downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...
The downthetubes news blog was assimilated into our main site back in 2013, but we're glad you're here, because that's currently undergoing some under the bonnet refurb! So we've brought this blog back from the dead to tide us over.
We expect to be back up and running next week, just before the 2017 Lakes International Comic Art Festival - see you there?
Hop over to www.downthetubes.net for other British comics news, comic creating guides, interviews and much more!
Saturday, 17 November 2012
Aimed at a 12+ readership but enjoyed by people of all ages, 7String is a full colour adventure graphic novel about a boy with a guitar sword, heading out on an epic quest into a world of music. Wielding a guitar-sword, Zach fights to defend everything he loves by using tempo, volume and genre against instrument-wielding foes.
Aside from his own comics Nich, who lives in Salisbury, produces work for Titan Magazines, VS Comics, Mattel, features in various exhibitions, and has worked with the BBC. He's been touring comic conventions to promote 7String since the beginning of last year, and says he has received fantastic feedback from consumers, reviewers and fellow comic creators. 7String is currently stocked in a number of stores nationwide and Nich signed on with Canadian publisher Zeta Comics in August 2011, and the first volume of 7String was published in July 2012.
The first book has already received rave reviews from peers and critics alike, and now Nich's hoping to continue the success by appealing for fans worldwide to collectively donate £10,000 to fund the making of Volume 2.
Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website that can be used to gather any sum of money to fund a range of projects and products.Previously it was primarily for projects in America, it opened its doors to UK-based projects earlier this month.
Funding is normally open for one or two months, and curators are able to set their own target amounts. If they fail to reach that amount, the project is not funded and nobody is charged. If the project surpasses its target, there is no ceiling on how much can be raised in the time limit.
Nich is hoping to be one of the first few in the UK to successfully achieve his target goal before the month-long opportunity closes on 9th December.
He's at Thought Bubble this weekend, where he will be exhibiting his work and also taking part in a question and answer panel about upcoming series VS Comics.
• The Kickstarter Project can be found at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/234373302/7string-volume-2?ref=live
• For more information on Nich and his work, visit www.nichangell.co.uk
Penguin recently announced it had partnered with Ireland-based animation studio, Cartoon Saloon (producers of The Secret of Kells, Skunk Fu, the new movie Song of the Sea, and segments for Baby Cow and Moone Boy) and Northern Ireland's producer of kid's media, Dog Ears (creators of upcoming animated TV series Miss Rosie Red), to co-produce Puffin Rock as a multi-platform brand - including a 39 episode animated TV series as well as digital and physical format books, and apps.
You have to wonder if they're looking at a tie-in magazine, too.
Puffin Rock revolves around a family of puffins, including a young puffling, Oona, and her little brother, Baba, as they explore the sea, land and sky around their island home. The puffins share the island with various creatures, including an elusive mermaid.
The Belfast Telegraph, which recently ran a feature on the new show and the rapidly-growing Dog Ears company, reports the characters in the seven minute episodes will not speak but will make Puffin sounds, while a narrator talks.
The co-production partnership is the latest in a line of recent acquisitions and co-production partnerships that include Topsy and Tim, Hattie B, Magical Vet, Whale Trail, Moshi Monsters and Skylanders for the Penguin Children's Group UK.
The Belfast Telegraph also reported Dog Ears is looking for to take on 14 new staff next year. Anyone interested in applying to be an animator with the team can find details on www.cheersdogears.com
Friday, 16 November 2012
At Comics: Refreshing Parts Other Literature Can’t Reach!, graphic novelist and Booktrust online writer in residence Hannah Berry, author of the Jonathan Cape graphic novels Britten and Brulightly and Adamtine will invite you to try a comic or two on for size, presenting two hours and two panels hosted by Hannah and Paul Gravett in conversation with some of the country’s best graphic novelists.
These include Glyn Dillon (The Nao of Brown), Karrie Fransman (The House That Groaned), Rian Hughes (Yesterday’s Tomorrows, On The Line), Simone Lia (Fluffy, Please God, Find Me A Husband), Sarah McIntyre (Vern and Lettuce, Nelson, Airship) and Dave McKean (Cages, Celluloid, Pictures That Tick) and a special appearance by Posy Simmonds (Gemma Bovery, Tamara Drewe).
They will tell you why they love the funny books. You can ask them questions about comics. We can all rejoice in graphic novels. The world can watch as we present to you just why graphic novels are just as good as literary fiction. Get along!
• Comics: Refreshing Parts Other Literature Can’t Reach!: Monday 19th November 2012 6.30 for 7-9.00pm, the Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3GA. Tickets: £6 Click to book or pay on the door (subject to capacity)
Written by Alex De-Gruchy with art from Gorgio Iannotti & Mike Bunt, the publication of the 56-page graphic novel The Last Ride Of Henry Holden marks five years of publishing history for the Birmingham-based comics publisher.
Since 2007, Time Bomb Comics has regularly been publishing an eclectic range of one-shots and graphic novels from both brand new and established comic creators. The Last Ride Of Henry Holden - which will also be available through Diamond’s Previews catalogue - is a grim tale of Old West redemption set in the year 1871, written by Alex De-Gruchy with artwork by Giorgio Iannotti and Mike Bunt, colouring by Owen Watts and lettering by Nikki Foxrobot.
It will be on sale at Thoughtbubble at a special launch price of £6.00, along with Time Bomb’s full range of titles, which include Dick Turpin and the Crimson Plague, London Calling by Stepen Walsh and Keith Page, and Kronos City.
• For more information on this and any other Time Bomb Comics visit timebombcomics.com
The Book: Hunt Emerson, the dazzlingly talented cartoonist, tackles the biggest literary name of them all: Dante. Emerson's Inferno delights on many levels: as an ingenious translation of classic verse; an effortlessly readable introduction to a complex poem; a delicious crib for anxious Dante students; and as a warm tribute from the master of one art form to the grand master of another.
It is a wonderful treat for anyone who already loves Dante.
The Review: Hunt Emerson has proven a dab hand at adapting works of great literature into the comics form and his talent for doing is firing on all cylinders with his version of Dante's Inferno.
It's a title, of course, that has seen its fair share of adaptation: Bloomsbury published a sumptuous comics re-telling by Seymour Chwast back in 2010, for example. But Hunt tackles the subject mnatter with such gleeful subversion that you can't help but smile at his re-telling of Dante's tale of the hapless living soul taken on an often macabre but always compelling journey through the seven circles of Hell.
There's also an essay by Kevin Jackson on Dante included in the book, which explains how the comic has been developed from the original, points out some of the more complicated jokes, and invites readers to go back to tackle Dante for themselves.
I particularly enjoyed their reasoning for omitting some of the more distasteful elements of the story. (Dante fans will know exactly which ones cartoonists would do well to avoid).
This is another terrific adaptation of a classic work of literature from Hunt: the art's fantastic, it's clever, it's witty, but at the same time it's a reverent treatment of the poem.
And what's not to like about Margaret Thatcher being used as a model for a feisty gate-guarding demon? Go on, track down a copy...
Thursday, 15 November 2012
Out later this month from 2000AD and DC Comics is The Batman Judge Dredd Collection, which brings together the four team-ups between the Lawman of the Future and the Dark Knight for the first time in a brand new hardback edition, with a fantastic roster of superstar talent, including Simon Bisley and Glenn Fabry.
Originally released between 1991 and 1998, these epic crossovers - Judgment on Gotham, Vendetta in Gotham, The Ultimate Riddle, and Die Laughing - brought the dynamic duo together to fight their ultimate foes. From alien super-fiend Judge Death escaping to Gotham to the Joker teaming up with the Dark Judges to cause mass slaughter in Mega-City One, The Batman Judge Dredd Collection brilliantly captures the lunacy and non-stop action of these two all-too-similar worlds from either side of the Atlantic.
Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner leads a pack of top names, including Alan Grant (Batman, Lobo), Simon Bisley (Hellblazer), Glenn Fabry (Preacher, Hellblazer), Val Semeiks (The Demon, Lobo), and Cam Kennedy (Batman, The Light and Darkness War) - all contained in a cover from Hellboy creator Mike Mignola.
Published by 2000AD in the UK and Ireland, and by DC in North America, this ultimate new edition also includes the hard-to-find meeting between Dredd and psychotic biker Lobo, and deserves a place in the collection of any self-respecting Dredd or Batman fan.
• The Batman Judge Dredd Collection is available from 27th November 2012
• Buy it from amazon.co.uk
• Buy it from ForbiddentPlanet.com
|Dan Dare art by Keith Watson|
Art from Trigan Empire by Don Lawrence, Dan Dare by Keith Watson and Nellyphant by Leo Baxendale are just some of the lots in the current ComPal Auction, which closes soon.
Comic Cuts is widely regarded as the first comic and the Number One on offer is one of very few known to have survived. "It’s a bit grubby and dog-eared," note ComPal, "but one might be after 122 years." Not so The Hotspur with some ultra high grade complete years of 1935 and 1938 on offer.
A Beano Book 1 is also in the auction.
There are more Eagle rarities in the current auction with, Keith Watson’s original artwork of a darkly threatening Mekon and another Dan Dare Walkie-Talkie Set (released early 1950s) produced by J & L Randall – a lot that includes one Jeff Arnold and two Dan Dare badges, Eagle Passport with all four inserts, Eagle Club Membership Card, Eagle Pocket Chess And Draughts Set in card (no pieces), three Eagle Annual and book flyers with Junior Shipmate of The Cutty Sark Eagle Certificate and six Dan Dare plastic figures.
One other fun item has to be a set of Dan Dare knitting patterns published by Sirdar in 1991, offered with some Dan Dare model figures set hand-painted metal and boxed, produced by Good Soldiers in the 1990s.
One non-comic offering is a 1939 run of Picture Post with brilliantly evocative covers and photo-stories of Britain preparing for war.
A rare TV Century 21 special is also on offer, along with Fleetway’s Super Library, all 26 issues, and a fine Trigan Empire artwork by Don Lawrence.
The US section highlights 1950s pre-code Horror comics with long runs of Dark Mysteries, Web Of Mystery and Marvel Tales. There are most issues of Superboy #3-75, Superman #102-300, J L A #1-164 and a Hulk #1 cents copy.
• Bidding closes on Tuesday 27th November at 8.00pm GMT. Full catalogue at www.compalcomics.com/catalogue/index.htm. If you have a question about any of the items in the catalogue, please send an email to Compalcomics director Malcolm Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Trigan Empire by Don Lawrence|
|Art from Night Post - art by Laura Trinder|
There will also be some amazing comics on sale, and I urge you to check out the work of Improper Books, whose simply gorgeous-looking projects caught my eye some time back.
Improper Books is a collective of comic creators formed in 2009 by writer Benjamin Read and artist Laura Trinder and Chris Wildgoose. While collaborating together on the set of UK independent feature Warhouse, the trio discovered a mutual love for comics, illustrated books, and the darker side of fairy tales and set about making their own.
From that, the idea of Improper Books came about; a collective of writers, artists and designers with the know-how to make comics, books and apps, all of which have a touch of the fairy tale, the Gothic or the macabre, and focused on a creator-owned model that is fair to all involved.
Since its inception, the group has grown to include artists Alice Duke and Bevis Musson, ace letterer Jim Campbell, colourists Derek Dow, Andrė May and Alex Rosa, writer/Managing Editor Matt Gibbs and more.
Benjamin Read, Laura Trinder, Chris Wilgdoose, Bevis Musson and Matt Gibbs will be in the New Dock Hall, where they’ll have a variety of books and give aways on offer, including free colour promo comics of their forthcoming graphic novel Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale in the build up to the release of the complete book in February 2013, plus signing a limited run of B&W previews of Butterfly Gate: Beginnings.
They’ll also have some early sneak peaks of Bevis and Matt’s Knight & Dragon, plus copies of Bevis’ self published Dead Queen Detectives Omnibus: The II Edition, which collects the the first two issues together with 12 new pages and a colour cover.
Chris, Laura and Bevis will also be taking it in turns throughout the weekend to sketch at the table, and take orders for any commissions you might want from them in the run up to Christmas.
• Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale will be out in February, while Night Post is scheduled for the end of next year, for a Hallowe'en release.
• Check out Improper Books at www.improperbooks.com
In 1993 on a disused RAF base in Lincolnshire two elderly women meet for the first time, brought together by their remembrance of a pilot who flew from the base during World War II. The older of the two women hands a doll to the younger as well as a letter from the pilot which she asks her to read.
In is 1943 and Lancaster bomber S-Snowwhite and its crew of seven young RAF airmen are taking part in the 'Thousand Bomber' raids against Germany, watching the fires burn in the cities below them as the enemy night-fighters and flak eat away at the aircraft around them.
S-Snowwhite's pilot is Flight Sergeant David "Aubie" Auberson who has survived 17 of the 30 sorties he needs to complete his tour of operations - the average number aircrew survive is 11. Cycling in the country to take his mind off things, he meets a young girl called Lisa with a doll she calls Snow White, a girl who was affected by the bombs dropped by German bomber crews over London three years before. They talk before Aubie has to return to base to take off on his latest sortie, to bomb the heart of the Reich - Berlin.
Morvano's artwork is striking with lots of lovely blue skies and open country during the daytime while the night time raids are claustrophobic and dark, illuminated only by fires and explosions. His depictions of the Lancasters are impressive and their German predators, the unusual Dornier Do 335 A-6 in the earlier raid and a Junkers Ju 88C in the later one, are accurately presented yet never overdone.
But Seven Dwarfs isn't just about how this affects the aircrew but how it affects the men and women back at the base. He even draws parallels with the Blitz to show how aerial bombing affects the people on the ground. Yet perhaps the greatest strength of the book is that it is told as a flashback from the reading of the letter in 1993 allowing the feelings of the pilot to be directly expressed to the reader.
There are two other books in the Berlin series, Reinhard Le Goupil (Reinhard the Fox) set in 1948 about the Berlin Airlft and Deux Enfants De Roi (Two Children Of A King) set in 1963 about the Berlin Wall. If either of these are even half as good as The Seven Dwarves then I hope that Cinebook will be looking to translate and publish them as well.
There are more details of Berlin - The Seven Dwarves on the Cinebook website.
There are more details of the Berlin series at the Dargaud website (in French).
Cinebook will be selling their range of books including Berlin at Thought Bubble's Royal Armouries Hall in Leeds on the weekend of 17-18 November 2012.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
In advance of next week's South Kensington Kids Festival which celebrates picture books and graphic novels for children, Alex Fitch talks to four creators whose work contains elements of each medium.
Andi Ewington discusses his novella "45" which divides the text and illustrations of superhero comics onto separate pages and the spin-off comic Blue Spear, co-written by Com.x publisher Eddie Deighton; while novelist Robert Rankin talks about his first graphic novel Empires which moves his celebrated monochrome cover illustrations onto every page of a new steam-punk sequel to The War of the Worlds.
Also, children's illustrators Oliver Jeffers and Axel Scheffler talk about their recent picture books This Moose belongs to me and Superworm.
Jeffers looks back at his parallel career as a fine artist, on display in the collection Neither here nor there, and Scheffler discusses partnership with writer Julia Donaldson on memorable books such as The Gruffalo and The Highway Rat.
The South Kensington Kids Festival runs from 21st to 25th November and features screenings of French animated films The Gruffalo's Child, and Ernest and Celestine, plus talks and drawing jams by Quentin Blake, Emile Bravo, Joann Sfar, Axel Scheffler and many more.
8pm, Thursday 15th November 2012, Resonance 104.4 FM / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / podcast at http://panelborders.wordpress.com/category/book-list
In a Q and A recorded at last Autumn's MCM Expo, Alex Fitch talks to comic book writer Gail Simone about her career so far, from breaking into the industry via her influential blog 'Women in Refrigerators' and early strips for Bongo Comics to her recent runs on Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman. Gail discusses the changes to Batgirl in the DC New 52 range of comics, her acclaimed superhero retirement story Welcome to Tranquillity and her co-authorship of Firestorm with writer Ethan van Sciver.
8pm, Sunday 18th November 2012, Resonance 104.4 FM / streamed at www.resonancefm.com / podcast at panelborders.wordpress.com
Creator and publisher Tim Perkins' book is simply brilliant, a great Christmas present for both young and old. Wonderful characters, beautiful art, a whole new universe to explore.
Worlds End Volume 1: The Riders on the Storm had its world launch last year in Malta followed a few days later with a UK launch to much lauded praise from both the fans and Tim’s contemporaries in the field of comics. Since then the book has garnered many new fans and seen heaps of praise given to it. The exciting, fun-filled book is an all-ages graphic novel and is being marketed as “Science Fusion,” melding elements of science fiction with fantasy.
A coming of age story mixed with themes of friendship and quests amidst the trials and tribulations of the invasion of an alien horde intent on “aqua-forming” their otherwise tranquil world. The question is, will a little magic be enough to stop the bad guys known as the Aoevill.
He is now company director of Wizards Keep Publishing, the publishing imprint of Wizards Keep Limited. The Worlds End graphic novel is the first major publication from the company.
downthetubes: Your Worlds End project has been up and running for some time now. Are you pleased with progress?
Tim Perkins: Yes, I am extremely pleased with how things are progressing with Worlds End. The thing is that I don’t just write and draw the books – I’m also producing all the graphics, and sorting the administration for the company as well as handling the entire PR, marketing and branding.
Add to that the fact I am also the managing director of the company, so things move at a slower pace production wise on the artwork side of things once all the writing is done for each book. The books are all plotted out with extensive notes and initial drafts and in relation to the production schedule the writing takes up a very small percentage of the time.
It’s getting to the stage where I need to employ a full-time PA to help with the day-to-day running of things and an admin assistant to free up my time more to work on the artwork more on a daily basis. The fact I get any real work done is amazing really. Most directors handle the business side of things whilst others do the actual production whereas in the case of Wizards Keep I wear both hats.
Since Wizards Keep Limited was incorporated in June of 2005 things have grown in a controlled, but exciting way. Nowadays not only have we got the Wizards Keep website and my Wizards Keep Blog – we also have the Worlds End website, our Worlds End Trailer, which introduces the first book, our Wizards Keep Publishing and Worlds End FaceBook Pages, the Twitter accounts and a lot of other Internet presence on the other networks. So our web presence is quite extensive. This was very much part of the initial business plan to saturate the web as much as possible with information and artwork from both the new company and the Worlds End concept. It has taken a long time to achieve, but we are finally there.
The merchandise side of the company is growing too and we have just added the colouring book to my deadlines schedule, not just the production schedule. We also have some new product lines in development on top of all the other things we have at the moment. I am excited about these as it gives us a whole new level of awareness to present to the fans and customers.
The books, themselves, are being very well received by the public outside of what we know as traditional comics fandom, which was always the aim here at the Keep. We have been expanding our potential market and now we are seeing comics fans starting to come on board and liking what they see too.
downthetubes: What kind of feedback have you had to the universe you have created?
Tim: The feedback has been unbelievable, it really has. We were receiving very positive feedback when the books were first being announced and the Ashcan was first produced. One thing I noticed back then was the demographic split. We were seeing equal amounts of girls and boys and women and men looking very positively at the work. This has continued and at the moment we seem to have slightly more than half of the readership being girls and women, which is something we wanted to achieve, but to be honest never really expected, so the readership is exactly the kind we want on board.
The comments have been very supportive and the characters are now being spoken about like they have existed for far longer than they have. The universe building I have been so keen to make work is getting the most attention I suppose. The readers have picked up on just how comprehensive this new universe is and how little has actually been shown as yet in these early days.
Another thing, which lots of folks have picked up on is the fact that the world of Gaeyrth is a character in itself and every bit as important a part of the cast as the rest of the characters. Things we are constantly hearing are keywords such as homely, wholesome, exciting, fun-filled and the like.
Then there are the comments about the artwork, which are incredibly complimentary. The painted approach means I have been able to add the details I have never been afforded the time to put into any of my previous work for the comics and book companies I have worked for in the past. This attention to detail, whether that is actual detail or simply the addition of critters and creatures and planets in the skies within the panels is all worthwhile as far as the readership is concerned from their comments.
As both the writer and artist on the books that makes me feel like I am doing it right.
downthetubes: How far into Book 2 are you and what can we expect?
Tim: As I write this the cover is designed and actually being drawn today ready for painting – This time I am producing the cover as one of the first pieces of artwork to display to the public. There are several pages of the actual strip work complete and some others laid out. The first of the spot illustrations is completely finished and this will first see print at this year’s MaltaComicCon (where we launched the books last year) in their convention calendar. This will also be one of the promotional pieces for Worlds End – Volume 2 – A Hard Reign’s Gonna Fall.
This time around, without giving too much away, I show the consequences of the first book. In The Riders on the Storm I set up several plot threads, which we were constantly flitting between. I was also able to show a great many epic vistas from lots of different places on the planet. I was also constantly showing the fantasy elements as well as the science fiction elements too. With the second book I became very aware because of the storyline that I had to be very careful not to fall into the trap of keeping the story confined to one of two scenes and definitely not talking heads.
In the first book I frequently looked at the themes of the quest and the chase. This time around I expanded on this, despite the storyline potentially confining things. In this new volume I have changed gear once again and as the book progresses we slip from first gear to top gear as the tale moves along, pretty much as I did last time around. This time, however the scales are tipped even more against our heroes and the action becomes much more frenetic, the characters more fearful and the story more fraught with danger as we follow their saga.
There will be lots of epic vistas again – I have made sure of that and this will be a constant theme throughout the entire series. I want to wow the readers and take them to places I know I would certainly love to go. Kids love this kind of spectacle whether they are six or a hundred and six and I intend to keep on providing them as long as folks continue to enjoy them.
There are some new characters introduced too and some new plot twists too. There is lots of intrigue starting to be seen amidst the invasion. This new book also introduces all the technology being used by the bad guys – the Aoevill – to aqua-form this otherwise tranquil world. I am also keeping a tight rein on the actual time scales over which the story is taking place, so in real terms we see night and day in exactly the same way as the characters do.
At the moment and for the next two or three weeks I have had to halt the production schedule of the second volume to add the colouring and storybook, which I promised would follow up behind the first volume. This is so we are ready for a launch, again at this year’s MaltaComicCon in December and for a Christmas release worldwide too. But once this book has gone to print then the second volume will be back on the schedule. There are no actual release dates as yet, but the plan is to get the second volume ready to receive a publication date as soon as possible – stay tuned as they say.
Tim: I suppose all of the characters have developed over the time since I first created them back when I was working for Marvel comics around 1987. Although they haven’t really changed in their actual characterisations – they have always been pretty much set in stone. When I first came up with the concept I pretty much had them sorted as far as who they were, how they talked, and acted, and how they would interact with each other. The only real changes and they are slight are the designs of the characters. There is a sketchbook section at the back of the first book, which shows these early designs and there are only minor differences between those original sketches and how they look now.
When I first created it I wrote extensive notes about each character and where they came from, as well as how they would initially react to the situation they found themselves thrust into and how they would all change, or not throughout the stories. This made it easier when I first came back to the characters around 2003 to start looking at re-developing them for a potential graphic novel series.
Back when I first started revising things I was looking to develop something to produce as a graphic novel. It wasn’t necessarily the first thing I thought of to release as the first book, but when I looked at other concepts I had in the archives I realised there were some films at the time that were either in development, or had been recently released that were too close to those in genre and direction and I didn’t want to release a book, which intimated I was jumping on a band wagon. When I looked at Worlds End again it just seemed right. Besides the idea behind the concept of a place where you could literally fall off the end of the world had inspired me since being a schoolboy. I talk about this in my afterword, so I won’t spoil things for any future readers by going into more detail here.
The stories are all fully plotted with initial draft scripts and extensive notes for each book; these look at how each one relates to each other and how they in turn each help to develop the overall series. The stories already exist in tight form; they just need final drafts writing. Each book has extra pages at the front and back, which give insights into this new universe and its inhabitants. These all go into helping to flesh out the background information for the reader, some of which will not even appear in the first four books, but which will help to make the universe in which they live more real.
Over time the characters and the world called Gaeyrth have become an intimate part of my life and are now a virtual extension of my real family. They are real to me, not in a physical sense, but one in which I can relate to each of them and know exactly how each would react in any given situation – something, which gradually changes with them during the series.
Tim: I’m both writing and illustrating the Worlds End series, as well as creating all the graphics and promotional material, so it really is pretty much my vision. This is the first time I have ever had this kind of control over any of my characters.
Behind the scenes I have a great team on board helping with the production side of things as we get nearer to the publication of the books. James Hill is doing a wonderful job editing the scripts for me. We have always worked well together whether that is James writing the scripts or as my editor on the comics for other publishers in the past. Now he is my wingman. I have developed some guidelines for keeping the characters speaking “in character,” which help him enormously.
People in the comics industry have been saying for a while that I didn’t want to work under the constraints of an editor, but that is untrue. What I want is someone to see a better turn of phrase, or remove any repetition of words, typos, missed grammar and the like without having to dilute any of my vision because someone else wants to simply say they did something to develop the concept. In other words James is someone who can pick up the ball when I drop it. Quite often we read the things we have written not as they actually are, but as we thought we said them on the page and miss the obvious whereas a fresh pair of eyes enables those gaffs to be seen. I find that it’s far easier to edit the work of others in mind for this reason.
James is very sympathetic to this and suggests changes, rather demands them. Sometimes the changes are perfect too and other times when I explain why I think they aren’t we keep to the original when the overall plan is put forward, like when I am setting up a sub-plot for a future event in the storyline. It’s the best working relationship with any editor I have ever had and why I chose James to work alongside me on this project.
Alongside of James is my colour flats assistant, Yel Zamor who does a fantastic job of laying the digital foundations for me to paint on top of. She is fast and has a great eye for detailing. She enables me to work on a great many layers making the workflow on the computers much easier to achieve.
Albert Deschesne of Richard Starkings’ Comicraft is producing the lettering. Albert is another who has a keen eye for detail and his balloon flow over the page is typical of the craftsmanship of the company. There was only ever going to be one company I was going to employ to do this, if I wasn’t going to letter the books myself and I feel lucky that I have managed to secure that side of production with them.
Last in line, but a vital guy to have at my back, especially at the “crunch time” is production designer, Rob Sharp. An artist in his own right, Rob and I have worked together on a great many books over the years. His skills on the computer at putting the books together makes my life much easier when the books are being laid down ready for print and set up for pre-flight.
I am using Print Media in Bosnia to print them and they are quite simply the best-produced books I have ever seen my work in. The printing and binding is magnificent and I am so proud of what we have achieved with the publication of the first volume.
downthetubes: Have you had any interest from other mediums in your universe? It's crying out to be a childrens' animation, surely?
Tim: We have had a lot of interest from merchandise manufacturers so they have obviously seen the potential to make sales. We are developing some new product lines at the moment, which we hope to release soon.
The readers are always talking about this too and we are constantly asked if there are any plans for animation films or TV series, or video games, etc in place. Whilst there are no immediate plans there are obviously things aside on the back boiler. Taking the book into schools means I am always being asked by the children when it is coming out as an animation, which bodes very well for a market for Worlds End on the Big and TV screens. The trailer also goes down well in schools before I start talking about and showing the actual books.
I also go into colleges and universities where animation students have also seen the potential for turning the concept into animations and video games. So we may not be too far off if this can be translated into the same reaction from animation and game companies.
As always keep checking the websites for more up-to-date information – you can bet your bottom dollar we will announce it from the heavens as soon as we know anything ourselves.
We are seeing fans and students of animation starting to follow us on Twitter so who knows, we may get a call from someone at one of the animation studios in the near future?
downthetubes: You took a brave step by self-publishing Worlds End yourself. What do you think are the advantages to the creator going this route?
The most obvious main benefit to creating the new publishing company is that I am able to keep total creative control of my characters and my vision for the books. There are no boards or committees that can dilute the concept. The only boards in Wizards Keep are those upon which the artwork is produced. The characters react exactly as I want them to. They speak in exactly the way I think they would and this aspect of the books is very important to me. As I have already mentioned I employed the guy I reckon is the best editor in the business, James Hill to edit my graphic novels with me for this very reason – to help me keep the vision for the concept on an even keel.
The second main benefit is obviously the control over what my characters and stories can be merchandised for and on what products. This then leads to the obvious monetary ones, which means quite simply that any money made by Worlds End and its derivative products goes directly into Wizards Keep.
The most obvious negative aspect, at least it was in the initial days of setting up the business, is that when Worlds End was to go into initial production no payment would be due until we hit a point where we had sales from the books. Whereas working for another publisher means, at least by and large, that you get paid for the job upon completion of the job, or in the case of producing books paid incrementally. This was the entire premise behind the business plan for Wizards Keep. In the initial days there were some colleagues in the comics business that just didn’t get why we had other products for sale before the actual Worlds End graphic novel, or album came out and why we weren’t producing comic books – after all I was a comic creator.
The reason I chose this route was, in the first instance, because it was something I had wanted to do since I was in my mid-teens. In the second instance it was purely down to the fact that I knew there was little or no way we could get one of the big comics publishers interested. For example, they don’t really allow any creators to own their work, they don’t allow total control of a creator’s work to remain with that creator and they are not, for the most part interested in new work, especially creator owned, when they have their own franchises.
Now, those three things alone would have been enough to put me off approaching one of the other comics publishers, but when you add to that my experiences speaking to lots of other major “name” creators that had some superb work in their portfolios far better than anything they had ever had in print. Those same creators also telling me they were “only” portfolio pieces, which would never see print and you, can see why I was suddenly faced with a predicament. I had two choices do the same as they had and produce artwork, which would never see the light of day simply for my own pleasure, or take a chance and risk everything I had to make the dream of creating new stories real. I had done this once when I first made the leap to become a freelance comic creator, leaving my secure graphic design job behind without any of the knowledge I now had. I just needed to get the sanctioning of my Wife, Margaret and I could take the second of those routes. Thankfully she agreed and backed me 100% and here is where we find ourselves today.
Wizards Keep Publishing has been in talks with a few creators throughout our existence and in more recent times about publishing their work too. So this takes the company out of the realms of just acting as the vehicle to publish my work and is an exciting new route that lies before us.
downthetubes: Do you think self-publishing is any easier now than it used to be, in terms of reaching your potential fan base?
Tim: As far as promotion we now have the Internet, which has to be the biggest single change we have for potentially reaching a much larger audience. Certainly for Wizards Keep we have managed to reach a larger female audience than we perhaps otherwise could have done in the days before we had the worldwide web.
Social networking initially started by linking my name with both the company and later the concept names. Now they have both broken free and exist as their own unique entities. In effect the initial networking helped to reinvent the name of Tim Perkins as not just a comic creator, but also a publisher. Again this was a big part of the business plan right from the beginning before we were even incorporated.
The digital age means we can produce books in a far different way than when I first began creating comics professionally back in the mid-eighties. No longer do we have to have our work sent away for costly scans and negatives produced. Printing is far better, cheaper and easier to produce. So we can acquire our books in a much better environment than ever before. There is also the burgeoning web-comics-books scene too, but until any serious money is being made by the creators I don’t see that as the way forward.
We can also produce excellent POS, displays and banners now to promote and accompany us at conventions, talks, workshops, shows and festivals, etc. So the playing field as far as looking professional and real contenders to play against the premier division publishers is much more even – although without the bigger budgets that are afforded them. The way I look on this though is positive. They were not always so big – just like us they started small and grew and therein lies the trick to this.
I find it easier to get onto radio shows nowadays too as interest in the graphic novel as an art form of its own breaking away form the comic format grows with the radio stations and listeners.
TV is still more than a little hesitant to get comics creators on their digest format shows. However that is up to smaller publishers like us to change that. The one constant thing in life as they say is change, so we have to make the inevitable happen.
I suppose the trick to all of this though, especially with the web-based side of things, is to turn Internet friends, buddies or whatever other term that particular site uses to describe what we see as potential readers into actual readers.
downthetubes: Are you planning other product related to Worlds End - figures or toys for example?
Tim: A range of figurines has already been developed, but is awaiting the green light to go into production and there are plans to turn this avenue of our merchandising into a range of toys in the future. The books are the main focus though presently so most of the emphasis has to be on publishing these.
The figurines can be seen on the Wizards Keep website and Blog and on our Wizards Keeps FaceBook page. The ones on the main website show the development stages from concept art through the sculpting processes to final realisation.
As I have already mentioned the Worlds End Colouring & Storybook is already in production in time for a pre-Christmas release.
We have a Limited Edition Signed and Numbered Portfolio due to be added to both websites in the short term alongside a range of T-shirts.
Other than that we are presently developing some brand new product ranges to accompany those already in existence. We have not released any information on these at all at the moment. I can’t say more than this just now, other than to add that we are very close to a release date.
What one piece of advice would you give to a comic creator planning to self publish, based on your experience so far?
That depends on what direction the comic creator wishes to take, as there are two. If the plan is to simply create self-published or as I prefer to say “Creator-Owned” work for fun alongside work for other publishers, whilst hopefully making some return on the investment then I say go for it and have fun.
I am not looking at this from the perspective of what we now call small-press, but more along the lines of what we have seen before with existing professional creators taking the bull by the nose and creating and self-publishing their own work.
I must add here that the step from small-press to self-publishing was harder to achieve in the past, but with the right product and enough of a fan base nowadays even this is also achievable. That said whether it could then be made into a viable career is up to the individual and their own tenacity with a large portion of good luck thrown in for good measure.
If on the other hand the plan is to make a real living out of self-publishing and create, as I have – an actual publishing company that will eventually also publish the work of others – then expect to work harder and longer hours than you ever have, even when you work for another comic publisher. You have to wear many hats and you have to face up to the business side of things. Comics folks see the line split as the suits and the creators, well embarking upon this route means you have to become both and be as comfortable in an actual suit as a businessman as when you are behind the drawing board and computer. Oh, yes and be prepared to invest an incredible amount of money into the new business possibly running into six figures.
Would I change what I am doing with Wizards Keep and Worlds End though having said the above? No way, I am enjoying my career more now than I have ever done before.
If anyone wants to self-publish – Go for it!!!
order copies direct from Wizards Keep here
• Check out the latest in Wizards Keep's projects over at www.wizards-keep.com. Special thanks to Tim for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk about his projects
All artwork in this interview is © Wizards Keep Limited and published here with permission
The story so far goes like this:
If you'd like to see some of Afterlife Inc. in action, you can read the entire back catalogue, featuring art by the likes of Ash Jackson and Nich Angell, for free on Jon's website (www.jonlock.com/afterlifeinc). Volume 1 of Afterlife Inc. - Dying to Tell, which featured artificial intelligences, deceased serial killers, invasions from beyond time and space, and surprise cameos from both Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle - saw print earlier this year. He'll be debuting Volume 2 at Thought Bubble in Leeds this weekend.
When corporate con-artist Jack Fortune's life comes to an abrupt and brutal end, he discovers a business opportunity on a scale he could never have imagined. A mysterious Calamity has cast the afterlife into chaos. The time is ripe for modernisation. With the vision, the business-smarts and a ragtag collection of allies behind him, Jack strives to reinvent the city of the dead as a modern day corporation: AFTERLIFE INC.
Establishing a new business is always challenging, but now Jack must balance the demands of a free market with rampaging archangels, a misplaced God and the dark secrets at the heart of their world.
This may be the job he was born to die for, but has Jack's reach finally exceeded his grasp?
AFTERLIFE INC. is the tale of Jack's vast Promethean dream for humanity: equal parts self-empowerment, opportunity and stealing fire from the gods to sell back at a profit.
In an age where we are all too familiar with the failings of big business, we need a hero to restore our faith in the corporate ideal. Someone who can wrestle noble intentions from the trappings of consumerism. We need a company we can believe in.
"With the recent launch of Kickstarter in the UK, I'm running a project to fund production of Volume 3," he told downthetubes.
He's set himself a target of £7000 to fund the creation and printing of Lifeblood, and has already raised over £4000.
"While Afterlife Inc. has been self-funded up until now, the biggest limit on productivity has been my budget. As Afterlife Inc. grows in scale, the time has come to tell the larger, more ambitious stories I’ve had planned since day one.
"In Lifeblood, Jack and Co. must contend with the rise of a fanatical and extremist movement called the Undead. Guided by an ancient text that harks back to the afterlife’s mysterious past, the Undead seek to awaken the Harvest – an entity whose existence spells doom for the entire Empyrean. Worse still, the Undead have chosen to model themselves on the vampires from a popular series of teenage romance novels – something that Jack, having died prior to the success of a certain franchise, remains in a perpetual state of confusion over."
Lifeblood is an original 96-page Afterlife Inc. series featuring faces both familiar and new, intrigue, action, citywide devastation and (of course) stupid, sexy vampires," says Jon. If all goes to plan, the trade paperback will go to print in June 2013, pre-orders for which are available as rewards.
"If Lifeblood reaches its target, Kickstarter profits will fund 96 pages of full colour artwork from Ash Jackson and Nadine Ashworth, with masterful lettering from Michael Stock, plus the first print run of 150 copies," Jon explains. "I’ve had the honour of working with these folks for some time now, and their art continues to blow me away.
"Ash was the first artist to ever draw Afterlife Inc. and has been instrumental in defining the look and feel of the world. In Lifeblood, his pencils will be paired with Nadine’s inks and colours. The two have collaborated before on the Dead Days series from earlier this year. I can’t wait to see what these two can come up with again."
Kickstarter's arrival in the UK is a game-changing development for creators. It's helped see numerous amazing projects come to fruition in the US and we're sure plenty of British creators will be keen to see how things work out for impressive pitches like Jon's. Check it out on Kickstarter UK.
• You can see full details of the project and the incentives being offered to backers on Jon'sofficial Kickstarter page (www.kickstarter.com/projects/jonlock/afterlife-inc-volume-3-lifeblood). If you are attending Thought Bubble, Jon is exhibiting in the Royal Armouries Hall
"Afterlife Inc." and all related images, text and characters Copyright 2007-2012 Jonathan Lock. All Rights Reserved.
Tanya: I have discussed this with a few Star Wars artists and Lucasarts are very open to whatever vision you might have for the characters. They're brilliant people to work for, I pretty much just make up aliens and spaceships and they just let me (sometimes) get away with stuff. I put a nipple tassel on a Hutt in one issue and they didn't reprimand me, which was nice.
It's very refreshing to have so much leeway with such a large company and I wish more companies where less strict and covetous of their characters and property. After all, we each bring our own style to the property so what fun is it if we're all leashed up and muzzled?
DTT: How would you describe your style of artwork on the various comics you have worked on?
Having an animation background helps because some companies want you to stick rigidly to their model sheets. Surprisingly Disney let me get away with more than I thought I could; with Rex (the dinosaur in Toy Story) I made him a lot more bendy than he is in the movies but they did have to call me on some of the poses.
I'm actually self publishing my very first comic that will be launched this November at Leeds comic festival: Thought Bubble. The comic is called Forgotten Muse and it's about a muse who has to deal with the fact that his guy is being distracted by the internet and television, and how he gets around it. If anyone is interested, details are available on my website.
DTT: Tanya, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Tanya provided the publicity artwork for the 2012 Hi-Ex comics convention. She was interviewed in the run up to the con by the BBC News website.
There are more details of Kidzoic's Strawberry Shortcake titles on the Ape Entertainment website.
Tanya will be appearing at Thought Bubble in Leeds over the weekend of 17/18 November 2012 where she will be selling copies of Forgotten Muse as well as pages of her original artwork. Her table is number 29 in the Royal Armouries Hall.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Egmont UK’s Classic Comics imprint was created to re-publish the wealth of classic comics in their archive. Four volumes of Roy the Rovers kicked off their e-comic publishing in June this year – and now they have announced the launch of further classics on popular comic series from the 1970s and 80s.
Also joining the digital line-up soon are strips from Battle Picture Weekly, including Johnny Red, Major Eazy and the ground-breaking Charley’s War. Some of the biggest names in British comics were involved in the creation of these stories, including Pat Mills, John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra.
Roy of the Rovers is one of the best-known and enduring British comic strips. Roy’s journey began in 1954 as a comic strip in Tiger; he became a popular fixture, so much so that in 1976 he was given his own comic, charting the highs and lows of his eventful career as a footballer.
Battle Picture Weekly encompassed several action-packed strips that sought to invigorate the British comics scene with punchy, thrilling storylines and adventurous but believable characters. Featuring well-known strips such as Charley’s War, Johnny Red, Major Eazy and Rat Pack, it became well-known for packing a punch like no other.
David Riley, Managing Director of Egmont Publishing Group, said: “Roy, Battle, Misty…these are iconic magazines which still have a place in the national consciousness. They deserve to be brought back; their appeal also has the potential to transcend the generation gap and reach an entirely new, younger audience.
"With the limitless possibilities offered up by digital publishing, there has never been a better time to bring these comics to the fore.”
• Roy of the Rovers Volume 1 on iTunes
It's the start of the 1976-77 season and the Melchester Rovers are on great form! However, player manager Roy Race feels the pressure when a supermarket offers £30,000 to the first player to score 50 goals in the season. Can Roy show the world - and journalist Eric Eddleston - that he's playing for the team and not himself? Meanwhile, new signing Roger Dixon just can't wait to get onto the field.
• Roy of the Rovers Volume 2 on iTunes
Roy Race soon realises that new signing Roger Dixon doesn't have the stamina to last a whole match, but the players and fans want to see more of him. Things go from bad to worse when Roy starts to lose form himself, and Dixon starts competing with his own manager. Then, just as Roy cracks the Dixon problem, the Rovers come up against the toughest referee in the league, and a freak accident leaves Charie Carter short of confidence in goal! What's a player manager to do?
• Roy of the Rovers Volume 3 on iTunes
Roy manages to restore Charlie Carter's confidence, but not before he has to act as goalie himself! Roy and Penny announce that they are expecting, but the happy moment is short-lived as the Rovers are knocked out of the league cup by Swinford. In the league itself, the Rovers continue their unbeaten run and even match the all-time record. However, after being knocked out of the FA cup in a fog-affected match, can the Rovers hang on to the league's top spot?
• Roy of the Rovers Volume 4 on iTunes
The Rovers win the league and it looks like Roy has achieved the Gold Rush with the winning goal, but he reveals it was in fact Mervyn who scored the clincher to win the £30,000 prize! Penny gives birth to twins, and the comic readers get to name them! Roy's invited to America by ex-Rover Steve Mason to play some matches for the Pine City Pirates. When Roy and Blackie arrive, they find a game which is much louder and brasher than they're used to. Roy wins extra publicity for the Pirates by beating the Americans at their version of football, but will he be able to craft the Pirates into a functioning team before his final game?
• Roy of the Rovers Volume 5 on iTunes
Melchester Rovers are in high spirits following their League Championship win the previous season and Roy’s return from his summer of football in America. But the good feelings are soon overshadowed by hooliganism at the stadium. Will Roy’s suggestion to install giant screens in the stands to show highlights from the game help control the situation or cause even more trouble?
• The e-comics can be downloaded onto the iPad and Kobo. More info on the range from Egmont: www.egmont.co.uk