Back in 2002 some friends and I decided to each write a Christmas ghost story and then read them to each other that Christmas eve night. My contribution was called Silent Night and I've put it up online here - so go and have a read if you'd like a little Festive Fright!
Last week Murray and I completed our podcast discussions for those ten adventure films I blogged about earlier in the year and you can listen to our chat about Ray Harryhausen's The Golden Voyage of Sinbad at the Adventure Film Podcast blog. We do intend to record an eleventh podcast, an overview of film adventure and to see if any interesting conclusions can be drawn from the films we discussed. Your thoughts are most welcome too!
I wanted to review a small pile of excellent small press titles received over the past couple of months, but have run out of time. Instead, let me point you towards them - all top quality and well worth adding to your reading list: wonderful artwork and superhero drama with Martin Eden's Spandex; stylistic and metropolitan comics antholgy from David O'Connell and friends with Ink + Paper; worthy and marvellous successor to Whores of Mensa, Strumpet; north-east heroics and intrigue with Daniel Clifford and Gary Bainbridge's Sugar Glider. And if you want some excellent comic reading throughout 2012, and you haven't done so already, do yourself a big favour and go and subscribe to The Phoenix - it is something truly special.
Lastly, don't forget that The Rainbow Orchid volume 3, the concluding episode, will be published at the beginning of April 2012 - precisely ten years since it was first serialised in BAM! (issue 22, April 2002). The Dutch edition, De Regenboog Orchidee, will be published in May. In the meantime, here's the completed cover for you.
Have a lovely Christmas!
Other contributors include some equally firm favourites such as Jamie Smart, the Etherington Brothers, John and Patrice Aggs, Dave Shelton, Kate Brown, James Turner, Gary Northfield - I could go on! I also have a strip, a one-off story written by the amazing Ben Haggarty - I say amazing because he wrote Mezolith, and amazing is one of the many apt words to describe that marvellous book (yup, marvellous is another). Here's a panel from our strip, called The Golden Feather ...
If you're able to seek out a Waitrose store then pop in and pick up their free Waitrose Weekend paper (dated 17 Nov). As well as a feature on The Phoenix there is a code with which to get a special (and also free) Phoenix issue zero.
For lots more information (including subscription details) see the new Phoenix website!
Demoncon is organised and run by Graham Beadle and his Maidstone comic shop, Grinning Demon. It was a lovely intimate event taking place in a small sandwich bar (Eden in Bank Street, though I believe a bigger venue is on the cards for next year) and had a really nice atmosphere. I have to admit my expectations for sales were modest, but I sold 19 books and a handful of badges and met some great people too (I was delighted to meet the fantastic Phil Elliott after many years of more distant and irregular correspondence).
Huge thanks to Graham, his team, and his shop regulars and other attendees for a very welcoming and enjoyable day.
Don't forget my only public event appearance this year takes place on Sunday, 6 November, where I'll be on a table at Demoncon 2 in Maidstone signing and selling copies of The Rainbow Orchid vols 1 and 2 (see events page for details).
As I write I am colouring the final two pages of The Rainbow Orchid volume 3 and will have the cover finished by the end of next week. It then goes off into the mysterious magical publishing machine and will come out the other end, hopefully, in bright and tight book form in the UK in April 2012 ... at last!
Back in July I did manage to sneak in another four-page comic for Blank Slate's Nelson which will be released at Thought Bubble in November. All the proceeds for this book, containing an amazing collection of UK comic artists, will be going to Shelter - so do make sure you grab yourself a copy. It really is an amazing project and I feel very lucky to have been a small part of it. Check out Blank Slate's other books as well - they're probably the UK's most interesting comic publisher at the moment.
Remember The DFC? Well, it's not making a return exactly, but there is a brand new weekly comic from the same team, refreshed and reorganised, though published independently this time, launching in January 2012 - The Phoenix. Some of the work they have previewed so far looks stunning and I think this is a comic not to be missed. And it's not the only new comic to appear on the UK comics scene - 2 November sees the much-anticipated Strip Magazine which looks equally as wonderful. You can see a preview of it here.
On the subject of The Phoenix and The DFC - the Super Comics Adventure Squad blog is still going strong and the DFC Library have published some fantastic new books recently - collected editions of John and Patrice Aggs' The Boss and James Turner's Super Animal Adventure Squad, and brand new from the Etherington brothers, what may be one of the best new comics of the year as far as I'm concerned, Baggage - it's amazing!
I also want to give a link to Chris Doherty's comic, Video Nasties (for older readers), which he has generously made available online. I'm still reading it but am thoroughly enjoying the intriguing story, also really nicely illustrated.
What else, what else? Oh yes ... there is an article on The Rainbow Orchid in this month's Comic Heroes magazine (no.9) written by science fiction author James Lovegrove. It's a hefty and packed publication so worth getting if you like comics in general, especially - this month - if you're a Spider-Man fan. I must also thank Peter Stanbury and Paul Gravett for including a piece of my work in their Great British Comics Now exhibition that featured as part of last month's Helsinki Comic Festival - I'm chuffed!
Also this week, a short interview with me appeared in local free magazine East Grinstead Living - you can read it on the interviews page.
Yesterday I posted the second Adventure Films Podcast. This one sees Murray and me talking for an hour and a quarter on the excellent 1975 John Huston film The Man Who Would Be King. Give it a listen and leave a comment on the podcast blog to let us know what you think.
Finally - let me draw your attention to a couple of great comics that have come my way recently. Nick Foulger has used photography and Playmobil toys to tell the adventurous tale of Professor Thomas Swift in The Green Man - it's really impressive and the amount of work that has gone into it is incredible. You can see a free preview here and then go on to read more - which you should!
Dodenrit naar Monte Carlo ('Death Ride to Monte Carlo') was serialised weekly in Eppo Wordt Vervolg in 1988 and published as a book later in the same year. It was written by Martin Lodewijk and drawn by Eric Heuvel. On his blog Eric mentions there are possible stirrings in the direction of a new January Jones adventure (after a couple of short stories in 2009) ... we'll have to wait and see!
Special thanks to John Wigmans for the heads-up.
Edit: The latest Silvester Strips catalogue lists De Regenboog Orchidee vol 2 as being scheduled for April 2011.
Alex Fitch's excellent Resonance FM show on comics, Panel Borders, has reached its fifth anniversary. Alex interviews a wide range of interesting subjects and always asks good questions, so if you like comics it's a must-listen. The latest programme is part of the Women in Comics month and sees interviews with Selina Lock, Jeremy Day and Philippa Rice. And don't miss the Trina Robbins Q&A as well.
Carter's Column, the weekly strip running over at the Birmingham Mail's Speech Balloons blog, ended its 52-episode run of Sang Ri La La La at the end of January, and this month sees the start of a "thrilling new epic", Brand of the Dragon. Creator Paul H. Birch continues as the series' writer and a new artist, Jon Edwards, is on board - you can see an interview with him right here.
Fans of Gary Northfield (ie. everyone!) should do a jig of delight because he's started a new webstrip, Burp the Caveman. So far Burp has moved into a giant apple, gone to sea on an enormous leaf, and met the cavewoman of his dreams. Each episode has made me laugh out loud, and that's a sure sign of fabulousness.
This news a bit late in, but quality web comic Tozo has had its fourth issue printed up as a comic book and is available to buy. If you don't have any of them, get all four! It's one of the best UK adventure/mystery strips out there, and a rare sibling to The Rainbow Orchid as a British-based ligne claire comic.
Here's a project worth supporting - Andrew Wildman, well-known for his amazing Transformers artwork for Marvel UK will soon be starting a new graphic novel called Horizon, but this one he's doing all himself, writing, artwork and publishing. He's using Indiegogo to accept contributions which will enable the book to become a reality - please check it out, it's going to be really good.
I get quite a few emails asking how to get into comics (and sometimes people are even nice enough to thank me for the time I spend writing back to them with advice!) - but there's never a straightforward answer. The Comic Academy is something that could be of great help to comic creators and aspiring comic creators all over. Phil Hampton, the man behind it all, has set up the Academy to inspire and inform, and he is currently previewing several interviews he's recorded with a wide variety of comics professionals. Yesterday you could listen to the wise words of letterer Rus Wooton and web comic creator Will Turner. Today (3rd March) there is artist and editor Diana Greenhalgh and, oh, me! The interviews are only available for 24 hours once posted, though you can pay a subscription to have access to all of them, and more (there is a special offer until Friday). Do sign up and check it out and spread the word.
Finally, I just had to share this marvellous Julius Chancer fan art with you. It was sent by Mary Lau, from Hong Kong, and she says: " ... he's watching the famous 'Spam' by Monty Python with Blake and Mortimer." And he is! Thanks very much, Mary - that made my day.
Top row (l-r): Fiends of the Eastern Front by Gerry Finley-Day and Carlos Ezquerra - I was reading 2000AD at the time this was serialised, but I don't remember it! I'm not generally a big fan of vampires, but the WW2 setting attracted me. The Little Prince adaptation by Joann Sfar - yet to read, but it looks nice. A Distant Neighbourhood, vol. 1 by Jiro Taniguchi - beautiful manga.
Second row (l-r): Ozu: His Life and Films by Donald Richie - I've been getting into Ozu more and more since seeing Tokyo Story at the NFT earlier this year and my DVD pile of his films is growing. The Purple Smurfs by Peyo - I loved the Smurf albums as a youngster so it's nice to have them reissued, albeit in smaller editions (and I could do without the horrible film bumf on the cover). Lords of Death and Life by Jonathon Dalton - a lovely book by one of the best independent creators working in Canada today, Jonathan puts a huge amount of thought and work into his comics, and it shows in his well-researched and well-told stories.
Third row (l-r): There's No Time Like The Present 13 - Paul Rainey completed his excellent down-to-earth-SF-soap-opera earlier this year, a must read of British independent comics. Spandex 3 by Martin Eden - Martin draws the sexiest people in comics with a sublime, intelligent line, terrific stuff. Necessary Monsters by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Sean Azzopardi - I find Sean's art in this book genuinely chilling, another great UK independent comic.
Fourth row (l-r): Sgt. Mike Battle by Graham Pearce - still working through this huge tome, but have comics ever been so much mad fun? Starting Point 1979-1996 - essays by Hayao Miyazaki - I've had this for over a year now and keep it by my bed for constant dipping in and out of. Inspirational. Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot - I put this on my Christmas wishlist so had to wait to read it. Now I have, and it's brilliant - as expected.
Fifth row (l-r): Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne - I've been curious as to whether creationism has any valid arguments that could deflate Darwinism and have found nothing at all credible (I'll keep an eye out). Evolution, on the other hand, has oodles going for it - the world really is a marvel when you start to look at it with an open and rational mind. Find Chaffy by Jamie Smart - excellent children's book by the UK's premiere comic cartoonist, splendid stuff. Mo-bot High by Neill Cameron - I love all the DFC Library books, but I think this one just inches in as my favourite. I really hope there'll be a volume 2.
I wasn't there to sell comics (though I did sell and sign a few copies afterwards), but to take part in the Drawing Parade, where several artists were given 25 minutes to work under a camera, the results being relayed live onto a large plasma screen for the whole room to see.
My photo, below, sees Ellen Lindner at the board, and shows the set-up, complete with my thumb over the top left-hand corner (which is why I usually rely on Elyssa as my photographer, but she was having a day at home, catching up with work for her magazine deadline on Monday). I followed Ellen, and I was, in turn, followed by Paul Duffield... and so it went for the rest of the day with a host of talented comic artists bravely wielding their pens and brushes in public. I'd liked to have stayed and watched the whole lot, but I had to get home and to my own drawing board, which really is my home at the moment.
It was very inspiring seeing all the comic creators there, giving up their Sunday to sell the wonderful comics they'd already spent all their evenings and weekends making. The other photo shows Ed Pinsent, Martin Eden and Paul Rainey in the foreground, with John Maybury of Space Babe 113 fame behind them. By the time I left, the place was a throng of people - I hope they bought lots of stuff!
Basically this is live drawing (gulp!) projected onto a big plasma screen and I'll have books to sign afterwards. There are lots of amazing artists taking part throughout the afternoon, including Ellen Lindner, Gary Northfield, Darryl Cunningham, Paul Grist, Roger Langridge, Hunt Emerson - and more! Not only that, but there are a load of exhibitor tables selling a variety of comics too. Come along!