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.
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