was typing out the entire Marvel and DC titles in full on an old Olympia typewriter a task that took around a year. Attributing this to his own updated prices in a five grades – Poor, Good, Fine, Very Fine and Mint (grading choices that changed quickly when he came to realise that Mint was virtually unattainable for most comics!). Apparently he still has those hundreds of A4 sheets with the oceans of Typex spread liberally across! Not only did comics develop a lifelong interest in lettering and calligraphy, imitating the title logos from comics when listing varying issues but avid reading of comics developed his sense of story, character, sub-plot, twits, confrontations and resolutions.  Serving him well in his career in television as both a director and producer. He continues to sell on eBay but maintains that he still thinks of himself as a collector, researcher and historian first rather than a dealer. The last Comic Book Price Guide for Great Britain published was the 1997/1998 edition however the guide can still be found online at www.comicpriceguide.co.uk and is updated every day offering thousands of illustrations and features on grading and restoration. They offer one free valuation of a single British comic, American comic book or British annual. Not only that, they also offer free valuations of a single British comic, American comic book or British annual or on collections or part collections for a fee. 

As I said before I look back on those printed editions with great fondness. They represent a special time for me, during that time I was constantly justifying my comic purchases to my parents, assuring them that they were future investments. Not a week would go by without the word ‘collectable’ being uttered and I would back up my claim with an edition of Comic Book Price Guide for Great Britain. I am happy to report that my teenage self was right and that 99% of my investments paid off 20 years later. 
So I not only thank Mr. McAlpine for his help in compiling this post about them but also for his excellent guides they not only proved my teenage self was right but I was also able to invest the profits made from those comics into setting up as a freelance illustrator/artist.  

More Comic Consciousness?

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Penrhos Care Home Mural

I’ve been away from my desk and out of the studio working at the “Polish Village” in Penrhos, North Wales this past week. This former RAF air base once served as a demobilization camp for Polish servicemen assigned to protect the base from German attack in 1940 and was later used to house Polish soldiers, sailors and airmen who chose to remain in the UK after World War II. Now owned by a charitable organisation founded to provide accommodation and support to Polish ex-service men and women the wooden barracks have since been replaced by purpose built buildings suitable for elderly people. Surrounded by nature it has a church, library, common rooms, shop, allotments and an old peoples home and that’s where I was last week painting a mural. Inspired by the surrounding grounds I painted this woodland scene (measuring around 176cm by 121cm) in one of the corridors featuring 11 woodland creatures for the residents to enjoy. It was great to be working on another nature based project, the mural seemed well received by both residents and staff I hope they enjoy it as much as I did creating it- my sincere thanks to everyone at Penrhos Care Home for the warm welcome.

The finished mural featuring 11 woodland creatures.
© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Quest for an Anteater

A recreation of the drawing I sent The Really Wild Show
back in 1986 created by my daughter Catrin Fon Jones.
Back in 2013 I visited Longleat Safari Park and was delighted to discover that they had Giant Anteaters there, having long been fascinated with these animals I was delighted to see them going about their day. Having always had this interest in wildlife I imagined what my 7-year-old self would have said on seeing those anteaters as I used to read about and draw anteaters all the time and recalled the time I wrote to The Really Wild Show. For those not in the know or need reminding The Really Wild Show was an award winning BBC nature series  for children that first aired in 1986 and was presented by Nicola Davies, Chris Packham and the late, great Terry Nutkins. I remember looking forward to this show each week, engrossed in the programme I absorbed the information like a sponge. The premise of the show was simple, Children would write in with animal related question and the presenters answered them. In some cases children would write in and ask if they could visit the studio and “meet” their favourite animal and that’s just what yours truly did, I wrote in asking if I could meet a Giant Anteater. Having memorised the address given at the end of each episode I dictated the letter to my father who wrote it out for me assuring correct grammar and spelling, I then copied out the letter in my very best handwriting. The letter was dominated however by a drawing I made of myself in the Really Wild Show studio with a Giant Anteater (as recreated here in this drawing made by daughter). Was the letter received or even actually delivered? We will never know, the answer remains lost forever in the mists of time, suffice to say I never got to meet an anteater but continued to enjoy the series all the same.

Chester Zoo, March 2015: My name can be seen on the
adoption plaque by the enclosure, but no Giant Anteaters though. 
Anyway… I digress! Seeing those Giant Anteaters reaffirmed my love of these animals, and having confessed my guilty pleasure of watching baby anteater clips on Youtube to my family I then adopted a Giant Anteater at my favourite zoo, Chester Zoo in 2015. There are over 100 animal species available for adoption and by doing this you not only support the animals at the zoo itself but also help fund their essential conservation work in the UK and around the world. I was really looking forward to meeting Pedro and Bliss who have been living at Chester Zoo since 2010 as part of an international breeding programme. The two made the headlines back in 2013 with the news of the birth of  their offspring (their first was born in 2011) which provided hope for this vulnerable species. Sadly my hopes of meeting them both were dashed however, I visited in March and with them being native to Central and South America apparently it was a too cold a day for them and they (unsurprisingly) stayed within their enclosure. I returned home disappointed having not seen hide not hair of them.
Chester Zoo, June 2016: At the enclosure again
and still no sigh of Pedro and Bliss.
I decided to try again this year and taking on the advice given I opted for a June visit this time, during what has been reported as Britain’s hottest spring heat wave in 170 years… nothing.
Several repeat trips to their enclosure throughout the day yielded no results. Once again I asked the staff about how one goes about actually seeing these elusive animals, it seems that the Chester Zoo anteaters are notoriously shy and will often retreat back into their enclosure if the noise level gets too high for them. Mrs Jones and I stood quietly to the side and kept our eyes peeled, nothing. So, for the second time running dear reader I returned home disappointed. I have been assured that they are in there though! Have you seen them? Are you a fellow adopter? Have you photographed them during your visit to Chester Zoo? If so let me know how they are getting on or what they have been up to in the comments section below. Feel free to leave links to your photos or tag me on facebook if you like as it would seem that this is the only way I will ever get to see them.

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday, 3 June 2016

From the Vaults: 2008 Sir Parick Moore’s ‘Ancient Lights’

Although published a year before the creation of this site, it was mentioned briefly in a 2009 post devoted to published works. Sir Patrick originally wrote Ancient Lights when he was in his 20's but never got round to publishing it and it remained that way until Jeremy Rundel of STAR Distribution discovered the manuscript and took it on himself to publish it. I illustrated the cover working alongside Patrick who had a clear idea as to what he wanted. I would fax sketches to him at Farthings and he would call me back and let me know what changes he wanted. Patrick didn’t like the skull featuring on the cover and so requested a femur stick out of the ground instead! Here are those rough drafts and final artwork.






































This adventure yarn set in a bygone era was then published by STAR-Distribution in a limited edition of only 500 each one serially numbered and only available through them. The book was officially launched at the Autographica 12 event at the Radisson Edwardian hotel in London in October 2008 with Patrick and myself in attendance.


© Arfon Jones 2009 - 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

From the Vaults: 1998 QVC Letter

Did I ever tell you that my work once featured on QVC? Specifically their Dynamic Forces segment? Well it was, as you can see from these shots taken from an old VHS recording from 1998. Back in the 1990’s Dynamic Forces, producers of limited edition and autographed memorabilia would run a monthly segment on QVC, hosted by Nick Barrucci. Each segment would run for at least an hour and being the huge comic book fan that I was/am I never missed a show. These segments satisfied my appetite for signed limited editions and glow-in-the dark covers! I would telephone my order in as Nick Barrucci, giddy with excitement told us how amazing the comic was and urged us to check it out for ourselves. As his co-presenters (with little to no knowledge of comics) tried to keep up with his enthusiasm smiling and providing the order numbers. One day I decided to write in and request a few signatures and as I wrote the letter I recalled Mr Barrucci mentioning that the Green Lantern was his favourite character, so I drew an (AWFUL) Hal Jordan cartoon (loosely copied from Batman: Mitefall) in the top left corner. I posted the letter and thought nothing more about it until the month after when to my utter surprised he showed my letter live on air! As usual they got my name wrong but my work was shown on QVC. Which was nice.

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Badges, T-shirts and making a #hashtag of things

I feel that we aren’t using the hashtag system enough here at arfon.net and I intend to do something about that. As you all know the hashtag sign (#) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link… Many small business advice blogs believe that the hashtag is an integral way to communicate online and that investing in this system should be part of my social media strategy! So I have decided to go with #arfonart So if you like my work, enjoyed one of my posts why not share the link and enclose #arfonart each time and help spread the word!
With that in mind what better way to get everyone’s attention and hashtag-ing than by showing off these two beauties?!   My new Badges and T-shirts! I love giving away my badges and I have been handing them out for the past six years. I now have bigger ones courtesy of Best Badges.co.uk!
I am also very excited to reveal the first batch of arfon.net T-shirts with you all! Little back story, the T-shirts idea stalled a couple of years ago when glamour model Miss Dolly Delight was to ‘unveil’ my new logo by wearing an arfon.net vest top with the logo on the front on one of her model shoots abroad. Unfortunately Dolly lost her luggage and the arfon.net vest top along with the rest of her belongings went astray. The only photograph we had of her wearing it was during a night out with friends the week before (if you look carefully you can make out the logo) as is often the case, the idea was put on hold until now, and I am delighted to say that the new ones are in courtesy of Fancy a Snuggle and they look great! I am really pleased with them and I hope you are too!  
Thanks for reading this post, don’t forget to share the links and don’t forget to #arfonart

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Botwnnog School 400: A Tribute

In the year we celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary we also (appropriately enough) celebrate the 400th anniversary of my old secondary school. Overlooking the small village of Botwnnog in Gwynedd, North Wales I attended Ysgol Botwnnog (Botwnnog School) from 1990 through to 1995 and now, my daughter is a pupil there. The school will be commemorating its 400th anniversary with a book and exhibition devoted to its history later this year. In the meantime I thought I would celebrate by creating two pieces dedicated to two people that helped me during my time there. I am not the most confident of men, but what confidence I have was achieved through the help and dedication of these two gentlemen and I dedicate this post to him.

Mr Peter ‘Pete’ Wyn Hughes 
(1948-2009)
Mr Peter ‘Pete’ Wyn Hughes was born in Dyffryn Clwyd in Northeast Wales in 1948 and having worked as engineer, a frame maker, carpenter, and maintenance engineer he became a teacher at Botwnnog School in 1989 teaching design and technology (CDT) until his retirement in 2007. A father of two daughters (Rhiannon and Manon), he seemed the most human of all the teachers. We were all intrigued to learnt that he was in fact a 3rd dan black belt in Karate and one of the founding members and chairman of the Welsh Traditional Karate Federation, coaching athletes to international standard. He was also chief instructor of Sakura karate club in Caernarfon up to his untimely death of cancer in 2009.
He was an immensely kind and supportive man, armed with a rare trait within the teaching staff of a sense of humour. His popularity with the pupils would manifest each December when all the cards he had received would line up his classroom window.
I was fortunate to be taught by Peter Hughes during my first year at Botwnnog, as he taught both science and CDT one of the first things he had us doing was designing posters that highlighted safety in the lab. I made a poster featuring 3 pupils running amok as Hyde-esq monsters having foolishly consumed the chemicals in the lab and he was extremely complimentary of my work and when my drawings were featured in a local paper a few months later he pinned the article on the classroom wall. Although this did me no favours as far as being accepted by my fellow pupils it did however boost my confidence in my art. I remember being immensely impressed to find The Great Cartoon Stars: A Who's Who by Denis Gifford on his reference book shelf, a book he very kindly lent me on several occasions, this book would play a part in my cartoon styling. From time to time he would try to get me break from cartooning and encourage me to draw from life but when word got round that I was drawing caricatures of teachers he commissioned his own. This portrait (performing a Karate chop to break a plank of wood in two instead of a saw) was pinned on his notice board for some years.  When the time came to leave school armed with our brand new National Record of Achievement (NRA) folders Peter Hughes wrote inside, “Arfon has some very original and imaginative ideas. He has shown a rare talent with some aspects of his artwork. I hope that he will pursue this in some way”. I did, and I will always be grateful to him for the time and encouragement he gave me.

Mr. Roger Ioan Stephens - Jones
(1943 -2016)
Born in Aberpennar in the Cynon Valley, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales he was raised by non welsh speaking parents but took up Welsh as a subject at Ysgol Ramadeg Howardian in Cardiff. He then enrolled in the Aelwyd yr Urdd and Tabernacle Chapel in Cardiff in order to master the language. Having graduated from Jesus College, Oxford with a B.A. in English literature in 1965, he stayed on to complete a B.Lit. on the works of Milton completing a thesis entitled The Epic Similes in Paradise Lost in 1967. He then emigrated to Canada with his wife Ann having accepted a position at the English department at Carleton University Ottawa in 1967. 7 years later they returned to Wales, now a father of two (Gwenllian and Huw) he took the position of head of English department at Botwnnog school in 1975 and remained there until he took early retirement in 1996.
Throughout my early academic years I struggled with my spelling and grammar and although teachers often addressed it they attributed it to laziness or a reluctance to learn on my part. That was until I attended Mr. Stephens - Jones’s English class in 1990 he believed that I was in fact Dyslexic and requested that I be assessed, he was right I was. This changed everything and thanks to his teachings and his belief in me I was able to turn things around somewhat. He taught me the value of a Thesaurus, how to play Chess, enjoy classical music and to understand and enjoy the works of Shakespeare. Most teachers would dash to the staff room during breaks but he would stay in his class and eat his lunch there, the room was open to all pupils to come in to play chess, drafts or discuss their work (he even let us play Lemmings on the school computer!) 20 years since leaving school I can’t remember a single poem, hymn or prayer taught to me but I can still recite Puck’s opening speech to A Midsummer Night's Dream, a testament to his abilities and talent for teaching. A man of many talents Mr Stephens - Jones had a great assortments of interests such as art (he exhibited his work at the National Eisteddfod), gardening, religion, politics, rugby and all manner of music (excluding country). He loved literature, ranging from academic works to children’s literature and would also write poetry and pros (once winning the Daniel Owen prize at the Llanrwst Eisteddfod). We sadly lost Mr Stephens – Jones just as I started working on these tributes, I had hoped that this would be a way of thanking him for believing in me and for helping me all those years ago. Although he didn’t get to see it, the sentiment still stands I will always be grateful to him.

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Comic Consciousness: My 10 favourite comic covers

A second post this month! I truly am spoiling you this year! As I said before I hit the ground running working on Slaughterhouse Farm #4 and currently working on the cover, to be asked to produce the cover image, the image that will hopefully entice people to buy the book is an honour and quite a responsibility. With this in mind I thought I would (just for the sheer ‘fun’ of it) take some time out and pick out some random favourite comic book covers from my own collection and highlight some covers that I personally hold in high regard. I must stress though that these are quite random and I am in no way comparing my work to these books and their respective artists (I can only aspire to achieving their level of talent!). I do not claim ownership and have nothing to do with them I am simply acknowledging their existence and if you haven’t already read these comics I suggest you do so.  So, without further ado and in no particular order…

1) Secret Origins Special#1
This post will probably end up reading like a Brian Bolland fan post, but there is no getting away from it I love Brain Bolland’s work and Secret Origins Special#1 was the first time I discovered it. I was incredibly impressed with his attention to detail and the expressions used in capturing the likeness of the Penguin, Riddler and Two-Face. I thoroughly enjoyed the comic too, reading it several times over but it was this cover that drew me in having spotted in a London Editions, Batman Monthly issue devoted to the Penguin, this prompted me to seek out original edition.



2) The Savage She-Hulk#1
When I was younger I was constantly justifying comic purchases to my parents, assuring them that they were future investments. Not a week went by without the word ‘collectable’ being uttered and my teenage self did get it right 99% of the time with many investments paying off in later years. One time I decided to invest in a first issue, the guideline was simple, a first issue of a comic that was released the same month/year as my birth (January 1979). Despite my best efforts scouring the Comic Price Guide I couldn’t find one (somehow managed to miss The Micronauts) But I did discover that The Savage She-Hulk was released a month after. I thought February 1979 was close enough and bought it and it still remains one of my favourite comic covers to this day. Everything about it ticks the right boxes for me, from John Buscema’s brilliant art which seems to be paying a loving nod Jack Kirby’s Incredible Hulk #1 cover to Stan Lee ‘proudly’ presenting it. Indeed even the cover itself declares that it’s a  “#1 collectors item issue” to help justify it to parents! 

3)Batman: The Killing Joke
When I first saw this cover I knew exactly who was responsible, recognising the style right away. 
Having impressed me with Secret Origins Special#1 I had to have this one too, Bolland also illustrated the story, each panel is a delight to look over and had this post been “My 10 favourite Comics” this book would be on that list too. It’s all about the detail with me. I might read it again as I patiently await the animated adaptation coming out later this year.





4) Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight#50
Interestingly, I first bought this issue along with The Killing Joke so not only did I have two beautifully illustrated Bolland covers but they also served as a Joker’s origin double bill. I can only say “the detail” so many times before it becomes monotonous … 






5) Ka-Zar the Savage #22
Right, let me (attempt) to defend my decision to include this cover and set aside any sexism concerns as I discuss this story, which was edited by Louise Jones and regards Shanna grieving over the death of Ka-Zar. Admittedly, these factors didn’t matter to my 11-year-old self when I bought the comic… But never the less Armando Gil’s cover is brilliant! Credit where credit is due there is power, movement, emotion and structure in this cover!






6) Mayhem #1
When The Mask movie was released back in 1994, I was already a fan of the comics and it was all down to Doug Mahnke’s superb artwork. His cover for Mayhem #1 is no exception, its seems a simple enough image but there is a style at work here and it intrigued me to read the comic and look over the cover several times over. Doug Mahnke illustrated several covers for the Mask over the years and all of them had their own energy about them, although they might have more detail in them this one ranks the highest with me. Doug Mahnke is brilliant.



7) The Monster of Frankenstein #2
As far as I am concerned any cover that Mike Ploog has turned his hand to is gold (and that itself could also be a future top 10) However if I had to pick one of the covers he created for the monster’s own series for Marvel this would be the one (I’m also a big fan of his Man-Thing comics). The figures, the structures, the colour and the details such as the footprint in the snow and the way their hair moves in the wind… sublime! Side note: I preferred the title font this way (they changed it 3 times to my knowledge)



8) Catwoman #1
Now, I know what you are thinking… (did I mention that I was in my early teens when I bought most of these comics…?) But saying that Jim Balent’s Catwoman was epic, she was a tough character and dangerous and he conveyed it through this cover. Yeah, I liked the outfit but as I’ve mentioned before I am also a fan of the Golden-Age Catwoman look and at the time of this I thought it was a nice update. I will add that when I saw her new black leather cat suit/goggle look (in which she seems to show more of her ‘attributes’) although it seemed more practical for a cat burglar I was underwhelmed with the design.  Although most of the covers showed off her figure the covers had fluidity to them and check out the museum background! The dinosaurs and a saber-toothed cat skeleton are a nice touch, which bringing me on to the other ‘bonus point’ for Jim Balent he would hide a cat in each of his Catwoman covers, providing a little game each month! 

9) Howard the Duck #33
Bolland… detail… 










10) Detective Comics #520
It’s funny, I’ve always been rather fond of the Detective Comic covers of this era (they also featured one of my favourite Batman title fonts) but this one just happens to appeal to me the most and I can’t fully explain why... I love Jim Aparo’s style (if I had to pick another Batman cover, possibly Batman #291) I’ve always liked Hugo Strange so perhaps seeing him in this context “Back from the grave!” in what seems more like an EC horror comic than a Batman comic (of that time) just sparked my interest and made me want to read the story. In essence the cover image’s purpose.  



So there you go some completely random covers. I set myself the rule of only featuring comics that I have in my collection, some of which I bought on the strength of the cover art. Agree with my choices? Comment on the bottom of the page and tell me your favourite covers! 

© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

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