Tuesday, 27 January 2009

I Think I Broke Another One

Just a quick one today. The Insomnia Publications blog is currently featuring an interview with Cancertown and Slaughterman's Creed artist, Stephen Downey. He discusses his methods and influences, and offers advice on breaking in. All good stuff from a guy who, if there's any justice at all in the universe, has an incredible future ahead of him.

Check out the interview here.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Places To Go, People To See...

Insomnia Publications has now posted its 2009 brochure on MyEbook.com. It's an impressive line-up, and endorsements from industry figures like Alan Grant and Ben Templesmith speak volumes about the company's commitment to putting out high-quality books. See for yourself:

Myebook - Insomnia Publications 2009 Brochure - click here to open my ebook

Also worth noting is the fact that my partners-in-crime, Scott James and Stephen Downey have both started blogs of their own to showcase their work. Definitely worth checking out:

Visit Scott James' Blog.

Visit Stephen Downey's Blog.

Friday, 16 January 2009

The Nightmarish Contents of my Brain

I've been accused on a number of occasions, primarily by artists I've worked with, of tending somewhat toward the dark side in my writing. It is, it must be admitted, a fair point.

I do, however, feel moved to defend myself a little by explaining one or two mitigating circumstances that might help account for any perceived unpleasantness in my work. In all fairness, I think you have to take into account the influences to which I was exposed in my childhood.

Example: one of my earliest and most vivid memories of children's television involves a public information film by the seemingly innocent name, "Apaches". The film, as I later came to understand, was intended to warn children and parents about the potential dangers of... well, pretty much anything - although it was very keen to stress the fact that all types of farm machinery were designed with the single purpose of crushing pre-teens into pulp.

The world inhabited by the unfortunate characters of "Apaches" is one of almost constant mortal peril, where violent death awaits any child so foolish as to set foot outside their front door. It was a harrowing barrage of slaughter, a blend of "The Blair Witch Project" and "Faces of Death". To a kid, it was a terrifying work of dark genius. It would be no exaggeration to say that this damn thing haunted me for years.

Worse still is the callousness with which the dwindling group of friends play on, utterly unmoved by the whirlwind of calamity befalling them. The Apaches tumble under tractors, drown, poison themselves and are flattened by falling grates - but the (temporary) survivors continue the dance. They are horrifically, awesomely dead inside, fanatically pursuing their pointless game regardless of the blood it costs them. The game is the be-all, and ultimately the end-all, of their brief, futile existences. There is no kindly god watching over them - only the dark, brutal spectre of their own mortality.

So, through the miracle of Youtube, feel free to enjoy this masterpiece of Seventies pseudo-snuff in all its grainy glory:





Friday, 9 January 2009

Getting Wasted...

Insomnia Publications has a new Layer Zero anthology coming up, and from what I've seen so far it looks like a very interesting mix of stories. The theme for this one, as I mentioned back in December is "choices" and it features the work of Scott James, Richard McAuliffe, Martin Conaghan, Christopher Barker and many others. My own contribution is a cheerful little suicide tale called "Waste", with art from the very impressive Ben MacLeod, a veteran of 2000AD.

The Layer Zero books always seem to bring the crazies out, so I'm looking forward to seeing what this next collection of nutters comes up with.

While I'm thinking of it, here's the coloured version of the anthology's cover, courtesy of the unstoppable artistic juggernaut, Scott James and colouring genius, Jason Millet.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The 2008 Round-Up

In the immortal words of the sadly-not-immortal Road Warrior Hawk, What a Rush!

By any credible standard, I've had a bit of a stormer over the last twelve months. It kicked off in January with the release of my first Starship Troopers issue for Markosia. It helped a lot that I already knew the territory (having worked within the Troopers universe on Extinction Protocol), so I was able to hit the ground running. It was also extremely lucky that I was teamed up with Paul Green, who has gone on to produce some equally stunning work on Ardden's Flash Gordon series. Paul captured the essential wildness I'd tried to inject into the story so beautifully that I was bowled over by every new page I saw.

The next major luck-bomb went off right in my face when Insomnia Top Dog Crawford Coutts found Stephen Downey on ComicSpace and secured him as the artist on Cancertown. In my short time in the industry, I've learned very quickly that the value of working with an artist who really understands what you're trying to accomplish is simply incalculable. With Troopers, I could send visual references for pretty much everything I was calling for in the scripts. In Cancertown, things should have been a lot more complicated. With only my written descriptions of the people, places and monsters to work from, Stephen managed to bring the story to life in a way that was every bit as insane as I'd been hoping, while maintaining the vital internal consistency. Deeply cool stuff.

With Markosia asking for more story ideas, I submitted Slaughterman's Creed and The Case Files of Harlan Falk in quick succession. These were stories I'd been putting together for a while so when the opportunity presented itself I was ready to go in a heartbeat. I'd recently met Scott James when we worked together on the Triple Threat story arc for Starship Troopers, and his style had exactly the right combination of aggression and tight storytelling for the Falk book. Similarly, Stephen Downey's gift for powerful and persuasive characterisation was a perfect fit for Creed, so I was pretty much stunned when they both agreed to work on the books.

Speaking of Triple Threat, I can't let 2008 fade into memory without a brief mention of this insane little project. Three writer/artist teams, three sets of characters and three intertwining stories spread over two issues. Logistically speaking, it was a lot like getting stuck between floors in an elevator for three months with the cast of The Usual Suspects. If the final product has a certain mad intensity to it, it's easy to understand why.

So much for looking back.

2009 is shaping up pretty well so far. Cancertown's into "coming soon" territory now, and there may even be a very exciting extra announcement to make about it before release. Harlan Falk and Slaughterman's Creed are also developing nicely, and I see that Insomnia have just announced both Cancertown Volume 2 and another graphic novel of mine on their blog, so expect an announcement about The Ragged Man fairly soon. As always, there are a few other projects at earlier stages of development, but I'll get to them when there's anything concrete to tell.

That's about it for now. Whatever your Winter festival of choice was, I hope you had a good one.
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