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....