Right before last weekend's London MCM Expo, I received an email from former Starship Troopers: War Stories collaborator and artist on Markosia's recent Harker graphic novel, Neil Van Antwerpen.
Neil's work has always been impressive, both in terms of fluid storytelling and sheer beauty, so when he mentioned in conversation that he honestly felt that The Ragged Man, our upcoming book from Insomnia, was going to be the one that really showed what he and Peter-David Douglas were capable of I was chewing my own arms off in anticipation of some previews.
Well, the previews arrived in time to show them off at the Expo, and I have to say that opening those files was one of the very best moments of my adventures in comics to date.
The Ragged Man is a very important story for me, for reasons I may start to go into as the book moves toward completion. I don't want to say too much about what it is just yet, but I can certainly tell you what it's not.
It's not a superhero book.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's the reason why I've never actually written a superhero book. Having this vicious, sharp-cornered monster of a story squatting in my brain is the reason I've ended up turning down every superhero-flavoured project I've been asked to get involved in or invited to pitch for.
Also, as I start to measure my remaining time as a Londoner in terms of weeks, rather than months, The Ragged Man is at once a heart-felt love letter and a final fuck-you to the city I've lived in for the past fourteen years. There was a time in my life when, if anyone had thought to ask me, I would have told them that there was nowhere else on Earth I could have written fiction. There was literally no other place I'd lived in or visited that so forcefully compelled me to write. Whatever energy or "voice" I've developed in my scripting style and dialogue rhythms, I owe them entirely to London.
This story is a product of those fourteen years. It's a last act of peacemaking between me and this beautiful, damaged city and, if you were to ask me now, I'd still tell you it's the only place on Earth I could have written The Ragged Man.