Monday, 31 December 2012

Obligatory Favourite Things Of 2012 List

As is traditional at this time of year, here are our lists of our favourite things from 2012.

  1. Seven Psychopaths
  2. Lawless
  3. The Raid
  4. The Hobbit
  5. The Man With The Iron Fists
Honourable Mentions: Killing Them Softly, Cabin In The Woods, The Avengers, Men In Black 3

Most disappointing: Prometheus*

  1. Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred (David Hine, Shaky Kane)
  2. Fatale (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)
  3. Grandville 3 (Bryan Talbot)
  4. Happy (Grant Morrison Darrick Robertson)
  5. Mud Man (Paul Grist) 
Honourable Mentions: Hellboy (Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo), Moon (Dan Thompson, Steve Penfold),  The Changeling (from Into The Woods by Alexi Conman and Conor Boyle)

Most anticipated for 2013: Porcelain (Benjamin Read, Christian Wildgoose), Grandville 4

Most disappointing: Prometheus*

Web Comics
  1. Corporate Skull (Jamie Smart)
  2. Bad Machinery: The Case of The Fire Inside (John Allison)
  3. Penny Arcade (Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik)
  4. Manly Men Doing Manly Things (Kelly Turnbull)
  5. AmazingSuperPowers (Wes and Tony)
Honourable Mentions: Moon Freight 3, Jenspiration, anything by Emily Carroll

Most disappointing: Prometheus*

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. Dexter
  3. Spartacus: Vengeance
  4. Venture Brothers Halloween Special
  5. Archer
Most disappointing: Prometheus*

Novels (May not have been written this year, but read this year!)
  1. Boneland (Alan Garner)
  2. Bringing Up The Bodies (Hilary Mantel)
  3. Ragnarok (A S Byatt)
  4. The Testament of Gideon Mack (James Robertson)
  5. Baba Yaga Laid An Egg (Dubravka Ugresic)
Most disappointing: Prometheus*

  1. Dishonored
  2. Borderlands 2 (for co-op)
  3. Uncharted 3
  4. Escape Plan
  5. Wonderbook: Book of Spells
 Honourable Mentions: Walking Dead, Max Payne 3

Non-Computer Games deserving of a mention: Android Netrunner, Blood Bowl Team Manager, X-Wing (all from Fantasy Flight games)

Most disappointing: Prometheus*

* Prometheus was SO disappointing that its disappointment transcends and infects all media and therefore ranks it as the single most disappointing experience of 2012 across all conceivable categories.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Nic's Sticky Notes: Whatever Comics Suffers Local Recurrence As Cancertown Returns!

On November 24th a Crossing Point opened and Evil Twin found her way into this world, specifically into Whatever Comics in Canterbury.

She must have been drawn through by the metastasis of the Cancer Cell to Canterbury.

It turned out "her shit" did work on Morley just fine out here, and when she told him he was looking "sick as a dog, on having being caught in the rain, this was the unfortunate result.

But who better than Evil Twin to tell people they needed to be inside buying copies of the book?

No wonder the day went so well!

Huge thanks must go to Karol Steele (how many other signings have an actress hot off Les Mis and Derren Brown for the day?) and her trusty sidekick Ted for playing the parts of Evil Twin and Vince Morley, especially in the freezing temperatures and pouring rain.

Special thanks also to  Emma Pearce of The Sabbat Shoppe for providing the beautiful and mysterious Straw Men who had been part of a Lammas celebration a few months before.

By 12pm the stand was all set up and Cy and Pete Mason were installed behind the stand.

It's always a special thing to do a signing at Whatever Comics. We've known Manny and Debe who own the shop since we were teenagers. It's our spiritual comics home.

Cy bought the first ever present he bought me from their first indoor market stall, before they even moved into a shop. It was an original run of V for Vendetta, in case you were wondering.

The rest, as they say, was history.

Don't believe the people who tell you comics don't get you the girls!

So, to be back here signing our own books, and talking to other readers, creators, and artists in all sorts of other media is fantastic.

We even met Pete Mason, the colourist, at a Whatever Comics signing for the Wolfmen book from Accent UK by Dave West and Andy Bloor and if you haven't read it, and the sequel, then you should. You can buy it from the shop.

Here are Manny and Debe Armario.

Give them a big hand for running the comic shop that Carling would have to employ them to run if it ran comic shops instead of them!

Not only is Manny a 20+ year veteran of the business who knows all there is to know about anything comic related, he is a champion of indie creators and helped many a local talent on the road to fortune and glory.

He has a bigger longbox of delights than Cole Hawlings and more sights to show you than Pinhead. Bow before him and he will lay all the kingdoms of the 4 colour world at your feet. A tatty soul is well worth an exchange for an introduction to Jim Starlin's Warlock and the opportunity to get the original run, right?

Here is Cy talking to Kim Britnell, who does not seem to really show up on film!

Back in 2009 Kim came to the very first signing we ever did in Whatever Comics, of Cancertown 1: An Inconvenient Tooth . She had already read the book, and as we were chatting about it she said she would like to see an origin story for Crosshair.

The script was written for a 12 page story in a planned "special" from the previous publisher of the book, but was never drawn.

"Parasight Lost", as it was called, did make it onto the extras DVD that came with pre-orders so the story of how everyone's favourite blinded monster with a spaz-hand and a grudge came to be is out there in the world now.

Blame Kim!

A fantastic day was had by all, and we were all dog tired by the end of it, as you can see.

It was busy despite the rain and Toyah Wilcox and Gareth Gates at the other end of town trying to attract attention for their pantomime, but, then again, they didn't have Evil Twin on their side!

It was great to meet such of lot of people, all so positive about comics, and we still haven't quite got over the surprise of talking to people who have read our books, liked them, and come back for a second helping!

As always seeing artists bring work along to share is wonderful and it really brings home how vibrant and creative the UK comics scene is.

The week before we had been in the incredible atmosphere of the Thought Bubble Comic Convention up in Leeds, and seeing that same passion and talent locally is truly inspiring and makes the future look very bright indeed.

Special mention must go to finally meeting Stuart Dodd in the flesh. He taught Pete Mason at Canterbury College, so all of this is his fault in a way. Blame him as well! But check out his film work for Duel Shock while you do so.

I better stop now, as this is what happens when you talk too much in a comic shop:

Thanks again to everyone who came along on the day, and if you couldn't make out last Saturday never fear, for we took some extra signed books down to the shop today, so get them while they're hot!

If you want to see more photos then you can find them on Facebook.

Oh - Cancertown 2 was also spotted on Comixology today, if you like your comics digital :)

Over and out.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Nic's Sticky Notes: Thought Bubble 2012

Once again, Thought Bubble proved why it is the premier convention in the UK and the perfect gateway to the holiday season.

So many people meeting up to share a love of comics is a wonderful thing to behold and the atmosphere is always fantastic - welcoming, friendly and inclusive. We made lots of new friends, caught up with all the old ones and sadly missed the ones who couldn't be there this year.

So, on to business.

This was our stand before the convention doors opened, complete with lovely new banner.

Those sticky blisterman eyeball sweets did not last long - neither did those piles of books!
Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours had its launch at the show this year and what a launch it was, selling out of all the stock we had well before the end of the event. Luckily, we now have our very own Comicsy shop so the people who came back to the table hoping to get books on Sunday did not have to go away disappointed, even though there were no books left!

A huge thank you to everyone who supported the books and came by the table to talk about them. It's still slightly unbelievable that they exist out in the real world where people have read them!

Pete Mason, colourist extraordinaire, made his convention debut on the creative side of the table and was loved by one and all who met him.

Graeme Howard is selling the original art pages from the book and you can contact him through his blog.

Unseen Shadows: Tales Of The Forgotten was also launching and our table was in a row with several other creators on the book, which was great for signing and sketching, and possibly slightly overwhelming for anyone who bought the book!

The team were on a panel on Sunday looking back over the first year of this mind blowing experiment in transmedia storytelling and collaborative creation.

Several new Unseen Shadows project were announced including Blood Cries Out, a full length Reverend graphic novel from the same team that brought you Wrath Of God.

If you weren't there you can watch the whole thing right here (with Corey Brotherson, Cy Dethan, Barry Nugent and Richmond Clements, hosted by Yomi Ayeni):

Even more plans were hatched for future Unseeen Shadows projects that night, so watch this space!

We got our hands on the Porcelain preview  (by Benjamin Read and Chris Wildgoose) from Improper Books, which is stunning. This is definitely a must buy when it comes out. Judging by the excitement on the day it's going to be a huge success.

The hotly anticipated Moon 2 (by Dan Thompson and Steve Penfold) was on sale for the first time, so we snaffled one of those up as quickly as possible. If you haven't read Moon yet, then sort that our immediately!

Storm Dogs, the new series from David Hine and Doug Braithwaite was also one of the first things into the bag, and I am not sure how we are going to wait until the next one.

In the Royal Armouries Hall, we had a long chat with the team responsible for the wonder that is Clockwork Watch. It is an incredibly interesting experiment in immersive participatory storytelling set in a retro-futuristic world where various narrative media cross over with real world events, and is helmed by Yomi Ayeni. If you want to read all about it or, even better, get involved, head over to their website for more details.

One of my favourite little gems of the entire con was a tiny mini comic called Trevor The Ant's Enormous Escapades In Time by Dan Fish. It is a little piece of perfection.

Although I didn't get to see David Wynne in person all weekend as we were glued to our respective tables, he sent me over a beautiful Frankenstein print. You should check out his work and buy one!

You should check out some of the lovely new work from Disconnected Press, too, and don't forget to check out writer Lizzie Boyle's short prose stories, they are great. I already began the pestering campaign to get them collected in print. Join me!

Congratulations to all the new British Comics Awards winners (and judges and organisers) it was a great list and shows the wealth of talent we are lucky to have in our chosen medium.

We heard about and saw so many interesting projects it's impossible to list them all, but the creativity and diversity on display is tremendously inspiring.

On the weary Sunday night, the con was perfectly ended with Richmond Clements, Lizzie and Conor Boyle, Dion Winton-Polack and Vicky Stonebridge. I think we laughed more than is healthy and it was not all mad hysteria.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Thubble 2012

As I write this, I'm just two days from heading up to Leeds for the Thought Bubble convention. This is only the second time I've had a table of my own at the Bubble, and I've got two more full-length books and a couple of anthology stories to my name since the last one. All in all, it's been a good year.

Nic and I'll be set up on table 15 in the New Dock Hall venue, about half-way down on the left-hand side, judging from the floor plan. We'll have as many copies of Cancertown 2 as we can carry (which won't be many as we're coming by train) and very limited numbers of White Knuckle, Slaughterman's Creed, The Indifference Engine and the first volume of Cancertown. As always, we'll be running various bundle deals on all the books.

I've always had great experiences at Thought Bubble. This time around, in addition to spending as much time as possible on the table with Nic Wilkinson and Cancertown 2 colourist, Pete Mason, I'll be appearing on the Unseen Shadows panel (Sunday 12:10 - 1pm in the Alea Cinema Room) with Barry Nugent and a cross-section of the creators involved in his blossoming transmedia empire. Speaking of which, Barry's launching his new Tales of the Forgotten anthology at the convention, featuring The Immaculate Abortion of Dina Leigh, a short story that re-unites me with my White Knuckle collaborator, Valia Kapadai.

Over the weekend, I'll also be spazzing around trying to track down the various artists I'm currently developing projects with. Food and sleep will be secondary and tertiary considerations, respectively.

So, if you're going to Thought Bubble, stop by table 15 and say hi. If you don't know me, pretend you do and you'll probably find I'll do the same.

Failing that, I'll see you on the other side...

Friday, 9 November 2012

The Truth Must Be Told: Tales of the Forgotten Launching at Thought Bubble

As just reported on the Unseen Shadows website, the upcoming Tales of the Forgotten anthology reunites me with my White Knuckle collaborator, Valia Kapadai for The Immaculate Abortion Of Dina Leigh - a Bob Kelsey Story.

We'll be at Thought Bubble next weekend, where the book has its launch and a number of the creators are taking part in the Unseen Shadows: Year One panel in the Alea Cinema Room, 12.10pm – 1pm on Sunday for a discussion about the first year in an evolutionary experiment in co-creation and collaborative character development.

You can reserve a copy of the book by contacting Barry Nugent directly, and reviewers wanting a PDF should get in touch with Sara Westrop.

Here is the four-page preview for the story:

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Biopsy Report: The Prognosis is Good...

More reviews for Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours, the first from Jay Faulkner over at Following the Nerd:

Review: Cancertown 2 - October 15th, 2012 by Jay


A couple of years back I happened upon a wonderful, bizarre graphic novel entitled Cancertown. When I say ‘happened upon’ it is fairer to say that I hunted it out as I had a passing acquaintance, at the time, with the artist, Stephen Downey.

As a self-admitted Marvel zombie (and DC aficionado) my taste in graphic novels normally ran to the mainstream, regular tales of spandex covered heroes and heroines, with only the occasional foray into the ‘other side’ of comics, such as O’Barr’s The Crow, Watchmen, etc.
Then Stephen recommended Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth – which is an amazingly complex and twisted story that feels like it is part fantasy and part gritty crime noir in which society’s lost and dispossessed sometimes lose themselves – to me, written by the breathtakingly weird genius that is Cy Dethan; the rest, as they say, is history.

The anti-hero , and main character, of the story – Vince Morley – was an awesome character, who deserved to be up there with the likes of John Constantine and Dresden and while Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth could very well have been a stand-alone story – and while Cy was kept busy penning the likes of The Indifference Engine, Slaughterman’s Creed, and White Knuckle – it was also crying out for a sequel.

And, like a willing genie, Cy granted our wish as, as if fully formed from his temple (not to mention artist Graeme Howard, colourist Peter Mason, and the letterer extraordinaire that is Nic Wilkinson!), Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours sprang to life!

Set six months after the events of Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth, Vince Morley is a dangerously sick man. Bugfuck is in a psychiatric hospital, sticky fingers picking through the darkest corners of the mind that brought Cancertown into existence. The crossing points between Morley’s two realities are wearing thin and all the rules are changing.

From the start the stakes seem somehow raised in Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours.  That isn’t to say that the original was a slouch, by any means, but there is a much greater sense of urgency here.  The fact that familiar faces are seen, and dispatched, in pretty short order is definitely a key factor here, and one that I found surprising as I thought that the Players were going to be one of the corner stones of the tale, along with Morley himself.  Of course, if you want to introduce a new threat what better way to do so than by taking down one of the big guns?  As Ric Flair was wont to say, to be the man you have to beat the man … and to be the Player you have to beat the Player.  And mutilate, and decapitate, and so many other –fates that I can’t even think of!

It isn’t all action, of course – though there is plenty of gut-wrenching carnage along the way – as Dethan is extremely adept at writing dialogue that is a realistic and believable as the characters deserve.  This is where Nic Wilkinson’s  lettering comes into its own, with a unique ‘voice’ created for each of the old and new faces alike.  The original Cancertown had some of the most amazing art of any comic title that year (or any year) and while Graeme Howard and Peter Mason may not bring the same level of detail and clarity to the story – especially where Downey and Cook separated reality and Cancertown itself with such brilliance – they more than make up for it with truly harrowing and emotive art that easily portrays the horror of where Morley finds himself this time around.  Howard’s art has a nightmarish and fevered quality to it that makes you feel that Morley is always in Cancertown, even when he’s in reality – or as close to reality as he manages to cling on to, this time around. Peter Mason’s colours are extremely well suited to the art, warm and rich when required and macabre and stomach churning too as evidenced by the decaying and decomposing giant floating eyeballs.

There are two issues with Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours, but these are both relatively minor.  The first is that you really need to have read Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth prior to the sequel or you may find yourself drowning in the deluge of characters and story; the second is that, as good as it is, this sequel isn’t as good as the first one.  Now, bear with me here for a moment as I explain something: Cancertown 2 is still an EXCELLENT book, which shows that there is still an alternative to Marvel and DC – to the mainstream heroics found in the Avengers or Superman – and it delivers on many, many levels.  It just felt like it ended as it got going; if there is a sequel on the horizon, and Cancertown 3 is the finale in a trilogy, then this will be an amazing mid-chapter book and even if there isn’t then it is still a pretty damn amazing one in its own right.

So, all I can say in summary is that if you like stories that straddle the thin line between fantasy and reality, between nightmares and daydreams, between love and hate – like a lovechild of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere – then you will like this too.
…and, so you should!

Following that, we have this little gem from Adam Cheal at Comic Booked:

Cancertown 2: Comics Review ~ Comic Booked

Vince Morley is a dangerously sick man. Within the monstrous alternate world of Cancertown, a creature of horrific violence and limitless rage has burst from the nightmare landscape. The foundations are shaking and the old powers are falling. In response, the deadliest of Cancertown’s inhabitants seeks Morley out to claim a favor that could cost him more than just his life. 
Cancertown 2 is the eagerly awaited sequel to the original horror graphic novel “Cancertown” written and co-created by Cy Dethan. I first heard about this book from the book artist Graeme Howard and the publisher Markosia when they featured in a British Showcase column and were both very excited about the book. With this kind of endorsement, I wanted to get stuck in and review it.

The first volume of Cancertown concentrates on the lead character Vince Morley, a man suffering from Cotard’s Syndrome. This ailment convinces the person that they are dead, rotting away or have missing organs. Vince however has a tumour the size of a fist in his brain that lets him experience visions from a diseased world co-existing with our own that quite frankly, we are lucky not to know about. In this second book, Vince is really on the edge of reality and takes the readers down into the rabbit hole with him. The book opens up into the realms of Cancertown, a nightmare plane of pain and suffering filled to the brim with creatures and beings that seem to have spawned from the depths of Hell itself. One thing to learn from this opening is that no matter how big a deal you think you are, there’s always a bigger fish!

Our leading man Vince awakes in a fluster and receives a phone call requesting that he come to the hospital to see an extremely sick girl, who would appear to be the source of the origins of Cancertown. After some heated exchange and disturbing revelations, Vince is forced to enter the inner sanctum of Cancertown to find answers. What ensues is a rollercoaster of twisted brilliance that will have you either turning pages to find out what’s coming next, or closing the book before it gets dark to ward off the nightmares.

The writing by Cy Dethan is bold, daring and interesting. The book and writing style really reminds me of the early Sandman books by Neil Gaiman, but pushing the boundaries that those books never could in a mainstream world. The dialogue has not been diluted down and is some of the most extreme I have seen in a graphic novel. This is a testament to both Dethan for being brave enough to write it and publisher Markosia for having the guts to print it. The characters are also really original and like nothing I have ever seen before. The main character is so realistic, you won’t know whether to love or hate him. He reminds me somewhat of a cynical John Constantine character, but one you would be even less likely to want to piss off!
Cancertown 2 issue 2 page 2
The artwork by Graeme Howard is fantastic. The creatures and monsters that have been created for this book are original and disturbing. The panels and angle choices all work really well and add greatly to the experience of reading the book. The storytelling works and flows effortlessly.  The colours by Peter Mason compliment the artwork and really add the tone to the book. Everything is full of grime and grit, which add to the nightmarish nature. Letters by Nic Wilkinson are worth a mention too. There are some interesting fonts on offer and many characters have a unique style which distinguishes them from one another. The layouts are good and well placed, so the artwork is allowed to shine. The sound effects are kept to a minimum which works well within the context of the story. Too much would have added a cartoony style that would have looked weird, so I am happy with the way this was handled.

Overall I would say this is one of the sickest, most disturbing and harrowing books I have read, needless to say that I loved it! This novel is one for adult readers only and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Anyone that loves a good original horror would be more than happy to read this. So if you are in the market for something engaging, different and scary for this Halloween, you can’t go far wrong with this. 

Cancertown 2
Reviewed by Adam Cheal on Oct 29.
Outstanding British horror book, a must read!

Bold, Brave and Beautiful

Rating: 9.0

Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours launches at the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds this November, and can be ordered directly from me via email.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Cancertown is Coming Home

With the official launch of Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours now only weeks away, it's time to announce the first signing event for the book. I've talked before about Whatever Comics in Canterbury, but for the avoidance of doubt let me reiterate that its owner, Manny, has been the sole guardian of my personal pull list since October of 1990. If over twenty years of customer loyalty isn't enough of a recommendation then there really is no hope for you.

Anyway, see the details on the flyer above and, if you're remotely local and interested, then feel free to come by and meet the entire creative team.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Cancertown 2 Pre-Orders: It's Now or Never

We've now had the call for final pre-order numbers from the publisher, so this is the last chance to confirm if you want a copy. Markosia won't have a table at Thought Bubble this year, so the number of extra copies we'll be taking to the show will be limited to what we can carry home with us without a car - meaning there won't be many.

The book was recently reviewed by Lee Grice for the Small Press Big Mouth podcast. You can listen to the whole episode here but, as a taster, here are a few of my favourite quotations:

"Cy's really set himself up as one of the best writers in Britain...

"It's kind of like Chinatown in Hell, is what it is. It's like Chinatown filtered through Clive Barker.

"I swear to God it gave me weird sensations behind my eyes when I was reading it. It gave me weird dreams. A couple of nights afterwards I dreamt my house was kind of like growing tumours, all very bizarre.

"Graeme Howard's artwork is fantastic... it reminds me of the guy who did the artwork for Shade the Changing Man [Chris Bachalo] back in the day.

"The colouring is brilliantly done by Peter Mason... this is his first professional colouring job which is amazing. He absolutely nails the atmosphere." 

"It's brilliant. Again, it's going to be one of the best of the year."

Here's one from Ian Cullen of the SciFi Pulse website:

Comic Review: Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours

Due for release next month is the long anticipated sequel to Cy Dethan’s Cancertown. We reviewed the first book in this series back in 2009 when it was released. Cy sent me a copy of the sequel, which is appropriately called ‘Blasmphemous Tumours.’ Which is appropriate given how this story brings a close to Vince Morley’s traversing between two worlds. You can read the synopsis and my review below:

Synopsis: Six months after the events of Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth, Vince Morley is a dangerously sick man. Bugfuck is in a psychiatric hospital, sticky fingers picking through the darkest corners of the mind that brought Cancertown into existence. The crossing points between Morley’s two realities are wearing thin and all the rules are changing.

Review: First off, aside from some great writing from Cy Dethan (and I especially love his creative use of colourful metaphors) I have to give credit to Nic Wilkinson, who did a great job of the lettering, and of course artist Graeme Howard. They all did a great job and I particularly liked Howard’s art in this book, in that it made sense for the change in art especially given some of the narrative changes that have taken place in Cancertown since our first visit.

Nic Wilkinson does a brilliant job of giving each character, including the wonderful new characters that Cy has developed, their own voices. I loved how she made alterations to the text for the different characters.

But to the point: if you enjoyed the twisted, messed-up, drug-induced feel of the original Cancertown, which at the time was compared to Lovecraftian horror fused with the Wizard Of Oz, you’ll no doubt enjoy the second installment, which sees the stakes raised for Morley who is trying to figure out why the hell Cancertown is falling apart. The answers to that question alone will surprise you.

All the characters from the first book are back, but some don’t hang around for long. I especially enjoyed the witty banter that Morley has with some of these characters, which are so twisted and messed-up they can only really come from the mind of a deranged individual with too much time on his hands. And trust me when I say this - that was a compliment. :)

Each chapter in this book ends on a brilliantly twisted and, if you scare easily, scary cliffhanger, which makes you want to just keep reading. In fact, they hypnotize you into reading each individual page until your eyes bleed and foam spews from your mouth.

If you haven’t read the original Cancertown, you should start there because reading ‘Blasphemous Tumours’ on its own would be a bit of a struggle without reading the first book, but still makes for a good story.

To sum up, you have to buy this book when it comes out in November. If you don’t, the residents of Cancertown will likely torment you until you do. But if you are of a delicate disposition you’d most likely be better suited sticking to comics about caped superheroes, which this is not. Much like the original Cancertown, Cancertown 2 is one of those stand-out books I’d use to show people that there is a lot more to comics than the stereotypical stuff that you can read in Batman or Superman. I have to wonder if we’ll see a sequel to this, especially given that the ending was a bit ambiguous at best, but that works for this book.

Written By: Ian Cullen

Speaking recently about the book, former Marvel UK editor John Freeman had this to say:

"Dethan ably picks up the threads of the original graphic novel, weaving a heady unsettling mix of nightmares. This time out, the story is brought to life by the talented Graeme Howard, who ably takes Stephen Downey's original look to the world of Cancertown and makes it his own, with some amazing sequences of the bizarre and grotesque, juxtaposed with the 'normality' of Morley's 'normal' life."

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

"Stream-of-Consciousness Profanity"

Foreword for Cancertown Volume 2: Blasphemous Tumours
David Hine – September 12th 2012

In volume one of Cancertown, Vince Morley, the book’s narrator and lead character, is diagnosed with Cotard’s Syndrome, also known as Walking Corpse Syndrome, a condition where a person believes they are dead, rotting away, or in milder cases, have organs missing. I once worked as a porter in a psychiatric hospital and did actually meet someone who suffered from the delusion. This woman insisted that the doctors had removed her internal organs. I’m still haunted by her mournful whimpering at mealtimes as she pushed her plate away. “It’s no good. I can’t eat it. I’ve got no stomach.” In Vince Morley’s case he’s gained an organ, a tumour in his head that gives him visions of another world – a diseased world that lies beneath the surface of what we like to think of as ‘reality’ – the world known as Cancertown.

This time round Dethan has a new art team to share his vision of hell. Graeme Howard and Peter Mason have taken up the challenge of painting us the picture we probably would have preferred not to see, and they have carried it off with flying colours (mostly bile green and fecal brown with a spattering of bloody crimson). Cy Dethan’s prose has a wonderful stream-of-consciousness profanity. I envy his talent for coming up with brilliant names for his characters. Anyone writing comics will tell you it’s next to impossible to come up with original and appropriate names, but Cy does it repeatedly: Headrush, Bugfuck, Piecemaker, Corpsegrinder, Nemesister. He even has Vince affectionately refer to the tumour in his head as Baby Meatfist. My personal favourite is Papercut – so very appropriate for a comic where the pages will draw blood if you don’t handle them carefully.

Reading this book has been quite a trip. In his foreword to the first volume, Bryan Talbot gave a warning to potential readers, and I feel compelled to do the same. Cancertown is normally only visible to those who live on the margins of society - the addicted, the homeless, the destitute, the diseased, the pathologically delusional. Cy Dethan, charming fellow that he is, has made it his mission to make that world apparent to the rest of us too. The thing is that once you see it, you’re only a step away from being sucked into Cancertown. So I’m going to repeat Bryan’s warning in the hope that you’re reading this foreword before you actually read the book. Don’t go any further. Put it back on the shelf. Throw it away. Give it to your worst enemy. Got that? Do not under any circumstances read this book…

David Hine
South London
September 2012

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Day with the Demon

I've hit the last three Demoncons in Maidstone, and each time I've had my expectations obliterated. With this in mind, I was beyond gutted to discover that I was going to be unable to attend due to engineering works on the lines between me and the venue.

However, timely intervention from the event's organiser, Graham Beadle, along with a truly heroic regular of his Grinning Demon store named Sean, scored us an unexpected and extremely welcome lift to and from the gig. Free creator's table plus door-to-door chauffeur service - how awesome is that? Completely fucking awesome is the answer.

Sandwiched between a diverse array of Dans (Thompson on one side and Boultwood on the other), Nic and I had a genuinely terrific day. Demoncon is a tightly focused one-day event with a strong following and a great atmosphere. The range of styles and diversity of creators on display equal any of the larger conventions I've been to, and we were again struck by the number of people who'd bought books at previous events who returned to see what else we had to show them, or who brought friends to recommend the things they'd bought previously. We were kept busy for pretty much the whole day and everyone we met was enthusiastic and open to new types of material.

It's great to see so many people I've got to know through the main UK convention circuit appearing at one-day events like this and taking them as seriously as they deserve. Orang Utan had an impressive stall, staffed by Ian Sharman, David Wynne and Holly Rose (whose first comic, Shrapnel, was on display at their table). Beyond the Bunker's Dan Thompson and Steve Penfold were selling their outstandingly surreal crime parody, Moon while Grant Perkins and Mark Laming were pretty much swamped with sketch requests all day, from what I saw.

Our day was made within minutes of the doors opening, when a lady with obviously impeccable taste walked straight in, straight up to the table, and said "I loved Cancertown, I'd like one of everything else you have!" Despite the best efforts of the universe to ruin things with the public transport meltdown and torrential conditions, the event was a fucking triumph!

So that's basically it - my Demoncon 4 experience in four hundred words or less. Thanks and congratulations go out to Graham Beadle for another brilliant day. Sign me the Hell up for the next one!
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