Always Write

Peter Rogers – Writer

Tag: thought bubble

Bubble Burst?

I won’t be at Thought Bubble this weekend, and to say that I’m gutted about that would be putting it mildly.  The Leeds based comics festival has developed into probably the UK’s best convention, it’s well organised, well funded, slick and welcoming.  I went last year and in 2011 (complete with Movember moustache and some killer dance moves) and thoroughly enjoyed myself both times.  The writer’s panel last year was my second favourite I’ve been to, beaten only by Tony Lee interviewing Howard Chaykin in Bristol back in 2006.

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Lots of my friends are going and the guest list is, as always, full of stellar names like Matt Fraction, Fiona Staples, Geoff Darrow, Kelly Sue Deconnick, David Aja, Rafael Alburquerque, Image Comics’ Publisher Eric Stephenson and Director of Business Development Ron Richards. I also usually get to do some in person co-writing at TB too, as my writing partner Steve Aryan is based locally.  We did a lot of work on Flux (our creator owned mini series with Iranian artist Maysam Barza) in Leeds, and we could have spent some time working on our new project (with art by Simone Guglielmini from Image’s Near Death). We also recorded an episode of our podcast Bags of Action from Steve’s house last year, about Enter the Dragon if my memory serves me correctly.

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Sadly, Thought Bubble wasn’t to be for me this year, but you can still pick up books with my name on them at this year’s show. If you head over to the Markosia stand in New Dock Hall and pick up British Showcase Anthology, 144 pages of stories including my own Blood Dolls with Cheuk Po.   Over on the Orang Utan Comics stand, they will have limited copies of sci-fi romp The Intergalactic Adventures of Zakk Ridley, which I co-wrote with Ian Sharman and features art by Ewan McLaughlin.

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I was originally meant to be sharing table space with my good friend Chris Lewis (my singing partner on Warren G and Nate Dogg’s Regulate at last year’s Mid Show party) at the convention.  So if you see him, please say hello and pick up a copy of his excellent mini series Drones, the trade paperback debuts at the show.  He’s also in New Dock Hall as well.

And if you really want to make me feel better about missing the comic event of the year, feel free to back the Forgotten Planet campaign on Kickstarter 😉

Fear and loathing

To put it mildly, when it comes to writing,  I am quite literally my own worst enemy.  The little voice in my head that feeds me ideas, brings characters to life, shapes stories and creates worlds, has an evil twin.  His voice is almost identical, but rather than inspiring me, he feeds on every ounce of negativity in my psyche and blows it considerably out of proportion, until all that’s left is a black cloud the size of a Michael Bay explosion.  When I’m at the keyboard, there’s a constant battle between the Michael Knight and Garthe Knight figures that share space in my increasingly addled brain.  As somewhat of a perfectionist, who believes that if something’s worth doing then it’s worth doing as well as is humanly possible, the more demoralising voice often wins. If the more positive voice was the more dominant one, I’d probably have had more comics on the shelves by now, along with some shorts, some TV work and even a film, for that matter.  I give up writing, in my head at least, about twice a month.  But it’s been an important part of my daily routine, and something that’s a major part of me, since I was 4, so I’ll never actually go through with it.

 

I’d always kind of assumed that this roller-coaster of emotions, these sharp twists and turns from elation to despair, were reserved just for me.  Well, ok not just for me (how egotistical), but certainly just me and other writers at the same stage as I am, published but not particularly well known or well established.   It turns out that I was completely wrong.   Recently I was made aware of an excellent talk  by writer Anthony Johnston, who discussed something similar at on recent Thought Bubble convention panel. I’d urge you to watch it before reading on.

Anthony Johnston’s Massive Ego

Around the same time that I discovered this talk, I started listening to old episodes of  the Austin Film Festival “On Story” podcast.  It features highlights from the TV show of the same name, and they’ve discussed the writing process with people like  Damon Lindelof, Lawrence Kasdan and, one of my favourite screenwriters, Brian Helgeland (largely, but not only, due to the vastly under-rated Conspiracy Theory).  I stated listening to the show after searching the net for a Shane Black interview, having watched Iron Man 3.  Shane Black is one of my all-time heroes.  The fact I was turned down for an MA in Screenwriting at Cardiff University, because my writing was “too commercial and likely to sell” ,probably attests to this.  I have loved his writing, ever since  Lethal Weapon, with Last Boy Scout as a personal highlight along the way.  The only film he’s written that I haven’t seen is Monster Squad, and I’m hoping to rectify that very soon.  I’ve often wondered why his list of credits is so short, especially as someone who broke records for the amount of money his scripts sold for.  Was it because he’d earned so much that he didn’t need to write any more?  No, it was all down to fear and his sometimes crippling lack of self belief.  I think he’s even more of a hero to me now, have a listen to the podcast here, to hear his frank confession.

So, where were we?  That’s right, I’d finally woken up to the idea that anyone who’s creative has bouts of insecurity.  So how do I keep my own inner writing demon in check?  Another recent event gave me the chance to reflect on this further.  I’d found myself stuck in a writing cul-de-sac, unsure how best to tackle a particular scene, so I turned to the staff on the Comic Experience Forum for their sage advice and guidance.  Within a matter of days such luminaries as  Chuck Dixon, Brandon Seifert, Andy Schmidt and Paul Allor had all come back to me with advice.  One thing rang true from all four of them, “You’re over-thinking it”.  So, that’s one of the things I need to do, stop thinking about things so much that I can’t see past them.  Because when I do, when I wrestle with something too long that’s when my inner Garthe returns, complete with fake beard and a truck load of pain.  But, when I switch off, relax and go swimming for example, the other side of me rears his head instead. Throwing up the light of inspiration, with clarity, with serenity and without malice or the fear of getting things wrong.

So, what have I learned about fear?  The key is to know when fear has a vice like grip on my throat, and more importantly on my typing fingers, to know when to channel it so that I push myself to improve.  But also to know when to ignore it, turn it off, stop thinking and just enjoy writing as I always have.  More than I anything I need to remember, I’m not the only one who goes through this, for everything a reason.

Nothing will come of nothing: speak again

In just over 3 weeks time I’ll be heading back up to Leeds for the Thought Bubble Comic Convention.  I went for the first time last year, and at this stage in proceedings I was hard at work  pimping the books I’d written that would be on sale at the show.  I contributed to anthology title Tales of the Fallen which debuted there, a book spinning out of the Unseen Shadows Universe (masterminded and spearheaded by author Barry Nugent).  And it was the first convention where I was selling The Interactives, my debut graphic novel from Markosia, in person too.

This year, there won’t be anything new from me at the convention at all.  In fact, I haven’t had any new work in print, or released digitally for that matter, for just over a year.    A second Unseen Shadows anthology, the rather excellent Tales of the Forgotten will be launching at this year’s con, but I don’t have anything in it this time around.

To all intents and purposes it probably looks like I’ve turned my back on writing comics, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth.  After The Interactives was launched I made the conscious decision  to spend 2012 trying to stand on my own two feet,  to establish myself as a writer in my own right.  As part of this shift in mindset I’ll be attending Thought Bubble this year on the other side of the table, as I did at Kapow! in May .    Spending the year pitching has meant nothing new from me to read, but it’s also helped me focus and regain my mojo too.  In the last year I’ve written more pages, made more contacts, worked with more collaborators and had more fun writing than I have in years.   I’ve also joined  Scar Comics Agency, who now represent me in the UK, and I’ve become an active member of the Comics Experience Comic Creator Workshop (an online community I’d highly recommend).

So what exactly have I been working on in 2012:

I’ve revisited sci-fi story Forgotten Planet (working title), with the blessing of the original artist Azim Akberali.  I’ve been joined on the graphic novel pitch by  Giancarlo Caracuzzo (Jonah Hex, Gorilla Man, Formic Wars) and old friend John Charles (Spectacular Spider-man).  Flux is currently under consideration with publishers via Scar.

Forgotten Planet

 

I’ve been working on another sci-fi book called Flux, with co-writer Steve Aryan (Mythos, Empyre),  for just over a year now.  We’re currently working on the proposal for the mini series to go with the first 6 pages of art courtesy of Maysam Barza (who we met in the Facebook Small Press Commandoes group).

Flux

I have also been hard at work on another contribution to the Unseen Shadows Universe, which I’ll be able to tell people about very soon.  I’m editing a new title for an extremely talented first time comic writer, and acting as British dialogue consultant for Eric Drumm ( Fear Itself: The Deep ) on his new project Long Live the King .

Largely thanks to Comics Experience I’m back writing short stories again as well.   Working on the likes of Versus (with artist Dave Stokes), Teenage Kicks, Salesmanship and Blood Dolls (with artist Cheuk Po, another Small Press Commando) in recent months hearkening back to the good old Eleventh Hour days.  I’ve also had my work critiqued by Bill Rosemann from Marvel, thanks to my participation in the workshop’s monthly writing challenge.

Blood Dolls

I’m also in the early stages of planning for  a new action adventure title Tough as Steel, as well as returning to an old concept Viva Las Venus.   There’s also another potential project in the offing, co-writing with my good friend Chris Lynch (The Dark).    And I have an idea for a new imprint that keeps moving from the front to the back of my mind too.

So, despite having nothing on the shelves or iPads in 2012, I will definitely look back on this year as a very productive one indeed.

Thoughts on Thought Bubble

Last weekend I ventured North and attended the Thought Bubble festival in Leeds for the very first time.  It’s a convention that I’ve only every heard good things about and it was only factors like the distance and the fact it was a one day event that had stopped me going in the past.  When I found out it was a two day festival for 2011 it was time to bite the bullet.   The guest list at Thought Bubble puts other UK conventions to shame, especially those outside of London.  Adam Hughes, Jeff Lemire, Tim Sale, Gail Simone, Peter Milligan, Nick Spencer, Doug Braithwaite, Cameron Stewart, Mick McMahon….the list goes on and on. So the fanboy in me was happy too.

Now I was initially contemplating doing the typical blow by blow account of every moment from the minute I left the house on Friday afternoon until I waltzed back in bleary eyed on Sunday night.  But I’m pretty sure that a blog post that long and detailed, taking in every dip in self confidence, every meatball marinara sub, every overpriced hotel drink, every creator, cosplayer, customer or comely roller girl might get a bit tedious.  So instead I thought I’d pick out some of my own personal highlights and lowlights from the weekend in a futile attempt to keep things bright and breezy.

HIGHLIGHTS

Old friends.  Like at most conventions I got to meet up with a plethora of like minded people that I don’t get to see often enough.  My cohorts at Orang Utan Comics, the Markosia crew, scores of UK comic podcasters (I think David Wynne won podcaster pokemon) , their followers and forum members (including my new dance posse), the Unseen Shadows creative collective, pro and indie artist and writer friends etc, etc.    And it was especially good to speak to them all with more than the usual 140 characters at my disposal.

New friends.  I got to meet Martin Conaghan (Fallen Heroes, Burke & Hare) for the first time, which means I’m edging closer towards having met the whole Unseen Shadows team now.  And I seemed to find more time to spend with people I’d only had fleeting opportunities to talk to before.  People like Stephen Downey ( Cancertown),  Dan Thompson (Moon), Daniel Clifford (Sugar Glider)  and  PJ Montgomery (Stiffs).

Working on my new co-writing project.  Being in Leeds also meant I had time to spend with Stephen Aryan, who along with being one half of  podcasting duo Comic Book Outsiders is also a very talented writer  (Mythos, The Empyre).  We’ve been working on a project together for a few months, plotting out a sci-fi series over Skype and email.  So having the chance to block off an hour early on Saturday evening to plot further and iron out some of the creases in person was great (He was the sit at the table making notes one, I was the think out loud pacer in case you wondered).

Rogers and Aryan

 

Tales of the Fallen -I got to see Barry Nugent and the other assembled masses that make up much of the Unseen Shadows creative team again which was great.  I managed to just about hold it together on the panel to launch the anthology book despite a distinct lack of sleep (although my compliment aimed at Cy Dethan came out totally wrong).  As well as getting to talk about my contribution to the book we also announced was that I’ll be working on a Napoleon Stone mini series in the not too distant future too.   The main highlight of course was picking up my own copy of Tales of the Fallen, which I read on the way home.  It’s a real tour de force, a great read if you haven’t read the original novel and a must read if you have.

Tales of the Fallen panel

 

The Interactives – I managed to sell a few copies and people seemed to have either heard of the book or really wanted to pick it up once they’d read the back and flicked through the art.  Hoping those who picked up a copy enjoy it.

The vibe – I haven’t been to a comic convention that had this kind of “we’re all in it together and isn’t it great” feeling since back when Bristol was still in the railway shed.   Being in a new city for the first time probably helped, but I think there’s something a bit different about this show.  Something credible, something family friendly, something a bit more grown up and professional.  Something that makes you drink free Jeremiah Weed and dance until the wee small hours.

New creative teams – Spending two days with fellow Orang Utan Comics founder Ian Sharman and new FTL editor David Wynne meant the chance to talk about the future.  A future that will include me writing more short stories to be found in the pages of our Faster than Light anthology title.  Show & Tell (with Jonathan Aguillon) and The Eve (reverse engineered with Jason Copland) will be in forthcoming issues, and following this weekend I now have two new artist collaborators for my next batch of stories.  Watch this space for more news.

LOWLIGHTS

Ghost Rider and Daken getting the chop – I got to catch up with Rob Williams ( a huge help when I was working on The Interactives) on the way there as we were both on the same train.   I’m not quite sure how but I’d managed to miss the news that Ghost Rider has been cancelled, only finding out as we sipped cans of Carling between carriages (as glamourous as it sounds).    A day later it was announced that Rob’s other Marvel title Daken: Son of Wolverine had met the same fate.   I was totally gutted for him.  And I really hope that Marvel give Rob one of their flagship titles, not just because he’s a friend of mine but mainly because I’m a big fan of his work.  (I added Low Life:Paranoia to my Amazon Christmas wish list tonight if you don’t believe me).

People I missed – Spending so much time behind the Orang Utan Comics table, being on a panel, being half asleep on Sunday and leaving by 1.30 restricted the time I had to mingle.  I missed the opportunity to finally meet Roy Huteson Stewart (the artist on Fragments of Fate, my contribution to Tales of the Fallen), I didn’t get to talk to another old friend Si Spurrier, to tell David Aja how much I love his work, to give Steve Wacker a copy of my book, to ask Chris Staros about Top Shelf‘s future plans, not even to join the queue of people falling at Gail Simone‘s feet.   So regardless of the amazing guest list, aside from fleeting glimpses I wouldn’t really have know such stellar industry names were there.

Babygate – Seeing the terrible treatment of David Montieth, his wife Siobhan and their stunningly cute bat baby Alannah by an over zealous, insensitive, jobsworth member of staff at the Casino was shocking.  I hate parents being treated like second class citizens, hate good people being treated in a bad way and don’t like friends missing out on the chance to support each other.

Generation Bat

You’ll notice none of the lowlights had anything to do with the show itself, so all in all, a great weekend with some great people.  A chance to talk comics, talk life and let my hair (and Movember moustache) down. Thank you Leeds.  I just wish Thought Bubble was nearer, and on again sooner.

 

Thought Bubble pimpage #2 – Tales of the Fallen

Jonathan Ross, or Wossy as he is affectionately known to his 1.4 million followers on twitter,  is one of the biggest names on British television.   But long before he wrote Turf (his first comic book series from Image), before his current chat show on ITV, its previous incarnation on the Beeb, before Penn & Teller, Radio 2, Sachsgate, The British Comedy Awards, They think it’s all over and more besides he was one of my first TV heroes.  Thanks to The Last Resort and One Hour with Jonathan Ross (no Vic and Bob or The Fast Show without it) but mainly because of The Incredibly Strange Film show, a documentary series that validated my taste in movies.  Fast forward 20 plus years and both our names will be appearing in the same anthology.  All in all I’m rather pleased, but not just because Mr Ross has written the foreword.

‘If, like me, you like rip-roaring testosterone fuelled pulp fiction. With soldiers, and mysteries, and all round weird stuff in, then this is the book for you.’ – Jonathan Ross.

Barry Nugent and the Turf team

Fallen Heroes by Barry Nugent is the first novel I’ve read in one sitting since I was a schoolboy.   And that doesn’t mean that his cross genre adventure epic is a lightweight read, it means that even someone with my short attention span was hooked and hooked well.  The fact that I’ve now had the opportunity to write a story set in the Unseen Shadows Universe that Fallen Heroes kickstarted  has been extremely rewarding.   The fact that I got to write about Napoleon Stone, the demon stalker featured on the novel’s cover is the icing on the writing cake.   Working with Barry as my editor, with Roy Huteson Stewart on art duties and with Paul McLaren inking was a throughly enjoyable collaboration.  And this weekend you can pick up the fruit of our labours along with those of some of the biggest names in the UK indie comics scene.

  • Scripts: Cy Dethan, Richmond Clements, Dan Thompson, Pete Rogers
  • Pencils: Steve Penfold, Rob Carey, Conor Boyle, Roy Huteson Stewart
  • Colours: Gat Melvin, Vicky Stonebridge
  • Letters: Paul Mclaren, Nic Wilkinson
  • Covers: Steve Penfold, Gat Melvin,Rob Carey, Conor Boyle, Roy Huteson Stewart, Valia Kapadai

The book launches at Thought Bubble, and if you pre-order your copy you get it for the special price of £8.50 (RRP £12.99) and as well as getting a signed copy of the book you’ll also receive a free digital copy too.   You can find how to place your order here, you’ve just about got time.

Pre order now...

Fragments of Fate preview pages

February seems like a lifetime ago, but it was back at the start of the year that my involvement with Unseen Shadows was announced.   It was at the Cardiff Comic Expo that creator Barry Nugent made it public that I would be joining the likes of Cy Dethan (Cancertown, Indifference Engine, Slaughterman’s Creed) as one of the creators of the Tales of the Fallen.    Tales of the Fallen is the comic book anthology prequel spinning out of Fallen Heroes, already being adapted in comic form itself, the excellent adventure novel that launched the Unseen Shadows trilogy.

As someone who absolutely loved the novel, it was great to get the opportunity to work within the World and to utilise the characters I’d grown to love.    I was really pleased that Barry agreed I could write about Napoleon Stone and Vincent Marconi as along with The Reverend they were my favourite characters in the book.   With Roy Huteson Stewart on pencils and inks and Paul McLaren lettering we’ve shaped a tale that I’m very proud of, a slice of pulp with a dark edge.

The story will be released digitally very soon and the  anthology  will be available at Thought Bubble in Leeds next month.    We’ll have most of the ever growing creative team all in one place, so I’m sure a few pints will be raised to celebrate.  Here’s a sneak preview of the cover courtesy of Valia Kapadai and the first 5 pages – enjoy.