Comic Turns

Comic Turns The Comic Strip Storytelling Game

Way back when, I made a deck of playing cards as an experiment. The playing cards each had a comic panel, and the idea was that you could rearrange the panels into near infinite combinations to make new stories. That deck of playing cards was called Hand of Fate. There were a few copies made, and it was generally well received. I used it at workshops to teach comics (and still do) and so did other comics professionals like Karrie Fransman and Tim Pilcher. The question I got asked most was “Where can I get a copy?” The next most frequent was “Have you made it yet?!”


Last year, I took Hand of Fate off the back burner where it had languished for a while as other projects took priority, and started developing it in earnest to become a viable game that I could produce, market and sell. I wanted all those people who had asked me for  a copy over the years, and all those people who hadn’t yet seen it but might like it to be able to own a deck of their very own.

Comic Turns Gameplay

The challenge I handed myself was to turn Hand of Fate into a real game. It lost the title, which was by now already in use, and gained a new one: Comic Turns. The trappings of its playing card heritage were expunged, leaving only the elements necessary to the game – the panels. All the dialogue and words have been removed to make it truly universal and more accessible. I playtested, got feedback, researched costs and games manufacturers, and wrote rules. I roped in my friends and their families to help me with promotion and to brainstorm ideas. I entered the board gaming community and found it much like the comics community, full of passionate people eager to help with each other’s projects and spread their hobby to the world.

Comic Turns Gameplay

Comic Turns is a storytelling game system. The goal is to make stories, either collaboratively, competitively or in solo play. There will be rules for three games in the deck, but there is so much possible variation I want to make it easy for people to create and submit their own games, and so I plan to have a website where new rules will continually be available.


Now I’m almost ready to unleash Comic Turns into the world, chuck it out of the nest and watch it fly. I will keep adding to the blog but for the most up to date updates, it’s best to join the mailing list and follow my Twitter  and/or Facebook

Comic Turns box mockup

Comic Turns is coming to Kickstarter on 7th February.

Coming 7th Feb

Sharjah International Book Fair

I was surprised and delighted to be asked to come as a guest to Sharjah International Book Fair, to run comics workshops as part of their children’s activities programme. It was an honour to be asked, although, at first I was a bit apprehensive, because I’d never been to anywhere in the Middle East before. Yes, it was a bit scary, but that seemed like a good reason to do it, rather than a reason not to do it! It was an opportunity to see a new culture, meet new people, and bring making comics into the lives of new children… so it was hard to resist!

View from Copthorne Hotel Sharjah

I ate breakfast while looking at this view!

The Sharjah International Book Fair was huge. Busy every day, especially during the evenings, it became just incredible on the Friday night, which is the weekend in UAE and lots of people chose to spend their time at the book fair. Huge crowds, loads and loads of kids and parents, and lots of stuff going on, including Chinese acrobats in the main thoroughfare of the Expo Centre. According to the figures there were over 2.3 million attendees over the 11 days of the event.


The kids activities tent at Sharjah International Book Fair

The activities tent on Friday night. So many people!

Outside Sharjah International Book Fair

Schoolchildren with Balloons featuring Yarboa – Sharjah’s new mascot character

I heard that Eric Van Lustbader was there, although I didn’t see him, (did I mention it was huge?) but I did get to meet and hang out with a lot of lovely authors, illustrators and artists, including YA author Cassandra Clare, and this gang of reprobates who were also running activities: Paul Stickland, Timothy Young, Pam Paulsrud and Cori O’Connell.

Karen Rubins, Paul Strickland, Pam Paulsrud, Cori O'Connell, Timothy Young, Dubai

Myself with Paul Stickland, Pam Paulsrud, Cori O’Connell and Timothy Young

I did four different workshops, about various aspects of comics and manga. Drawing cartoon faces, making manga characters, creating superheroes, and writing comic strips. The workshops were short, but we managed to pack stuff in. The children spoke a variety of different languages, most spoke good or very good English, some as their first language, many not, and so I had a translator, the marvellous Fatin, who made sure that everyone knew what was happening and what to do (although there was some confusion over whether manga was a tasty fruit, or something else… ) That meant I had to be adaptable, and cut down the complexity of the tasks sometimes. There was a real diversity in the children that came to my workshop, they were from all different backgrounds, different countries and different types of school. Some needed a bit of encouragement to get creative, but once they did… some amazing work was produced, from the girl who wrote a story about an evil kitten trying to take out a patent on a scientist’s invention, to the boy who made his best friend into a superhero footballer! The children enjoyed the copies of The Phoenix I brought with me too.

Girl making comics Sharjah

A cautionary tale about unicorns and ducks

Sharjah Book Fair Comics Workshop, kids make characters

Young people making their own manga characters

A boy makes superheroes

A boy creates his own superhero – TigerMan!

With a workshop in the morning, and one in the evening – there’s a kind of siesta culture in the UAE where things slow down in the afternoon, then pick up once the sun’s heat turns down a few notches – we had our afternoons free, and the midday sun didn’t stop us from using the afternoons to wander around and see the sights, cue the Noel Coward song. Sharjah is a beautiful place with many contrasts. We wandered around the souks, and by the docks old working dhows were delivering fish, while across the river huge modern yachts sat in front of fancy official-looking buildings. The historic area has some lovely new old buildings (they are rebuilding everything but in a traditional style with traditional materials) and fantastic Art Spaces run by the Sharjah Art Foundation, one of which was holding a Yayoi Kusama exhibition. There was a room that started out white, where visitors could add their own dots.


Historic Sharjah

The historic area of Sharjah

Yayoi Kusama exhibition Sharjah

The Yayoi Kusama exhibition in the Sharjah Art Foundation art spaces

Paul Stickland at Yayoi Kusama

Paul Stickland hides among the dots

Back at the Book Fair, I found in my show guide that there was a panel about Comics, so of course, I went along. While it was all in Arabic (which I wasn’t expecting as all of the show’s material is dual language), it was still worth attending – and I recorded it on my phone to see if someone could translate for me later. I managed to meet a few people involved in comics in the UAE including the two speakers Marwa Al Aqroubi, president of the UAEBBY organisation which champions books and reading for young people and have recently worked with new young authors to create a range of UAE home-grown graphic novels; and Ali AlShaali, CEO of Hudhud Publishing who publish some excellent comic books for young people. The comics scene in the UAE is mainly dominated by US and Japanese comics and manga (as it is most places), but they are starting to build an industry to appeal to the many, many comics readers with local home-grown titles. It’s a pretty exciting time for comics in the UAE right now, as the industry seems to be just putting out its first leaves. Hopefully it will grow and grow.

Comics Panel at Sharjah Book Fair

Comics panel, featuring Marwa Al Aqroubi (right) and Ali AlShaali (centre)

Comics by Hudhud

Comics by Hudhud featuring awesome female scientist heroine!

The Book Fair people took very good care of us guests, with tiny cakes available at our whim in the Authors Lounge and posh cars to take us back and forth from the Expo Centre to the hotel. I felt like some kind of imposter at times because I was being treated so nicely. All in all, it was an enlightening and fascinating experience! Maybe one day I’ll be back…

View of Sharjah

Bye bye Sharjah!

MCM London Comic Con 28th-29th May

I’m going to be at the MCM London Comic Con this weekend with my NEW COMIC: The Tale of Tony Cinderello as well as Alidade, Urban Beasts, some Phoenix back-issues and various other things for sale.


A new comic featuring as much silliness and glitter as you can handle. Tony Cinderello dreams of joining the local mafia. How do dreams come true? With a little magic! (Not suitable for kids, only adults with childlike minds.)

I’ll be at table CK10 with Tammy Taylor.


Doing sketches and portraits and any other drawing on command that you wish:


See you there!


Happy New Year 2016!

Following my tradition of previous years, I have made a calendar for 2016 that you, dear reader, are invited to print out, display and scribble on. This year’s theme is “trickster animals”, with one for each month sprinkled around the forest.

You can download a hi-res version of this image (nicer for printing) here.



The Japanese Village! New Shiny Book! At Thought Bubble!

This book has been in the works for a while! Now it’s very nearly here and will be having it’s debut at the Thought Bubble con in Leeds this weekend. It’s a big fat fully colour volume featuring several interlocking stories written by Gwen Kortsen and illustrated mostly by Angela Wraight, but with stories also drawn by myself and Polina Bakh. Eric Wong deftly handles the colouring duties he shares with Angela.

JapaneseVillage cover_front

In 1885 A Japanese Village exhibition was installed in Humphrey’s Hall, Knightsbridge. About 100 men and women brought over from Japan lived and worked there, demonstrating the customs and crafts of Japan to British visitors.

‘The Japanese Village’ is a series of short comics telling stories that probably didn’t happen there – but could have. The book’s stories feature forbidden love, ghosts, tall tales and revenge.

JapaneseVillage_007 JapaneseVillage_033 JapaneseVillage_048

We will be in the New Dock Hall, table no 79, on the central aisle, right near the entrance!



You can also pick up Alidade! This is Alidade’s first visit to Leeds too. Alidade is a comic made in 48 hours from scratch to print-ready by a dedicated group of comics makers, locked together in a lovely house in Morden, South London. Featuring art and writing interchangeably by Richy K. Chandler, Francesca Dare, Mike Medaglia, Tim Hassan, and me, Karen Rubins, and following the journeys of a group of adventurers as they go on quests for the mysterious Alidade.

There are also collectable Alidade badges! Visit everyone’s table and pick up the first four badges and you get an Alidade badge for free.

Convention Thought Bubble Advert


I’ll leave you with some sneaky peaks of the comic!

Alidade Cover Web Pg1Pg9







MCM London Comic Con


I will be at MCM London Comic Con this weekend (24th – 25th October) with Tammy Taylor. We are listed as Dreamtripper Comics at table CM6! MCM London Comic Con

Floor Plan


I will have copies of my newest comic Alidade to sell! There will also be a set of badges that you can collect by visiting all of the Alidade creators…

You can read co-creator Richy K. Chandler’s blog post about the Alidade launch party to get you in the mood.

Alidade Cover Web

I’m also doing my “anything” sketch commissions. Drop by the table if you want a manga portrait of yourself, or in fact anything else that you want me to draw! Prices are the same as in May, and I have some NICER PAPER this time!



Steampunk Promarker Set!

A while ago, I produced a character illustration coloured with Promarkers for use on new Letraset Manga Promarker packaging. This guy is drawn with Kuretake Mangaka Flexible pen on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board. Everything is coloured in Letraset Promarkers. I love Letraset Promarkers and Trias so much … I have literally hundreds of them.

When I’m not drawing with them, I enjoy sorting them obsessively.

However, now isn’t the time to delve into that particular hobby of mine….

Letraset asked for a character who was Steampunk themed, with Victorian clothing, an exotic gun, a fake arm, and a goggle eye. I came up with this gentleman.

Steampunk Sketches

Sketches of design, equipment, and possible poses for the final artwork.


The three stages of Steampunk Guy

All the colours used are from the Steampunk set, with the exception of Blue Pearl (the light blue of his waistcoat) which you can buy separately. It was quite a length of time between drawing this and the pens showing up for sale, but I have begun seeing them out in the wild! Caught this set on the shelf in Cowling and Wilcox in Islington.

Steampunk Promarkers

In the wild at Cowling and Wilcox

The packaging contains a mini-tutorial on how to make your own Steampunk guy, should you be inclined to do so! You can also download the lineart from the Letraset website so you can concentrate on your colouring skills.

The interior of the packaging

The interior of the packaging


If that isn’t enough of a tutorial, here’s a lovely video on the Letraset Youtube channel in which I recreate the process of making this piece:

And if you want to buy this set of cool pens, you can get it online at the Letraset online store.

Calendar 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

Once again, here is a calendar that you can print off and use, or make into a nice desktop background for your device.

I love making these calendars every year. They are a really fun project for the holiday season. :) Hope you all enjoy it!



I also want to offer a special no-prize for anyone who can name all the Shivers characters and what episode they are from!

Lakes International Comic Art Festival

I am going to be at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, otherwise known as LICAF this weekend, where I have a table in the Comics Clock Tower. I’m on the first floor, and here’s a map:

Comics Clock Tower

Check out my lovely neighbours who include the multitalented multimedia comics experimenter Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, and cute-but-thought-provoking manga artist Tammy Taylor.

I’m going to have a bunch of exciting things to sell, including the brand new Tempo Lush Tales anthology, issues of the Phoenix containing The Shivers episodes, Urban Beasts, and this beaut of an art book: The Tea Book.


The Tea Book will come with a FREE TEA BAG so you can enjoy the flavour of Bengal Spice while looking at the picture and make up your own mind.

I also have shiny postcards, free comics and a whole lot more stuff. Providing there’s enough table space for it all! 😀

And I will sketch anything you want … for a price.


The Shivers is back this week in The Phoenix!

Class Clown Preview

Daniel Hartwell and I have a NEW Shivers story out this week in awesome children’s comic The Phoenix. This one is extremely special as it’s our first two-part Shivers, meaning there will be twice as much fun and twice as many scares. Not to alarm anyone, but this Shivers story features everyone’s favourite terrifying creature … Clowns. These are no ordinary clowns though … oh no! They are far worse! (I am cackling evilly from behind my keyboard as I type.)

So don’t forget to check out this week’s issue and next week’s where there will be even more Clown-based spookiness, and keep your eyes peeled for future Shivers coming soon!

MCM London Comic Con!

Yes, I will be at the extremely massive MCM London Comic Con (formerly known as Expo) this weekend Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th May, where I am sharing a table in the comic village with Tammy Taylor AKA Dream Tripper Comics. Unfortunately my name isn’t listed on the programme, but just look out for Dream Tripper Comics! We are at table CE2 in the comic village.



I will be selling lots of lovely comic books, as well as postcards and other things. There will be many deals and special offers! Seriously!! If you haven’t picked up any of the Leek and Sushi series of books from ITCH they will be for sale, and you will also be able to get back-issues of The Phoenix that feature The Shivers!

I am also doing portraits and sketch commissions. And I will draw pretty much anything, just ask! I am also trialling an experimental Character Design Consultancy, where you can get help with the look of your own original or fandom characters. These prices are for Comic Con only, so come on down…


Hope to see as many people as possible there! 😀

Your Country Needs You … to Make Comics!

This April I am excited to be once again running children’s workshops all across London as part of CityRead London!


Cityread London is an annual celebration of literature that aims to bring reading to life for the whole capital. Each April, Cityread asks London’s citizens, workers and visitors to pick up a book – the same book – and read it together. This year there are two books, one for adults and one for children. Both are World War One themed, and the kids’ book is Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo.

Children across London are invited to to make your own comic strips set during the First World War. Put yourself in the shoes of a Londoner, and decide how you would react to the propaganda posters of the time!

I am running more workshops than ever this year, twenty in total across the month, and you can see all the dates, times and locations on the Calendar page.

There are loads more events over London for adults, young people and children so keep your eye on the CityRead London website for more!