Thursday, 30 October 2008

"Thine is the Task of Blood..."

Following the signing of the contracts at the MCM Expo last weekend, I'm finally able to announce my first creator-owned Markosia title. Slaughterman's Creed is a five-issue series, featuring art from my Cancertown co-conspirator, Stephen Downey and letters by Nic Wilkinson.

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:

Thine is the task of blood.
Discharge thy task with mercy.
Let thy victim feel no pain.
Let sudden blow bring death,
Such death as thou thyself would ask for.”

When called upon to breach his code and bring a pregnant woman to slaughter, Sidney's life is changed forever. Betrayed by those he has served his whole life, the Slaughterman embarks on a bloody vendetta - determined to bring Addison's entire monstrous empire to the blade.

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

Indecent Exposition


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

Sci Fi Pulse: In Which I Voice Opinions About Things...

I recently had an interview with the deeply cool people at Sci Fi Pulse. I'm still sort of an interview n00b, but I was pretty impressed with the range and depth of questions I was posed. I get to talk about Cancertown, Troopers and Harlan Falk, along with a bunch of other stuff. Anyway, you can read the whole thing over at the Sci Fi Pulse website.

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

Whatever Comics Turns Twenty

The Whatever Comics 20th anniversary celebration took place on Saturday and, as expected, it was a massive success. The big stars of the show were Laurence Campbell (whose stunning art can currently be seen in The Punisher) and Rob Williams (writer of Indiana Jones and the Tomb of the Gods), but minor leaguers like Nic and me weren't left out either.

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

Comic Con-tagion

I've been flat-out for the last week, mostly following up on seeds that were planted at Brumcon. Things are still looking good, and I'll hopefully be able to make my first post-Birmingham announcement once the ink's dry on the contract.

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

"This is Ripley, Last Survivor of the Nostromo, Signing Off..."

Ripley 1999-2008

Talking Dogs With Laser Guns!

Press Release - For immediate release.

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 harry@markosia.com

Visit the AAM/Markosia website at www.markosia.com





Tuesday, 7 October 2008

BICS '08 Convention Report Day Three: Juggernaut vs. The Blob – Solved by Science!

With all the fuss and fury of the previous day, we'd managed to miss one of the key attractions of the weekend – the Geek Syndicate panel, featuring Dave Gibbons, Mark Buckingham and Paul Cornell. So, still smarting from losing out on the Saturday, Nic and I made damn sure we arrived early for Karl Byrne's “The Science of Superheroes” talk. As I suspected it might, this turned out to be one of the top highlights of the event for us. Like a lot of reformed professional magicians, I'm a committed science cheerleader and critical thinking advocate. Karl's talk was thought-provoking, hilarious and pretty much ticked all the required boxes for me. I even got to participate in a very minor way, contributing a pulse monitor to the cause. The fearless Stacebob, from the Comic Racks podcast, and the Geek Syndicate's Barry Nugent took more active parts in the lecture, and the whole event had a relaxed, co-operative atmosphere.

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...

BICS '08 Convention Report Day two: The Money/Mouth Equation

Thought for the day: I cannot believe how many people, almost a year later, are still coming up to me and quoting that one semi-notorious line from Starship Troopers #5. How great is that?

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.

Rock!

Monday, 6 October 2008

BICS '08 Convention Report Day One: Party Politics

Well, that was very different from last year.

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...
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