Archives for category: comics jabber

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chances are, if its between give and take, you’ll take-take-take

I remember fondly when you could embed Youtube videos to WordPress without paying them extra money on a Monthly basis. Those days are GONE and I swear to God it must chase people away to other sites. Blogger has a God Damn button on Youtube that will open a Video in a new window ready to post to your blog. I suppose that’s the benefit of them being owned by the same company.

I will continue this thought it a bit about Marketing below, so if you’re not into that, I’ll tell you when to stop reading.

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This book is a masterpiece and cannot be overlooked

The folks at Comics Crusaders said some nice things about Funk Soul Samurai. They also said:

at first it looks like something a 9 year old child drew

Which, you know…

++++++++SLAM DUNK THE FUNK PURCHASE NOW+++++++
+++++++FUNK SOUL SAMURAI IS HERE RIGHT NOW++++++

I’ve been having a very productive week, written several short comics and laid out the plot for six issues of an idea that I need to get out of me. I won’t say much about it yet because I’ve learned my lesson doing that over the years but if it gets made it’ll be pretty cool. I got Mike Sambrook, the man without a website, to look it over and we had an little conversation about it, but it mostly drew attention to the differing ways in which we write. I have a tendency to carve a story out of a vague outline, plotting the whole thing over and over, this serving as draft after draft and then

eventually I have a finished script.

madness

I know that Rob just writes things. I wish I could. I get all… complicated, as pictured above.

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I have not listened to it yet, but Games and Graphics podcast did their reviews of Funk Soul Samurai and 50Signal 2, and I value their opinions quite a lot, they’re big supporters of my evil empire and I’ve appeared on their podcast twice now (only once published to date) and I’d go one every week. I don’t feel like I’m pushing anything with them  I’m just talking with friends. Listen to their reviews here.

I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts, as I’ve mentioned before, but I’ve been listening to Spektrmodule which is Warren Ellis’ list of sleepy/haunted/drone music. Its 30 minute bursts of gloomy atmospheric songs, perfect for going through the police infested streets of 2015 to. Listen to that here.

Its only been Three days since my last blog, so the KILL JOHN REPPION’S WALLET section of the blog will be short. I started reading Mark Kermode’s book Hatchet Job which is all about the effect, life and responsibility of the film critic, and its a delight to read. The intro along is worth the cover price wherein he writes some of his favorite short pieces of criticism. I also read D4VE from Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon, published by IDW which was a fun comic about Robots kicking butt. I like the idea of stuff being set AFTER the interesting thing has happened, and D4VE follows on from that as its set AFTER the robots kill all the humans and deals with that. It’s a lot of fun and the art work has a beautiful texture that reminds me of a less busy Geoff Darrow.

Finally finished Mass Effect, the level cap got on my nerves as I got to 50 with a whole planet left to do, and the money cap was too easily reached. But the final set piece was very cool and the space lore of Mass Effect is really something I can get my teeth into. I loved learning and discovering things about the Mass Effect universe and look forward to playing more of it, after I’ve finished with The Last Of Us and stopped crying.

++++++++50SIGNAL2 AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE NOW++++++++

Finally, I mentioned this on my twitter, but I cooked something that I really really liked, that I sort of made up so there is a recipe incoming.

Creamy Garlic Prawn Pasta (serves 2)

What you need:
2 decent sized cloves of Garlic
An Onion (Diced)
A couple of handfuls of prawns (shelled)
AMPLE PASTA
3 eggs
A large amount of cheese
Salt and Pepper
Couple of knobs of butter
A big glug of Olive Oil

I boiled up the pasta first of all, I was using Fusilli because I had it laying around. Whilst that was cooking, I grated the cheese, broke the eggs into a bowl and whisked. Then I put the grated cheese into the eggs, seasoned with a lot of pepper and salt and stirred it to make a big mess. I put a decent amount of olive oil in a frying pan, chopped up the garlic and put that into the frying pan with the prawns and onion, so that the prawns cook and the garlic and onion softens. Don’t burn anything.
Keep an eye on the pasta and when that’s cooked to your satisfaction, drain it and run the butter through the pasta so it gets a nice coating of butter. I then seasoned the pasta with the salt and pepper again because this is based on a Carbonara style sauce so it needs a large dose of pepper in it.
Take the buttery pasta and put it in the frying pan with the prawns and the garlic, and just stir the lot of it up so that the butter and the oil and the garlic gets all over the pasta. After that, slosh the egg and cheese mess over the pasta. This bit is important because whilst I have suggested many unhealthy things in my life to people that I enjoy, nothing, no one, no enjoyment at all can be taken from eating raw eggs. The other thing is that you don’t want to over cook the eggs otherwise you’ll be eating a pasta omelet. Keep stirring over and over making sure that the egg mix coats the pasta, and keep doing this until you’ve got a white creamy sauce clinging to the pasta. It’ll turn white and will become a gooey sauce as it mixes with the cheese. The sauce will coat the pasta, it will not create a huge amount to like dip your baguette into or anything.
Anyway, there you have it, turf it out onto a plate, sprinkle some Italian Parsley over the top and furnish with more cheese if you are that way inclined.
I served it with a glass of red wine and had a little too much pasta and felt over full.

There are the dangers of food my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Sup,

Its been a week since Thought Bubble 2015 ended. Its a weird return back to reality, especially after such a good show. The Madius table was utter madness for two days as we sold far more comics than we expected. 50Signal issue 1 is now sold out. I will have to get a third print run. When I ordered the first lot of 50Signal I ordered a huge amount of a comic that I honestly thought no one would buy. The reaction to this comic that I thought no one would ever read is staggering.

At the convention I got to meet some great people. It was good to catch up with Brian Burke who did the art on my new project The Perplexity. He’s from Ireland so we never actually met before. Because we’d talked for quite some time it was like meeting a guy for the first time who I’d met many times before. I also got to hang out with Farel Dalrymple who was a serious dude and we got to talk about music and watercolour paint and he did some great sketches for me. Thanks to everyone who came by.

Our next con is Digicon 2, in Doncaster, in February.

digicon

50Signal 2 is now available to purchase, hence this new bar;

++++++++50SIGNAL2 AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE NOW++++++++

Isn’t it lovely.

Now 50Signal 2 is the difficult second album, because with all art people take in on-board and when you leave something on a cliff hanger like I did people make assumptions as to where the plot will go and its probably not going to be the direction you think it will be. So I hope that its good enough to no disappoint.

AND IT IS, so sayeth Comic Bastards:

It seems like there will be more of 50 Signal. I wouldn’t be upset by this, but I do think that these first two issues are pretty wonderful on their own.

There will be more, so pick up a copy if you like original, creative works.

++++++++SLAM DUNK THE FUNK PURCHASE NOW+++++++
+++++++FUNK SOUL SAMURAI IS HERE RIGHT NOW++++++

For those playing along at home, I just finished Carrie Brownstein’s Memoir Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl. Its a really frank and expressive biography about the creative process and the history of Sleater-Kinney. Sleater-Kinney are a band that I’ve been listening to for years but after hearing the story of how the band got made and the struggles involved in it it really hits home the emotion and the savagery of the songs. My favorite albums of theirs are Call The Doctor, The Woods and No Cities To Love. But back to the book, its lyrical in its writing and touching and funny. Really funny, considering its quite a sad book. It really made me think about the nature of performance as well, the act of getting in front of people and opening your art up to them and seeing them react. Its not something as a comic book artist you get to experience very often.
Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl (Amazon).

I’m also dipping into Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler, the book of the blog Scarfolk Council. I expected it to be just a collection of the blog articles put into a nice hard back collection that is perfect for reading on the toilet. Weirdly its a collection of the blogs articles wrapped around a narrative involving a man lost in Scarfolk, a town in the North of England where the Seventies never ended. It has the scent of hauntology about it, and the narrative unfolds in this demented vision of a past that keeps on happening through the guys journal. It reminds me a of light hearted comedy version of Cyclonopedia. More on this story as it develops.

My greatest achievement to date is getting John Reppion to buy Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy from Zero Books, so hopefully he will start reading this blog and I will kill his wallet. Kill it dead.

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Hopefully I will write more here soon, but I PROMISE NOTHING

Yeah, totally started a blog post mid-May, and got so involved with it, it became an essay, and then, its still not written. I hope to push it into your face soon.

So much stuff is happening right now, so much stuff, that I need to do a blog post to remind you I am alive.

I AM ALIVE

Hello from the Moon.

++++++++50SIGNAL AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE NOW++++++++

Please if you haven’t, do buy a copy of 50Signal. We are so close to selling everything we have in stock, and when we do, we are going to re-letter the dialogue of one of the characters because its been pointed out in enough reviews that it disrupts the story the way it is currently written, so we will bow to their wishes, because they’re right and I’m being a luddite.

So why am I encouraging you to buy it now when its going to be re-lettered?

Well because the version we have for sale now is my favorite one, and the one I believe to be the best, and even though it will be easier for people to read it, it won’t look as good. It won’t be as I intended it. I know the idea of a Directors cut of a comic is madness because there is no such thing as a director in comics, but for lack of a better term, this is my directors cut. The harder to understand director cut.

I thoroughly understand the need to create a great product, and an understandable product so that the world can share and enjoy with me my Baby thing, so I’m really happy to have it re-lettered. But I like this one.

Buy it from the link above, or email me directly and for the cost of £5, which includes the postage within the UK, I will send you a copy with a sketch I did in the back.

EMAIL ME AT nickgonzo@outlook.com

++++++++PAPERCUTS AND INKSTAINS VOLUME 2 IS AVAILABLE NOW++++++++

I appeared on a Podcast recently, and they released not one, but TWO recordings of my voice as I chat stuff about comics and the universe. The lovely, friendly men from Games and Graphics had me on their podcast and I give an apt description of why Batman is a drink driver.

The first one is the proper, REAL interview, and the second on is a short collection of my babblings on Rob Jones’ plan to conquer the universe and how Arnold Schwarzenegger is an abomination. SO MUCH MUSCLE. They did remove my speech on how the more muscular a man gets the smaller his bum gets… so there is a small glory there.

You can hear the proper interview HERE and the random Ramble is HERE

In other news the Leeds based production company Sakerco are making a documentary about me, that I think has a working title of simply; GONZO, which was also the title of a great documentary about Hunter S Thompson released a few years ago (Just googled it and HOLY SHIT it came out in 2008 so I feel old. I saw it at the cinema, loved it, don’t know if you know but I am a massive Hunter S Thompson fan.)  Because the initial trailer has been uploaded to Facebook I can’t share it with you embedded in this post, so, I can link to you here.

My work with Kevin Pospisil on a project called NO LOVE that hasn’t been announced yet has had some concept work posted on line so here it is, enjoy:

no love

More about that soon. Looking forward to a SKYPE session with the man about how we move forward. And I am working on a print that will be for sale soon through the Madius shop, as well as hurtling on with 50Signal 2. Here is the work in progress image I took on my phone from my computer screen in order to tantalize people.

godzillaSome times its hard to be in Madius comics, all I get is Mike Sambrook and Rob Jones sending me messages day and night:

“Oh, I’m working with this great artist on a thing”

“Oh, I’m getting paid to do lettering for a famous comic company”

“Oh, I’m getting funded to piss my name in huge letters in the dust of the surface of the moon”

“Oh, I’m co-writing a version of the Bible with the newly resurrected Mega-Jesus as he rides the great beast from the sea in judgement of Man”

I get to work with myself mostly, and that guys a dick.

To be fair, I am working with two astoundingly talented artists RIGHT now on two comics I am very proud of so I should stop whining.

++++++++I REPEAT 50SIGNAL AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE NOW++++++++

Have you picked up Island from Image comics?

Its an anthology comic with long stories with no shared theme just being what they want to be and I love it for its adventurousness and creativity. It features work by Brandon Graham and Emma Rios as well as work by Ludroe and an essay by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Worth a read and a monthly release schedule and a thicker, glossier print makes it feel like an object to collect and treasure.

It makes me think more about the collaborative nature of the anthology and the THINGS an anthology can achieve. Papercuts and Inkstains is an Anthology comic that Madius does, but the real purpose of it is to show off Rob Jones as a writer. That’s why Issue 1 was made, in all honestly, to piece together a bunch of shorts that Robin had written and then put them in one place, and then Mike Sambrook has had work in it and then I’ll have a short in issue 3 hopefully. We are sneaking our stuff into his house really.

I’d like to create something like the anthology I was doing a bit back, it was called My World Is Clouds, and it was all about the collaboration betwixt poets and artists, presenting an artist with a poem and seeing what they create. Back in those days I didn’t have the creative network or the money to get something off the ground so it lasted one issue and then went no further. If I didn’t have a billion things to do I’d release it as a PDF.

I think a future plan for Madius would be to be even more experimental with our output and create a title that is just platform to do really weird and original things. Comics have so few limits that you can do almost anything, but with an Indie title you have to be marketable otherwise its your money going out the window. Its a bit of a sad truth, because if you tank as a small press guy you’ve just lost your cash and you have to create that balance between adventurousness and self expression. Sort of like with the Big 2, if no one buys the singles then the story ends.

So yeah, further down the line, I’d like to do something crazy.

Then again these stories really don’t always go as planned. 50Signal was going to be an old style panel a day web-comic, like a newspaper comic, now its a book.

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Encourage your friends to do so to. Such as, by sending a tweet like the one I prepared below:

Like @Nick_Gonzo on Facebook because he needs all minds to be linked to work his Cosmic Laser https://www.facebook.com/thenickgonzo

For all you playing along at Home, I just finished reading John Dies At the End by David Wong which is a staggeringly good Horror book which also has the added feature of being organ-rupturingly funny. It is a long book and I read it so quickly because of its palatable blend of fear inducing prose and absurdity. I think that it doesn’t have the swing that other combination genre books have, the fact it can be funny and terrifying on the same page, in the same paragraph, and describe scary things with a familiarity that makes it quite as creepy as it is.

I have now started The Thing by Dylan Trigg which is all about the Phenomenology of Horror, and more specifically, body horror. I haven’t read much of it yet, because I have been distracted by the collected editions of Jonathon Hickman and Nick Pitarra’s The Manhattan Projects which is one of the finest comic series I’ve discovered unaided. No one told me about it, I found it alone and its all the better for it. Anyway, I haven’t read much of Trigg’s book but it is a framing of Phenomenology as that of the Unhuman, adding an alien element to our understanding of our-self and our consciousness. I will write n more about that next week.

Anyway, talk later. I went to a wedding later and ate too much food, so the only logical path to take is to spin a cocoon and come back out as a winged creature.

IMG_20150227_232053

Check that the fuck OUT, right? Its a comic book I made and its real on dear god does my studio floor need a repaint.

I got home last night after a particularly raucous night out and found out the Proof had been delivered for my perusal. Its beautiful. The print is fantastic, and it makes the monotone elements look so rich and deep, and the best things about it is that its scaled properly. I was worried that because it wasn’t drawn to 100% American comic standard size it might sit weird on the page but again my fear was unfounded.

IMG_20150227_232239

This means that it’ll be available mid-march for all you hungry boys and girls to get your hands on. If you want a signed copy then please do get in touch. I’m doing some sketch copies too with drawings on the back page. There is a fly leaf at the back with enough space for me to personalize the books for folk.

Lookong at 50Signal #comics #makecomics #art #madius #reasonstobecheerful

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 And its getting more love than I anticipated.

I’m just going to quote a big slice of that review now:

50 Signal Issue 1 was great fun to read. It picks holes in the Spaceman sub-genre and you see flashes of 2001; A Space Odyssey, Prophet from Image Comics, Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett’s short comedy strips for Marvel UK and Doctor Who Magazine, Silent Running, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and even some Euro SF weirdness like The Survivors by Leo. This is all mashed up into an ongoing epic that still holds onto the concepts of introspection and the lonely space traveller at its centre.

HOLY COW, right? That guy totally gets me and where I’m coming from. Gets my references and my inspiration and also is the first review to discuss my future intention with my plot. I want people to read 50 Signal and wonder what its all about. In an ideal world I’d like people to write speculative essays, but that might be a little too far.

Read the review, because it’s an example of a well written review, as well as because it likes me.

Up all night to draw Judges #2000ad #judgedeath #comics

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I’ve finished the inking element of my Judge Dredd/Judge Death collaboration with Brad Holman, I would have stitched it all together in Photoshop today except I got distracted by life and an incoming cold. I got this tickley cough. Man I hate it. But that’ll be available for purchase soon. I also did a Ro-Jaws picture too which I want to share with you but it needs some finalizing. I have this Pental (Pentel or Pental or something) Brush pen that’s essentially a self-inking paint brush that is AMAZING to do textures with. Its upped my shading game something shocking. I want to do a comic just of robots and just spend lots of time shading them.

Check this out though, first of all exhibit A:

Thats a photo I posted to twitter of the first page of an experiment. I just started drawing a comic from an idea I’ve had for a few years, so I pieced together a rough script/layout and started drawing. It was just me taking my mind off 50Signal for a bit. After I drew a Ghost Rider pic, inspired by Artist Kevin Popisil, Kevin posted this,

Exhibit B:

I want to work with this guy so much, that I’ve put together so many pleading emails to work on a script. The man works in these dirty, graphite lines that have so much meat to them that he was born to draw zombies and wights and the undead. Demons and aberrations should abound in a Kevin Popisil comic. Follow him on Twitter at @arisetodarkness. AND if you are reading this Kevin, I am sorry I have not put the proper accents in your surname, I have no idea how to do them on my keyboard.

The Big Punch Magazine is nearly here, which fills me with joy beyond comprehension. When that gets here, I’ll do a blog all about it. The preview for 99 Swords is online now and YOU CAN READ IT FOR FREE! It seems to be the embodiment of the fun and creativity comics should be all about, and I know Jon Lock and Nich Angell will blow the FUCKING DOORS off the comic world with this baby. I think we are in a bit of a golden age for indie comics right now. With printing at insanely high quality readily available to anyone, webcomics hosting sites allowing anyone to create personalized places to deliver their comics, and more Comics fairs and conventions that you can shake a stick at, anyone can make a comic. Indie comics are where the more out there ideas can flourish and develop and some fat dude can make a comic about a Space guy with no genitals flying about space finding weird things and Two guys, one of whom does a comic about the business of the afte3rlife and another who has a universe where Music is more or less magical power, these two guys who live no where near one another can put together their own magazine.

Important to note that Big Punch is more than just Jon Lock and Nich Angell though, its helmed by the equally fabulous Alice White and Lucy Brown putting their oar into the comic boat.

Psssssh.

There you go. I’m going to have some more beer.

20150125_202932 20150125_202922 20150125_202859 20150125_202839

Borderlands 2 is cool. I now know why so many people won’t shut up about it.

I go through wet hot streaks of playing the game, at first after you leave Claptrap alone and make your own way in the frozen tundra I thought it was going to fall into the Final Fantasy VII hole, where the first bit is cool and then its all down hill from there. But once I got back into the roll of things it really is an amazing game. I’m currenty playing through as Zer0, the stealthy cowardly type, and I have a sniper rifle that sets people on fire. Sorry, had a sniper rifle, I remember that I hot-swapped it with a shotgun I found randomly and threw it off a ledge into infinity. Whilst most games would send me into a fit of rage with this feature, it was my fault and I admit it, and a game like Borderlands regularly gives you insane weapons of quality. Previously I had a Sniper rifle that fired 4 rounds at once, that homed and spat acid.

What I really love about the game is the variety and the humour. Often ploughing through factories and tunnels, killing identical guys can become stale very quickly, but with the pop culture references, insane weapons and unique touches like the set dressing and characters, its hugely playable. And the PS4 version is pretty as hell.

Oh yeah, and Brett Ewings died, which is a killer shame. Bad Company was a comic I loved as a kid, and even though I never read it in its entireity, it was something I really loved the look of.

IMG_20150218_115202

papercuts real

Papercuts and Inkstains is now a real thing, marking the start of the Madius Comics print initiative. First this, then 50 Signal, then some other things we can’t talk about just yet. Things that will look amazing and blow minds. Modesty is a lost thing now. No one is ever modest anymore.

I prefer to say: we will publish some things which we are proud of, and I hope you’ll like them.

50signal cover50Signal has been reviewed already and its been nice and positive. I’d entrenched myself into a doom-bunker in preparation of a nuclear wave of negativity to flood over the land, tainting the soil for future generations, “nothing grows here that isn’t bad” they would scream on the surface as deep in my bunker I’d eat stored beans tearfully and blame myself for the comics maelstrom, “The dark shadow has come to this land,” I’d sob “The pale rider named death stalks my people because of me”. But luckily, that is an eventuality that wil never happen. Even if from now on the reviews are all shocking, I have got these pillars of light to rest upon.

Comics Bastards say:

Gonzo builds it as this light carefree space exploration story about this wonderfully simple spaceman that’s full of excitement. But by the end it’s beginning to develop into a complex story and that carefree opening isn’t what it seems to be. It’s not a bait and switch though it’s just a changing of perspectives which is incredibly hard to get right.

Comics Anonymous says:

Nick writes a great opening issue that sets up the background of the space program and the crucial ending that leaves us guessing what the hell could happen next.  Nick’s art is simplistic but it’s charm suits the cult vibe for this issue #1 and while this won’t be to everyone’s taste…..I thought it was pretty much perfect for the story.

So there you have it. I will tell you if there are anymore, but other than that, here are a few pictures I took on Holiday in London. I love the city of London because it isn’t ashamed of its art. It doens’t hide it like an ill advised tattoo up its sleeve, it wears it on every street corner.

IMG_20150219_120126 IMG_20150219_115035 20150219_133408 20150219_133617 20150219_140028 20150221_114149 20150221_114350 20150221_120213 20150221_155236 20150116_163416

papercuts and inkstains coverfIts a fucking comic book:

It’ll be in print as of March, going to give it the once over with Captain Jones on Wednesday and send it to be proofed. The guy works extremely hard to manage these products, raise kids and have a life and the such like, and I respect him greatly for what he’s done, because hes made a stir around this product, given it an identity, worked out the market and made a great effort selling it to interviewers, websites and the like. As such, here comes a collection of review links:

Heres a podcast, called Saturday Morning Comics, wherein a guy digs my style and I confuse a few people. With the story I put in it, I tried to do something really interesting with the layout, and the story itself was complex, ambiguous, and had a twist in the end. I don’t think we missed the mark, I think that I made something visually impressive that might not be the smoothest flowing narrative in history, so maybe its not a 100% success, but I had fun.

Heres a review that is compliamentary by All-Comic.com, doesn’t mention me though.

Unleash the Fanboy says: Papercuts and Inkstains #1 is a bold new direction for the humor sketch anthology, with it’s unique style of wacky tales being hilarious. This, along with the fun art makes this a worthwhile comic to pick up when it hits comic stands

Comics Annonymous say words.

Curiosity Of A Social Misfit also speaks words.

Down The Tubes speaks a series of letters in an order that creates meaning.

I have to shut up a bit about certain things. Reviews are weird beasts but necessary for comics. Ultimately make up your own god damn mind whether you want to buy it or not, and then make up your own mind about whether or not you like it. If you want to write some words about it, then please do, write about what you like, write about what you don’t, be creative and be constructive.

madius photo 1Look its me, promotional photo looking smoulderingly into the camera, beard looking a bit Abraham Lincoln. I googled what Madius means recenty. Something that NO ONE DID before we cooked up the name. I say we cooked up the name, that was solely Rob, and its a good name, though no one knows how to say it. Madius, rhymes with Amadeus, maybe. I think its May-dee-us, Rob says Mad-ee-us, but Image was taken so we had to go with something. Anyway:

Madius (Ancient Greek: Μάδιος) or Madya was the Scythian king after Partatua. He conquered and ruled the Median Empire from c.633-625 BCE.

Check that out.
Thats pretty damn cool.
Its also the pseudonym of a Canadian fursuit wearer.

Anyway.

I have very little else to talk about at the moment.

I apologise in advance for any spelling mistakes. Usually that’s because I go into a typing frenzy and the Surface Pro keyboard is unforgiving to the furious and the haphazard. Today this is written straight into the WordPress app on a Samsung Galaxy 5, so however like a Praetorian shield the phone is, the keyboard just isn’t satisfactory.

So anyway, I’ve been thinking about music and reading. Often two very different things: I know a lot of people who cannot read and listen to music at the same time. I have a similar issue, in that if anything is too lyric heavy I focus more on the words than the literature and it all gets lost. But often a book can have a soundtrack for me, because if I’m into a piece of music and a book at the same time, then I’ll merge them together. This happened recently when I was reading Ready Player One and listening to the Utopia soundtrack and for the rest of the book the story took on the aesthetics suggested by the music. In fact I was humming one of the songs in the shower and was busting my head over where it was from then I thought “Oh right, that’s the Ready Player One theme” only it isn’t. It’s a book. Books don’t have music.

I have bought books that came side by side with music, either inside the book or alongside the book. I mean Robert Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country is a musician fact file with a CD of music. I’m sure the main focus for the purchase for the book is the art, but for me the CD gave me the most joy with its collection of rare and unusual songs, equipped with the misty textures and sounds of aged vinyl. My Name is Buddy by Ry Cooder had an accompanying book complete with illustrations to support the album, and every Douglas Coupland book is woven with musical references. The dude wrote Girlfriend in a Coma.

As an aside I remember when I was given my first copy of Generation X, one of the founding bricks of my personal development from wet child beast into socially misunderstood man lump. I was given it by an English teacher when I was about 16 and told I needed to read it. I remember he stressed Needed. I read it and it didn’t effect me (I even tried to give the book back and he wouldn’t have it. Told me to keep it until I found someone else who needed it) iy wasn’t until I few years later when I read it again I totally got what everyone was saying and the imagery the feelings and characters all became mine.

Warren Ellis had a play list at the back of Crooked Little Vein. He also put a few in the back matter pages of Doktor Sleepless. Whilst I diligently constructed these play lists through Limewire and later, Spotify (the friendly legal face to ripping off musicians) it wasn’t the songs in list format that had the biggest effect on me, it was those mentioned in the pages of the comic that changed my life. Based on a speech the titular Doktor gives about being ‘for real’ in an issue of Doktor Sleepless I listened to a lot of early blues and checked out Godspeed You! Black Emperor and bought a few albums of theirs, before getting really into Post-rock. Post rock changed my aesthetic: as a person and in my interests. I started looking into post rock culture, the art and artistry that surrounded it and the experimentation and the thought processes amalgamated with my own. This is entirely due to Doktor Sleepless and it’s philosophy.

Another big influence was Casanova written by Matt Fraction which incorporated a play list into the story, the last few issues to its second story arc had song titles as headings. I made a play list of it, and because of it introducing me to new ideas I got into McLusky and Mountain Goats. That little touch wasn’t forcing the songs down your throat, in many ways it didn’t even hint that they were songs, just presented them without comment, and looking into it further you got this new element added to the whole affair. An extra layer that you have to peel away. A further investigation that needs you to solve it. You ever noticed something in a book or comic that doesn’t feel of this world and you have to look into it further, it’s like finding a sliding panel on the drawing room of a castle and you just have to go inside. Matt Fraction made a Thomas Pynchon joke in Sex Criminals. I’m imagining people buying Gravity’s Rainbow after reading Sex Criminals.

That’s how it felt to read Invisibles really. Every comic should have a further reading section.

Back to music. With 50Signal,  I really want to make an album of music to accompany it. A couple of tracks to play in the background whilst you read it. As it’s going to be a physical object it’d be great to do something you can only so in a physical object and have it come with a free CD tooked into the back cover. I know my friend Danny, sole member of the Dark Ambient group Pheme was working on a song for it,  maybe for a trailer, but it’d be great if he could do a whole album. That was the original plan, anyway, so I’m going to ask him to do that.

This seems to be a bit proposing at the super Bowl, cos he’s sort of obligated to say yes to avoid embarrassment. I always think people who publicly propose are a bit desperate. They’re saying LOOK AT ME I’M PROPOSING and the respondent from the proposal is being press-ganged into not saying no. Imagine booing someone for saying yes to a proposal.

Yeah, you should take relationship advice from the terminally single man.

Anyway, current focus for my attention is the new episode of Casanova,  which hit news stands today in all comic book shops, and you should read it, it’s accessible to everyone, even if you haven’t read the transdimensional parable in full just yet.

Did you know that Warren Ellis took the name for Transmetropolitan from a song by The Pogues?

Yup there you go. Lesser know fact out of the way. Also, I don’t think the above lyric is right, I think the backing vocal just says something like Yip-aye-AAAY! but I like the title so there you go.

Ohh look, I finished a new thing.

Page Four

Its a short tale from Papercuts and Inkstains, an anthology comics we are doing for the Madius Initiative. Three short comics with different focuses and settings, because after all we are children of 2000 AD and want to copy them. I know that two people equally batshit as myself, Brad Holman and Rob Jones are doing a floppy format magazine with short episodic comics in. They haven’t announced it yet so I won’t say who but I am super excited about some of the ideas they told me about.

I’d like to do that in Inkcuts and Paperstains… do a series of stand alone comics that tell a big continuous story. I have sent a script to an artist of amazing talent for a comic called PROJECT MASK that will be the realisation of this goal. 8 pages that will within the confines of Cutstains and Ink Papers will tell a dissection of power and philosophy in Super Hero comics. I liked the idea of Dr Manhattan in WATCHMEN. A man who is a God that people turn to as a Superhero, but can never be a hero as he thinks beyond the realm of human thought. Someone with huge amounts of power, seemingly infinite power, could never connect with ordinary people as its understanding of the confines of reality are far beyond ours. Looking at the universe in terms of quantum construction and the infinity of space and time the individual wouldn’t matter. With PROJECT MASK I want to look at someone who has such power he cannot understand humanity, but wants to save it. The Artist will be Brian Burke, whose work I present to you now:

Brian BurkeI am working on my best albums of last year, I’ve just not been in writing mood recently.

Still raising money for Cancer Research by not being a screaming alcoholic. Please donate not because not drinking is worth anything, its not, lots of people do it all the time. Some people don’t drink ever, its more that its a good cause.

Currently I’m reading Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals by John Gray. Its a anti-humanist look at the things we believe make us important as a species. Its an interesting read serving a a whirlwind tour of Philosophy, through the Ancient Greeks right through to more modern philosophers, including a few quite mean passages about Neitzsche, blasting apart the idea that as a species we can transcend our role in the natural world via technology and science. It says we can never be the masters of our own destiny as we aren’t masters of our own drives. We are animals with animal needs therefore everything we do will be in service of those needs. As an optomistic sort, I don’t agree with it full, but its ideas on the sense of self, the illusions of morality and the arrogance of Western Christianity versus Paganism and Eastern religion is interesting. I’m looking forward to finishing it, not just to shake off its sense of Morbidity, but also to start reading Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy by Graham Harman. Whist Lovecraft was a collossal Xenophobe, his mythos and richly span interspacial realities are unlike any other writer before him and am excited to look into it in more detail.

My reading pile is huge. Got a stack of books to read, mostly non-fiction. I have been gripped by a huge need to learn more this year. I boguht a copy of The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers because it was mentioned in an article I was reading about Weird fiction in preparation for my Love Craft book, and as I bought it the cashier asked “Are you a True Detective fan?” and I told him I hadn’t watched it, and he looked puzzled. Apparently the book is quoted directly in the show and the villain is called the Yellow King. This has lead to massive sales of the book, and it striding merrily up the Amazon best sellers list. So there you go. Read an article where someone accused the shows writer of plagarism, and I find it hard to believe that you can be accused of plagiarizing a 100 year old book by directly quoting dialogue from it out of context.

Also on its way to me, AMERICA MASTODON by Brad Ricca.

Anyway thats me done, I’ll leave you with a few sketches I’ve done. Working on an Akira piece at the moment, and will soon start work on formatting 50Signal for Print, which is always laborious. I’ll enjoy this while I can.

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I think the first time I ever totally fell flat on my face was when I performed Bo Burnham’s Words Words Words at a poetry event and I’d memorised it, completely, in fact myself and my Sister often spit hot bars of it at each other, but when I started chucking it out, no one even smirked. When you’re reading something, professionally recognized, as being hilarious, and you know you’ve got to read your own shit after, and no one even raises an eyebrow in humorous reproach you know you are doomed.

I really want to do an entirely word based blog.

I know that is essentially what a blog is, like right now you are reading my drivel but usually I pepper it with loads of photos and talk about art and comics. I am currently doing a LOT of colouring and its a sort of dull job, I enjoy it and am getting much better at doing colours, but its not very taxing on the mind. I’m also working on an art project with Robin Jones of Average Joe and more or less every indie comic coming out un til the end of time. He’s been sharing some of his recent projects with me and its enough to make me weep. I first self published Punk Rock Apocalypse six years ago and I am still without the powers to unleash my dream projects.

All this leaves me wanting to do short sharp blog posts with no particular theme or topic.

I really like Warren Ellis’ Morning.Computer. I thought it might be another cool micro blogging site, but it turns out its just Warren’s newest madness lens. But I want to do that.

Writing comics can be quite hard, in comparison to wiritng prose for example. If you think really cinematically then you can just story board a sequence of events and thats cool, but its not really pushing the medium out there, read something like Young Avengers by Kieron Gillan and Jamie McKelvie and you can see some things you will only see in comics:

I think that one, thats a good one, but not my favourite one.

That one is. I MEAN FUCKING LOOK AT THAT.

Anyway, so when I write a comic to keep things fresh and interesting and so that I never ever think about the terrible action of actually having to draw it or put it on paper, I write the story and the dialogue as one big mush and then slice up and refine it into a script. So I’ll have this big long chain of everything I want to fit into it and everything I want people to say, and then I thing what goes onto which page, and then what goes into which panel. If too much is going on in a page I find a way to get it in there from the big pack of comic book tricks people have got going. Things you can only do in a comic.

Leave a panel, as see above.

Panels within Panels. (The below from Hawkeye drawn by David Aja)

Infographics. I love a good infographic in a comic. (See Simon Roy drawing Prophet)

And the double page spread can be more than just a big image

The above picture is from the indescribably brilliant Desolation Jones that has some of the greatest page layouts and I REALLY wanted to put one up there that was just impeccable, but would ruin the story if you ever wanted to read it, and you should, you SHOULD!

Why even have panels at all anyway?

Fabio Moon, (FABIO MOON LADIES AND GENTLEMEN) killing it there with Casanova book 2, but look at the top and bottom panel. No panel borders and that totally gives you the sense of confusion and action. Its amazing how just not having a border can change everything about a page layout.

In fact I think the above image there, page 1 from Nausicaá Of the Valley Of The Wind by Hayao Miyazaki comes from Matt Fraction’s blog, where he talks about that panel, that mysterious second panel with no border. Its the only panel in the whole LONG ass novel that doesn’t have a border, and look at that sense of space, the way you smell the open sky spilling in from that boundless space.

So yes, I would like to do a blog of all words, but not today.

Anyway, there are lots of things you can do to tell a story and I don’t think you can fit these in either by yourself, or in a straight line. Back and forth relationships with artists is an amazing benefit to comics. If you write a script and expect an artist to just ratchet out the object exactly as you gave it to them I think you are doing it all wrong. If as an artist you simplify something to make it easier for yourself you are also doing it wrong. The envelope is there to push it surely. Embrace what you are both uniquely good at.

There are also a lot of Narrative techniques that you can only get in comics but thats another blog for another day.

Also: Want to be a great comics writer? Buy a book on art. Specifically, Buy THE book on comics art which is Scott McCloud’s Making Comics, and it’ll open your mind a bit on how you can layout a page. Its sort of like the Karma Sutra, no one can really expect to DO all the things in the book as it is illustrated in the pages of that oft turned book, but if it helps you put your knee in a new place it will revolutionize your love life.

Seriously though, lean in, and put the back of their legs over your shoulders or something.

Only in terms of comics.

Nighty night.