Madefire Press


In the Rough: Liam Sharp’s “Captain Stone is Missing… , Chapter 2”–series 3

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Here’s a look at some inks and a preview of the storyline from Liam Sharp’s upcoming release “Captain Stone is Missing… Chapter 2.”

In Chapter 2, we learn more about the complicated family history of the infamous (and missing) Captain Stone from the perspective of his mother, Ada.


Ada married Jim Clayton. But you don’t have to be a genetics expert to see that the Captain didn’t take much after this abrasive tycoon.


However, he did look an awful lot like a certain Lord Charles Chance…


Who is someone the Captain’s mother just happened to meet at one point…


Read Ada’s story and enjoy Liam Sharp’s artistry as it comes to life through motion and sound in Madefire’s latest book: Captain Stone is Missing… Chapter 2–out soon!



The Making of: MONO, Ep. 1

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Meet the characters, and peer into the making of the world of MONO: the gentlemanly ape-man, spy, adventurer and main character of the eponymous Madefire Motion Book, created by Madefire co-founder Ben Wolstenholme. Find out how Ben brought MONO to life—in his own words. And stay tuned for MONO, Episode 2—coming this fall!


Page 3 ink. The character of Heston was inspired by a mentor of mine – George Englund – he is a dapper man, fighting fit into his eighties with one of the densest life stories. The start of MONO is quiet reflective – and it’s a chance to introduce the history of Heston by his walking past many of his achievements. Detail in the rooms is key exposition.


Page 5 sketch. This page runs ahead and shows many of the villains and arch rivals that MONO and Heston have faced. It’s a vision, so Heston is underlit – and MONO looms, the most intimidating figure of all. This is a snapshot I took part way through the pencil sketch. I was considering rendering it in vertical ink lines, hence the rubber marks.


Panorama ink. This panorama was a bit of a beast. I decided to think of it like a 5-page fold-out and really give it some detail. It is viewable zoomed in close, to allow for a lot of exploration as a reader. I decided to draw it out in greyscale so that more depth is created as the scene drops away into the distance – this enhances the feeling of dimension when added into the Madefire Motion Book Tool.


Building detail from panorama. This panorama art was done during early development of the tool, so I planned to allow for layers. The panorama got more insane as I went forward – this house and tank are all but obscured in the final image


Panorama final colored artwork. I was sick of the sight of the panorama as I finished the greyscale! Fin Cramb was busy coloring the other MONO pages and Liam Sharp offered to color this panoramic – I was thrilled to hand it onto him! And he did a stunning job – in a nauseatingly short time. It was a magic evening, seeing it really come to life over Liam’s shoulder. We went for a beer afterward :)


Page 9 ink. This is the first panel where we see MONO in action . He needed to be totally outnumbered, his back literally to the wall. So this scene demanded a line up of German soldiers in a few layers , all set against a bombed out Caen, and like a full stop at the end – a Panzer tank.


Page 9 detail. This is the pencil stage. By this point in MONO Ep. 1 I had swapped from a graphite pencil and dip pen (pages 1-5) to a Cintiq tablet. This image is a digital pencil in Painter, prior to digital inking with a Sumi-e brush, which I matched to the dip pen characteristics. Much more efficient workflow for layered files!


Page 9 alternate sequence. I have planned all my pages to be printable at a later stage, once the story has rolled out digitally. However, as we built the flow in the tool, we realised we could build more anticipation if we staggered the sequence across two screens. This allowed for more space in the sequence and a moment for MONO to pause before the ‘violent’ storm…. :) the process has been fascinating for me as, a first-timer on about every single front! Huge thanks to Liam for a killer script and for guiding me along the way.








Madefire Interviews Creator Christina McCormack

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Get a rare look into the world of comics and graphic novels through the eyes of a female creator. In this post, Madefire talks to its own Christina McCormack, co-creator of “Captain Stone is Missing..,” and “The Engine”episode 2 of which is just out!


MF: You have worked extensively with Liam Sharp — Madefire founder, creator, Chief Creative Officer, and your husband — both as collaborators on a number of titles (“Captain Stone is Missing…,” “The Engine”), and as founders of Mam Tor publishing. Tell us what that partnership has been like.

CM: It’s just what we do! Many of our friends work in the industry, we have known them years and they are like extended family. Collaboration on a variety of projects brings with it a sense of variety, and something to talk about. We seem to separate very easily the work/home life thing, but given the interests our children seem to have, it’s set to change again!

Seriously, when it is such an intrinsic part of your world it’s a very natural way to behave, and it involves all aspects of your life — from the TV you watch, and films you share, to the music you listen to, to the books you read. The shed (Liam’s studio) at the bottom of our garden in Derby (from 2004) created a physical separation of home and work — helpful when the children were very young. Although the kitchen from 2002 was the hub (particularly after dark) during the development of Mam Tor!

Liam and I work really well together. When a project is sufficiently developed, Liam tends to get on with the dialog — he has a knack for the character voices, and they flow pretty naturally.  At this point I usually have to rush off somewhere, in order to maintain harmony! We will review together, tweak — or not — and inevitably continue to talk about it until it feels complete. The whole invention and development of stories is a fun collaborative thing to do, really very immersive and personal — despite the subsequent insecurity and worry!

And did you say husband?! Oh yes, I keep forgetting that in the mix… :) I thought we were just boyfriend and girlfriend, but now that you mention it, there was a rather fun day back in 1998… (But that’s another story!).


MF: You’re a female creator in a male-dominated industry — what did your path look like? And to what extent was it deliberate versus an evolution?

CM: That’s a daunting question! Until relatively recently I would have described myself — somewhat darkly (depending on the weather) — as a “comic-creator enabler,” aiding comic creators to do what they do, in order to assist in the outcome of something fantastic. This was very much my role at Mam Tor publishing.

I loved print production for that very reason. Through a process of following practical rules — fire fighting when necessary, and working with editorial/creators — we produced words and pictures, for big and little people! Fantastic! And always a satisfying achievement.

My History of Art and Design background, combined with a series of production jobs in Shanghai, culminated in a period spent at the heart of Marvel UK from 1990 onwards. This, (unbeknownst to me at the time), provided me with an incredible reference point, a great network,  a wealth of experience, working friendships,  and — very importantly — quality pub banter with the resident “mega minds.” I soon became one of the regulars at comic conventions waving the Marvel UK banner, and then later on with Liam Sharp and Mam Tor. It really was a definitive time for many people in the comics business.

By 1996 the Marvel UK Years had faded, and I found myself with a young baby — struggling with that new identity so keenly felt by many women at that point in their lives (No gender battle here guys. Big change for you. BIGGER CHANGE for us!).  And in the time it took to adapt to these new circumstances, Marvel had become Panini and had relocated to Tunbridge Wells.

So that was a reset… Liam and I became more involved in working together, as I could be useful to Liam’s output — given my skills — and this we would work into the new routines and demands of family life. Subsequent feast and famine years brought with them many challenges, but we always adapted and changed to get through those times. And, later, this lead to Mam Tor.

At what point I crossed the line from “enabler” to “creative” I don’t know — it was hesitant and fairly invisible!  In truth, I constantly hovered — I had to, there was no one to enable “us” — so, it felt strange to start calling myself a creator overnight. That’s possibly why it worked so well, as it was quite unselfconscious, fun, and there were no expectations on me — we just did it!

The opportunity to be fully creatively involved presented itself over time really: discussing work; offering creative solutions to Liam’s projects; problem solving; shooting the breeze; character development; many, many years of that.

On the whole female creator thing… well, ‘’comics creators” do tend to be male — I don’t know what the statistics are! Maybe my involvement will bring us some new female readers… I hope so!


MF: You’ve worked in comics for many years — what have been some of your personal highlights, and where do you see the field going?

CM: I’ve loved co-founding Mam Tor Publishing, and co-creating some great stories. And I’ve been lucky to meet and work with some fantastic, talented, clever, witty people, many of whom have become great pals. Being so involved in comics has provided so much entertainment and is a massive reference point for generations — and that is fab! It has provided me with some great visual memories, and I have a clutch of people I could rely on in a zombie apocalypse!

The Madefire app will introduce many non-comic readers to a new way of enjoying illustrated stories, and I think this could impact positively on the sales of comic books over time, as more people are introduced to a medium that just isn’t on their radar. But more importantly, from a “creation of stories” point of view, the writers and developers of that material will naturally come from a wider net than just comics. So there should be more opportunities, not just for females, but all writers.


MF: In the world of sequential art, which are your favorite female characters?

CM: I know they are cartoons, but Olive Oil, Betty Boop… Liked Cat Woman. LOVED Tank Girl… Also (for you UK Guardian readers) I grew up on Posy Simmonds — she’s great! Clare Bretcher’s work. Tuck from Death’s Head 2. Motormouth… Marvel UK created some great female lead characters, thinking back! Hit-Girl. Oooh I don’t know… Where is a 47- year-old sequential female character who kicks ass when you need it, apart from bloody Barbie?


MF: Of all the stories you have worked on, which have you most enjoyed creating?

CM: “Captain Stone is Missing… ” Hands down. And another project we have in the works called “Planers.”


MF: Are there any characters or story worlds you would love to write into existence?

CM: That story about a 47-year-old woman who kicks ass — preferably with wit and cynicism!!

Looking forward to developing and nurturing the part-formed ideas that Liam and I have started, and have dropped, over the years… where does the time go?


Christina McCormack has been involved in the comics industry for many years; first at Marvel UK, working as part of the production team producing many titles for both younger and older readers, and later in the promotions department. Christina set up Mamtor in 2004 with comics artist and writer Liam Sharp. Christina has subsequently worked closely with Liam developing ideas and material, culminating in this most recent project “Captain Stone is Missing… “

Madefire Monster Meets Its Maker

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Wow! Over the last two weeks, hundreds of creators from all over the world stormed our in-box and submitted portfolios for our Monster HuntThank you! Merci! Gracias! We were overwhelmed and ecstatic to see such a level of both interest and talent.

And now, we’re excited to introduce David Lupton, the creator we selected to help birth our next beastie, “Metawhal Alpha.” David will illustrate our special Halloween title, which was written by our own Liam Sharp. David’s work is featured above, and you can see much more on his blog.

Since graduating with an MA in Sequential Illustration, David has developed a style that is traditionally hand drawn, crafted and rich in melancholy and the macabre. His work has been featured in publications such as Time Out, The Guardian, New Scientist, and Dazed & Confused. David recently had his first picture book, entitled Come find Me, published by Een Art in South Korea, and is currently working with RCA Records, providing illustrations for their new signing, Dry The River.

Here’s a note from Liam about the selection process:

“We had an amazing response to our Monster Hunt, with more than four hundred people linking us to their deviantART pages, personal sites, or just sending us samples. It was a really tough call, and we have found many creators we’d love to work with in the future. However, my criteria was to find somebody with a really unique, non-comics style that would suit the material — a Lovecraftian short horror story set in the UK. When Dave’s PDF arrived in our inbox I had an immediate reaction to it. It actually seemed like he was already illustrating the same universe represented in the story. Ultimately I kept coming back to his art — which is imbued with a visceral sense of dread — and it just seemed right. The lucid, monochromatic world he paints feels uneasy, yet familiar. I’m absolutely delighted to have him joining us.”

But David is just one of many creators who impressed us. In fact, there were so many that we can’t show work from all of them here. Below is just a taste. See the end of this post for a complete list of creators we want to highlight and share with you. And, while membership with deviantART wasn’t a pre-requisite for the submission process, we were happy to see how many creators are part of a community for which we have so much respect.

Thanks again to everyone for joining in, and for spreading the word! We had such a great time with this call for submissions, and we hope to do it again.

Top row: (L) Omri Koresh; (R) CuteReaper
Bottom row: (L) Fabrice Gagos; (R) Elena Samoylova


Featured creators who submitted to the Monster Hunt

Jeff Chang
Fabrice Gagos
Harley Huang
Omri Koresh
Vincent Lefevre
George Lovesy
Nicolas Morales
Liam Peters
Gil Robles
Elena Samoylova
Ryan “Ry-Spirit” Shiu
Carlo Spagnola
Gediminas Skyrius
Rodrigo Rodriguez Tendero


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