You can read the review online or click the image below to see a larger version of the piece from the paper itself.
At the moment I expect time to free up a little a week or two into June, at which point I will get the shop updated and we'll start getting those orders out! (I must also apologise for my tardy email replying at the moment - for all the same reasons).
Here is a little snippet of what I'm currently working on - it's for The Phoenix and is written by Ben Haggarty.
We drove up on Friday afternoon, stopping in Reading en-route to visit my aunt and uncle for lunch, and then continuing on to Bristol and checking into the Ramada around 6.30. Not being the free agents we usually are at these things, we ordered pizza and had a night in. I actually got to have quite an early night - a rarity at the moment with my current work schedule, so I felt nicely rested for the start of the Expo on Saturday.
The show was back in the Brunel Passenger Shed, which I think is a lovely venue for a comics show. Previous years in this location had got pretty stuffy, but the temperature was just right throughout the weekend. The other good thing was the amount of space - not only in the aisles, but also behind the table, meaning there was plenty of room to stand comfortably with the chair behind me, and to keep boxes out of the way under the table.
Ellie and our daughter (1) went for a day out on Saturday, meeting an old Uni friend at Bristol Zoo, but for much of the afternoon I was kept company by John, an old friend I had originally met through my long-defunct Chaplin UK site - we'd been out of touch for over 10 years, so it was a real highlight of the weekend to catch up.
Saturday was a good day for sales with a non-stop busy patch from mid-morning to early afternoon. By the end of the day I only had 8 copies of The Rainbow Orchid vol 3 left, and I thought I wouldn't have enough for the Sunday. But Sunday was a very slow day, and while I sold a good few volume ones, and a couple or more full-sets, I still ended the day with two volume threes left. The advantage of the slow sales meant that I was able to have some decent chats with people, which made up for not being able to be sociable in the evenings.
My table was next to Joel Meadows, editor and publisher of the long-running Tripwire magazine. Joel was marvellous company throughout the weekend and I must point you in the direction of his Unbound appeal to help get the amazing 20th anniversary Tripwire special published. From what I've seen, it's going to be brilliant. It was also great to chat to Ben Le Foe who is involved in the London-based Comica, and is a fellow enthusiast and aficionado of European comics.
In addition, I had a long and interesting discussion with Daniel Clifford of Art Heroes. Besides being a top chap, Daniel is a definite force for good in comics and is doing some truly wonderful stuff - do go and check out his website and wares. I won't list all the nice people I met at Bristol (a robust list) but I would like to give special mention to Simon Gurr, whose terrific art is to be found in the new Scarifyers comic, making its debut at the show, and it's also always good to see Ben Dickson, who has conceived and written the very intriguing-looking Kestrels, being drawn by comics legend Mick McMahon.
This year's Bristol Expo has come in for a bit of criticism, some of it understandable, but some of it, I think, a little unjustified (eg. convention helpers expected to be of a standard able to deal with any brawls that might kick-off!). I was pretty relaxed about the show as it was my first one for over a year, my first with The Rainbow Orchid vol 3, and I was happy to have some time to have good long chats with people. I'm also really lucky in that some of my expenses are offset by my publisher (I do have to buy all my own book stock, though). Still, from a purely financial point of view, I made enough to cover my table costs and one meal for me and my family. That still leaves travel, hotel for two nights, other meals, and time away from work when I'd otherwise be earning at the drawing board. I would imagine it's pretty rare that someone comes out of all that with a profit to show. It's not all about money of course; meeting readers and fellow comic creators is very important, and there is value in people seeing me and my book even if they don't buy it.
There were a couple of minor quibbles I had, but that would be the same with any show, and they're certainly nothing worth making a fuss over. Overall I had fun, got some time out of the house, got my books to some new readers, and met lots of nice people within a very pleasant atmosphere.
There is a bigger problem, and in a way it's kind of a nice problem - there are now a lot of comic shows throughout the year stretching what is quite a small (though growing) scene. It used to be that UKCAC or Bristol was the big annual comics event, but now you can take your pick, often from several in a month. On the same day as Bristol there was the inaugural CamCon in Cambridge, and the buzz word at Bristol seemed to be Kapow! - the big London show taking place this weekend. Quite a number of comics people I usually see eschewed Bristol in favour of Kapow!. I had been invited to take a table at Kapow! but decided against it - tables at Bristol were £78 and £140 for the London show, not to mention all the hassle of getting stock into the city and then paying for accommodation too. Still, it does seem like it will be a very well attended event and I would certainly consider it next year.
It'll be interesting to see how things develop over the coming couple of years. It'd be nice to see comics move out of its niche market and opening up to a more general audience (I'm lucky to have a book that seems to do equally well at literary festivals or comic shows), especially to children - a noticeable minority at comic events. Steps are being made in the right direction, and it may be a case of a flowering comics industry adjusting and finding its feet as it starts to venture into some of that mainstream territory. Let's hope so.
"Not only did you wind up the story in a way that suggests years and years of storytelling and writing experience, but the graphics ... You made a giant leap after finishing part one! I loved every page of it. I feel like I witnessed the birth of a classic in the best European tradition." - GdB
"... I think it's brilliant! I particularly like that your illustrations and their style have grown into your own as the series has progressed - they are no longer Jacobs-like or Herge-like, but truly your own. I also love the fact that the character's voices are now fully developed, and your author's voice can be clearly heard as well. It was a treat to see the series just get better and better with each volume!" - MV
"I have to admit I was psychologically prepared for a let-down after the first two wonderful volumes - I wasn't sure you'd tie up all those intriguing plot strands. But you did - a really satisfying read, and one that I can and will re-read. One of my favourite comics from the last 5 years (and I read a lot of comics)." - EJ
A review has appeared here and there as well ...
"Rainbow Orchid has always had a great approach to recreating Saturday morning cinema serials. There's dynamic action, a complex amount of characters and interactions, but a strong focus as ever on lighthearted, old-fashioned entertainment ... you should certainly consider the Rainbow Orchid series amusing, sincere and ultimately admirable entertainment." - We Love This Book
"... Ewing designs his plot and his artwork very much as Herge did, but here is no pastiche, no arch mimicry, nor self-aware updating. He has the same global reach in his narrative, a similar love of detail - if anything his panels are more detailed than the Belgian's - and a kindred sense of humour ... three detailed yet snappy, fun yet serious, modern yet timeless sections to buy." - The Book Bag
It was also one of Lovereading 4 Kids' Books of the Month for April 2012.
Volume 3 has spent the majority of the last month in Amazon's Top 100 Children's Graphic Novels (a chart that consists mostly of imports, reprints, adaptations and picture books), and has even troubled the tougher general Graphic Novels Top 100 category on a number of occasions.
There have been a couple of interviews recently, too. Matthew Murray interviewed me for The Beat, one of the US's main comic-news blogs, and Peter Whitehead interviewed me for the Waterstones booksellers' SF and comics newsletter, Don't Panic (not available online).
As you know, I wasn't able to make DemonCon 3 so that means the Bristol Comic Expo will be my first show of the year - come and see me there on the 12-13th May (two weekends away!). I'll also be at Stripdagen in Haarlem, Holland, on June 1st or 2nd (tbc) for the release of De Regenboog Orchidee 3. And check this out - my Dutch publisher, Silvester Strips, are issuing all three volumes in a lovely boxed set ...
More locally, I will be at The Bookshop on the High Street in East Grinstead, West Sussex, on Sat 23 June, signing, chatting about comics, and showing some of my original artwork.
And talking of local - if you're not going to Bristol and want something excellent and comics-related for children, get along to StoryFest in Hartfield on Sun 13th May where my comics chum, Neill Cameron (Pirates of Pangea, Mo-Bot High), is doing one of his fabulous comic workshops. Tickets available here as part of the brand new Hartfield Children's Book Festival.
I must also mention that The Scarifyers (the audio mystery-adventure series from Cosmic Hobo that I've been doing the covers for) is being published as a comic! I believe the first issue will be available at Bristol. It's written by series creator and writer Simon Barnard, and illustrated by the excellent Simon Gurr. The latest audio adventure, The Horror of Loch Ness, is out in June.