The Spire

SPOD! Oddities From Space

SPOD! Oddities From Space

Hello readers! Today I’m sharing with you a strip of mine which featured in the SPOD! Oddities From Space anthology.

This anthology was not as widely distributed as I would’ve hoped, but I was excited to be a part of it.

SPOD! came about through Mark Millar’s CLiNT Magazine. There was a feature called Space Oddities featuring strips from new creators and a huge amount of people submitted to it. Eventually, when the feature was cancelled, all these strips were left without a home and a number of creators decided to come together and make an anthology which would allow these strips to be published.

Below is a strip called ‘The Spire’.

I’d like to thank the fellow creators I worked with; Vanden Bizarro, Michael Rayner and HdE. They did an amazing job with the script.

Many of you wouldn’t have had a chance to read this strip before, so I’m glad to be sharing it with you now.

The Spire Page 1

The Spire Page 1

The Spire Page 2

The Spire Page 2

The Spire Page 3

The Spire Page 3

The Spire Page 4

The Spire Page 4

The Spire Page 5

The Spire Page 5

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The Good Fight Kickstarter

The Good Fight Anthology

The Good Fight Anthology

The Good Fight Anthology Kickstarter went live today! You can find it here; https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1256237609/the-good-fight-a-peaceful-stand-against-bigotry-an?ref=discovery&term=The%20good%20fight

Please click the link and go pledge your support.

The Good Fight Anthology was originally conceived as a reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, North Carolina.

It has since evolved into a commentary on the ongoing struggle against racism, hate and bigotry.

I’m really proud to have contributed a story to this, to have a chance to support a good cause, alongside a lot of other really talented creators.

I didn’t have grand designs when I first attempted to break into comic books. I love writing and I just wanted to tell some fun stories. However, being gay I have been unfortunate enough to encounter bigotry from time to time. If I can use my skills as a writer to help, even if I’m only helping in a small way, then I would have done something truly worthwhile.

All post-campaign money will be donated to The Southern Poverty Law Center, where it can hopefully do a lot of good.

The Kickstarter will be running until December 12th. I hope that if you follow my blog that you will go lend your support and make this Kickstarter a success.

The Good Fight

The Good Fight Charity Anthology

The Good Fight Charity Anthology

Hello everyone. If you are a follower of my blog, I would ask that you start following The Good Fight Charity Anthology on Twitter.

You can find it here; https://twitter.com/GoodFightComic

The Good Fight will feature strips which take a stand against racism and bigotry. Free copies of the ashcan edition were handed out at New York Comic Con.

All profits will go to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I have an eight page strip in the anthology, and I’m very proud to be a part of this, doing some good.

The Kickstarter will be launching on November 12th.

Please go pledge your support as soon as it is up and running.

Below you can see the flyer that was handed out at NYCC with the ashcan edition;

The Good Fight Flyer

The Good Fight Flyer

A lot of talented folk are involved and it is for a very good cause. I hope you will all lend your support to this.

Tomb World

Hallowscream #8

Hallowscream #8

Happy Halloween, everybody!

To celebrate, I thought I would share a past strip of mine, previously seen in Hallowscream #8.

You can find past issues of Hallowscream here; https://www.backfromthedepths.co.uk/thetheatreofterror/

The story is by myself, and the artwork is by Dave Peloe.

Tomb World Page 1

Tomb World Page 1

Tomb World Page 2

Tomb World Page 2

Tomb World Page 3

Tomb World Page 3

Tomb World Page 4

Tomb World Page 4

Tomb World Page 5

Tomb World Page 5

Tomb World Page 6

Tomb World Page 6

Tomb World Page 7

Tomb World Page 7

Hallowscream! 10 Submissions

Hallowscream 10

Hallowscream 10

Hey folks, just a reminder that Hallowscream! 10 is open for submissions. Here is the link; https://www.backfromthedepths.co.uk/thetheatreofterror/2018/blah/hallowscream-tenth-terror-filled-issue-submission-guidelines/

Hallowscream! is an annual Halloween Anthology. It’s small press and available for free online.

Deadlines for scripts is Monday 30th July 2018, deadline for artwork is  Tuesday 16th October 2018 and the deadline for completed strips is Tuesday 23rd October 2018.

I had a strip back in issue #8. Hallowscream! is a great small press anthology to submit for, if you’re just starting out as a writer, or as an artist.

Cyber Force Artifacts: Weaponeer Breakdown

Cyber Force Rebirth: Artifacts, Vol. 3

Cyber Force Rebirth: Artifacts, Vol. 3

Cyber Force: Artifacts #0 was published at the end of 2016. It contained three short strips, created by the Runners-Up of the Top Cow Talent Hunt.

This year the strips were reprinted in the Cyber Force Rebirth: Artifacts Vol.3 TPB. With the final Cyber Force Rebirth TPB coming out next Wednesday, I thought it would be a good time to look back at the eight page strip I contributed to the issue.

The two pages visible below were released as part of the preview.

I wrote a strip called ‘Weaponeer’ featuring the Cyber Force villain called Aphrodite IV. She is a cyborg designed for assassination missions. This character is of course an earlier model of the protagonist featured in the Aphrodite IX series.

You will likely recognize the artist as the excellent Jim Towe, who has now gone onto draw other series such as Youngblood.

 

PAGE 1

Cyber Force: Artifacts #0 Preview Page

Cyber Force: Artifacts #0 Preview Page

Panel 1. This panel features the character of Francesca Taylor, the main villain of both the Cyber Force Rebirth series and Aphrodite IX. She is the head of CyberData Industries.

The tanks to the left of the page are a little nod to Witchblade #134 – #136; a story arc which featured Aphrodite IV called ‘Almost Human’. In the first issue of that story arc Aphrodite I, Aphrodite II and Aphrodite III are seen in similar tanks.

The tank here is marked ‘V’; which indicates that the character inside is Aphrodite V, one of the main players in the Cyber Force Rebirth series. I meant this to indicate that this story starts slightly before the Cyber Force Rebirth series.

Panel 2. Anton Sengh is a new character created for this story. I imagined him as a modern day warlord. I was a little inspired by the character of Khan Noonien Singh from Star Trek but there were other influences as well. For a while in the script his name was Singh, but there is a character by that name in the ‘Almost Human’ story arc, so I wanted to avoid confusion.

The name Sengh came from The Phantom comic strip. The main villains in that strip are a group of pirates called the Singh Brotherhood, a name that was later changed to the Sengh Brotherhood in the comics.

I wanted to create a character who was dangerous. Not only strong, but intelligent.

The Consortium are the group that created the early Aphrodite cyborgs. In ‘Almost Human’ the Consortium’s lab is raided and their technology stolen.

CyberData continues the Aphrodite project and are seen in full control of the program well into the future. The Consortium are never mentioned again.

This created a story dangler. So, I asked myself, what would have happened to the remaining members of the Consortium?

The answer was obvious. CyberData would send the newly acquired Aphrodite IV to track each of them down. They would be unwilling to let anyone else have access to the technology, which was vital to their plans.

Panels 3 – 6. The image in my head of Aphrodite IV casually leaping from a helicopter and swimming to an exotic island was too cool to pass up.

When I pitched the strip to Ryan Cady at Top Cow I actually offered two versions. One was more realistic and set in an FBI building. The other was more comic book-y and set on an exotic island.

I’m glad he went for the latter, as I think the end result was a lot more fun.

As a cyborg, I wanted to sell that Aphrodite IV cares little for modesty, so she casually undresses on the shore.

 

PAGE 2

Cyber Force: Artifacts #0 Preview Page

Cyber Force: Artifacts #0 Preview Page

Panel 1. Cyber Force was of course created in the 90’s by Marc Silvestri as one of the first books for Image Comics. That’s why on the island you will see a few references to comic books from the 90’s, such as guards with cybernetic arms.

Panel 2. Paying attention? This is the computer room storing all the data provided by the rogue scientist and given to Anton Sengh. This will be important later.

Panels 3 – 4. Fight! What is a comic book without a little action?

Panel 5. Aphrodite IV goes down rather easily, doesn’t she? It’s almost like she threw the fight on purpose.

Panel 6. Super chunky wrist manacles! Another reference to 90’s comic books.

 

PAGE 3

Panel 1. Welcome to Anton Sengh’s grand audience chamber. I wanted to show off the wealth of the pirate lord through the luxury present in this room.

We meet the man himself, appropriately sitting upon a throne.

In the room are numerous lackeys, showing that Sengh is a man who commands others. This also presented the artist with a fun chance to design some interesting background characters.

The red curtain also hides another important element of the story.

Panels 2 – 5. Aphrodite IV is questioned and beaten, which as a cyborg, does little to intimidate her.

Along with tying up a story dangler, I really wanted the chance to explore the character of Aphrodite IV.

I was struck by when in Uncanny X-Men during the ‘Sisterhood’ arc the character of Lady Deathstrike is referred to as a murder doll.

That description fits Aphrodite IV perfectly. She is not a human being with feelings. She is an instrument of death. As such, she takes the most direct path to accomplishing her goal. Which, in this case, in locating the scientist Arlo Willis.

He steps forward at the end of this page.

The quickest way to Arlo Willis was getting captured and taking a beating, which is exactly what Aphrodite IV did, and it brought Arlo right to her.

 

PAGE 4

Panel 1. Some exposition delivered by Arlo Willis. While I love continuity, you never want to assume that a reader knows everything that has gone before.

By having Arlo deliver an explanation to Anton Sengh, I neatly explain who Aphrodite IV is to anyone unfamiliar with the character.

As a formerly respectable scientist, I wanted Arlo to feel out of place. Which is why he’s still in a loose shirt and tie.

He doesn’t belong among these mercenaries.

Panels 2 – 3. More exposition. And clarity on what exactly Aphrodite IV’s mission is. She mentions here that she has new handlers, which are of course CyberData, although that isn’t overly relevant to the plot.

Panels 4 – 7. We get a little back and forth between Aphrodite IV and Sengh, allowing some of the villain’s character to be explored.

There is also further evidence of Aphrodite IV’s inhumanity, as she allows blood to dribble down from her broken nose.

She continues to be direct, knowing subterfuge gains her nothing. She’s here to kill the scientist. She knows it. They know it. And she’s ready to get on with it.

 

PAGE 5

Panels 1 – 3. Aphrodite easily breaks out of her manacles, having strength beyond that of a normal woman. She explains that getting captured was a ploy to get her close to the scientist.

She also picks up a knife. This detail isn’t important here, but I needed to give her a weapon to use later in the strip.

My love of old Marvel Comics probably shows through here, where characters are frequently talking about “playing possum”. I couldn’t resist sneaking that line in.

Panel 4. Anton Sengh tells his men that he wants to handle Aphrodite IV personally. This fits with his character, but it’s also necessary to explain why his henchmen don’t simply overwhelm her.

With a strip only eight pages long, I couldn’t have bad guy after bad guy trying to take Aphrodite IV down.

But by creating an arrogant villain like Sengh, that gives a credible motivation for him wanting to take her on by himself.

He’s showing off.

Panels 5 – 7. The reveal of the battle armor. Aphrodite IV is a powerful character, as I have already established in the strip, so she needed a credible threat.

When I first pitched the story, I suggested having another android for Aphrodite IV to face off against. After all, that’s what the Consortium scientists were designing.

However I was told, and rightly so, that there wasn’t enough room to introduce another villainous character in a strip only eight pages long.

So, I needed a way to upgrade the threat of Anton Sengh. It needed to be technological, because Arlo Willis was there, providing technology.

A battle suit seemed like the most logical option.

 

PAGE 6

Panels 1 – 6. This is the big fight between Aphrodite IV and Anton Sengh. And Sengh does manage to rip through Aphrodite.

I felt like it was important for him to draw blood, to show him as someone who is truly dangerous and a real threat.

 

PAGE 7

Panels 1 – 2. And Aphrodite gets a grip on Sengh’s neck, bringing the fight to a close.

Panel 3. Sengh offers a deal. He knows that Aphrodite can kill him easily but then his men will blast her down, stopping her from completing her mission.

Sengh may be brash and arrogant, but he’s smart enough to know when he’s beat.

If you picked up the print edition of this issue, then you will notice an error in this panel. The line “You are truly a worthy adversary, but ending my life won’t get you what you want” is given to Aphrodite IV, when it should be spoken by Sengh.

Aphrodite wouldn’t evaluate anyone as a worthy adversary, it isn’t how she thinks, but to Sengh, worth and honor are of prime importance.

Sometimes things simply slip through during the production of comic books.

The errors were corrected for the digital copy and in the trade paper back.

Panels 4 – 5. Sengh quickly agrees to give up the scientist. He values Arlo Willis, but not more than his own life.

 

PAGE 8

Panels 1 – 2. Aphrodite quickly takes care of Arlo, with the knife she picked up earlier. As a writer, it’s important to remember to introduce elements such as this knife here, earlier on in the strip.

Aphrodite’s method of dispatching Arlo is quick and with minimum effort, maintaining the idea that she is direct in her action.

Panels 3 – 6. Aphrodite tells Sengh that she deleted the data from the computers earlier. I made sure to include a panel on Page 2 where she discovers the computer servers, setting up this reveal here.

She departs, but I leave it open as to whether Sengh will return, in case another writer wishes to use him in the future.

 

Anyway, I hope this has been an interesting read, and gives you some small bit of insight into my process.

If you haven’t read the strip yet, please go pick it up.

Cyber Force Rebirth: Artifacts Vol.3 is available now (as are Volume 1 and 2).

Cyber Force Rebirth Vol.4 will be released on the 19th of September, 2018.

Thought Bubble 2018 and 2000AD Pitching

alan_moore_the_complete_future_shocks

New writers for 2000AD are required to write ‘Future Shocks’.

This year the Thought Bubble Comic Con returns again on 22nd and 23rd of September. The festival takes place in Leeds.

The Thought Bubble website is here; https://www.thoughtbubblefestival.com/

As with previous years, the Comic Con is hosting a 2000AD pitching session. The writers session takes place on the Saturday and the artist part takes place on the Sunday.

While artists submit artwork to be reviewed, writers instead are given the chance to go on stage a pitch in front of an audience. You have two minutes to make your pitch for a Future Shock strip.

The Future Shock strips are four pages long and are science fiction. They have a twist ending. You are required to write a pitch, not the script.

The link to the 2000AD competitions is here; https://www.thoughtbubblefestival.com/2000ad-competitions

As with previous years; the pitching session is first come, first served.

This is the fourth year that the pitching competition is running and I attended the second and third year, so I speak from experience when I say that if you want to pitch, you need to get there early.

For me, the first time around, getting there an hour early sufficed, but last year there was already a queue hours before. Getting there an hour early allowed me to pitch, but only just. So, if you want to pitch an idea, get there as early as you can.

Whether you’re an artist or a writer, and you’re going to enter this year, then I wish you luck.

Comics Uncovered

Comics Uncovered

Comics Uncovered

If you’re based in the United Kingdom and you want to break into comics, then there is a fairly important event coming this September.

It’s running alongside Birmingham’s International Comic Expo (ICE) on the 15th and 16th of September.

The event will be attended by editors from both DC and Dark Horse Comics. Which is a big deal. Because while you get a lot of big writers and artists at UK Comic Cons, you don’t get a lot of American editors attending those events.

Usually if you want to meet editors you need to hop across the pond and attend the conventions in the United States.

If you want to work in the comic book industry; whether it is as an artist or a writer, you do that by getting to know editors, who can offer you work.

Not that these commissioning editors, and there is no way that you’re going to be offered a job on the spot, no matter who you meet. But the more people you know, the easier you are going to find it to advance your career.

There will also be numerous events tailored to aspiring creators on both the Saturday and the Sunday. The Saturday is aimed at comic book writers, while the focus is on artists on the Sunday.

The link to ICE Birmingham is here; https://internationlcomicexpo.wordpress.com/

And the link to Comics Uncovered is here; http://www.comicsuncovered.co.uk/

Comic Con Retrospective

London Super Comic Con

London Super Comic Con

I visited a lot of Comic Cons last year, which I had planned to report on, sharing my experiences, but for various reasons I didn’t get a chance to at the time.

So, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back at the past year and a half.

If you live in the UK and are looking for Comic Cons to attend, you might want to take read of some of my personal experiences in deciding which ones to go to.

Dunfermline Comic Con 2017

My first Comic Con of the year. The Dunfermline Comic Con is a smaller convention, but it is great fun if you happen to be based in Scotland.

I had a lot of fun back in 2017, especially since it had been many, many months since I’d last attended a convention.

I had a nice chat with Gary Chudleigh from BHP Comics and picked up a copy of Plagued Vol. 1

Because of bad weather, there was no Dunfermline Comic Con in 2018, but it will be making a return in 2019.

https://www.facebook.com/DunfermlineComicCon/

Edinburgh Comic Con 2017/2018

I’m based in Edinburgh, and every year in April, the Edinburgh Comic Con is held. There is usually a mix of comic book, film and television events.

Since it is local, this is a fairly easy Comic Con for me to attend.

While there aren’t usually any industry events held at this Con, I do get the chance to meet up with fellow local creators who I haven’t seen in a while. It’s a nice opportunity to catch up with friends.

This year, the convention did manage to host some workshops for beginners, so if you’re looking to get a start in comics, you might want to consider going along to this.

Both years I had a lot of fun wandering around the stalls, before coming home, feeling inspired and ready to get back to writing.

http://www.heroconventions.com/

Glasgow Comic Con 2017/2018

Held at the end of June/the beginning of July every year, the Glasgow Comic Con is the best convention that Scotland has to offer.

The Comic Con is now held over a single day, but it is preceded by a one day industry event called 9 Panels.

While I do enjoy the convention, it’s 9 Panels which is really useful to me, as someone who wants to write professionally.

The panels were really useful this year and last year, and for once I actually used the pitching sessions to meet people from various indie comic book companies.

Networking is an important part of the comic book industry and I feel I got some really useful advice.

I was hoping to meet some new artists this year as well, but alas, no collaborations have ever resulted from these networking events.

Still, I had a good time, and I was able to catch up with fellow writers and meet new editors, which should prove useful in the future.

http://www.glasgowcomiccon.com/

London Super Comic Con 2017

Going down to London Super Comic Con was a big deal for me, in part, because it was held in the Business Design Centre which had been the home of the Kapow Comic Con which I had previously attended for the two years that it had run.

Kapow had really felt like an American-style Comic Con and I had heard much the same about the London Super Comic Con, and with the line up of guests they had in 2017, I just had to attend.

And you know what? It really did feel like something special. The Con took place over three days and the space was great. Lots of vendors and tables.

A couple of times, I wandered up to the upper gallery, and just sat down. I looked out over the convention, the bustle of fans and creators, and I took it all in.

At an event like this, it really feels like there is magic in the air.

Then, as I mentioned before, there were the guests. They had both Brian Michael Bendis and Dan Slott visiting from the States.

I took my copy of Words For Pictures up to be signed by Bendis, who like a total gent, decided to start the signings early when he saw a queue was building.

Now, I’m not really one for getting autographs, but it was an excuse to meet one of the most talented writers in the business, a man who actively encourages new talent. If you haven’t read his book Words For Pictures and you want to write comic books, then I recommend that you go pick it up.

I got to shake the man’s hand and he even remembered me from Twitter, which was beyond awesome.

Mister Bendis was also running a Masterclass for writing which I attended, that I think a lot of other people got a lot out of, but much of the advice he was giving wasn’t that useful to me. They were things that I did with my writing already, or techniques for things which I did in different ways.

Some of it I had of course picked up from reading Words For Pictures, but other stuff I had simply learned from years of actually writing.

Bottom line, the Masterclass probably wasn’t meant for me, but for people still developing their craft. And it was oddly reassuring to discover that maybe I’m doing this writing thing correctly. Maybe I actually do know what I’m doing.

Still, it was a terrific experience, getting to listen to a true pro discussing how he writes comic books.

I also brought down a writing portfolio to the Comic Con as the talented Erica Schultz and Kieron Gillen were doing Portfolio Reviews.

Erica Schultz actually gave me some excellent advice online about including completed work in my portfolio, because it’s really difficult for a reviewer to read through pages of script, so I included three comics that I had worked on, plus the scripts as extra reference material, for comparison.

It’s the reason you don’t see a lot of reviews for Writing Portfolios at Comic Cons. Most aspiring writers only have scripts, not published works, and it’s really is next to impossible for a reviewer to look through pages and pages of scripts.

The process is too time consuming.

The way it worked was that you submitted your portfolio and then you got a call later in the day telling you if you were going to get your portfolio reviewed.

I was actually the last person seen by Kieron Gillen.

He gave me the best compliment I think it’s possible to give a writer. Kieron had no writing advice to give me. We discussed my work and he said he might have approached things differently, but that was purely a matter of personal taste.

Kieron told me that I was the most advanced writer who he had reviewed over the course of the weekend.

He told me I was essentially doing everything right.

And to hear that from a writer I really respect, that was a big deal for me.

That helps give me faith that one day I might actually be able to do this writing thing as a career.

The only thing I lack, which is what he pointed out to me, are the connections with editors to actually get work.

He advised me to talk to a couple of editors at the Con and while I was unable to track one of them down (given that it was the last day of the Convention, people had begun to drift away), I did manage to start a conversation with one of them, which might result in future work.

Overall it was such an incredible weekend. And it really is a shame that the London Super Comic Con is not returning this year.

However, let us hope that it is held again, at some future date.

http://www.londonsupercomicconvention.com/

Thought Bubble 2017

Thought Bubble is an annual event that is held in Leeds every year. For the first time, I was able to head down with one of my best friends, who is also a comic book writer.

Now, if you are an aspiring writer, Thought Bubble is a big deal because 2000AD has an open pitching session for writers to earn a place writing a 2000AD Future Shock.

For those not in the know, a 2000AD Future Shock strip is a sci-fi short story, featuring a twist ending.

Now, the year before I had got there really early to queue up for the pitching session, as it was first come, first served, and I even ended up as first on stage.

This year, well, I still got there hours early, however there was already a queue, which was not a good thing.

My friend did really well pitching her story, although she didn’t win. I, on the other hand… I was just a mess. It was nearing the end of the pitching session and I was panicking in case I didn’t get to go up and pitch, so I just fell apart when I got up there.

Not that I think my pitch was good enough to win anyway, short strips with twist endings are tricky, I never know what someone is going to think is obvious or really clever. I’ve written a number in the small press that some editors have loved, and others they hated and those have never seen the light of day.

I did get to catch up with an artist who I hadn’t seen for years. Plus I saw a couple of fellow writers that I knew.

They had some great guests at the Con too. The biggest of Gerard Way talking about Young Animals. That was very cool.

So, I had fun, even if the Con was not as useful as I could have hoped.

Will I try pitching to 2000AD again this year? We’ll see. If I do, I’ll be sure to get there as early as I possibly can.

https://www.thoughtbubblefestival.com/

To Blog or Not to Blog?

TivianAvatar

A Tivian from the comic book ‘Conqueror’ by Paul Penna and Kean Kennedy

Hello all. As you may have noticed over the past few months, the updates to this blog have been a little haphazard.

I update the blog when I can, but I am often kept busy with my day job or actual writing. Although, should I come across any useful information for aspiring writers or artists, I do try to add it here.

While I will still be making those updates whenever I come across useful information that I can share, I’m also going to make the effort to release at least one new blog post at the start of each month.

This will not be on a specific subject, as per usual I’m going to relate useful information I find, share my own personal experiences of trying to break into the industry, discuss my own writing and write posts on comic book continuity (since I am a massive continuity geek).

It is my hope that this will encourage people to check in at the start of the month and become regular visitors to the blog.

Hopefully people will not only find the information I relate interesting, but it will ultimately help them with their own creative endeavors.

If I’m able to help even one person get a little closer to achieving their dreams, then that makes this all worth it.