Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Convention Report: Demoncon X


Our convention circuit is looking pretty stripped-down these days, with the crazed creative shark-tank of Thought Bubble being our only regular multi-day fixture, but Demoncon's kind of an exceptional case for us. It's local, for one thing - but that's not really the point. What sets the Demoncon events apart is their focus. It's as if all the love and enthusiasm shared by comics creators and readers gets distilled down to its irreducible core and blasted into Maidstone's Royal Star Shopping Arcade for a few short, manic hours, and despite the fact that I've been going for years I always find myself startled by it.

Highlights this time would have to include the cosplay contingent - with particular shout-outs going to the profoundly cool Mad Max-ers. Nice to see post-apocalyptic warboys and wargirls matching Stormtroopers and anime-niacs for sheer numbers this time around.

[Cosplayer from the Cursed Earth Drifters]

Great as always to catch up with old friends on both sides of the tables, and to share gloriously awkward moments with so many people I didn't know, but clearly should have. Ian Sharman, without whom virtually nothing I've worked on with Markosia would have ever made it into print, compared notes with me about our upcoming film adaptations, and I defy anyone to share a moment chatting to Grant and Eva Perkins without emerging happier than they went in.

The show also served as a meeting point for a large chunk of the Metal Made Flesh: Blood and Oil creative team, with Mike Garley, Phil Buckenham, Nic Wilkinson and me smashing our respective stories into each other's heads. The Kickstarter for the book just went live, scoring over 15% of its funding target in the first few hours, so expect a post about that in short order.

Speaking of Phil and his work, I managed to snag this beautiful Joker/Harley print from him for Nic at the end of the day for a ridiculously low price. Looking through his portfolio makes it clearer than ever that, between him, Simeon Aston, Gary Erskine and Kev Crossley, the Blood and Oil anthology is going to be stunning to look at. Now all I have to do is find a way of writing up to their level.

I try not to evaluate convention days in terms of raw sales, because that always seems to be missing the point of them - but even so, Demoncon events have always punched above their weight. We took more books than than we thought we'd ever need, but still sold completely out of most of our titles and came home with literally only a handful of copies.

Next stop: Thought Bubble. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Carry On Up the Cyber


[Cy walks on Hitchcock-style in front of the title card for this post, poses for a moment, then speaks...]
I don't generally make New Year's Resolutions, largely because I lack any measurable capacity for higher-level self-deception and, frankly, I've made all the compromises to the thought-parasites lurking in the more self-critical areas of my brain that I'm prepared to at this point in my life. However, if I had made one of those noble, doomed promises-to-nobody this year, it probably would have been to blog more.

Sadly, as the last few years have rolled on, I've encountered a series of tragic and unexpected successes in the non-comics side of my business, which have necessitated a degree of reorganisation on my part. Rather than drag this blog off-mission with exciting tales of freelance corporate copywriting (which I say without sarcasm, because I've been on actual roller coasters that were less of a ride than this), I've restricted it to comics news and ideas - and cut down on the random interlude stuff I used to fill it with back in the early days before I worked out what Twitter was for.

Now, with my non-comics workload settling into a comfortable, statistically predictable industrial roar, I'm going to try and find more blogging slots in my schedule. A couple of posts' worth per month, maybe, depending on what's happening. By way of an example, here's one now...

[Lights dim. Cy sneaks off stage right. Opening credits roll. Blog begins...]

Last year at Thought Bubble I was approached by a writer named Jeremy Biggs about a project. He flashed a stunningly illustrated novella under my nose and asked if I might be interested in writing something for a spin-off comic. The book was called Metal Made Flesh, and he let me keep a copy to look over.

Metal Made Flesh (conceived and illustrated by the astonishing Simeon Aston) is part hard-bitten cyberpunk crime noir, part glorious, anarchic space opera and part Lovecraft-textured body/mind horror. The book itself is a keyhole into an enormous universe of desperate planetary refugees and unfathomable, alien political intrigue. I signed up pretty much on the spot, and have been waiting for the green light to talk about it ever since -  a green light that recently blinked on with the following announcement from Jeremy on the project's official Facebook Page:

Announcing Phase 2! Metal Made Flesh: Blood and Oil is a graphic novel comprising 3 new stories set in the MMF universe. 

In addition to art from creator Simeon Aston, Blood and Oil will also feature 3 of the best comic artists from the UK scene: Gary Erskine (Judge Dredd, Dan Dare, Hellblazer, The Authority, The Filth, Star Wars), Kev Crossley (Judge Dredd, Tomb Raider, ABC Warriors and concept artist for Alien vs. Predator and Star Wars)and introducing Phil Buckenham (Rented... to the dead) whose artwork has just blown us away. 

Jeremy Biggs will be returning to writing and editing duties and will be joined by Emmy award nominated Mike Garley (Collider, Kill Screen, Dead Roots, Eponymous, Samuai Slasher, Adventure Time, Wallace and Gromit) and Cy Dethan (Starship troopers, The indifference Engine, White Knuckle, Cancertown).

Over the next few weeks we'll be featuring more details, so keep your eyes on this page!

I'm an old cyberpunk reader from way back, so this is right in my wheelhouse. My story... well, actually, I don't know what I can say about it just yet. I'll be filling in details here as they're formally announced, but suffice it to say that it'll be 30 fuck-wild pages of meat, machinery and mayhem.

In the meantime, just take a moment to look over that contributors list. Yeah, this is company I'm glad to be hanging with. I've spoken about Mike Garley's work before, always in glowing terms, and we're legitimately talking about some of the most amazing artists in the business right now. I honestly foresee no world in which this book will not be a thing of heartbreaking beauty. Empires will fall, the dead will weep and I will laugh and dance and pick bloody strands of human gristle from between my silicon teeth.

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