I actually finished drawing The Rainbow Orchid in October 2011 (with the cover completed the following month), and volume three was finally published in April. It was a fairly low-key launch, with the nearest event being the following month at a quiet Bristol Comics Expo, but the reaction and reviews were still very nice - the best being May's Graphic Novel of the Month in The Observer:
"... I couldn't like it more if I tried ... It is all so beautifully done: the historical references are spot on ... the dialogue is pitch perfect ... the result is one of the most satisfying comics around, whether you are a small boy, or a grown woman."
Receiving an endorsement from comedian Rhys Darby was the icing on the cake:
"... I really love your Rainbow Orchid books. They fuel my hunger for classic adventure!"
One of the nicest things has been the lovely emails I've received from readers, not to mention the in-person comments from people at various comics shows - where they can actually see me blush!
In September The Complete Rainbow Orchid came out - for me, the book that really matters, and the way I would like most people to read it. I still haven't read it all through myself yet, I'm waiting a while so I can at least have a partially fresh look at it. But Egmont did a wonderful job on the book, and I'm especially chuffed with all the extras. It even made a few best-of lists for 2012:
The Observer best Graphic Novels of 2012 - "... timeless adventure stories that fans of Tintin will adore."
Forbidden Planet Best of the Year: Zainab - "... Ewing's adventure of a search for a rare, possibly non-existent flower left me more excited than that sentence possibly can recount. I have no further words for it: it's just a fantastic comic."
Forbidden Planet Best of the Year: Rob Jackson - "... this is my best of the year, it's such a beautiful book. It was great to read the whole story all the way through in one go."
Jason Cobley - "... the pages just zing, enthralling kids and grown ups alike. Proper all-ages storytelling. ... if you're looking for something to get youngsters away from TV and reading something that also gives them visual appeal, here it is."
And a couple more from Laura Gomez and Jonathan King. There was also this very nice review from coNZervative in New Zealand. I wouldn't be aware of most of these nice mentions if it wasn't for Linda Wada, who maintains a Rainbow Orchid fan-page. Big thanks, all!
Another nice thing that happened this year was The Rainbow Orchid getting distribution in the United States, resulting in a number of positive reviews and mentions, including this one from Comics Worth Reading ("... "a great example of what "all ages" really should mean"). There was a good interview with me on US comics website The Beat back in January.
In November I published The Rainbow Orchid Supplement (Down the Tubes review and Forbidden Planet review), and the Spanish edition of RO came out, La Orquidea Arcoiris from NetCom2 Editorial. A few months earlier Silvester Strips brought all three volumes of De Regenboog Orchidee into a lovely boxed set, or cassette.
January 2012 saw the launch of The Phoenix, a brilliant weekly comic for kids that has been quite rightly receiving praise and plaudits from all quarters. Due to other work commitments I haven't been able to be a big part of it (yet!), but I was delighted to appear in the first issue with The Legend of the Golden Feather and in the middle of the year with The Bald Boy and the Dervish, both written by Mezolith author and storyteller, Ben Haggarty. It's chock full of the very best of British comic creators, so give yourself a present for 2013 and subscribe!
On a personal level the year has been a nice one, though with one low point when I lost my dear cat, Tansy, on her 14th birthday in August (you can see a photo of her in the back of The Complete Rainbow Orchid as I tried to get her to pose for the cover of volume two!). A good innings, but she's terribly missed. On the up-side, my daughter saw her first birthday and is turning into such a lovely little person - I feel very lucky.
I had a good Christmas - my comics presents were Bryan Talbot's third Grandville book (completely terrific) and the Commando: 50 Years book (have yet to explore, but looks wonderful). I got a beautiful Japanese print (which I may blog about soon) and I'm looking forward to watching Jigokumon, which i got on DVD.
So what can I say about 2013? Firstly, the French language editions of RO, L'Orchidee Arc-en-ciel will be published in February by BD Must, and I'm really looking forward to seeing those. I can also say there will be new Julius Chancer, though with no contracts signed, as yet, I'm reluctant to say any more. But even if every publisher suddenly abandoned me you'd still get new Julius Chancer - on this website. Still, the greater likelihood is that it will be in print, and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into that.
Here's hoping we all have a fabulous 2013 - happy new year!