Friday, 21 November 2008

It's Not The Years, It's The Mileage

Long story short, it's my birthday on Sunday and I'm taking a week off.

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

The Talbot Talk: In Which I Learn A Valuable Lesson... Again

This week, there was a talk by Bryan Talbot at the Cheshunt Library, on the subject of his "The Tale of One Bad Rat" comic. Nic and I are both big fans of Bryan's work so, along with Tet and Ferret, we headed over there in the rain to check it out. I've been to a few of his talks in the past, and each time I hear him speak I relearn an extremely valuable lesson: I know cock-all about the science and art of comics narration. Absolutely cock-all. Bryan Talbot, on the other hand, is undoubtedly The Man.

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

Herded Through The Grapevine

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

Harlan Falk Makes a Deal with the Devil

So, here's that other update I've been promising for a while.

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.
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