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 
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.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Vote Eccentric Party!

If you live around the St Ives South area its very likely that you had one of these flyers come through your letterbox in the run up to tomorrow’s (May 5th) local elections. Adorning the flyer is a portrait of our glorious leader Lord Toby Jug painted by yours truly!
Since posting about the Eccentric Party last year, the party has continued to grow in popularity, even gaining it's first actual councillor back in March, Lady Jezebel Luxury Yacht is now a sitting Eccentric Party Councillor on St Ives Town Council in Cambridgeshire! The party hopes to put fun back into politics by saying that a vote for the Eccentric Party is your way of telling the other major parties “You're Boring!” 
Lord Toby has placed a £10 bet on himself with special odds from William Hill, at odds of 10/1 to poll 500 votes or more, all winnings will go to DreamDrops, the Huntingdon based children's charity for sick children. His Lordship has also placed £10 with William Hill at odds of 100/1 to poll no votes whatsoever at the St Ives Town Council Elections, any winnings will also go to Dreamdrops.
So don’t forget to vote tomorrow! And remember, “DON'T BE A MUG...VOTE LORD TOBY JUG!”
Post election update: Congratulations to his Lordship on getting 89 votes for the District Council Seat and 188 votes for the Town Council Seat!
© Arfon Jones 2016. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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