Sunday, November 29, 2009

Almost getting back to normal now...

Thank goodness, things seem to be calming down!!!
Just one radio interview this week, a couple of website interviews, still a bit of Spandex press going on and website stuff, but I can handle it now I think. I think I 'hit the ground falling' last week lol. I didn't know if I was coming or going.
Some of the negative comments about Spandex really got to me - but I just have to really focus on the positives, and some people have been really positive. Rich Johnston very kindly invited me to join his lovely Thanksgiving preview project on Bleeding Cool, so I posted a pic from issue two ( - altho immediately got a 'he draws like a 10-year-old!' comment (rolls eyes).
So yeah, just the odd wacky email here and there. Someone told me my use of the word transvestite was 'offensive'. Can't win really - my friend said to me that even if I made a comic about a fluffy bunny making friends with a cute toad, the internet-haterz would still try to knock it down.
So yep, hopefully things will calm down. I have ordered a second printing of Spandex which should hopefully be with me on Tuesday - which is good as I have about 400 orders to send out, and people are starting to get annoyed with me I think!!!
So yes, I am going to do an issue two, aiming for Jan or Feb, but fully aware that it's going to be a lot of work. I just tweaked the script this weekend and I think it's a doozy, a lot of fun. Better crack on!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Man, this is hard...
From the very start, I swore I would avoid reading stuff online about Spandex, but I looked at a few things today... And however many wonderful messages I've had from people, the nasty stuff really sticks. Nasty stuff by people who haven't even read Spandex yet.
I'm so bored of this 'first gay superteam' stuff now. People keep throwing gay comic team book titles at me - but all I'm seeing are gay duos (that's just not a team), very adult stuff (not my aim with this), and Rich Johnston just showed me Prism High - but isn't that a high school thing? I feel that some people are just being picky.
My point of view is that when I read Previews each month, I haven't seen a gay superteam comic - and I've been looking at it for months, years. Of course, there are indie comics out there that have covered all sorts of subjects, but my brain isn't an indie comic encyclopedia. There are 1000s of comics out there, what do the cynical people want me to do, leaf thru every comic shop's indie section before I dare release Spandex?
I just can't understand how some people can react so negatively to a comic they haven't read.
And I was looking at this today, and it started off so nicely, but at the end it turns out that the guy is offended by Spandex (just from looking at the Metro piece).
I read through some of the comments beneath it, and thank god, some people GET IT (that I'm playing with cliches to have fun with them, not make fun of them), but it's so frustrating that some people don't. Comments about the art, and how I can't draw sequential art - how can you tell that from one panel showing a team shot, which is all that's shown in the Metro? Did I ever claim I was an amazing artist? I wish I was. Did I expect Spandex to create such a media storm? Of course I didn't - I expected to get about 50 readers. Did I expect any of this? No I didn't.
There's a comment about my reference to transvestite Liberty as 'he/she' and that that's not right and that I don't understand. But isn't that person categorising transvestites, dictating how they should be - isn't everyone different? How do people know what I am trying to achieve with Liberty? Am I supposed to be making her a character formed from the opinions of other people, a representative, or can I go ahead with the character I've forged with a great deal of care, love and attention? I just wish some of the negative people would think about what they are saying.
And of course I allow myself to get riled and say negative stuff about Rich Johnston on a web-page aargh!
I've had enough - no more comment-reading for me, I'm just not going to get involved in never-ending narguments, and I shouldn't have got involved in the first place.
I just wish the negative people could see what I'm trying to see what I'm doing with Spandex - to explore the lives of gay people and show them in a natural manner (apart from the powers of course!). It's as simple as that. I had no idea that this would open such a massive can of worms - in many ways - and maybe I was naive. All I'll say is that Spandex is a labour of love for me, it comes from a very caring place, and I feel that I'm being made - by a vocal minority - to apologise for that.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A week in the life of Spandex

So then, you might just have heard what happened this week with Spandex. It’s been an incredible week! It hit the Sun website, the Metro newspaper, and then it went on to reach several more newspapers, and the story (the world’s ‘first gay superteam’) has hit websites all around the world - Russia, Spain, Argentina, Australia… It’s been absolutely incredible! An absolute dream come true, but also in some ways, quite daunting and scary.
A lot of people have been asking me ‘how did you do it?’ and so I thought I’d try to document exactly what happened, because it’s fairly interesting, I think. It’s certainly been a massive learning curve for me.
So anyway, after a full year finishing Issue One, Spandex is finally ready to get printed (this is in October). It’s an absolute experiment for me. It’s 40 pages, full colour, so not cheap to produce (although I did get a good deal on it) and to be honest, I just want to get it into people’s hands now, so I dipped into my savings and never really expected or even cared about earning back the money I spent on it. I just wanted to gauge reactions and give copies to the people who have helped me in its creation, so I see the 350-odd quid I spend on printing as a one-time only indulgence. I think I earned it.
I start the ‘distribution’ and so far, so good, a pretty nice reaction, generally very positive, and I also set about finishing the Spandex website, including setting up Paypal links etc. I also do a comic show, the Comiket, and the reaction is great - people like the colourful new comic (including kids - oops, it’s too adult for them) and I’m really grateful to Paul Gravett for plugging its launch in the Comiket flyer.
Then I start putting a press release together, which is basically a 9-page PDF full of lots of artwork, blurb and selling points. I send it out to 3 or 4 UK gay mags, including Diva, and Diva is the only publication that replies - the Editor seems quite into it, and asks for a copy.
And this is where everything changed. I’m looking at Digital Spy and I can’t find a contact for love nor money, so I ask my friend, who is in Marketing, if he knows a contact at DS. He asks me why, so I explain, and he says ‘Mart, I know loads of people, let’s do this together’. We’re both busy, so this takes over a week to get organised, but it involves a very important pub chat where we go over my press release. It’s all wrong - you can’t send a PDF press release, because how are people supposed to grab images from it? My Marketing chum then talks me through some pretty obvious changes that need to be made, plus additions, including adding a page at the end, ‘For Editorial Information’, which is basically a character breakdown. You really have to just tell journalists what the selling points are and make their lives easier and just send some jpegs. So that’s done, and I select the images to send out. We also set up a separate email address for Spandex that we can both access.
Monday 16 November comes along, and I’ve got a day off work (it's new Tori Amos album day ;-D. My mate sends the press release out and I’m at home drawing. 5pm, My Marketing mate calls me and says ‘Mart, the Metro have emailed, they want to interview you!’ I’m sitting there relaxing, and he tells me to get this interview done as soon as possible so I can hit tomorrow’s paper. He coaches me a bit on what I should say and what I should avoid saying. With his push, I really nail the answers, but it’s too late to get into the paper anyway.
Tuesday 17 Nov, I’m back at work. Things go crazy. My MM calls me and says ‘Mart, you’re on the homepage of The Sun’s website’. He’s in shock, I later find out that he’s only ever been involved with a couple of Marketing campaigns that have had this kind of coverage. I get a call from BBC Radio Sussex, they want to interview me. A local Brighton news team want to interview me too. I’m at work!! What do you do?? Luckily my boss is happy for me to ‘make up the time’. I head out at 11am for the Radio interview at BBC Centre near Oxford Street (I see Vanessa Feltz and Colin Murray on the way). Radio and TV interviews are completely out of my comfort zone but I’m willing to give it a go, plus I love talking about my comic. I get to the place and the secretary dumps me in a room on my own with a microphone and headphones (the DJ is in Brighton). She goes out for lunch and leaves me completely on my own! Eventually, ’Danny Pike’ comes on the headphones and the interview goes well - I think I made him laugh. I get the cliched surge of adrenaline when I'm being interviewed, and all worries die away. All through the interview, I’m stuffing Spandex into envelopes - I’m getting a lot of orders online…
Rush back to work, and immediately go into the TV interview for Brighton local news. It goes well, and the camera-man is really into comics so I make sure he gets a couple of freebies from the office. I don't see the final interview and I don't hear the radio one either - I don't like seeing or hearing myself on TV or radio, but my mates hear the radio one on i-player and say it's good.
Luckily the interviews then go quiet, but I get several requests from websites for imagery (this evolves as a panicked scramble on my work machine to find the good stuff - until over the week I get a good folder of pics that I’m happy with - although most people tend to only use the stock images anyway - the giant lesbian pic, the team shot, etc). Comments on the Sun page vary from ‘this looks lovely’ to ‘he draws like a 4 year old’ (‘I had been aiming for a 3 year old’ was my comeback, and a joke I made on the radio earlier). The negative comments do weigh heavily, and it’s easy to forget how lovely everyone else is.
In the meantime, the orders are coming through thick and fast, and I’m starting to worry about the amount of copies I’ve got, and the amount of time I have to send these out.
Wednesday 18 Nov. I’m in bed at 7am, and my best mate calls me - Spandex is on page 3 of The Metro newspaper (one of London’s biggest free morning newspapers). Several other friends text and phone. Me and my Marketing guy are in shock. The orders for Spandex increase. The Daily Star calls me for an interview which goes well, but I don’t think they run it.
But for me, The Metro is a dream come true. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve seen features on the death of Cap America, or Batwoman being a lesbian, and I’ve thought, ‘sigh, I’d love for my comics to get some kind of attention’. Whatever happens from here-on in, I think it’s safe to say that a dream has definitely come true.
In the meantime, I am really struggling at work. The Spandex orders are coming in thick and fast, and my copies are running dangerously low, shops are asking for copies, and I also have to make sure I have enough copies for the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds at the weekend.
I also discover a couple of financial things. First up, I had NO idea (yes I’m stupid) that Paypal took a fee from your earnings, which mounts up to about 10% of each copy. It doesn’t sound like much, but it all mounts up, so I have to start thinking about increasing the price slightly so that I’m not losing out here. Things have certainly moved on from The O Men days, where I’d maybe get about 30 or 40 orders and I’d pay for all the postage myself. I’ve got to be very careful. I also have to really think about the US postage. Initially I have it at $4, which is just ridiculous. To ‘break even’ on an issue, I have to make about half the cover price, then there’s Paypal’s fee, and post to the US costs a couple of quid, so I set the price at $7.50 to make sure that I am covering my costs. Imagine if I’d left the price at $4 and then had hundreds of orders. I’d have lost out massively, and pretty much lost all my savings - disaster. I want to go to Japan next year, and the thought of losing all my money for that because of a silly mistake is awful. One good thing is that people are buying the PDF of the comic where no paper product/printing is involved.
In the meantime, things are really manic. I’m trying to do my full time job, but I’m also trying to keep on top of orders - especially for the PDFs - and I’m making sure I’m monitoring press emails. My mind is a bit of a whirl, and to be honest, I’m finding it very hard to focus on my job (it doesn’t help that I’m not sleeping, waking up at 4am, cos I’m so wired). At work, I’m having a vague idea that I have meetings, I just don’t seem able to focus on emails etc, so I just make sure I keep asking my boss when the meetings are (although I manage to be half an hour late for one...). I also feel a bit isolated from my mates and start to miss them, as I’ve lost my regular email contact with them.
In all this, I am actually surprised a publisher or an agent hasn’t got in touch. Maybe they think I’m all professionally set up. Nothing could be further from the truth! It's just me doing it all and I have been really struggling.
What else happens, let me think... I do a string of interviews for a variety of people, including people doing dissertations, a very cool guy off the Wired blog and more. In the meantime, I’m getting a lot of nice comments on my website. People just seem generally ecstatic about the whole gay super team situation. One Russian guy asks for some images so I send them to him and get the following message - ‘you have become a real media hero in recent days’. I mean, what can you say to that?
Friday 20 Nov, things are starting to quieten down, media-wise, thank goodness. I am gearing up for a 2nd printing of Spandex and sort out my quotes. I’m not happy with the situation though - I have about 300 orders to process, only 70 copies left, and the 2nd printing won’t be ready for a few days, which means people won’t get Spandex for at least a week. I’m worried that people will get pissed off with me, and in the meantime I’m also pretty much seeing at least one order come thru on Paypal every half hour. Crazy and daunting! A lot of the people who have ordered Spandex are a mainstream audience, they don’t understand the ramshackle world of independent comments, and one unnoticed negative comment on my Facebook page could do a lot of damage.
I decide to go thru with going to Thought Bubble - I had been in two minds because a) I am exhausted and b) I have so few copies of Spandex left. I'm frightened to leave my emails for a couple of days, but what the hell. Thought Bubble is a success though. Sales are steady, and I do come back with a few copies, which is good, as I can fulfill a few Paypal orders. The best thing about doing a comic con like Thought Bubble is that you can really gauge the reaction of people and see what they like and don’t like. For instance, the ‘Attack of the 50 Foot Lesbian’ picture is very popular and makes people laugh, Glitter is popular with the younger kids and about 60% of the audience is female. I thoroughly enjoy talking to everyone, including some mature lesbian women, some giggly teens and some generally ecstatic people. I’m also incredibly appreciative of the straight male guys who bought a copy off me - it just goes to show how things have moved on. They don’t care about any possible ‘stigma’ there might be involved in buying a gay comic. Each and every person I met in Leeds at the con truly touched my heart.
So now, I’m back at home. I have maybe 40 copies of issue one left, so I can do a mini mailout before I get the 2nd printing, but in the meantime I can write all the envelopes out in preparation. Finally after a mad week, things have calmed down, and I can start to get on top of things. I have taken a couple of days off work to ‘re-group’ and I have an interview with Radio Dublin on Monday.
I’m also thinking about pitching it as a TV show, and I’m also seriously thinking about doing an Issue Two…

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Um, I seem to have lost my own copy of Spandex - the one I intended to keep for reference. I hope I haven't given it to someone or sent it to someone by mistake! If I did, just let me know - it's a bit ripped up and there's a gold star on the cover!! D'oh!

First Gay Superteam?

I just wanted to address some recent internet comments about Spandex. Now my Spandex guys are always up for a ‘backlash’ (ooer) but I just wanted to set a few things straight (so to speak). There have been lots of interweb write-ups about the comic, and the press release I sent out claims it is ‘The First Gay Superhero Comic’ (which should really be ‘Superteam’), and this is being disputed and commented on. Okay yes, it is a bold claim and let’s face it guys, we’re all on the same page here – the point of a headline on a press release like that is to grab people’s attention and get publicity.
Yes there have been gay superheroes in the past, but have any of them really set the world on fire? Look at the limp-fest that was Northstar (who, in Alpha Flight Issue 50, was supposed to reveal he had HIV, but the Editors wimped out and decided to make him a ‘fairy’ instead. Yes, a fairy.) His coming-out was barely noticeable in that famous Alpha Flight issue and ever since then it’s been pretty much ignored – even when he got his own series.
There have probably been some indie gay superteam comics, but I don’t know them.
So really, I hope people can get past the ‘first superhero comic’ thing – it’s just a headline to attract attention – and besides – I really don’t think there has been a gay superteam. And if there has, well, let’s call it the first gay superteam comic set in the UK. And if that fails, Brighton. And if that fails, well let’s call it ‘the first gay superhero comic created by Martin Eden’.
I hope people can just focus on the actual comic itself, which introduces a whole bunch of cool new characters and a slice-of-life storytelling style which you don’t really see much of these days. It’s a load of fun, it’s there to be enjoyed and I’d love people to come along for the ride (so to speak)!
P.S. I’m going to try to resist reading people’s comments on internet articles – people can say some pretty horrible things, I think!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spandex pics

Some stuff from issue one! Check out to find out how to get a copy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Something from the weekend

Inspired by pics of Michael Caine and Alicia Keys!

Friday, November 13, 2009

James Jean and Tara McPherson

I've been to quite a few comic 'do's over the last couple of years (check out the events on, so many cool things going on) but tonight I went to a really cool one - no waffle, really informative and entertaining...
It was basically talks by James Jean and Tara McPherson on their work. Now I'm a massive fan of James Jean, so I was very excited about that. James came on second, so first up was Tara. She's a cool pretty rock chick person who seems to draw the same girls over and over again, but in a very appealing stylish way. Very 'now' and a bit 'emo'. She was lovely (altho considering we only had a limited time in the room I could have lived without her fiddling about with her mobile and playing a couple of short movies on how she hangs paintings for a show).
James was incredible - I mean, like Adrian Tomine, I thought he would be a recluse, but he was very funny and engaging ('I slept my way to the top', 'this painting is quite soft and luscious like my hair'). So James talked us thru some of his work and how he got into the biz and a few anecdotes (a recent XMen painting earned him a five-figure sum...) and he also intimated that he's moved away from comics and into his surreal paintings.
What fascinated me, was how these guys just do their own thing and do incredibly well out of it. They both openly admitted that they can't be bothered drawing comics! They just like doing portraits.
So anyway, great stuff, very inspiring. Gonna do some drawing now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Selling Spandex

I thought I’d do a little con report – following Sunday’s Comiket small press con at the ICA.
It was the first show I’d done in a couple of years. I used to really enjoy them when I was doing The O Men, but after 10 years, and 35 issues, it was getting hard to keep everything in print, plus people are less likely to 'get on board' as the numbers increase (however much I try to make O Men accessible), so I ‘retired’!
I’d been going to shows in the meantime as a punter, and was getting really inspired each time, so I’m glad I finally got back into the ‘scene’ to launch Spandex.
I was actually only there on Sunday for a couple of hours, due to a clash, but it was really worth going. I met some really nice people, and shared a table with Mr Paul Rainey, who is very entertaining company. Spandex seemed to go down well, and I was happy to sell some copies – and actually gave some freebies away to people who had no money on them. Bad ‘business sense’, I guess, but I’d rather someone actually read it than leave it to fester unread on a coffee table (or bin). I was a little embarrassed when some kids started to come up and look thru my stuff – it’s very adult!!
On a whim, I also took a few O Men copies, and they went down well too – and it was nice to meet people who had really been into O Men (and I mean really into it!!!). It actually made me want to do some more O Men comics sooner than I’d planned... I’ve actually kind of shelved O Men away in a part of my brain, to an extent where I can’t remember much about it! A guy at the con was talking about an old storyline, and I actually couldn’t rememeber it! That’s quite sad...
My favourite moment though was when I was leaving (ha ha carry on reading) and I put some Spandex fliers on the table near the entrance – and while I was packing my bag, a lady went straight up to the table and grabbed one straight away – it seems to be attracting people at least!
I bought some nice wares too. I was very pleased to get my hands on the final two parts of Necessary Monsters, and I checked out Howard Hardiman’s comics (very intense, but impressive), plus I got my hands on Solistic Pop, which is a gorgeous collection. Shame I wasn’t there longer so I could have met more people and bought more stuff.
The only downside was the venue – dark, windowless, hot, crowded – I felt like we’d all been rounded up and were about to be exterminated or something... Death to the small press!!
But anyway, thanks to Paul Gravett for organising this show, and also for adding ‘the launch of Spandex’ as one of the highlights on the program flier – what an honour!!

The X-Factor – my two-pence

Well what a shocker! In case you didn’t know, the ratings/headline-grabbing X-Factor ‘twins’ (who can’t sing or dance but are fairly entertaining) were in the ‘bottom two’ with ultra-talented Welsh girl Lucie last night...
The decision came down to Simon Cowell who has said he has hated the twins all along – and he effectively decided to get rid of Lucie from the competition.
I need to get some stuff off my chest!
First of all, all the people saying ‘but this is a singing competition’ - well yeah, it’s about talent, but it’s all about the X-Factor. Are Robbie Williams and Madonna excellent singers? No they’re not. Pop is about more than singing, it’s about presence and charisma too.
And now onto Simon Cowell. I like the guy, he speaks the truth, but he did expose himself as a lying hypocrite last night – he effectively sacrificed a talented young girl’s career just for ratings. Seeing her crumble into tears on stage was very sad and disturbing.
But for a few weeks now, Simon has started to grate on me, because his nasty words have a real weight behind them. He’s like a bully – and when he (falsely) criticises someone (purely to swing the audience against them), the audience will take note and start to believe what he says. His words hold a lot of weight.
And for him to say ‘I’m basing this decision purely on the sing-offs’ was utter rubbish. Lucie sang her heart out, while Jedward jumped about like two desperate men who knew it was their last performance. Plus Simon was apparently talking to the Producers just before he made his decision...
So I think the show crossed a line last night - putting the audience’s wishes behind those of the ratings. The Jedward 'joke;, as much as I like them, has worn thin and I’m bored of them now. But how Simon can happily show himself to be a liar, a hypocrite and a deeply uncaring ‘human’ being, is absolutely beyond me...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spandex - first internet review!!!

"The next big thing in comic books. 9/10"
Check it out here!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009


It’s been an amazing year for albums. I want to mention two albums in particular in a bit, but let me just waffle on for a while...
So yes, anyway, not one but two albums from Tori! Plus new albums from loads of my faves like Kings of Leon (a bit over-rated), Bats for Lashes (better than the first one), Regina Spektor (awesome), Jenny Owens Young, Florence and the Machine (a bit shouty), Imogen Heap (disappointing!), La Roux (great!), Lisa Hannigan (disappointing!), Neko Case (awesome), PJ Harvey (not bad), Tegan and Sara (cool), The Veronicas (oh dear), Yeah Yeah Yeahs (amazing) and Karen O (cool).
Plus it was a year where I discovered the amazing Katherine Edwards, Sarah Slean, St Vincent and Paramore.
And I was online the other day and discovered that a couple of my faves – Mindy Smith and Catherine Feeny – had new albums out and I’d had no idea! (I’ll never forget when I was a kid and I loved Edie Brickell and I was so thrilled to find her 2nd album in the Virgin Megastore in Birmingham – I had no idea there even was a new album. I think it’s moments like that that you try to recapture in life... It’s one of my favourite albums of all time.)
So yes, a great year for music (for me lol), altho not so much for my bank balance. Scary but true, sometimes I spend more money in a month on music than I do on food...
But I just wanted to mark out two new albums in particular...
First up is Nerina Pallot’s The Graduate.

Now as you may know, I like my angst-ridden women, and Nerina kind of falls into that category. So I heard she had a new album out - ‘meh’ I thought... Started to see some live songs she’d put on her website – ‘blimey she doesn’t half witter on’, I thought. I got the album, which was quite strong... I decided to see her play a gig – not that I was all that bothered, but some of the tracks on the album were lovely and she was playing at the ICA, which I thought would be a nice venue (it wasn’t that nice!). I was expecting a drab night of wittering-on...but my god!!! Incredible!!!! She rocked!!! She was amazing! Really gave me a complete new perspective on her, and in particular some of the songs on the album that are a bit weird. For instance, the bizarrely ‘up-tempo’ ‘I Don’t Want to Go Out’ is actually a piss-take... In the gig she also did an Elton John medley which sounds crap but it was astonishing!!!
But anyway, yes, fab album – Human is one of the best songs you’ll ever hear, When Did I Become Such a Bitch is a stormer – the only clunker is English, where I’m not sure what message she’s trying to convey. I think it’s a bit of a mis-calculation to be honest...
I don’t really understand why she released Real Late Starter as the first single – there are so many better songs on the album!!!
Anyway, take a look at this live take on Human. Fast forward to 2.30 if you want to avoid the wittering (it’s such a great idea to do these live promotional versions, but the wittering is really annoying!).
Second album worthy of mention is The Temper Trap’s Conditions. If you’ve not heard of them...well you probably have! Their current song Sweet Dispostion, is one of those tracks you hear on the radio and love, but you don’t know what it is!

It’s Q Magazine’s fault that I avoided this album, because they described the album as sub-U2, blandly epic. Luckily I heard more at the weekend and my god, it’s amazing!!! It’s like a cross between Radiohead and Bloc Party (who I think I’m bored of now) (also a teeny bit of Scissor Sisters) - but it’s kind of what they should be doing now (instead of BP and RH slowly disappearing up their own backsides). It’s such a fantastic album, although it’s a shame it’s only 10 tracks long (one of which is an instrumental, and there’s Sweet Dispostion too, which I’ll probably over-listen to very soon...)
Anyway, check out this awesome awesome video...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How I spent my Sunday

Some new pics here, that i've had bubbling away in my brain...
They're actually all modelled on poses of famous actors and actresses - a prize if you know the originals (they're really obscure lol). The Diva one is loosely based on the Hello Boys ad thingy, I'll give you that one.
I hope, by basing some of my pics on photos, that I'm not going to get a reputation as the next Greg Land hehe - they really are only loosely based... inspirations.