Friday, June 8, 2012

Ick-Day, chapter 4!

Issue 10 of Paragon has been available for a couple of weeks now and I've been a bit re-miss in blogging about it. In between looking after the kids full time, taking online courses and trying to master Japanese, I seem to be letting my comic responsibilities slide....really need to sort that out and get my priorities straight! Nevertheless, better late than never, so here is the fabulous Matt Soffe-rendered cover art for issue ten of Paragon:

This is the biggest issue of Paragon yet, clocking in at about 52 pages. There's a great variety of content by writers such as Matthew McLaughlin, Chris Cronin, Jim Cameron, Greg Meldrum, Davey Candlish and myself, and artists such as James Corcoran, Stephen Prestwood, Louis Carter, El Chivo, Davey Candlish (again) and Jim Cameron (again!) Of specific relevance to THIS blog is myself and Mssr.Prestwood's ongoing series Icarus Dangerous (or Ick-Day as it would be known in Japan, where English words tend to be abbreviated down to a single syllable).

 As you may remember, in the previous installment, Icarus had finally managed to locate his saviour Meriope and release her from imprisonment on the mysterious Bonemen's starship. Sadly, he also inadvertantly released some of Meriope's 'not-quite-fans', adding to his already not-inconsiderable problems. Now trapped between the advancing Bonemen on one side and a motley crew of mythical beings (including Gorgons, Centaurs, dismembered soldiers and, er, a young girl) on the other, Icarus must decide if the alien Meriope is really someone he can trust...or if she is actually just another threat to his well-being.

Stephen Prestwood has turned in his best work so far on this frenetic, action-packed chapter - take a look at the splash page below showing all our players in action to see what I mean:

 Does that look like fun or does that look like fun? And yes, I know I say it every time, but this is STILL just the tip of the iceberg for this story. It just keeps on getting more and more dangerous for our hapless hero - if you don't believe me, you just need to check out the final shocking page of this installment! And to that, you need to get your hands on a copy. To that end, I will hand you over to my editor Davey Candlish, who has provided all the info you need to order a copy (as well as plenty more previews) right HERE.

 If you are even slightly intrigued, please do order a copy and support the small-press and all of us comic-lovers, who are making these comics for YOUR enjoyment! That is all!
 Until next time.....
  Danger Out!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Coming Soon...Even More Danger for Icarus!

The new issue of Paragon is almost upon us, featuring (amongst other things) the continuing adventures of Icarus Dangerous, as things start to get reeeeeeeeeeally wierd. Now up to chapter 4, we will rejoin Icarus where we left him - with his souped-up sentient wings, on an alien spacecraft, millions of light years from home, on the run from an army of Bone Monsters, with Meriope, the not-so-grateful alien-in-sort-of-distress he has freed from imprisonment giving him an earful for inadvertantly releasing a whole bunch of FREAKS who have a bone to pick with her...and anyone who gets in their way! Pickaxe the miniaturised dwarf, Ophalia the Gorgon-like snake-beast, Severus the dismembered warrior, Brusque the monosyllabic Centaur and Mynx the, er, teenage minx, are all about to make Icarus' life even more insane than it already was...and that's before Bonehead Dax comes into the picture. And THAT's before....but that would be telling! Let's just say the ending to this chapter is a doozy! As ever, Stephen Prestwood is on art duties and from what I have seen so far, Jack Kirby would be proud! Stephen's space-scapes are nothing short of perfection. I won't put up any preview art from the strip until closer to the time of release, but just so that this post isn't piccy free, here is a super-cool pinup of Icarus Stephen did as a 'doodle', followed by the cover for issue 10 (also featuring Icarus) by the wonderful Matt Soffe. More details on how to pick this baby up coming soon!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Here's a funny thing.

When I first decided to have a crack at writing some comic scripts, the very first person I approached about submitting some work was Davey Candlish, who edits Paragon comic. He had put out a call for writers to take on the writing chores for his character Jikan, and when I got in touch interested about having a go at it, he was kind enough to give me the opportunity. I pitched an idea, he liked it, and away I went. The result was a tale called "Griffin's Bounty" --- and it was the very first multiple-page comic script I wrote.

Thing is---that was back in (I'm guessing) March or April 2010. And it's only now that this story is going to be unleashed into the public eye! The reason? Nothing sinister, simply the fact that there were already a whole bunch of Jikan stories in the bag before I came on board, so its taken some time for my spin-of-the-wheel to come up. But it's coming around now, kicking off with the release of "The Jikan Chronicles, volume 2", a 90page collection of brand-new Jikan tales --- including not just the aforementioned "Griffin's Bounty" but also another tale I wrote entitled "Uchuujin" (that's "Alien" in Japanese).

First of all, have a look at the cover, by Dave Candlish:

Pretty sweet, huh?

And guess what's sweeter? When you open the book and turn to the first page---it's the first page of "Griffin's Bounty", right up in your face for you to ogle at! The art is by my old friend El Chivo, who I've worked with on a number of projects over the last two years (most recently with Mammoth-Jack in issue 2 of know what I'm talking about right? If not----why the Hell have you not checked out issue 2 of Vanguard? You can view it for free and everything!!) Here's a typically awesome panel from the story, and Jikan is having a bit of an awkward moment:

Nice one, Chivo!

In this story, Sam Beckett...I mean, Jikan (sorry, I always think of Jikan as Quantum Leap Gone Native...really, there should be a Sam Beckett/Jikan crossover sometime, where Sam leaps into Jikan's body and says "Oh, boy" a lot...) turns up in ancient Greece, and is witness to a flock of typically boisterous griffin's doing a bit of ransacking and pillaging. He comes across a couple of survivors of the raid, young kids, who have been left all alone in the world as a result of the griffin attack. Naturally, Jikan decides he may as well help them out while he is hanging around waiting for his next leap, er, time-shift, and off he goes to set things right. Things don't turn out exactly as he was expecting them to though, and he finds himself up against a bigger threat than he thought. This story is notable as it introduces something new to the Jikan mix, something that will seem completely irrelevant at first, but will later turn out to be very important indeed.

Onto "Uchuujin" then, a shorter tale written as a bit of fun late last year. This one features art by Davey Candlish, which is cool, because I'd been wanting to work with Davey on something for a while, and his Mignola-stylings on this strip are quite groovy.

Here's a panel:

WHOK! Take that nasty...alien? Yeah, that's right, just for a change it's not demons Jikan's fighting in this tale, but ALIENS!!! Didn't see that coming, did you? Doesn't matter to Jikan though, aliens, demons, people, they're all just things to be chopped through if they piss him off. And the aliens in this story REALLY piss him off. This story also refers back to the previously mentioned "very important thing" Jikan comes into possession of in 'Griffin's Bounty', and we get a bit of a hint about what it can do and how it is going to change things for Jikan in the future. Luckily, you won't have to wait long to find out the truth, because in this very same volume is a multi-part story by fellow Jikan scribe Mark Howard, which explains everything via a series of shocking revelations, setting Jikan off in a new direction for his future adventures.

Other contributors to The Jikan Chronicles volume 2 include writers Matthew McLaughlin and Chris Cronin, and artists Dustin Parr and Chris Askham. It's a great book and well worth the few quid required to get your hands on one (£1.50 for the digital download and a fiver for the book!) Click HERE and pick up a copy in whatever format tickles your fancy.

Of course, my Jikan fun doesn't end with the two stories in this book. Oh no, I've also written a very special 2 part episode in which Jikan turns up on...well, that would be telling, to be honest, and I don't wanna. The 2 parter features art by a number of different artists, including Matt Soffe - coincidentally, another artist I've been wanting to work with on something for ages and ages. Jikan, eh? He's like a little-matchmaking cupid for artists and writers, bringing people together! :)

I'll leave you with a preview panel from part 2 of "Stowaway", with art by the aforementioned Mr. Soffe. It's a doozy. This 2 parter will be appearing in an issue of Paragon in the VERY NEAR FUTURE (no, you won't have to wait over 2 years for it!) so keep your eyes and ears posted in the usual places for info as it becomes available.

Thanks for reading - now go get yourself a seeing to by Jikan!

(Jikan, Stowaway, art by Matt Soffe)

Catching up....

This re-location business has meant I haven't really been keeping this blog up-to-date. I've got a really cool new book to talk about, but before I get into that (in a separate post), thought I would take a moment to add in a couple of things that I did for the 2000ad forum in the last few months.

The first is a 5 part Judge Dredd story which I wrote for last year's (God that sounds like ages ago) Forum Advent Calendar. I wrote it in the style of an old Daily Star Dredd and rounded up five different artists to illustrate each installment. The results were pretty damn good I have to say, with Owen Watts, Filip Roncone, Tony Rothwell, Neil Roche, and Stephen Prestwood all turning in some cool art for their contribution. It went down well on the forum too, I am glad to say. And here it is, in its entirety:

Groovy, huh?

A few months later, last February (that doesn't sound quite so long ago thankfully), there was an art/writing collaboration competition on the forum, to mark the 35th anniversary of the Galaxy's Greatest. The idea was that writers and artists were to collaborate on something, but it didn't really take off, unfortunately. I kind of cheated a bit....I wrote something, as I always do...then I took it to the NEXT LEVEL by drawing it myself!! But don't worry...I only said I "kind of" cheated...I did get a collaborator on-board, namely Owen Watts, who coloured and lettered my terribly bad scribbles, turning a turd into, well, something quite polished and pretty to look at! Here then, is the 2 pager I wrote/drew in honour of 2000ad's 35th Anniversary (don't worry, I won't be trading my word processor in for colouring pencils anytime soon).

And there we have it, a little bit of catching up and filling in the blanks.

Now onto something new and different.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vanguard Issue 2

Oh look, I haven't been here since November. How time flies! Last time I was here, I was in full-time employment being paid a decent salary, had nary a care in the world and had plenty of time for engaging in my favourite passtime - comics, both reading and writing them. Things have changed drastically however. My company went bust and closed before Christmas (cheers!) leaving me unemployed with no salary and forced to depend on the dole for my weekly survival (not easy when you have a mortgage and four kids!!)

To say that knocked me for six is an understatement. Took me quite a while to get my head around my new circumstances and I really didn't know what I was going to do with myself. Still don't, to be honest, but at least I've started to take a few steps in a new direction. As my wife is Japanese, we decided in January that we would make the most of this 'opportunity' (see, I'm a glass half-full kind of guy) and head to Japan for a while. It's something we've talked about before. It will be good for the wife to get home for a while, good for the kids to spend some time exploring that side of their culture and heritage, good for me for improving my Japanese skills, which I'm probably going to need sooner than later. Also, I can use the 'time-out' to try and come up with an 'action plan' for getting myself back into some kind of gainful employment. Or something. Kind of making this up as I go, to be honest. In any case, the tickets are bought and we fly on the 19th so I'm committed now. Just have to see how it all pans out.

All of which is really just a massive lead-in to explaining why this -----

---- is so damn late!

I pretty much lost all interest in my creative endeavours for a few months there and let everything slide, so by the time I started getting myself together and started organising things again, there was still a good bit of work to do. Nevertheless, the show must - eventually - go on, and so I am finally able to say - Vanguard Number 2 is now available! And there is good news, which I will get to in a moment.

This issue of Vanguard sees the continuation of the stories that began in issue 1. As before, art duties on International Woman of Mystery tale "Atomic Call" are by David Blankley, while Louis Carter continues to produce some brilliantly bizarre artwork on sci-fi, fantasy epic "Halo and the Gryphon". This issue's violent installment of 1800's "When Good Donkey's Go Bad" tale "Mammoth-Jack" features a change of artist however, as my good friend El Chivo takes over pencilling duties from Owen Watts. But fear not, Mr. Watts is still on board providing some fantastic lettering work for the 6 page tale...and that's not his only contribution to this issue, as you will see when you take a look.

Apart from this there is another single page Tucker story, featuring glorious, blood-soaked, full colour artwork by Bhuna. This tale features a change of direction for the psychopathic character originally created for Hallowscream, bringing a fantasy-based twist to proceedings in order to 'lighten' the serial-slashing tone somewhat. I've also got another two wonderful pages of art featuring the comic's fictional editor 'Redbats' by David Withers, who also provides lettering for two of the strips herein. And, of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention that lettering master Jim Campbell has also deigned to grace us with his presence lettering David Blankley's noir-tastic Atomic Call pages. It's 24 pages of cover to cover action, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, alien creatures, ass-kicking babes, angry donkeys, demons and deceased serial killers. Honestly, what more do you want from a comic? What's that? Free gifts? Oh alright then....but we'll get to that. First...have a look at some preview pages why don't you?

Page from Atomic Call - art by David Blankley

Page from Halo and the Gryphon - art by Louis Carter

Page from Mammoth-Jack - art by El Chivo

So, now to the crux of the matter. How do you get your hands on this? Well, there are two ways. Though I imagine the majority of you will be more interested in the first than the second. Because the first is...

Yes, that's right, I've decided to put this issue up online to be viewed, in it's entirety, for free. Why? Well, because I would like a lot of people to read it, to be blunt. Although I practically sold my entire print one of issue 1 over the course of five or six months, that still only came to a small number of copies distributed (less than 50). Which means less than 50 people read the comic. I'd certainly like to have more of a readership than that but since it's difficult to persuade people to part with their cash for something they can't see in the flesh before they take a chance on, I thought this might be the way to go. That, and the fact that I will be in Japan for at least the next six months and the postage costs back to the UK would be ridiculous! So, with that in mind, you can, right this very minute, make your way HERE and enjoy the comic.

The only thing I would ask in return is that you throw a few comments our way upon reading. The beauty of that site is that you can comment on each page as you read, so if something comes to mind, if you like something or hate something, if you have suggestions for how we could improve things, you can very quickly make a note of it before going to the next page. I would love to know what you think of the stories/writing and I'm sure my collaborators would love to know how you find their art so please do take a few seconds to do this.

Note - only issue 2 is available to view. I didn't think it would be fair to those who purchased a copy of issue 1 to then make it available for free, so I haven't done so. However, there is sufficient recaps given in the strips themselves that this shouldn't hinder your enjoyment of the comic. If you haven't read issue 1 and what you see here intrigues you enough that you would like to, I still have a few copies left which I would be more than happy to sell to you - failing that, the issue is also available to view as a myebook for the ridiculously low price of 50p - click HERE to access it.

So, now that I've told you how you can read the comic for free, you're probably not going to be all that interested in paying for a print copy, are you. NEVERTHELESS, if you are the type of person (like me) who prefers his comics 'in the flesh' and likes to hold some really, physical paper in his hand whilst reading, let me see if I can entice you. Because for those who DO avail of a print copy of the comic there are a couple of extras.

Firstly, you will receive - absolutely free - a copy of "Speed Date", a 16 page full-colour A5 comic that collects together both parts of slaser-serial killer story "Speed Date", which originally appeared in Hallowscream's 2010 and 2011 issues. Art on part 1 is by Ghostpockets and on part 2 by Bhuna. The story comes wrapped in a pair of beautiful covers rendered by Bhuna - check out his awesome "after Bill Sienkiewicz" homage:

Secondly, you will also receive a set of four, full-colour, gloss laminated artcards featuring art by some of the comic's contributors. There's an unlettered version of Liam Byrne's groovy issue 1 cover art, an unlettered version of David Blankley's issue 2 cover and brand new images by Owen Watts and Louis Carter, featuring 'Mammoth-Jack' and 'Halo and the Gryphon' respectively. They look really, really good, if I do say so myself.

So there you have it. If you would like to support us by purchasing a copy, just email me at - or drop me a line on facebook, or a pm on the 2000ad forum - and I'll fix you up with as cheap a price as I can possibly manage. It's your feedback and comments - and readership - I'm after more than your money, so as long as my postage costs are covered I'm pretty much happy. The only thing is, if you want to go this way, you will have to let me know before Sunday so I can get everything ready for postage before I depart for distant shores. (Some travelling money would be nice, hint hint. :)

That's it! I hope you all enjoy the comic, whichever way you choose to read it! And don't forget - let us know what you think!!!