Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours Preview

Myebook - Cancertown Volume Two: Blasphemous Tumours - click here to open my ebook

Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours

Cancertown Cover WIP by Graeme Howard and Peter Mason“Should’ve known better than to trust an angry, blinded monster with a spaz-hand and a grudge.”
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.

“I got my hand bitten off trying to save the world’s biggest cunt from something worse than him. Don’t pretend you know anything about me.”
Within Cancertown, something new has appeared – a creature of horrific violence and limitless rage. The foundations are shaking and the old powers are falling, one by one. Papercut, deadliest of the Cancertown players, seeks out Morley to claim the favour he owes her – a favour that could cost him more than just his life.

We can no longer protect you. Cancertown: Blasphemous Tumours is coming...

Writer: Cy Dethan
Pencils and Inks: Graeme Howard
Colours: Peter Mason
Letters: Nic Wilkinson

Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours is in production with Markosia and is due for release in November 2012

Friday, 18 May 2012


New indie British comics anthology kicks off with Maggie Thatcher at the helm. 

She shut the coal mines, privatised every major public utility in the UK, introduced the poll tax, pre-empted the banking crisis and stole the milk from our children's mouths – and now she’s back from the dead to re-take her rightful place as the leader of the country from the weak-minded ConDem coalition. 

That’s right: Maggie Thatcher is back – and this time, she’s a zombie.

Be afraid – Tory politics never looked so scary.

Launching at Kapow! Comic Convention at the London Business Design Centre in Islington on Saturday 19 May is the new black and white comics anthology OVERLOAD from The Copydesk Ltd. 

Martin Conaghan, editor of OVERLOAD, will be holding a portfolio review session at table 34 at Kapow! on Saturday 19 May at 13:00BST and again on Sunday 20 May (also at table 34) at 13:00BST for potential OVERLOAD contributors. Writers and artists are welcome. 

Issue #1 of OVERLOAD features a stunning cover by Graeme Neil Reid (2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine, The Beano) depicting the Iron Lady in all her zombified glory, attacking the good people of London – taken from the inaugural issue’s headline story Primus Inter Pares (“First Among Equals”) – which sees the UK overcome by the dead returning from the grave and former prime ministers attempting to re-take 10 Downing Street. Written by Gordon Rennie (Judge Dredd, Doctor Who, Dept of Monsterology) and Emma Beeby with art by newcomer Eoin Coveney, it’s a ‘biting’ satire on the country’s current political decline at the hands of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat alliance.

Rennie and Beeby issued the following statement:
"The Prime Minister must be aware of the fear sweeping the nation about the coming zombie apocalypse. Will he now release HM Government's plans to deal with this matter? This comic is a call to action. The people need to know the truth; need reassurance that they have thought of every eventuality, no matter how terrifying. We hope Overload's readers will follow suit, and email their MP to ask what they intend we do when the dead rise. We all know it's going to happen."

Also featured in issue #1 is Comort written by Dave Cook and Gary Crutchely (2000AD), a short story about the things in life we turn to when the chips are down.

Staring Into The Eye Of A Blackbird, You Can See The Things He Likes And The Things He Doesn’t, written by Martin Hayes with art by Graeme Howard depicts the tale of a lonely young man whose existence is disturbed by dreams of a mysterious blackbird that watches his every move...

‘Omen’, written by Geoffrey D. Wessel (Keeper) with art by Steve Penfold (Fallen Heroes), shows the right-wing's media agenda while an alien invasion takes place…

Cy Dethan (Cancertown) scripts ‘Open Source’ with art by Aaron Moran in a story about protecting something precious by keeping it hidden in plain sight…

Writer Matt Gibbs and James Reekie (The Ballad of Frank Sartre) deliver the haunting Otherworld Sailor – a tale about ancient religion and a shocking visitation. 

OVERLOAD is intended to be a regular black and white anthology title showcasing the work of established talent, while introducing some new creators to the comics industry. All material is creator-owned, with Overload reserving first reprint rights and some digital publishing rights. All deals are non-exclusive. We do not accept completed stories which have not been pre-approved. We do accept unsolicited idea submissions, but not unsolicited scripts. Submissions are by invitation-only. 

For more information, send an email to:  You can view a sampler of Overload #1 here.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Bristolblog 2012

The UK convention circuit, as I’ve mentioned before, is for me the beating heart of the British comics industry – which is to say that it’s where the indies build their followings and represent themselves. It’s also the place where I make the majority of my own pitches, launch books and meet potential collaborators. It is my home, my playground and my place of work.

Furthermore, Bristol is genuinely where it all started for me. As a result, launching a book in the Passenger Shed is a particular kick – especially considering that the last time I set foot in that place I walked out with an agreement to publish Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth and an offer to take on the Starship Troopers ongoing series. Launching two titles in one day there this year, almost by definition, elevated my convention experience into “best ever” territory on sentimental value alone.

Here, then, is an account of my Bristol Expo 2012 adventure, in whatever random order it bleeds out of my brain as I travel home on Monday morning.

White Knuckle
The main “business event” of the convention for me was the launch of White Knuckle, the serial killer book from Valia Kapadai and me. The pre-order offer Nic Wilkinson had been running had proven to be a great success, and it was fantastic to watch the reactions Valia’s art was getting. In terms of narrative tone and visual style, White Knuckle represents something of a departure for my books, so the comments we received and the number of items leaving the table were deeply cool.

There was also the White Knuckle panel, of course – which I was thinking of more as an opportunity to sing Valia’s praises than to sell more copies. Scott Grandison did his usual great job of steering two over-excited co-creators toward some kind of coherent discussion, and one expertly judged question from the audience caught me so off-balance that even now I don’t remember what I said or whether I even came close to providing an answer. People seemed to warm to Valia instantly in what I believe was her first UK convention panel, and there were confident predictions about her future from Markosia Top Dog, Harry Markos.

Cancertown 2 Preview
After the reactions we got on first flashing hints of this at Demoncon2, we knew we were going to need to have some Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours art on display at Bristol. This time, in addition to the first ten pages of chapter one, we had a draft of Graeme Howard and Peter Mason’s cover available for inspection. As the first volume of Cancertown had launched with record numbers at Bristol ’09, we were keen to start building some noise for the sequel. That said, the level of interest the preview generated was well beyond expectation, so the book’s launch later in the year promises to be an interesting one... 

Bayou Arcana
The second significant launch for me was that of Jimmy Pearson’s Bayou Arcana anthology. The best thing about books like this is the opportunity to see the work of so many creators in one volume, any or all of whom may be entirely new to any given reader. The Arcana format provides an extremely powerful backbone for the stories, but allows for essentially unrestricted experimentation. The art on display ranged from the enchanting to the terrifying as each team pursued its own inspiration under Jimmy’s carefully moderated guidance – with the end result being a striking visual and atmospheric gumbo with deep roots and broad branches. Miss this book at your peril.

With so many creators involved, it was joked ahead of time that the Bayou Arcana launch panel carried the unique potential for its panellists to outnumber its spectators. However, despite virtually the entire cast crowding around the table, the audience was packed in tighter than any other event I saw over the weekend. Jimmy proved to be an effortlessly effective moderator and guide, directing the course of the discussion so that no-one was lost in the crowd. Hell, he even soft-balled me a cool question about the role of horror in the indie sector – allowing me to cement my reputation as fake-expert in that area.

Making Plans
A constant frustration as a writer is being unable to talk about certain unannounced projects – which, being the stuff you’re working on right now, naturally includes some of the things about which you’re most excited. With that understood, I did have an extremely productive talk with Stephen Downey and Conor Boyle about a book we’ve been planning out for a while that now seems to be rumbling forward. I also hit Stephen with a loose pitch for a serial that we might be blasting a publisher with in the near future. Got to keep those new projects rolling in...

Rolling for Random Encounters...
Bristol, as ever, was full of its usual collection of unexpected awesomeness. Highlights for 2012 included a long and almost indescribably surreal discussion with Richmond Clements and Al Ewing that encompassed the relationship between magic and Kung Fu, football conspiracy theories, an 80s cartoon called Sport Billy and an imaginative but ultimately failed experiment in lion taxidermy.

Key Purchases
Special mention must be made of Kronos City from Time Bomb Comics. Andrew Croskery (story), Alex Willmore (art) and Lauren Willmore (colours) have done a stellar job on this book, and both they and their publisher deserve great success with it.

I mentioned Sam Gardner’s profoundly experimental Sioux Warrior comic in a previous convention report, and the second volume seems to be carrying the concept forward in fine style. While the first issue was the only battery-powered comic I have ever read, this second release contains what appears to be a fully functional utility belt. Sam had also organised a fourth-wall-shattering convention event, but I won’t step on his toes here until I’ve had a chance to see the result for myself when he posts the footage online. Watch this space...

I managed to break away from the table on the Sunday to rave incoherently at personal hero, David Hine, ultimately forcing a copy of Cancertown on him and fleeing the scene before he knew what had hit him.

So, between all that, the guy who talked me through what has to be the best idea for a tabletop game I’ve heard since Mongoose Publishing’s Starship Troopers Miniatures Battles (cheers, Jason) and Chris Lynch actually pitching me the concept of his own children, I think I’ve covered most of the basics of Bristol 2012. There were a couple of things I couldn’t get to (such as Stacey Whittle’s anthologies panel, on which Nic was a guest and had a great time). In summary, though, we had a great weekend. While I’ve heard mixed reports from others who were there (along with the expected tiresome dogpiling from those who weren’t), I can only say that in our experience this was by far the most successful table we’ve ever run at a convention. Thanks to everyone who helped make it such an enjoyable event and roll on the Cancertown 2 launch at Thought Bubble!

UPDATE: Thanks go out to Battle Amongst the Stars writer, Martin Fisher. I had wrenched three shades of fuck out of my back dragging an eighty-five pound (we weighed it) suitcase of White Knuckle pre-orders down two flights of stairs and was (still am) in some pretty interesting pain. Martin dove in to prevent further injury by hefting that unwieldy fucker on and off the train at no small degree of personal risk. Cheers for that, mate.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Cancertown 2 Cover-Up

With the pencils for Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours entering the home stretch, Markosia set the Cancer Cell working on devising a cover. Graeme Howard, showing the near-suicidal flair of the flamboyantly deranged, took it upon himself to thematically encapsulate the entire 144-page story in a single image, and turned around the following concept:
Now, I... fucking... LOVED... this... concept. I argued violently in its favour. I threw every diva strop trick I could muster to force it down the throats of the team. However, Graeme was never entirely happy with it, and there were technical considerations involving "negative space" and logo placement that reduced its practicality as a cover for the book. It was heartbreaking, but we had to look deeper into what Cancertown 2 actually needed. Here was Graeme's second suggestion:
Another awesome concept. This one carried all the weight of the first one, but changed up the characters shown to preserve some of the book's plot elements. The tricky thing was that, in doing so, we'd put the emphasis on characters whose intrusion into the story was arguably less significant than the ones we'd taken out. Time to look again at first principles, as by now we were concerned about packing the cover out with too many elements and deviating from the elegance of Paul Cartwright's frankly brilliant work on the first volume:
BAM! Graeme came screaming out of left field with a concept that tightened the focus to a laser-sharp pinpoint and managed to do what we'd hardly imagined possible - to produce an image that was uniquely "Cancertown" and yet still managed to show us things we'd never seen before. Crucially, we had a paler, sicker looking Morley than previous depictions - plus, we had two new characters whose placement neatly reflected their roles within the context of the story. Suddenly, we had a concept that ticked all the boxes on both a creative and technical level. Now for some development and colour:
Peter Mason, the interior colourist for the book, opted at first for a bold, vivid approach - going for immediate impact and visceral appeal as these early, incomplete flats show. Appropriately appreciative noises were made, and it looked like our direction was set... until Graeme, who favoured more of a water-coloured look, offered the following suggestion:
Now, we found ourselves with two very different stylistic approaches to consider. There was something elemental in Pete's original approach, but the more sombre hit of Graeme's version was undeniable. It was Peter himself who floated the idea of combining the styles into something new... and you should have seen the look on my face when he showed us what he meant by that. Nic Wilkinson's addition of a modified logo locked the idea down and cemented the image as our choice for the book...

...and, just like that, we had our cover.

A preview of Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours will be available at this weekend's Bristol Comic Expo. If you fancy a look, feel free to ask.
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