Friday, January 30, 2009

Very long post about Blood Psi and Diamond

I'VE just had a week away from the day job to get cracking on the Blood Psi stuff and have made pretty good progress. I finished the first draft of the story's second part yesterday and will now spend the next week tweaking and chopping it around.

I don't know how other writers do it but, for me, a first draft is never more than about 60 per cent of the way to the finished script. It's all about giving what you're writing a structure and hitting the plot points you need to in the allotted number of pages (in this case 24-25). It's in the second and third drafts that stuff like dialogue and panel descriptions take proper shape. You also become aware of plot elements that aren't really explained properly in the first draft and have to work out ways of weaving them into the story without having to rely on obvious exposition. After fight scenes, this is the thing I find trickiest.

*WHEN artist Keith Burns and I first discussed doing more Blood Psi, we thought it would take the form of a three- or four-issue mini-series. It's more likely to appear now as a graphic novel though. The main reason for that is the recent changes Diamond (the comic distributors) have made to their minimum order benchmarks. In the good old days, titles submitted to Diamond had to generate a minimum of $1500 in revenue for the company. That figure has now been raised to $2500 - a massive increase.

The implications for small publishers like myself are obvious - if low sales mean we can't get our books listed in Previews, we're pretty much screwed. I think I'm right in saying that all my books to date have exceeded the $1500 minimum but, in the new climate, expecting a four dollar mini-series by a couple of obscure UK creators to do $2500 four times on the bounce is unrealistic to say the least. Therefore doing Blood Psi as a 100-page graphic novel makes a lot more sense. If we solicited it for $10, on a 60-40 split in Diamond's favour, we'd only need 600 orders to hit the minimum benchmark; $12 and it's just 500.

Where all this leaves the raft of one-shots I'm submitting to Diamond this year I don't know. Tim Skinner is the most commercial thing I've published and boasts full-colour art from Dec so I'm hopeful that'll be picked up. Brothers is black and white but it's about superheroes and the art's gorgeous so that could go either way. Scoregasm is about football so that has about as much chance of being picked up by Diamond as I have of being picked up by Halle Berry.

So while I'm still determined to submit my stuff to Diamond and get it into Previews, I'm probably going to have to look at other ways of getting my books out there. One thing I'm going to do is check out Haven Distribution ( who, from what I can gather, carry quite a lot of indie comics stuff. I'm also going to look seriously at making my stuff available for download - either from the main Moonface site or through Eagle One Media (, a company that already have many smaller comics publishers supplying them with digital content for download.

It's all a bit scary - worst case scenario is that I could end up with no US distribution for my comics. And on that glum note...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The trouble with Tarot

MY favourite review of any comic ever, courtesy of Chris's Invincible Super-Blog...

Most definitely NOT work safe!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blood and Coolio

I'VE had a very disorganised start to the New Year but have just about caught up with correspondence and other stuff now. All that means I can get on with writing – in fact, I've already made a pretty good start.

First up is the fact that artist Keith Burns and I are going to be working on a sequel to our vampire one-shot of a couple of years ago, Blood Psi. Actually, it's rather more than just a sequel because we're also going to be revisiting the original story itself – Keith's completely redrawing it and I'm going to be tweaking the script here and there too. We'll then use that as a springboard to continue the story as a graphic novel or mini-series.

Of course, since I wrote Blood Psi back in 2005 the main character's name - Ruby - seems to have become a bit more popular, what with the Kaiser Chiefs song and all. Then there's a character called Ruby in ITV's disappointingly mediocre Demons show too. I'd hate people to think mine and Keith's Ruby was in anyway inspired by the Kaisers or poxy Demons but we were there first so the name stays.

I won't be giving too much away about the plot just yet but the second chapter is set a few months after the first and begins in a remote French farmhouse where Ruby and Rebecca are in hiding from the vampire community's very own "police force". It's round about then that the shit really hits the fan...

* YOU'D have to pay me to watch Celebrity Big Brother but I have to say Coolio's reportedly obnoxious behaviour on the show hasn't surprised me in the slightest. Back when I worked for men's magazine Maxim I had the dubious honour of doing a phone interview with the Gangster's Paradise star. It was a little bit odd to say the least.

I called to talk to him at the agreed time and we started the interview (about some shitty straight to video film he'd made), then he walked off mid-sentence and didn't come back for several minutes. This happened at least three times in the course of our chat. While he was away from the phone I could hear him having a massive row with people in the background. One such exchange ended with him screaming: "I don't have any friends, motherfucker, only acquaintances and employees."

I remember being amused that someone called Coolio wasn't actually that good at keeping his cool.

* LAST week I finally got round to getting an account on Twitter – you'll find it here:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brothers preview

HERE are a couple of unlettered pages from mine and Andy Radbourne's Brothers project. Andy's now finished all the interior art and lovely it looks, too. The book will be out for this year's Bristol Expo - probably around 60 pages (52 of story) in the same graphic novella format as Septic Isle.

The pitch for the book is "dysfunctional superheroes do Cloverfield" and the two preview pages (#4 and #6) feature Firework and Empire State Human (the brothers of our title) getting stuck in to a big fight at the London-based team's headquarters.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Welcome Matt

I MUST admit I was rooting for Paterson Joseph to be the next Doctor - mainly because he's a fine and charismatic actor but also because it would have really pissed off loads of twits on Outpost Gallifrey who seemed disgusted at the very notion of a black man playing their beloved Time Lord.

I was therefore a little knocked sideways when it was announced relative unknown Matt Smith (above) had got the nod instead and my first reaction was that he was really just David Tennant-lite. I thought the BBC had played it far too safe in casting another young, "attractive", stick-thin bloke.

But then I had another look at the Doctor Who Confidential episode in which Matt's casting was made official and reckon he's going to be a terrific Doctor. He has an off-kilter quality about him that is strangely charismatic but also quite unsettling. It's there in his looks (Dougie Howser MD channelling Lord Byron), it's there in his manner, it's there in that ridiculous ruddy haircut of his. Smith is a bit other-wordly and what could be better for the actor playing a 900-year-old alien super-being than that?

Unsurprisingly, there's already a backlash against 26-year-old Smith over at OG saying he's too young and inexperienced for the role and that, really, his casting is just a cynical attempt at appealing to teenage fangirls. It's patent nonsense, of course. If Who's new showrunner Steven Moffat's only goal had been to cast someone young and sexy he'd have gone for a kid off Hollyoaks or Skins, he certainly wouldn't have picked an actor with Smith's somewhat unconventional looks (unkind posters on certain forums are already calling him "Tefal Head").

I think it's a really exciting, bold bit of casting and I can't wait to see him fire up the TARDIS and get cracking. Alonsy!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The year ahead

I TRUST everyone had an enjoyable Christmas and New Year. Mine was so-so – mainly because I had to work Boxing Day and a couple of days over New Year but also because I fell ill on Christmas Eve with some weird stomach thing that hung around for ages.

On the plus side, I got to spend some genuine quality time with Jen and the boys and soaked up lots of enjoyable Crimbo telly, including the terrific Doctor Who special and its brilliant giant steampunk Cyberking.

I'm also enjoying the Nintendo Wii console we bought the kids a little too much and am growing quite addicted to Wii tennis. I am, however, rubbish at the boxing, something I realised when my five-year-old took precisely 30 seconds to completely demolish the game's crappest opponent who I'd barely managed to beat on points. Ahem...

I haven't been a regular gamer for around 10 years but will probably spend my Christmas HMV vouchers on this at the end of the month...

* All being well, Moonface Press will be releasing several new projects over the coming year. Hopefully Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag will find its way into Previews very soon, but beyond that there's the superhero one-shot Brothers, the artwork for which is now almost complete.

The brilliant Will Sliney was down to be the original artist on this but has ended up having to settle for well-paid work on Boom Studios' Farscape comic instead (see here). Stepping in to fill Will's enormous shoes as artist is Andy Radbourne, who I am also working with on his own title, Brit Force. Anyway, Brothers looks lovely and I can't wait to get it out there - probably for this year's Bristol Expo in May.

* ALSO likely to make its debut at Bristol is the long-delayed football-flavoured one-shot, Scoregasm (or Faster or whatever I'm going to call it). It's really close to completion now and it's probably the strangest thing I've ever written – basically it's a traditional Tiger & Scorcher-style football story like Billy's Boots seen through the cynical filter of the modern Premier League. There's a thriller element and even some super powers thrown in for good measure. God knows what people will make of it. Duane Leslie's art is very nice, too.

* BEYOND that it's back to the writing about which I'll say more soon. The Moonface website also needs a bit of an update – the home page could do with a redesign and I'd still love to get some original comics stories up there. Soon, hopefully...