Monday, 14 July 2014

The Big Sleepover

Thanks to Toymaster Brett Uren's seemingly limitless drive and the considerable enthusiasm of the Kickstarter community, the Torsobear: Yarns from Toyburg anthology, featuring a contribution from Pete Mason, Nic Wilkinson and myself, is officially a THING, finishing its Kickstarter at 107% funded.

If you're waiting for your stuff and want to catch up on any of the extra "behind-the-scenes" info, listen to Brett talking about the project or find out more about the creative teams (and lots of other Toyburg goodness) then visit the Torsobear blog.

Extract from page 3 of "Some Assembly Required" by Cy Dethan and Peter Mason. Letters by Nic Wilkinson
I'm already getting psyched up to see the completed book in print, especially having seen some of the incredible work in progress on the other stories. One of the reasons I enjoy getting involved with anthologies in the first place is the chance they offer to meet new creators, and the various glimpses I've had of the other contributed stories have been particularly eye-opening. There's an enormous range of approaches and styles on display. Basically, it's just going to be a really cool book - and probably the closest thing you'll see to an all-ages story from me any time soon.

I've said before how the blazingly original combination of film noir tropes and picture-book aesthetics of Brett's original story was like nothing I had ever read, and was one of those lightning bolt, brick-to-the-forehead moments, so I've already got a couple of follow-up pitches building to blast Brett with if the opportunity arises for a second volume.

What nobody really tells you about being involved in a Kickstarter is that it's a huge creative job in itself. It's not a little thing on the side that you can wind up, set off and collect the money it comes back with. It's absolutely shattering. Also, there is maths.

The support we received from the comics community and beyond was incredible. Support doesn't only come in the form of pledges, although that's all Kickstarter counts in its terrifying "all-or-nothing" approach. What was surprising and humbling was the sheer number of people who wanted to help the project by spreading the word. Whether by sharing social media posts, encouraging other people to pledge, covering our project on blogs and podcasts, promoting it to societies and groups or offering advice and encouragement, many of you worked as hard as if you were on the project itself!

Snaplok, Rocko and the gang thank you all!

If you do have a Kickstarter project that is in its last week (be it comic, game or any other area of geek culture), then Geek Syndicate have a "Last Days of Kickstarter" feature that it is well worth contacting them about to get the word out as you make that final push. Also, Brett Uren has written an upcoming piece for them on the things he learned from Kickstarter that you might want to read if you are thinking of starting up your own project. That should be up on the GS site soon.

Now we are off for a very big sleep!




Thursday, 12 June 2014

Nic's Sticky Notes: Nursery Crimes

Living with a writer is a wonderful, exciting and sometimes terrifying thing.  Sometimes they leap into the room, eyes ablaze, wreathed in lightning, babbling about a new story idea like a thing possessed.

This is how I first heard about Torsobear: Yarns From Toyburg and became the letterer of the story by Cy Dethan and Peter Mason.

Some Assembly Required
Torsobear: Yarns From Toyburg
Story: Cy Dethan, Art: Peter Mason, Letters: Nic Wilkinson


I was able to pick out the words “best plot bible I've ever seen”, “80s action figure villain” and a good number of “FUCK, YEAHs” from amongst the frenzy and fist punching and in no time I was reading the script for Some Assembly Required. On page one, I was captivated; by page 3 I was in tears; by the end of 8 short pages I’d been so emotionally shaken up and down that I felt like I’d been through The Playtime!

I had to letter it!

If you talk to a letterer, and don’t get scared off by their mad rantings about their arcane obsessions with crossbars and ligatures and bleeds, they will tell you that, sometimes, when you read a script certain things pull themselves visually out of the text on the screen or page and hang there in the air before you going “Do me like this!”

The words “Mr Robones' top-shelf Trapper and Snapper” almost bit my hands off on page one. They certainly took my breath away! Now all that remained was to inveigle my way onto the book with The Toymaster, Brett Uren, and get my sticky fonts all over it!

The original art by Saoirse Louise Towler‎
that was the reward for the backer who took
us over the 50% funded point
There has been such a lot of scope to be playful and experimental with the lettering due to the nature of the story, the script and the art that I’ve been able to come up with some entirely new ways of doing things that have opened up a whole new set of spatial and temporal techniques to add to my magic bag of visual silent sound tricks.

Peter Mason’s art has been a joy to letter, as it always is. Being, as I am, mainly a product of the 80s working on this story - actually I can’t say “working” as it’s waaaaaay too much for that - has been like a trip to Neverland. When I saw his first character sketches of Snaplok, and then the full pages, come in I could not suppress a gleefully feral whoop – straight from the heart of my 10-year-old self.

All of this was before I’d even seen any of the amazing work for the book from the other teams in so many different styles that all work so well together.  The whole is a thing of beauty and I’m incredibly proud to be involved with such brilliant and passionate people.


The book is to be self-published and distributed via a Kickstarter campaign. As well as the usual rewards for backers we also have rewards for those kind souls who may not want the book, but who are helping us to spread the word. We are grateful for any help in spreading the word, and of course, for any hard earned buttons you may be able to spare for us.




What is Torsobear?


Plushie Detective Ruxby made by
Lee-Anne Godby of The Goblin Co Op
available at higher reward levels.
Teddy Ruxpin via True Detective. Inspired by the original short story featured in Glenn Møane and Magnus Aspli’s Outré anthology, Yarns from Toyburg continues to follow rookie detective Ruxby Bear and his wooden partner officer Hazbrow, as they investigate further and fall deeper into the intrigue surrounding a number of dismembered teddies. Other stories follow the exploits of cheery Toyburg’s broken citizens in the same destructive vein.


Why should we pick this up?
‘The best contribution to Outré #2 by far (in both art and writing) has to be Torsobear by Brett Uren… It is beautiful, stunning, and haunting. And I wanted more.’ – Max Delgado, Unleash The Fanboy

‘It reads like Raymond Chandler meets Teddy Ruxpin with a generous dose of Robert Crumb and we’d love to see a full series of it.’ – Pipedream Comics

‘The art style and color choices made it feel like a more disturbing and adult Hanna Barbera piece, and the blend of issues such as racism, crises of faith, and horrific crimes with a world of toys resonated with me.’ – Jodi Scaife, Fanboy Comics




Who Is Involved In Torsobear: Yarns From Toyburg?


 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bretturen/torsobear-yarns-from-toyburg
Cover by Hal Laren

The Toymasters


Editors – Brett Uren & Glenn Møane

The Toyburg Terrors

Writers
– Brett Uren, Glenn Møane, Cy Dethan, Brockton McKinney, Janos Honkonen, Frank Martin, Kieran Squires, Grainne McEntee & Jake Young

Artists – Brett Uren, Pete Rogers, Carlos Zamudio, Matt Rooke, Saoirse Towler, Joel Cotejar, Randy Haldeman, Harold Saxon, Jon Scrivens, Faye Harmon & Brian Traynor

Letterers – Brett Uren, Nic WIlkinson, Mick Schubert, Shawn Aldridge, Kieran Squires & Jon Scrivens

If you are a reviewer, podcaster, blogger or journalist please get in touch through the contact page if you would like more information, previews or to talk to Brett and Glenn or any of the team about the project.




Keep track of the campaign and the book’s production at http://torsobear.com 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Playtime is Over: Torsobear is Coming...




Torsobear: Yarns From Toyburg Brings Fluffy Noir Comics To Kickstarter



Torsobear is a story about the inevitable loss of innocence in a brutal world, first created by Brett Uren for the digital anthology, Outré. Expanding on the original short story, Yarns From Toyburg pulls a host of new and established creators into exploring the twisted world of Fluffy Noir.



Torsobear introduced the characters of Ruxby and Hazbrow, children's toys who are thrown into a chilling noir cycle of murder, deceit and intrigue, where the horror of events stands in stark contrast to the bright and cheerful world in which they take place.



The toys of Toyburg blissfully enjoy their waking lives. Most will never encounter anything nasty. But when they sleep, all will experience the strange and sometimes disturbing violation of The Playtime. Sometimes, they remember.
The book will be offered via a Kickstarter campaign and first week pledges will get a special extra reward of a sketch from the creator on the inside front cover of the book, in addition to any other rewards for their pledge level.



The basic pledge packages for the book alone will be:

Digital price - $10

Hardcopy price  - $25





In the fluffy noir world of Torsobear, not all toys play nice!



Welcome to the city of Toyburg, where the streets are teeming with crime, passion, and murders most foul. They are walked (for the most part) by grim detectives, burned-out has-beens, femme fatales and tragic heroes.



The dismembered bodies of teddy bears are being found in back alleys of the Mindy Mile district, and it’s up to our hero, rookie detective Ruxby Bear and his partner officer Hazbrow to solve this string of murders, no matter how high and far the clues take them.



Between cases, we take a look into the lives of Toyburg’s citizens, police and criminals. No matter where you turn, this city has something sinister hidden just behind the storybook surface.



Remember, it’s always fun until someone gets hurt..





Stories Included are:



Clean Heart, Dirty Paws – Brett Uren

Dress to Impress - Frank Martin / Joel Cotejar

Rich Toy, Poor Toy - Grainne McEntee / Matt Rooke

Some Assembly Required - Cy Dethan / Peter Mason / Nic Wilkinson

She Sang for Buttons, She Unstitched My Heart – Brett Uren / Harold Saxon / Mick Schubert

The Collector - Glenn Møane / Carlos Nicolas Zamudio / Jon Scrivens

A New Hopelessness - Kieran Squires / Faye Harmon

The Big Wind Up - Janos Honkonen / Saoirse Louise Towler / Mick Schubert

Home Invasion – Brett Uren / Brockton McKinney / Harold Saxon

Sour in the Sweet - Jake Young / Randy Haldeman / Brett Uren

We All Fall Down, Playing It the Hard Way – Brett Uren



You can find out more and keep up to date at:

The Torsobear blog – http://torsobear.com 

Twitter: #torsobear





Read the original Torsobear story for free: http://outrepress.com/?p=1216


Expected release if Kickstarter is successful: 14/07/2014
Page Count: 104
Format: Full colour

Please contact Brett Uren at bretturen@hotmail.co.uk for more details, creator interviews and samples.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Suddenly, Blakes!


Indifference Engine 2: The Suicideshow
Alan Blake, former mid-level programmer turned invulnerable murder machine, has spent the last year slaughtering his way through a web of interconnected parallel realities. Blackmailed by an insane computer built out of his own brain matter, he is forced into destroying every single alternate version of himself - until one of his targets unwittingly presents a possible way out. It's his only chance of freedom, and all it will cost him is the future.

Writer: Cy Dethan
Pencils / Inks: Russ Leach
Colours: Mike Summers
Letters: Nic Wilkinson


Indifference Engine 2: The Suicideshow is expected early 2015 from Markosia Enterprises. The first volume, The Indifference Engine: A Holographic Novel, is available now from Cy's Comicsy shop and all clinically awesome comic retailers.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Partners in Crime: Pete Mason

The frankly astonishing Pete Mason and I have developed quite a back-catalogue over the last couple of years. He was first pointed out to me by Manny Armario, owner of and evil genius behind Canterbury's Whatever Comics shop, and he proceeded to walk me through what turned out to be a stunning portfolio of his work. He's absurdly talented and creatively fearless, which is a beautiful and dangerous combination.

Pete's first project with me was Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours, for which he coloured Graeme Howard's legally insane artwork with feral intensity. He went on to colour Row Bird's art in Gateway Drugs, our contribution to the British Showcase anthology by Markosia, and is now drawing a full-length graphic novel of mine, colouring another one and both drawing and colouring our 8-pager in Brett Uren's upcoming Torsobear: Yarns from Toyburg - so he's essentially inexhaustible.

Pete recently launched a YouTube channel, featuring "Let's Draws" of whatever inspiration randomly collides with the soft tissues of his brain on any given day. If you ever want to get an insight into an amazing artist's process, you should definitely take a look. Personally, speaking as someone for whom comics artists are nothing less than true magicians, I find this stuff fucking hypnotic.


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Nic's Sticky Notes - MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun

Writer: Matt Gibbs
Art: Sarah Dunkerton
Letters: Jim Campbell

You know when something turns up in the post that is so delightful that it makes you smile all day, then all the next day, and then whenever you think about it? It doesn't happen often, does it? But that is exactly the effect of MULP: Sceptre Of The Sun, a tale of high adventure, the romance of history and intrepid rodent heroes.

You can see from the cover that you will be in for a treat.

So much character shines from the mice before they have so much as squeaked, and the exotic locations are brought to life with exquisite detail.

How could you see this and not want to pick it up and look inside?

When you do, you will find that the world has been perfectly thought out, down to the tiniest details of how the mouse culture would work day-to-day, such as the hardworking beetles at the archeological site, or the lizard mount. Everything looks so supremely natural and plausible.

I had to use this picture in this blog, by the way. It is possibly my favourite in the whole comic - although it's very hard to choose! That skull! So many questions! So many mysteries! What have they uncovered? What do the hieroglyphics say? What are those statues? This is a world with a rich history. You want to know everything. You want to explore.

And that's it, you're drawn into the world of the mice and off on a marvelous adventure. The pacing of the story stood out as a particular strength, and amplified the emotional impact of the action throughout.



The story follows Jack Redpath, adventurer, and Vicky Jones, journalist, along with Cornelius Field and the Harvest-Scott family, who are looking into an unusual stone tablet that has been unearthed at the archeological dig in Egypt. However, they are not the only ones with an interest in this mysterious artefact, and there are others who are keen to get their paws on the treasure for undoubtedly nefarious purposes!

There is clearly a lot of history between the characters, but at no point is the pace slowed by exposition. Both the writing and the art are littered with little clues for the reader to piece together, and this works incredibly well to draw you into the story. Although this is only the first issue (of five), you feel that you know the characters well and, although it will be hard, have chosen a favourite already by the end!

The level of detail in the characterisation is wonderful, both in the dialogue and the art. The distinct personalities of the mice are apparent from the very beginning, in their actions, in their voices, and in their expressions (oh my God, the way they move their ears!), clothes and body language. In fact, the costume design could support an entire review in itself.

The art of the contemporary mouse world is not the only style you will see in the book, but I am not going to show what else there is here. I think it might be too much of a spoiler, and it deserves to be encountered as intended in the story. What I will say is that the research that went into it must have been incredible, but it wears it lightly and perfectly complements the story and shift in style.

There are some beautiful and sensitive touches in the lettering, with balloon edges tucked neatly behind ears, and the use of different fonts for different aspects of the storytelling.

This first issue also includes a sketchbook section at the back, showcasing the early sketches and character and world development.

I like to think that this is what was happening elsewhere in the world while I was reading Brambly Hedge and Little Grey Rabbit - that these brave adventurers were the ones out there keeping the world safe for the cosy firesides and cottage gardens back at home.

MULP: Sceptre of the Sun is a proud addition to anthropomorphic comics, and it takes a well deserved place alongside books such as Mouse Guard, Grandville and Blacksad, as well as pulp adventures such as The Rainbow Orchid.

If you want to see more right away, and of course you do, there is a free 12 page preview available on the MULP website.

It is a truly all-ages adventure, and you should buy it as soon as you can!

MULP will be released on 7th May, and can be ordered direct from these retailers:

More details can be found at the MULP website, and you can get in touch via Twitter on @MULP

You will be able to catch up with the creators at the following events:

Bristol Comic Expo, 10-11th May 2014
Future Inns Conference Centre and Hotel, Bristol

CamCon, 30th August 2014
The Junction, Cambridge

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, 17-19th October 2014
Comic Clock Tower, Kendal, Cumbria

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