Friday, 27 April 2012

Two Knuckles Deep...

...and with that thoroughly tasteless effort, I seem to have exhausted my reserve tank of Gripper puns. Basically, the book's about a guy who strangles people - that's what I've been getting at.

White Knuckle is now just a couple of weeks from launch, and the advance reviews are coming in. This first one is from FutureQuake editor and co-organiser of the Hi-Ex International Comic Expo, Richmond Clements:


White Knuckle Review

Okay, I’ll try to get through this review without it turning into some kind of back slapping exercise.

We’ve been falling far behind with our reviews of late, so have missed out entirely on reviewing Cy Dethan’s previous two books: The Indifference Engine and Broadcast.
So, briefly: they’re both awesome and you need to buy them.

You may remember our review of Slaughterman’s Creed a while ago, which was a taut, frightening thriller that really deserves to be a movie.

White Knuckle is the story of Seth Rigal, a ‘retired’ serial killer, who is living his life out in more or less quiet seclusion, or at least as close to normal as it is possible to get for a former strangler. However, events take a turn – whether these are for the better or the worse is up for debate – and he finds his quiet life is no longer as quiet as he wants it to be.

As always, Dethan has populated the story with a believable cast of characters. The dialogue is authentic – even characters with only one or two lines come across as fully rounded and real.

As he did with Slaughterman’s Creed, he uses flashbacks to flesh out the story and add pathos to scenes – this is helped in no small measure by the art (more of that soon).

I’m reluctant to talk too much about the story, but I will say it’s a perfectly paced slow burn as events gradually escalate into, well, the ending. Which I will not talk about either, save to say that it, too, is perfect. And annoying, in a good way, as I really should have seen it coming, but such is the skill of Dethan that I did not.

Now, on to the art. Valia Kapadai is quite wonderful. I was lucky enough to meet her briefly at the Bristol Convention a year or two back, and I must say that there is a certain level of dissonance to be found in the bloody and violent images she beautifully reproduces and her own gentle and sweet self!

She has created an impressive body of work here, with page after page of glorious, fully painted work. It’s a mind-boggling amount of pages to paint, and the fact that she has not only done it, but maintained a very high quality of art throughout, is a testament to her skill.

So, as I said with Slaughterman’s Creed – this should be a movie, or at the very least a TV mini-series.

Never mind your Scalped or whatever other US thriller type comics you’re reading. You should be reading this, and everything else this writer puts out. He’s probably the best kept secret in British Comics, and if I had my way, he would be a secret no longer.

Buy this.

White Knuckle is published by Markosia

Next, we have this write-up from Darkfell and Jake The Evil Hare creator, Sam Medina.

Review: White Knuckle by Dethan, Kapadai & Wilkinson

White Knuckle is a another visceral tale from the mind of Cy Dethan, beautifully illustrated by Valia Kapadai, and elegantly lettered by Nic Wilkinson. Published by Markosia Enterprises, this book weaves the complex tale of a former serial killer known as “The Gripper,” who is tormented by the delusional visions which drove him to kill when he was young, and a seemingly chance encounter which leads to his involvement in the life of the family of one of his victims.

Now, I do try to review without giving the story, so we are going to gloss  over details which would turn this into a spoiler, and for that I ask your indulgence.

I was immediately intrigued by the cover art, which is elegant in its simple, yet forceful appearance. I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case it seems that the cover makes a promise of violence and drama, and delivers on it in spades. The opening scene immediately seizes the reader’s attention, and the one which follows makes for a jarring confluence of emotion as the the story unfolds. 

Dethan crafts a tale which takes you on a journey of compassion, guilt, hope, horror and courage, cowardice and despair– a journey which takes a long, hard, and ultimately revealing look into the nature of violence and the raw humanity of it all.

Valia Kapadai’s artwork is loose and dynamic, with a cinematic feel that turns each panel into a visually gripping (no pun intended) scene. The sepia tones which dominate the palette work beautifully to create the mood throughout the book, and the page layouts shift as these moods go from poignant and sorrowful to tormented and terrifying. I was equally impressed by how even the “gutter” areas of the pages were used to great effect in establishing mood, pacing, and atmosphere.

Nic Wilkinson is a masterful letterer, with a style that is refreshingly understated in an era of over-the-top lettering that often obfuscates the story. At the same time, there’s a raw, vital energy that bursts onto the page just when it’s needed.

Overall, this was a book that surprised me with a very different take on the “serial killer,” and had me re-reading pages because they were so well put together. If you are a fan of these gifted storytellers, you MUST read this. If you aren’t a fan, you will be by the time you’re done reading it.

Pre-order your copy today right here.

If you're at all curious to hear my side of the story, then you're very welcome to check out Episode 52 of the Wayne's Comics podcast, where I do my incoherent best to discuss the themes, influences and execution of the book.

Race you to Bristol...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Convention Report: Demoncon 3

Demoncon was one of those revelations that drops out of a clear, blue sky and drenches you in unexpected excellence. It was as if the universe had taken a look at my life and decided there was one box left unticked on my Awesome List, then proceeded to tick it.

Demoncon is a tightly focused one-day gig with a strong following and loads to offer. Organised by Maidstone's Grinning Demon comic shop, this third iteration raised the stakes with the aggressive flair of a seasoned grifter, literally doubling in size over previous events - with hints of doubling again later in the year already flying around Twitter.

Nic and I found ourselves sandwiched comfortably between Barry Nugent (with the iceberg-tip of his ever-expanding transmedia empire on display in the form of the Fallen Heroes novel, along with its associated adaptations and spin-offs) and the team of Dan Thompson and Steve Penfold (promoting their unrepentantly brilliant Moon comic). Considering the fact that all of us in that Usual Suspects-style line-up have worked together on books that were available right there at Barry's table, and contrasting this against the old-school system of dropping all the attending creators into a sack and allocating tables according to the order in which they drag themselves out, you start to see why Demoncon is punching so far above its weight class. I've heard similar praise for the organisation of Hi-Ex and CICAE, so if anything it looks like the mini-con environment is richer than ever.

Orang-Utan Comics was well represented, with Ian Sharman and David Wynne seemingly in demand non-stop. Before the doors opened, I got to chat with Conor Boyle about a project we have in the works - and it turned out to be a good thing I took the opportunity when I did, as he seemed to be swamped with sketch requests for the rest of the day. Other people have been reporting similar levels of interest, which is always great to hear.

Entertainment (technically, "sports entertainment") came in the form of NWA Hammerlock Wrestling, so I made a point of catching one of the matches. Gloriously over-the-top performances were given by Dean Champion and the absolutely, definitely, wouldn't-lie-to-you-for-the-world, genuine Mexican "Technico" in a ring that might as well have been carved out of granite for all the "give" it had in it (seriously, this shit is dangerous). Dodgy sight-lines and extreme tolerance from the referee meant that about 70% of Champion's offence was in some way groin-related, but truth and justice ultimately won out.

Back at the table, Nic and I signed copies of Cancertown, Slaughterman's Creed and The Indifference Engine (which is something I still haven't got used to doing and hope I never will). I dutifully jammed previews of White Knuckle and Cancertown 2 under every nose that approached within jamming distance, while the latter's art team of Graham Howard and Peter Mason finally got to meet face-to-face. Thankfully, they got on. Pete's a natural at conventions, effortlessly making friends and connections everywhere he goes. I suspect that's going to set him up nicely when Cancertown: Blasphemous Tumours drops in November at Thought Bubble 2012.

Basically, this was just a fantastic day for me, and enormous thanks must go out to the organiser, Graham Beadle. Demoncon has really opened my eyes to the possibilities of one-day conventions, so I'm looking to become a regular for as long as they'll let me.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Nic's Sticky Notes: The Last Gasp

White Knuckle was finalised last weekend and made its way to the printers, so we can all lie back and breathe easy. Cy and Valia, exhausted, are currently being replenished with the blood of innocents in a secret location, so here am I holding the fort... or at least the blog.

Some of Valia's original watercoloured pages.
The last few days before a work-in-progress becomes a "book" are always the most nerve-wracking. Will some kind of hideous problem, previously unnoticed by anyone, pop up at the last minute? Will the technology gremlins decide to play some kind of horrendous joke on you? Will the sky fall in and ancient terrors from beyond the stars return to ravage the Earth?

Luckily, none of these things did happen. But it pays to be aware of the possibilities!

Even more luckily, we have one of the best pre-press people in the business! Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a big hand to the incomparable Mr Ian Sharman.

Midwife to almost all our bloody darlings, he delivers them kicking and screaming into the world, makes them all beautiful, and sends them on their way, teeth gleaming and claws all polished.

He is superhumanly unflappable, incredibly accommodating and a fantastic designer. If you get the chance to have him work on your book, grab it with both hands!

White Knuckle will be launched on the 12th of May at The Bristol Comic Con as part of The Markosia Showcase. More on that very soon. There are still a few days left to pre-order at the launch price of £10.

If you are a reviewer and would like to request a copy of the book, please contact us.

If you are a retailer and would like to order copies of the book, please contact Harry Markos, publisher, through the Markosia Enterprises website for details, special offers or to discuss signings and events.

Demon Con

This Sunday (22nd April) We will be at Demon Con in Maidstone and there will be previews of both White Knuckle and  Cancertown 2 on the table, as well as books to buy and new projects to find out about.

See you around...
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