Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Opening The Throttle

A free preview of the first eleven pages of White Knuckle, out in May 2012 from Markosia, is now available on MyeBook.

Take a look.

Myebook - White Knuckle - click here to open my ebook

Forty years ago, Seth Rigal was a man to be feared – a serial strangler with a string of victims. Now nearly seventy and tormented by a lifetime of monstrous violence, Rigal lives on the verge of poverty and quietly waits for the death he knows he deserves. Tortured and confused, still tormented by the drives that made him a killer in his youth, Rigal finds himself almost unconsciously stalking the daughter of his final victim – only to have his precious anonymity snatched from him when he accidentally saves her son’s life. Seth Rigal, formerly known as the Gripper, just became a local celebrity.

The bodies won’t stay buried any longer.


Art is by the incredibly talented Valia Kapadai and letters are by Nic Wilkinson.

We have a White Knuckle Facebook Page where you can keep to update with what's happening as the book progresses, see previews of artwork and find out about the things that will happen for the launch.

Pre-orders will officially open next year but if you want to put your name down on the list now (no payment required until they open) then email cy[AT]cydethan.com.

Why would you do this? Well, the first 20 people to do so will have the opportunity to be drawn into the book as part of the Gripper's case files, and everyone who pre-orders will have the chance to win a piece of original art by Valia of the characters in the book.

All pre-orders get their copies signed by the whole team, of course.

We are hoping to be able to get some more goodies for those who pre-order as well - so watch this space for news!

Pre-order price will be £10 instead of £12.99 (+ postage of £2 UK or £4 rest of world or free to collect from the launch at Bristol comics convention in May 2012)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

(Pod)Casting a Light on Unseen Shadows...

A couple of weeks back, Barry "Party Ninja" Nugent (the geek community's apex predator) was asked to appear for an interview on the SFP-Now podcast by the show's host, Ian Cullen. As I'd been on before, Ian suggested that I tag along to chat about my part in Barry's Tales of the Fallen anthology.

I always have a great time talking with Ian, and I'm already looking forward to having the chance to do so again. The episode went live this week, so help yourselves if you fancy hearing Barry talking his way through the ideas behind his Unseen Shadows multimedia extravaganza. There's even some unexpected comedy in the first half of the show, with Ian doggedly insisting on referring to one of the story's key figures by a name more commonly associated with The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Onward!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Ad Break: Tales of the Fallen - Reviewed and Out Now

Unseen Shadows mastermind and capo di tutti capi of the British geek podcasting circuit, Barry Nugent, has put up a shop page for his Tales of the Fallen anthology. Enjoy the blurb:

Image of TALES OF THE FALLEN

£12.99

They are murderers, martyrs and mercenaries in the no-man’s-land between adventure and crusade – soldiers of fate and fierce honour, bound together in mystery, darkness and blood. Their enemies are shadows haunting the outermost borders of a darkening world, and as night approaches the shadows grow long.

They are the Fallen, and these are their stories.

Scripts: Cy Dethan, Richmond Clements, Dan Thompson, Pete Rogers

Pencils: Steve Penfold, Rob Carey, Conor Boyle, Roy Huteson Stewart

Colours: Gat Melvyn, Vicky Stonebridge

Letters: Paul Mclaren, Nic Wilkinson

Covers: Steve Penfold, Gat Melvyn,Rob Carey, Conor Boyle, Roy Huteson Stewart, Valia Kapadai

Introduction: Jonathan Ross

128 pages

‘If, like me, you like rip-roaring testosterone fuelled pulp fiction. With soldiers, and mysteries, and all round weird stuff in, then this is the book for you.’ – Jonathan Ross.

The book is a collection of "expanded universe" stories featuring key figures from Barry's Fallen Heroes novel, and features a 22-pager of mine called "Wrath of God", with the excellent Steve Penfold, Gat Melvyn and Nic Wilkinson on art, colours and letters, respectively. The tales range from high-powered adventure to all-out slaughter and the credits list reads like a who's who of guys I've been dying to share page space with for years.

Tales of the Fallen was recently reviewed by Wayne Hall for the SFP-Now website, so feel free to check out what he made of it on the site.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled internet...

Monday, 21 November 2011

Thought Babble: TB11 Convention Report

Thought Bubble has always been considered a creator-friendly convention, so it was a massive kick to be launching three separate ventures at this one. Firstly, we had the long-awaited print release of The Indifference Engine: A Holographic Novel, which I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Having Rob Carey, the book’s artist, at the table over the weekend was deeply cool, as the man’s a total fucking dynamo. Under the heading of “speaking in whispers so we don’t jinx it,” a brief conversation with Markosia suddenly means work on an Indifference Engine sequel is likely to kick off in earnest very soon...

Next up was Broadcast: the TV Doodles of Henry Flint. Being a dedicated art book, this is really Henry’s show. In providing a sort of contextual commentary to the work, my role is pretty much that of a DVD extra. That said, I had an incredible time wrapping my skull around the disarming, disturbing weirdness that Henry so masterfully orchestrates, and hopefully some of that comes across in my contribution to the completed book.

Finally, there was Barry Nugent’s Tales of the Fallen anthology. Barry’s development of the Unseen Shadows property from self-published cult hit to full-on transmedia empire has proven a masterclass in what a creator with a clear vision can accomplish. With scripts from Richmond Clements, Pete Rogers, Dan Thompson and myself, and art by Steve Penfold, Conor Boyle, Roy Stewart and my Indifference Engine co-creator, Rob Carey, Tales of the Fallen fleshes out the backgrounds of several key figures from the Unseen Shadows universe while retaining a stand-alone independence that requires no prior knowledge of the novel. It was an extraordinary project to have been involved in, and I’m looking forward to getting my second bite soon.

The pre-ordering system Markosia has been operating turned out to have been a virtual necessity, as both their entire stock and ours of Indifference Engine and Slaughterman’s Creed were wiped out at the convention, due in no small part to comic shop owners looking to take large bundles of books from the tables. With more and more shops now opting to deal more directly with publishers, initiatives like pre-ordering and Stuart Gould’s excellent UK Comics service (whose first catalogue is now available) are becoming increasingly central to the indie scene.

Nic was saved from performing a 50-minute lettering solo at the Saturday afternoon lettering workshop when she was joined by Ian Sharman in his hard-rocking steampunk hat . What emerged from this was one of the most interesting convention panels I’ve ever seen, with Nic and Ian taking attendees through the broad concepts and tiny details that underlie comic book lettering, demonstrating that attention and forethought given to lettering strategy at every stage of a comic’s production make all the difference between seamless, fluid storytelling and an unreadable clusterfuck. For the rest of the show there was a steady stream of people coming up to the table with more questions about lettering, or asking for advice on the artistic and technical side of things. Jim Campbell was sadly prevented from making the show this year due to a sudden deadline crunch but check out his blog for some of the best tutorials and info around.

On Sunday it was my turn to take a minor corner of that same stage (at the Alea Casino Cinema Room, straight across the gaming hall, turn left at the 1970s and take the lift t0 the second floor – if you saw the place you’d understand) for the Unseen Shadows panel. In the company of (almost) the whole creative squad, Barry took the audience through the evolution of the project from first principles to the verge of total media domination. I got to rattle off a few words about my Wrath of God story, which is a multi-narrative piece told almost entirely through the medium of gunplay. Great fun to write, and the art team of Steve Penfold and Gat Melvyn did a stunning job of bringing it to life. In a surprise move, Barry took the opportunity to announce a four-part miniseries involving Wrath of God’s protagonist, The Reverend, with the same creative team, along with a similar venture for Napoleon Stone by Fragments of Fate creators Pete Rogers and Roy Stewart.

Along with our launch books, Nic and I had taken along digital previews of Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours and White Knuckle. Thanks to everyone who asked about those. The level of interest and responses we got were really stunning, with the terms “dark”, “haunting” and “ominous” providing recurrent themes. I’ll be posting more as things develop on these projects, and both books are looking solid for launches in the first half of 2012.

In the “great to finally meet” category, we have Starburst columnist and horror writer, Philip Buchan (whose work combines Romantic Poet sensibilities with balls-out body-shock atrocity), artist Alwyn Talbot, whom I seriously need to work with right now, and both Conor Boyle and Roy Stewart, with whom I *am* currently working but can’t really talk about yet. Outstanding to catch up with all of these guys.

Another key figure in this category would be Jacob Welby, a writer I’ve been in email contact with for a while. Jacob’s got what I consider to be a really strong, deeply original story to tell, and an artist ideally suited to tell it with him, so I was excited to be able to introduce him to Markosia boss, Harry Markos, and watch him deliver his pitch. Best of luck to you, mate.

As far as weekend purchases go, my personal highlights would have to include a double-shot of Time Bomb Comics’ Dick Turpin books (by Steve Tanner, Andrew Dodd and Cancertown 2’s Graeme Howard), Jennifer Wilde #1 (Maura McHugh and Stephen Downey) and Dark Judgement 2, the second all-Rich McAuliffe and Conor Boyle Dark Judges book from Futurequake.

Random personal highlights would also feature tag-teaming with Corey Brotherson to introduce Jennie Gyllblad to the underlying concepts of professional wrestling, watching David Monteith win at life as he toured the convention with his wife and new child (described at one point as a baby wearing a full-size Predator backpack), Nic developing a new life goal of becoming a professional Roller Derby player while I snagged an incredible piece of art from Vicky Stonebridge as a present for her and reuniting the Digital Wolfpack when Paul Richardson arrived at the table.

In summary, I can’t stress enough how smoothly and professionally Thought Bubble is run. It basically doubled in size this year and there wasn’t a single sign of strain from where I was sitting. Congratulations, gratitude and a permanent slot in my convention schedule are most certainly due.

In fact, my only slightly shaky experience over the entire weekend was a minor Highlander moment I had during the Saturday night mid-convention party, on receiving the ominous warning, “Gary’s brought his cards”. This seemingly innocuous comment instantly brought the Quickening upon me, as it could mean only one thing: another magician was on the premises. It is a little-known fact that when two magicians meet on non-consecrated grounds, they must duel for The Prize. Luckily for all involved, I never found out who the mysterious “Gary” was, and his cards appear to have remained safely in their scabbard for the duration of my stay. There can, after all, be only one...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Striking Sparks with Henry Flint

So yeah, I'm calling this a milestone.

Broadcast: the TV Doodles of Henry Flint is a heartbeat from deployment as we speak, and an article on the book has just featured in the Megazine. The piece is written by Matthew Badham, and features several key samples of Henry's art and some interview snippets from both him and me on the concept and development of the book.

Feel free to check it out, and join legions of 2000AD fanatics in posing the question: "Cy who?"

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Demoncon 2 Convention Report

The first I ever heard of Demoncon was actually when I was invited to attend as a guest. Probably the only down-side to moving out of London has been the fact that most comics conventions aren't quite as easy or inexpensive to get to as they used to be. Maidstone-based Demoncon, by contrast, is pretty much a stone's throw away from us now so it had an immediate appeal.

Casting around for opinions from people I knew who'd attended in the past, I was struck by how universally positive everyone's experiences had been - and now that I've seen it for myself, I can only agree. Demoncon 2 was organised by Maidstone's Grinning Demon comic shop and featured a broad array of guests, from Tony Lee to Garen Ewing. We were given a really good spot to set up, near the front between the wonderful Sweatdrop Studios (represented by Morag Lewis and Sonia Leong) and the astonishingly talented Jack Lawrence. Result! Deeper in the room, David Wynne and Ian Sharman from Orang Utan Comics appeared to be swamped with interested parties for most of the day.

The event was busy right from the outset, and we quickly found our preparations to have been laughably inadequate to the needs of the day. We sold our entire stock of Cancertowns inside two hours, and had literally nothing left to sell by 3pm! "Shocked" doesn't begin to describe it, and the level of interest generated by the preview copy of the soon-to-be-released The Indifference Engine we took with us was beyond awesome.

More than anything, it was the attitudes of the comics enthusiasts there that struck me. There was just so much active interest in not just the books we had on sale, but the stories of how they came to be. Particular high spots were conversations with John Burdis (organiser of the famous "Hell Trek" to the Hi-Ex convention in Scotland and the man behind the Cellar of Dredd website) and Tom Coxon from L.A.R.P. Aid, who was collecting sketches for a charity event. Both of those sites are well worth a visit, and sneaking a preview of the Judge Minty fan film from John was worth the trip on its own.

So, thanks to all at Grinning Demon for the invitation, support and enthusiasm. My faith in one-day events is now officially restored and I've got a very welcome new convention to add to my calendar, if they'll have me again.

Special thanks also go out to Cancertown 2 colourist, Peter Mason for helping to run the table all day - and to Nic Wilkinson, without all whom all is folly and darkness.

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Glory That Was Geek Syndicate

The 29th of October 2011 will be a sad and momentous day in the world of indie comics. It will be the end of an era. It will be the day that the ninjas get their geek on for the very last time - the end coming, as it does to so many great things, with whisky and shouting in a hotel in Docklands surrounded by Stormtroopers.

So, before they record their final outing as the Geek Syndicate, we wanted to take the opportunity to say a few words...

This is Nic, writing this up on behalf of us both. Is this thing on?

We first met the GS boys at BICS 2006 - which is very near the beginning, but actually not the beginning of the story. For that, we have to go back to the times of ignorance, to before The Geek Syndicate came to be.

We first went to a UK comic convention around the turn of the century (I love writing that), well before either of us were involved on the creative side of comics at all - although Cy knew he would like to be but we were not exactly sure how you went about breaking out of the corporate chrysalis and emerging as a beautiful, freelance, creative butterfly just then. It was a pleasant enough event, and we had fun and all, but apart from a handful of panels it was basically just like the monthly comics markets we went to in a local hotel to pick up our pull list from the stall of our (no longer L)CS and rummage through back issues and assorted delights from the many dealers there. So, it was a good weekend and people were all friendly, but we did not return for a good few years.

Fast forward to May 2006. By this time Cy, always the trailblazer, had already discovered podcasts - with The Geek Syndicate being the first British one he ever listened to, having heard about it on Comic Geek Speak.

We had been doing the Starship Troopers: Extinction Protocol strip for Mongoose Publishing for a few months by this time, having sneaked into the industry via the secret underground passages, and we had felt the walls of that chrysalis starting to give a little as we started thinking about the possibilities of creator-owned books. So, we decided to scope out the convention scene again and to gather intelligence ready to prepare our masterplan.

Suddenly, we heard some voices that we had only heard coming out of a computer before - it was Dave and Barry - and they were real! I was a bit nervous to talk to them at first, but Cy was bold enough to go up and say hello while I hovered shyly behind him.

Six months later at Bristol 2007 (what we like to think of as The Con Of Destiny where Cy scored his Markosia Starship Troopers gig and had Cancertown accepted on the same day), the con scene had changed dramatically, it seemed. True, there was a certain buzz in the air at BICS that year with many more indie publishers and individual creators having tables and much more of a social feel - but this felt like a whole different thing from the earlier con we had visited.

So, here's the thing - we put this change down, primarily, to the existence of the Geek Syndicate - and the rag-tag fugitive fleet of misfits that made up what became an incredibly strong community of creators, readers, podcasters, ninjas and... well, you name it, centred around them. Suddenly, there was a place to connect with each other and make stuff happen - and a brave new world was born.

At Bristol 2007 we had an awkward moment with Barry on a zebra crossing! We saw him across the road and after a bit of "is that him?" frantic whispering between ourselves, Cy yelled "Barry!" He looked up, suitably startled with a "I think I might sort of recognise you, but I'm not 100% sure, please don't be muggers..." kind of an expression, smiled and said "Hi...umm....". It was okay, though. We were out of costume, or at least context, and when he saw us in the bar later on the confusion was all resolved faster than you say say "Whitehall farce". We still maintain that if we had shouted "throw me the idol..." instead of his name then he would have reacted better.

Soon after that, the GS reviewed the first issue of Cy's Starship Troopers: Bad Blood arc (freaturingthe now-infamous Vanauken line, "Shame me, and I will piss bullets down your throat until you are very, very, sorry."). Listening to the review of that, I have never before been so scared that two people would actually die of giggling whilst on air! They always recognised us after that, though!

The support that the GS have shown to us, to other creators, to the many fledgling podcasters they Geek Syndicated and to the whole world of Geekdom has been nothing short of astonishing - and for that, and for all the good friends we wouldn't have otherwise made, we cannot thank you enough.

Both of their worlds have changed, as much as they changed ours, in the past 5 years with Dave now a husband and father and Barry a transmedia mastermind and best-selling author, with whom we are more than delighted to be working.

So, if we should see a man who looks like Barry, but wearing a long leather coat with a broken sword, a haunted expression and a stylishly scruffy beard we will be sure to heed any messages he brings us from the future.

Yes, that was our favourite GS thing ever, since you ask.

Best of luck to you both, wherever your futures take you.

With that, a cold Easterly wind started to blow and the Geek Syndicate knew that the time when the walls between the worlds are thin was fast approaching. Their work here was all but done and it was time for them to return whence they came and help all the other girls and boys...

Seriously, guys, thanks for everything. You changed the face of the UK comics scene completely. If not for you, lots of us would not be here now, and here wouldn't be where it is. :)

We'll keep watching the skies and listening out for your call across the wasteland in the hope that you may someday return to us and show us the way to the promised land.

Until then, Geek Syndicate: we out... :)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Demoncon2: 6th November

Just a quick heads-up: the formidable Nic Wilkinson and I'll have a table at this year's Demoncon in Maidstone. This is a new event to us, and its deeply cool to have things like this happening locally so we're both looking forward to seeing what it's all about. More details as we get them.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Scratching an Itch Part #1: Cancertown Commentaries

It's always sort of nagged at me that the people who bought the original Insomnia Publications release of Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth from the Sony PSP store, and who were therefore fundamentally responsible for the way-out-of-proportion success the book had on that platform, got sort of left out when it was re-released under the Markosia banner. For the Markosia edition, Stephen Downey and I were able to record creator commentary tracks that played while the book was being read. It was a really good system, and it stuck in my throat a bit that the original supporters of the comic missed out.

So, just recently, I was organising some shit on my computer and realised I still had the audio files we submitted to Sony. I've been pooling opinions on the best way to get these out there, but for the moment I reckon the path of least fucking-about is to stick the commentaries up on a public Dropbox and invite anyone with any version of the book (digital or physical) to download them for nothing. I'll start with the ones I recorded myself, as I'll need to double-check with Stephen which page each of his clips refers to.

I basically just recorded one clip for each page of the book, so it ought to be pretty easy to work out how it all fits together.

If anyone's interested, the first set of files are here, with more to follow as I locate, organise and upload them:

Cancertown Commentary Chapter 1 (21Mb mp3 zip)
Cancertown Commentary Chapter 2 (25Mb mp3 zip)
Cancertown Commentary Chapter 3 (23Mb mp3 zip)
Cancertown Commentary Chapter 4 (22Mb mp3 zip)
Cancertown Commentary Chapter 5 (24Mb mp3 zip)
Cancertown Commentary Chapter 6 (21Mb mp3 zip)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Speaking of Rob Carey...

Rob Carey first blipped up on my radar when Nic Wilkinson, then with Insomnia Publications, picked him to draw The Indifference Engine: A Holographic Novel. Now signed to the rather less apocalypse-prone Markosia Enterprises, The Indifference Engine rocked the PSP download charts and is about to have its print release. Rob and I are already talking about a second volume, and things are looking interesting.

So the reason I bring this up now is that it turns out Rob's been nominated in the category of Best Mainstream Published Irish Talent in the ICN awards. This is fantastic news and anyone with an opinion concerning the future of comics would be well advised to go to the page and cast a vote or two. Congratulations to Rob, and best of luck for a strong showing.

Rob and I, of course, are technically launching two books at Thought Bubble next month, as he's drawn Dan Thompson's Band of Butchers story for the Tales of the Fallen anthology. That collection is available for pre-order now, and full details can be found on the Unseen Shadows website.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Panel to Panel

So, the official programme of events for this year's Thought Bubble convention in Leeds has been posted and there are a couple of items that are particularly relevant to my interests. Firstly, we've got Nic Wilkinson (my most frequent collaborator and single greatest human I've ever known) taking the stage with Jim Campbell to give an insight into the technique and thinking that goes into their lettering work. Here's the run-down from the Thought Bubble site.

Saturday 19th of November, 13:20 – 14:10, Alea Cinema Room, 18+


Part of the WAW+P Independent Publishing Forum hosted by the Thought Bubble Writer in Residence Matt Sheret.

Nic Wilkinson and Jim Campbell take us through the art of lettering – getting your dialogue onto the page in the best way possible! An often overlooked aspect of comic making; this exploration will include a talk on the theory behind the practice, and a Q&A session.

With the exception of my Markosia Starship Troopers issues, Nic has lettered basically every comic I've ever written, so I've been getting a ring-side view of her process for literally years and I still get blown away by the subtle-yet-irresistible way she leads the reader's eye around the page.

The other thing is that there's an Unseen Shadows panel on the Sunday, where veteran podcaster Barry "Bullwhip" Nugent will be talking about the way his Fallen Heroes novel has exploded into a much larger (and still expanding) universe of comics, audio dramas and more.

Sunday 20th of November, 12:00 – 12:45, Alea Cinema Room, 18+

Meet The Team That Expanded The Universe. Learn how the self-published cult hit novel Fallen Heroes became the epicentre of one of the biggest transmedia experiments in the UK indie arts world comprising comics, prose, audio, live action and including trailblazing talent from all creative fields.

The final line-up for the panel isn't confirmed as of this writing, but if I get the call I'll be there to talk about The Reverend: Wrath of God, my contribution to the Unseen Shadows world.

Update: I've now received confirmation that I'll be on the Unseen Shadows panel. Seriously looking forward to this, as I had a great time on the story.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Final September Preview: Cancertown 2 Cover!

Okay, to finish up September I thought I'd post something I've been holding back for a couple of weeks. Here are the pencils for Graeme Howard's most recent candidate cover for Cancertown 2. I've been pretty much blown away by every single page Graeme's turned in on this book, so I thought I was prepared for his take on the cover image. How naive I was...So that's me staggered, then...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Fractured Realities: Two Mind-Altering Markosia Releases in November

It’s not often you get to release a book that causes people to worry about reality and feel unstable after reading it. It’s almost unthinkable, dangerous even, that you might release two such subversive creations at once. That, however, is just what Markosia Enterprises is planning to do this November. Stay tuned to find out what will be left standing when these monsters collide.


Broadcast: The TV Doodles of Henry Flint

“The mind of Henry Flint is a galaxy of beautiful atrocities – a nightmare factory where the bestial becomes benign, the mundane magical. Henry Flint is at once a full-service doodling savant and a one-man alien zoo, and this never-before-seen collection of his personal work is an attempt to chart a single, crooked leg of the artistic journey he takes daily. Welcome to the best of the bestiary.”

Broadcast offers something very different from Henry Flint’s narrative artwork, familiar to fans worldwide from his books for 2000AD, Vertigo and Dark Horse. With writer Cy Dethan acting as guide to the reader the book is at once a treasure map and an open invitation to explore Henry’s personal work and zen-like experiments in art.


The Indifference Engine: A Holographic Novel

“Responding to a strangely specific job advertisement, Alan Blake, a distinctly ordinary twenty-something suburban slacker finds himself in the middle of an inter-dimensional task force staffed entirely by superhuman alternate versions of himself. Struggling to fit in, he uncovers a conspiracy that strikes at the very heart of the organisation – a conspiracy that only he can stop.”

“Being a science fiction fan,” says Wayne Hall of Sci-Fi Pulse, “I sometimes ache for a comic that will challenge my perceptions of the world, of the universe, of my way of thinking...The Indifference Engine scratches that itch spectacularly!"

This is Cy Dethan’s third original graphic novel from Markosia and he is joined this time around by hot-shot new artist Rob Carey, along with colourist Mel Cook and letterer Nic Wilkinson. Following the convention-busting performance of the horror- noir Cancertown and the surreal gangland thriller Slaughterman’s Creed, it already looks as if Dethan’s first creator-owned sci-fi story, described by John Freeman as "a gripping, nihilist alternate reality adventure" will be enjoying the same levels of success. Dethan first explored the genre for Markosia as writer of their Starship Troopers line.

The digital version of the book has already been incredibly popular. "Cy Dethan's script is superb on this book," said John (Sci-Fi Art Now) Freeman on Down The Tubes, "This [is a] tightly-written multi-universe-spanning adventure tale and it's...definitely a book to look out for."

A free preview can be found here.

Preorders can be made through the Markosia website.

For review copies, artwork samples, more information or interview requests for any of the team, please contact cy@cydethan.com in the first instance.

Friday, 23 September 2011

September Preview Part #4: Bayou Arcana

The Bayou Arcana anthology was something I first heard about through the Small Press Big Mouth website and since the book's originator, James Pearson, called me out by name in the article I decided to look into it. The anthology's concept is a powerful one, and the list of contributors represents an exceptionally strong cross-section of international independent comics talent. There are scripts from guys like Corey Brotherson and Matt Gibbs and art from the likes of Valia Kapadai, Jennie Gyllblad and Vicky Stonebridge.

My contribution, entitled Swamp Pussy and the Hanged Man, features art from the always-intense Nic Wilkinson, who has previously drawn my Starship Troopers: Extinction Protocol strip for Mongoose Publishing and several of my short stories. Nic is primarily known in the industry as a letterer these days, so it's great to see her flexing her art-muscles again. Here's a work-in-progress page from our story:
Bayou Arcana is currently set for a 2012 launch, and there ought to be many more previews on display at Thought Bubble in November.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

September Preview Part #3: White Knuckle

White Knuckle, for me, represents an opportunity to create something very different from my previous books. I've taken a crack at big-noise sci-fi with Starship Troopers, horror-noir with Cancertown and crime with Slaughterman's Creed, while The Indifference Engine is a nihilistic identity crisis in a bottle. White Knuckle isn't any of those things. Above all else, it's a story about self-delusion and regret - and as such it needed a careful balance of subtlety and power in the artwork.

Valia Kapadai is an artist with a strong internet following already and is one of the most over-worked names on the indie circuit, so it was nothing short of a miracle that I managed to get her interested in working with me. Having seen the intense poetry of her work on the upcoming Snow graphic novel from Markosia (written by Rich McAuliffe) and her self-published Tw1sted Vision anthology, she was literally my first choice for the book. Now, with White Knuckle's launch date hovering somewhere around early 2012, we're starting to have pages we can show around.There will be a lot more on display at this year's Thought Bubble convention in November, along with the launches of both The Indifference Engine and Broadcast: The TV Doodles of Henry Flint.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

September Preview Part #2: Wrath of God

UK podcaster, Barry Nugent, has taken several steps toward his ultimate goal of total trans-media domination recently, so it's worth taking a moment to recap the story so far.

Barry's Fallen Heroes novel has been in production as a comic for a little while now. The first issue is out and the second is well under way. By all accounts it's been a very successful experiment - enough so that Barry started looking into expanding the universe a bit. This is where I enter the picture.

Teaming with the artists behind the main Fallen Heroes comic adaptation, Steve Penfold and Gat Melvin, I've written a backstory for the character of Jonathan Bishop, AKA The Reverend. This 22-page story is to be part of the first Tales of the Fallen anthology of expanded and spin-off material from the main novel. Here's the breakdown:

The Reverend: a holy weapon forged in tragedy and flame – a murderous martyr whose cold judgement strikes with the force of a vengeful God. Despair, for the Reverend walks among you. He is the right hand of vengeance. He is Wrath.

The anthology will contain stories from several powerhouse teams, with full details currently on the Unseen Shadows website. For the moment, here's a quick four-page preview of Wrath of God, with letters by the incomparable Nic Wilkinson:Tales of the Fallen is tentatively scheduled for a November release, hopefully to launch at the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

September Preview Part #1: Cancertown 2

A month or so back, I had the pleasure of welcoming new Cancertown 2 colourist, Peter Mason to the Cancer Cell, joining Graeme Howard, Nic Wilkinson and myself on the book's creative team. In the few intervening weeks, Peter has set what must be a record time for colouring an entire chapter of one of my books - at times turning in multiple pages in a single day! What's more, the quality is first rate. Impressed doesn't begin to describe it.

Just so you can see what I'm raving about here, I figured I'd slot a couple of preview pages your way. For my money, Peter's colours really nail the evolving tone of this Cancertown volume, and suit Graeme's inking style so cleanly that it's hard to believe they've never worked together before. Peter's got a serious future in comics, and I'm already looking forward to working with him on future projects.
Take a look at more of Peter's work here. In addition to his beautiful colouring style, he's a talented artist in his own right so it's well worth the visit.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Interactives - A Review


I'd been looking forward to the release of Peter Rogers and Luciano Vecchio's The Interactives ever since I first heard of it, so I was pleased to receive my copy directly from Pete this week. Like all of Markosia's paperbacks, it's a nicely produced book with strong binding and good quality printing.

That, I'd have to say, is where any similarity between this comic and any of my own ends.

If you're reading this blog at all, there's a reasonably high probability that you actually know me personally, or at least through my work. If you've read anything of mine, or spoken to me at any great length, you'll most likely understand that The Interactives, fundamentally, is a book that I couldn't have written. It is, in short, a story with a good heart.

For sure, it's got the balls-out monster slap-fights that we all want to see, with an enormous range of mythological entities on display. It has its quirky team dynamic down to a science and a set of characters that artfully straddle the line between the emblematic and the personally believable. The art is furiously imaginative, the colours (by the always phenomenal Yel Zamor) are glorious and the whole thing is basically just really enjoyable. It's good, clean fun.

So, yeah - The Interactives is a rewardingly weird ride with some top-class visuals, marrying social media modernity with a playful take on mythology in a way that shows a deep love of both and diminishes neither. There's even a very welcome bonus mini-comic at the back, drawn by Azim Akberali - whose work is, frankly, astonishing.

I'll give the final word to Big-Name Writer and Epic Welshman, Rob Williams, who describes The Interactives as "a story where imagination is both championed and revealed to be incredibly powerful."

The Interactives is available at the Markosia site right now.




Friday, 12 August 2011

I Prefer the Term "Research"

If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery, then I'm about to flatter the ever-loving, blue-eyed Hell out of Simon Wyatt by "imitating" a substantial portion of one of his recent blog posts below:

[Plagiarism]
After a brief hiatus (due to recovering from a recurring back injury) I'm back on the blog with some wonderful, amazing, nay 'Unbelievable' news!

These are exciting times for me, not only am I involved in a myriad of projects but my graphic novel Unbelievable: The Man Who Ate Daffodils is due to be published soon (just 51 days to go) and is available for pre-order now!

Here are the details!
Diamond Previews #275 Page 222
Order Number: AUG110740

This 160 page monster is scheduled for release on October 1st 2011 (just in time for Halloween), and is also available to pre-order from Markosia's own website and from the following retailers:

Amazon
Waterstones
WHSmith
Blackwells

Here's the ISBN: 1905692609

You can also read the first 30 pages in this exclusive preview Myebook - Unbelievable - The Man Who Ate Daffodils

It's been a long time coming, having initially spawned the idea for the story 7 years ago (!) and it's been a hell of a journey getting to this point, there have been highs and considerable lows and without going into great detail I must say the proof is in the publishing and I'm so, so glad Unbelievable has found its place in Markosia's stable of titles.


I'll be updating soon with dates for signings, book launch etc, so stay tuned as I also plan a competition to launch the book with some of the original comic art and signed concept sketches as prizes!
[/Plagiarism]

The alert reader will have already noted that I have a sizeable dog in this fight. Simon Wyatt is currently drawing a script of mine for an upcoming Markosia graphic novel called Phantom Lung & the Garden of Dead Liars (both this and Unbelievable having letters by Nic Wilkinson). A few pieces of concept art from this have already snaked their way onto the internet, and I'm looking forward to being able to show more...

...and with that mostly stolen blog, I'm gone. I finished writing the third chapter of White Knuckle today so I've got psychological batteries to recharge.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Thought Bubble Pre-Orders

So, after launching Slaughterman's Creed in print at this year's Bristol convention, it looks like I've got two more launches to look forward to before the end of the year. With both The Indifference Engine and Broadcast: The TV Doodles of Henry Flint coming out at Thought Bubble in November, 2011 is shaping up to be about my craziest year in comics so far. Both books are currently available to pre-order from the Markosia site. If you're heading to Thought Bubble and want to pre-order either of the books, you can score a discount by picking up your signed copies at the convention.

Here's the run-down:

The Indifference Engine: A Holographic Novel

Responding to a strangely specific job advertisement, a distinctly ordinary twenty-something suburban slacker named Alan Blake finds himself in the middle of an inter-dimensional task force staffed entirely by superhuman alternate versions of himself. Struggling to find his place in this vast continuum of near-immortal doppelgangers, he uncovers a conspiracy that strikes at the very heart of the organization – a conspiracy that only he can stop.

ISBN: 978-1-905692-59-0


Broadcast: The TV Doodles of Henry Flint

The mind of Henry Flint is a galaxy of beautiful atrocities – a nightmare factory where the bestial becomes benign, the mundane magical. Henry Flint is at once a full-service doodling savant and a one-man alien zoo, and this never-before-seen collection of his personal work is an attempt to chart a single, crooked leg of the artistic journey he takes daily. Welcome to the best of the bestiary.

ISBN: 978-1-905692-58-3

Nic and I will have a table at Thought Bubble, in the Saville's Hall venue. We'll very likely have Indifference Engine artist Rob Carey with us as well, signing books and selling sketches. Stop by and say hello.

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Cancer Cell Multiplies

Here in the Cancer Cell we like a good paradox, so we're currently multiplying (the team) by dividing (the work). No harm ever came of a paradox, did it?

That is to say, we are pleased to welcome Peter Mason as the colourist for Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours.

You can see the 2 pages he did as samples below.

Cancertown 2: Page 10
Pencils and inks: Graeme Howard, Colours: Peter Mason
Cancertown 2: Page 02 Pencils and inks: Graeme Howard, Colours: Peter Mason


We all want to say thanks to everyone who was interested in joining the book and sent samples in. The talent on show was spectacular and it was a very hard decision. Hopefully there will be opportunities to work on other things together in the future.

Peter's colours bring just the right mix of threatening surrealism to the Cancertown scenes and the increasingly hollow, disconnected, desperate world of Morley's London.

Peter lives in Herne Bay and loves to draw all the time - on the bus, in lessons (when he shouldn't have been drawing), in the garden - in fact he will draw anywhere and any time.

On the net he is known as UNiCOMICS and you can see more of his work over at his DeviantArt Page, on his visual blog. He also has his own web comic called THONK.

Peter says: "I think its going to be amazing working on the book. I cant wait to get started!"

I met Peter at Whatever Comics at the signing event for Fall Of The Wolfmen. It will be good to bring him back there next year at the other side of the table when we launch the book!

Incidentally, this is also where I also met Aaron Moran - with whom I'm working on two other projects right now. So the message here is get out to events at your local comic shop - you never know what might happen!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Nic's Sticky Notes: From Hell

From Hell

Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Eddie Campbell



Ok then. Here’s the big one, but where to start?

So before we get into the blast itself a couple of key points:

1) If you’ve seen the film – forget everything about it
2) This is not a book about Jack The Ripper

Well, of course it IS about Jack The Ripper, but as Alan Moore himself says it is less a “who dunnit” than a “why dunnit”.

I am sure this is going to be a long piece (we are talking about a nearly 600 page book here, and that is not counting the accompanying script book) and I haven’t even started yet so I will attempt to “topline it” as I see it:

From Hell is a visceral, brilliant, convoluted, hysterical vision of the birth of the 20th century. Jack The Ripper is the midwife who delivers the next 100 screaming years of war, holocaust, rape, genocide and serial killing, as he painstakingly extracts his victims’ innards and tenderly embraces the final empty corpse . The fevered portrayal of the infamous Whitechapel Murders here has them more as an inevitable symbol of the human condition than a specific event that occurred in historical time.

Alan Moore’s research is, as usual meticulous to the point of obsession and be warned that looking at Eddie Campbell’s scratchy, dirty expression of Victorian London will cause a rotten, mouldy stain on your soul.

This is a work as glorious and as squalid and London itself. You can’t claim to love comics and not read this. You see, From Hell fulfils another very important, very Victorian function – sitting in attic of the comic world it grows ever nastier and more horrifying, allowing the mainstream to grow shinier and prettier, apparently unsullied by its sins.

Here we go then.

"I shall tell you where we are. We're in the most extreme and utter region of the human mind. A dim, subconscious underworld. A radiant abyss where men meet themselves. Hell, Netley. We're in Hell."

The British are fascinated by the enigma of the Ripper murders. Perhaps it is the shuddering image of incredible brutality at the heart of the supposed gentility of the British Empire, perhaps it is the tantalising draw of the knowledge that the crime can never be solved, whatever it might be it seems way out of proportion to the murder of 4 prostitutes in the east end of London. This seems to be the starting point of the book.

The theory, or rather conspiracy, that Moore goes with is probably well known (in fact it has been parodied as often as it has been proposed, I think), involving as it does the Royal Family, Freemasons and magic, but I will try not spoiler it in case anyone reading the review has not come across it before. However great thing about this book is not whether it is “true” in a mundane “X was the killer” sense, but the mythic weight that Moore brings to bear on questions of society, class, violence, fear, sex, and history. As befits the greatest of comics writers Moore knows well that the mask is more important than the man underneath.

Alan Moore, of course, knows his Victoriana. As you might expect the book is peppered with references, in-jokes, sly nods, shy smiles, and tips of the hat. If you have never before seen a person flirt with a period of history this is the place to do it. The hypocritical Victorian line between sensationalism and a stiff upper lip is walked to perfection. You get the idea that the creators are having the time of their lives.

Historical people have been persuaded into cameo roles. Look out for appearances from Queen Victoria, Aleister Crowley, and Oscar Wilde among others. Most notable of all though is the role played in the story by the Elephant Man, John Merrick. The main characters have a vivid realism and are all portrayed with striking compassion and understanding, even The Ripper himself. This just serves to make the unfolding events even more awful. Doom hangs in the air from the very first page. The world evoked is one of emptiness, desolation and bitter frustration. There is a fatalism, an inevitability, to the complex interplay of people and events in time.

In his introduction to the series, Moore wrote "It's my belief that if you cut into a thing deeply enough, if your incisions are precise and persistent and conducted methodically, then you may reveal not only that thing's inner workings, but also the meaning behind those workings.” I feel there is a lot of Alan Moore in his detective characters – Inspector Abberline as appears here, for example, and Finch from V for Vendetta. The ability to get under the skin and see with the eyes of another is what makes both characters and creator great. Of course, he takes you with him. You may feel in need of a good scrub when you get out.

Eddie Campbell is one of my favourite artists. His artwork is magnificent here, probably his best work that I have seen, but it is not for the unwary. Capturing the tone of the tone of writing perfectly it has a madness about it, and yet for all its wildness a detailed, suffocating intensity. It looks like it was etched in the soot and the stains of the city itself. It will catch in your throat and sting your eyes raw.

The architectural drawing especially is phenomenal. The brooding sense of menace and shadow gives the city a threatening character all of its own. This bleak, gloomy, evocation of a dilapidated city built from occult symbols amounts to a psychogeography of the dark corners of the human mind - something made explicit in a wonderful chapter in which we go on a sight-seeing tour of places of magical significance.

I get a strong sense that Jack himself may just be the dreams of the place embodied. The human characters seem almost inconsequential among the looming buildings, an impression enforced by the sketchy, uncertain lines that define them. This hesitance lends a peculiar, uncomfortable intimacy at times – almost as if there is something hovering there too afraid to express itself in the open, craving an understanding the reader does not want to admit to, lyrical and repellent all at once.

Alan Moore's stated aim was “to solve in fiction, that which could not be answered by conventional analysis or enquiry”. I am not sure he ended up with a solution, in the end, but the journey was well worth it, and the questions raised deserve further discussion. In many ways it has similarities to Oliver Stone’s explorations of JFK or Norman Mailer’s dances with Hitler (The Castle In The Forest) and Lee Harvey Oswald (Oswald’s Tale) with their air of plausible unreality.

This is not an “easy” comic. It is not comfortable reading. The subject matter is horrific and the focus is unflinching. Perhaps that is why it does not enjoy the widespread prominence of Alan Moore’s other works. It is the easily the equal of Watchman though, both in scope and craftsmanship. I found that it gave me bad dreams.

If you can, treat yourself to the hardback collected edition which includes all the appendices and notes. There is also a script book which is worth a look, if only to marvel at what went into making this monster.

Highly recommended. Not for the faint-hearted.

Friday, 15 July 2011

3MillionYears: In Which I Voice an Opinion About Something

A couple of weeks back I was invited by Michael Nimmo, mastermind behind the news and reviews site, 3MillionYears, to write a guest post about digital comics. Since I've never ticked a "Don't Know" box in my life, I took it upon myself to wade in and have a good reckon. Thanks to Michael for giving me the platform and megaphone, I'm looking forward to seeing what other guest posters have to say for themselves. You can see my own laughably ill-informed brain-drizzle on the site now.

Moving on...

I got an email recently from a writer called Gordon Robertson, who among other things reviews for GeekChocolate, featuring a really interesting teaser for something he's been working on. I don't have a lot of detail right now, but I'm very intrigued and feel the need to share. Presented below is absolutely everything I know about this upcoming webcomic.


Visit the official site for updates as they arrive. I'll see you on the other side...

Monday, 4 July 2011

Getting to Grips with White Knuckle

White Knuckle is cracking along at an incredible pace now, and my weekend was made by finding the incredibly talented Valia Kapadai had grabbed it by the throat and drawn out this absolutely beautiful cover.





I could not imagine a more perfect cover for the book and it's an honour to be working with Valia on this story.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Nic's Sticky Notes: Ronin

Ronin

Art and script: Frank Miller



“If you find yourself on a cliffside, trapped, with a hungry tiger waiting above and a hungry tiger waiting below, and, by chance, you spy a single strawberry growing from the cliffside. Pluck the strawberry. And bite into it. And taste it. Our lives are as fragile and as brief as cherry blossoms. And as fragrant.”

So you’ve seen Sin City and 300. You’ve gone back and read Year One, Daredevil and the triumph of heroism and sacrifice that is The Dark Knight Returns. But before all of that came Ronin. If you haven’t read that then it’s still not time sit back to catch your breath!

It is surprising that Miller got away with this at all. Back in 1987 he was not yet the superstar writer that he would become as a result of Dark Knight. The comics industry was in decline. Creativity was not that much in evidence and the big publishers seemed afraid to take risks. Unless you could get your hands on Asian comics you would never have seen anything like this.

Ronin is wildly (and not always completely successfully) experimental. It is haunting and troublesome. The plot twists and screams, wrenching readers and characters from ancient Japan to near future America, swords and demons to organic computers and artificial intelligence. It’s certainly unique. It’s definitely intense. It’s maybe a bit confused, or at least confusing, and sometimes you think you might just be able to hearing something giving way under the strain. Ignore it, no pain no gain, right?

So, it’s sci-fi with Japanese demons is it? Well, yes, and even just taken on that level it’s a pretty spectacular story. But what Ronin is actually about is betrayal. As a consequence it’s also about loyalty, nobility, humanity and control.

The apocalyptic tone and thundering rhythms that have come to be a hallmark of Miller’s work are already building to a rumble. Never afraid to place tremendous demands on his characters Miller does not flinch as he tortures them, informed here by the great samurai traditions of the conflicts arising between duty and desire. There are also less abstract matters thrown in for discussion, uncomfortable questions about race, homelessness, corporate power and scientific responsibility

The story follows the titular Ronin as he hunts down the demon that assassinated his master, in order to exact vengeance, gain redemption and ultimately fulfil his destiny. It’s not that simple of course, for a start it involves a magic sword. Unable to defeat the demon in his own time he is reincarnated hundreds of years in the future into a New York disintegrating under some unspecified economic or social collapse, torn by violence and populated by mutants, monsters and madmen. Oh yes, and cannibals.

The supporting cast includes Mr Taggart, the founder of Aquarius Corporation, Casey McKenna, his head of security and her husband, Peter, the inventor of “biocircuitry” the invention that could save the world. Also, Billy Challas, a ward of the corporation who is being used to test cutting edge prosthetic limbs as he was born with none of his own. Billy seems to have telekinetic powers and has been having vivid dreams about a samurai and demon in ancient Japan. Alongside these humans, with concerns of its own, is Virgo the artificial intelligence at the heart of the Aquarius complex.

Yes, you may well think, "wow"!

This excitable fusion of genres extends to the artwork. A mad combination of styles stitches the graceful pen and ink of Goseki Kojima to the insanely compulsive detail of Geoff Darrow to produce something that is unmistakably Miller. In the space of a handful of pages he bounds through widescreen peaceful panoramic city-scapes, explosive violence covered in speed lines and full of abstracted manga-like ferocity, countless tiny tension inducing panels consisting of little more than captions and beautiful emotional close-ups. The angles and perspectives veer and lurch adding to the unsettling sensations of alienation and instability that are central to the story.

Every time you gasp at the art in his later work remember you saw it here first. More importantly, without this there probably would never have been a Dark Knight Returns.
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