Friday, 29 August 2008

Hellbilly Blues

Once in a while, you get a king-sized dose of luck - one of those moments when the chaotic, conflicted principles of cause and effect lock into place around you and say, "there you go, son - this is to make up for the time that pissed-up goth kid puked down the back of your neck on the bus."

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...

HELLBILLY!
... and yes, I am grinning all over my face.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

...And Another One


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

War Stories


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

Thinking Ahead...


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

A Little Off-Quilter...

A year ago, if you'd asked me to tell you the five least likely sentences to ever come out of my mouth, "I've just spent the weekend at a quilting convention" would unquestionably have featured in the top three. However, a friend of mine had a stake in this gig and that meant I did too.

The 2008 Festival of Quilts took place at the Birmingham NEC, and Nic and I went up there to cheer on Ferret, who's been making a significant name for herself as a multimedia artist - primarily by shocking people out of their comfort zones. Ferret's quilts are technically brilliant, thematically subversive and, quite simply, beautiful. She's just walked away from the Europe's leading quilt show with a string of awards to prove exactly those points.

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

Credit Crunch

So, it turns out I'll get my first ever editorial credit in issue #10 of Starship Troopers. Well, my first in a comic at least. I've actually been a freelance editor for the best part of a decade. I guess my first printed editorial credit would have been in the book 100 Tricks and Tips with the Svengali Magic Cards, from Marvin's Magic, but since then the vast majority of my freelance work has been on corporate websites and brochures - frankly, things it's fairly hard to get excited about.

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

Madness Brewing...


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

Harlan Falk Update

Well, it looks like my first foray into zombie fiction has secured itself an artist - and what an artist! Scott James, my collaborator on Starship Troopers: Triple Threat, has signed on for Carrion Camping: From the Case Files of Harlan Falk - Zombie Negotiator. Lettering will come from the all-powerful Nic Wilkinson.

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

Johnny Rico Wants To Know More...

"So wait," I found myself thinking as I read the email, "if you're really Casper Van Dien, what number am I thinking of?"

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

"Starship Troopers Sex Parts"

Yeah, I know. That was my reaction too.

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.
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