Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Signings & Portents

I never get used to this.

On Saturday the 4th of June, Nic Wilkinson and I will be signing copies of Slaughterman's Creed at Whatever Comics (my spiritual homeland and maintainer of my personal pull list since late 1990). We'll be there between 12pm and 4pm. The shop's very own Godfather, the Mighty Manny Armario, tells us he will be coming as the book's top-dog villain, Lenny Addison, while there's also talk of a special appearance from a female version of Mr. Green, courtesy of actress Karol Steele!

To mark this event, Whatever Comics has worked with Markosia Enterprses to create a limited edition of Slaughterman's Creed, with a variant sketch cover unique to the shop. There's also a raffle to win an original piece of art specially created by Stephen Downey and colourist, Vicky Stonebridge for the signing.

Whatever comics is located at 9 St. Peters St. High Street, Canterbury, CT1 2AT. If you're local and want to swing by, we'll look forward to seeing you there!

As reported on Stephen Downey's blog, the launch of Slaughterman's Creed will also be celebrated with a signing at Forbidden Planet Belfast on the 11th of June. In addition to Stephen himself, the book's inker, Andy Brown and cover painter, Ryan Brown will be there also.

If you go along to that one there's a FREE sketch with every copy bought on the day and Andy Luke will be signing and giving out FREE print copies of his and Stephen's comic, Absence.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Slaughterman's Creed Panel: An Outsider Looking In

Episode 112 of Comic Book Outsiders is a special edition recorded at the 2011 Bristol convention.

Scott Grandison (complete with painted face) hosted our panel, "The Task Of Blood: Creating Slaughterman's Creed" on the Sunday where the complete creative team talked about the dark arts involved in putting together Markosia's best ever UK convention seller.


You can download the podcast, along with the video and presentation we showed on the day. It'll be almost like you were there.
Of course, the podcast doesn't show Scott in all his facepainted glory - so here we present his transformation by Vicky Stonebridge into the simple child of nature himself, Mr Green.




Quite how we persuaded an otherwise respectable Doctor of Computational Biology to put up with this nonsense I'll never know!

Thanks again to Scott for doing such a fantastic job.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Bristol '11: a White Knuckle Ride

So that's another Bristol Comic and Small Press Expo over - one in which I launched one book, landed another and appeared on more panels in one day than I have in the previous, well, lifetime. Shattered doesn't begin to describe it.

This was my first experience of having a table specifically dedicated to something I'd written, and it makes a significant difference to the structure of your day. We were set up at the intersection between the two main rooms in the Mercure, back-to-back with Orang-Utan Comics. It turned out to be a pretty decent position and, from what I saw of it, the "Independent and Small Press" side of the convention was quite a lot livelier than the "Mainstream and International" side throughout the weekend.

The Slaughterman's Creed launch was all kinds of fun. We had a mountain of pre-ordered copies to sign, and had to organise a production line so we could get it all done in a sensible time. Stephen Downey and Vicky Stonebridge personalised as many copies as they could, and the hand I injured at the Birmingham con last year just about held up long enough to get my scrawl down. Those pre-paid orders included, we topped 100 copies sold over the weekend and, even ignoring pre-orders, Markosia tells us Slaughterman's Creed is their best-ever UK convention seller. Got to say, I'm pretty happy with how it all went.

Saturday's a bit of a blur, to be honest. Bristol is an incredibly inclusive event, with no them-and-us mentality, so it's the kind of show where you can suddenly find yourself exchanging Michael Ironside anecdotes with Paul Cornell, Laurence Campbell and Rob Williams. Had several of those "did that just happen?" moments over the weekend, but that one was a classic. Also, a chance David Hine sighting had me bolting for a copy of Creed to give him as thanks for the fantastic cover quote he gave us, and ended with him insisting instead that we swap for a copy of The Bulletproof Coffin (signed by David and Shaky Kane). Got to love that.
Sunday kicked off with four quick trips between the two venues, shuttling copies of Creed back and forth for signing, before heading off for the first panel of the day - "The Task of Blood: Creating Slaughterman's Creed". Really wasn't sure what to expect from this, but the room was virtually full and the whole thing seemed to go well. Comic Book Outsiders co-host, Scott Grandison, did an admirable job of co-ordinating the chaos (aided in no small measure by Nic Wilkinson's awesome Powerpoint presentation). Better yet, he did the whole thing in full Mr. Green face make-up - which is the first time I've ever heard of anyone cosplaying as one of my characters! The talk was recorded for the podcast, so it'll be interesting to hear how it all came out.Second panel of the day was Dan Thompson's "Small Press, Big Ideas" discussion, which had Nic Wilkinson, Richmond Clements, Peter Rogers and me joining him to question whether the term "small press" does more harm than good. Some interesting ideas were kicked around, and you'll be pleased to know that we solved the dilemma for all time in about 45 minutes, but we're sworn to take that resolution to our graves with us.

Right, now for White Knuckle.

I'd approached artistic pixie, Valia Kapadai, some months back to investigate the possibility of working together. I'd become aware of her through Rich McAuliffe's beautifully nightmarish Snow graphic novel (hopefully some great news on that front soon) and knew she could create painfully exquisite artwork with a serious emotional charge behind it. What emerged from those discussions was White Knuckle - a riff on the classic "retired gunslinger forced to strap on his irons again for one last battle" tale, but told through the lens of a 70-year-old former serial strangler who becomes a local hero when he accidentally saves the life of his last victim's grandson.

I pitched the book verbally to Harry Markos on the Sunday of the convention and received an immediate acceptance. A lot of that was down to the fact that Valia had prepared a pitch package that included character designs and two full pages of haunting art, lettered by Nic Wilkinson. More information on the book will be coming soon, both here and on my website.

All in all, this was a terrific convention for me, both personally and professionally (if that distinction even means anything in comics). Had a fantastic and productive time talking Bayou Arcana with James Pearson and some of the anthology's creative team. I was awe-struck, as I always am, by the enthusiasm of creators like Daniel Clifford, Jennie Gyllblad and Corey Brotherson, and a hit-and-run chat with Henry Flint had my head spinning right before the Creed panel. Great times.

Other highlights included meeting Cancertown 2 and Fallen Heroes artists, Graeme Howard and Steve Penfold, for the first time and getting to see Simon Wyatt's first concept sketches for a book I haven't even started talking about yet! There were more great moments, but I'd be here all day if I listed them.

Special mention has to go to Cape Fear Comics and their Sioux Warrior title. Not only are they profoundly decent guys, they've actually succeeded in creating something I've never even heard of before, much less seen: a musical comic. Utterly insane and conceptually brilliant.

So that was Bristol, and hopefully some of my love for this show is coming through in this report. More than anything, the Bristol con reminds me why I wanted to get involved in comics in the first place. It's a place where you can blunder into a bar intending to leave 30 minutes later and inexplicably find yourself talking comics theory and practice for three hours with the mighty John Higgins, Al Ewing and a cross-section of the UK's top talent. How can you go wrong?

Friday, 6 May 2011

Bristol '11: More Cy Than You Can Handle

Well, we're about a week out from Bristol and it's looking like I'll be more visible this time around than I've ever been. Apologies if that sounds like a threat.

Obviously, I'll be on the Slaughterman's Creed stand for most of the weekend (table 46 at the Mercure), where I'll be pitching copies of the book along with Nic Wilkinson, Stephen Downey and Vicky Stonebridge. I gather the plan to paint people's faces in the style of one of Creed's more notable antagonists, Mr. Green is still in place. There may also be candy.

At 12pm on the Sunday, the entire "Chopping Bloc" will be on a panel at the Mercure, entitled "The Task of Blood: Creating Slaughterman's Creed". The discussion will be hosted by scholar and gentleman, Scott Grandison of the Comic Book Outsiders podcast. I consider my primary purpose at this one to be to repeat everything Stephen says at a slower pace (for those who haven't heard him speak, Stephen communicates in the language of hummingbirds).

I'll be back on the stand for a few hours after that, before Nic and I take our places on a second panel at 4pm - this one called "Small Press Big Ideas". Here's the blurb from Dan Thompson:

With the falling cost of producing comics and the rise of the internet as a tool for marketing and distributing them, it's becoming more and more viable for creators to publish mainstream, commercial comics by themselves. These books share little in common with the more artistically driven labours-of-love that are traditionally associated with the small press, so is it right that they are all classed under the same banner? We will examine whether there is a difference between a true small press book and a mainstream book that is printed in small numbers. Is it damaging creators and limiting ambition by creating an artificial underclass of comics? Is it time for up-and-coming creators to abandon the term 'small press' and just make comics?

The line-up for this one looks like it'll be Steve Penfold, Peter Rogers, Richmond Clements, Nic Wilkinson and me, with Mal from Fallen Angel Media hosting. Should be interesting.

Right - back to it!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Interviews!

Well, with this year's Bristol International Comic and Small Press Expo getting closer, it's getting pretty busy around here. The theme for this past week turns out to have been interviews, which I think I might finally be getting the hang of.

First up is a guest spot I recorded on Wayne Hall's Wayne's Comics podcast. Wayne was cool enough to let me plug the upcoming re-release of Cancertown in trade paperback format, and to blast his listeners with a faceful of rage over the frankly shameful treatment certain uninformed knuckle-fuckers have given Stephen Coffey and his Society for the Remarkable Suicide co-creators due to a total inability to look into what the book was actually about. I've gone on about this in at least one previous post, so I won't rehash it all here, but thanks are due to Wayne for letting me get the word out about a book that deserves promotion and a creative team that deserves respect. You can hear my take on the whole thing on Wayne's latest episode.

On top of that, the interview I recently recorded with Decapitated Dan Royer is now live. This was my first time talking to Dan, and it was a lot of fun. We covered Cancertown, Slaughterman's Creed and even Starship Troopers - along with my influences, inspirations and several other topics designed to make me sound a lot more professional than I actually am. Feel free to listen in.

Now, on to the main event - in which I switch from interviewee to interviewer and ambush my collaborative partner and reason for breathing, Nic Wilkinson, for comicbitsonline. Nic has had a creative hand in virtually every book and story I've ever written - as either artist, letterer or both. Along the way, she's also become well respected in indie publishing circles as a marketing expert. The interview focuses primarily on her lettering work, and covers a lot of her attitudes and approaches to the job of bringing script and art together.

Seriously, go and take a look at that. I'll see you on the other side.
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