Don't forget, if you're going to the Bristol International Comic Expo at the end of May (not long now) you can get your own copy a full month before the shops and everyone else.
After my Egmont meeting I made my way to the South Bank where I attended the inaugural meeting of the Comica Social Club, which was a very nice way to end the day. Along with visiting Cartoon County on Monday I've had an unusually comicky-sociable week!
On top of that, I'm totally chuffed to be doing a talk alongside one of the UK's long-time comic-creating heroes, Glenn Dakin, who has a new novel out called Candle Man. The talk will take place at the Mercure Hotel, 2pm, on Saturday 22nd May. Tickets for the weekend are going fast - so book now if you can - there's a superb line-up of guests throughout the whole weekend.
One of the longest-running has been Les McClaine's Jonny Crossbones. At one point it was to be published by Dark Horse, but it became a victim of recessiony cost-cutting and lost its place. But it's beautifully drawn and a super mystery story to boot, so I'm sure it will see print at some point. Les has been pretty busy recently so it's been a while since it updated, but there's plenty to see online in the meantime.
I've enthused about David O'Connell's Tozo plenty of times here, and there's good reason for that - it's a superb strip! It's a romantically-hued science-fiction tale, a bit art deco, a bit steam-punky, and a lovely world to get immersed in. Book three has just come out in print form.
Ellie Connelly is an adventuress of the late-Victorian era, and she's currently involved in the hunt for the legendary Energy Vortex, thanks to her creator, the fantastic Indigo Kelleigh. This is great historical adventure with a hefty twist of the supernatural thrown into the mix. Stirring and absorbing stuff!
A couple of new British-based webcomics have surfaced in the past few months, and both are worth mentioning here too. Michael Ewing (no relation) has been providing us with the antics of Hugo & Co. since last August. Each new instalment turns up the mystery and keeps you riveted, a very enjoyable read. And I also heard from Mike Dutton who impressed me greatly with his work on The Zander Adventure. I love the pastoral setting which lends one to think something of the atmosphere found in Asterix or the Smurfs, and on top of that the characters and dialogue provide some excellent chucklesome moments - I look forward to reading more!
One thing about making comics in the fairly rigid format of a classic Franco-Belgian album is that it forces you to keep a strong narrative going. It's not easy, and there is less opportunity to rely on a number of the shortcuts comic authors sometimes use. The progression of the story has to be kept clear and logical. It's a real discipline, but often results in a comic that keeps good sequential storytelling to the fore.
If you know of any more comics in the clear line style, or in the family of classic Franco-Belgian adventure tales, do leave a comment and a link!
Edit: Of course I have drawn Judge Death before!
Yesterday the full programme for the Hay Festival went online - you can see my event here, 1pm on Saturday 5th June in the Oxfam Studio. If you've never been to Hay before, and you love books, I would highly recommend it.
Thanks to Down The Tubes and the Forbidden Planet blog for helping to preview the cover for volume 2. It's had a positive reaction, which is a relief, I must say. I'm deep into working on volume 3 now, and really enjoying it. I know it's a long wait between volumes, but when they're all together I think the build up in the story is just right and, if I do say so myself, the final volume is a cracker. Here are a select few panels from my very rough roughs for volume 3.
The women have particularly distinctive dress consisting of a black gown, tied at the waist, and brightly patterned designs on the hem, sleeves, and shoulders and upper torso. But was it that way in the 1920s? According to Akiko Wada, a Japanese woman who married into the Kalasha, with roads came synthetic fabrics, and therefore more colourful yarns. She shows a plainer dark brown wool variation of the gown which is more traditional.
To the right of the two women is a door ornament design, and the wooden carving below-left is an effigy of the horse of Balimain, one of the Kalasha gods (the Kalasha are what used to be known as kafirs - unbelievers, or non-muslims). The black and white line drawing is a study of the braids and a headdress.
There are only about 3,000 Kalasha today, living in three valleys in the Chitral region of northern Pakistan. Woven into their past is the idea that they are descended (fully or partially) from soldiers of Alexander the Great, a theory that had been applied to many of the tribes of old Kafiristan to the west (now called Nuristan, since Abdurrahman forced them to see the light and convert). If you've seen the fantastic John Huston adaptation of The Man Who Would Be King, then you'll know something about that. It is probably true to say the Kalasha do not refute the Alexander connection too strongly, given that it brings in much needed funding from Greeks keen to strengthen their connection to this fascinating people.