Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Cher Report - Brumcon 2006 - version 1.0 (written with photographs)

Oh, and by the way, I included some random personal notes, especially to annoy you. They are in Italic.

Another note: this is my clean version... I could SO have done soooo many bad, bad things with some of these photographs... Which I probably will when I'm not in such a hurry to get these photos up for people to see, the Entry for which will be Friends Only (just... 'Cause).


FRIDAY

Me and Ian were in Birmingham at around 3pm on Friday afternoon, and proceeded to get very, very lost, when Derek sent us to the wrong train station.
On the way to the hotel, we found a rather interesting road sign, which taught us a very, very important lesson about not cheating on your significant other.


The hotel itself was a four star establishment, and although rather comfortable (we made it look rather homey, don't you think?), the view from our room left much to be desired... But it is Birmingham, after all.


After settling down, we proceeded to venture towards the Radison Hotel, the official temporary residence for attendees.
On the way to we met up with Derek, who bares a striking resemblance to Kyle Gass from Tenacious D, and James Reddington, who seemed convinced that he belonged in the Full Monty movie.

The bar was absolutely full of people, but they were so full of alchohol that they were running around at the speed of blurs.

The guests of honour for the evening, were Dan Boultwood and the ghost of Tony Lee.

The prices for our nourishment were not cheap, so Ian thought that he would do the worst impression of Clark Kent known to man to lighten the mood.

SATURDAY

We awaken at the crack of dawn (if by dawn you mean 10ish), and head straight for the venue. Surprisingly we didn't get lost, but that may be something to do with the fact that we had a map that the hotel gave us, with a nice big arrow pointing us towards it, instead of our (now fired) PS, Derek.

We walk around a corner to find ourselves confused, feeling drunk and/or stoned, surrounded by multicoloured, candy covered buildings, and were then quite shocked to find the Custard Factory being attacked by a giant (the Green Man, technically, but bare with me, I'm attempting comedy, here), and dragons!
Some people, however, just didn't seem at all amused, and slept through the entire thing. Either that, or he was dead*... We didn't quite check. ... Our bad.

There were, quite surprisingly, comic creators present at the event... We couldn't quite figure out why.
Some examples of this rare, and annoying (I'm jealous, so I'm aloud to say that) breed were the Brodie's Law guys, and a few blokes who were so convinced of their self importance, and their superhuman abilities, that they made a comic about themselves (yes, I know that it is a long link, but I thought that you might be blind :-p). The resemblance, however, is quite uncanny, don't you think? Minus the facial hair. This same member of their tribe was so utterly enveloped within this fantasy that he insisted he audition for the new remake of The Matrix... But instead seemed more suited to the live action adaptation of Watership Down.

After conversing with fellow fans, and creators, we were informed that there was an unmissible Panel. So we decieded to miss it.
Or not.
The panel was a strange, but rather genious mix of Never Mind The Buzzcocks/Have I Got News For You/QI-styled humour. But with geeks. Lots and lots of geeks. Two of these geeks were Tony Lee on The Writers Team and Budgie who was a (rather brilliant) Presenter.
Here are the Presenters, Batman and Robin, hard at work, The Writers Team, and The Artists Team. ... Although apparently there was some confusion, because then these were the Writers, these were the Artists... Who we don't have a photograph of... And these were the Presenters... Or rather Presenter.
Highlights of the Panel, entitled The Kryptonite Factor, were, (and this one is quite ironic) Keiron revealing his true identity and then teaching Tony how to swim, Budgie growing extra limbs, and Tony's impression of... Something. Whatever it was, it amused us.

The event then ended for the evening, and we went for Pizza with the guys from Brodie's Law, James from Portent Comics, and various geeks, including Derek and his minion, Lloyd, where I created yet another masterpiece, in record time of seven minutes. I was, by the way, the only female (nothing new there, then) in a group of eleven hungry dudes.
We then ventured to our Hotel to dump all our random crud (formally known as comics, and in Ian's case, posters of X-23 in a school uniform), after which came a Party which Tony discovered was run by the Birmingham University Goth Society. I gothed-up as much as I could (which isn't actually that difficult for me, since virtually all of my clothes are black), but Ian was unfortunately lacking in that department, so I insisted that he wear my Dog Collar (it glew in the dark and everything - lolz). The result was him being leashed, and attached to a rather excitable Tony Lee, and being his b*tch for a little of the evening. The most disturbing part of this, however, was what now seems to be Tony offering Ian to Dan Boultwood.**
After a night of fundome, we headed back for some much needed rest.

SUNDAY

It rained, and it poured... And I decide now is a good time to come in costume (I was in civvies the previous day, and felt very un-Cher-like)... Er... Whoops? Lolz.
Anyway, that random fact asside, today was quiet... Almost silent. Nothing much to do but spend more money. ... So we did.
Ian also felt the need to pretend to be important, and had a "Signing" (the witness has chosen to remain enonemous, and must therefore be blurred to pretect their identity)... If by that you mean grab a book, sign it, and run away - lolz. He also took a souvineer.
Most of the Dealers packed up early, but it was still a good day, with amusing socialising with the rather hungover Dan, forgetful Tony, and cheerful Budgie.
The event itself ended on a good note, in reflection, considering the lack of attendees during the day because of the weather. The final Panel was based around the topic of making comics out of television and film, with Tony Lee providing the comedy value, and others following in his footsteps, dealving into the world of Star Trek and Star Wars, even considering that noone present on the Panel was related to either.*** The organisers of the event then went on stage and thanked everyone for coming, which was very nice of them.
Oh, and did I mention that Tony asked the audience what me and Ian percieved to be the easiest Doctor Who question in history in order to win an Inflattable Dalek, which apparently cannot be used as a life saving device (I should certainly think not; it's a Dalek, it would rather exterminate you - lol), and although I kept quiet for fear of winning (and admittedly, embarrassment), Ian did not.
Low and behold, the Inflattable Dalek! And Ian... Who seemed a little TOO cosey with it...
I then spent the next two hours battling its evil! I finally defeated it, and bocked it... And then we gave it to Budgie for his children, since Ian's would probably break it - lolz, who we then spent most of the rest of the evening with, hanging out in the cafe at the venue, and then grabbing some grub after.
Then we said our goodbyes and went our seperate ways, parting with Budgie and Derek, crashing at the Hotel.

MONDAY

Monday comes around, and there is no Convention to attend, and everyone that we could bother *cough* visit is at work, so we thought, instead, that we might take a pilgrimage to Geeksville, formally known as Forbidden Planet.
We checked a public map to show us where the local cinema was, but were quite surprised, instead, to find out where Derek's friend Lloyd was really hiding for most of the weekend.
Walking in the direction of Someplace Else, we found that the Tozzers, who pretended that they couldn't make it this weekend, were actually here all along! We also found out how James funds his comics, how polite 'Birminghamites' can be, why the children are always so hyper (they're drunk!), and that the coffee is revolting!
We never actually found Forbidden Planet. We did venture into Nostalgia and Comics, however, and, quite ironically, bought some more comics.
We then went to the station and caught the train, heading home.
We hope to come back to Birmingham soon!

P.S.

Birmingham is actually a lot smaller than it looks, you know.

Video Report coming soon.




*Ps. Yeah, I made that part up. He was sleeping. I personally didn't check, but others did.
**We unfortunately had to leave early, around 2ish, because I was suffering from Stalker Symdrome, with a rather creepy Party-goer continuously hitting on me. Harrah - lolz.
***Oh, and I would also like to point out, for those that attended, that the subject refferenced in the Star Trek debate, of the timeline in Enterprise where "the crew go into the past and find the ship from the original series", is a little, shall we say, off... It was an alternative universe where Captain Archer and the rest of the crew are nasty gits, and they came across a time-space-dimensional portal which contained the ship from the original series, from the version of the future that we know.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Brumcon - Ian's Report

Well, it's been a week since the first ever Birmingham International Comic Show and it's way past time that I put up a report on the weekend.

Cher and I set out from Medway fairly early on the Friday morning as we had to catch a train from Marylebone to Birmingham at around mid-day. We left with what we thought would be plenty of time to get there, but as we hit London the traffic slowed to a crawl and our driver for the morning (thanks Dad!) announced that there was no way that we could catch our train if we continued by road. So, when we reached the Oval, we jumped out of the car and embarked upon a mad dash across London by tube, making it to Marylebone with scant minutes to spare before the train left.

As we neared Birmingham it became apparent that we had a choice of two stations that we could disembark from the train at. Not wanting to just randomly guess, I hit upon the cunning plan of texting native Birminghamite and good chum, Derek Hartley, and asking him which of the two stations would be nearest our ultimate destination, The Thistle Hotel. In a classic move, perhaps on a par with his telling Alan Davis that Alan Davis wouldn't be attending a certain panel at the Bristol Comic Expo, Derek did, in fact, advise us to leave the train at the wrong station. Thus, rather then leaving the train at the station which is almost directly next to the Thistle Hotel, we instead left the train at the station which is, indeed, on the other side of Birmingham. Still, my fault for not looking at a map before we left, I guess.


Still, what's a convention trip without a little adventure on the way, eh? So, after a short hike across the centre of Birmingham (familiarising ourselves with the various sights, sounds and smells of Brum) we finally arrived at our luxury four star hotel, threw open the bedroom curtains and were greeted by the truly impiring view of a multi-storey car park. Welcome to Birmingham! Okay, sure, we did get a great deal on the room, and, really, I wasn't expecting a breathtaking vista in the centre of what is generally regarded as one of the grimmest cities on earth...but....really....a car park? Add to this the main lights deciding not to work on the second night, and the loud music to the wee small hours due to it being Christmas Party season and...well...let's just say I don't think we'll be enjoying the hospitality of the Thistle Hotel again.

Once we'd settled into the hotel and asked at recpetion for a map of the city centre (so we were no longer reliant on Derek's oh-so-accurate directions) we headed towards the Radisson Hotel, home of the "official hotel bar" of the Birmingham International Comics Show. With enough space to seat four underweight midgets, and Coke at £3 a glass, one has to assume that the convention organisers had never set foot inside the Radisson Bar before the event. Suddenly I found myself appreciating the wide open spaces and morely unreasonably high priced drinks of the Ramada bar at Bristol. Nevertheless, we were joined for the evening by a host of charming and delightful people, and Dan Boultwood. Seriosuly, though, we met up with James Reddington of Portent Comics fame and were shortly thereafter joined by the dodgy-direction-giving Derek Hartley while we drooled over the goodies in the window of Nostalgia and Comics which was pretty much next to the hotel. Upon entering the bar we found a rather lost and lonely looking Budgie, whose finely honed accounting instincts were clearly rebelling at the bar's innovative pricing structure. We didn't have to wait long for the dapper Mr Tony Lee to appear and amuse us all by reading out the increasingly nonsensical texts he was receiving from artistic genius and general cad and bounder, Dan Boultwood, who was slowly making his way towards London in the company of a bottle of something sweet and evil, and an increasingly large retinue of elves, pixies and gnomes. Oh, and Alan Davis was sitting directly behind Derek at one point...and he didn't notice...which caused us all much amusement...hee hee....

And so to Saturday morning, and the convention itself! As you can see from the accompanying picture, some people were so overwhelmed by the smallest convention dealer's room on earth that they could do nothing but dose gently on the convention floor, while the "madness" resolutely failed to happen around them. To be fair, that's a little harsh. There was a genuine buzz about the room all day, but attendance was poor and at times it felt like the creators and dealers outnumbered the general punters two to one. As such, the weekend had a really nice "get together" kind of vibe. People were just generally hanging out and chatting, and I got to meet up with several people that, so far, I've only encountered online. Great folk like Mick Trimble and Jim Bott. Hi guys! It was also great to catch up with the guys from Markosia!

The highlight of the day and, indeed, the entire convention, was The Kyptonite Factor. Hosted by the legendary Budgie, The Kryptonite factor was a comic book quiz in the style of Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Have I Got News For You. No obvious joke was left uncracked with such howlers as "Rob Liefeld really can't draw very well" and "Alan Moore's a bit of an odd hairy bloke, isn't he?" keeping the audience laughing throughout. Just like the TV shows that inspired it, however, The Kryptonite Factor didn't shy away from such controversial and potentially inflammatory joeks as "John Byrne really can't draw very well." It's funny because it's true...

Saturday evening saw more fun and frolics as we went out for pizza with the Brodie's Law guys, James Reddington, Jim Bott, Derek and his friend Lloyd, and an assortment of hangers on and fanboys (just kidding, guys!). Cher took the opportunity to create one of her innovative pieces of salad art, something which is becoming a bit of a convention tradition for us. I wouldn't have mentioned it, but it gives me an excuse to post this fairly random picture of her salad, which I thought might amuse people. Personally, I'm always slightly confused by her inclusion of apple in these salads as, quite frankly, I feel that apple has no business being in a salad, but I digress.

After a short trip back to our hotel room to dump the hoards a swag that we'd had thrust upon us during the day's activities, we headed towards a local bar where the enigmatic Mr Tony Lee had learned the Birmingham University Goth Society were hosting a bash. Ironically, just two weeks before, I'd been in Birmingham for Memorabilia, dressed from head to toe in black PVC...with not a Goth club in site. Now I found myself in baggy beige trousers and a very, very white Slam Ridley T-shirt, talk about feeling like a pork sausage at a bar mitvah! However, Cher came to the rescue with her handy dog-collar-with-blue-spikes, which, oddly enough, made me feel slightly less stupid...which is probably a first. As you can see from the picture, the mischievous Mr Tony Lee couldn't resist fashioning a makeshift lead for me out of his tie. The fact that he appears to be offering the lead to the pixie hallucinating Dan Boutlwood is, frankly, mildly disturbing. All in all, it was a great evening. The highlights being singing "Sweet Transvestite" with Cher, Budgie and Tony, and just generally dancing 'till 2am with the delightful Miss Cher.

Sunday saw the heavens open and the already fairly poorly attended convention became almost entirely devoid of people. Although...it's possible that they were actually all eaten by this dragon. I suppose I should say a little about the Custard Factory, the venue for the weekend's events. The Custard Factory is undoubtedly a nice place. That said, it was entirely unsuited to the needs of a comic book convention. There being no central large hall, the dealer's room was split into two tiny rooms. This created the effect of people entiring the convention, going to the first room and thinking "Oh, is this it?"...discovering the second room...getting their hopes up...and then thinking "Oh, is this it?" And this time, yes, that was it. It was possible to see everything in about 30 minutes. That's assuming you paused to talk to a couple of people on the way. All this for the same price as Bristol? Ummm...ok... I can't complain to much as I got in for free, but had I been paying, I think that I would have felt slightly ripped off. I'd love to see the event return next year, but for it to work, I think that the organisers need to seriously consider an alternative venue. They also need to promote the event more in the city centre too.

One of the high points of the convention for me was getting to meet Phonogram creators Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. I may not have mentioned it on this site before but Phonogram is, quite simply, the best comic you will ever read. I'm afraid I probably gushed like a rabid fanboy, and to add insult to injury, it turns out that Cher had chatted to Kieron for ages at the Bristol Expo and she'd had absolutely no idea who he was. Of course, I wonder how many people would be sad like me and get excited about meeting their favourite PC Gamer columnist? Nevertheless, I guess I must have managed to remain a modicum of self respect as I did get to take this rather nifty pic' of Keiron modelling his very own Slam Ridley badge. Although, as Cher has pointed out, he's not so much pointing towards the Slam badge here as his own nipple, but I guess you can't have everything...

And, that was Brumcon...two days of fun and frolics...

All there was left to do after all that was...

...this...









By the way, I've just realised that I forgot to draw attention to the fact that we've reached 3000 hits! Woohoo!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Comics review - Ellis in the New Universe


New Universal #1 (Marvel) - Warren Ellis and Salvador Larroca join forces to present a revamping of the 80s New Universe line. I haven't read any of the New Universe books so came to this completely cold, but with Ellis' name on the cover I knew it would be a good read. As an opener this book works perfectly, giving you enough information to make you interested but not so much that you are spoonfed he story. Larocca's art is beautiful and teamed with Ellis' writing you get a comic of cinematic propositions which still manages to present a small and personal tale. Ellis has always created excellent work regardless of the publisher, genre or audience involved and this is no exception. Yet another chance to wish I was Warren Ellis.

Comics Review - Festive Punishment




Punisher Xmas Special one shot (Marvel)- Wolverine #41 writer Stuart Moore and artist C.P Smith are reunited for this bumper festive one shot. Personally I love one-shots, especially as a sporadic comic buyer, a creator and someone who is not a slave to continuity. At first the central conceit behind this book felt rather contrived. The prospect of Frank Castle making a naughty and nice list at Christmas did not ring true for me and it made the book lose credibility. But as the book continued, with it's moody artwork, taut scripting and exceptional colouring I found myself being really drawn in. This is the kind of one off book that stays with you after you have read it, the story really grips you and you feel like you are living every moment with Frank. It is also a textbook example of pacing as Moore and Smith manage to slow the book down without losing any of the drama. One of the best comics I've read this year, highly recommended.

9/10

Pete (Black King)

DVD Review - My Super Ex-Girlfriend

The idea behind this movie had me intrigued, what would it be like to try and break up with someone with super powers? Sadly the finished film is a major let down. Rather than starting at the point of the break up the movie takes you from the meeting all the way to the split. This makes it a long, drawn out process that really does not work. The main problem with My Super Ex-Girlfriend is that it doesn't know what kind of film it really wants to be. Is it a superhero movie, a rom com, a sex comedy? In the end it is a melting pot of various influences that combine to make a mess of a movie. Luke Wilson does ok in a thankless lead role, and Uma Thurman looks the part but is essentially a neurotic female Clark Kent that you can't connect to. The best performances are from the support, and both Eddie Izzard and Anna Faris come out of it with their reputations in tact. Director Ivan Reitman should really know better. File this one with that other Uma Thurman movie where Eddie Izzard made an appearance "The Avengers". An interesting idea is let down in the execution, a film with no direction and with no idea who is supposed to like it. A comedy that makes you cringe rather than laugh, this really was a missed opportunity. 2/10

Pete (Black King.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Film Review - The Holiday



While other members of the Royal Family are enjoying the wonders of Brumcon it falls to me to keep things moving on here. And seeing as I went to see "The Holiday" yesterday I thought I'd review it here.

If the opening titles to "The Holiday" were removed, most people would assume this romantic comedy was written by English stalwart Richard Curtis. Writer/Director Nancy Meyers (What Women Wants, Something's gotta give) does seem to be borrowing heavily from Notting Hill and Love Actually, especially for the scenes based in the UK. What lifts this above the average romantic comedy is the performances and the casting. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swaps homes for Christmas, leaving the quintissentially English Winslet (she would have made a perfect Bridget Jones) and the very L.A Diaz as two heartbroken fish out of water. Jude Law and Jack Black (playing a musician yet again) are the men who take the respective women under their wing, and it is clear from the onset where the story is going. The supporting cast is exemplary too with Eli Wallach stealing all his scenes and Ed Burn and Rufus Sewell making the most of pretty small parts. Where Curtis tends to have world poverty, politics, or social commentary as his secondary story Meyers instead explores the changes in Hollywood. There are some unexpected turns along the way, some relatively funny moments, a few tearjerking scenes and some very sharply written dialogue which makes it far better than the average rom com. The only drawback, much like Curtis' own work, is that everyone looks perfect, they all have highly paid media jobs and England is portrayed as something from the top of a fudge box. This gives a story with a heart an uneccessary sheen that makes it a little too pristine. All this considered, if you like Richard Curtis' films then you will love this too.

7/10

Pete - Black King.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Expansion!


As you may have noticed, this week has been one of expansion at the Cyber Hellfire Club.

Not only did we welcome Cher, the new Red Queen of the Cyber Hellfire Club as a contibutor to this web site, but as you can see, Peter Rogers has also joined us as the new Black King of the Cyber Hellfire Club. He'll be adding his wit and wisdom to the site on a regular basis.

(The titles are fairly meaningless, just a bit of fun, and a tradition held over from the early days of the Cyber Hellfire Club on AOL's Comics and Anime Forum).

Rounding out the new team is Rivka Jacobs, a fellow founding member and the wise and all-knowing Oracle of the Cyber Hellfire Club.

So, say hello to our new members and enjoy their contributions over the coming months and years!

Ian - The Red King

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Comics Review - Red Menace


Red Menace #1 (Wildstorm) I heard about this book when writers Bilson and DeMeo were interviewed by Word Balloon. Set around the McCarthy witch hunts and featuring a costumed hero having to reveal his identity, the concept really appealed to me. The story is well written and interesting and as expected Jerry Ordway's art is exemplary. The 50s setting is very executed ans Al Vey's inking and Johnny Rench's colouring add to the period feel. The muted tones do make it a slightly repetitive book visually but the story is enough to make reading the rest of the mini series worthwhile.

6/10

Pete

Comics Review - Fraction's first punishment


Punisher War Journal #1 (Marvel) On the one hand this is a Civil War tie in, on the other it's written by Matt Fraction so I was not sure what to expect. At first the mix of painted art with photo realism courtesy of Ariel Olivetti did not feel right. Frank Castle took on Hulkesque proportions and everything felt off kilter. But once I got into the swing of the book I realised the art really did compliment Fraction's writing. By the close of this super sized book I was loving Olivetti's artistic approach (look out for an iconic full moon shot) and really getting into Fraction's way of approaching the character. Looking forward to the next ish.

8/10

Pete

Comics Review -Wisdom



Wisdom #1 (Marvel/Max) I have been looking forward to this book for some time, mainly because Dr Who writer Paul Cornell is involved. I don't know the Pete Wisdom character all that well, so I am coming to this series with no baggage of expectation. The concept and characters work well, Trevor Hairsine's art is superb and Cornell's plotting and playful dialogue make you think he's been a comics regular for decades. Well worth picking up.

8/10

Pete .

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Brumcon and The Cyber Hellfire Club Grows!

Well, as it says in the good book (that being the Bible, folks, not The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy), the first shall be last and the last shall be first. As such, I'll be dealing with the second topic in this post's title first.

As the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed, my happy little face has disappeared from the top right hand corner of this blog to be replaced by an intriguing new feature - a list of contributors. Yes, the Cyber Hellfire Club has grown, we now have a "team" of contibutors. You see, I've missed the movie reviews that I used to post waaay back in the dim and distant past when I had more time and less comic related goodness to waffle on about. Thus I have invited the delightful Miss Cher to join us in the happy world of blog-dom and bestow upon us her mighty reviewing skills.

Right then, time for first things to be last - to Brumcon!

For those of you who are unaware, Brumcon is the "nick name" for the first ever Brimingham International Comics Show, to be held at the Custard Factory in Birmingham this weekend (8th-9th December). I'll resist mis-quoting Groucho Marx and saying that I wouldn't want to attend any convention that would have me as a guest (okay, so, technically I didn't resist it)...and instead encourage any and all of you that will be in the area this weekend to pop in and say "Hi." You should be able to find me in and around the Markosia booth for much of the weekend, where I will be signing copies of Smoke & Mirror #1 for anyone fool enough to covet the signature of a lowly colourist.

I've been looking forward to this convention for months now, and, after a long and, at times, very rough year, I'm using it as the perfect excuse to unwind and making a long weekend of it. Thus, the entire Cyber Hellfire Club team (see what I did there?) will be boarding a train to Birmingham around lunchtime on Friday and we should be checking into our four star accommodation in Brum in the early afternoon. This leaves Friday evening free to relax and unwind with our celebrity, showbiz comic book creator pals (or, to put it another way, to seek out Tony Lee and force him to drink vast quantities of alcohol for our amusement). Saturday and Sunday will be chock full of conventiony goodness, and hopefully meeting up with all those many, many people who've promised to buy me a drink since the Bristol Expo. We then have Monday morning to unwind and explore Brum before taking a relatively late train back to civilisation (the South) and grabbing a few hours kip before it's time for work on Tuesday morning.

Ian.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Memorabilia














Well, yesterday saw us make the long drive to Birmingham for Memorabilia. A long drive which, unfortunately, proved to be too much for my humble Nissan Micra, which decided to pack up somewhere between junctions 27 and 28 on the M25...at one o'clock in the morning. Not fun. Especially as it was on a stretch of motorway with no hard shoulder, forcing us to have to stand in the freezing cold behind the crash barrier, as various lorries sped by. Thankfully I'm with the AA and someone arrived to tow us back to Gillingham within an hour. But it was a fairly unpleasant end to what was a very pleasant day. And...now I don't have a car!

Anyway, back to the matter at hand, Memorabilia! This was my first visit to this event and I have to say that I was fairly impressed, not only by the size of the hall and the variety of the dealers, but also by the quality of the guest. Highlights of the day including brushing past the legend that is Leslie Philips and, at one point, looking down to find none other than David Carradine kneeling at my feet (what can I say? The man worships me...).

I didn't buy much, but I was able to add to my collection of Kevin Smith DVDs, with region one copies of Clerks 2 and the second Evening With Kevin Smith.

It was also great to run into Markosia EIC Rich Emms, who was hanging out at the Tales of Midnight booth. We also had fun teasing the Tozzers.
------------------

Unfortunately today there is also some very sad news. I'm sure many of you will have already heard that legendary X-Men artist Dave Cockrum has passed away. The industry has not only lost a great artist, but also a genuinely wonderful man. He will be sorely missed.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Shadowmancer, The Young Gods and girls....







Well, I know I promised pics of the London Expo...but...I forgot my camera...sorry... Still, if anyone out there does have any pictures of me from the Expo, please feel free to burn them and never let anyone see them...ever....

Apolgies for not updating in a while, but things have been kinda' hectic since the Expo. Not only did I return from the show with lots of lovely goodies, including a signed copy of The Tizzle Sisters (the latest masterpiece from the masterminds at Markosia), both Tozzer graphic novels and numerous other fun bits and pieces, but I also brought home one of these...

I'm reliably informed that this is a "girl" and her primary functions seem to be cluttering up the place with DVDs, punching me for thinking too loudly and just generally looking gorgeous at any and every opportunity.

We've been doing fun things like going to the opera, watching possibly unhealthy amounts of science fiction and falling asleep during Kevin Smith movies (okay...it was Jersey Girl after all...not that it's a bad film...just not his best...and I was tired...and it was late....well, technically early...I wouldn't normally fall asleep during Kevin Smith films....honest...).

So, anyway, what else is going on? If you scroll to the top of the page you'll see a new preview pic' from the Young Gods. I'm currently waiting for the six page preview story to be coloured and lettered and then hopefully it will be published. I'll post here as soon as I know when and where that's going to happen.

In other news, the London Expo wasn't all fun and hijinks (and resisting the urge to run someone through with my sword...)...I also received the sad news that Smoke & Mirror is to go the way of the dodo. It's not for me to go into the details of how and why this has happened, but please treasure your copies of #1, and let's hope that one day we do indeed see Smoke & Mirror #2 on the shelves of comic shops everywhere.

So, does this herald the end of my association with those mighty titans of British comic book publishing, the mighty Markosia? Well...no, as it happens. I'm pleased to announce that as of #8, I am taking over the colouring duties on Shadowmancer (which has been adapted from G.P. Taylor's novel by the amazing Mr Tony Lee). Unfortunately, Shadowmancer will no longer be published as single issues, so if you want to check out my work on the title you will have to pick up a copy of the next tradepaperback. More details on when and where to find it when they become available.

On the Slam Ridley front, Pete is still hard at work on the script for the one shot, and I'm currently waiting to hear back from the new artist. As soon as I have something concrete to share with the world on this then I'll post it here.

That's all for now...I'll try not to leave it so long before my next update!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Expo Bound!









This weekend sees me heading off to ExCel in London's Docklands for the twice yearly London MCM Expo (that's Movies Comics and Media, if you were wondering). As you can probably tell from the logos below the banner above, the main focus of the event, comics wise, is really the whole Japanese Manga scene, but Markosia will be in attendance, and it'll be the perfect opportunity for anyone who hasn't got their mits on one to pick up a copy of Smoke & Mirror #1. They should also have copies of the Smoke & Mirror and Of Bitter Souls tradepaperbacks for any Sharman completists out there (hah!).

So, while there is a work link to the event, this will mainly be a social thing for me. I will, sort of, be dressing up for the event too (yes, I know, shocking, ain't it?). Frustratingly, my Sephiroth costume hasn't arrived from China in time for the event, but I've got enough to cobble something together....including a wig.... (yes...I know...).

Saturday night is the big Expo Party, which I'm looking forward to as there's a live band, and it's been waaaaaay too long since I've seen any live music.

In the meantime, everything else seems to be gradually moving along. I'm a few brush strokes away from finally finishing the Young Gods six pager and Pete is hard at work on the Slam Ridley script. What I've seen of the script so far has really impressed me, and I think that, assuming we find a publisher and get the marketing right, there's the potential for Slam to be a big hit.

Well, that's all for now, look out for a post-Expo report and hopefully some pictures early next week.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Celebrating 2500 hits with some fairly random nonsense...

Yes, I should really be working, but I couldn't let 2500 hits go buy without doing something, but what?

Well, one thing that's fascinated me for a while now is the volume of hits that this blog gets. Sure, it's not stratospheric, but it's still fairly high for someone whose only real claim to fame is colouring a little known though critically acclaimed comic book from a relatively obscure British publisher. My visitors are fairly anonymous and rarely break cover and post comments to reveal their identity. The only real clue I have to who you all are are the Google searches that lead people here...and...um...they mainly reveal you all to be a bunch of loonies.

So....I'm going to go through all the recent Google searches that have led people here and address them ins ome form or other...answering them where they are questions or directing you to more appropriate parts of the web where...ah....appropriate...

So, here goes....in the order that my webstats present them to me...

"Melanie Espinola" can be found here, she's very pretty. Tell her I said, "Hi."

"Slam Ripley" was part of the inspiration for Slam Ridley (who, yes, was originally called Slam Ripley). He's from the classic book "How To Be A Superhero."

"smoke wacom tablet pın out" Ok, this one is just odd. Do not try to smoke your Wacom tablet. It's not a good idea. A Wacom tablet is essential, however, if you wish to colour comic books. I would recommend the Graphire 4 for the budget minded (like me).

"peter rogers, comics, writer" Peter Roger is not just a comic writer, and a damn good comic writer at that, he's a very good friend. Links to Peter Rogers' web site and to our little publishing concern, Orang Utan Comics, can be found in the column to the right (along with links to many other cool and interesting things....look at the links...the links are your friend). Pete is, of course, the man who has breathed life into my Slam Ridley plot. He's also just been published for the first time. Pete is a writing God, bow down and worship before him. Really. (Oh, and the person that did that search came from Canada...so it wasn't just Pete searching for himself...).

"children of men completely cg character" Why? Just...why would you type this into Google? And...more importantly...why would it lead you here?!?

"midnight run chris mccay" Chris McCay is a great mate and den mother...sorry...I mean Managing Editor of Visionary Comics Studio. He's also the creator and writer of Midnight Run, which I recently inked a six page story for. You can find a link to Chris's myspace page in the column on the right...and you can also find out more about Chris at the Visionary Comics website.

"flash show animation orang utan" I have a feeling that this person didn't find what they were looking for here. That said, if you like Orang Utans, and you like comics, you'll probably like Orang Utan Comics. Our first comic, Eleventh Hour, is due out in January. It's written by writing God, Peter Rogers, with art by a whole host of very, very talented folk. We'd really like to expand Orang Utan over the next year to the point where we're able to publish some really excellent creator owned books that just can't seem to find a home anywhere else. But...these things take money...so if there's anyone out there with a bundle of cash just looking for a promising new comic book company to invest it in...

"can you render photos in comic book creator" Why would you want to? Get some real software...

"strip creator being ian" Now, this is an interesting one. I mean, technically, I'm a "strip creator"...and I'm certainly "being ian"...so maybe they were looking for me.

"she freak daz" Click the many Daz banners all over the page, I believe that the She Freak is fairly cheap or maybe even free if you join the Platinum Club. It's an age since I even loaded Poser. I just don't have the time, and all my work seems to be writing, colouring or inking these days. I really should keep my Poser skillz up to date though...

"hell fire club movie" This would be cool. Anyone know if they're making one?

"club giantess"...and... "3d art giantess love" ....wtf?

"malcolm reynolds han solo" Malcolm Reynolds is Han Solo written well. Slam Ridley is Malcolm Reynolds and Han Solo written by two British guys who refuse to avoid the obvious gags...

"poser 6 jedi clothes" are probably available for free from somewhere. Keep searching...

"cyber 3d catfights" Get out more. Really.

"skander keynes girlfriend" I've said it before and I'll say it again - I do not know now, nor have I ever known if Skander Keynes has a girlfriend. All I ever did was say that he was very good in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe...stop hitting my site trying to find out if he's attached... I have news for you...even if he isn't...he's not going to go out with you! Go find someone you actually have some chance of dating and bother them!

"musica swett child o mine" Really...I mean....hitting my site and mis-spelling the title of my favourite song. That's just wrong. "She's got eyes of the bluest skies, as if they'd thought of rain, I'd hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain." Blue eyes...

"club 3d strange colors" As I said, you people are odd.

"randy valiente" Is an exceptionally talented artist, who provided the pencils art to the Young Gods short which, yes, I am STILL inking. Yes, it's taking me forever, but I have a LOT to do and my own stuff always seems to sit at the bottom of the pile (because I haven't got me asking me where it is and when I'm going to get it done). This is why I'm aiming to step off the art teams of anything I'm writing. You can find links to Randy's stuff in the column on the right.

"strip creator of being ian" Okay....now I'm wondering if there isn't some kind of strip out there called "being ian"...which would be interesting....

"marvel hellfire club logo" Hmmm...is there one?

"tony curran girlfriend" Who is Tony Curran??

"swett child o mine lyrics" Mis-spelling my favourite song again....sigh... "She's got a smile that it seems to me reminds me of childhood memories where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky." Check...

"sneak peek for gods the movie" What baffles me is that searches like this lead to people actually looking at the site....

"chclub blogspot" Ah, bless you....bless you the one person who was actually looking for this blog. Waitaminute....Cardiff? Rogers....

Okay, so that was an odd insight into the strange and varied people who visit the site. Hits from Google make up roughly 33% of vistors to this site. Most other people come here via my myspace page, or the forum at Visionary. A fair few have the blog bookmarked. But...who are you?

Come on...here's a challenge for those of you that regularly read this blog, post a comment just saying "Hi"....or maybe say who you are...where you're from...and how you came to be reading my inane ramblings on a semi-regular basis.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Smoke & Mirror Vol 2 #1 OUT NOW!

Today is a pretty big day for me!

Yes, that's right, Smoke & Mirror Vol 2 #1 finally hits comic book stores today.

Go....now...buy it.

Buy lots of copies.

Now.

If your local comic store doesn't stock it, or they're sold out, or you really meant to ask them to order a copy but forgot, then go here and order a copy direct from Markosia. There are four covers available, giving you the perfect excuse to buy four copies.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Order Midnight Kiss - Or A Puppy Learns There's No Santa Claus

[We interupt your regularly scheduled blog to bring you this special message from Mr Tony Lee...]

This is Butch - a pretty little puppy. He wuvs yoooo yess he doesss.

Butch is looking forward to Christmas this year - because he loves it when Santa brings him presents, including special doggie medication to help his damaged doggie kidneys from failing.

But if Santa wasn't to turn up, Butch might not get that medication. Or worse, if someone was to tell Butch that, for example Santa Claus didn't exist - well, this cute little puppy might lose the will to live altogether.

But nobody would do such a thing, right? Well, we'd like to think so. And we'd like you to spread the word for us on something, ensuring that lil' Butch here never needs to know the Christmas lie.

There's a book coming out soon - a Graphic Novel. It's called Midnight Kiss. You might have heard of it.

It's the collected issues of the five part, Eagle award nominated series by Tony Lee, Ryan Stegman and Kieran Oats - with an introduction by Michael Moorcock.

That's right, the Elric guy. He's cool, right? Well he likes Midnight Kiss. And he likes Butch, too. You like cute little Butch too, right? He loves you.

So, this Midnight Kiss - it has loads of extras as well, like sketches, alternate covers and the never seen before fifth episode.

But we need people to pre-order it, so that Markosia remember to print it - as they're all caught up playing with our friend Butch. Because they love him too.

Now, your local comic shop might find this difficult, as there's no Diamond code yet - Diamond don't love Butch, and they want him to learn the truth - but we won't let them, will we? Well, there's another option. In fact, there are two.

Firstly, you can go to Amazon.Com and order it from them - for this will work. For this we might throw Butch a stick, play with the ball, give him some of those tasty blue tablets he so desperately craves sometimes.

Alternatively, you can go to your local book, or comic store with the following details -

# Name: Midnight Kiss
# Paperback: 132 pages
# Publisher: Markosia Enterprises
# ISBN: 1905692161

And ask them very nicely to order it for you. That's right, any book store in the world can order from an ISBN number. Apparently. We were told this by ninjas. And we have no reason to distrust them, yet.

When people order, then Markosia see better numbers. This makes them happy. And when they're happy they print the book and I'm happy.

And when I'm happy, Butch gets a shiny new collar for Christmas.

But if you don't order, if you don't pass this message, link this message, do whatever it takes to get this book printed and in the shops -

Butch is going to have a very nasty 25th of December. I would say 'buy this book or I kill this cute, adorable puppy' -

But as you can see - if you don't buy this book, I don't do anything at all.

You do. Shame on you. Butch loved you.

Pass it on, brethren.
--------------------------------
A note from Ian: Order Midnight Kiss, it's flippin' brilliant! See that little example of my inking that's been on this site forever...yeah, up there at the top right...no, not the pic' of me....below that....yeah... That's some inking I did over Ryan Stegman's pencils...from Midnight Kiss (no, I didn't ink the actual comic...the actual comic has Kieron's colours straight over Ryan's pencils...).

So help Tony out and go preorder his book...I have...and just to make it super easy for you if you're in the UK, I'm including a link so that you can order it direct from Waterstones here.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Greenland Is Not Green

Okay, to be fair, I've always known that Greenland is ironically named, but nothing quite prepares you for looking out of an aeroplane window flying at 34,000 feet and seeing this. This was, quite simply, one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen in my entire life.

It very nearly made flying to Baltimore via Iceland worth the extra four hours it added to my journey. Nearly, but not quite. I've heard that Iceland is a remarkable land of stark beauty...but Reykjavik airport is quite simply one of the bleakest spots on the entire planet. Spending an hour there, waiting for a connecting flight, you get a sense of being in limbo. A strange otherplace that only exists to link real places together. It was an odd feeling and one that I'm in no hurry to repeat. Plus, if you're used to airline staff being friendly, helpful and polite, the employees of Iceland Air will be a real culture shock for you.

So, after travelling for what felt like my entire life, I finally arrived at Baltimore Washington International airport and was met by Visionary Comics Studio's business manager, Charlie Hall. This was a bit odd for both of us as we've actually had very little contact with each other, and this guy was giving up a room in his house for me to stay in for the next three days. Me and Charlie quickly hit it off though...and I can say that he really was not what I was expecting from what I knew of him...but in a good way. Charlie, if you're reading this, you da' man, I take my hat off to you, dude.

Charlie was also due to pick up my good buddy, Headlocked creator Mike Kingston, who was flying in from New York and was due to arrive at roughly the same time as me. Mike's documented his travelling woes elsewhere, so I won't go over that ground again, but suffice it to say that Charlie and I had some time to kill before Mike finally arrived, most of which was spent searching for a toilet as the person next to me on the plane from Reykjavik had fallen asleep and I'm far too polite a person to wake someone up so that I can squeeze by them to get to the loo.

So, eventually Mike arrived and I was surprised to find that he's obviously been cloned from a lock of Bruce Willis' back hair (yeah, I'm going to pay for that comment...). Until that point me and Mike had only ever talked through email and MSN, so he was a little thrown by the accent. You know, it's funny, I don't really think of Americans as having accents...just goes to show how many American movies and TV shows I watch...

OK, so, from the airport, Charlie, Mike and me headed straight to Edgar's bar, which is right opposite the convention centre in Baltimore. There we met up with Offspring/Midnight Run creator Chris McCay and Visionary's head honcho, Chuck Sellner. I was introduced to a local American brew that was actually drinkable (unlike the stuff they send us here) and it flowed freely for many, many hours. It was at Edgar's that I first encountered the strange US custom of checking everyone's ID when they either order a drink, or enter a bar if there's someone on the door...no matter that they may have a full beard, be clearly going grey and unquistionably be of an appropriate age for drinking. What was amusing about this was the look on everyone's face when I handed them my UK driver's licence and they tried to figure out what on earth it was. Much fun.

I think we eventually made it back to Charlie's house in Anapolis, which is a 30 minute drive from Baltimore, at around 4am...we had to be back in Baltimore at the convention centre to set up the booth at 8am. Somehow we actually made it.

OK, first and foremost, the Baltimore Con' is what my American friends refer to as a mid-size con'. To put things in perspective here for my UK based friends, you could probably fit the whole of the Bristol con' into it about five times over, and still have spare room. So, it was big, with booths for all the big publishers, and guests the like of which we could only ever dream of having at a UK convention.

So, despite being tired and slightly hungover (Ok, I should point out that Chuck was only drinking Coke, and that he and McCay both went home the night before at sensible times, so were both fresh and full of beans), we quickly got to work setting up the booth. That done, it was time to take in our surroundings and....stone me....but we were sat right next to Joseph Michael Linsner. Now that was a seriously surreal feeling. I was standing next to him while he did a sketch of Kitty Pryde for someone. Seriosuly, I couldn't make this stuff up.

The con' was just getting into full swing and people were starting to move from just wandering around checking everything out to actually stopping and talking when the fire alarm went off. This was, of course, completely ignored by everyone in the hall. It's always amused me that everyone's reaction to a fire alarm is just to assume that if there was a real emergency they'd make an announcement about it over the tannoy, so it's safe to ignore the EMERGENCY ALARM. As it was, I think it took around three or four announcements over the tannoy before people accepted that they actually had to leave the building.

We found ourselves standing outside next to Lou Ferrigno, who was quite clearly baffled by the indignity of having to stand outside amongst all the normal people.

Eventually they let us all back in, exhibitors and retailers first...so everyone rushed to get to their booths before the masses were let back in and decided to start looting. The rest of the day ran pretty smoothly with a fairly steady stream of people visiting the booth. It was great to finally meet a few other VCSers, such as the Haiku writing Fortress guys - Brain Koscienski and Chris Pisano. We were also joined by Offspring artist Kirk Kugel and his lady friend, Leslie. Kirk is damn cool, with a dry wit that caught everyone off guard. We were joined by a few of the other guys in the studio throughout the day, and we certainly set a record for the highest number of studio members together at one time, which was awesome.

After the show on Saturday we adjourned to Edgar's for dinner and drinks and to discuss the next stage of the studio's developement. I believe it was during this meeting that Chuck first received his new nickname - Papa Smurf. He loves it. Really, he does. I think it was also during this meeting that the idea of the Visionary Bullpen first emerged. Basically, just how freaking cool would it be if we all worked together under the same roof. We've all been so energised and inspired by being together for a couple of days...what effect would it have on the creative process if we got to work together all day every day?!? It remains, for now, a dream...but now I'm back to sitting in my studio in England all on my own again, it's a dream that really, really appeals to me.

Sunday saw Visionary's first ever convention panel, which I was invited to take part in, which was very cool. Scheduled for the same time as the Romita Snr/Romita Jnr panel, it's no surprise that we didn't exactly draw a huge crowd. As such we quickly decided to abandon the stage and joined the small but very interested audience for a very productive Q&A session.

We made some cool new friends who, I suspect, will be turning up in the studio over the next few weeks. Visionary continues to go from strength to strength, and I'm very pleased to announce the very first published work from the studio will be a six page Soul Star back up strip that will see print in... Smoke & Mirror #1! So, now you have two reasons to buy it...so buy two copies! Heck, buy ten!

Sunday night saw Charlie, Mike and me at something of a loose end, so we headed into Baltimore looking for somewhere to hang out for the evening. Which is when we got a call from the Comics Review guys to meet up with them for a few beers. Of course, it would have been just plain rude to say no...heh... Despite being Canadian, they were actually very cool (I'm kidding, everyone knows I love Canadians...Canadians flamin' ruuule). We had a really good time with them, made even better by the confused bar staff who were certain that we'd paid for our drinks in full...when we hadn't paid for a single drink all night.

So, from there we headed to the airport to drop Mike off (obscenely early) for his flight back to New York (which, once again, turned out to be a series of disasters). Monday was spent hanging out in Anapolis with Charlie until it was time for my flight home...once again via Iceland. This time, however, I was fast asleep when we passed Greenland.

So, that was last weekend...hopefully I'll be able to get over to the New York con' in February...which would be awesome as I'd get to tick off "Visit New York" on my mental list of things to do before I die. Before then we have Brumcon in December, one way or another that's bound to be a blast.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen....The Young Gods























The Young Gods, six page preview story, page 1, pencils by Randy Valiente, inks and colours by Ian Sharman.

'Nuff said.

Comments please....

Thursday, August 31, 2006

At flamin' last....

Woohoo...finally got this thing working again. Would seem that Blogger's recent amalgamation into the great Google empire caused some kind of conflict with my registration details, so I couldn't log in...figured it out now though....

So...uh...did you miss me?

Right...um...what's been going on in my absence....

The Young Gods

Right, Randy finished all six pages of the short and they look sweeeeeeeeeeet. I'm currently in the process of inking the pages, and then I'll be colouring them. I'm hoping to have this done in time for the Baltimore Con'...which is...a week and a half away...gulp...

The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley

As you can see from the pic'...I got my hands on the very first official Slam Ridley T-shirt. Buy yours today at www.slamridley.com! Somebody out there has ordered the very second official Slam Ridley T-shirt...come on...own up... (I'm guessing it was Mr Rogers...). There's plenty of other cool stuff to order and, ladies, Slam ahs some very special items just for you in the European SlamStore! As if that wasn't enough...Slam even has his very own theme song now, which you can merrily sing along to on the website (and yes, you can even download it and listen to it on your very own i-thingy).

Whazzat? The comic? What comic? Oh...The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley... No, we haven't forgotten about that! Production of the full script for the one-shot is about to go into high gear, and we hope to make the script for the six page sample story available on the website soon (note to self: mention this to Pete...). Mr Ridgon is hard at work on a promo poster for the book, which should be available soon.

Everything else...

Okay, considering I am working on what feels like every other comic book in existence, I'm not going to go into detail on every project. However, I can tell you that the Headlocked 6-page strip is now 100% complete, and should be appearing in the pages of a Markosia comic near you soon. You'll know which one as soon as I do.

As I've mentioned, I'll be attending the Baltimore Comic Con in about a week and half's time. If you're going to be there, stop by the Visionary table and say "Hi." Pick up a FREE Slam Ridley badge (that's a button for my Atlantically challenged readers) and say "Hi, Ian, I read you blog!" Now, you won't get anything special from me for letting me know you read the blog, but you will help to boost my already over-inflated ego. This can only be a good thing. There will also be some lovely Headlocked t-shirts to buy at the con', featuring the rather excellent Headlocked logo, designed by yours truly.

(By the way, if you turn up to the con' wearing on official Slam Ridley thong, and you're a cute girl, I will, of course, be more than happy to sign it for you...).

Well, I'm currently STILL jet lagged, so I'm off to be slightly confused about what time it is...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Young Gods - Sneak Peek!








Here's a sneak peek at Randy Valiente's quite frankly jaw dropping pencils for the six page Young Gods preview story. Randy still has a bit of work to do on pages one to three, but I've seen what he's done so far and I'm completely amazed.

I'm currently hard at work on the script for the 40-page one-shot which will introduce the world to the full team. Hopefully Randy will be able to stay on board for that!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Oh My Stars And Garters! Smoke & Mirror TPB Gets 5 Out Of 5 at SBC!

Well, I certainly can't claim credit for it as I was just one of the many creators that made the Smoke & Mirror trade paperback what it is...

...but...

...it's damn cool that my first ever published work got 5 out of 5 from Silver Bullet Comics...

...you can read the review here.

Celebrate 2000 Hits with Ethal Nuargi!

Well, the hit counter just clicked past the 2000 mark, which is a pretty damn good excuse to celebrate, if you ask me!

This site will be a year old at the end of next month and it's certainly been an eventful year. It's odd to think that when I posted my first post here I'd never even heard of Markosia. I'd never coloured so much as a page of a comic book. And... well.... I could probably go on all night like this.

Back then I had very little more than a heap of hopes and dreams and the, frankly, quite ropey first draft of The Young Gods #1 (still available to download in the "My Work" section of the right hand column if you want a giggle). Of course, those of you have actually read that first draft will have already met a certain blue skinned, badly dressed alien by the name of Ethal Nuargi. You might be wondering then, if Ethal is in The Young Gods, why I've posted this lovely sketch of him by Slam Ridley penciller and co-creator Paul Ridgon. Well...simply put...Mr Nuargi play a part in The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley too.

Exactly what part he plays is something you'll just have to wait and see.

That's all for now really, except to say that I might just have a treat here for Young Gods fans tomorrow!

(Are there any Young Gods fans out there? I'd ask for you to make yourself known but... frankly... I'd probably find the deathly silence slightly depressing. Ah well...).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Slam Ridley hits the web, and The Slam Store! opens for business!

Well, the Slam Ridley creative team of Mssrs Sharman, Rogers and Ridgon have been rather busy over the last few days preparing a multi-media onslaught to pave the way for the forthcoming Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley comic book.

First off - I have ordered three hundred Make Mine Slam! badges (buttons for our American friends) which I'll be handing out at the Baltimore con' next month. If you're attending the con', please come by the Visionary Comics Studio stand and pick one up (oh, and say "Hi"). The badges feature high quality original Slam Ridley artwork by Paul Ridgon and myself.

Secondly - Slam now has a fully functioning presence on the interweb. Visit www.slamridley.com for all your Slam Ridley needs. We've got character bios, creator profiles, a message board and a whole load of other stuff. We'll be updating the site regularly with more pics and info as it's generated.

Lastly, but by no means leastly - The Slam Store" is now open for business on both sides of the Atlantic selling exclusive Slam Ridley merchandise to amaze and slightly worry your friends and family. Slam fans in the UK and Europe should check out the Slam Store here, and Slam fans in the USA and North America should visit the US Slam Store here. Why are there two different stores? Well, the simple reason is that it saves you money! It means that no matter what side of the Atlantic you live on you can order funky clothes with Slam's smilin' face on them without having to pay high international shipping costs. How thoughtful of us, eh? Oh, and if you can't find what you're looking for in The Slam Store! then just let me know and I'll see if I can add it to our list of products.

In other news.... and... yes... there is other news... the long search for a penciller for The Young Gods seems to have finally come to an end.

The extremely talented Randy Valiente from Manilla in the Philippines is stepping up to the plate and taking on The Young Gods' six page preview story (coming to a Markosia comic near you, soon!). Randy is both professional and fast, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to share some finished Young Gods art with you all soon.

I am very excited to have Randy on board, but I also want to publicly thank Paul Ridgon, David Miller and the mighty Esdras for offering to take on the project if I wasn't able to find someone before they became available. They're all really busy guys, and exceptional artists, and it would have been a pelasure to work with any of them on this.

You can check out more of Randy's fantastic artwork at his blog here and at his website here.

So, it's all go here! Woohoo!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Midnight Run and more....

You know, as I don't have nearly enough work to do....I'm now inking and colouring the Midnight Run short for the Visionary/Markosia thing. The nice thing about this is that unlike many projects, where I'ma sked to do them and then wait for weeks to get the pages, the pencils were ready and waiting when I jumped on board, so I've been able to get right onto them.

Handily I'd just ordered some new Windsor & Newton Series 7 No 2's (brushes...) in anticipation of inking Mamluk, and they arrived yesterday. It feels great to be inking again, and the Midnight Run pencils are really good.

In other news, Vinnie has had to quit The Young Gods due to health problems, which leaves me in despeate need of a penciller as the strip is already running a month late. I have a few irons in the fire, but I'm open to offers if anyone can pick this up right away!

Well, just a quick one today...hopefully I'll have some pictures next time!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Keeping the lawyers happy....

Well, you know how a couple of posts ago I said not to forget his name...

Heh....

Well, meet Slam Ridley....don't forget his name....

A subtle but necessary name change, I'm afraid. I'm happy with it though because now his name works on two levels. there's still the homage to "Slam Ripley - Crap Pilot" from the sublimely funny "How To Be A Superhero", but now he's also an homage to the director of two of my favourite sci-fi films, Bladerunner and Alien, Mr Ridley Scott.

So....I'm happy....the lawyers are happy....everybody's happy.

The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley - coming to a universe near you, soon!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Steely Dan - The Robot Man (NAKED!)

Just a quick post tonight because it's late/early 'cos I've been up all night colouring Headlocked and chatting with that special someone. But...I just had to share Paul Ridgon's latest character design for The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ripley.

So...meet Steely Dan - The Robot Man. No...I'm not a Steely Dan fan...and I don't think I could even name one of their songs....but the name just popped into my head fully formed one evening, and it just seemed to work. He'll be wearing clothes in the actual comic book, but Paul wanted to get his basic, underlying structure right before clothing him. The question of who or what Steely Dan actually is will be an important one in future Slam Ripley stories...but don't expect an answer for a while.

In other news, it looks like I'll be attending the Baltimore Comic Convention, assuming I can actually sort out my flight. Right now it looks like I'll be flying via Iceland (yes, really) because the price of the BA direct flight suddenly gained £136 between yesterday and today. I'm slightly worried about ending up stranded in Reykjavik...but it'll be an adventure at least.

Assuming I'm going I'll be colouring up Paul's Slam Ripley sketches and doing some nice prints of them ready for the convention in the hopes of drumming up some support for the book. Paul's mentioned doing a poster (and his concept for it totally kicks arse), so if we can get that complete, inked, coloured and printed in time for the con, I'll see about getting a decent amount printed up and I'll be signing them and selling them there.

Say it with me, people.... "Make Mine Slam!"

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The name's Slam Ripley, don't forget it...

Meet Slam Ripley, 'nuff said.

Yeah, right, like I was really going to leave it at that! This is the first character design for The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ripley. Plotted by myself, with Peter Rogers on scripting duties and the unsurpassable Paul Ridgon on pencils. I suspect that Paul telepathically reached into my mind and picked out exactly what I wanted Slam to look like.

I really can't express in words how excited I am about how Slam Ripley is shaping up. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect penciller, and I really hope that Paul's able to stick around for the one-shot after the six pager is done.

I believe Paul's going to be doing a few more sketches of the supporting cast and I'll be posting them as soon as I have them. Please let us know what you think of Slam by posting a comment, and spread the word about Slam Ripley because this book could really be huge.

In other news, as a steady stream of British comic book creators make their way back across the Atlantic in the wake of the San Diego Comic Con (apart from Tony Lee, of course, who ended up stranded in Kansas due to one of the engines on his plane blowing up...nice one!) I'm gearing up to take a trip in the opposite direction. Yep, this boy's just booked himself on a flight across the Atlantic, woohoo! Four weeks and counting...

See you in the air!

And remember.... "Make Mine Slam!"

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Young Gods at Markosia?

Well, odd to think that the last time I posted to this blog I was still 29...now I'm 30 and there have been a huge amount of changes in my life.

Let's get straight into the big comic book related one though, eh? I guess anyone who's been paying attention to the Visionary web site will know that the big secret is out. The publisher for the Young Gods, Headlocked and Mamluk six page introductory back-up strips will be none other than the UK's own Markosia Comics! I can't think of a more appropriate company to publish The Young Gods' debut in print than Markosia. Harry and the gang have been nothing but supportive of me and the book since I first showed it to them back at the Brighton con' last year. We've all come a loooong way since then, and I'm very proud to be working on one of Markosia's monthly books as a colourist (you have ordered your copies of Smoke & Mirror vol 2 #1, right?). It seems very appropriate that I'm making my writing debut in the pages of a Markosia comic too.

I've just received today the script for a Slam Ripley six pager from Pete Rogers, who's co-creating my little homage to the worlds of Star Wars and Firefly. We'll be submitting it to Visionary once the dust has settled from San Diego and hopefully Slam will be making his debut in the pages of a Markosia comic very soon. I'm pleased to announce, also, that the headache of trying to find a penciller for Slam Ripley was recently cured by none other than Visionary's own Paul Ridgon, who volunteered his services pretty much out of the blue. Both Paul and Pete will be sharing credit with me as co-creators on Slam Ripley. Unlike The Young Gods, which is very much my baby, I'm intending The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ripley to be a much more collaborative effort. Dont get me wrong, I'm still just as passionate about The Young Gods as I ever have been...but I've got this gut feeling that Slam's going to completely blow people away. Put it this way...if you were disappointed by the Star Wars prequels...and Firefly's 14 episodes and one movie were simply over too soon...you won't want to miss The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ripley.

And that's just the big events in the comic-book creating side of my life.

Add to that a relationship ending (no ring on my finger...)... a new relationship beginning (both wonderful and stressful)... everyone freaking out in the run up to San Diego... and planning what could be the first of many trans-atlantic trips... it's been an eventful time. So... sorry for not posting an update sooner!

I wrote my first song in over two and half years tonight. It's amazing, having a source of inspiration again after so long.

So... I turned 30 and everything changed... what's everyone else been doing?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Return to Mamluk!

Well, those of you that read my Live Journal will know that i recently had a VERY BAD DAY. One of the things that contributed to that bad day was the news that my good friend Paul Ridgon was quitting comics to get a proper job. Paul's an incredible penciller, and the news that he was giving up was a big blow as I was looking forward to inking and colouring his work on the Mamluk one-shot in the works from Visionary.

Well, great news today, Mamluk is also getting a 6 page preview strip...just like The Young Gods and Headlocked...and Paul's going to be pencilling it! (Welcome to the world of working 'till 4am Paul!) And, what's even cooler is that he's invited me to ink and colour it.

Now...if I can just get the government to add another six hours to each day I should be sorted...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Headlocked

Well, because I clearly have some pathological need to have more work than any mortal man could hope to cope with...and because I've become rather accustomed to drifting off to sleep with the sound of the dawn chorus ringing in my ears...I've signed on as colourist on Visionary's hot wrestling comic, Headlocked.

There is a HUGE buzz surrounding this groundbreaking title set in the world of pro-wrestling and I'm really pleased that I'm able to be a part of it. You can find out more about Headlocked on the Visionary website, or you can visited series creator Mike Kingston's Myspace page here.

In other news - I just picked up Civil War #'s 1 and 2 yesterday. I really enjoyed them and I'm looking forward to where Marvel are going to go with this. This series needs to have serious long lasting repercussions though. There is a rift now between Captain America and Iron Man that neither one should be able to just shrug off...so...when the dust settles, I'll be disappointed if they're both still Avengers. Got to admit though, I have no idea where Marvel are going with this one.

I'm really getting back into reading comics at the moment and I've really surprised myself by getting into Marvel's Ultimate's line. I picked up the first year of Ultimate X-Men in TPB form, and also the first Ultimates trade. It's impressive stuff. I remember when this tuff first came out, just when I was getting out of reading comics, I really didn't see the point of it. I have a great fondness for the Marvel Universe, its history and its continuity, and new books that just threw away all that didn't make much sense to me. Now I'm approaching them from the point of view of someone who is not regularly reading comics, and suddenly I get it. Excellent stuff.

That said, I wuld like to get back up to speed with the mainstream Marvel Universe. I recently read the House of M trade, which I found to be quite impressive. As you may have noticed, I've been buying a lot of trade paperbacks. Again, the TPB market didn't make any sense to me when I was buying something like forty regular monthly titles. Now TPBs are exactly what I need, and a stack of them is much more convenient to read than a stack of bagged and boarded back issues. Consider me well and truly sold on the whole TPB thing.

So...now I want to catch up on the main X-Men books...but I'm resisting because I know it means reading the Morrison run....

In other, other news - I have just three days left of my twenties. Ugh. Ageing has never been a big deal for me before but there's just something about turning 30. It's some consolation, however, that I can look back over the past thirty years and see that I've achieved most of the goals that I would have liked to have achieved before I turned thirty. I've fathered two great kids, recorded live and studio CDs, had songs written and performed by me played on the radio, been on an insane road trip to visit a refugee camp in Macedonia, performed live in front of a festival crowd...and....most importantly of all...become a published comic book artist.

So...what is there left for me to do?

I guess, going into my thirties, it would be good for me to set out a few goals...so here goes...

- Become a published comic book writer (looks set to happen before the year ends).

- Attend the San Diego Comic Book Convention (hopefully next year).

- Do work for Marvel Comics (yes...DC would be cool, but I'm Marvel through and through).

- Write a Pete Wisdom mini series.

- Win an Eagle award.

- Win an Eisner award.

Well.....we'll see...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day!

Well, it's the day that we all celebrate finally getting rid of those traitorous Americans. Wooohoo!

Well...this post is really just a thinly veiled excuse to talk about my son's passion for drawing. This Spidey pic' was done a couple of months ago, and he's actually imroved an incredible amount since then. (He is four).

I really wouldn't be surprised to see him follow in my footsteps and end up drawing comic for a living. I'm happy to encourage him as much as possible because if he gets into the habit of drawing regularly now, then he's going to be brilliant when he grows up. I've never had the patience or discipline to regularly work at my art...well...until the last year or so.

Ah...who am I kidding? I'm just a proud dad who thinks his kids are brilliant!

Oh...while I'm here...we just blasted past 1500 hits! Woohoo!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Young Gods - Script Approved!

Well, it's been an eventful few days here and I've now taken over from Derek as the scripwriter for The Young Gods.

I'm pleased to say that my second draft script for the six page story has now been apprroved by Chuck Sellner and we've passed it on to Vinnie to start on the pencils. I can't wait to see what he comes up with!

I've finally taken the plunge and carved myself a little corner of myspace. You can find me here. Stop by, say hi, add me to your friends.

The colours for Smoke & Mirror Vol 2 #1 are 99% done now. It's a real blast working on this book, I only wish I was doing this as my day job already, I'd have it all done in a quarter of the time!

Don't forget that the Smoke & Mirror TPB and the Of Bitter Souls TPB are in the shops NOW ... so go get your copy!

The crazy madness starts here! Hold on tight! It's gonna be a bumpy ride!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Young Gods - Art Team!

First up, apologies for taking a few days to post this, but it's been quite a weekend, really...

So, first things first, I want to publicly announce... proclaim... shout from the mountain tops... that the Young Gods now boasts a couple of the hottest new artists working in comics amongst the motley crew of creators responsible for transferring my addled delusions onto the printed page.

First up, and pencilling the up-coming six page preview story, is Vinnie Tartamella. Check out Vinnie's take on everyone's favourite Canadian mutant at the top of this post (you can see more by visiting the "Services" section of the Visionary website, and then clicking the "Pencillers" link...or by clicking here). I'm really looking forward to seeing his take on The Young Gods. Vinnie worked as a lead designer for McFarlane for a year, and has also designed toys for ToyBiz and Diamond Select.


Next up is our highly talented cover artist, Melanie Espinola. She lives in Toronto, Canada, and produces her breathtaking pictures in Corel's Painter. I'd bet money on Melanie being a huge star one day, and I wouldn't be surprised to find people buying comics just to collect her artwork. She also owns a cat hat and believes that there were female Smurfs other than Smurfette that we never saw.

My only regret is that we won't be needing a cover for the six pager, so I'm going to have to wait for the one-shot to see her version of the team.

Rounding out the team for six page story will be Paul Brian DeBerry, who'll be handling the lettering.

The script is now complete and has now entered the review process at Visionary. Once that's complete we'll be passing it on to Vinnie and we can start the ball rolling!

We're aiming to get the six pages pencilled, inked and coloured by the 18th July...which gives us twenty days!

Well, I'm sure there's other news, but it's late and I really ought to get some sleep....

EDIT - Oh yes, one more thing, thanks to a link posted on Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin site, we topped 100 hits in a single day on Monday!