Tuesday, 29 September 2009

In With The Out Crowd

Well, in my defence, all I can say is that it seemed like a pretty harmless idea at first. Half an hour of informal interview time with Stephen and Scott of the Comic Book Outsiders podcast - what could go wrong? In the end, we went over twice that long and I've no idea if anything I said was sensible, relevant or even usable. I'll say this, though: I had a great time doing it.

Apparently, the episode will be out in the next day or so. I'm quite interested to find out what I said...

UPDATE: The episode is now live.

Next stop: Brumcon!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Dissecting History

An exquisitely creepy trailer for Martin Conaghan and Will Pickering's Burke & Hare graphic novel has recently surfaced on YouTube, and it's well worth checking out.

Burke & Hare is the true story of the 19th century's most prolific and misunderstood serial killers. Often mistakenly labelled graverobbers, Willian Burke and William Hare were brutal men with a two-figure bodycount who sold their victims as medical cadavers. To some extent, the graphic novel is an exercise in setting that particular record straight, but moreover it is an unflinching, rivetting tale of murderous greed and body-racketeering. I had a chance to read the book this week, and I can only agree with the assessment of Judge Dredd luminary, Alan Grant, in his introduction:

"Together, Martin and Will have produced something of which they, and their publisher - the relative newcomer, Insomnia - can be very proud. As well as being educational and entertaining, they've gone one better and given us something important."

Burke & Hare is the first title in Insomnia Publications' "Vigil" line of biographic novels, and is currently available to pre-order on Amazon. There's a free preview on myebook.com, which you can read by clicking the image below.

Myebook - Burke and Hare - click here to open my ebook

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

People I know, Doing Things...

With Burke & Hare a heartbeat from publication, Insomnia Overlord Crawford Coutts has been interviewed on Down The Tubes about the company, its line-up and his vision for the future. In just a few years, Crawford has turned Insomnia into one of the largest indie publishers in the UK, so it's definitely worth a look.

Speaking of interviews and the people who do them, Stephen Downey recently spoke to the guys at the Sunnyside Comics podcast. This was the first I'd heard of the show, but it was funny as Hell so I'll be listening in from now on.

...and there I am - gone.

Friday, 18 September 2009

It Has to Mean Something...

So, yeah - a British magician called Derren Brown just predicted the results of the National Lottery (or "Lotto," as they have totally failed to convince us to call it). I was fooled, and enjoyed the experience. Naturally enough, there are some perfectly plausible explanations flying around already, but that interests me a lot less than the fact that otherwise normal people are actually talking about magic now. It has suddenly become meaningful to them, if only briefly.

I'm reminded of the following YouTube clip, which was making the rounds a little while back.

Leaving aside the performing animal debate for a moment, it's pretty clear that if you want your magic to be meaningful to a chimpanzee, perform it using watermelons. As the watery-eyed guy in the first Mission Impossible movie puts it, you find something that's personally important to them and you squeeze.

To be honest (and with apologies to Lewis Carroll for the clumsy paraphrasing), who seriously gives a shit about a pack of cards? I only know one professional card player personally, and even she's never expressed any real interest in card magic. If you want to perform grab-you-by-the-throat magic for British people, you might consider using money. I'd guess that over 80% of the magic I practise and perform regularly involves coins - often very old, very beautiful ones with a lot of character to them. Many of my favourite routines centre around the origins and "life stories" of these precise little slivers of history - whose hands they have passed through and what they've been exchanged for. There's a gravity and authority to them that I'd personally find difficult to capture with a £2 deck of playing cards. That's just a statement of personal bias, of course, but I'm coming around to comics in a second so bear with me.

This all plays into my... well, I won't go so far as to call it a theory, but my general feeling that magic and storytelling are intrinsically related. If a magic trick can make such an unapologetic breakthrough into the mainstream, what would it take to do the same for comics? Is stealing the glamour and perceived "legitimacy" of the movie industry through a stream of (occasionally wonderful) Hollywood adaptations really the best way to make comics meaningful or to draw people to the medium? Is that even the goal?

Dunno, mate. I just work here. Besides, this horse is a little too high for me so I'd better climb down before I break my damn fool neck...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Easing the Squeezing...

Nic's interview with Comic Racks podcasters Iz and Stacebob has been very well received on their forum. Personal bias aside, it's always refreshing to hear from a publisher with a strong, forward-thinking game plan and the tools to bring it to fruition. Nic's an ideal spokesperson for this kind of outfit, as she's got the perfect combination of skill set and appreciation for the medium.

In other podcast news, and for reasons known only to themselves, the learned gentlemen of Comic Book Outsiders have requested an interview with me for an upcoming episode. I'll be carpet bombing them with as many plugs for my in-progress books as possible, but I'll make sure I wipe my feet on the way in and try not to lower the tone of discourse too much. Should be fun.

On the subject of my upcoming stuff, I'm getting regular art in from Stephen Downey, Robert Carey and Scott James for Slaughterman's Creed, The Indifference Engine and The Case Files of Harlan Falk, respectively. Here are a few samples:

Slaughterman's Creed
The Indifference Engine
The Case Files of Harlan Falk
Also, with their work on Harker drawing to a close, Neil Van Antwerpen and Peter-David Douglas are turning their attention to The Ragged Man. Here's a quick blast of solicit text:

You save worlds the same way you end them – one inch, one hour, one life at a time.

Alone and despised, the Ragged Man drags himself through life with the weight of murdered billions on his shoulders. Hated by the world and everything in it, his body is a prison to a race of monsters. With every skin cell he sheds, with every drop of blood, a tiny piece of their reality escapes into ours, and a tiny piece of our world dies.

Who do you think you are?

Hopefully, Insomnia will be showcasing some preview art at BICS. I can't wait to see what happens when my War Stories: Tasch collaborators get their teeth stuck into this.

Speaking of BICS, with The Indifference Engine, The Ragged Man, Focal Point, The Insomniac's Guide to Cancertown, Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours, The Case Files of Harlan Falk and Slaughterman's Creed all on the way, I honestly wasn't thinking of pitching anything new for the moment. That said, there are times when an idea grabs hold of your bollocks and refuses to ease the squeeze until you pay it some attention. I've been in that situation for about a week now and it's becoming desperate. Fingers will be hitting keyboard on this very soon now...

... and if anyone asks, you ain't seen me.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

No Sleep 'Till Brumcon (2009 Remix)

With under four weeks to go before this year's BICS, Insomnia Publications have announced their line-up and special offers for the convention. These are as follows:

* 3 for £20 on all standard edition books
* Any special edition + one standard edition for £20

Standard Editions Con Prices

* Burke and Hare (RRP £12.99) Con Price £10
* Cancertown (RRP 14.99) Con Price £10
* Cages (RRP 10.99) Con Price £8
* Layer Zero Choices (RRP £9.99) Con Price £7

Special Editions Con Prices

* Buskers (RRP £14.99) Con Price £12
* MILK (RRP £19.99) Con Price £15

As to the new books:

Burke and Hare (Martin Conaghan & Will Pickering) is the true story of Scotland's most notorious serial killers, who committed no fewer than sixteen murders between 1827 and 1828. There's been a lot of buzz about this book, and from what I've seen it's well deserved. There's a preview on myebook.com.

MILK (Stephen White) is a collection of short stories featuring an amazingly diverse thematic and artistic range. A fascinating concept book, described by Alan Grant as offering "some of the most beautiful, expressive art that I’ve seen in a long time." Again, a preview can be found on myebook.com.

Buskers is a truly intriguing project. Developed jointly as a comic and film from a story by singer and producer, Jeymes Samuel, the book is written by Sean Michael Wilson, with art by International Manga and Anime Festival Award winner, Michiru Morikawa. Definitely one to watch out for. Here's the preview.

You can pre-order to collect on the day, or to be sent out by post (paid by cheque or paypal) so long as you order by 3rd October.

MILK and Buskers special editions are limited to 100 copies.

To reserve for pickup or to pre-order and for payment details you can email Nichola Wilkinson at nichola[at]insomniapublications.com.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Rack Attacks and Replication Terrors

Insomnia's Creative Director and full time Cy-handler, Nic Wilkinson, recorded an interview with Iz and Stacebob of the consistently wonderful Comic Racks podcast this week. The episode should be available for download in the next few days. Comic Racks is highly recommended listening in any case, but having Nic on as a guest makes it pretty much compulsory. I was stealthing silently about like an invisible super-ninja during the recording, so I'm looking forward to hearing how it comes out.

In a neck-breaking segue, I followed a link on Stephen Downey's blog to find the Cancertown-themed stylings of a Northern Irish artist called Darren Reynolds. They're impressive, to say the least, so I've pestered him into letting me reproduce them here.

There's some very strong work on Darren's blog. Well worth a look.

Oh, and it looks like Nic and I are buying a house.
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