I’m hard at work on the script for the Unseen Shadows spin off one shot and getting to work with Barry Nugent’s characters from Fallen Heroes is great fun. Here’s the teaser poster from Roy Huteson Stewart who will be pencilling, inking and colouring the book, I love his take on Stone. Fragments of Fate will be available digitally later in the year and will then be collected with the other stories in the Tales of the Fallen anthology. More on this nearer the time.
Excuse the lack of blog post Bristol, I had a bit of time off to recharge the batteries but there’s still been plenty going on comics wise.
It’s great to see The Interactives in Previews, makes it all seem real at last. If you want to check it out you will find it in the June edition on page 216 . And now that we’re days from the lettering being complete I’ve been hard at work sorting out some interviews to help launch the book. Also plotting and scheming on the convention front as well, more on that very soon hopefully.
Next up for me I’ll be diving back into the world of Unseen Shadows returning to the script for the one shot spin off comic – Naploeon
Stone & the Fragments of fate. Having met the other spin off writers in Bristol the pressure’s on to do the universe and characters
justice. Fingers crossed I can pull it off, having seen Roy Huteson-Stewart’s initial sketches I know he can.
Once that script is approved and in production I have two projects with Simon Wyatt that we are planning to return to. One 10 page story
for the second 10thology book from Fat Boy Comics and the other a long form return to viking tale Valhalla for our own Orang Utan Comics. And I have a number of graphic novel ideas I’ve had on the back burner that I’m very keen to revisit. So all in all plenty to be getting on with between now and The Interactives 2!
If memory serves me correctly this year was my 8th Bristol Comic Expo in 9 years, pretty much evenly split between being a punter and being an exhibitor. I was actually a sponsor in my first year in my own name, having originally paid on behalf of The Philistine Fellowship a short-lived collective of creators which was kind of a precursor to Orang Utan Comics. Anyway I was there again this weekend and thought I’d give a potted round-up of how it went.
In an ideal world I would have been in Bristol from Friday night, but sadly my finances won’t quite stretch to two nights of Ramada bar prices these days. So instead I was heading on the train from Cardiff early on Saturday morning, which in itself made a refreshing change from driving the last few years. It was great to have so many of the Orang Utan team manning our tables this year and we were joined by PJ Holden on ocassion too who was sketching and extoling the virtues of miracle berries . At different times across the weekend we had myself, Ian Sharman, Simon Wyatt, David Wynne, Yel Zamor, Holly Rose and special guest Luciano Vecchio on the table. When I look back at the last five years it’s amazing to think how many people have worked under the Orang Utan banner and how big the hardcore central team has become.
As ever with Bristol I got to see lots of people I know pretty well but I also got to meet others for the first time. One of these was Sugar Glider creator and twitter buddy Daniel Clifford, who gave me a copy of his band’s album – Squares, very good, and I picked up A4 Comics presents from him too. I also got to meet Luciano, who has been hard at work on The Interactives for almost two years on and off. It was great to meet him in person and to get to talk more about the book and for him and Yel (part cosplaying as girl7) to get to meet too. On a rare trip over to the Ramada I caught up with Harry Markos and talked more about The Interactives’ release, it’s such a great feeling when your publisher is so energized and excited about your book. Meeting someone I was in school with who was there with 501st Garrison added an extra surreal element to proceedings too.
Our panel went well this time around and was a natural successor to last year’s, plotting the changes to OUC, the work Ian and I have on for other publishers, David’s role as the new FTL Editor and also looking ahead to more graphic novels as part of our development plan. Scott Grandison from Comic Book Outsiders did a great job as host and interviewer as ever. After the show closed and I’d eventually convinced the hotel that I did indeed have a booking, the Orang Utan crew headed to The Colosseum for food with Dexter’s Half Dozen creators Jamie and Dave from Bearded Skull Comics before heading to the Ramada bar. The Ramada bar was the usual blur of drink and conversation, I got to meet Andi Ewington and Matt Timson properly for the first time and caught up with fellow Cardiff Comic Creators Mike Collins, Jon Rennie, Kat Nicholson and Dylan Teague. Although I didn’t get to see Rob Williams, Patrick Goddard or Lee Grice sadly.
As tends to be the norm Sunday began with a hangover and ended with a replacement bus service. Once again we had a very full table and although sales were a lot slower than the day before we still had a good time. It was great to catch up with more creators and to spend extended time with the OUC core team too. I got to meet Dylan Cook for the first time, which meant I could thank him for his pin up contribution to The Interactives as well.
My second panel appearance of the week was on the Small Press Big Ideas panel with Cy Dethan, Nic Wilkinson, Dan Thompson and Rich Clements talking about whether the notion of small press is relevant or outmoded in 2011. It was an interesting and thought provoking debate and as someone who has always preferred the term indie to small press I found the whole thing fascinating. It was also a great chance for all of the writers working on the spin off comics to Barry Nugent’s Fallen Heroes to be in the same place. I’ve read an email from Nic tonight which outlines the masterplan for these books and it’s all very exciting indeed.
Highlights for me this year revolved around The Interactives, having the whole team together in person was great. Yel has been helping Luciano by giving him some tourist information for the rest of his inagural European trip. It looks like he’ll be exploring the London of The Interactives and possible Stonehenge, before heading to Paris and Amsterdam. He let me choose two of the original pages to take home with me before he left and that made my weekend they look phenomenal and will definitely be getting framed to go up on the wall. And by far the funniest thing had to be seeing Ian Sharman trapped in the Mecure Hotel glass disabled lift. When we’d all stopped talking photos and laughing we did actually get someone to help him get out, honestly. More than anything Bristol has always been the convention where you get to see everyone, catch up and have a few drinks and it certainly delivered on that note. Next year I have a feeling that a return to The Shed will make it one of the best Bristol’s yet. Here’s hoping.
The Interactives will be available in all good comic stores from August from Markosia.
Pop into your local shop and give them the following details:
‘The Interactives’ – Diamond Order Code JUN11 0783
And if you’re on twitter check out scallywag in The Real @theinteractives.
Until 6 days ago I thought that most of The Interactives creative team would be attending Bristol, but I can now confirm that we will all be there.
Not only will colourist Yel Zamor and letterer/designer/editor Ian Sharman be in attendance but we will also be joined by artist Luciano Vecchio. Fresh from completing the final pages he is flying nearly 7,000 miles from Argentina to make his first UK convention appearance, I can’t wait to show him St Nicholas Market as it plays a pivotal role in the book. Luciano, who has also been working on Ben 10 for DC Comics’ Cartoon Network Action Pack, will be sketching across the weekend too.
It could easily become one great big The Interactives love fest this weekend as most of the pin up artists will also be there along with Rob Williams (Clas$$war, Ghost Rider, Low Life) who is writing the foreword for the book. The only things that could possibly have made this better would have been if the book was on sale this weekend or if back up artist Azim Akberali had made it over from Tanzania.
Life is imitating art in a way because the main characters in the book know each other online but haven’t met in person. But I’m hoping we all end up in the Ramada bar on Saturday night rather than in a field fighting off dragons.
So there’s only a week to go until Bristol International Comic and Small Press Expo.
I’ll be there as part of Orang Utan Comics and also Marksoia (my publisher on The Interactives). It’s also been confirmed that I’ll be on two panels over at the Mercure Hotel as part of the Independent, Small Press & Manga side of proceedings.
Saturday – 2 pm – Panel Room 2 (orange room)
Swinging With The Orang Utans
The Orang Utan Comics team discuss the joys of indie and small press publishing in the UK, and talk about their plans, including the latest news on the Alpha Gods movie, and the many projects the team have in the works, both with and without OUC. (Me, Ian Sharman and David Wynne)
Sunday – 4pm (TBC)
Small Press, Big Ideas
With the falling cost of producing comics and the rise of the internet as a tool for marketing and distributing them, it’s becoming more and more viable for creators to publish mainstream, commercially viable comics by themselves. These books share little in common with the more artistically driven labours-of-love that are traditionally associated with the small press so is it right that they are all classed under the same banner? We will examine whether there is a difference between a true small press book and a mainstream book that is printed in small numbers. Is it damaging creators and limiting ambition by creating an artificial underclass of comics? Is it time for up and coming creators to abandon the term ‘small press’ and just make comics? (Me, Dan Thompson, Richmond Clements, Steve Penfold, Cy Dethan, Nic Wilkinson – meaning the writers of all 4 Fallen Heroes spin off comics will be on one panel)
And if the planets align there’ll also be a very special guest joining me there too. Watch this space.
Last year I wrote a one shot comic called “Fame:Beckham” for Bluewater Productions, a biography of England footballer David Beckham. I haven’t really posted that much about it, especially since “The Interactives” took all my energies but I’ve been thinking about it a lot this weekend. I popped in to see Kristian Barry, the owner of Cardiff Comic Guru yesterday and we got talking about the book and then some of my wife’s family were here for the day and they asked to see a copy. So I re-read it myself and I have to say that I’m still pretty proud of it, I know a lot of people in comics can’t stand the biography books but in my World it will always be an important book.
Football and comics both played a big part in my formative years so 12 year old me would have been doubly impressed by it. I’ve talked a lot in interviews about the impact Marvel UK’s reprints of Secret Wars and G.I. Joe (Action Force in the UK) had on me, but the Football Monthly series from D.C Thomson was just as important. They were the books I was reading when my love of football was strong enough to persuade my parents to enrol me in the the A.F.C Bournemouth Summer Soccer School, where I got to play with and against future England international Jamie Redknapp (clang, extreme name drop alert).
I got offered the book last January after Azim Akberali, my long term collaborator, recommended me. He’d done covers for the publisher previously and painted their Barack Obama book. It went from “would you like to write one of our biography books” to Worldwide media coverage in a matter of days, not quite at Markosia’s Royal Wedding levels but still surreal. In days it was in the New York Times, LA Times, Bangalore Mirror, Times of India, The Daily Star, China Daily to name just a few places. It was on Bleeding Cool, MTV Splashpage and and got some TV coverage along the way too. I did interviews with BBC Radio Gloucestershire (on the same show as Brian Blessed) and Jazma Online, although sadly a proposed chat with Hawksbee & Jacobs on Talksport got cancelled at the last minute.
The only thing I really regret about the whole experience is that I have know idea what people made of it. Publisher Bluewater Productions was getting some bad press right at the time the book was announced, which meant most people wouldn’t review the book. We also didn’t have the book out in time for the World Cup, which although less important once Beckham’s injury was confirmed, still hampered things. I ended up rewriting the story twice, initially it ended with him heading onto the field in the England v USA game. Then it had him missing out and being injured and finally had him injured watching England’s ultimate humiliation at the hands of Germany.
I had fun researching it and writing it, especially the challenge of keeping the visuals interesting and the narrative engaging. I doubt I’ll ever write another biography book, but I got to do a football comic and that still puts a smile on my face.