Saturday, December 27, 2008

Four Words

Well, on Sunday I posted this picture of Aaron -

- on Elephant Words. I was hoping it would inspire me to write something happy and upbeat this week, after three weeks of doom and gloom. However, as the week wore on, and I looked at the picture more, I found myself thinking more and more about when it was taken, and what was going on in my life, and so the end result ended up far from being happy and upbeat.

So, you can read my latest contribution here:

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's cold in here...

For those of you that are interested...

My contribution to Elephant Words for this week has just gone up, here:

You can find this week's picture here:

This week was a bit rushed. It was my first time being the Monday man, and the picture didn't go up until fairly late last night. I'd intended to get up reasonably early this morning so that I'd have plenty of time to work on it before posting it up at lunch time. Suffice it to say that plan failed...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A New Dawn

Hi all!

My latest contribution to Elephant Words is now up here -

The image that we're all using for inspiration this week is here -

Comments welcome, either here or on the site.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Elephant Words

For a writer, I don't write nearly enough, so when a spot opened up to join the team of regular contributors over at Elephant Words I jumped at the chance, knowing it would force me to write something every week.

The idea behind Elephant Words is that every Saturday one of the six contributors posts up a new picture on the site, and over the ensuing six days the group take it in turns to write a short piece of fiction inspired by the picture.

You can find this week's picture here...

...and you can find my contribution here.

I was really quite nervous about doing this as it's an age since I've actually written any prose, it's all been script work for me over the last couple of years.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Joe Quesada Explains the Marvel Knights Mission Statement

Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics, Joe Quesada, answered my question about the Marvel Knights line of books, and X-MEN: MAGNETO TESTAMENT in his latest CUP OF JOE column, #27:


Here's the text:

Rivka writes:

Hi, Joe,

I think there's some confusion about the mission statement of the Marvel Knights line, and which books are Marvel Knights books. It seems that Marvel Knights today is different from yesteryear. Some of the MK books are outside continuity, such as Silver Surfer: Requiem, and some are in-continuity books, such as Angel: Revelations and Magneto: Testament. There is also the Ghost Rider: Trail Of Tears which is not out of continuity so much as pre-continuity.

Could you please clarify that Marvel Knights today publishes some books that are out-of-continuity such as Sub-Mariner: The Depths, and some that are in continuity? That today, the MK category encompasses both kinds of books?"

All the Best,


JQ: Rivka, this is a great question and you've kind of nailed the answer. There are some MK books that are out of continuity, while some are definitely in. I would consider Battlin' Jack Murdock and Magneto: Testament as stories that are absolutely in continuity, as was Daredevil: Father.

Here's a little background info on Magneto: Testament. When the project was originally being planned, it was going to be an X-Men solo character mini-series. Then the script started to come in, which was extraordinary, and we started to see the art, which is beautiful beyond belief, and then we started to rethink the marketing and launch of the project.

We thought to ourselves that we really wanted to give this story more of a "boutique" look, and the MK imprint has become our boutique imprint for special stories. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's "spectrum" mini-series were a good road map for this. So, this is why Magneto: Testament has the MK imprint, but imprint aside, it is definitely in continuity and was always planned to be that way.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

X-Men: Magneto Testament #1 REVIEW

X-Men: Magneto Testament Part 1 of 5
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Lettering: Artmonkeys’ Natalie
Production: Paul Acerios
Asst. Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Editor: Warren Simons
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Cover Art: Mark Djurdjevic
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Special Thanks: Mark Weitzman and the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Reviewed by: Rivka Jacobs
X-MEN: MAGNETO TESTAMENT is the definitive origin story of the comic book character Magneto. Judging by issue #1, this might be one of the most significant, impressive and heartfelt limited series Marvel has ever published.

As many know, but some may not, Magneto is a character created in 1963 by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. He was introduced as the villain, the foil, the adversary for the team of teen-age super heroes known as the X-Men, led by X-Men founder Charles Xavier.

From the start, the X-Men were not the usual band of super hero vigilantes chasing criminals. They were a new race, a new offshoot of the human species, called mutants. They not only fought the "bad guys," but they had to fight prejudice, hatred, and cruel bigotry as well. With the introduction of the sentinels, mutant-hunting robots, in issue #14, Stan Lee inserted the possibility of a Holocaust, of genocide against mutants, into the Marvel Universe.

The X-MEN comic book was canceled in the late 1960s, but revived in 1975 by Len Wein, Dave Cockrum, and Chris Claremont. Chris Claremont then helmed the X-Men books from 1975 to 1991, one of the longest, most imaginative and productive runs in the history of comic books. One of Claremont's most important and creative decisions was to give the character Magneto, who before was a typical one-dimensional Silver Age antagonist, a back-story. In UNCANNY X-MEN #150, Claremont introduced the fact that Magneto had lost his entire family during the Holocaust, and had been a Jewish prisoner in the death camp of Auschwitz.

In later years, Chris Claremont would reveal that Magneto had served in the Auschwitz Sonderkommando (UNCANNY X-MEN #274, EXCALIBUR vol. 3 #14). And that his family had been driven from their homeland and hunted to their deaths, with no one coming to their aid (UNCANNY X-MEN #199).

Three years ago, editor Warren Simons began planning a series about Magneto's origin. He pitched his idea to current Editor in Chief Joe Quesada, and Mr. Quesada was completely supportive. It took three years to get the project off the ground, put together a creative team, do the research, and find a window of opportunity in the publishing schedule.

The result,
X-Men: Magneto Testament, is not only the definitive account of Magneto's origins, but a sincere and careful attempt by the creative team to portray Magneto's Jewish youth and the Holocaust with accuracy and respect. Typed in white on black, on the last page of issue #1, is an essay titled: "Afterward: A Few Words About History," by series writer, Greg Pak.

Mr. Pak says: "We've done our best to remain true to these elements while fleshing out the rest of our hero's experiences based on research into the actual historical record. Longtime readers will notice a wealth of surprising new details -- for example, for the first time we're revealing Magneto's birth name. And sometimes, because the comics record is contradictory or conflicts with historical fact, we've had to choose one detail over another. But at every step, we've done our best to remain true to the key moments that have contributed so much towards making Magneto the deeply compelling character we know today."

Magneto Testament #1
opens in the city of Nuremberg, in the year 1935. The young Magneto's family is trying to live as normal a life as possible, in this Bavarian city that was so central to Nazi ideology and propaganda. The young hero is only nine years old, and still attending school, when we first meet him. We see a brief glimpse of what it's like to be the outsider, the alien, a physically average boy who is emotionally abused by his teachers as well as his fellow students.

We also see a young girl, a Gypsy girl, named Magda, forced to clean the trash off the streets with her mother. Since the Gypsies of Germany were overwhelmingly Sinti, we now know that Magda was a Sinti. The young Magneto becomes smitten with this girl, and she with him.

But the dark clouds of the Nazi storm are rolling in, engulfing the young Magneto and his family, and by the end of this book, issue #1, the boy's world has already changed forever.

The story is not a memory, or told by Magneto, but is about Magneto, and always we see things from the young hero's point of view. It is a remarkable achievement.

Greg Pak, in particular, has done an outstanding job. He spent long hours reading about and researching the historical era, and the comic book canon, and as a result, Magneto Testament feels authentic and honest. Mr. Pak brings his cinematic sensibilities to this story. With some of his previous Marvel work, it seemed like he was a comic book writer who happened to be an award-winning film maker. With Magneto Testament, Mr. Pak is a film maker writing a graphic novel told in five parts, and has successfully integrated his entire creative and academic background for this project.

Carmine De Giandomenico's art is refined yet dynamic. There is a purity of purpose and clarity in each panel. The characters live and breathe, their faces full of emotion.

Matt Hollingsworth has done an exceptional job on the coloring, using colors as another narrative device that expands or sometimes counterpoints the action. I suspect that the colors will continue to play a big role in the story, as we get closer and closer to Auschwitz.

The art and writing, the pace, the stylistic choices made, elevate this series beyond the usual origins saga. Issue #1 is a moving and powerful book that never forgets, not only is this a Holocaust story, but the story of Magneto, and the man the boy will become.

I highly recommend issue #1. I highly recommend this entire series.

X-Men: Magneto Testament
is, in all respects, a history-making achievement.

Below are some links to interviews with the creative team of X-Men: Magneto Testament:



Friday, July 11, 2008

Red Sonja

Another inking sample, this time over the excellent pencils of Ariel Padilla.

Red Sonja page 1 inks by *CrazyEnglishGuy on deviantART

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pure Serenity

Nothing to do with the Firefly movie. This piece was based on a picture entitled "Pure Innocence" by the deviantart user SerenitySteph, hence the title, "Pure Serenity."

Pure Serenity by *CrazyEnglishGuy on deviantART

New Inking Sample

Annihilation Conquest inks by *CrazyEnglishGuy on deviantART

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Eleventh Hour

Eleventh Hour Vol 1 is out this week, and in case you've missed it, here's the promotional video we produced for it. Sadly you might find it hard to track down a copy in your local comic shop as I suspect very few will have ordered a copy just to sit on the shelf, but rather they will have ordered copies for specific customers who requested a copy.

Never fear, however, you can still get hold of a copy direct from the publisher, AAM/Markosia by visiting their website. Also, the book's available to order from Amazon, you can find the listing here.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Welcome back...

Yes, yes, I know, I'm a bad blogger, no updates for six months is not really on, is it? I can only apologise to the three men and a cat that actually read this blog. I could make the obligatory pledge to update more often but it probably won't happen. If anyone out there wants some more regular updates from my crazy, fun packed life, you can check out my LiveJournal (which I actually do update regularly), or if you prefer random, meaningless crap, no longer than 140 characters, then subscribe to my Twitter feed.

Now, on to the business of actually updating you do I cram six months into one blog post? You know, I recently caught up with some old school friends on Facebook who I hadn't spoken to for thirteen years, and it amazed me how easy they found it to sum up the last thirteen years of their lives in just two sentences. I didn't think I'd had that eventfull a life until I had to try and sum up everything I'd done since leaving school. I thought it was just normal for people to do the things I've done, but I guess it isn't. I know I can't be happy in life unless I'm striving to achieve something bigger and better with my life.

So, what's been happening?

Orang Utan Comics Studio

The last six months have been fairly huge for the Orang Utans, with a huge amount of growth in just about every area. To a certain extent, too much growth, too soon. For a group of friends who essentially got together just to put out an antholgy of our own stories to get our names out there we suddenly found ourselves hailed as an up and coming new indie publisher, the bright new hope of the British comics industry. All a little overwhelming, really, and not something we ever wanted to be. Pete and I both found ourselves quickly bogged down in the process of "running things" rather than creating things. So, the last few months have seen us restructuring and refocusing and ultimately rebranding ourselves as a studio. I think the main reason we didn't call ourselves a studio from the start is that we wanted to differentiate ourselves from Visionary Comics Studio after we split from them. However, I think we've established our own identity to the point now that we don't need to worry about people comparing us to them.

On the studio side of things, we've been really successful. One of our artists, Diego Simone, has recently taken over the artistic duties on Starship Troopers, and by the end of its run, Kong: King of Skull Island was an Orang Utan Comics Studio production, artistically speaking. Recently, I've contributed colours to Kong, Starship Troopers, Lazarus: Immortal Coils and Johnny Saturn, and I've been inking a book called Legendary. Contraband has received some great reviews, even if they didn't mention my inks, and my colour work on The Flying Friar received a fantastic review in The Guardian. The recent Bristol International Comic Expo was a big success studio wise, and it was particularly satisfying to have editors approach us about working on new projects.

On the publishing side, we picked up Baby Boomers, which hasn't sold bucket loads (yet), but has been picked up by AAM/Markosia as a regular web comic and they have plans for a 100 page tradepaperback. Not only that, but there's some Baby Boomers animation in the works and Markosia's Hollywood agent is particularly excited about the property.

Which brings me to Eleventh Hour. What can I say? I would hope that anyone reading this will know that the book got picked up AAM/Markosia, and that an 80 page tradepaperback featuring twelve new stories (okay...okay...technically ten new stories...) is due out from them this week. On one hand the book has been a huge success. It's had rave reviews, been nominated for an Eagle Award, and I've spoken to a ton of fans and creators who have all said that Eleventh Hour is exactly what the industry needs right now. We've had some amazingly talented writers express an interest in contributing to further volumes of Eleventh Hour, including Cy Dethan, Dwight L MacPherson and Scott Lobdell (yes...Scott Lobdell...fingers crossed that he actually sends me a script). On the other hand, one sector of the industry clearly hasn't caught the vision with Eleventh Hour, and that's the retailers. At this point I should say that there are some amazing retailers out there who have been extremely supportive. The good people at Comic Guru in Cardiff have hosted signings, Mario and his pals at Apocalypse Comics are not only some of the best people you'll ever meet but have aslso bigged up Eleventh Hour at every opportunity. That's just two examples, others include Mike Sterling, who I know ordered the book for his store, and there are many others. Okay, well, "many" probably isn't the right word. The order numbers were very disappointing, maybe that's because there isn't a market for the book. Well...maybe not...after all, at the recent London MCM Expo, Eleventh Hour was the best selling book on Markosia's stand over the weekend. It sold well at Bristol too. The market is there...I know it...the fans know's just a matter of persuading the retailers too. That's our job, I fully accept that, and hopefully with more glowing reviews and a few "name" writers on board, we'll win a few more of them over next time.

Both Young Gods and Slam Ridley continue to tick over. It's frustrating that neither of them are out there yet, but that's the reality of the indie comics business. These things take time, and I hope that people will agree that they're worth waiting for when they finally arrive. The Young Gods OGN is very nearly completed and we're starting to look for a publisher for the book.

There's a ton of other stuff, I'm sure, but I think that'll do for now.

Go order Eleventh Hour Vol 1 to keep yourself amused until the next update.