Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Mystery Project #4: Master Merlini

How long can you hold your breath?

My lifetime best effort caps out at a little over two and a half minutes. I'm actually pretty proud of that. Afterward, I felt like I was drowning. Every part of me ached. I thought I'd never breathe comfortably again.

That's actually a pretty good analogy for how hard it's been keeping quiet about Master Merlini, the new digital comic I'm writing for ROK.

David Merlini, the real-world escapologist, can hold his breath for well over twenty minutes. He's accomplished this more than once, underwater (and in test conditions), and has shattered world records and doing it. He has been launched on a SCUD missile, embedded in concrete, frozen in liquid nitrogen and weighed down in a tank occupied by six tiger sharks. In the field of magic and its allied arts, the escapologists are our superheroes.

Jim Steranko, a world-famous comics writer/artist who achieved equal acclaim as a magician/escapologist, is a personal hero of mine, and I've spoken before about the similarities in technique between writing comics and performing magic. So, when John Freeman of ROK Comics approached me about writing a comic based on Merlini himself, it was an easy sell to get me on-board. Additionally, the fact that I'd be working with the extraordinary Giancarlo Caracuzzo (Marvel, DC, IDW and others) made the opportunity unmissable.
Master Merlini is about a man trapped within the pages of his own story - an adventurer and crimefighter struggling to break free of the traps and machinations of a shadowy enemy. It's my first all-ages work since Starship Troopers and it's been glorious to work on. Most importantly, the story of each issue will lead into a genuine, real-life escape performed live by Merlini himself. I'm grinning all over my disarmingly skull-like face even typing that!

Master Merlini #1, with a metric crap-tonne of extras included is now available:

Master Merlini Official Site
Master Merlini Facebook Page
Master Merlini's Tumbler Journal
Master Merlini's Personal Diary

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Day of the Demon

Demoncon, organised by Graham Beadle of Maidstone's Grinning Demon comic shop, has quickly grown to be a cornerstone of our convention calendar. It's local, it's well attended and it's a great example of what happens when you get things right.

This was our fourth appearance at the con, and the first where we had neither a new book to launch nor a set of previews to ram down every throat within my surprisingly wide ramming radius. It was, however, the first appearance of Cancertown 2 at a Demoncon event, which lent us an unexpected and very welcome momentum from the outset.

As I've mentioned before, the Demoncon crowd is a very focused one, on both sides of the tables. Attendees are active and interested, and you get a wide variety of creators showing off their stuff - this year ranging from Eva Perkins' beautiful and intricate nail-painting service to people selling some kind of cake sculptures that I didn't get a chance to investigate properly. Particular highlights for me included getting to meet up with the perilously talented Conor Boyle (see Mystery Project #3) along with Lizzie, his Disconnected Press partner (and skilled writer), talking with the devastatingly brilliant Yel Zamor about everything from screenwriting politics to homeopathic quackery and finally meeting scandalous letterer and World's Greatest Name contender, Nikki Foxrobot.

Our table was set in what we've now come to think of as "our spot", with Pete Mason on one side and Barry Nugent, Dan Thompson and Steve Penfold on the other like some kind of Unseen Shadows stealth invasion force.

Our major purchase of the day was the much-anticipated Porcelain, by Benjamin Read and Chris Wildgoose. It's a stunningly beautiful and hauntingly told story and well worth your attention.

We even managed to bag some unexpected art from the gig, in the form of this incredible Crosshair interpretation from Conor...

...and these concepts from Pete, depicting characters from The Company of Killers (see Mystery Project #2):

Long story short, we had a great day, sold a lot of books and whole-heartedly committed to the next Demoncon in September. It can't come soon enough for us.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Mystery Project #3: Paper

If you know anything about my adventures in comics so far, you've probably noticed that I never feel entirely comfortable unless I've got a book in the works with Stephen Downey. I was first introduced to Stephen in January of 2008 and he's still one of the most energetic and versatile artists I've met.

So, after Cancertown and Slaughterman's Creed, you might think you know more or less what to expect from us by now. You may be in for a surprise. More than one, in fact, as we're also collaborating with Conor Boyle on this one. Conor's a guy I've been hoping to team up with for a while now, with a style that combines enormous power with great subtlety. Having the chance to put a book together with both him and Stephen at once is... well, it's just fucking immense.

Sneak preview of page one in progress. More to follow as and when...

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