Monday, June 11, 2012

What I have been up to…

Yet again I have been neglecting my poor Blog – I spend most of my time on the Facebook Spandex Comic page, so join me there! But here is a quick round-up of stuff!

The Spandex book was released on 24 May, and I launched it at Kapow, which was really cool – sales were slow but steady, and I had the support of my friends and some Titan Books people, so it was great fun! Plus Jonathan Ross visited my table and it turns out he is a big fan of the comic!
Then I did a signing at Forbidden Planet, which I was nervous about, but it was fun! It mostly consisted of my friends turning up – and I told them they didn’t need to buy the book, but they did anyway. We had drinks after, which were great fun.

The reviews have been very positive – and it’s weird, because I have already had the issues reviewed before, so I didn’t consider it was going to happen again. And now I’m getting a lot of American reviews and they are really positive and excited! My favourite overall reviews were from a journalist who writes for Q – he wrote a really in-depth analysis – and I the Ain’t It Cool News review was amazing.

I did get kind of worried about all the gay hoo-hah – there is so much gay comics stuff in the press, and I worried that people might just get bored of it all – and Spandex – but I think Spandex has strengths beyond being a gimmick.

But all in all, it’s very cool to see my own book in comic and book shops!!!

So anyway, I am also working on Issue 7 of Spandex. It’s going slowly but surely – I am aiming to get it out for Thought Bubble, which should be do-able.

I’ve also been working hard on The O Men – scanning and tidying up pages. Book one was a bit stressful, so I want to pace this out a lot more, so it’s less of a nightmare! Book two should be out for Thought Bubble, and after that, I’ll release the books maybe just once a year.

Good digital deal!

Well after my post below, I actually found a good digital deal! I bought the new Walking dead trade digitally, and it contains all the original covers and letters pages, plus some ads – you don’t get any of those in the actual book! So that’s pretty cool.

Selling original art

I have started selling original art at conventions – pages from issues and art used for pin-ups and stuff. It’s hard though – I am a bit of a hoarder, so it’s difficult to ‘let them go’… But there’s no point really keeping them.

One thing I have noticed is that whereas all the O Men art is on one page and identical to the printed page, when it comes to Spandex, very few ‘final’ pages actually exist. I’m now in the Photoshop age, where a final page comes from sketches across four or five different places.

It’s also weird thinking how much to charge for it. A lot of the comic pages, I sell for between a fiver and £10. I sold the original art to Spandex 2 for £30. Too much, too little? To be honest, I think I am charging what I feel it’s worth.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The problem with digital comics

As you may know, I bought a shiny new ipad the other week – and I love it! I even love reading comics on it – they look so pristine – and for someone who simply has no room left for books/comics/DVDs in his flat, it’s great that they take up no physical room! 

But all is not well in ipad land! 

You see, if you go to buy a new comic – say, Astonishing X-Men 49 – it costs pretty much the same as in the shops - £2.49. 2000AD costs the same as in shops. How can this be?
And if you go to buy, say, the new Stephen King hardback, you can get it for 8 quid on Amazon – but 11 quid on Amazon Kindle! Shocking!

Methinks they need to sort this out, think it thru, come up with better deals. After all, you’re essentially buying nothing – you don’t really own it, you can’t sell it at a car boot sale.
Plus – it’s such a rip-off! If you can buy a pop song for 99p or so, you should be able to buy a comic for around the same price. 

And the other problem is that I currently get a discount at Forbidden Planet (because I work for sister company Titan) - I get 30% off the comics and books. So if I buy a digital comic from Comixology, I mostly lost out, because I lose my discount!

And don’t get me started on manga, which isn’t available to buy in UK digital shops!

It’s a bit of a mess, and I hope they sort it out soon!

Monday, April 30, 2012


It’s quite rare that you see something on TV or a movie that really strikes a chord with you – that has an effect that you won’t forget. I got that recently when a friend sent me all 12 episodes of a Japanese drama called Hana Kimi (also known as 'Anazakari no Kimitachi e').

Basically, it’s about a girl who enters an all-boys school – and it’s not a normal school it’s a ‘hotties’ school – where only hot guys can study (lol!). No, keep on reading, please!!

Anyway, Ashiya, the girl, has her own reasons for wanting to be in the school, and a love triangle soon develops around her, involving the object of her affections Sano (who becomes her room-mate) and friend Nakatsu (who starts to fancy Ashiya and gets very confused, thinking he might be gay). 

Hana-Kimi has got everything – drama, romance, sadness, and comedy. And above all, it has characters – tons and tons of characters. We get to meet a lot of the 32 school-boys in Ashiya’s year, plus the teachers and staff too. 

One of the best things about the series is that the year is split into three ‘Dorms’ - Dorm 1 is martial arts, Dorm 2 is sporty and Dorm 3 is Performing Arts. Dorm 3 is led by Oscar, a hilarious luvvie who tends to get possessed by demons and female spirits - he starts off a bit daft, but gets insanely funny. Dorm 1 – they all wear karate outfits – is led by Tennouji, who is adorable and slightly insane and aggressive, prone to outbursts and attacks!
Characters from Dorm 2 include the leader (a womaniser), and the leader’s gay friend, who has a cute crush on him. 

The school scenes are a joy to watch, with lots of over-acting from everyone involved and plenty of stupidity. In fact, the whole thing in places reminded me of Rentaghost!

Some parts are hard to sit through - it does occasionally get too silly, and also there is a slight air of homophobia in places (one of the love-triangle lads shouts “I’m not a homo” when he realises he still likes women). And yet, the other gay character is lovingly portrayed.

But the episodes are completely worth sitting through for the final half an hour. I tell you, I was weeping non-stop. No, nothing horrible happens, nothing major – it’s just a very very touching moment which involves all the characters we’ve got to know over the episodes (and even the ones that barely said anything). It is absolutely beautifully done. It goes on for quite a long time, and I didn’t think I was going to stop crying.

Speaking of which, I actually don’t know how they managed to make this show. With so much going on, it could so easily have spiralled out of control, but the tone is always maintained – whatever it happens to be at any given moment. I’d love to see this show be adapted for UK TV, but somehow I don’t think it would work. There’s a certain naïve innocence about Hana-Kimi, the actors don’t mind making fools of themselves, and I think many people are just too cynical for it these days, sadly. 

Anyway, if you fancy it, all of Hana Kimi is on Youtube with subtitles! Highly recommended!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Blimey I haven’t written anything on here for a while! I will do a quick update! I don’t think I’ve mentioned the big news on this blog – that Spandex is going to be published! Titan Books are putting out a really nice and glossy US-size hardback of the first three issues on May 25th (but launching at Kapow on 19/20 May). I received an advance copy a few weeks ago and it is so lovely!!! It’s on Amazon (where it's nice and cheap!). I’ll be doing a signing at Forbidden Planet on Thursday 24 May! It’s kind of fun to have someone else do the work for me, and it has had coverage so far in The Guardian (a full page!), The List (Scottish mag), the Croydon Guardian.

Spandex 6 went down really well with the critics, and the ‘twist ending’ I was really worried about has been successful! No one seems to have been offended by it so far, which is good!

I’ve been working on Spandex 7, which is the final part of the O.M.F.G. storyline and also the penultimate issue of the series. It should be a good issue – it’s quite long, around 32 pages overall, I think. I won’t say too much, but it has three ‘acts’ to it, and I think the third act will be something quite fun and a bit of a treat for people who like the Spandex universe. I will also hopefully be releasing ‘Spandex Black & White’, a mini–artbook where all sorts of people draw pics of the characters. I’m a little bit tentative about doing it, as the issue 6 mini-comics almost killed me (so much work to physically make!), but I’m sure I’ll do it. It’ll all be online too.

I’ve also been working on new O Men books! The plan is to release the entire series across five bulky books. Books 1 to 4 will contain all the old material and Book 5 will finish the series with all-new material! I’ve been working on Book 1 and it’s taken ages – in fact, Spandex 7 has suffered a bit because of it, sadly! I've scanned all the art for the first book, phew. I’m not changing any of the art (as much as I’d like to in places), but I do have to tidy bits and pieces up (black/white marks/spots). I have a Facebook page for The O Men and am also setting up Hopefully the first book will be out at Kapow. It contains Issues 0 – 7, and it’s almost 200 pages with a new cover!

Comiket April 2012

I did my second comic show of the year yesterday – the Comiket! I did a Comiket con in November too, and really enjoyed it (mainly because it took place shortly after my first MCM Expo which I didn’t enjoy at all!). So yesterday was an okay day, but a little bit of a struggle – the hall seemed a lot more crammed-in than the last one (I’m not sure if they added more tables?). Every time you tried to move around it seemed impossible, and the people behind me had banners so it was even harder to move behind the table. It was a good crowd though, and nice to meet my regular punters, meet new ones, and chat to new people.

One thing did annoy me a little bit though – some of the prices. Too much! I went over to buy a beautifully drawn small press comic – A5 colour, not a huge pagecount – and it was £6! £6?! And there were a couple of black and white books I liked the look of – Paris and Depresso – but at £15 and £13 that’s just too much. Some of Nobrow’s stuff seems a bit over-priced too. Even normal black and white A5 indie comics seem to be going up – with some at £4. I don’t know why this is? Are people attempting to make a living out of this (that's a very hard thing to do) or just being greedy? Print prices really aren’t that much these days, so if that’s the problem they should get a cheaper printer. The punter shouldn’t suffer!

It wasn’t all bad though! 9th Art were giving away a stunning looking indie anthology for FREE! ( Lloyd and the Bear (.com) is a lovely little comic and is only £2.50 (I chatted to the creator who is nice, and was drinking a bottle of wine at his table lol). I bought a couple of new Andi Watson books (Gum Girl and Glister) off Walker Books, and their prices are really reasonable – well done to them!

I have to mention one interesting find – ‘The Zoom’ comic! It’s a fun, Beano-style comic, and here’s the twist – it’s created by a 10 year old boy! It’s pretty impressive. I mean, you can tell it’s done by a kid, but it also has this strangely compelling quality about it – I think he could develop into a Jeffrey Brown type of creator. And I think it’s funny that it really does feel reminiscent of a lot of autobio indie comics done by adult indie creators (some of whom have 'young' styles). Anyway, check it out, it’s at

I did have one horrible experience though (it’s been ages since I had a horrible experience at a con!). It was with a French lady who seemed friendly, but I think she was a little bit weird. Let me relive it in dialogue form:
Strange French Girl: Can I have a badge? (Badges cost 20p!)
Me: Er, okay, go on then.
Girl: I bought Spandex 1 last year. I didn’t like it.
Me: Oh…
Girl: Yeah, it wasn’t very good. Not much fun.
Me: (Seething, thinking: I want to say, give me that badge back, bitch!) Okay…
Girl: Were you at the last Comiket?
Me: Yes.
Girl: Do you remember me?
Me: No.
Girl: I think we spoke?
Me: I spoke to a lot of people…
Girl: So who writes and draws Spandex?
Me: I do.
Girl: Oh… I didn’t realise…
Me: Yes.
(She then tries to backtrack and is confused and thinks she bought it off someone else, and I am still seething…)


I have got an Ipad! Yes, to try to cut down on the space taken up by all the comics and books I’ve got, I was thinking about getting a Kindle, and then thought well why not get an ipad! Plus a friends showed me his ipad, and I was very impressed by it (particularly by the ‘App’ that lets you watch live TV, any channel).
The plan was to get it from the Apple store (there’s always something special about buying an ipod from there) but I happened to pop into HMV to look at their cases (always cheaper than the Apple store for that kind of thing!) and spotted that they were selling the previous ipad 2 model (I thought they’d all been phased out except for the 16GB). So I got a 64GB ipad 2 from HMV – it was around £479, which is cheaper than the 64GB new ipad (I think that’s around £560). And I think the best thing is that I got 50,000 points on a HMV loyalty card! I can get a 12-month subscription to Empire mag with that, apparently!!
Anyway, it’s so-far-so-good! The battery seems to last quite a while (I hate the battery on my iphone!) and it’s a generally convenient and fun thing to have. I bought a few comics from FP last week and I was able to download the digital version with a code – and the comics look stunning on the ipad! So I think I will be doing a lot of reading on it. The only annoying thing is that digital comics/books are surprisingly not that much cheaper than the print versions – they really need to sort that out, I think.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Spandex 6 cover - behind the scenes!

These bloody covers never work out the way they’re supposed to!
The original cover idea for issue 6 is something I’ve had in mind for at least a year. I’d seen a picture of the singer Nikka Costa and I loved the body language of it, so I wanted the Diva issue to look like that.

So the time came to draw it and I spend a looooooong time on it… I reckon it was almost a month. And of course, then I decided it wasn’t right for the issue (plus I hadn’t captured what worked in the original picture). Damn.

I put it on the Facebook Spandex page and it received a great response, but it wasn’t what I wanted any more.
Pretty much before I’d decided to dump that cover, I saw a photo of the singer St Vincent in Q Magazine – it was on Boxing Day this year – and it gave me an idea for a new version of the cover.

Plus it played to my strengths – I love drawing hair – so the thought of drawing all that blonde hair appealed to me.
So I sketched it, and then drew it – the first version I drew was the one I went with. Then I had the dilemma of what version to go for – a black and white version (with just the eyes coloured), a red version with a white Diva, or a full colour version.

After a few days of carrying the images around on my ipod and looking at them, I decided the colour version was the one to go with (it was a close call with the red one though!).
So there you go! The story of issue 6’s cover!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Issue 6/Me UPDATE!

Blimey I haven’t ‘posted’ anything for a while, have I? Oops! I guess I do a lot on the Facebook page and Twitter. Well anyway, here is what I’ve been up to, if anyone is interested!
Spandex 6 is coming along frighteningly well (touch wood) despite my only-one-year-old scanner playing up like a bastard. If I have to uninstall and then reinstall it once more I will not be happy! (Actually I seem to have to do it every day, so I will probably 'be not happy' tonight!)
But yes, the issue is coming along well, mainly because I have my new computerised font and I’ve tweaked the one I used in issue 5, so now I don’t have to do any extra work to it, hooray!
Yet again, the cover has been a bit tricky, and the cover idea I was going to go with – a design which had been planned for a couple of years now – has been dumped at the last minute by something I came up with on Boxing Day and which I prefer (it's actually based on a portrait of the musician St Vincent!). I’ll be ‘revealing all’ soon!
I should also say that I am very nervous about this issue. It contains one of the series’ biggest twists, and I think it might shock a lot of people. Honestly, I am bracing myself for the reaction - but I am standing by my story.
I can also reveal that this issue will come with THREE MINI-COMICS!! Yes, I decided to give the issue a little something extra, and I think the mini-comics will be fun to sell at conventions too. So basically, I picked three characters and three artists I wanted to work with, and I wrote the stories – and the mini-comics will be in different shapes and sizes. It feels a little bit weird ‘giving away’ my characters to other people as I am quite precious about them, but I don’t mind with this project, to be honest, and it frees me up a bit, not having to draw. So anyway, the mini-comics are:
BEAR-MAN & TWINKLE with art by Rob Wells (his comics are so funny, I only recently discovered him! And Rob always gives Spandex a good review on his website, so I guess it’ll be awkward if/when he comes to review this one!). This mini-comic will be a kind of 3-panel gag strip format thing and should be fun! You can see a preview pic above!
HAG by Garry McLaughlin. This will be a nasty little horror story, and Garry likes doing those!
CHERRY BLOSSOM GIRL with art by T’sao Wei. This will be a kind of poetic/haiku thingy, exploring how Cherry Blossom Girl came to be.

In other news, I’m working on pages for the 3rd issue of Rol Hirst’s excellent Too Much Sex & Violence series, and will also be contributing to Grant Springford’s Abnormals Anthology (Abthology).
I think that’s it, other than plans to release a ‘Complete O Men’ collection – well volume one (of 5) anyway! It’ll probably be around 300 pages, and I’m currently scanning the pages! I’m not going to change any of the art (which was pretty bad in places) but annoyingly I will have to do a bit more work on it than I’d have liked – there are lots of white and black spots on the art that need to be tidied up. I really wanted it to just be a case of scanning the art in and that's it, but ah well. I will also be creating a new cover for it – should be cool!
Oh and I'll also be doing a few cons - the first one is the London Superhero Con on 25/26 Feb (the one with me and someone called Stan Lee as the top guests!) (Kidding about me lol)
Ooohhhh and finally - is anyone still reading this? - Eagle Award nominations are open so if you fancy voting for Spandex as Favourite British Colour Comic, I'd be eternally grateful!!