Friday, 28 January 2011

Slaughterman's Creed: the Internet Has its Say...

The first reviews of Slaughterman's Creed are in, and broadly in agreement. Here's the first, from Wayne Hall of the excellent SFP-Now podcast:

Comix Portal: Comic (P)Review: ‘Slaughterman’s Creed’

Written by Wayne Hall on January 25, 2011 – 12:02 pm -


Every once in a while, a comic comes to my attention that really gets a reaction from me. Slaughterman’s Creed is just such a comic.

Here’s the summary for the five-issue series: “Sidney is a professional killer working for Big Lenny Addison, a London ganglord specialising in human trafficking. He is almost completely uneducated except in his family’s trade – at which he is an unparalleled expert.

“When he is called upon to breach his code and bring a pregnant woman to slaughter, Sidney’s world 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.”

Site Head Honcho Ian M. Cullen is a big fan of Cy Dethan, the creative mind behind this series. I recently reviewed his Indifference Engine comics, which were fascinating science fiction. After I read them, Ian told me that Engine was actually very light fare for Dethan, who can dish up some really twisted ideas at times.

Boy, was Ian right!

Slaughterman’s Creed is a very disturbing look at crime noir. I was happy to get a chance to check out the comics before they hit the stands as a trade paperback in May of this year (I hear the digital version may be available sooner than that, but we’ll see). Be sure to pick this trade up if you like dark and twisted stories that will grab you and not let you go. It’s a real “page turner!” I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.


It’s not that some of the characters don’t have a code of honor. They do, particularly Sidney, who treats his victims with his own brand of “respect.” If you’re looking for a role model in this comic, you’ll be really disappointed. Everyone is trying to stab someone else in the back, either literally or figuratively.

That doesn’t mean the comic isn’t telling an interesting story. I couldn’t stop reading it. And I was especially surprised by a radical change in direction about three issues in. It shocked me so much I can’t bring myself to spoil it here.

The characters themselves are dark and dank. The strangest among them is Mr. Green, a new assassin who has literally been turned green by having his entire body covered with tattoos in that color. Compared to the rest of the world he lives in, he’s this bright, weird light bulb that stands out very strongly visually. And he also stands out in the story, a counterpoint to Sidney’s abilities and code.

Stephen Downey‘s art isn’t quite up to the story’s standards, but in some ways, it fits the sketchy, moody world we’re peering into. A little more detail would have been more to my liking, but I still get chills when I think of Sidney explaining the creed to a young girl.

Speaking of the code, here it is from Dethan’s website: “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.”

If Mr. Dethan keeps delivering this kind of novel perspective on the world, I’ll have trouble sleeping at night. Yikes! But I was gripped from the first page, so please keep it up!

Rating: 4/5.

Hot on the proverbials of that bombshell came the following write-up from Richmond Clements - writer, editor of FutureQuake Press and co-organiser of Hi Ex! The Highlands International Comic Expo:

Slaughterman's Creed Review

The most frustrating thing about reading this book is when I was reading it, I couldn’t help thinking that there will be a percentage of people reading this and thinking ‘Guy Ritchie.’
But- newsflash- Guy Ritchie did not invent the London gangster story, and this book sits more comfortably with real (yes- I said ‘real’) London gangster tales like The Long Good Friday or Get Carter.

Writer Cy Dethan and artist Stephen Downey previously worked together on the brilliant and disturbing horror fantasy book Cancertown. So, if you’ve read that book (and if you haven’t why not?) you’ll probably think you’re prepared for Slaughterman’s Creed...

And you’d be partly right. This is as bleak and disturbing as Cancertown- for the most part. But, for my money, this book is a lot more powerful and there is more impact from the violence and gore for one simple reason. And it’s one I have banged on about before in either other reviews of when pontificating about writing.

Horror is all the more horrible when you have people doing horrible things to other people. That’s why Hannibal Lecter is scarier than Freddy Krueger. And there is a lot of horror in this book.

That is not to say it is some cheap torture porn story. It is not. Every violent action in this book is there to further the plot rather than to titillate an audience of bored teenagers (when did I get this cynical!?).

And what a plot! Dethan, in the first chapter, sets out the plot nicely as he introduces the characters and the concept of the Slaughterman. But then, just as the reader thinks the narrative is going one way, he adds a wonderful reveal that takes it in completely another direction.

There was a point where I thought that Dethan was biting off more than he could chew as he introduced a number of subplots, but I need not have worried, he juggles the various strands with perfection and brings everything to a satisfying climax. Of course, satisfying does not always mean happy or upbeat... but it does mean clever and altogether logical.

As for the art- Downey has made a quantum leap in quality from his work in Cancertown. His figure drawing is very good and his layouts are thoughtful and imaginative. I did notice one continuity error in there though...

And I suppose I should mention the colouring too... for the sake of full disclosure, I should mention that the majority of the book was coloured by HiEx’s own Vicky Stonebridge, and she does a wonderful job in creating atmosphere, when required, adding to the bloody and gruesome realism of the horror on the page.

So, all in all, I’d say this book is a bit of a triumph for all involved. With a strong narrative, well realised and rounded characters, strong visuals and a wonderful seam of oh so black humour this deserves to be a hit for all involved. And not turning it into a movie would be nothing short of a travesty.

Slaughterman's Creed is published by Markosia comics.


Slaughterman's Creed will be launched as a trade paperback at the Bristol Comic Expo in May with a special pre-order price of £10. As mentioned in a previous post, this launch is a limited edition so pre-ordering is advised.

If you would like to reserve a copy to be held behind the stand, or posted out to you, please get in touch with us now and we will add your name to the list and email you to let you know the options for how to pay.

If you are not coming to the show there will be postage added to the £10 which is £2 in the UK and £4 for overseas delivery.

If you are a reviewer, blogger, journalist or podcaster and would like some more information then drop us a line.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Slaughterman's Creed Convention Edition Pre-Orders and Competition

Things are ramping up towards the launch by Markosia comics of the hardcopy edition of Slaughterman's Creed at Bristol Comics Convention in Mid May.


There is going to be a convention special edition, signed by all the creators, on sale over the launch weekend at the special pre-order price of £10 (regular price will be around £12, to be confirmed).

Everyone who pre-orders it, either to collect on the day or to be sent out after the show, will be entered into a competition to win an original piece of art pencilled by Stephen Downey and coloured by Vicky Stonebridge.

We know that not everyone will be physically going to the con, and some people will only be there for one or other of the days, so if you would like to reserve a copy to be held behind the stand, or posted out to you, please then you need to get in touch with us now and we will add your name to the list, and email you to let you know the options for how to pay.

If you are not coming to the show there will be postage added to the £10 which is £2 in the UK and £4 for overseas delivery.

And if you can't wait, or want to be sure, you can read the Slaughterman's Creed free 12 page preview over on the website.

If you are a reviewer, blogger, journalist or podcaster and would like some more information then drop us a line.

There will be more news about Bristol plans in the near future.


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Reviews!


A couple of very cool articles have recently popped up on 3 Million Years, an excellent source for digital comics information. The site's owner, Michael J. Nimmo, has written reviews of the digital editions of The Indifference Engine and Cancertown (both now available in their entireties on the PlayStation Network in PSP format). Here goes:

Review: The Indifference Engine

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.

For a four issue mini series, this certainly packs a lot in! Originally I intended to sit down and read this series over a short period of time, but found myself being drawn in and reading the next issue.
Cy Dethan (Cancertown) writes a very tight script – I found myself thinking of Rob Williams (Cla$$war) in the style. Keeping all the facts together and presentable is a hard job, but Cy performs admirably. With the nature of the story, there is no decompression, there is a lot going on on each page. This is what gets you reading each issue one after another!

Robert Carey’s art is excellent – at first I worried that it was a little too loose, but then soon dispelled this as the art drew me into the story. With the big wide shots I found myself feeling surrounded by the action. Fight and battle scenes felt tense and full of danger. Gritty in all the right places and sterile where it was needed.

In closing, this is an excellent mini series from an excellent team. Markosia should be proud to showcase such British talent, showing that great things are ahead. This is also a coup for the PSP Comics network and what mobile comics are all about.

Defiantly recommended!



Review: Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth

The team behind Cancertown should have nothing but pride about this 6 issue series.

From the story itself to the art, colours, letters and the cover this is an all round, well plotted series. This story would work well as a Vertigo title and Markosia have found themselves a real gem.

Vince Morley isn’t the sort of protagonist that you find yourself rooting for, but as the series progresses you find yourself bonding with him. Cy Dethan has made this a well paced series which would be amazing in the print format, but on the screen it keeps you going from one page to another – taking in the madness of Cancertown that he has created.

Stephen Downey's pencils fit the mood so well for this story, with some horrifying creatures and some epic scenes which will stay in my head for a long time. These pencils, combined with the colours from Mel Cook create the nightmares that Cancertown has along with the parts of the ‘real’ world in a grim and gritty style.

Nic Wilkinson’s lettering adds to the story, giving the printed words flesh and feeling that I haven’t seen for a long while.

Paul Cartwright's cover creates an immediate impression and lets you know what’s in store for you inside. So much so that my wife, looking over my shoulder, said how amazing it looked – which is high praise indeed.

Vince Morley is a man with big problems and a brain tumour like a baby’s fist, living with one foot in a monstrous alternate world he calls Cancertown. When the lost and dispossessed of London start tripping over the same cracks in reality he spends his life avoiding, Morley realises he must confront the residents of Cancertown – and risk finding his place among them.

This is a story about a man who lives in two worlds, and although we are trying to make sense of what is real and what isn’t – he is also making sense of his place in both worlds.

I can’t emphasise enough what an amazing story this is – perhaps its because I’m from the 2000AD generation, but I’m sure that our friends in the US would enjoy this too. For those of you who read Hellblazer and the like – read this now!

Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth is available from PSP Comics and Markosia from today – check out the website at www.cancertown.co.uk

Roll on the sequel I say!



While we're on the subject of reviews, I was recently sent a copy of a book called Captain Caned, by its clearly unhinged creator, Jim Morris. This was quite a revelation to me, as I can honestly say I've never read anything remotely like it. You know that lurching feeling you get if you lean too far back in your chair and rock just past the critical angle and all of a sudden you're falling - but at the last fraction of a second you catch yourself? The experience of reading Captain Caned is a lot like that. So much so, in fact, that it's actually hard to even describe the thing, much less review it.

Certainly, I could talk about the plot and structure - but to do so, I think, would be to miss the point of the book. The artwork in Captain Caned doesn't just tell the story - it is the story. This is a book in which every character is a fluid cacophony of hyper-expressive pseudo-anatomy and a simple trip to the pub becomes a mind-manglingly flamboyant odyssey into the unknown. The most mundane of human experiences is drenched in magic and horror - which, when it comes down to it, is the way things ought to be. Always.

Captain Caned is available from Waterstones right now, and it's a strongly recommended read if you like to be challenged (as well you should). It's definitely a book worth supporting because we absolutely need Jim Morris to keep working in comics.

To be perfectly frank, it terrifies me to imagine what he'd be doing with his time otherwise...

Friday, 14 January 2011

Wait, What the Hell Just Happened?!


Fuck me, that was quite a week!

First, we had the completion of The Indifference Engine on the PSP. This book was incredible fun to write, and with Rob Carey's art it came out as an intensely concentrated jolt of crazy. We're looking into our options for a second volume of this right now, so the ride may not be over for Alan Blake just yet.

On top of that, this week also saw the long-awaited return of Cancertown to the PlayStation Network. All six chapters came out at once, and the series now features about two hours of audio commentary from Stephen Downey and me. I'm a big fan of commentary tracks, so it was great to be able to put one together myself. It'll be interesting to see what people make of it. Cancertown will be back in print later this year in a new Markosia edition, which I'm really looking forward to.

Finally, perhaps the biggest news of the week for me was the announcement that Slaughterman's Creed is coming out in trade paperback format in May this year - just in time for the Bristol Comic Expo. All sorts of schemes are in motion for the launch, with a planned limited edition Expo exclusive, a possible panel for the book at the convention and a few surprises in the works. More on that as plans develop. In the meantime, here's an idea of what the book's going to look like...

So yeah, basically it's been a pretty good week for me, and a Hell of a start to the year. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Newsbomb: Cancertown Back in Print, Fallen Heroes Comic and More...

Barry Nugent's Fallen Heroes novel is an extraordinary, genre-spanning work that hit the top of Amazon's best-seller list. Given Barry's status as co-founder of Britain's premier comics-and-related-culture podcast, The Geek Syndicate, the announcement of the book's adaptation to comic form was not only welcome - it was necessary.

The first part of this adaptation is getting close to release now, and teasers are beginning to appear on its website. From what I've been shown so far (much of which I can't even talk about yet), this is going to be a stormer. Definitely one to check out.

While I'm pimping other people's work, I should note that Ian M Cullen and Wayne Hall's SFP-Now show (formerly Sci-Fi Pulse Radio) has switched over to podcast format and can now be found at its all-new site. The first episode is up now, and features an exclusive interview with Hotwire artist and writer Steve Pugh, who talks about producing his first ever solo comic for Radical Publishing.

With The Indifference Engine hitting the "Most Downloaded" list on the PlayStation Network charts last week (pretty staggering, considering the quantity and calibre of the competition on display there) and Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth on its way back to PSP tomorrow, it's a pretty good time for me in terms of digital comics. On the real-world side of things, Harry Markos of Markosia Enterprises has just announced that Cancertown is currently scheduled to come back into print later this year. This is fantastic news for me. More details as I get hold of them, and here's an awesome celebratory Morley sketch Stephen Downey spotted on Deviant Art (reproduced here with the kind permission of its artist, Garrett Davis).


Catch you on the flip-side...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Cancertown: Back With A Blastoma!


Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth, the scrappy indie outsider that punched far above its weight and consistently elbowed its way into top-ten status on the PSP download charts alongside its more respectable cousins from Marvel and DC, is back!

Harry Markos of Markosia Enterprises is the man responsible for this remarkable metastasis, swooping in to rescue the book from its period of remission over the summer, in time for a January 2011 re-launch on PSN.

“I am delighted to have signed Cancertown,” enthuses Harry, “it is a great book with a solid and loyal following, so I am looking forward to working with the team in getting it out to a wider audience. We have big plans for it! Cy and the team have done a great job and they have already promised a sequel, so we have exciting times ahead!”

“Oh wow, it talks”
Such were the immortal words of our hero, Vince Morley, when confronted in his hallway by a muscular medicine ball of a monster, full of blunt, flat teeth and bad intentions. This new digital edition of the book talks, too - thanks to the audio capabilities of the PSN. This all-new version is complete with additional creator commentaries From Cy Dethan and Stephen Downey that will take you down the back streets and dark alleys where Cancertown was conceived - but be warned, as Bryan “godfather of British comics” Talbot has said: “Cancertown will disorientate you, suck you in, chew you up and spit you out and you might well be in need of a change of underwear by the end.”

"Remember - nothing here is real, and everything can hurt you."
"I described it to someone asking me what it was about as a 'rip-roaring mindf***,' says John Freeman of Down The Tubes.

What kind of story provokes that kind of reaction?

Vince Morley is a man with big problems and a brain tumour like a baby’s fist, living with one foot in a monstrous alternate world he calls Cancertown. When the lost and dispossessed of London start tripping over the same cracks in reality he spends his life avoiding, Morley realises he must confront the residents of Cancertown – and risk finding his place among them.

“Babyface was a very special girl. She had very special friends, who lived in a place behind her eyes.”
Cancertown returns to the Sony PSP in its entirety on the 12th of January. So what are you waiting for? Hurl yourself into its nightmarish shadow-world and meet its population of grotesques and maniacs. For those of you who’ve been this way before, we’d be delighted to see you all again.

Writer: Cy Dethan
Pencils: Stephen Downey
Colours: Mel Cook
Letters: Nic Wilkinson
For more information see www.cancertown.co.uk

Read a free preview of chapter one.
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