THINKING FORWARD

 Well…

Been an interesting year, hasn’t it?

I’ve seen a lot of ‘this is the worst year EVER’. Quite honestly, I think there’s been worse. This sums it up best:

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Not to say it’s not been bad in places. It has been.

I’m not going to drag up politics – I think that’s been discussed in superabundance by people who do and don’t know what they’re talking about (mostly by those who don’t know, I suspect), plus I’ve made it my mantra never to discuss it online.

I’m not going to go into detail on the freaky number of celebrity deaths that have occurred, because I don’t think that it’s been any different to any other year, I just think there have been a few more heavy hitters than usual.

I’m not one for RIPing – when Steve Dillon passed, I sat and re-read Bullseye: Greatest Hits (I love PREACHER, but I fancied something I could binge in one sitting and this is SO good). When Carrie Fisher died, I made a point of hunting down her written work. I didn’t know these people, but I enjoyed what they brought to The Table immensely and feel sad that there will have been more of their work, of their legacy, in the pipeline that we’ll never get to enjoy. While I agree with those chirping online about not wallowing in the deaths of celebrities due to the vast numbers of men, women and children (especially children) that have died in war torn countries this year alone, I think comics writer and fellow British Showcase alumni Peter Rogers put it perfectly when he said that you can be hit by the death of a stranger--

 

 

SEGUE - this is what we were trying to achieve with the Close 2 Immortality collective; as pretentious as it sounded, the ‘To Be Remembered Is To Be Eternal’ tagline was something we all believed in and is, when you think about it, quite obvious. People like Steve Dillon and Carrie Fisher will forever be remembered through the work that they’ve left behind. For those that knew them personally, obviously there’s more to it than that, but for the rest of us, you get a piece of that person in the content that they produced.

I liked this vision we had. I was excited by this vision and I was (and still am) REALLY fucking angry when it all came crashing down at the end of this year. I thought we’d found a ‘home’ and I’d started to get comfortable and as a result, started to put a considerable amount of work into keeping it that way (we all did), but alas. I won’t go into the details why - BRETHREN BORN’s Jon ‘Tall Git’ Laight goes into a version of this in his end of year round up. The most important thing to come out of it was the great friendships it forged, was the experience we all gained from it and what we realised we need to do to move forward. Content is the key, has always been the key and, most importantly in a collaborative medium, the people you choose to bring that content to life with.

I won’t lie, I dropped into a bit of a 3 week grizzle before Christmas. However, I‘ve spent a long, LONG time trying to retrain my brain into not dwelling on the past and trying to think forward to the future, because that’s all that really matters. Yes, you learn from the mistakes of the past and the past forms you into the person you are today and blah blah fuckity blah, but as horror maestro Adam Cheal once said to me and Trav, ‘you’re only as good as your next book’ and that stuck like shit to a blanket for us both, so we’re continually moving forward because, let’s face it, there’s no other way to go, right?

With that, I’m really excited about 2017.

Some of the stuff I’m going to post here hasn’t been seen by ANYONE yet, so check it out.

Chris and I were planning on releasing INTERSECTION, our one-shot crime thriller, at the True Believers Comic Festival on February 4th, but due to Chris being ill over December, the C2I thing and finances, it’s looking unlikely this is going to happen. However, we’ve been talking about running a Kickstarter for the printing and launching it at True Believers. It’s daunting and exciting and I’m deep into research on pledges and how to make the video and so on, but it’s something new and different and worth a shot. Chris is a solid 8 pages into the art, but what he’s got so far is looking amazing. For the first time, here’s (one of) the covers and a page of black and white interior art--

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The other big project in the works is IMPOSSIBLE, a graphic novel set for release in the summer at London Super Comic Con. The extremely talented Jake Rowlinson is on art and lettering duties and the equally talented Dan Franco’s on colouring. Everything these boys have sent me so far is looking amazing:

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There’s also THE GUNRUNNER with the also awesomely talented P(eter) L Woods that’s in the early stages of art development, as well as DEUS VULT with Dean Sandford and Chris Travell – both of these for Markosia.

There’s a few shorter stories on the horizon, too – SCALPHUNTER with Eddy Lyle for Chris and Steve Denton’s MASSACRE FOR BOYS:

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POD with the esteemed Kier Gill for THE GRIME #3:

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and OFF THE RESERVATION, again with the aforementioned Pete Woods for 100% BIODEGRADABLE for which Pete sent me some concept work through the other day and is looking on the money --

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I’m looking forward to actually sitting and writing again. I feel like it’s been so long since I properly sat down and developed something from the ground up and I’m starting to get a bit itchy about it. I spent a reasonable amount of time this holiday away from the computer and social media and managed to catch up on films/reading/some games and I’ve got myself to a stage where I miss it again.

I’m currently 3 issues deep into a 6 issue run called CLOSE for COMICHAUS and it’s developing nicely. It deals with some dark issues and will have Travell on art duties and Ken Reynolds on letters. I’m also 1 issue into a 4 issue series that I’m developing with Dan Franco. I won’t say too much about this because it’s very early days, but we’re excited about it. I’m hopeful for a few things to come to fruition mid-year, but other than that, once the above is put to bed as much as it can be, it’s onto something new and that’s a really exciting prospect.

A few quick public thank yous before the year is out:

Thanks to those that supported us this year by buying a book or chatted to us at a convention or showed a minutia of interest, it’s appreciated.

An ENORMOUS thanks to the DARK MATTER II team (Paul Moore, Charlie Hogg, Randy Haldeman, Matt Harrower, Aljosa Tomic, Jim Lavery, Ken Reynolds, Jason Miller and Chris Knapman) for bringing my horrible little stories to life. I’m immensely proud of this book. Big thanks go to Tony Esmond, Gary Watson and Alex Thomas for their valuable time helping us promote this via initial reviews and interviews, it’s always appreciated.

A second thanks to the magnificent Ken Reynolds, who has been such a dude with his lettering and editing and allowing me to play in his Sliced sandbox (huge thanks to Denis and Max for bringing those stories to life).

Thanks to Harry Markos for the constant support on the projects we’ve brought him.

Thanks to Adam Cheal for allowing me a second outing in the Showcase and with that, huge thanks to Kier, Aljosa and Ken (3rd thanks) for their amazing work on SECRET IDENTITY.

Thanks to Pete Genepool for his help with the Comichaus site and, along with James McCulloch, taking a punt on the pitches I sent them.

Thanks to Peter Simeti at Alterna for taking a chance on AVIAN for this year’s IF and a huge thanks to the amazing Jim Lavery and Ken (he’ll be on retainer soon) for doing such a wonderful job.

Thanks to all those I can’t remember to thank, but know that you’re brilliant.

Thanks to Jay, Jon and Jimmy for being Jay, Jon and Jimmy. This year has been a memorable one because of those most excellent of friends. I hope 2017 brings the same.

Lastly, thanks to my brother-from-another-mother – that boy Travell. He’s found his niche and his style and I can’t wait to see what his pen produces next. That’s if he doesn’t get an advertising gig on Instagram and forgets all about comics.

Eyes on the horizon.

See you all on the other side.