Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas telly ramblings

OH well, that's another Christmas done and dusted. The kids certainly enjoyed themselves (Robosapien, Scalextric and computer games console for Dylan; Iggle Piggle, remote control racing car and, erm, toy kitchen for Connor), but I find it harder and harder to work up any enthusiasm for it these days. I think it's a combination of my age and the fact I only got five days off work for the festive season (in my magazine days I could count on 10 or 12). Still, I got a nice new jumper and Doctor Who series three on DVD out of it so I shouldn't complain too much.

On the subject of Who, Voyage Of The Damned washed over me a bit. Having only seen it once I'm not sure whether that was the fault of the show itself or the fact I had to watch it through a barrage of kid noise. I'll probably give it another look over the weekend to see if it deserved that incredible audience of 12.2 million (the show's highest since 1979, I understand).

The only show watched more than Doctor Who on Christmas Day was EastEnders which surprises me a bit as it's so profoundly bleak and, as The Guardian's reviewer remarked, "misanthropic". Its also horribly ham-fisted with the settings marked "shouting" and "crying" turned up to 11 at all times. EastEnders doesn't do subtlety and you get the impression its producers wouldn't know where to start if some BBC bigwig suggested that they should.

One of the two Christmas Day episodes ended up with Tanya Branning falling down the stairs and cracking her head open after finding out about her husband's affair with his daughter-in-law. You half expected someone to pop in and shoot her in the face at the end just to add even more melodrama and misery to proceedings.

My favourite EastEnders Christmas Day episode ending was a good few years back and featured Arthur Fowler (pictured above) sobbing his heart out on the floor of his prison cell (he'd been banged up for stealing some cash). It was genuinely quite upsetting and about as Christmassy as a dog shit sandwich.

I thought this year's Christmas Day Coronation Street was far and away the best of the big two soaps - full of humour, storylines that didn't stretch credulity too far and even an uplifting ending. Of course, it got utterly walloped in the ratings. It seems our festive goodwill doesn't extend to soap characters - we want them to suffer and, if they don't, we switch off.

* THIS will probably be my last post until 2008 so, to everyone, HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kurse at Christmas

IN the last week or so, I've been able to get back to some serious writing. I gave up on the two short stories I was trying to finish off (sometimes you just have to take it on the chin and admit that half decent ideas don't always translate into fully realised stories) and got down to my next one-shot title - Kurse.

I'm about eight pages into the first draft and am really enjoying it. As ever, it's interesting to see how what actually ends up on the page differs to what you've been carrying around in your head. This caused problems early on as I realised I'd rather underestimated the number of pages I'd need to move the book's main character (the Kurse of our title) from his initial predicament and into the actual guts of the story. After a bit of rejigging, I managed to do it in eight which isn't as few as I'd have liked but certainly makes for an all-action introduction to the character and his world(s).

I'll probably post a couple of pages of script here at some point soon.

* MICK Trimble's been in touch this week to tell me that he's now 25pages into drawing Septic Isle and is aiming to have it all finished by the end of January. Chuck in a couple of weeks for me to letter it and it should be winging its way to Diamond for the end of February. If they opt to solicit it, I probably won't get order numbers until late May meaning it won't be printed in time for the Bristol Expo. As a result, I'll probably have to have some kind of limited edition of 100 knocked out to sell there.

At the moment I'm leaning towards doing a hardback version of the book but that could easily change when I find out how much it's likely to cost (I suspect its extortionate)...

* MIKEY B and I's story for the Accent UK Robots anthology – The Saboteur – missed the deadline so it won't be appearing now. It's entirely my fault as it took me an age to get the script written and then, when I did, Mikey was snowed under with paying work. Not to worry, we're still going to get it finished and will either submit it to another anthology title or give it pride of place on the Moonface Press website. Actually, the latter is quite an appealing idea as I've wanted to do some web-exclusive stuff for quite a while.

* THIS will probably be my final post before the 25th, so to the half-dozen people who take the time to read my aimless witterings, have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Top 10 Comics 2007

10. 2000AD (Rebellion)
It's been a good year for Judge Dredd and Bob Byrne's Twisted Tales have been a breath of fresh air.

9. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 (Dark Horse)
Buffy the TV series really lost its way towards the end but this comicbook continuation of the Slayer's story has freshened up the concept very nicely.

8. Wisdom (Marvel MAX)
Witty, imaginative and enormously fun mini-series from Doctor Who scribe Paul Cornell about a British team of super-powered paranormal investigators. Look out for that suprisingly bleak finale though.

7. Girls (Image)
A visceral, twisted and highly original alien invasion story by the Luna Brothers.

6. Thunderbolts (Marvel)
Warren Ellis is a real conundrum - on the one hand he says he hates superheroes/villains, on the other he writes them better than anybody currently working in the comics industry. Go figure.

5. Fables (Vertigo)
Bill Willingham's ongoing series about fairy tale characters living in the real world is never anything less than inventive and engaging.

4. Army @ Love (Vertigo)
Rick Veitch's ballsy, laugh out loud satire centring on American soldiers fighting in "Afbagistan".

3. Captain America (Marvel)
Writer Ed Brubaker brought back naff sidekick Bucky and killed off the title character. Somehow he pulled it all off brilliantly with a new Cap set to debut early in 2008.

2. DMZ (Vertigo)
Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli's hard-hitting tale of a second American Civil War set in a bombed out, beaten down Manhattan. A future dystopia as vividly realised as anything in Children Of Men.

1. The Punisher (Marvel MAX)
Grim, gritty, brutal, bleak and utterly captivating, The Punisher is easily writer Garth Ennis' best work since Preacher. A pity he's set to leave the book in the new year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Carry On Shrieking...

Reviewer Glenn Carter says some very nice things about Shriek! over at this week. He gives it 9.5 out of 10 and sums up by saying: "I recommend and recommend very highly."

I'm particularly pleased with the review as, out of all the comics I've written and published, I often feel Shriek! is the one that has been least successful. A four-story anthology, Shriek! made its debut at the ill-fated Brighton Comic Expo at the tail end of 2005 along with the original versions of Blood Psi and Hero Killers. The printing on all three books was truly terrible with the art on at least two of the stories in Shriek! being pretty much ruined as a result.

When it became obvious the quality of printing was harming sales, I took the decision to swallow the financial loss and have both Blood Psi and Hero Killers reprinted by a far superior printer (this one: to the one I'd been using. It worked out pretty well with the shiny new versions of both books being picked up by Diamond and, apparently, one of them even won an award of some kind!

I didn't go down the same route with Shriek! as, by that stage, I'd decided that not all of the material in the comic was good enough to merit it. As a result, it remains largely unknown and unloved. Until now...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Doctor Gloom

I'VE had a very unproductive couple of weeks and, to be honest, have spent quite a bit of that time thoroughly fed-up about one thing or another. I'm sure it's a case of the winter blues and nothing more, but I really hope it clears up fast as my writing is being adversely affected (it also got me into a spot of bother over the weekend but I'm not going into that here).

On a more positive note, I've just started a couple of weeks holiday from the day job so at least that won't add to my stress and general shitty demeanour. Today I'm finally going to take a look at the two short stories I started ages ago but never finished. They're both sound ideas and don't need a lot of work to finish them off.

Next week, I'm going to make a belated start on my next one-shot project. It's called Kurse and it's something I'll be working on with artist Duncan Nimmo. In theory, it shouldn't take me long to write as the whole thing is fully plotted out (unlike, say, Tim Skinner and Septic Isle, which were only loosely plotted when I started writing them).

Hopefully, by the time I update again, the black cloud hovering over my head will have gone and I'll be feeling a little more "sunshiney". Feel free to send jokes to cheer me up. Or porn.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

10 Things I've done this week...

1. WATCHED ten episodes of US sitcom 30 Rock on DVD. Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey are pure comedy gold.
2. READ the final two issues of World War Hulk – a rushed, rubbish ending.
3. BURIED a cat in the back garden (yes, the poor old thing was dead).
4. TRIED explaining the concept of death to my four-year-old son, Dylan. His response? "Is X Factor on tonight?"
5. SHOUTED abuse at Steve McClaren and his crappy England team full of overrated prima donnas.
6. WORKED out that I'm only at the day job for seven days in December. Yay!
7. WATCHED Robert Rodriguez's half of GrindhousePlanet Terror – and thoroughly enjoyed every silly minute of it.
8. HAD impure thoughts about the extraordinarily sexy Rose McGowan as a result of watching Planet Terror.
9. GAVE up reading Douglas Coupland's latest novel, The Gum Thief ,less than halfway through. What has happened to my attention span?
10. SERIOUSLY thought about going to see American Gangster at the cinema but, erm, haven't.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Village people

MY latest Starting Out column is up at

This month's subject is finding outlets to sell your comic or graphic novel if you aren't going to use Diamond. Hopefully there's some good advice in there.

* WHILE we're on the subject of British indie comics websites, be sure to check out It's the brainchild of Craig Johnson who used to write regularly for

Rumour has it that Silver Bullets is about to shift its focus to cover Marvel and DC books only and change its name to Comics Bulletin, so Craig decided to set up his own "indies only" site.

At the moment the content is mainly columns and reviews (including a nice one for Devilchild Volume III) but I'm sure as it develops news and previews of forthcoming books will be added to the mix. They're certainly going to be on my mailing list from now on.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Brodie's Law exhibition

LAST night I went to the "private view launch party" of David Bircham's exhibition at the Animation Art Gallery in London. David's the artist on Brodie's Law ( and anyone who's seen his work on that title will already be aware of what a terrific talent he is.

I was expecting a couple of dozen people to be there and was rather shocked when a couple of hundred turned up - an amusing mix of comicbook nerds, Hoxton arty boys and drop-dead gorgeous women. It was so packed there were times when I could hardly move. Tucking into wine and nibbles with the best of them were Joel Meadows (Tripwire), Oli Smith (Hazy Tuesday), David Baillie (Scribe), Rob Dunlop (Tozzer) and Mike Conroy (Comics International).

According to David, the Brodie's movie is definitely on for next year with Samuel L Jackson, Jason Statham and even Daniel Craig all being linked with roles. I really hope it comes off for Daley and David as they work harder than anyone I know in UK comics (they've attended 35 conventions this year alone, while I've managed, er, two).

If you're in London doing some Christmas shopping, you really should spare half an hour to go and have a look at David's exhibition (as you'll see from the above photos it contains some lovely work). It runs until Wednesday, 21 November at the Animation Art Gallery, 13-14 Great Castle Street (a five minute walk from Oxford Street).

* I'VE had a stupidly busy week that, for once, didn't include any comics writing at all. However, I have started thinking about how I'm going to publicise Septic Isle and even bought a domain name for the micro-site that will be launched to support the book.

Ideally, I wanted or for the site's url but both of these were already gone. I also thought or were a bit unwieldy. Anyway, eventually I decided to name the website after the book's "tagline" which, I think, is really catchy and thought-provoking. I shall reveal all in the New Year...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bird botherer

Dylan menacing a peacock in the grounds of Warwick Castle from a couple of weekends ago.

I'll be back to talk some shit about comics later in the week or early next...

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I'M off-work Wednesday and Friday this week and plan to take a short break from the comics writing.

Wednesday I'm going to bang out the next of my columns for the Indie Review guys and then pop into London for a bite to eat with Joel Meadows. After that we're heading off to see the exhibition of David Bircham's art at the Animation Art Gallery in Great Castle Street.

David's the guy who draws the excellent Brodie's Law ( and his art is on display at the gallery until November 21.

Friday is my son Dylan's fourth birthday so he and I will be heading into London for a look round the Natural History/Science museums and a trip on the rather interesting amphibious vehicle pictured above. The idea is that you get a tour of the capital with a difference - part on land, part on the Thames but all in one vehicle. I can't wait to see his face when it veers off the road, down the bank and into the river!

* ONCE this week is out of the way, I shall get back to the writing. I've currently got four comic scripts with artists and aim to have a fifth – Kurss – finished by the end of the year.

Before I get cracking on that though I plan to spend a couple of days revisiting one or two old scripts for short stories that I never finished. I want to see if they're worth having another crack at or whether they should go into my Unfinished File Of Doom.

* THAT brings me to plans for 2008. All being well Moonface should have a lot of stuff out next year - starting with Septic Isle in the spring. Meantime, I'll be busy beavering away writing more new stuff, these include Razor Snakes (a chunk of pure sci-fi), Pendragon (a three-issue mini-series with Simon Wyatt) and a slew of other projects that, at this stage, are a little more nebulous.

There's a book set in the same world as Hero Killers and featuring a couple of the same characters, a sequel to Septic Isle, something else called The Utopians, projects with Keith Burns, Mikey B and Alma O'Carroll, and the "controversial" story I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

To be honest, I'll be happy if I can get half of them written before 2008 is done and dusted.

* THIS weekend is the Dublin City Comic Con and it's another one I won't be able to make (as I said it's my son's birthday this Friday, and Saturday is his party). I think one of my aims for next year will be to attend a few more comic-related events. I'm already paid up for Bristol and Birmingham, but new ones seem to pop up every year (like this one, for instance: and I really should make the effort to get to one or two more. My stuff always seems to sell pretty well at conventions so it would make a lot of sense.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Four-legged f**ker!

JUST sent the final script for Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag to artist Declan Shalvey having finally wrapped it all up this afternoon.

There were a couple of pages towards the end that had been bugging me and that I just couldn't for the life of me get right. I'd tried to approach this particular idea from a host of different angles but couldn't get any of them to work properly - until today. As it turns out, the new scene I've written is probably my favourite in the entire book.

I ended up having to leave out quite a lot of material from my first draft of the script for one reason or another - some because it didn't sit right in the story and some because it just didn't work on the page as well as I thought it would in my head. I'm particularly gutted that I couldn't find room for my homage to/piss-take of Transmetropolitan. Beetle Bastard (aka Spider Jerusalem) might just see the light of day another time though...

The current plan is to launch Skinner as Moonface Press' first full-colour one-shot next summer possibly at the San Diego Comicon. We shall see...

* AREN'T cats peculiar creatures? Around four months ago one of ours, Freddie, disappeared. We didn't think anything bad had happened to him because his defection to new owners had clearly been on the cards for some time. He'd never got on with any of our other cats and was horrified when first one noisy child and then another turned up.

He'd been staying away for longer and longer at a time - 24 hours here, a few days there before seemingly buggering off for good back in late July. He was my wife's cat and she'd had him nearly 14 years, so she was understandably a bit upset and angry when he went. We all thought we'd never lay eyes on the mangy - but oddly loveable - creature again. Until yesterday when he just turned up completely out of the blue looking fit and healthy. He's been here ever since and seems to have fitted back in like nothing has happened. Absurdly, I'm actually worried about his new owners who must be wondering where the traitorous little shit has got to.

That said, I bet he won't last the weekend with us before he's off again - he really doesn't like the kids.

Friday, November 2, 2007


IT'S been a busy week but I'm delighted to announce that the script for Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag is now just about finished. There are a couple of minor bits that still need fiddling about with but it's 99 per cent there. I'm really pleased with it too as it contains some of the maddest shit I've ever written. I'm going to send it over to Dec sometime next week and just hope he doesn't pass a brick when he sees some of the stuff I'm asking him to draw...

* THE family and I are off up to Warwick this weekend to visit my oldest mate Rob and his girlfriend Tracy. In January, Rob's set to become a dad for the first time - at the ripe old age of 42. The poor sod really has no idea what's about to hit him...

Monday, October 29, 2007


A FUNNY old weekend. Underwent a "test" at the local hospital on Saturday morning which was fine (well, about as fine as having a camera shoved up your arse can ever be) but it left me with an upset stomach for the rest of the day and Sunday. This meant I was in no fit state to travel into London yesterday for Joel's birthday which was a bit of a downer really (I almost said "bummer" but thought better of it).

Instead, I spent most of the weekend flat out on the sofa half-heartedly trying to keep my noisy, disobedient children amused. I ended up watching loads of kids' TV and was gobsmacked by just how good a lot of it is. Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans and Ben 10 are all great (the first two are substantially better than their comicbook counterparts) but best of the lot is The Grim Adventures Of Billy And Mandy (see pic above).

It's about two kids (sociopath Mandy and cretinous Billy) whose best friend is the Grim Reaper himself. It's violent, surreal and contains loads of gags about bogies, farts and, surprisingly for a kids' show, death. It also seems to have boasted a whole host of intriguing guest voices since its debut in 2001, including Weird Al Jankovic and Fred Willard.

If you're old enough to remember the classic Ren & Stimpy then you'll love every ridiculous minute of it.

* I'VE got an idea for a new superhero project but I'm not sure I should actually go through with it. The subject matter is somewhat controversial (to say the least) and I'm worried that writing it would leave me open to accusations of insensitivity - or worse of exploiting something quite hurtful to line my pockets/boost my career.

The thing is, since I started thinking about this idea on Saturday, much of the story has just clicked into place in my head. It's a good idea and, I think, a pretty original one. Right now I reckon I'm going to give it a shot and see what happens. I can always chicken out further down the line.

Oh, and before you ask, no it isn't about a super-powered paedophile...

Friday, October 26, 2007


My favourite comicbook panel of the week, courtesy of Andy Diggle and Leonardo Manco's Hellblazer #237. A clever little reference to John Constantine's early days as a Sting lookalike perhaps...

* A BUSY week all in all. After a lot of messing about and multiple rewrites, the script for my Robots anthology story is finally complete. It's only three pages long (four if artist Mikey B wants to spread his wings a bit). Not sure why it's taken me so long to get the story right as it's quite a simple idea.

Anyway, it's called The Saboteur and packs a heck of a lot in to just 20 panels. Hopefully, we'll still be able to make the anthology's end of November deadline but if not there are plenty of other indie press publishers to which we can send it.

* LOOKS like the weekend is going to be a busy one too. I'm in hospital tomorrow, the details of which I really won't bore you with. Suffice to say, I hope I'm in and out of the bloody place as quickly as possible.

On Sunday I'm off into London for Joel Meadows' birthday lunch and booze-up. I hate central London these days but Joel - the brains behind the excellent Tripwire annual - is a lovely bloke and it'll be a good chance to catch up with him as we hardly saw each other at the BICS event a couple of weeks ago.

* NEXT week is all about finishing off the script for Tim Skinner. The second half is written as a first draft but needs a lot of polishing. I've got five days to do it in which should be ample.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Don't call me Scarface...

THIS is artist Mikey B's vision of what he and I would look like as gangsters (terrifying, ain't we?). Mikey's the artist who has been waiting an age for me to deliver my Robots script to him and I'll also be teaming up with him on something suitably "gangstery" next year. Mikey draws good gangsters - check out some more, here:

* I'M right at the start of another fortnight off work in which I will again try to get the scripts for Tim Skinner and the aforementioned Robots story finished. Not sure quite why everything is taking so long right now but it's enormously frustrating. I'd hoped to squeeze another two one-shot scripts into the tail-end of the year but it looks like I'm only going to have time to do one now - and that'll be Kurss, something I've been promising artist Duncan Nimmo since Bristol 2006.

* PLANS for next year are shaping up nicely. Pendragon, a three-issue mini-series with artist Simon Wyatt, is probably going to be the first thing I tackle in 2008. It's going to be a bit of departure for me as it will be my first foray into the field of fantasy. Dragons, mermaids, magic, all that malarkey...

* I THINK I've officially fallen out of love with Hollywood. I don't watch a lot of films these days but 90 per cent of those I do see are pretty disappointing. I caught Tarantino's Deathproof and Brian de Palma's Black Dahlia over the weekend and, despite the odd thing here and there, both left me pretty cold.

Quality-wise, I think television has really stolen a march on the movies over the last few years and is now vastly superior. Any night of the week I can turn on my TV and find something new and genuinely terrific, be it The Riches, The Wire, Californication or 30 Rock. Every time I glance at a list of what's on at my local cinema it just seems to be an interchangeable list of dumb comedies, CGI-soaked action films, please-give-us-an-Oscar melodramas and misogynistic horror films.

I can't remember the last time I saw a film that really blew me away like Blade Runner, Good Fellas and Crimes And Misdemeanors did all those years ago.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New column

THE second of my "Starting Out" columns is now up at This one deals with how to get your comic or graphic novel into Previews and what happens once you have. Hopefully there's some good advice in there.

Monday, October 15, 2007

BICS and pieces

I'M delighted to say that this year's Birmingham International Comics Show was a massive improvement on the one at the tail end of 2007. First and foremost the venue was excellent - the show was held at a place called the ThinkTank in the city's impressive Millennium Point building.

The ThinkTank is a kind of miniature version of the science musuem in London, full of moving, talking, whirring, clicking technology from the past, present and future on four or five floors. There's even a planetarium. It would be a great place to visit even without the comic show.

The other good news is that the venue, convention hotels and public transport were all within easy walking distance of each other. It may seem like a tiny thing but I spent a small fortune on cab fares last time which is an expense I could have well done without.

The event was a success in terms of punter numbers too - the main event room, which is probably only a bit smaller than the one at Bristol, was absolutely packed all day Saturday and pretty damn busy on the Sunday. I took a fair bit of cash and sold most of the comics I took up with me but, more importantly, I was able to catch up with all the people I only ever get to see once or twice a year.

It was lovely to see SBC columnist Regie Rigby who had just signed a contract with Markosia to publish his Sunset mini-series. Really delighted for Regie who's one of the nicest and most supportive people I've met in the five years I've been doing this.

Also good to see Phonogram writer Kieron Gillen whose bullshit-free attitude to his work and recent success make talking to him an absolute pleasure.

I was surprised by just how young Hassan and Rachid Otsmane are. They're the guys behind the website for which I write a column, and I was expecting them to be the kind of grizzled 30 or 40-somethings that UK comics fandom is full of. But not a bit of it - I'm old enough to be their dad!

Sean Azzopardi was kind enough to keep me company on the Moonface Press table for practically the entire weekend and sold a fair few of his own comics too. It was funny because although we're mates, our work has bugger all in common. Sean's stuff is the kind of thing likely to get picked up by Top Shelf or Fantagraphics whereas mine is far more influenced by a lifetime reading very mainstream Marvel and DC books.

Anyway, Sean has a trade paperback collection of his brilliant Twelve Hour Shift comic coming out soon and you should really check it out. You'll find information here:

... and here's the cover...

Also caught up with a host of collaborators and soon-to-be collaborators. Confirmed with Declan Shalvey that Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag is going to be full-colour. Don't think I've mentioned it on here before but Dec will be the artist on the Skinner one-shot. It will be our follow-up to the award-winning Hero Killers and I'm currently entertaining a totally mad notion to launch it at San Diego 2008.

Mick Trimble showed me all the Septic Isle pages he's done so far and it's looking terrific. That will probably be our big launch at Bristol - a 52-page, perfect bound graphic novella with a wraparound cover by the aforementioned Mr Shalvey.

Briefly met with artist Simon Wyatt about a three-issue mini-series we're hoping to get together early next year. Working title: Pendragon. Also confirmed with Duncan Nimmo that he's still up for illustrating Kurss, the one-shot title I will be writing as soon as the Skinner script is finished. I've been promising him the script since Bristol 2006!

And that's about it really - as per usual I didn't get to see any panels or talks and didn't do nearly enough after-show socialising. Still, there's always next year...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Return to Brum

OFF to Birmingham on Friday for the second annual International Comics Show. I'm looking forward to it although I'm not going to enjoy spending a weekend away from the kids and missus.

Hopefully this year's BICS will be an improvement on the one last year when the crap venue, terrible weather (it was December) and a severe lack of punters with cash to spend kind of put the kibosh on things.

As ever, I'll be spending a great deal of time catching up with all the people I haven't seen since Bristol (I'm usually hoarse after a weekend of incessant comics-related jabbering) and looking to recruit a couple of new artists for projects next year. Particularly looking forward to seeing Mick Trimble, Will Sliney, Declan Shalvey, Simon Wyatt and Jamie Richards, all of whom I'm either working on projects with now or will be in the new year.

Of course, one person who won't be at BICS is James Redington who died in July. It's going to be weird not having him there and I really hope the show's organisers are going to mark his passing in some way.

* TIM Skinner: Total Scumbag will be Moonface Press' very first full-colour comicbook when it comes out next year. Better finish off that script then, eh?

* CONGRATULATIONS to my friend and collaborator Will Sliney who has just secured a paying gig with Classical Comics (check out to draw their adaptation of Richard III. Look for it next summer.

* OH dear, it looks like the Heroes backlash is well underway: To be honest, I'm surprised it's taken this long for the show to be found out. Yep, it has some intriguing characters, the odd absorbing plot twist and half a dozen episodes in season one were genuine crackers. But the season finale was tosh, the pace of the show is so sloooowwww and Battlestar Galactica and Buffy are way better. Oooh, controversial.

* MUCH better than Heroes is The Riches (being shown on Virgin 1 in the UK). Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver play a couple of "grifters" who assume the identities of a wealthy couple when they are killed in a car crash. Two episodes in and I'm hooked.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Warning: May Contain Football

BACK at the day job this week after a long break in which I managed to catch up with a lot of stuff but, frustratingly, wasn't able to finish off the Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag script.

That isn't to say I'm a million miles away from doing so. I'm really pleased with the first half and am now in the middle of performing major surgery on the second half which needs to be shorter, sharper and more linear. This is going to involve chucking out a few scenes and characters that I really wanted to include but, to be honest, much of it was just window dressing anyway and won't be missed.

I've come up with a much better ending too, one that neatly ties in to stuff in the script rather than just appearing out of nowhere. I'm hoping to have it all finished by early October. And then I really do have to get on with that bloody Robots story...

* I WAS going to go to the Dublin Sub-Con this weekend (I know Dec and Will are there) but a few weeks ago realised my passport had expired and haven't got round to getting a new one. Therefore, my next convention appearance will be at the Birmingham International Comics Show (October 12-13). I won't have anything new to flog but come by my table and say hello in any case.

I didn't enjoy my time at last year's Birmingham event so I'm hoping for a considerable improvement this time.

* I never talk football on here but as a Chelsea fan it's impossible not to mention the farcical shenanigans of last week when the club parted company with manager Jose Mourinho.

I liked Mourinho enormously. Yep, he could be an infuriating ego monster and terrible loser but he was also witty, entertaining and hugely intelligent. He also happened to be the best manager the club has ever had, winning six major trophies in three seasons, including our first league titles for 50 years.

For Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to replace such a man with Avram Grant is like Martin Scorsese, halfway through shooting Raging Bull, saying, "Y'know, I don't think this De Niro guy is working out. Can someone get me Russ Abbot's number?"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More Skinner/Comics Britannia

I'VE had a streaming cold for the past couple of days which hasn't exactly helped oil the creative wheels on Tim Skinner. At the moment I've got a very rough first draft that reads like some kind of superhero comedy sketch show rather than an actual story.

The problem is that I've got one character - the titular Skinner - who is in every scene. What I'm now trying to do is to knit those scenes together as seamlessly as possible so Skinner's transition between them doesn't seem too clunky and that decent gags aren't being forced out by the plot exposition necessary to set up each new bit.

The Skinner project started off fairly easy to write but, to be honest, has turned out to be a bit of a bastard. Looks like I'm going to be working on it for at least a couple more weeks (I go back to the day job next week) which is enormously frustrating.

* BEEN really enjoying the three-part Comics Britannia series that's been showing on BBC Four for the past couple of weeks (it's the last one next Monday). Of course comics fans wouldn't be comics fans if they didn't find something to whine about on the internet so it hasn't surprised me in the slightest that some messageboards have been clogged with posters moaning about various aspects of the series.

Some are enraged that the series started with the creation of The Beano and The Dandy in 1938 rather than delving back further into the history of British comics, while others have thrown a strop because their own particular favourite characters haven't been featured.

Of course the problem is that the show's makers have just three one-hour shows into which they must fit almost 70 years of history. They need to edit down and make sense of a huge amount of material and, as a result, they've clearly had to miss a lot of stuff out, cut the odd factual corner and generalise quite a bit.

It's also true to say that many of the people who are going to be watching possess only a rudimentary knowledge of comics (at best), so concentrating on titles and characters that were the best known seems a perfectly sound approach to me.

All in all, as an introduction to and celebration of British comics, it's something I find almost impossible to criticise. The contributions of Posy Simmonds, Alan Moore and Leo Baxendale have been particularly fascinating.

The shining jewel in the Comics Britannia season's crown so far though has been Jonathan Ross' documentary In Search Of Steve Ditko about the chat show host's bid to track down the reclusive artist. It provides a detailed history and analysis of Ditko's work and Ayn Rand-inspired beliefs, but also delves into the reasons for his break with Marvel and fractious relationship with Stan Lee.

Look out for the uncomfortable but undeniably rivetting moment when Ross interviews Lee himself and presses him on Ditko's (thoroughly reasonable) claims to be Spider-Man's co-creator.

The Ditko doc is repeated on BBC Four at various times this week and you can see clips from Comics Britannia here:

Friday, September 14, 2007

Check out my column (oo-er)

INDIE review is the name of a new website dedicated to promoting the work of British indie and small press publishers launching this weekend. You'll find it here:

It's going to carry reviews, interviews, articles, publisher and creator information, plus a few regular columns - one of which is going to be written by me. To be honest, my column is going to be a very straightforward thing - just hints and tips about self-publishing really with a few shameless plugs for my comics thrown in for good measure. I'm horribly busy but should be able to bang out a thousand words or so once a month. The first one is called Starting Out and is really just a checklist of things would-be self-publishers should consider before they leap into the fray.

The last regular column I wrote was a few years ago under a pseudonym for a comics magazine. Unlike the new Indie Review gig it was an opinion column and despite writing a couple of pieces of which I'm still quite proud, I soon fell into the trap of being controversial just for the sake of it. I figured getting people's backs up was the way to go and actually rather enjoyed the brief notoriety it brought my columnist alter-ego.

Unfortunately once you've annoyed, say, 100 people one month the temptation is to trump that the following month by saying something even more controversial and contrary. Looking back at many of those columns now they could easily have been written by someone who actually despises comics and most of the people involved in them, which is so not me.

* I HAVEN'T had a very productive week on the writing front. Went out Monday night with my old friend Lucy and got enormously drunk which resulted in my first hangover for two years. It was an absolute bastard as well, took me all day Tuesday to recover.

Last night I took the wife to see Prince in London and he was simply bloody marvellous - was on for the best part of two hours, had a band tighter than a gnat's chuff and played some of my favourite songs in the world ever ("When Doves Cry", "Take Me With You" and "If I Was Ur Girlfriend" among them). Elton John turned up for one of the encores and sang "Long And Winding Road" with the Purple One accompanying him on guitar.

A great evening but next week needs to be about ten times more productive than this one has been. The Tim Skinner script remains barely half-finished and I haven't even started the script for the Robots anthology yet. Agargh!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rapping refrigerator

THE script for Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag proceeds steadily if not at quite the pace I'd hoped it would. I'm now 15 pages in with another 13 or so to do. I know all the scenes I want to get in there and how it all ends, it's now just a matter of finishing that first draft before spending a few days polishing it up. And, to be honest, some of it needs quite a bit of polishing.

At the moment I'm writing a scene involving a rapping refrigerator. Honestly.

* FINALLY saw Superman Returns over the weekend and was hugely disappointed. Brandan Routh and Kate Bosworth are no substitute for Chris Reeve and Margot Kidder, the whole "Superman's son" thing was plain annoying and what kind of twit writes a Superman script in which Superman doesn't actually hit anything?

The only elements to savour in the wretched flick's bloated 154-minute running time were Kevin Spacey's satisfyingly vicious turn as Lex Luthor and a genuinely thrilling scene in which Supes prevents a passenger-packed Boeing 747 from ploughing into a baseball stadium. I liked it more than Superman IV: The Quest For Peace but that's about as positive as I can get...

* OFF into London tonight to meet up with my friend Lucy who I haven't seen since my university days (around 15 years ago to be exact). I'm genuinely hopeless at staying in touch with people, mainly because I've moved around a lot in the last 15 years but also because I'm lazy and forgetful. You don't contact someone for six months, which quickly becomes a year. Then, before you know it, a decade passes and you're berating yourself for losing a friendship that was supposed to mean something to you.

Anyway, I Googled Lucy back in January, found her instantly and we've exchanged the odd email since. Lucy is one of the most thoroughly decent people I've ever met so I'm really looking forward to seeing her.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Of mice and men

ARRIVED home from work at 11 last night and finally slinked into bed around midnight after saving a tiny mouse from my cats who'd brought him in from the garden. Chased them off but the mouse gave me the slip. Having worked eight nine-hour shifts at the Mirror in the last nine days I was utterly knackered so the last thing I needed was to be woken up several times (three? five?) in the night by my youngest son Connor crying about God knows what. I then had to get up again to chase the cats away from the mouse who they'd managed to corner in the hall for a second time.

This time I successfully captured the terrified creature and put him in an old comic box in the study. All this before six o'clock this morning. At seven I rose to the sound of Connor having total hysterics about bugger all (that boy ain't right, as Hank Hill would say). One severe bollocking followed before we bathed the boys and long-suffering Jen carted them off to nursery on her way to work.

In my woozy, in-desperare-need-of-sleep state I'd completely forgotten the mouse... until he appeared a couple of minutes ago on my computer keyboard just as I was about to start typing this. I've just returned him to the garden (well, next door's garden) where he shall hopefully live out the rest of his mousey days free from feline molestation.

Anyhoo, today's the first day of my two-week "holiday" from the day job. I'm putting "holiday" in inverted commas as there won't be a lot of holidaying going on. Rather, I'm going to be smashing my way through the rest of the Tim Skinner script, bashing out a story for Accent UK's Robots anthology and making sure I'm up to date with the lettering for Nat and Ryan's Carson City project.

In between all that I'm going to see Prince in London (the first gig I'll have attended since seeing, erm, Elton John in Las Vegas in 2004) and hoping to catch up with friends on a couple of nights, too.

Because of my North Wales break and tough fortnight at the day job, I haven't written a single line of comic script in three weeks. I'm feeling a little rusty and I'll probably spend most of today trying to get back into some sort of writing rhythm (as well as mucking about on the 'net and reading comics, obviously).

Now then, TO WORK!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Zombies in Previews

THE Zombies anthology containing my "Pop Zombies" story with Natalie Sandells appears in this month's Previews catalogue (September).

And if that isn't enough reason to order a copy from your local comic shop, the book features 29 other terrifically terror-packed tales from the likes of Kieron Gillen (Phonogram), Leah Moore and John Reppion (Albion) and Jason Cobley (Bulldog Adventure Magazine). The cover (above) is by former Swamp Thing artist Steve Bissette.

You'll find Zombies on page 211 of Previews under ACCENT UK - 168 pages for a measly $10 (a bit over a fiver). Next to it is Dave West and Andy Bloor's Wolfmen graphic novel which is well worth ordering too.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


A few pictures from the holiday in North Wales...

Me, looking vaguely human for once, standing beside the steam train upon which we travelled up Mount Snowdon.

A spectacular view from around three-quarters of the way up Snowdon.

My lovely missus Jen, and Connor, the world's most appallingly behaved two-year-old.

Dylan after having his face painted at Chester Zoo. He's a bat.

The magnificent Conwy Castle...

... and again.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

SFX review

NICE review of Blood Psi, courtesy of "Charlie Hodge", in this month's SFX (#161). I'm particularly pleased as the mag doesn't often feature UK indie books - in fact the last one I seem to remember them reviewing was the Brodie's Law trade. I reckon Blood Psi has now been better reviewed than Hero Killers which is saying something as HK got some very good press

* I'VE been getting a lot of enquiries recently about publishing other people's comics and graphic novels, including one from illustrator Phill Evans, who is one of my oldest and dearest friends.

Unfortunately, I've had to say no to all of them for the simple reason that I've barely got enough time to devote to writing, publishing and marketing my own stuff let alone making space in my schedule for the work of other people.

It's a real shame as there's a lot of good stuff out there and I feel a bit of a git for turning people down. Sadly, other than pointing creators in the direction of Barry Renshaw (Engine Comics) or Shane Chebsey (Scar Comics), there isn't much I can do about it...

* ABOUT five years ago I was contacted by a fella called Matt Yeo. Matt had recently set up a comics news and reviews website called on which he wrote a lovely review of the first Devilchild volume (he gave the book 10/10). Matt also planned to self-publish a regular anthology title, even getting to the stage of sending out a dummy edition.

Then it all went quiet. I checked the Bullet Proof website occasionally to see if it had been updated but quickly assumed Matt had simply lost interest in all things comicy and moved on. Imagine my surprise then, when, a couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Matt saying that issue #1 of Bullet Proof was not only finished, but printed and ready to be sent out into the world.

Having now had a chance to see a copy, I heartily recommend it. There's a really nice mix of styles and genres that brought to mind the kind of feel that Warrior was going for way back when. Highlights from the first issue include "Funguys" by Alans Grant and Burrows (two sentient, time-travelling mushrooms gatecrash the Last Supper); "Occultus" (gorgeous art by David Hankin); "Armageddon Patrol" (superheroes in the Vietnam war); "Magpie" (super-powered females kick the crap out of each other in a dystopian future), and "Out Of The Box" (a self-contained short set in the world of boxing with a pleasing twist). All in all there's something in Bullet Proof #1 for comics fans of every stripe.

The Bullet Proof website is in desperate need of an update but you should be able to order a copy there.

* THE mini-series I mentioned in my last post now has an artist. We're going to meet up at the Birmingham International Comics Show (BICS) in October, by which time I should have written up character descriptions and plot outlines of all three issues. Rather excited about this one as it's completely different to anything I've done before.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Look, they're ninjas!"

Five cool things about my week holidaying in Wales...

1. North Wales is bloody lovely - particularly enjoyed Conwy Castle, Llandudno and the steam train ride up Yr Wyddfa (that's Mount Snowdon to those of us who don't speak Welsh).
2. Came up with a nice idea for a new mini-series while I was away and am hoping one of the people I met at Bristol will be up for drawing it. It would certainly suit his style.
3. After the first two days in which it did nothing but piss down with rain, the weather brightened up and was gorgeous for the rest of the week.
4. The Twilight Zone at Chester Zoo. It's full of bats and you're in there with them as they swoop and dart only a few feet from your head.
5. My son Dylan gave me the biggest laugh of the week when three Muslim women dressed in black burqas walked past us. Very loudly and within only a few feet of them, he exclaimed: "Look, they're ninjas." Oh, how they chuckled...

Five crap things about my week holidaying in Wales...

1. Our children - Dylan and Connor - were appallingly behaved. My wife Jen is one of the most level-headed and patient people I've ever met and even she wanted to wallop the pair of them by the second day!
2. The journey to North Wales was utter hell - torrential rain at some points and we narrowly avoided being in a nasty accident when some fucktard took a corner too fast and hit the car just behind us.
3. The journey back to Southend was utter hell - no torrential rain or nasty accidents this time, just loads and loads of delays on the M1.
4. Our accommodation for the week came courtesy of a holiday camp (a freebie I got through the day job). Let's just say the place confirmed every negative stereotype I've ever had about such places and leave it at that.
5. A week away meant a week without email, the internet or comics - however did I cope?

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I'M off on holiday for a week tomorrow - just North Wales, we can't afford anywhere grand.

It'll be the first holiday I've had in three years and our first holiday as a family. When I get back, I've got a couple of tough weeks at work but then I'm off for another fortnight. Not that I'll be sitting on my arse drinking tea and watching DVDs (well, there will be a fair amount of that) as I've got shed loads of comics-related stuff to get on with.

Finishing the Tim Skinner script is going to be top priority, but I also want to bash out my story for the Robots anthology, catch up on Carson City lettering for Nat and Ryan, and put a serious dent in the pile of unread comics currently cluttering up the study. I have a horrible feeling I'm about two years behind on Hellblazer and 18 months behind on The Punisher. I never even started 52.

I'm also hoping to get into central London for an afternoon/evening to see Joel, Nat and Sean, none of whom I've laid eyes on since Bristol.

* ON the subject of the story for Robots, it looks like I've finally got an idea that might work quite nicely and contain some interesting stuff for artist Mikey Ball to draw.

* ALL being well I'm going to be submitting three completed new projects to Diamond late this year or early next - Septic Isle (graphic novella), Brothers (two-part mini-series) and Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag (one-shot). The idea for 2008 is to try and get something new out at least every couple of months which would be a massive increase in productivity for Moonface Press. It's eminently do-able though as I'm writing quicker than ever and am working with some cracking artists who want to see these projects out there as badly as I do.

* AFTER Skinner wraps the aim is to write two more one-shots before the end of the year. First up will probably be KURSS which I've been promising to artist Duncan Nimmo for over a year.

* AND FINALLY... you know you're getting old when your heroes start dying. First Strummer, then Peel and now Factory Records' boss Tony Wilson. Ferociously intelligent and a genuine cultural innovator, his legacy speaks for itself really - Joy Division, New Order, Madchester, Happy Mondays, The Hacienda and A Certain Ratio. Rest in peace, you pretentious old sod.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tripwire etc.

THE Tripwire annual featuring my interview with Alan Moore hit comic stores in the US and UK this week. It's nowhere near the strongest piece I've ever written (I put off transcribing it for ages and then had to get it all done in a big hurry) but trust me when I say Alan waxing lyrical about The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, his new novel Jerusalem, his appearance on The Simpsons and his pull-no-punches views on The Watchmen movie make the 132-page book well worth splashing 10 quid (15 bucks) on. The annual also features great stuff on Hellboy, The Simpsons, Heroes, Hellblazer and 2000AD. That's Duncan Fegredo's cover above.
* I'M having enormous fun with the Tim Skinner script. The titular character has already done some thoroughly unspeakable things and I'm not even halfway through yet. It's quite theraputic to write such an utter, utter scumbag with no redeeming features. In fact, other than making it funny, the biggest challenge so far has been to stop myself reigning in Skinner's more excessive behaviour. He works best when he's bad to the bone.

I guess it would be easy to turn such a project into one big snark-fest, using it to stick the boot into those comics and creators for which I don't especially care but that isn't the way it's turned out at all. Oddly enough, everything being mercilessly lampooned in Skinner is something I have genuine affection for. Let's hope the book's numerous targets see it that way too.

There won't be much time to work on Skinner in the next couple of weeks as I'm off on holiday next weekend. It'll be wrapped up in September, though, and then it'll be time to revisit my currently stalled short story for the Robots anthology before making a start on either Kurss or Razor Snakes...

* IT looks like Blood Psi artist Keith Burns and I will be working together again in the new year. I've got an idea for a one-shot graphic novella that would suit Keith's "abstract noir" art style perfectly. I'll reveal more about the project later in the year.

* ARTIST Mick Trimble is zipping through the pages now on Septic Isle. He has around a quarter of it done and I think we'll be good to go for January when I plan to submit a fully lettered dummy of the book to Diamond.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Lovely review

There's a very generous and positive review of Blood Psi by Tonya Crawford right here:

Highlights include: "Winter does a wonderful job with this story. He crafts an entire world for these supernatural creatures within just a few pages and he does it without ever being heavy handed or overly expository" and "Keith Burns, the artist for this title, also brings in a unique style. He utilizes angles and planes to give many panels the appearance and feel of abstract art."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Megazine mention

There's a nice mention of Blood Psi in this month's Judge Dredd Megazine (Meg 261, August 2007), above.

* Artist Declan Shalvey and I have just started work on a new one-shot project together. I'm prepared to say no more at this stage other than that it definitely isn't a follow-up to the Eagle Award-winning Hero Killers. That said, I do now have a story in place which would act as a kind of sequel to HK and will probably tackle it at some point in the new year.

* Took my eldest son to see the Transformers movie yesterday. It's stupidly long, the amount of product placement is obscene and hardly any of the humour works at all. But the CGI on show is little short of astonishing - there's a sequence towards the end when Optimus and Megatron are kicking the crap out of each other and they plough right through the middle of a skyscraper that actually made me want to jump out of my seat and cheer so impressive is it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

California scheming

At some point in the next couple of days, my good friend Tripwire editor Joel Meadows will be wending his weary way back to Blighty after attending the San Diego Comic Con. He goes every year and always seems to have a total blast. Of course I'm horribly jealous and would love to go myself, even if it's just once to see if it lives up to the hype.

The thing is though if I'm going to spend 1500 quid on a hotel, flight and other fripperies I might as well go the whole hog and get an exhibitor's table there too. I realise I wouldn't have a prayer of making my money back but it might be worth it for the increased exposure such a huge event could bring me and my work (SDCC attracts tens of thousands of punters rather than the 2,000-3,000 I'm used to at Bristol).

Recently I was talking to Daley Osiyemi (one of the creators behind the excellent Brodie's Law comic series). Daley exhibited at San Diego in 2005 and it was there that he and David Bircham were approached about making a Brodie's Law movie. Two years later, Reny Harlin's firmly ensconced in the director's chair and the likes of Jason Statham and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are being touted for the role of Jack Brodie.

I wouldn't be so naive as to suggest the same is likely to happen for Blood Psi or Septic Isle, but if San Diego is anything it's the biggest shop window a comic writer can ever hope to have in which to display his work. Things have taken off a bit in the last 12 months or so for me and Moonface Press so maybe it's time to stop pissing about and head over to the big boys' playground and see for myself how rough and tough it is there.

I was hoping to do a US convention next year anyway but had considered New York in April to be my most likely destination. Thing is, a lot of my new stuff (Septic Isle, Brothers, Tim Skinner) probably won't be ready until just after that so San Diego makes sense on that score too. To attend SDCC armed with copies of Hero Killers and Blood Psi would be cool, but to go armed with six or seven titles would, I suspect, be a hell of a lot more impressive.

As Warren Ellis wrote in his Bad Signal yesterday, "This is so clearly a record-breaking year for the San Diego con. And, interestingly, they seem to have stood the traffic increase without anything breaking." All in all, I don't think it's any longer a question of can I afford to go to San Diego, but can I afford not to?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Septic Isle

Here's an unlettered art page from the SEPTIC ISLE "graphic novella" Mick Trimble and I are working on for release next year. A flat packed to the gills with Nazi regalia - whatever can it mean?

* Around 400 people attended James Redington's funeral in Harlow, Essex yesterday (100 of them in Superman T-shirts) - I was there with artist Jamie Richards, another pal of James'. In fact there were so many people in attendance the church wasn't big enough to hold them all - instead, around half the congregation had to be accommodated in the church hall instead, watching the funeral on a large video screen. A great send-off for a genuinely great bloke.

Friday, July 20, 2007


I'm currently in the middle of a marathon stint at the day job - working eight out of nine days with each day involving a knackering nine hour shift. I generally get home around 10.30pm, eat, watch that evening's Daily Show on Sky+ and then crawl into bed cursing and aching. I then get around seven hours sleep before having to drag myself out of the pit to help bath Dylan and Connor who, at that time of the morning, only have two settings - loud and, er, louder.

The good thing is that it's late July and I'm yet to take a single day's paid holiday from work, meaning I have 28 to take between now and the end of the year. The family and I are disappearing to Wales for our first holiday together towards the end of August and then I'm off for two weeks in both September and October. There will be a big recharging of batteries but I'm also hoping to get a lot of work done. I still have three one-shots and a short story to get finished before the end of the year and I'm determined to stick to that schedule.

* Blood Psi hit comic stores in the States on Wednesday - a week before I expected it to. As ever I'd have liked to get more advance publicity for the book but we probably did better on that front than with Hero Killers. Still, it's the one area of the operation that could be a lot stronger and I'm going to be pushing like crazy to get coverage on CBR and Newsarama for Septic Isle, Brothers and Tim Skinner .

* A few of my favourite blogs right now...
Jane Espenson used to write for Buffy and is now an executive producer type bigwig on Battlestar Galactica. She offers up loads of excellent advice for TV writers but many of her tips can be easily adapted for any type of creative writing, including comics.
Yep, the guy who wrote the Human Nature/Family Of Blood Doctor Who two-parter and Marvel's excellent Wisdom mini-series. A lovely bloke by all accounts.
David Bishop is the writer of the new Thrill-Power Overload book about the history of 2000AD. He also has lots of interesting stuff to say about writing, TV, film and comics.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Unfinished File Of Doom

Progress has been painfully slow on the writing front this week. The plan had been to finish the script for my story in the Robots anthology, but I came within a few panels of the end and decided the pay-off I'd got in mind just wasn't strong enough. I had a go at taking the story in a slightly different direction but that didn't work either. I'm now going to sit on the script for a few days and see if I can work out a better way to wrap it up, otherwise it will join a host of other ideas and script fragments in the "Unfinished file of doom" that sits on my desktop. It will also mean I need to come up with another idea for the Robots project smartish...

On a slightly more positive note, I've started work on the Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag one-shot. I'm only a few pages in but I'm already enjoying myself. For anyone who doesn't know, the story's premise is that Tim Skinner is an astoundingly horrible individual who owns a magic comicbook collection. From time to time, Skinner is physically sucked into one of the comics and, once there, can interract with the characters he meets. However, for Skinner, "interacting" usually means mocking, exploiting and brutalising them for shits and giggles.

The story gives me a perfect opportunity to satirise the comicbook industry. It was Superman, Lex Luthor and Lois Lane in the first Skinner story (in 2005's SHRIEK! one-shot) but this time I'm going to be casting my net of cheap shots and puerile humour a little wider to embrace a host of much-loved comics, characters and creators. Oddly enough, a lot of the best gags I've got in mind actually have people I rather admire squarely in their line of fire...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rest In Peace, James

I didn't know James Redington very well but certainly well enough to call him my friend. We first met a few years ago at one of the Bristol Expos and I was immediately struck by his incredible enthusiasm and "can do" attitude.

He was soon channelling his energies and talents into his own indy publishing concern - Portent Comics - enthusing everyone around him with his ideas and passion. He was amazingly prolific, banging out new titles left, right and centre, many of them written by him and in a wealth of genres. It was impossible not to be impressed, and my wallet was always a little lighter after a visit to the Portent table!

Between conventions we'd keep in touch via email, usually to see what new projects the other had got on and to compare notes about the comics-related events we'd recently attended. Bizarrely, I'd emailed James only a few hours before finding out about his death (I was angling for a plug for one of my books in his new SBC column). One of those strange coincidences, I guess.

The British indy comics scene is going to be considerably poorer without James in it. He was a really lovely fella and I never met anyone with a bad word to say about him. Likewise, I never heard him say a bad word about anyone else. He had everyone's respect, admiration and love.

James' passing at the age of 28 has been a terrible shock. I looked at my own two beautiful sons this morning and wondered how on earth I'd find the strength to carry on if anything happened to either of them. I can only imagine then the torment James' parents are going through right now. For what it's worth, I offer them my sincere condolences.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Blood Psi interview

There's an interview with artist Keith Burns and I over at to plug the forthcoming release of Blood Psi. We're the second item down on the site's home page ("One And Done - An Interview With Andy Winter And Keith Burns").

In the interview, I reveal which obscure foe I'd bring back if I ever got to write a Batman story, and Keith waxes lyrical about his new home in Hong Kong.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Got Blood Psi back from the printer on Monday and very nice it looks too. It's 32 pages, no ads, all for $3.50/£2.20. Comic stores in Britain seem to have it already (at least my LCS in Southend does). US readers have to wait until Wednesday, July 25 though.

* Take a look at this month's Judge Dredd Megazine (#260, 24 July). It contains a short story illustrated by Declan Shalvey, who you might just remember drew the Eagle Award-winning Hero Killers.

* Got a few days off work so, amongst other things, I will be finishing off my short story for Accent UK's Robots anthology. Mikey B will be illustrating it - check out his rather excellent work here:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Back to the grind

The reason I haven't been posting much recently is because I've had a couple of weeks away from writing comics. In week one I had to finish up my Alan Moore piece for the forthcoming Tripwire annual, and last week I just took the opportunity to recharge my batteries (this involved reading comics, watching DVDs and generally mooching around at home).

To be honest, working long shifts four days a week at the newspaper and writing comics on my days off has taken a toll on me of late. I've been horribly rundown and clearly needed to take things down a notch for a while.

Anyway, I'm feeling much better now so intend to bang out a couple of short stories this week and next (one of which should end up in Accent UK's Robots anthology), before launching full-tilt into my next one-shot: Tim Skinner: Total Wanker. Actually, I might change the "Total Wanker" bit in the title to something a little more reader friendly, but we shall see...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Blood Psi in CI

Here's a nice half-page news story taken from the latest issue of Comics International (#202) about my forthcoming one-shot Blood Psi.

There's also a review from Kelvin Green in there, which gives the book 8 out of 10: "Keith Burns turns in crisp and moody black and white art that fits the tone of the story very well... Andy Winter makes good use of the one-shot format to produce a tightly plotted story..."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Blood Psi numbers

Got the Blood Psi order numbers from Diamond yesterday. Comfortably over 1,000, which is well up on what Hero Killers did. Not bad for a black and white book by a bunch of unknowns from a tiny British indie publisher.

The book hits stores on July 25 (or thereabouts), it's 32 pages, with no ads for $3.50/£2.20.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Brothers - 10 fascinating(ish) facts

1) The titular brothers are Phil and Tom Burgess, two super-powered Brits. Phil is Firework, a boozy bad boy who can shoot blasts of searing hot flame from his fingertips and fly. Tom is Empire State Human, a straight-arrow nice guy who can grow to 6o feet in height. They enjoy a love/hate relationship that constantly and inconveniently impacts on all those around them.

2) I was prompted to write the book after noticing how few sets of brothers there were featured in mainstream superhero comics. Brother/sister relationships we have in abundance (Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, Johnny and Sue Storm, Northstar and Aurora) but, apart from Scott and Alex Summers (aka Cyclops and Havok), I've been struggling to think of any other pairs of male siblings running about in the DC or Marvel universe.

3) Tom and Phil are members of a superhero team. They were originally called Crime Crushers (too naff), then The League Of London (too unoriginal), before I settled on The Great Britons. The name was "inspired" by a phenomenally shit awards show I saw recently on ITV1. There was a poll in which people could phone in and vote for their "Greatest Briton". The eventual top three were 3) Margaret Thatcher; 2) Robbie Williams; 1) The Queen. Astonishingly for a staunch Republican, the ghastly German woman is the person on that list I'd least like to punch in the face.

4) The other members of The Great Britons are Lady Lovebomb, Decapitator, Futurehead and Gentleman Jim Bones.

5) Brothers is set in London. When I was a kid and comics were as important to me as oxygen, Spider-Man 's New York seemed like the most amazing, exotic place on Earth, with its amazing skyscrapers and super-powered punch-ups. One of my aims with Brothers is to make London seem similarly amazing and exotic – that's why the Canary Wharf development (ooh, skyscrapers) and the Sir Norman Foster Building (aka "The Gherkin") are both featured prominently in the story.

6) The main villain in the book is a rampaging man-beast called Bloodbath. He's a horrifying monster capable of enormous acts of violence but also the victim of "shadowy powers".

7) The script contains a sneaky reference to Blackadder The Third. I bet no one picks up on it.

8) There's a high body count – and a couple of the deaths are truly bloody horrible.

9) Part of the story's premise is that there are only seven super-powered individuals in the UK – the six members of the Great Britons and Bloodbath. This "supes shortage" plays an integral role as the story unfolds.

10) Artist Will Sliney and I have decided to bring out the book as a two-part US format mini-series rather than the previously-mentioned prestige one-shot. It'll be Moonface Press' very first mini, with each part probably running to 28 pages.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


The script to Brothers is finished and with artist Will Sliney. It's a pretty kickass super-team tale with a heart that's nearly as dark as Hero Killers'.

I toyed with the idea of doing it as a two-issue mini-series but eventually opted for the same format as Septic Isle instead - a 52-page, perfect-bound, US format graphic novella. It'll probably retail for £5/$9.

So that's three one-shot scripts I now have out there with artists (Septic Isle and the long-delayed football tale Scoregasm! are the other two). Knowing my luck they'll all be finished at exactly the same time and I'll have to sell one of my children to finance their printing and promotion.

With Brothers done and dusted, I'm now going to finish off the Alan Moore piece for Tripwire and then crack on with a couple of short stories (one for Accent UK's 2008 Robots anthology). That should take me to the end of June, after which I'll spend the rest of the year slaving over three more one-shot titles - the aforementioned Tim Skinner, Razor Snakes and KURSS. The aim would be to have those three wrapped for the end of December.

2008 is already shaping up to be a busy one - projects with Mikey B and (I really, really hope) Keith Burns, plus a second installment of Jacob Marley, the manga-style book I've mentioned on here before, plus a supervillain project that definitely isn't a sequel to Hero Killers. Phew!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Brothers, Zombies and Small Press (spit!)

The second sweep through the Brothers script is now complete and I'm about 70 per cent happy with it. There are still bits of the plot and characterisation that need tightening up but it's definitely moving in the right direction. I'm now going to put it aside for a week or so to crack on with writing up the Alan Moore piece for Tripwire. I've missed a couple of deadlines for its delivery already.

To be honest, it'll probably be the last piece of comics journalism I do for the forseeable future; not because I don't enjoy it, but rather because there aren't enough hours in the day to devote to anything else beyond my full-time job, young family and comics writing. I want to get a minimum of three more one-shot scripts finished this year (plus a few shorts) and really don't need any more distractions.

* There's a glowing review of Blood Psi over at

Reviewer Joshua Pantalleresco gives the book 5 out of 5. The only problem is that for some utterly inexplicable reason the site is using the book's original cover to illustrate the review rather than Declan Shalvey 's new one. The review went up last Wednesday and, despite several requests to change it, the old cover remains defiantly in place five days on. Still, it's a hugely positive review so I'm not going to get too upset about it.

* There's an interesting debate going on over at the Quality Communications Yahoo Group forum about what constitutes a comic being "small press" or "Indy". The only thing I have to add to the argument is that "small press" is a term I've come to despise. It makes the UK self-publishing scene sound so bloody twee and inoffensive ("Where's the small press table, vicar?" "Between the tombola and Mrs Frobisher's cake stall."), rather than the thrilling underground DIY culture that I know it to be.

* In all the recent excitement I quite forgot to give Accent UK's Zombies book a mention, so I'll rectify that now (especially as it contains a story by Natalie Sandells and I called Pop Zombies about an undead boy band).

The first thing to say about the book is that it looks lovely - beautifully printed on thick glossy paper and all wrapped-up in a striking cover by former Swamp Thing artist Steve Bissette. It's massive too - with 41 stories filling out a bumper 166 pages. All for a modest six quid.

Of course, all of that would mean nothing if the material inside wasn't of the highest standard and Zombies doesn't disappoint in that regard. As you'd expect the best stuff comes from the pros and established indy creators like Laura Howell (her story has a hilarious twist), Kieron Gillen and Andy Bloor, Jason Cobley, Dave Baillie and Falling Sky's Ben Dixon.

Not all of it works - and there are a couple of real clunkers - but that doesn't stop Zombies being one of the most impressive anthology titles I've come across in years. The Accent UK boys are hoping to get it in comic shops through Diamond, so if you see a copy buy it and devour it!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Last one, I promise...

I didn't have my camera at the Eagles, so this piccy is nicked from Dec's blog. I haven't the foggiest who took it though...

Back to reality

You'll be undoubtedly relieved to know that Dec and I have now finished patting each other on the back about our Eagle win so it's back to reality – and for me that means trying to write some comics.

I have about half a dozen different projects at various stages of development at the moment and have already been in touch with some of the artists I met at Bristol. Hi Alma and Liam, if you're reading this!

The plan is to get Septic Isle finished and with Diamond for as early in January 2008 as we can manage. That way, if they decide to pick-up the book for distribution, it can be solicited in February or March, and I can get it printed in time to do a big launch at next year's Bristol. It will be 52 pages with a spine, and topped off by that lovely cover I posted a few weeks ago.

The first draft of Brothers is pretty much written but there'll be plenty to fix in my second sweep through it. There's a major element of the plot still not working as it should, I probably need to slim down the cast and the final third still isn't doing it for me. Not much to sort out there then! Still hoping to have it finished before the end of the month.

* Read a rather bemusing review of some of my work over the weekend in some fanzine or other. It referred to my stuff at various points as both "dreadful" and "superb". Now that's what I call keeping your options open!

Still, bad reviews don't bother me too much, 1. Because you can always learn something from them and 2. Only a deluded egomaniac expects everyone to like his work.

One thing the review did for me was crystallise something that has been floating around my head for a while. The reviewer in question really enjoyed a story I did called Tim Skinner: Total Wanker, which appeared in a horror and humour one-shot I published around 18 months ago, called SHRIEK! The printing was horrible and I didn't really think the material overall was strong enough to submit to Diamond. But the Skinner story – about a horrible scumbag who can insert himself into comicbooks and interact with the characters – was a definite hit with readers (all 100 of them) and every reviewer who's written about the book.

Anyway, I've decided to bring back Skinner at some point in the near future in his own all-singing, all-dancing one-shot. It would probably be an expanded version of the original story and feature the main character visiting comicbook worlds a bit similar to those of Judge Dredd, Transmet, Blankets and Crisis On Infinite Earths. Watch this space...

* After all my bitching and moaning, it looks like I'm going to be attending the Birmingham International Comics Show after all. It's in October this year and therefore only a few months after Blood Psi hits stores, so it might be a good opportunity to shift a few copies. I'm also interested in attending the Dublin con in November but will make a decision on that nearer the time.

* I've been slowly reading through some of my Bristol indy press purchases and have been very impressed so far.

The Wolfmen (from Accent UK Press) is a hard-boiled crime tale with some lovely art by Andy Bloor, about a criminal gang with a deep, dark, scary secret. It's short, sharp and very effective.

Falling Sky (from Scar Comics) isn't as good artwise but more than makes up for it with a cracking, beautifully-told story about the end of the world. Writer/artist Ben Dixon's definitely a talent to watch.

I've also been picking up 2000AD a fair bit lately and have been mightily impressed with Bob Byrne's Twisted Tales series that's running there at the moment. Twist ending stories have been done to death everywhere (god knows I've done my fair share), but Bob's work is brilliantly inventive and original. Check out the "Final Exams" tale in this week's prog (1537) and marvel at Bob's twisted imagination and terrific storytelling.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bristol pics

Here are a couple of pics from the weekend - there's Dec and I at the Moonface Press table on Sunday morning still basking in the glory of our Eagle win. Dec looks suave and cool. I look like someone from a special school. Nice.

Below that is a close-up of the lovely award itself. By the way, the Role of Honour award Warren Ellis won was huge - about the size of a small child by my slightly tipsy reckoning. Probably just as well he wasn't there to collect it or getting it back to his hotel room would have given him a hernia.