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total posts: 632
Book agent:
A. M. Heath
UK Publisher:
Dutch Publisher:
Silvester Strips
Spanish Publisher:
NetCom2 Editorial
French/Belgian Publisher:
BD Must Editions
German Publisher:
Salleck Publications
Guardian Unlimited:
blog of the day 29.04.2004

Webbledegook: news and stuff
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Category: Rainbow Orchid | back to blog |
Sequential sale
Monday 5 January 2015
Digital comics publisher Sequential are currently having a massive winter sale, with 50-80% off a huge range of titles - including The Rainbow Orchid. Their Complete edition includes all my annotations from The Rainbow Orchid Supplement.
You can read more about the Sequential edition of RO here. There's a ton of other really good stuff in the sale too - I've nabbed a couple myself! Fire up those iPads!

Update: the sale ends at midnight tonight (5 Jan)!

posted 05.01.15 at 10:58 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |

Happy Christmas 2014
Monday 22 December 2014
I'd like to wish each and every one of you a very happy Christmas and I hope lots of good things come your way in 2015. I'd especially like to say a big and sincere thank you for your support of my work and books over the past year - it's hugely appreciated!

Click image to see bigger
posted 22.12.14 at 12:57 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 2 |

Jagten på Regnbueorkidéen
Wednesday 10 December 2014
Just when I thought The Rainbow Orchid had encountered all the excitement it possibly could in its unexpectedly long life (much more than I ever anticipated), a bit of news comes along to give the book yet another bounce, and a particularly pleasing one too.
I'm delighted to announce that a Danish edition of The Rainbow Orchid is to be published by Forlaget Tellerup. It will be issued in three separate volumes and will be launched perhaps midway in 2015 - I will confirm the date when it is settled. The Danish title is Jagten på Regnbueorkidéen, and it joins the English, Dutch, Spanish, French and German editions.

My sincere thanks go to Michael E. N. Larsen at Tellerup, Hélène Ferey and Oli Munson at A. M. Heath, Trine Licht at Licht and Burr, and I must also pass on a nod of recognition to the Danish comic artists (Frank Madsen, Sussi Bech, Ingo Milton, and Tatiana Goldberg) I had a very nice dinner with in Erlangen, Germany, earlier this year, as I suspect getting to know them a little better may well have had something to do with my coming to the attention of Tellerup - whether they were aware of it or not!

posted 10.12.14 at 12:33 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 7 |

New Julius Chancer - finished art
Sunday 30 November 2014
Back in September I showed the thumbnails and the A4 roughs for the first three pages of the new Julius Chancer adventure. I said I'd be blogging the creation of the these first pages more closely, and now, at last, I can move on to the finished drawing stage.
I should apologise for the delay - it was partly due to other work, but I must admit it was also partly due to the big step of actually starting, coupled with the fact that the first panel was a bit of a challenge, having to tackle an establishing shot with a fairly intricate building (and van) in perspective.

One of the things that helped me get started was doing a private commission for a Julius Chancer illustration which acted as a great warm-up. It was a Thirty-Nine Steps-style scenario, with Julius being chased down on the Yorkshire Moors ...

Here, again, are the the thumbnails and A4 roughs for the first half of the first page ...

And here are the panels at the pencil stage ...

Finally, here are the drawings fully inked and coloured ...

This has been my first experience drawing at the new size - A2 (half a page is A3). The building did take longer due to the greater area to cover, but it was much nicer to draw something that required that level of detail with more space available. The following two panels probably took just as long as they would have had I been drawing at A3, as I did with The Rainbow Orchid.

One advantage I hadn't anticipated is that drawing the page in A3 halves provides me with smaller targets to complete - half a page is done and can be put aside, instead of a whole page having to be completed before I can tick it as 'done'. That might seem a false equivalence, but it's a psychological trick that actually helps! Giving yourself little targets to complete is great way to keep moving forward with a big project.

I plan to have the first three pages up for you to read at the start of the new year (fingers crossed!).

posted 30.11.14 at 12:33 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 15 |

Jacob's Heirs
Thursday 20 November 2014
Yesterday the following image dropped into my mailbox from Jean-Michel Boxus at BD Must (my Belgian publisher), which he described as Les Héritiers de E.P. Jacobs.
It's for a leaflet that explains how Jacobs was an influence on the three creators featured - Patrick Dumas (Allan MacBride), me (Julius Chancer), and Eric Heuval (Le Mystère Du Temps) - all published, of course, by BD Must.

Jacobs really was the spark that set off The Rainbow Orchid, far more than Tintin. I bought a copy of La Marque Jaune at the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée in Brussels, sometime in the 1990s, and it opened up the horizon for me on the wider world of ligne claire and the possibility of more serious adventure in this format. (I just checked the dates - I went to Brussels in April 1996 and drew the first page of RO in March 1997.)

I certainly wouldn't claim to be an heir, but I'm very happy to be thought of in the same context!

posted 20.11.14 at 4:58 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 4 |

Comicmesse Köln - report
Monday 10 November 2014
I had a late flight on Friday, so the morning saw a family trip to Tunbridge Wells, a quick packing session after lunch, and then off to Gatwick to catch my 6pm flight to Köln-Bonn airport.
As ever I was met by my German publisher, Eckart Schott of Salleck Publishing, and we drove into Mülheim and to our hotel, Hotel Kaiser on Wiener Platz. After dropping our bags off we went out to a little pizzeria (Palazzo) where I had a very nice pizza that I'm sure was meant for four people, not one. Our walk back to the hotel was just short enough to stop my bones from getting too chilled - there was a definite bite in the night air.

While Eckart had an early start to set up his stand at the comics fair, I was able to have a bit of a lie-in (a rare luxury with two small children at home), and I made my way over to the Köln-Mülheim Stadthalle (town hall) at about 10 am, opening time for the show. It was a beautiful November day - sun, blue sky, and not too cold.

The queue to get into the hall was enormous, so I walked round to the side to see if I could find a tradesman's entrance. I did, but was stopped by a door-guard who kept telling me to join the queue at the front despite my attempts to explain that I was there to sign books for Salleck. Luckily, just as I was about to give-up, a chap came up who recognised me and let me through. He turned out to be Thomas Götze, the organiser of Comicmesse Köln, and he gave me safe passage to Salleck's stand. Thank you, Thomas!

I wasn't totally sure if I was there because volume 3 of Die Regenbogenorchidee was now published, but actually that is coming out next May (2015), so I was there just to sign and do sketches for volumes 1 and 2. But that morning Eckart realised he'd forgotten to bring any volume twos! "Ashes on my head!", he said, obviously feeling bad about it. But actually it was fine - a good number of volume one was sold and I was kept very busy sketching - the day flew by. I didn't even have time to look round the hall myself and I didn't manage to take a single photo at the show.

I did meet lots of lovely people though. I always find my German hosts and readers to be hugely polite and friendly and it has made my trips there (previously to Essen and Erlangen) very worthwhile and a complete pleasure. I must offer special thanks to Peter Nover (he wrote the article on me in Zack Magazine at the start of the year) who gave me a complete set of the Erlangen Panini stickers (I'm no. 68!), and the album, as well as a copy of a new magazine he's involved in, Camp (which includes a rare 4-page strip about the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun by Edgar P. Jacbos, from 1964).

Eckart was also very generous - still feeling bad about the lack of volume two stock, he gave me a present of the two André Juillard Pêle-Mêle artbooks from Pythagore. I'd been drooling over one of these at a friend's house en route to the Lakes Comic Art Festival last year, so this was a wonderfully generous gift (and a rather heavy one, I just about got them into my little bag for the flight home!).

With the day over, I made my way back to the hotel and promptly fell asleep for an hour. At six I met Eckart in the lobby to go out to dinner. He had a very interesting guest with him - Dr. Johannes Wachten, the retired senior curator of the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt. He had helped Eckart with some specialist translation relating to the Israeli Air Force when Salleck published Yann and Juillard's graphic novel, Mezek.

We took the tram across the Rhein into Cologne, and then a walk to the Art'otel on Holzmarkt to meet one of Eckart's stand helpers for the day, Ernst, and his wife. En-route we had a very interesting historical commentary from Dr Wachten, especially in relation to the Roman origins of Cologne (Colonia, or Colony, more fully Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium - the Colony of Claudius and Altar of the Agrippinians!), which helped to keep my thoughts away from the fact that it was getting really quite cold. Also, there was a lovely yellow moon low in the sky across the Rhein as we walked along the redeveloped harbour on Im Zollhafen.

Things were kept interesting when, after a long walk, we reached our restaurant for the evening, Oxin (on Alteburger Strasse), and I had my introduction to Persian cuisine. Not being a very adventurous eater I found it very tasty, though I kept away from the octopus! Eckart said we should all have ice cream next so, despite feeling rather full, I did my best with some kind of mocha-extravaganza at the nearby Eiscafé Forum.

The cold was getting colder and my brain was thinking thoughts bedward, but we decided on a quick tram trip to see Cologne Cathederal late at night - a very impressive structure that survived the Allied bombing of the city in WWII, and Germany's most visited landmark. We then said our gute nachts and Eckart and I made one more tram journey back to the Hotel Kaiser.

Cologne Cathedral at night, Ludwiggalerie Schloss Oberhausen and Burg Vondern

My flight home on Sunday was not until after 4 pm, so Eckart drove us both to Oberhausen (not far from Essen) and to the Ludwiggalerie to see the Streich Auf Streich exhibition - 150 years of German-language comics since Max and Moritz. It was a fascinating display, with many originals and made all the more interesting with Eckart as my personal guide. We followed the visit up with a luxurious lunch in the Kaisergarten Count Westerholt Restaurant (complete with live piano player) and then - though I was getting a little anxious about the time - made a very brief visit to a local moated 15th/16th-century castle, Burg Vondern.

After a little confusion about which direction to take, we got going back on the Autobahn, the traffic was kind, and I was dropped off at Köln-Bonn airport with time to spare for my flight home.

A big thank you, once again, to Eckart Schott for his generous hospitality, and to Ernst for taking me to lunch on the Saturday (and for his and his wife's, and Dr. Wachten's excellent company in the evening). As always, a super-big thank you to everyone who came to get a sketch, buy a book, or even just to chat - danke schon!

posted 10.11.14 at 4:12 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 6 |

Comicmesse Köln
Monday 3 November 2014
Just a quick note to mention that I'll be in Cologne this Saturday (8th November) for the Comic Fair at the Stadthalle Köln-Mülheim on Jan-Wellem-Strasse, courtesy of my German publisher Salleck Publications.
I don't know much more about it - but I do know that Thomas Du Caju (Betty and Dodge) who I met at Angouléme will be there, and so will Diana Sasse, a comic author who I was in touch with in the early days of the web-version of The Rainbow Orchid (she draws amazing horses).

Also in attendance will be Alexis Martinez and Gunther Brodhecker, creators of a little book I picked up a couple of months back called Das Tagebuch des Richardo Castillo, set in the 'New France' of the 18th Century (North America), with beautiful cartooning somewhat resembling the work of Willy Vandersteen, I thought. They have a colour edition coming out in French from BD Must.

See you there?

posted 03.11.14 at 10:53 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |

New Julius Chancer - A4 roughs
Thursday 18 September 2014
I said I'd be blogging the first three pages of the new Julius Chancer story quite closely, and here is the next stage - lettered A4 roughs.
I've measured out the panels on the final drawing paper (A3 landscape for half a page), scanned them in, reduced them to A4, printed them out, and have then very roughly sketched in the basics of each panel (based on the script and the thumbnails). These have then been scanned in again and lettered so I know how much space the balloons will take up before I commit to the finished artwork.

The next thing to do is to start the actual drawing!

posted 18.09.14 at 3:36 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 3 |

Thursday 4 September 2014
For various reasons it's taken a while to get going, but I am now working in earnest (when I can) on the next Julius Chancer book. It is fully plotted in great detail and I am into the scripting. Sketches are also happening.

posted 04.09.14 at 9:55 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 1 |

Julius Chancer at the London Film & Comic Con
Tuesday 15 July 2014
On Sunday I drove up to London for my adventure comics workshop at the UK's first YA Lit Con, YALC, hosted by the London Film and Comic Con.
I tried a couple of new things out at the workshop - lucky-dip treasure items and communal map-making, which I will definitely keep for future workshops. I have to say I'd prepared the event for a slightly younger audience than I got, and the venue was incredibly noisy - but everyone still seemed to enjoy it, despite a bemused expression or two at my opening 'Adventurer's Oath' (soon turning to chuckles, though). Huge thanks to everyone who participated, and also to Jenny Hayes, from Egmont, for looking after me so well.

This isn't the sort of comic show I would normally attend, but it was fascinating to see. I didn't stay too long after my book signing, but - if for nothing else - the whole trip was worth it just to see RO reader Matthew Stubbs turn up in a fantastic Julius Chancer cosplay. Thank you, Matthew - that really made my day.

One other thing to tag onto this blog entry: a lovely review for The Complete Rainbow Orchid from the fabulous Read It Daddy ...

Charlotte's best bit: Fab and exciting, and plenty of awesome female characters for her to identify with as well as a no-nonsense hero that uses his brains rather than his fists.

Daddy's Favourite bit: A shining example of a brilliant story that you can comfortably recommend to parents looking to introduce their kids to comics. Cannot recommend this highly enough.

Read more here!

posted 15.07.14 at 11:01 am in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |

Friday 11 July 2014
This weekend sees the annual London Film and Comic Con at Earls Court in London and, slotted into it, the first Young Adult Literature Convention, curated by Children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman.
I will be there on Sunday (13 July), giving a comics workshop at 11.30 ('Create your own amazing adventure comic'), with a book signing afterwards. I believe the workshop is free (once you've paid admission to the main convention), you just need to sign up at the YALC booth inside the Book Zone.

Hope to see you there!

posted 11.07.14 at 3:20 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |

Googling me
Wednesday 9 July 2014
I used to have a Google search set up so that I'd get an alert if The Rainbow Orchid was mentioned online. About two years ago I stopped it, and have mostly been living in blissful ignorance of whatever reviewers think of my book. True, I miss a number of very nice reviews (though links to these sometimes end up tweeted to me or sent to my email inbox anyway) but I also miss the more negative reviews (of which, thankfully, there are not so many), and even more importantly, highly polarised forum conversations where my book is discussed.
Is it because I'm an over-sensitive, thin-skinned artist? Well, yes, partly - I don't mind admitting that a bad review can make me feel a little down for a short while, but actually the past 3 or 4 years have thickened up my skin quite a lot, and a fair negative review has little effect on me now, especially as time and distance have made me more objective about RO myself.

But the main reason I don't particularly want to read negative reviews is because they usually serve no useful purpose for me as an author. I've said before that I'm very aware of my own book's shortcomings, and some of these have indeed been picked up in reviews as well. But quite often an author will look to readers' opinions to gage whether they are doing the right things, and if you do that, the message can get confusing ...

"... excellent, fast-paced, and very well-cast period adventure story."

"... a bit slower than you feel it could be ..."

"... the storytelling's so well paced it never feels like Garen's trying to squeeze too much in ..."

"... the narrative suffers from a horribly slow sense of pace ..."

"... the story is exciting and fast-paced ..."

"... the story took a long while to get going ..."

"... an interesting and fast paced storyline ..."

"... It's a slow burner ..."

"... a fast paced adventure quest, a real tale of derring-do ..."

"... It's fast paced and exciting ..."

There are other examples besides the pace of my story-telling, for instance the colouring - some people really love it ("beautiful colouring", "artful use of colour") and some think it's not so great ("dull, unexciting colours", "I found the colouring crude in places"), and so on - characters, drawing ability, plot, backgrounds, etc.

So what am I to make of all these contradictory views? Is my pacing just right or terribly wrong? Is my colouring lovely or terrible? The thing is, these are all aspects that, to a certain degree, are subjective. Yes, there's some bad colouring in my work, and yes, the pacing is not always as good as I would like it to be. But the fact is - I personally like a slow-burning plot with lots of intricacy, and I'm not a fan of bright colours or computery-gradients, I like muted colours, evocative for an historical adventure. And some readers will agree with me and some won't.

Even though I know these things can be down to personal preference and taste, I will still read a review that says someone doesn't like my colouring and I'll think, "people don't like my colouring", until, that is, I read another review that says the opposite, and then I'll think I'm doing okay. It's just the way our brains work.

Not Googling my book can have other consequences though. I recently did Google my book because the past week has seen a rather high number of Amazon sales (even selling out of stock two or three times), after a bit of a slump over the past few months, and I was curious to know the source - perhaps some widely-read nice review or something. I didn't get far into the search when I discovered, quite incidentally, a comics 'fan-site' publishing (terrible) scans of my entire book, for free, on its website. They were also providing several Cinebook titles (including Blake and Mortimer and Lucky Luke) and the full Asterix canon. I alerted Cinebook and we both sent messages to the site resulting in them taking our books down (and I never found the source of the recent sales, as the pirating task took up the next few hours of my day).

This time it was a fairly painless process - I've had to do this before, issuing DCMAs and taking full days out of my work to get a satisfactory result - not fun, and a bit like playing whack-a-mole, so not something I go looking for.

But let's end on a high note: I also came across these lovely tweets from BBC reporter Giles Dilnot:

"... Julius Chancer is pretty addictive ... enjoyed the Rainbow Orchid which I can now return ... felt v much like part one to wider adventures ..."

Thank you, Giles. And, with that, I'm now going back to my non-Googling lifestyle, and ignorant bliss.

Googling in the 1920s.
posted 09.07.14 at 12:09 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 2 |

Comic Salon - Erlangen, Germany
Wednesday 25 June 2014
For the publication of the second volume of The Rainbow Orchid in German (Die Regenbogen Orchidee: Auf Gefährlichen Pfaden), my publisher, Salleck, invited me to attend Comic Salon in Erlangen, Germany's biggest comic show. The event kicked off on Thursday (19th June), but I got an early morning flight from Stansted to Nuremberg on Saturday (I was up at 3.45 am!), and was at the show just a few hours later, staying until proceedings closed at the end of Sunday and flying home Monday morning.
As with all my recent European excursions, I had a fantastic time. German comic fans easily rival the Dutch for openness, friendliness and generosity (not to mention excellent English language skills), and I should also add patience to their list of virtues as I had quite a few more detailed drawing requests ... so much so that on the Sunday I was under strict instructions to only provide head-shots of my characters! Snow leopard cubs were requested quite a bit, too. Anyway - I am (and have been for a while now) a lot more comfortable with public sketching, and even though I haven't really done a lot of drawing this year, I enjoyed sitting and doodling away in people's books.

Comic Salon was a terrific show, a nice atmosphere, buzzing with comics of all kinds, and with a wide variety of readers. My French publisher, BD Must, was there, so I was able to say hello again to Jean-Michel Boxus after our Angouléme meeting, and I also got to meet Frank Madsen and Sussi Bech, two Danish comic creators I have long admired, along with their studio partners Tatiana Goldberg and Ingo Milton (and we had a lovely dinner together, along with my publisher Eckart Schott and Belgian artist Eric Maltaite, on Sunday evening). I also had a few good chats with Mike Perkins, who introduced me as his 'first inker' - back in the early 1990s I'd inked his pencils on a comic called Snowstorm, written by Paul H. Birch. I was also surprised to see Lizz Lunney at the show, and was able to say a quick hello.

At Angouléme I'd been disappointed that I hadn't been able to get into the Tardi exhibition, but I was delighted to see that it had made its way to Erlangen and I managed to get round it a couple of times, lost in the beauty of Tardi's art and the horror of its subject matter (mostly pages and sketches from Goddamn This War! (Putain de Guerre!). Also on the theme of the First World War, Joe Sacco's fold-out pages from his book, The Great War, had been enlarged onto canvas and displayed in the Schlossplatz in front of Markgräfliches Castle. It's a stunning book, and even more stunning at this size.

One of the special items made available to attendees at Comic Salon was a sticker book published by Panini with stickers of the guesting comic artists available from the various publishers around the show. When I was a lad of 7 or 8 I used to collect Panini football stickers, so to become a Panini sticker myself was a little thrill.

Thank you to everyone who bought my books and said hello, and a very special thanks to the Salleck Publishing stand-crew who were so friendly and looked after me so well. A special thank you to Wolfgang for his excellent company and chaperoning while I signed pre-orders, and, of course, to Eckart for inviting me and making it such a nice experience. I feel really honoured to be even a small part of the wonderful European comics scene.

posted 25.06.14 at 9:01 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 2 |

Spanish Integral and German Sword
Tuesday 13 May 2014
Today I received a couple of copies of the latest incarnation of The Rainbow Orchid - namely the complete story in one single hardback volume in Spanish - La Orquidea Arcoiris: Historia Completa. It's a big book, and a hefty one too, retailing at 29 Euros and available from NetCom2 Editorial.

And on Sat 21 - Sun 22 June I'll be in Erlangen for Comic Salon, Germany's most important comics festival (held once every two years). I'll be on the Salleck Publications table where I'll be signing and sketching in the German edition of volume 2 (Die Regenbogen Orchidee: Auf Gefährlichen Pfaden).

This edition has a little bonus in the form of the Lily Lawrence Story Sword of Truth that I originally wrote and drew for The Girly Comic back in 2004, only now it's in colour.

posted 13.05.14 at 10:20 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | 2 |

Making a comics page
Monday 17 March 2014
I have published a new audio slideshow with me rambling on about my process of making a page of comics. You can view it in the behind the scenes section of the website here. There's also a YouTube version, but it's not quite as good quality.
If you've read my 'director's commentary' that appeared at the Forbidden Planet International blog a little while back, or have seen me talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, or the Hay Book Festival, or at the British Comic Awards last year, then you'll already be familiar with this material.

As a footnote to this post, there's a rather grumpy review of The Complete Rainbow Orchid up at Amazon.com (US) where the reviewer goes on at some length about the 'pathetic' 'self indulgence' of my making-of material at the back of the book. While I don't mind if someone doesn't like my book - that's fine (and I'm very aware of its imperfections myself) - I do feel that this criticism is a little unfair.

Perhaps things are different here in the UK where many comic creators are actively trying to revive the comics industry by getting young people engaged in the medium, especially at workshops where we help them to create their own comics. I get a lot of interest in how I work - from invitations to do workshops at schools and book festivals, to emails on the subject (often several a month) and queries at comic shows.

It's got nothing to do with thinking me or my creative process is particularly important. It's a different world now - most artists have blogs and show their working methods and many published comics have sketchbook and process sections at the back. Why? Because people are genuinely interested. I love seeing such things myself, from the smallest of small-pressers to the biggest names in the industry.

Now, that's enough self-indulgence!

posted 17.03.14 at 2:02 pm in Rainbow Orchid | permalink | |

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