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ALL IMAGERY / ARTWORK ON THIS WEBSITE IS © RAY ZELL. ANY USE OF THESE IMAGES, WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF RAY ZELL, IS FORBIDDEN

THE ENTIRE Pandora process usually starts with me buyin’ the latest issue of Kerrang! on Wednesday, knowing my deadline is as early as I can possibly get the strip in, the afternoon of the next day(Thursday).  I read the ish until I get an idea. Sometimes it’s instant, sometimes I read it ten thousand times.

When I hit on my idea, it’s euphoric.  Half the battle is won.  Then I script it and do a sketchy layout for dynamics and how many panels it might take. What really helps is, if the feature I choose to lampoon has,
A) clear colour pictures and isn’t some arty grainy black ‘n’ white bollocks, and,
B) a nice variety of angles of my chosen victim or victims.  Otherwise, I’m goin’ through back issues like a maniac for the expression or angle I require. If it even exists...!

Then I pencil the strip on bristol board, loosely twice the size it ends up in print. Then I ink the lettering, the word bubbles and the panels. Then I ink over the pencil work with technical pens. Then I blot it, before rubbing out the original pencil lines. Then I go over almost every outline again(!) to increase it’s boldness, as often the rubbing out of the pencils weakens the original ink lines.  Then I fill in any thick black areas with a brush with waterproof ink.  Then I wait for it to dry.  Then I touch up little annoyin’ corners I’ve missed.

Then I photocopy the strip at this stage onto thin card, as it’s easier to colour in that way. I used to colour straight onto the original art, but I had to be SO careful with the colours against the initial black ink, cos if it ran into it - I was fucked, and might have some major reconstruction job on my hands at two in the morning! But, with a nice flat dry photocopy to work on, I needn’t fear black inks running or smudging. Oh, and I colour with Pantone markers.

After I finish the colouring, I then start embellishin’ stuff. Like white sparkles in eyes and little touches here an’ there. If I didn’t have a deadline, I swear, I could embellish it into infinity.

Finally, I sit and look at it. Sometimes, if I’ve got time, for quite a while, as there will always be a spelling mistake or some detail I’ve overlooked.  And often, in my delirium (I often don’t sleep in this time...), the script just seems unfunny and to make no bleedin’ sense. Because remember, durin’ the past 24 hours, I’ve read it so many times along the way; it would be like someone tellin’ you the same joke for an entire day.  Your brain flatlines.

Thus, armed with this paranoia, I finally slide the bastard strip into an envelope and take it by tube into Kerrang!, where I shove it at them and do a runner. Although, I will say, in all these years, I think only two strips had to edited because they were deemed too offensive, and one actually not printed because the editor at the time didn’t ‘get it’. HA!

Although... not funny stayin’ up for a whole SECOND NIGHT to do the replacement...

Oh, actually there was a Muse strip that never got printed, too, as K! asked me to replace it at the last minute with a strip respectfully acknowledging the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell.

And why don’t I utilise the computer for Pandora?  I dabbled once, years back, and little embellishments that take me a second with a pen, were a pain in the neck on the computer.  Also, if I was workin’ through the night and my computer exploded, I’d be screwed. Plus, there’d be no original artwork, just cold emotionless printouts.

Ray Zell - KEEPIN’ IT REAL!

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