Saturday, 20 December 2008
With stuff like this and Stephen Downey's frankly breathtaking Cancertown pages coming in, I'm grinning like a fucker right now. To say that I've been lucky to have teamed up with guys like this would be a major understatement.
Friday, 12 December 2008
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Scott has a really strong grip on the characters and instinctively seems to understand what I'm trying to do with this book. In addition, the guy's a phenomenal visual storyteller. One thing's for certain: this book is going to look gorgeous.
In other news, Starship Troopers #11 came out, and I was again struck by the art team of Neil Van Antwerpen and Peter-David Douglas. I hear they're teaming up with Tony Lee on a Dracula book called Harker next year, and from the concept previews that are up it looks like it'll be beautiful.
I've been asked to contribute a short story to Insomnia's next Layer Zero anthology, and I've just seen a couple of samples from the artist they've picked out for me. Impressive stuff. More details once the script's complete.
That's it for now.
Friday, 5 December 2008
Let me give you an example. A couple of days ago, I received the following Cancertown page to look over:
You see what I mean?
Now, sure - these are characters I came up with in a scene I devised. I can look at the script and picture them, maybe even hear their voices speaking to me from the page, but actually seeing them brought to life like this is just a whole different experience. I seriously hope I never lose that feeling.
I'm one of those pro-science, rationalist, sceptical atheists you've read about (it turns out that's a fairly common trait among magicians), which I hope gives you some idea of what it means when I say that the evolution from script to final art is pretty much the closest thing to real magic I can imagine...
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
The fingertips of my left hand have turned to leather from playing Rock Band and, considering how smooth and flat the Stratocaster controller's frets are, I'm not even sure how that's possible. I was sceptical about the whole Rock Band / Guitar Hero phenomenon for a long time. I figured that the genre of timing-action games had peaked with Space Ace in the 80s (still my all-time favourite arcade game), and couldn't see the attraction. However, having actually played one of these games over at Ferret and Tet's place a few weeks back, I was instantly converted.
Had an outstanding haul of birthday loot this year. A lot of it was magic-related, and I might go through it in a separate post at some point. I'll spare you that for now.
Next order of business is the first issue of The Case Files of Harlan Falk, which I'm hoping to complete over the next few days. After that, I've been asked to write a short story for the upcoming Layer Zero anthology. The topic for this one is "Choices" and I already have a story in mind for it. While I'm thinking of it, check out this early version of the anthology's cover (contributed by Harlan Falk and Triple Threat artist, the mighty Scott James):
Cool, huh? Scott's work continues to impress me with every piece I see, and he's definitely one of my favourite artists to work with.
If you were to sneak over to the Insomnia blog right now, you might spot a small announcement tucked away in one of their recent posts. Yup, that's the new book I mentioned before my holiday started. I'll give this one its own post in the not-too-distant future, but for now I'll just say that The Ragged Man is a book that's very much reflective of the state of mind I was in when I developed it. The fact that it's been formally announced by a publisher (and is therefore "real") is both exhilarating and deeply disturbing to me. I'm waiting for final confirmation from the artist I've been speaking to about it - so when I know more, so will you.
That's it for the moment. More soon.
Friday, 21 November 2008
I'm far enough ahead in my various scripts that I don't have any deadlines looming, and Nic's got some holiday coming too, so I can skive off with a clear conscience. My most pressing plans for next week involve Rock Band, Reindeer steaks and the wonderful chocolate fountain gizmo we haul out a couple of times a year.
If I'm inspired at any point, I may sneak off for a crafty bit of writing. It's nice to know that I don't have to, though. My freelance copywriting business is still rolling, of course, but again there are no pressing deadlines. If anything cool happens, I'll let you know. Otherwise, I'll check back in after the break and do a full update then.
Back soon - possibly with news of another new book from Insomnia...
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Last Friday, Nic and I trekked up to Leeds for the Thought Bubble convention. We'd never been to this event before (and I gather this is only its second year), so we didn't know exactly what to expect. As it turned out, it was a lot of fun - and potentially a very good place to do some business.
We got off to an admittedly slightly shaky start by forgetting to print out the directions from the station to our hotel, which we'd worked out was about a fifteen minute walk. Luckily, a passing Communist happened to spot us and decided to help us out. As it happened, he was involved in the Leeds International Film Festival and so was on the way to the venue at that very moment. It was a pretty weird coincidence, but we went with it. I neglected to get the Communist's name, but he has our gratitude.
So, fifteen minutes and a pleasant stroll along the canal later, we found ourselves at Savilles Hall, which was right next door to our hotel. Bonus! After checking in, we dumped off our stuff and cased the place out in preparation for the Saturday...
...and then it was Saturday.
Arriving at the venue, Nic and I picked out our major points of interest early. Harry Markos and Ian Sharman were setting up the Markosia stand, so I bolted over there to hand off Harry's copy of the Harlan Falk contract and a pitch I'd worked up. That done, we hit the Insomnia table, where Aladsair Duncan was working solo. I made a mental note of where Neil Edwards was stationed so I could hit him up about a possible collaboration when he got a free moment.
While Nic was talking to Alasdair, I got unexpectedly interviewed (my first video interview, as it happens). Not sure what that was about, but I'll let you know if I hear anything more about it.
Dave and Barry of the Geek Syndicate podcast were milling around. They've got to the stage where pretty much everyone working the conventions knows who they are and wants to speak to them, so they were still on their first circuit of the convention hall well over an hour after the doors opened and already looked pretty exhausted. The price of fame, I guess...
We broke away early for lunch, pausing only to quickly check out one of the local toy/gadget shops. We actually managed to disgrace ourselves quite spectacularly on the way out, as Nic brushed past a stack of novelty cushions shaped like breasts and caused some kind of apocalyptic boobalanche. A hasty retreat was beaten.
Getting back into work mode, I spotted an opening and headed over to Neil Edwards' table. Had a great chat and things are looking hopeful for a new Insomnia book. More on that if/when anything comes of it.
Speaking of Insomnia, Nic has been looking into Barry Nugent's Fallen Heroes novel with an eye to a comic adaptation. She had a long chat with him at the nearby Starbucks (I tagged along as an interested by-stander) and it pretty much looks like it's on. Expect Nic to publish more details on the Insomnia blog in the not-too-distant future.
I'd have to say that Thought Bubble seems to have a much higher proportion of creators and aspiring talent than the other conventions I've attended. Pretty much everyone there seemed to have at least a couple of work samples with them, or were otherwise involved in the industry in some way. It was an interesting crowd. Nic and I met the people behind the forum names "TubbyHamster", "Little Witch" and "WedgeDoc", and had an interesting chat about Gail Simone, internet pundit arseholery and the many and varied uses of "the c-word". Good times! Nic also hijacked TubbyHamster a bit later to talk about a possible (now very likely) Insomnia book.
We rounded off a pretty exhausting day with a meal at the nearest and dearest restaurant, dragging Alasdair along for the ride as the poor guy had been stuck on the Insomnia stand all day. Small amounts of high-quality food were served.
We couldn't head back to London without taking a look at the Royal Armouries (Nic had been very clear on that point). They were running a Weta exhibition, featuring weapons and armour from the Lord of the Rings films, along with some pieces from the Chronicles of Narnia flicks and Hellboy's Samaritan revolver. Everyone, without exception, loves weapons and the excessive perpetration of violence (Nic and I more than most, probably), so this was a particular joy for us.
We eventually dragged ourselves back to London, and then I wrote this post - which pretty much brings you up to date. Thanks to Tamsin Isles (both for her skill and determination as an organiser of the event and for caring who we were when we showed up) and to everyone we met, missed, avoided or bought things from. Sign us up for the next one.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Over the two hours or so that he talked, Bryan took us through pretty much his entire career. We watched his attitude and technique evolve from raw brilliance to subtle genius, we listened to his thoughts on the distinctions and common ground between personal and commercial work and we hurtled through decades of masterful storytelling. I made eight pages of tightly packed notes, and I sat down at my computer today with the full intention of writing them up into some kind of coherent breakdown for this post. Looking at them now, though, I could write for hours and never scratch the surface of it. It was, by any standard, a fantastic talk.
Also, there were biscuits - which Tet and I dutifully attacked at every opportunity, before all four of us retired to my place to play Rock Band until 1am.
To sum up, if you're the least bit interested in comics, do yourself a favour and catch one of Bryan's talks. Also, if you get a chance, play Rock Band with Tet. It turns out he's a legitimate, card-carrying Monster of Rock.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
One of the best things about running a blog is you get to spread good news. Remember Ferret - the friend and textile artist I keep mentioning? Well, she was recently informed that one of her quilts (the awesome "Herd Mentality" pictured above) had won the Viewers' Choice award at the Houston Festival - one of the key events on the calendar of the serious quilter. It's a lot like winning an Oscar.
There's no great surprise in the fact that Ferret won, of course. The quilt in question is a phenomenal piece of work and has always attracted high praise. However, this particular award is special, in that it is voted on by other quilters, and as such is a gesture of professional admiration from people who really know their stuff.
Anyway, congratulations to Ferret on yet another well deserved award!
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
This is a pretty exciting time for me. Cancertown is approaching its release date, Starship Troopers is still about the most fun I've ever had and things are generally really cool. Now, hot on the heels of the signing of Slaughterman's Creed by Markosia, I've just signed a contract for The Case Files of Harlan Falk.
Originally, this book started out as an eight-pager for Orang Utan's second Eleventh Hour anthology. As a means of thinking my way into the character, I found myself writing up a backstory for both him and his partner, William. By the time the red mist lifted, that backstory had developed into a full four-issue arc, and Falk himself had graduated from a zombie specialist to a full-on Monster Negotiator. Right about that time, shortly before the Birmingham convention this year, I received a phone call from Markosia overlord Harry Markos to ask if I had anything to pitch him.
The four-part story will feature art from my Triple Threat collaborator, Scott James, so it's going to look gorgeous.
...and yeah - I'm pretty much over the moon.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
The book tells the story of Sidney, a barely socialised young man in the employ of human trafficker, Big Lenny Addison. Sidney is a highly specialised killer, trained all his life in the craft of the traditional British slaughterman. With no other skills, education or interests, he lives faithfully by the code his father taught him:
Discharge thy task with mercy.
Let thy victim feel no pain.
Let sudden blow bring death,
Such death as thou thyself would ask for.”
We're looking at a 2009 release on this one, and there's a page up on my website with some more details and concept sketches. Feel free to take a look.
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
I'm getting to be something of an old hand at these London MCM Expo gigs. That is, I've been to three so far and I'm starting to get the hang of them. The trick is never to show your discomfort - a dedicated cosplayer can smell fear at fifty paces and they always hunt in packs.
The Free Hugs brigade were out there doing their thing, as usual - picking off stragglers and culling the weak from the herd. I still don't get it, but they keep their distance from me (as noted elsewhere, I really don't give off the "hug me" vibe), so I've got no quarrel with them. I did notice a degree of inflation in the marketplace, though - with "Free Buttsecks" and "Premium Hugs (£1.50)" signs. Clearly, there's a whole weird little economy opening up here.
For the first time at one of these affairs, I actually got to see a couple of the featured celebrities. I caught fleeting glimpses of Greg Grunberg and Brea Grant. Oddly, they actually seemed to be enjoying themselves - which was cool.
Nic had a geek-out moment with Ben Templesmith, whose work she rightly worships, and we stomped around and stared at things for a couple of hours. Comics Village was hidden way back at the far end of the hall, but there was still plenty of activity. I sat behind the Markosia stand for an hour or two, grinning my most approachable grin and signing the occasional copy of Bad Blood or Triple Threat.
The key moment for me came with the signing of a proper, grown-up contract with Harry Markos himself, and the confirmation of my first creator-owned Markosia book. I'll be making a full announcement about that in a separate post as soon as the web page is ready to go with it.
I was really happy to see that Dave and Barry from the Geek Syndicate made it there. These guys are hilarious to hang around with and I really look forward to hearing what they made of the event. It can be a little overwhelming the first time...
All in all, it was a fun show, marred only by the utter failure of Pyramid Head Guy to show up. So, thanks to Nic for providing some much-needed backup and covering fire, and to Insomnia Big-Man Crawford Coutts and Audrey for coming along with us and lending a saner counter-perspective to the escalating MCM madness.
Roll on Thought Bubble...
Friday, 24 October 2008
I also notice that Tony Wicks and Martin Buxton, founders of C2D4 are currently being featured on the site. These guys are doing some very interesting work at the moment, and are definitely worth checking out.
There's another London MCM Expo this weekend, and I'm pretty sure I must be going because I saw my name on the website (which is a first for me). I hear David Monteith and Barry Nugent from the Geek Syndicate podcast will be there, and it ought to be a good laugh as usual. Personally, I'm hoping for my third glimpse of Pyramid-Head Guy - the unsung star of two previous Expos.
Details as and when...
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
I was very pleased that Orang Utan co-founder Ian Sharman managed to make it down with some copies of Eleventh Hour, which he dutifully signed. I've got a lot of time for Ian. He's one of those guys who can jump in and try his hand at anything. He writes, draws, colours, inks - basically he's the whole damn show. Nice guy, too.
A constant stream of requests for sketches and signatures had Laurence working pretty much constantly throughout the whole gig. Rob was kept similarly busy with copies of Indiana Jones and Wolverine: Blood and Sorrow. Laurence had donated an outstanding piece of original Punisher art, which ended up raising £244 as a raffle prize, the proceeds being given to the Pilgrims Hospice. Despite several attempts at corrupting the adjudicators, I failed to win.
After the doors closed there were several hours of pizza, cake and alcohol (or cola, in my case) upstairs. Also, unless I dreamed it in some kind of sugar/carb overload frenzy, we were treated to several snippets of a Spider-Man themed concept album, featuring Stan Lee as narrator. I'll look into that and get back to you.
Anyway, it was a great day. Whatever Comics has been the guardian of my pull list since 1990, and that's about the strongest recommendation I can think of.
You can find the official write-up of the event, along with some truly disturbing pictures, on the Whatever Comics site.
Friday, 17 October 2008
Nic's been poorly since Sunday, which with her near-inhuman resistance to disease is almost unheard of. Probably something she picked up at the convention. I actually feel double-guilty as a result - for failing to catch the bug myself and also for secretly being pleased to have her at home with me all week.
In other Nic-news, check out The Red Eye to see the new blog she's set up for Insomnia Publications. Things are suddenly starting to move very fast for Insomnia, so a weekly update site like this looks like a good way to keep up with them.
Nic's health permitting, we'll be off to Canterbury tomorrow to take part in the Whatever Comics 20th anniversary celebration. Expect a report on that next week.
While I remember, Cancertown is now available for pre-order from Amazon. Of course, the free preview chapter is still up on myebook.com.
Bugger, I just sneezed. Hope I didn't speak too soon...
Friday, 10 October 2008
AAM/MARKOSIA announces Troopers one-shot - 'WAR STORIES' for December 2008
New Starship Troopers one-shot to be published by AAM/Markosia
AAM/Markosia, publishers of the hit series Kong: King of Skull Island, Starship Troopers and the critically acclaimed The Boy Who Made Silence, announce the release of a Starship Troopers one-shot this coming December: 'War Stories: Tasch', scripted by the talented Cy Dethan with art from newcomers Neil van Antwerpen and Peter-David Douglas.
Cy Dethan explains, "'War Stories: Tasch' is essentially an "origin" piece. Before signing up for Pathfinder training, Private Naomi Tasch was a specialised sniper, working alongside a Mk-II combat Neodog. Neodogs are genetically and cybernetically altered animals with enhanced intelligence and physical attributes, linked to their handlers through a complex set of implants. During a full-scale planetary evacuation, Tasch's Neodog partner goes missing and she puts her career and life on the line to find him. In doing so, she demonstrates the loyalty, single-mindedness and raw brilliance that will one day make a Pathfinder out of her."
'War Stories: Tasch' is van Antwerpen and Douglas's first published work. 'We've shared a common passion of creating comics for as long as we can remember,' said artist van Antwerpen, 'After years of honing our skills on personal projects and small press books the break finally came when publisher Harry Markos offered us a one-shot Starship Troopers issue written by Cy. Needless to say we took it!'
'We'd both read Cy's "Bad Blood" story arc which was drawn by Paul Green and thought it was incredible,' said inker Peter-David Douglas, ' so it's thrilling for us to be involved in a project like this. We hope that it will be a springboard to regular work in the industry, something we've worked very hard towards.'
Launched in 2005, AAM/Markosia has been a leader in the independent publishing field. 2008 marked their most ambitious campaign to date as the company debuted a range of new titles, with many more to follow in 2009. In addition, AAM/Markosia will be exhibiting at many conventions around the globe, including New York Comic Con, San Diego Comicon, Angouleme, the Birmingham International Comics Show and the Bristol Comic Expo.
For interviews, press releases and any other information regarding this title or any other AAM/Markosia titles please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the AAM/Markosia website at www.markosia.com
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
I got a chance to talk briefly with Karl later, confessing my conjuring roots and explaining why I think his new podcast, Science Friction, is precisely the kind of voice that needs to be raised in a world where rationality is under perpetual assault and scepticism has become an insult, rather than a virtue. He suggested that he might like to pick my brains at some point, and I'd be very pleased to bounce ideas around with him any time he likes.
As I'd staggered into the venue that morning, a publisher had collared me to say he had a project I might be interested in, and that I should catch up with him later. I'm not yet so rich or successful that I'm turning down work (with, to date, one unavoidable exception), so I nodded agreeably and made a mental note to chase it up.
I was glad to finally meet Hal Laren and his (I think) brother Raul, of Reaper Comics. I'd exchanged comments with Hal on Smallzone a couple of times and, on seeing samples of his artwork, quickly suggested that he might want to pitch for a run on Starship Troopers. With a little luck, I'm hoping to be working with him soon.
Another particular highlight was chatting with Monkeys With Machingeguns' Chris Lynch. I'd met Chris at the last Bristol gig, and so I took an opportunity to tag along to an informal meeting he was having with Nic. A couple of things he said really caught my imagination and, as it turns out, a collaboration is not out of the question at some point.
With the convention winding down, Nic and I grabbed a passable Italian meal with Tet, Ferret, Stephen Downey and his girlfriend, Aimee. Toward the end of the meal, it occurred to me that I'd slipped into a pitch for a story I've been holding onto for a while. I must have done a reasonable job of it, judging from the reactions I was getting as the smoke cleared. Who, knows – maybe I'll start slinging that one around for real pretty soon...
Saturday started off in fairly relaxed fashion with a quick and shameful trip to Games Workshop to pick up the new Space Marines codex. I know, and I've heard it all before so don't even bother. If I weren't a gamer I probably wouldn't even have got the foot on the comics ladder that I'm desperately fighting to preserve/deserve now. Anyway, let's move on.
Nic and I dropped off some speakers at the Insomnia stand for boss-man Crawford's laptop, so he could play the new Cancertown trailer to best advantage. That done, I picked out my targets and ran through my bullet-points for the day. I touched base with Orang Utan, Markosia, the Geek Syndicate and the deeply cool C2D4 guys. I picked up the second issues of Last of the Chickenheads and Jack in the Box, then bought Candleman #1 on a whim. I was not disappointed.
Stephen Downey turned up right on cue as always, so Nic crushed a cheque into his hand in exchange for our one original art purchase of the convention – a full-page splash of Crosshair from Cancertown (her favourite character that I've ever written). Nic freaked when she first saw this page, so we knew we'd have to own it.
Tet and Ferret once again showed up in an awe-inspiring storm of support. I've tried on several occasions to explain to them what it means to me that they keep coming to these gigs, but I still don't think I've ever managed to adequately articulate it. Thanks again, guys.
Nic was getting stuck into her new thing as Creative Director of Insomnia, checking out artist portfolios and writer pitches. Several very promising things happening there, apparently. Meanwhile, I locked my game face into position in preparation for the pitches I had lined up.
Now, I'm not necessarily the most technically proficient pitcher of ideas in the business. However, as a general word of advice, you should never ask me what my stories are about unless you're prepared to receive the full blast of them at point-blank range. I kick off, the red mist descends and the next thing I know I'm sifting through the smoking rubble. For better or worse, I pitch full force.
I'm going to stop talking about that for the moment, but hands were shaken and if all goes to plan it looks like my dance card might be filled for a while.
The frenzy of pitching left me pretty wiped out, but I managed to have a very interesting chat with the Myebook guys. Myebook.com has been an extremely cool resource for me, and the future of the system is looking spectacular.
Nic received a really nice picture from the mighty Simon Wyatt, while I fulfilled a lifetime ambition of being the smallest human being ever to pose for an artist's rendering of the Hulk. We rounded off the day with Chinese food and a giant bucket of chocolate.
Monday, 6 October 2008
In 2007, Nic and I went to the BICS pre-launch party with only the faintest notion of who anyone was. In return, just a handful of people had a clue who they were talking to – and even fewer had any reason to care.
This time around, we got off to a decent start when a guy whose face I'd seen on a forum post pointed to me from across the noise-drowned bar and mouthed, “Is that Cy Dethan?” to a podcaster named Stacebob (one of the hosts of the deeply wonderful Comic Racks show). Yes, Lenny007 (a name I now suspect to be a cunning alias of some sort) – yes it was.
We'd actually cheated this year by taking people who already knew us along to the gig. We turned up fashionably late (having got fashionably lost) with Crawford Coutts and Alasdair Duncan of Insomnia Publications. My celebrity spotting started well, when I settled some speculation as to whether or not the guy we were staring at was Dave Williams (of Waiting For The Trade fame), through the simple expedient of bellowing “Oi, Dave” across the bar at him. Had a nice chat with the man, too – which just goes to show you that no harm ever came of shouting at strangers in pubs.
Stephen Downey, my co-creator on Cancertown, showed up soon after with his girlfriend, Aimee. I've been having an incredible time working with Stephen, and it was great to have a chance to talk to both of them. I also got talking to Paul Ridgon, a deeply cool guy and talented artist. I'm hoping to have an opportunity to work with him soon.
So anyway, I met some new people, touched base with existing and potential collaborators and had a really good time doing it. A couple of tentative plans were made, and things are generally looking good for certain unspecified future developments.
Speaking as someone who pretty much doesn't drink, I have to say that an awful lot of business does seem to get done by people who are under the influence. Suddenly, a number of perplexing decisions made recently in the comics industry make a lot more sense...
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Still, no matter how high the stakes or how tight the deadlines, nothing about comics ever feels like work. Even going into Birmingham with clearly defined objectives - things I actually need to accomplish in order to stay alive in the industry - I'm just really looking forward to it. These gigs have never been anything but good news for me, and this one looks like being an absolute classic.
In other news, the free preview of Starship Troopers #5 on the MyEbook site broke the 1000 views barrier this week. I've been amazed at the response. Also, after only being up on the site for 12 days at the time of writing this, the Cancertown chapter has already been read 185 times. Thanks to everyone who's had a look at either of these books. I hope you enjoyed them.
Anyway, expect my usual three-part convention report to commence soon.
Friday, 26 September 2008
I am very pleased and excited to announce that Nic Wilkinson (letterer of Cancertown and Daemon and artist of Remember this Moment in LZ) has been promoted to Creative Director of Insomnia Publications.
As well as her artistic and lettering prowess, Nic will be giving her constructive criticism in the process of recruiting new creators; using her creative mind to aide us on products and merchandise; and her experience in marketing and PR will be invaluable.
Welcome again to Insomnia Publications, Nic, and we look forward to working with you even more than before!
Another of Nic's recent triumphs is her assignment as contributing artist for Accent UK's upcoming Western anthology. She's working on a story called "Shooting", written by Alexi Conman (give it a moment, you'll get it). Here's a very sneaky preview:
As her bio on the Accent UK site says:
Nic has been drawing nasty things since she was only little. It has been said that you shouldn't let the fact that she is still only quite little fool you. The main difference is that she now draws her nasty things on a Wacom and doesn't use mud in her art so often.
So, in summation, rock on Nic!
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
So, with the immortal words of Darth Vader still echoing in my brain, I hit the power switch, offered a silent prayer to the Machine God and watched my unnatural creation flare to life.
I'm a non-techie, by any credible standard. I push the buttons, but I don't waste a lot of time thinking about how they work. I do, however, have precisely the right combination of optimism and ignorance to allow me to build computers from spare parts. So, when my Dell Inspiron 531 crapped out on me less than a week after its guarantee expired, I took it upon myself to cannibalise its still-warm corpse to salvage parts for a new machine. One Novatech Bare Bones kit (and a bunch of miscellaneous components I found lying about the place) later, my brand new home-built quad core system is up and running without a hitch. I even ripped it open again this morning to install a multi-format card reader left over from the Dell. It's all been suspiciously easy.
If I knew more about computers, I'd be way too terrified to touch them. I can plug the pieces together quite happily in my ignorance of anti-static straps and basic electronics. A real techie would probably get me condemned as a heretic for the blind fumbling I'm prepared to inflict on an innnocent computer but, so far, I've been getting away with it. Tomorrow, I may be cursing myself for even trying this as I scrape the melted circuitry out of my carpet, but today my new Frankenstein's Machine is happy, healthy and miraculously free of murderous intent.
Now, excuse me while I deal with the mass of pitchfork-wielding techie peasants who have gathered beneath my castle window...
Thursday, 18 September 2008
For those who don't know, Cancertown is the story of a former mental patient with an inoperable brain tumour who conducts search-and-rescue missions into a monstrous alternate version of London.
As I've mentioned before, Cancertown's a book that's very special to me. Working on it has been a fantastic experience, and I'm really excited to watch it all play out. By all means, feel free to take a look.
Friday, 12 September 2008
You'd have to go a long way, however, to match the sensation of opening an innocent-looking email and having this test version of Paul Cartwright's cover to your first creator-owned graphic novel explode onto your screen.
Take a moment and look at this...
... now ask me why I love working in comics.
PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MUM!
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
Finally, the beans can be spilled. Whatever Comics, the first and finest comics shop in all of Canterbury (and possibly the world, we're checking on that) is holding a grand re-opening celebration to mark its 20th anniversary and relocation to a fantastic new spot on the city's main high street.
Here's what the shop's owner, Mighty Manny Amario, has to say:
We are having a bit of a do. Mark the 18th of October 2008 on your calendar.
Laurence " Punisher" Campbell and Rob "Indy 2000ad Jones" Williams have confirmed.
Also, we'll have Cy "Starship Troopers" Dethan, Nic "Cancertown" Wilkinson and Ian Sharman, co-founder of Orang Utan Comics.
It is even possible that we may have some very special guests on the day. We will just have to wait and see...
Full details can be found on the Whatever Comics website.
Sunday, 7 September 2008
I consider myself pretty open to new technologies. I keep my PC fairly up to date, I own laptops, ultra-portables, consoles and PDAs - I even have one of those newfangled portable telephones the kids all seem to rave about these days. I also own a PSP - and today I bought my first downloadable comic on it.
The book in question is called The Cryptics, by Steve Niles and Ben Roman. It's sort of like The Munsters. Actually, it's a lot like The Munsters... with a touch of Calvin and Hobbes thrown in. It's got some music running along with the images, and a few sound effects thrown in - neither of which really add anything for me, since I tend to think that comics have been getting along quite nicely without those so far. Still, it's all harmless and quite fun. Not something I'm going to go back to, but that's probably true of a lot of the comics I read each month.
There are some interactive features, which amount to several video clips of the creators talking about the individual stories, and the whole thing's pretty entertaining. Bottom line, it's okay. Nothing special, but a worthwhile use of the couple of quid I had knocking about in my Playstation Store wallet.
So yeah - s'okay. If I see more PSP comics, I'll consider giving them a shot...
...and, um, that's about it.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Friday, 29 August 2008
One such moment arrived for me when Scott James offered, more or less out of the blue, to illustrate The Case Files of Harlan Falk for the second Eleventh Hour anthology. If you flip back to the post I made on the 12th of August, you'll see the first of the character studies Scott drew for the story. Now, he's given me the okay to show you the second.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Both Nic and I'll be at the Birmingham International Comics Show again this year - and we're on the guests page of their website to prove it. From the looks of things, it's going to be a fantastic show with a stunning selection of professionals attending.
As usual for these gigs, there's going to be a pitching session - although there's a significant twist this time around. I've participated in one of these in the past, and spectated at others, and for the most part they're pretty depressing and painful affairs. Generally speaking, you get a group of reluctant judges who, frankly, don't see why they had to be dragged out of the bar for this, mumbling passive-aggressive bollocks at contestants and doing their damnedest to make sure everyone's having as lousy a time of it as they are. Not fun. The only practical up-side is the chance of making a half-decent impression so that, when you talk to an editor afterwards, you're remembered as the guy who could talk a good game and didn't make him want to slit his wrists. To be honest, you could probably achieve that more efficiently on your own without the ritualised humiliation - but that's just my opinion.
However, and here's where I kick off my ranting slippers for a moment, this time around the judges actually want to be there, genuinely know what they're talking about and are going to publish the winning entrant - in 2000A-fucking-D!
So yeah, basically - pretty impressed with how things are shaping up this year. If you're around the convention and fancy saying hi, I'll be about - probably somewhere between the Insomnia and Markosia stands.
Friday, 22 August 2008
Markosia's Starship Troopers ongoing series is composed of connected four-issue arcs, punctuated by one-shots to give breathing space and to expand the universe a bit. Some of these one-shots might feature guest writers, as Triple Threat did (okay, that was a "two-shot" but you see what I mean), but generally I'm a control whore and I'll be writing as much as I can myself.
This brings us to the War Stories. For my one-shot issues, I wanted to take a closer look at the backgrounds of some of the comic's recurrent characters - sort of a behind-the-scenes examination of what it takes to become a Mobile Infantry Pathfinder. I knew from the start that the first of these would have to be Private Tasch.
Some characters you spent a long time with - developing motivations, rounding out personalities and just generally knocking the corners off them. There are others, however, who simply fall into your skull out of a clear blue sky and introduce themselves. Naomi Tasch firmly belongs in the latter category. I'll try not to spoilerise my own comic too much for now, but suffice it to say that issue #11 of Starship Troopers is one that's close to my tiny, blackened heart.
As you can see from the cover image, the art on this issue is stunning. I've been really blown away by the art team of Neil Van Antwerpen and Peter-David Douglas, and I'm looking forward to working with them again in future.
There's more information on the War Stories page of my website.
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
You know something, I don't think I've ever even been to Leeds. I went to Leeds Castle once, but apparently that doesn't count because it turns out it's actually in Kent.
So anyway, I'll be going to the real Leeds in November for the Thought Bubble Sequential Arts Festival. It sounds very grand, and I have to say I'm impressed with the Big Names (TM) they've got showing up this year.
Here's what the organisers have to say about the event:
Thought Bubble is a four day annual event which celebrates sequential art in all its forms, including everything from superheroes to independent small press. We are a non profit making organisation dedicated to promoting comics and graphic novels as an important cultural art form. Taking place at a variety of venues across the city, our aim is to cater to both long-time comic book fans and those who have never picked up a graphic novel before! Thought Bubble will take place 13 – 16 November 2008 as part of the 22nd Leeds International Film Festival.
Check out the website, because it's definitely worth a look - alert readers may notice a familiar name on the list of attending professionals.
Monday, 18 August 2008
Nic and I carried things, handed out Ferret's business cards and stood in people's way so they couldn't muck up her photos. We were repaid in chicken and a free lift back to London, so I'm calling that a result all round.
Run, don't walk, to Ferret's blog for pictures of her winning entries - and pity those who would stand against her...
Friday, 15 August 2008
Anyway, the Starship Troopers credit basically comes down to nothing more than the fact that I came up with the original story outline for the Triple Threat two-parter (and the title, as it happens). Of course, after that it was up to the individual writers and artists to find their own ways, so it's been a frantic and exhilarating dash to the finish line there.
Still, crossovers are like car crashes - any one you can walk away from is a good one...
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
The wonderful people over at Comic Brew have just put up a sneak preview of Cancertown on their site. There's plenty of Stephen Downey's great art on display, along with details of the story and the background of how it all came about.
So, if you're interested in seeing how the book's progressing, feel free to check out the official Comic Brew Cancertown Preview.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
This eight-page introductory short will feature in the second volume of Eleventh Hour, from the Eagle Award nominated Orang Utan Comics studio. I'm really excited to be working with Scott again, and I've already received his first concept sketch for the title character. Check this out:
I've got a lot I'd like to do with Harlan Falk, so this first adventure was in the nature of a technology test. From the looks of things, I reckon it's shaping up pretty well.
More as and when...
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
As a thought experiment, try devising a question that only you and Casper Van Dien would know the answer to. That's the position I found myself in during the early hours of Sunday morning. How could I positively identify the real guy from a cunning impostor with only a fifty-word email to work from?
Well, all I can say for sure is that Mr. Van Dien (or someone currently impersonating him in my inbox) seems like a nice guy and he's apparently interested in the Starship Troopers comic. This is another of those moments where, if you could look through my screen right now, you would see my happy-face.
Friday, 1 August 2008
I like to take an occasional scan through the many and various search entries that lead people to my website. Occasionally, one will stand out as especially noteworthy. For example, a couple of people have found their way there by looking for a real-life person called Janice Campanelli (an educator and therapist in Milwaukee who happens, through no fault of her own, to share a name with one of my Starship Troopers characters).
The query "Starship Troopers Sex Parts" is a bit special, though. I find myself pondering what would inspire someone to type those precise words into a Google search box, and what wonders might they have expected to discover as a result? Were they surprised to get any hits at all from the search engine? Were they satisfied with what they found?
Every once in a while, the Internet restores my faith in the weirdness of humanity. Whoever you are out there, I honestly, genuinely and whole-heartedly wish you well in your doubtless ongoing quest for Starship Troopers Sex Parts. If I've in any way hindered your mission, I humbly apologise. If I've helped at all, then I'll die a little happier. In either event I can only hope that, somewhere in the depths of wilderspace, you ultimately find whatever it is you're looking for...
... and I hope it's something truly wonderful.
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Nic and I were down in Canterbury at the weekend, along with our friends Tet and Ferret. We'd gone there to celebrate the relocation of our favourite comics shop, Whatever Comics, to an outstanding new address right in the middle of the main high street.
I've been buying my floppies from Whatever since late 1990 and, despite a number of address changes for both me and them, I've never felt the slightest temptation to change suppliers. As long as Manny and Debe are in the business, I know my pull list is in good hands. If you ever find yourself in Canterbury, or if you're looking for a good place to set up your own mail order list, I highly recommend checking the shop out. Here's the address:
9 St. Peters Street
Canterbury CT1 2AT.
Telephone 01227 453226
Had a great time at the shop, then went out for a drink with the owners afterwards. Laurence Campbell (fantastic Marvel artist and a friend of Whatever Comics), showed up as well. It's always great to chat with Laurence, and I'm really looking forward to his upcoming run on The Punisher. He's also one of the nicest guys I've met in the industry so far. He's actually got an interview up on the Whatever Comics Website, which you can read here.
So, thanks to everyone who showed up to mark the occasion, and commiserations to Whatever's competition. Let's face it, with such a great shop right in the middle of the city's main shopping centre, any other comics retailer in Canterbury might as well be incognito...
PS: Thanks to Kikari for the Kentish Gazette clipping at the top of this post.
Thursday, 24 July 2008
Regular readers (should such an unlikely animal actually exist) may remember that waaaaaay back in November last year I talked about having a story idea within a genre that I'd never touched before. That idea continued to sit as an uncomfortable wad in the back of my skull until the last London MCM Expo, where I got talking to Orang-Utan's Ian Sharman about it.
Ian, one of the key driving forces behind the Eagle Award nominated Eleventh Hour anthology, had been compiling material for a second volume and he asked me if I'd like to contribute something. So I bashed out that stubborn little story idea, sent it in and got it accepted for Eleventh Hour Volume Two.
So, for anyone still playing along at home, I can now introduce my first crack at the genre of zombie fiction. I'm calling it Carrion Camping: From the Case Files of Harlan Falk - Zombie Negotiator.
Details to follow at some unspecified future point. Probably.
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Way back at this year's Bristol Comic Expo, I was called over to the Insomnia stand to chat about Cancertown with Dave Montieth of the Geek Syndicate podcast. As luck would have it, Stephen Downey happened past at exactly the right moment and got in on the interview as well.
Anyway, some months later, the interview has made it into the podcast, which can be downloaded from the Geek Syndicate Website right now.
This was my first podcast interview, and I basically stumbled my way through it. Even so, I was excited to see it actually make it into the show.
Crawford Coutts, the Top Dog at Insomnia Publications, is there as well. He gets the chance to talk through some of the company's projects. I've had nothing but good experiences working with Insomnia, and I'm looking forward to many more.
So there you have it. World domination must surely follow...
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
This review is for issue #9, which is the first part of the Triple Threat crossover event. Triple Threat was an insane fever-dream concocted by Tony Lee, marking his two-month return to the book as co-writer and editor. The idea, as I mentioned back in March, went something like this:
Phase One: Three teams create three interconnected Troopers stories.
Phase Two: ...
Phase Three: Profit!
I provided the title and basic plot for the arc, and each of the writers tackled it in his own way. I worked with Scott James on my sections of the two issues, with colour from Alex Johns, Ian Sharman and Scott himself. Thomas Mauer worked his lettering magic, as always. A great deal of behind-the-scenes work was needed to ensure that everything hung together, of course. In fact, when you factor in the other two parts of the story you begin to get an idea of the organisational scale of the project. It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to be its editor.
In the end I think issue #9 hangs together rather well. The stories mesh together as intended and the comic has a strong, distinctive look. I'd buy it. Of course, if you'd prefer a slightly more impartial opinion, you might want to take a look at Graham Mogford's review.
Issue #10 looks set to be even crazier, by the way. After that, we've got the next full story arc, Fool's Errand, in which large objects explode...
Friday, 11 July 2008
I've got plenty to keep me busy, at least. Starship Troopers is still about the most fun it's possible to have without a firearms licence, and I've got projects in development all over the place, any one of which might turn out to be the Next Big Thing for me. Cancertown does occupy a special place in my tiny, blackened heart, though. The original idea for it was born in a thunderstorm on the Isle of Wight, so it seemed fitting that the final chapter was completed in the middle of a lightning-fest of epic proportions on Monday.
We're apparently looking at a release date toward the end of the year for the book, and I've been repeatedly blown away by each new set of pages sent to me by the artist, Stephen Downey. I'm actually going to sneak out a preview at the bottom of this post, so you can see what the brilliant young scamp's been up to since Bristol. Seriously, this is an artist with a major future in comics.
There's already been talk of a second volume of Cancertown (and possibly some kind of companion book), and I'm more than up for it. Inconvenient Tooth was always intended as the first volume of a series, and I think there's a lot more potential to explore in there. I've already got the bones of the next volume assembled in my head, but we'll see how it all comes together if and when the time comes...
Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy watching the art materialise for this first volume. Now, here's that quick preview I promised:
Monday, 7 July 2008
myebook.com: 'Perfect comic-timing as historic new chapter in book publishing opens.'
myebook.com (beta), a newly launched, web-based, ebook community site gives everyone the tools to create book content and get it out there for free. And straight away it's proving to be a hit with comic book publishers.
Every aspect of publishing your content is covered, from creating, to sharing, to reading, in by far the slickest and simplest way seen so far.
Comic book creators love it. The system is a great environment to create and publish comics and graphic novels. The power and richness of the design features are out of this world, certainly by web standards.
You can read the full version here:
The immediate practical upshot of all this is that the first issue of my Markosia Starship Troopers run can be read for free by clicking on the cover over on the right of the page.
Whatever will they think of next? Some kind of automated flying machine is my guess...
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
Scott James is an American artist, currently turning out some stunning work on my section of Starship Troopers: Triple Threat. He's well known in the gaming community, having produced art for CCGs and roleplaying games such as Mutants & Masterminds and Spycraft. He's also worked on Savage Dragon for Image, which should serve to establish his industry credentials.
Scott's the latest in a string of artists that I consider myself very lucky to have been able to work with. He's also the latest person to take the Whatever Comics Questionnaire, which I highly recommend you check out right now.
Monday, 23 June 2008
So, Triple Threat part one is in the bag and my work's done on the finale. I have to say, it's been a fascinating experience working with two other writer/artist teams to produce a single, coherent narrative. I've met some very cool people through this, which in itself more than justifies the effort.
So anyway, I thought some kind of update was in order. The artist on my story sections is the incredibly talented Scott James. Scott's an amazingly easy and rewarding guy to work with. He's a natural storyteller and utterly uncompromising in his approach to his art. He's also prepared to get his hands dirty and actively throw in suggestions of his own as to how a page could be laid out, which is an enormously valuable trait in a collaborator. Here's a brief sample of some of his work on Starship Troopers #9, as coloured by Alex Johns (with assists by Scott):
Tony Lee's end of the story is being handled by mighty Troopers veteran, Neil Edwards. Neil's work has always impressed me, and from the looks of things he's now starting to get the kind of recognition he deserves. Here are a few examples from his own website:
The final thread of the story, written by Christian Beranek, features art from the awesome Jim Boswell. Jim's got a really strong style and some very interesting projects in the pipeline. He's also a genuinely nice guy. I highly recommend that you take a look at his blog to see what he's been doing recently. Meanwhile, here are a few of his Triple Threat panels:
So there you have it - a brief taster of things to come in Starship Troopers. Once Triple Threat concludes, the Vandals seize the spotlight once again with the four-parter, Fool's Errand. So, picture the Poseidon Adventure. Now set it in space, in the middle of a giant asteroid field. You with me so far? Cool. Did I mention that the “ship” is alive, and that the passengers on it are actively trying to destroy it? That’s Fool’s Errand in a nutshell. More as and when...
On one of my routine patrols past Comics Village, I spotted a review of a book that Nic and I have a story in. It's a cool review - and I get a mention in it, which I always enjoy. The book in question is Insomnia Publications' Layer Zero anthology, and there's some pretty strong work in there. I've actually got talking to a couple of the other creators since the book came out (specifically, Martin Fisher and Thommy Melanson - both of whom are well worth watching out for).
As ever, if you're interested, feel free to take a look.
Friday, 13 June 2008
It seems that AAM/Markosia is on the lookout for new talent for some upcoming projects. Here's a heads-up from their Group Editor, Craig Johnson:
As Group Editor of AAM/Markosia, I'm often asked to review portfolios at comics shows here in the UK - but these shows are few and far between, and we have a number of projects with writers attached, looking for artists.
Let me tell you a little of what we've got on offer - there are four projects in varying stages of writing, which we're looking to put out in 2009, first as full colour monthlies, then as the collected edition. Some of these have the potential to go onto multiple series, but here's what's on offer initially:-
- One is a modern day zombie tale set predominantly in London.
- One is a post-apocalyptic tale focusing on a robotic survivor.
- One is a cross between Days of Future Past and Gattaca.
- One is modern day tale featuring DNA tweaks to enhance brain power having unusual side effects.
From these rather short descriptions, get in touch with me at email@example.com and we can talk.
Looking over those projects, they actually do sound rather cool. I've been having a great time working with Markosia - so if there's anyone out there who's interested in applying for these gigs, I can definitely recommend shooting Craig an email.
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Bit of an odd one, this.
I've received my first piece of what I guess could be termed "fan art". It's a bit of a cheat, since it comes from my girlfriend and frequent collaborator, Nic Wilkinson - but I got a major kick out of it anyway. It's always fascinating to me to see what artists come up with when they tackle one of my characters. Nic's take on Vanauken is instantly recognisable - but simultaneously manages to show a side of her that's never been seen before.
For those who don't already know, Nic was the artist on my Extinction Protocol strip for Mongoose Publishing. She went on to draw and letter my Remember This Moment story for Insomnia Publications' Layer Zero anthology, and most recently has been lettering Cancertown for me. She's all kinds of awesome.
Speaking of Insomnia, the Layer Zero trade paperback (which collects issues #1 and #2) has sold out within a month of release. Congratulations to Insomnia - now hard at work sorting out a second printing. It'll be available from branches of Waterstones, Forbidden Planet, independent comic shops, Diamond Previews (for the USA and Canada) and direct from Insomnia at the end of July 2008. Pre-orders can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.