Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spirit of Hope book

After the terrible events in Japan in March, the Comic Book Alliance started putting together the Spirit of Hope, a unique anthology of short stories from a massive selection of comic creators, dealing with the impact of disasters on people’s everyday lives.
A lot of people know about my love for Japan and all things Japanese, so you can only imagine how honoured and excited I was to be asked to contribute a story. I came up with a special stand-alone Spandex story, featuring Neon, Prowler and some little surprises.
The book is on sale very soon, and it can be pre-ordered for £14.99 + £3.00 p&p. Anyone ordering should state their preference of cover, both can be seen on the CBA website where you can also place your order online. (One is by Jimmy Broxton and the other by Michael Allred). The website is here: http://www.comicbookalliance.co.uk/
All proceeds go to charity.

I've seen a copy and it's breathtaking.

Full credits/contributor list:
Edited by Alan Cowsill and Tim Pilcher, Spirit of Hope is being offered in two alternate covers - one by Jimmy Broxton, the other by Mike Allred.
Creators involved include Natalie Abadzis, Nick Abadzis, Adrian Bamforth, Jasper Bark, Donna Barr, Jordie Bellaire, Paul H Birch, Bolt-01, Dan Boultwood, Mark Buckingham, Jim Campbell, Richmond Clements, Jason Cobley, Simon Coleby, Mike Collins, Martin Conaghan, Gary Crutchley, Glenn Dakin, Al Davison, Brandon DeStefano, Benjamin Dickson, Martin Eden, Mats Engesten, Gary Erskine, Al Ewing, Glenn B Flemming, Emma Flint, Henry Flint, Leigh Gallagher, Matt Gibbs, Gary Gilbert, Alan Grant, Jon Haward, Peter Hogan, Kev Hopgood, Graeme Howard, Inko, Rich Johnston, Ant Jones, GM Jordan, Jessica Kemp, David Leach, Tony Lee, Nigel Lowrey, Ciaran Lucas, Paul McLaren, Gary Spencer Millidge, Michiru Morikawa, Alex Moore, Leonie O’Moore, Michiru Morkawa, Eva Perkins, Grant Perkins, Martyn Pick, Maria Pickering, David Pugh, James Reekie, Regan, Neil Roberts, Darick Roberston, John Robbins, John Ross, Declan Shalvey, Liam Sharp, Akiko Shimojima, Si Spencer, Vicky Stonebridge, Lew Stringer, Steve Tanner, Archie Templar, S Thompson, Geoffrey D. Wessel, Chris Western, Andrew Wildman, WJC, Ant Williams, Rob Williams, Sean Michael Wilson and Yel Zamor.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My thoughts on Bristol 2011!

Well, after the dullsville that was Bristol 2010, Bristol 2011 was a lot better! I think a lot of it was down to a re-organisation of the halls, so it worked much better – hurrah! In fact, last year’s popular room (Hall 1, the first room you come to) this year apparently became known as ‘the Tumbleweed Room’ (I think because there were a few empty tables – people who dropped out at the last minute?).

I really enjoyed chatting to all my regular punters/friends, met some new punters/friends, and made a bit of money, but then blew it all on other comics anyway. I’m still feeling that my li’l A5 colour comic is sometimes ignored in favour of other US-sized comics, but there’s not much I can do about that, I ain’t made of money!
I also wonder if I could do better if I approached it differently – I really am not a born salesman, but I do my best. It’s hard to know whether to be ‘aggressive’ or just keep your head down and wait for people to come to you. Maybe I need Mary Portas to come in and advise me!

Thanks also to my good friend Daniel Clifford, who was my Table Buddy. We had a good laugh, helped each other out a lot, and it was so nice that he and his girlf Lily made sandwiches for me on both days. Daniel writes Sugar Glider and put Sugar Glider Stories together, and he is definitely a name to watch.

It was also so nice to get really quick feedback on my new issue, particularly from Selina Lock (who was a bit annoyed she has to wait 6 months to know what happens next) and my ex-penpal (!) Andrew Williams who is definitely on the same wavelength as my comic and picked up on the things I really wanted people to pick up on (like the silliness of Gayzilla etc).

The Ramada bar on Saturday seemed a bit quieter than usual, but I did have a nice few beers with the aforementioned Andrew and also Seb Antoniou, a very good rising star artist. It was also surreal to have the bizarre movie Black Sheep on the screens as we all slowly got more and more pissed...

Anyway, I thought I’d share some random thoughts:
- Prices! Blimey! You can go to Bristol with about 20 quid, and these days that’ll maybe get you 2 comics! Everyone seems to be doing colour graphic novels (which seem to be a lot more affordable these days), which look really professional... But I kinda missed seeing people’s actual mini-comics and regular comics.
I am a firm believer that you should make comics affordable. My old O Men comic used to be £1, and now I put out a 28 to 40 page Spandex comic, A5, full colour, at £3, and there were some similar black and white comics on sale for the same price or more! I mean, I guess now, some people try to make an income from all this, whereas ‘in my day’ it was more of a hobby. Is it really possible to make a living out of indie comics anyway? I don’t know.
Let’s look at it this way – one indie person sells their comic for £8. It’s black and white, around 30 pages, a very quick read, nice, glossy cover. Maybe they need to charge so much because of the Production costs – but maybe they could look at making it cheaper to produce, and thereby a bit fairer on their readers...
And there’s another problem...
- ...Production values might be very high, but there is still the same indie comic problem in some of the comics – really bad grammar and typos... I looked at a lot of stuff on my way home from Bristol and my heart sank at some of the errors and mistakes in about half of them. Since so many people have got their act together to produce some really impressive products, it really was a shock to see that this kind of sloppiness is still happening.

People, recommendations, and other stuff...
- I think some of my favourite people are fast becoming the Underfire Comics chaps. They are SO friendly and they produce some really excellent, solid comics. They come to each and every con, and I know some cons are a bit hit and miss, but they keep smiling through it. I think they’ve grasped the true spirit of indie comics, which others seem to have missed. Please do check them out.
- Also friendly are the Cinebook crew. They produce some really lush European graphic novels, and they do ‘deadly deals’ where you end up buying 10 for the price of 2 or something. Arrgh! They are so nice too! They have a very good sales method!!
- The Abnormals by my chum Grant Springford. He’s been off the ‘scene’ for a while, but he’s now put together a one-shot all-ages full colour comic, which is amaaazing! Every character has so much depth to them. Forget the X-Men, buy this!
- Chums round-up: Other friends that are doing some amazing comics things are Graham 'Mike Battle' Pearce, with another solid issue, Nich Angell, my friends at Ariel Press, and T’Sao Wei – who I may well be producing a new comic with next year! Also, Ben Womack, who keeps plugging away at every con, and he creates some really solid indie comics. Nice one, Ben, keep doing what you’re doing. John Short’s Armageddon Patrol is also an excellent, solid product. Also, John Riordan's Hitsville UK is finally out - I know how hard he's worked on it, and it's obviously a labour of love - quality pours out of every panel.
- I met this lovely chap for the first time. He produces his own LGBT webcomic and he knows what he’s doing! Nice.
And a smiliar webcomic is this one – she’s soooo lovely. I haven’t read it yet, but it seems to be about lesbian foxes!
- Matthew Craig: I’ve known about Matthew’s comics for ages, but never really read them. I was going to work with Matthew on Bostin Heroes, but I was doing Spandex at the same time and couldn’t do both so I had to pull out. Anyway, I grabbed some of his stuff off him, and also had a lovely chat to him. Really nice, genuine chap and sooo enthusiastic.
- Stephen Downey is definitely a rising star – his art is very solid! Check out Slaughterman’s Creed and Cancertown for now, and I think he will be going onto big things.
- Two other publishers worth a mention are Timebomb Comics, who produce an excellent range of titles. Their love of the medium is obvious, and the Timebomb boss always has his lovely wife with him – and their beautiful little daughter. And good old Shane Chebsey (I call him ‘Chebbo’, I don’t know if he knows that), who always has some great books on sale. He’s just reprinted Roger Mason’s excellent ‘Mice’! Nice one, Chebbo.
- I picked up a copy of The Pride preview – The Pride is about an all-gay superteam...! It seems, on the surface, to be doing similar things to Spandex, but I think The Pride is more all-ages (whereas Spandex most definitely is not!) The art in The Pride is lush and the story seems solid and kinda worthy. The main gay superhero guy needs to stop saying ‘sweetie’ and ‘darling’ so often, though.
- Two ladies who seem to be doing really impressive things are Kate Brown and Emma Viecili – both had some top quality books on sale. Emma’s (Dragon’s Heir) looks like a very solid read (although I’m 10 pages in and come across a few typos already... But what the hell, maybe I’m being unfair – none of us are big corporate businesses or anything – we’re just doing our best.)
Kate Brown has a really luscious art style and I think I would have enjoyed the book, but the final story (of 3) was really graphic and disturbing and made me feel a bit nauseous! (Let’s just say there is an unbelivable amount of female nudity and more than a little blood – and maggots.) I’m not sure how she got arts council funding for it considering how extreme it is, but still, the first two stories are great.
- Final thought of the day: Cosplayers should be banned!

One More Thing: Just to say, sorry if I forgot to mention someone. I’ll add you in if I remember!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spandex 4 cover(s)

I thought I'd do a little write-up about the new Spandex cover, as it's gone thru a lot of changes!
So issue 4 kicks off the big OMFG/Les Girlz storyline, and I had the idea for this cover (the one just below here) back at Bristol 2010. I was struggling a bit to shift Spandex 2 - a very pink cover - and I thought Spandex needed a sexy lady cover, so the image of what the cover should be popped into my head - full body shot of 'Pussy' with Spandex reflected in the glasses. But it wasn't working! You couldn't really see Spandex in the sunglasses and I was worried Pussy looked like a giant (lesbian).

So, fail! In fact, to be honest, the initial ideas for my covers often don't end up to be the final ones. I do find covers quite hard, but I enjoy the challenge and I always get there in the end.
Next, I thought let's do all of Les Girlz in a cool line-up with Spandex in the glasses again. Sadly, it just really wasn't working, so abandon tools on that one.

Then, the final idea popped into my head and I'm pleased with it. It's not booby, but it's still sexy I think. It evolved a lot over time, and I kept adding and adding things which really helped it, such as the shadow behind Pussy.
The biggest dilemma here was the cover background cover - pink, green or white. The green was pretty knock-out and I really struggled over it, but in the end, I wasn't confident that the green's brightness would translate in print - plus I thought the green took away a bit from Spandex in the glasses, so white it was. (And then a small dilemma over whether to make the speech balloon green or pink, but I got there in the end!).

So this is the one!

Monday, May 2, 2011

New cover

The new Spandex 4 cover had made its debut on the Forbidden Planet International blog!
Check it out here:

Spandex 4 - almost ready!