Always Write

Peter Rogers – Writer

Tag: Comics

London Super Comic Con 2015

There was a time when UK conventions tended to all start with a B (I’m looking at you, Bristol and Birmingham), these days the location of the two most unmissable shows begin with an L (Leeds and London). Last Saturday I ventured up to the big smoke for London Super Comic Con and I’m very glad I did.

Just like last year I travelled up in the morning and headed back the same day, but I’m already planning to make sure I can experience the whole weekend in 2016. I got to the ExCel Exhibition Centre at about 11.30, following two hours on the train and forty five minutes on the tube.  For the first hour or so I must have only moved about twenty feet down the first aisle, as I tended to know lots of people who were either behind tables or walking the floor. It felt like Bristol conventions of old, everywhere I looked I saw familiar faces and old friends.

It’s a very different show from Thought Bubble, with a much more big two and US focus and it’s good to have two well run shows that cater to slightly different needs. The venue is big, the layout spacious, the air con a god send and the overall vibe very laid back and positive. The crowd is diverse, with lots of families attending and with a far more even gender split than at conventions of old. I had my first professional pass for this year’s show and that, coupled with so many people I knew being in attendance, meant I was the most relaxed and socially adept I’ve probably ever been at a show, certainly in the pre pub stages of proceedings anyway.

Where 2014 was about talking to publishers, I spoke to IDW, Boom and Titan about pitches at last year’s event, 2015 was all about friends, contacts and the social side. I got to catch up with some of the no (comic) code creators, like Marc Laming, Mike Collins, Ron Marz and Brett Uren , grabbed lunch and compared career notes with Martin Fisher, hung out with podcasting behemoths like Barry Nugent from Geek Syndicate,  Gavin and Dan from the Sidekickcast and the comic book cardboard crappy cosplayers Tim, Matt and John from the hat decides and QPAW!. I got to check in with my old Orang Utan Comics colleagues Ian Sharman, David Wynne and Holly Rose, talked shop with Cy Dethan and Nic Wilkinson and met up with some of my Comics Experience workshop buddies – Chris Hurst and Ryan O’ Sullivan. The only thing I didn’t really find time to do was to actually see any of the exhibitors to get sketches or pick up books, considering the stellar line up that’s a crying shame.

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Mark Millar turned up, which suggests any hope of Kapow! returning looks even more unlikely. Jonathan Ross had a table to promote his trade paperback collection for Revenge from Image Comics, with artist Ian Churchill, and Johnny Vegas turned up on the other side of the table seemingly buying every small press book in sight (expect to see him writing for 2000AD before the year is out).

Despite having to curtail my time at the pub, whisking myself away from The Fox by 9 to ensure I got the 10pm train back to Cardiff, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’m already counting down the days to next year’s show.

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New look Comic Book Outsiders site

Like Knot’s Landing, Frasier, Joey and Crusade, Bags of Action is actually a spin-off. The show came about thanks to parent podcast Comic Book Outsiders. I started off as a listener and forum contributor, then an interviewee, before becoming an occasional co-host on the show, standing in when Scott Grandison was doing his best Uncle Traveling Matt impression.

Years later, Geek Syndicate presenters and recent TV sensations, Barry Nugent and David Monteith guested on an episode of CBO, where they talked about action movie classic Predator. That discussion lead to the creation of our action movie podcast, which I co-host with CBO’s own Steve Aryan. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Comic Book Outsiders now consists of three podcasts, CBO itself, Bags of Action and new show Crash Landing. You can read what Steve has to say about the broadened line up here. You can also catch up on all three shows by visiting the new look CBO website that covers the whole network too, the plan is for the three of us to be a bit more visible on social media, so if you’re a listener please feel free to interact with us.

The Prompt

I don’t really do spontaneous. I’m one of life’s planners, someone who likes to mull things over, let them percolate for a while before diving in.  So the idea of coming up with a story idea, writing it, getting it drawn, coloured and lettered in just over two weeks doesn’t really sound like my like my cup of tea. At least not on the surface.

The times when I do break my cycle of meticulous preparation the catalyst tends to be either inspiration or the process of collaboration, which is why The Prompt was such a fascinating concept. The idea came from a friend of mine, writer and letterer Nic J Shaw, a fellow member of the Comics Experience workshop. He challenged people to come up with a one-page story and encouraged creators to work together to get it done to a relatively tight deadline. I’ve always felt that limitations and restrictions help fuel creativity and the one-page limitation was one of the key things that whet my writing appetite. That and the thought of getting to work with a new artist for the first time. The other stipulation was that the story had to encompass the theme, the prompt itself “Coming Home”. 

I approached an artist. Someone I’d been wanting to work with for some time,  Alex Moore whose work I knew from her contributions to the Unseen Shadows universe.  Thankfully she said yes and once I knew she was on board I found inspiration by rummaging through her online portfolio to help generate some ideas. It didn’t take long to come up with something that I felt would suit Alex’s art style and that also answered the brief.

I wrestle with my creative decisions when writing fiction, agonise over my choices and beat myself up if things don’t go as well as I hoped. The very notion of The Prompt was completely liberating. This wasn’t the writer who can spend days reworking a single line of dialogue or panel description, this was the writer who used to write radio ad copy against the clock, the writer who’d write and draw multiple stories each day during long Summer school holidays.

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I originally envisaged Frontier being silent and presented as a nine panel grid, but as you can see neither of those things came to pass. This wasn’t me sticking to the plan, this was me bobbing and weaving, going with the flow and allowing the natural ebb of a new creative partnership to take shape. Like all of the artists I’ve worked with before, Alex’s approach to visual storytelling surpasses the images that were in my head when writing the script. The changes she made enhanced the storytelling and made the story better than it would have been otherwise. There were some similar stories from other people who were taking part in The Prompt, so I needed to work out what made our story different. In the end, by adding the President’s speech, it gave the story a bit more depth to go with the humour. It also stopped it being an unintentional homage to Escape from the Planet of the Apes. I’m extremely happy with what we’ve ended up with, it feels self contained without being slight, something I wasn’t sure I could achieve within a solitary page.

You can see the first few Prompt one-page stories on tumblr, where more will be posted in the coming weeks. This wasn’t a one off event and a new Prompt has already been posted for next month. March’s challenge ups the ante further, with a bit of a twist and some extra specifications to consider. At the time of writing this, 187 people are members of the closed group on Facebook. I have a feeling that The Prompt will become a fixture of the creative landscape and will give readers some interesting new stories to read and creators some valuable experience along the way. I’m certainly hoping to be part of it again.

Favourite things in 2014

It’s the time of year where people do their “best of” lists, so I thought I’d join in. Crowning something as the best makes little sense to me though, as any choice will be completely subjective. So instead I’m purely stating what I enjoyed the most, my personal favourites.

TV Drama – The Newsroom.

Aaron Sorkin’s idealistic news drama peaked in its third and final season and was the show I enjoyed most this year. I’m definitely going to miss the ensemble cast now that it’s over, along with the well crafted dialogue. The show had plenty of detractors and even those who enjoyed it seem to find a number of flaws with it.  Personally I didn’t think it made too many missteps in any season and particularly not in this one. I’m going to have to watch The West Wing now to fill my Sorkin void.

Honourable mentions – True Detective was very, very nearly my pick. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey’s performances were both captivating and compelling. Cary Fukunaga’s direction and the cinematography by Adam Arkapaw (who also worked on the excellent Australian film Animal Kingdom) were what made the show for me. The plagiarism allegations surrounding the writing took some of the sheen off the series for me, but I’m still looking forward to Season Two. Welsh detective series Hinterland, starring Richard Harrington was dark and brooding and has become a very successful export. Sticking with crime drama, Australian TV movie Jack Irish: Dead Point, the third about the titular hero, was very good. Guy Pearce being the lead certainly helps add some class to proceedings.  Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead returned strong and after some teething problems Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D became a must-see. We watched all of Breaking Bad this year, which would definitely have taken the honour if it had been broadcast in 2014. Before anyone tells me what I missed out, I’ve never seen Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire or Fargo.

TV FactualMy Life in Science Fiction.

Invasion of the Fans and Days of Fear and Wonder were the two episodes I watched, one focussed on sci-fi fandom, the other on the BFI’s Sci-Fi season of film programming. I’d have loved these BBC iPlayer shows, which featured the likes of Brian Blessed and Mark Kermode, regardless of who the hosts were. The fact they were my friends Dave and Barry from the Geek Syndicate podcast just made it all the sweeter.

Honourable mention – Sonic Highways was almost a very good show. I loved Dave Grohl’s Sound City film and this series had the potential to be just as good. The historical stuff about each city’s music scene was fascinating and was what kept me coming back for more. The studio elements were pretty light in comparison, lacking any real insight into the production process or the songwriting. The songs that ended each episode seemed to be full of very on the nose lyrics and even on the best ones, that really got in the way.  It did make me listen to more Kyuss and Willie Nelson though, so that’s no bad thing.

FilmCaptain America – The Winter Soldier.

This was pretty much exactly what I wanted from a Marvel movie, I just didn’t know it until I saw it. As much as I loved Iron Man 3 last year, there was something really special about this solo Avenger effort. Chris Evans really came into his own in the lead role, having been sidelined in the Avengers movie and Black Widow and The Falcon really helped develop the right dynamic. It felt the closest to the comics, it had Nick Fury being a much more rounded character, it had a 70s vibe complete with Robert Redford. It had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Honourable mentions –

Guardians of the Galaxy was within a raccoon’s whisker of being my favourite film of the year. I liked it enough to see it twice, I loved the pop culture feel, the epic space opera aspects, the retro soundtrack the humour and the characters. The fact this didn’t quite take my top spot shows just how strong the Marvel cinematic universe is right now.

Interstellar was also very close to being my favourite film of 2014. There was a lot I really, really liked about it, but some elements, which I won’t spoil, took the shine off of it. It’s an excellent film and very much my kind of thing, but lost a few points despite making me think and feel for almost three hours.

Paddington was a film I expected to hate. The trailer showed the visitor from darkest Peru cleaning his ears with a toothbrush and flooding a bathroom. Out of context it felt like a typical film adaptation that totally forget what the essence of its source material actually was. When Colin Firth walked off the project all the signs pointed to it being a failed project. Nothing could be further from the truth, it’s one of the best family films I’ve seen in many years, funny, poignant and totally in keeping with the character and world we know. The best anti-UKIP, but pro the real Great Britain story you could imagine.

AlbumOnce more round the sun by Mastodon.

Over the years Mastodon have steadily become one of my favourite bands, hitting the sweet spot between the heavier and the more progressive sides to my musical tastes. Their latest album, though not quite as consistent as earlier offerings, still gives me exactly what my ears crave.

Honourable mentions –

Sonic Highways by Foo Fighters is a mixed bag, but I don’t know if the TV show is the reason for that. It has the usual Foos formula, but definitely feels like it’s lacking some bite. A bit like a soundtrack, you can’t help but see the episode each song is from when you listen to the album, which can get in the way. .5: The Gray Chapter by Slipknot came very close to taking top spot, I’m a definite fan of the light and shade that their work always encompasses and their albums are exceptionally well produced.  Royal Blood by Royal Blood is the British hipster version of Queens of the Stone Age and make an impressive noise for a two-pieceI’ve just found out that Seether, Black Label Society and Emigrate both had albums out in 2014 and it’s possible they could have wound their way in here.  If I was allowing compilations then Guardians of the Galaxy’s Awesome Mix Vol.1 would have taken top slot, as I’ve listened to that constantly since seeing the movie.

GigPearl Jam (Milton Keynes)

An odd category, as I only went to see two bands this year (I think). 2013 had two major highpoints, Brad in Birmingham and Alice in Chains, Ghost and Walking Papers in Newport, but this show was just as good as those two concerts. 35 songs in an open air setting, one a beautiful Summer’s evening, it was pretty close to perfection. Thanks to Eddie’s anti-war rant, it’s a show that will go down in the band’s long and illustrious history too.

Honourable mention – Breed 77 at The Globe in Cardiff was another good show and the fifth time I’ve seen the Gibraltan rockers playing in my adopted home town. I was expecting them to play 2004 album Cultura in its entirety, so was a little disappointed when that wasn’t the case. The fact second guitarist Pedro Caparros was injured and not part of the line-up was also a definite shame. They did announce they return to the studio in 2015, so fingers crossed for another album in the not too distant future.

ComicLazarus (Image Comics) 

Greg Rucka continues to write strong female characters and intelligent monthly books that never underestimate the audience. This team up with stellar artist Michael Lark has had me gripped all year and  it got me back into monthly comics after I’d moved pretty exclusively to trade paperbacks. Blending action with politics, drama with sci-fi, this is the kind of book I’d aspire to write. The letters page and back matter round off a pretty perfect package.

Honourable mentions – The other book I read monthly is Rocket Racoon, spearheaded by Skottie Young for Marvel. I’ll readily admit that I picked up the book because I liked the character in the movie so much. The book’s tone is refreshingly irreverent and really good fun, making it a good counter balance to the more serious stuff I enjoy. I was playing catch up with some other series this year and like everyone else I have been loving Saga, I’m only up to the third trade at the moment or that may very well have been my choice. Revival, Southern Bastards and Zero were other books I really enjoyed in trades in 2014. It was definitely a year where Image Comics dominated my reading.

PodcastAustin Film Festival’s On Story Podcast. 

This has been the podcast that has accompanied my warm ups at the gym. It features short and insightful interviews with screenwriters and directors from the Austin Film Festival. I discovered the show last year as Shane Black was on it. Since then I’ve learned something from every single episode that I can use to further my own storytelling and approach to the craft.

Honourable Mentions- Perennial favourites like iFanboy and Word Balloon continue to set a high standard in the world of comics podcasting. Oh Comics! from Panels and hosted by iFanboy’s own Paul Montgomery and Preeti Chhibber gives a slightly more high brow look at the world of sequential storytelling. To compete all things Montgomery, his Fuzzy Typewriter podcast proved to be a very interesting accompaniment to each episode of True Detective, I have the Rise of the Planet of the Apes episode sat waiting for me to see the film. I went back to Nerdist Writers Panel Comics Edition after a break, mainly thanks to the lure of Brian K Vaughan.  On the UK front Geek Syndicate, The Hat Decides ( which finally returned in December) and Comic Book Outsiders (which relaunched recently) were as consistent as ever.  I have had a good time putting out Bags of Action and Steve and I have pretty much kept to a monthly schedule this year. Listen out for Predator in January.

So that was what I liked in 2014. I’m still kicking myself for not watching Fargo, although I’m listening to the Emigrate album as I type this. Here’s to some more interesting stuff in 2015.

WWBKVD?

The title of this post is a variation on WWJWD? That acronym, standing for ‘What would Joss Whedon do?’, is a pretty well established thing online, it’s in the Urban Dictionary after all.  I’m a big Whedon fan myself and both Firefly and Dollhouse are two of my favourite shows and I’m more than a little obsessed with Dr Horrible’s sing along blog too. With all three of those relatively short running shows I ended up actually missing the characters once the series ended.  (I’ve recently started watching Buffy on Netflix, about a gazillion years after the rest of the world). I also really like Whedon’s comic work and hold his Astonishing X-Men run in high regard, along with his Serenity books and his work on Runaways.

As much as I love Whedon’s work, his contribution to comics has largely been based on existing characters, either those he established expertly on television first, or in the case of his Marvel projects, ones that had already lived a life in the hands of another writer or writers. So when I want to look at a writer’s work for inspiration, because my writing is mainly creator owned comics, I don’t think of Whedon first. I think of the person who he followed on Runaways, another of my favourite writers, a certain Brian K Vaughan – (WWBKVD?). You see, unlike my exposure to Whedon’s TV and film work, I’ve only ever experienced Vaughan’s writing in the pages of a comic. I’ve never watched Lost (apart from the first episode) and I’ve only seen about five minutes of Under the Dome. 

I haven’t actually been reading Vaughan’s work for all that long.  Aside from one random issue of Swamp Thing and his entry in Writers on Comic Scriptwriting Vol.2, the first thing I read written by him was the excellent graphic novel Pride of Baghdad.

Pride of Baghdad is a graphic novel written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Niko Henrichon released by DC ComicsVertigo imprint on September 13, 2006.[1] The story is a fictionalized account of the true story of four African lions that escaped from the Baghdad Zoo after an American bombing in 2003. The book won the IGN award for best original graphic novel in 2006.[2]

It was last year that I started to read more of his output, devouring the first seven Runaways trades, along with all of Y the Last Man.  This post was mainly prompted by his latest Image Comics series, as last week I re-read the first Saga trade, closely followed by the second one, which had me desperate to read more of the series.  (I’m well aware that I need to get reading the likes of The Private Eye and Ex Machina as soon as I can too).   All three of the books I’ve mentioned, Runaways, Y the Last Man and Saga have had the same impact on me as a reader and in turn a writer.  Each one made me question my ability, wondering if I’m wasting my time trying to get more comic work published when this level of work, work that’s right in my wheelhouse, is already out there. Once that feeling lifted they had the opposite effect, reminding me what I love about writing and for this medium in particular. One of the things I love about Vaughan is that his work is emotional, without ever feeling overplayed, twee or sentimental. His characters, no matter how elaborate or unconventional the premise or setting, are very real and completely three-dimensional.  Much like those Whedon creates, you want to spend more time with them and actively pine for them when they aren’t around. I still miss Yorick, Agent 355 and Dr.Allison Mann. He also has immaculate taste in collaborators, working with artists who are master storytellers and whose character designs and world building matches his vision. He’s the kind of writer I’d aspire to be like, even if he is actually younger, and far more talented, than I am. There are other writers whose work I enjoy just as much, for different reasons, but at this moment in time his work is resonating with me the most. His work inspires me to be a better writer.

 

I’m working hard on six different comic book titles at the moment, in a variety of genres, some with a co-writer, some with artists attached, others in their absolute infancy. When I go to write any of them now, I’ll be keeping this in mind. What would Brian K Vaughan do?  What should I be doing more of, to have this kind of impact on my own readership?

1) Establish your characters and their motivations as quickly as possible so that you make the reader care within the first few pages.

2) Make every single character count, no matter how small.

3) Give each scene an emotional punch, even if it’s just a small one. Make them leave the page feeling something – empathy, revulsion, shock, compassion.

4) Don’t show off in your dialogue. Your characters and plot are more important than trying to look clever. Choose the words that suit the character and scene, not your ego.

I might have to get these four points printed out and put on the wall of my writing room to help keep me on track, and as I dive into more of BKVD’s work, I’m sure I’ll come up with some more pointers too.

 

Two weeks until Bristol

The first ever comic convention I attended was the Comic Festival in Bristol in 2002, a few months after I’d attended a smaller event in the city where I got advice on becoming a comic writer from both Andy Diggle and Paul Grist. At the main Bristol show my first ever panel was the Marvel one, hosted by their Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada.  I was also a minor sponsor of the event, originally as part of The Philistine Fellowship (a group of comic creators that was my first foray into creating a studio) but in the end I opted to do so in my own name.

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Joe Quesada

Fast forward 12 years and Bristol is no longer the only comic convention in the UK, in fact there are new ones popping     up in towns and cities all around the country every month. Shows like Thought Bubble and London Super Comic Con are now the most likely places to see the largest publishers, the biggest name creators and the most fans, but Bristol in its various incarnations still has an important place in the UK comics scene. I was there last year (I think I’ve only missed one year since I first went) launching Dapper Chimp Press‘ first title Chris Smith and the Nazi Zombies from Hell and I’ll be back again in a fortnight’s time.

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Dapper Chimp Press at Bristol Comic Expo 2013

However this time I won’t be standing behind a table pimping my wares, as I’m going as a punter rather than an exhibitor or guest, at the new venue of Future Inn.  Back in ’02 it was quite a lonely experience, not knowing many people at the event, and spending the day wandering around on my own. This time I’ll be there with my daughter, who’s been keen to go to another con, having been to the Cardiff International Comic Expo and Cardiff Film and Comic Con in recent years.  It will also be my last convention as a 30 something, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

 

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London calling

Last Saturday I spent the day at the London Super Comic Convention at the Excel Centre. Despite the early start needed to do the show in one day, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’ve previously been to the Excel for the MCM show, and it was really good to see a whole world of comics, rather than just a village on the outskirts of the rest of pop culture.  Although seeing so many cosplayers on the DLR and Tube did remind me of writing Issue 2 of The Interactives, which was inspired by the journey from Paddington to the Excel for an MCM show. On the pop culture front, fresh from the ridiculous Hugo Awards nonsense, Jonathan Ross was there, but rather than taking part in wrestling, as he was at Kapow! when I went there, he was at this event very much in his guise as a successful comic writer.  

The Hat Decides Comicbook Crappy Cardboard Cosplay Competition.

I got to spend some time with my old Orang Utan Comics colleagues, being at their booth for a while and signing copies of The Intergalactic Adventures of Zakk Ridley. Seeing that book in print, 8 years after I originally started shaping Ian’s plot into a comic script was extremely rewarding.  At this rate I’ll have more new books in print during 2014 than in any other year. I caught up with lots of old friends, far too many to mention here, although it was particularly good to see Si Spurrier for the first time in ages and to finally meet Glenn Moane and Magnus Aspli in person as well.  When I wasn’t catching up with people, I made good use of my time getting to speak to various editors about existing or future pitches and projects. I did manage to squeeze in one panel, which was IDW INVADES! which was in danger of being drowned out by the London Super Costume Competition (although I was pleased to hear my friend and uber talented colourist Yel Zamor came 3rd as Hypergirl).  Dave Gibbons joined Chris Ryall and Dirk Wood on the IDW panel to talk about the Watchmen Artefact Edition, and there were some very interesting audience questions about what else the publisher has on the horizon. 

Before I knew it my time was up, and I was hightailing it back across London to catch the train back to Cardiff. All in all a very productive and enjoyable day, here’s hoping I can make it back next year for the whole weekend.  I live in hope. 

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Yel Zamor is Hypergirl

 

Dapper Chimp reunites with Orang Utans to go Ape in London

One week today I’ll be getting the (very) early train Eastwards, for London Super Comic Convention at the Excel Centre. The show is in its third year, but this is the first time I’ve been able to attend. I’ll be roaming the floor rather than sitting behind a table, but I’ll also be spending some time with my old Orang Utan Comics colleagues and the Markosia crew.

This show sees things go full circle, as one of the first books I ever wrote is being released there. I met Ian Sharman (Hero 9 to 5, Alpha Gods) back in 2006, on both the Markosia and Visionary Comics Studio forums, and he asked me to take on the scripting duties of a space opera that he’d plotted out.  8 years and many artists after I handed in my first draft of the script, The Intergalactic Adventures of Zakk Ridley is being launched at the show.  With new art by Ewan McLaughlin, and following a rewrite by Ian last year, you can pick up the whole mini series at the show, as a graphic novel from Markosia.

As I did with Kapow! in 2012, I’ll be heading up and back in one day rather than spending the whole weekend.  I’ll be trying to meet up with as many people as I can on the Saturday, including artists Marc Laming and Luca Pizzari who are both taking part in the anthology project I’ll be launching on Kickstarter very soon.   It’ll be my first convention of 2014, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

15-Minute Heroes WIP

I’ve been working with artist Cheuk Po on a mini series/graphic novel called 15-Minute Heroes ever since we finished work on the short story Blood Dolls together.

He’s competed pencils and inks on the first issue, and is now working on colours for the pitch pages. Here’s a sneak preview of  work in progress version Page 13. Looking forward to showing you more.

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Lady Mary in the shadows

I picked an interesting day to post about my latest foray into the Unseen Shadows universe, with so much online chatter today about the validity of which medium stories and worlds begin in. Writer Barry Nugent created Unseen Shadows initially as a trilogy of novels, but over the years it has expanded to include comics, audio drama and even a choose your own adventure book.

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Having read and loved the first novel, Fallen Heroes, I was honoured to become part of the wider creative team that Barry assembled. My first contribution to Unseen Shadows was a one shot called Fragments of Fate, centring on occult expert and adventurer Professor Napoleon Stone. When I was asked which other character I’d like to focus on for my next story, I knew it had to be cult leader Sir Oliver Cademus.

A knight of the first crusade and founder of the Book of Cademus, a cult it is said that continues to exert its influence today, long after Oliver’s supposed death. His return has been prophesied for several centuries by his followers.

The story I came up with was entitled The Lament of Lady Mary, and it focusses on Oliver’s relationship with his parents and in particular his Mother, the Mary of the title.  Working on this one-shot meant I was able to read sections of the as yet unpublished second novel Forgotten Warriors, and it also meant I had the chance to work with artist Conor Boyle, who I’d been wanting to collaborate with since I first saw his work.  It also meant I got to write a period piece, with the story being set around the time of the first crusade, which scratched a major writerly itch for me.  I did lots of online research into the period, watched plenty of Game of Thrones episodes, sat in Cardiff Castle grounds making notes and listened to the Kingdom of Heaven and Robin of Sherwood soundtracks as I pulled the story together.

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I worked very closely with Barry, who edited the story, and it was great to be working with the person who created the characters and universe I was playing with, a bit like writing Spider-Man under Stan Lee’s watchful eye. Barry pushed me to ditch my initial quite obvious idea that skirted around some of the plot points raised in Fallen Heroes, giving me the confidence to dig deeper to find a more personal, and far more potent narrative that felt like an integral part of the Cademus legend.  I proof read a PDF of the one-shot earlier this week, and I’m extremely proud of the story, it’s quite possibly the happiest I’ve ever been with my own writing.  I feel I got the balance right here, offering a first time reader an interesting story, while also having  the potential to have a real impact on someone who is already firmly immersed  in the world that Barry and the other associated creators have developed.  I can’t wait for it to be released, so people can see a different side of my writing and feast their eyes on Conor’s truly stellar work.

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