Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We could be Heroes

THERE'S a lovely review of mine and Duane Leslie's Scoregasm webcomic in Comic Heroes magazine, issue #9 of which is out today (October 25).

Choice quotes from Rob Power's piece include: "Leaves you gagging for more", "Breathlessly entertaining" and "Gloriously evocative black and white artwork". He also gives it four stars out of five and the review itself features three big panels of Duane's art.

In fact, so happy am I with Rob's kind words I'm willing to forgive the fact that Scoregasm is misspelled (as Scorgasm) throughout the review!

* WE'VE had a couple of other nice recent reviews, too. A four-star one from
Comics Bulletin, and the other from Ain't It Cool News. The latter is full of praise for Duane's artwork - "Leslie captures the speed, style, and excitement of football to near perfection" - and deservedly so.

* THE fact I haven't been blogging much recently isn't because I've been idle. Far from it, I'm working on three pitch samples with a trio of artists at the moment and am really looking forward to getting them 'out there'. The stories are all very different to each other and from anything I've done before (no superheroes, vampires or spies). With the artists' permission I'll post artwork up here as and when...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An extremely smart book

THE first review of Scoregasm is in and it's hugely positive. A few highlights from David O'Leary's piece over at comicrelated.com...

"This is an extremely smart book."

"Duane Leslie is a great artist with a keen eye for detail."

"I was buzzing a bit after reading this issue."

"In a perfect world, this would be a weekly comic."

Here's a link to the full review

* WHILE I'm in the mood for irksome self-congratulation, Mick Trimble recently pointed me in the direction of a link to Demonoid in which Septic Isle, the graphic novel we worked on together, is listed as one of the 'best comics of the decade/ever'.

I don't know what made me laugh more; the fact we're being mentioned in the same breath as Joss Whedon and Frank Miller, or that the heading above the list reads: MANY THANKS TO ALL THE SCANNERS WHO MADE THIS COLLECTION POSSIBLE. Yep, turns out Septic Isle's biggest fan is also an illegal downloader!

Here's the link

Friday, August 12, 2011

Scoregasm is go!

MY new football comic - Scoregasm - is now available for your delight and delectation over at www.scoregasm.co

You can read it at the site or download a PDF of the entire thing to keep. Whatever your preference, the 38-page book is totally FREE.

Scoregasm is part-homage to the football strips I grew up reading in the seventies (things like Billy's Boots, Hot Shot Hamish and, of course, Roy Of The Rovers) and part-poison pen letter to the cynicism of the modern game.

Duane Leslie has done an excellent job on the art (see above) and many thanks to Eva de la Cruz for colouring the cover and Kay Downes for her fantastic website design.

* I'M keen to do more web-based stuff and one of the projects I'm looking at would be to bring back Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag (star of 2009's critically-acclaimed one-shot). Obviously I can't ask Declan to get involved as he's somewhat busy at Marvel, but, if anyone else might be up for it, just give me a shout.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Smells like Team spirit

SEE that fresh-faced young scamp at the front there, between the girl with short hair and the big galoot in the striped shirt? That's me, from around 1986, when I worked as a presenter/reporter on a BBC Radio Northampton 'yoof' show called The Team. I hadn't laid eyes on that pic - a publicity shot for the show - in at least two decades but then a former colleague put it up on Facebook this week.

It made me feel very, very old but it also reminded me of just how good The Team was, especially in terms of the music it played - reggae, hip-hop and indie-rock were all staples of the show. We were playing the likes of Schooly D, Misty In Roots and Butthole Surfers on a Sunday night on a conservative local radio station whose usual output rarely got any more radical than the Traveling Wilburys and Kim Wilde.

The best thing about working on The Team for me, though, was that I got to interview loads of great bands and singers. I chatted to Sonic Youth, Swans, James, Danielle Dax, Zodiac Mindwarp, Steve Earle, Spacemen 3, Ruby Turner and a hundred others the sword of time has cut from my memory.

I also spoke to the silly Tory MP who tried to get the Beastie Boys banned from Britain, and Boy George's brother immediately after the Culture Club singer's heroin-related fall from grace. Best of the bunch was interviewing Rowan Atkinson at the height of his Blackadder fame. Just me and him in a radio studio for around half an hour talking comedy was heaven for a teenager who'd been a massive fan of Not The Nine O'Clock News.

Of course, it wasn't all plain sailing. There were constant arguments about the show's direction - I was firmly in the camp that believed an NME/John Peel vibe was best, others saw it as a more mainstream No Limits-style proposition. Because I was such a control freak/force of nature/total bastard back then, my side almost always got its own way which didn't exactly endear me to my colleagues. Yes, I was a dick but I always had the show's best interests at heart - at least that's what I tell myself all these years later whilst trying not to cringe at some of the terrible things I said and did.

And then there was the rather unpleasant altercation with a local band, called Stiff Lizard, whose awful single we refused to play. They got very upset and tried to attack me at a gig we put on at Northampton's Roadmender Centre. In retaliation we snapped their single in half live on air the following Sunday. God, even typing those words feels childish now. (Funnily enough, a few years later I was editing Splinter, a Northampton music magazine, in which I gave a demo by a duo called Hex a glowing review. I then went along to see them at a local pub only to discover they had both been members of Stiff Lizard!).

For its part, Radio Northampton was always pretty supportive. I think the station's suits liked having something a little edgy on their schedules, even if we landed them in trouble a couple of times (I'll never forget the on-air apology we were forced to make after cracking a joke about snooker players all taking cocaine or the horrified look on a senior producer's face when we played the Beasties' 'It's The New Style' featuring the immortal lyric, 'We told her some rhymes so she pulled up her skirt'). There were, of course, snipers and whiners who resented a bunch of ill-educated teenagers playing on their turf once a week, but they were mostly ineffectual posh twits with no bark, let alone a bite.

It seems odd now, but we never knew or even seeked to discover how many people actually listened to The Team. Frankly, we didn't give a toss. It could have been 10,000, it could have been 10. No one was interested in chasing ratings or poring over demographics; we did it because we loved it and felt we had something to say. And I think that's the reason why I'm still so proud of it.

Neil, the former colleague who posted that photo on Facebook, is threatening to upload a couple of old episodes of the show to the net and I have a horrible feeling it will sound terribly earnest, horribly dated and a bit pretentious. But, hey, being earnest and pretentious in the 80s was practically a badge of honour.

I eventually quit when I started to feel exploited (I poured my heart and soul into the show for a couple of years for little more than expenses) and realised my reputation for being 'difficult' probably meant proper employment lay elsewhere. I did more radio at university and for the BBC in York but my experience on The Team had been so enjoyable that nothing else came close to matching it, and I soon shifted my focus to magazine journalism. But that's another, not terribly interesting, story...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Slow and low, that is the tempo...

THINGS are slowly coming together on one of the projects I've been trying to get off the ground for the last few months. The artist I'm working with has done some very striking character sketches and we've decided to do a full-colour, 22-page sample to pitch to companies.

I'd originally written a 10-page script for him to draw but have spent the last week or two completely rejigging and expanding it. I haven't got much written this past week because the children have been off school and my time simply hasn't been my own, but I'm hoping to have the whole thing done and dusted very soon.

*SCOREGASM is slowly taking shape, too. Artist Duane Leslie is about halfway through lettering it and I've been talking to web designer Kay about what the host site is going to look like. Still confident of that early-August launch date.

*I'M doing the Twitter thing now so please feel free to follow me @andywinter1 - unsurprisingly, I tend to talk most about sci-fi, comics, TV and film. I occasionally say unpleasant things about Adele and David Cameron, too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bristol Expo 2011 - five thoughts...

1. NEXT year the Bristol Expo is returning to the Empire & Commonwealth Exhibition Hall (aka 'The Cowshed') and not before time. I never warmed to the 'split site' idea and it will be great to get the whole thing back under one roof. There was a real buzz about those events in the Cowshed, something that's been sorely lacking for the past few years (the word most people used to describe the Ramada event this year was 'quiet').

That said, this year's Expo really confirmed for me that my time as a self-publisher is up. I have a few interesting irons in the fire at the moment and it's them that I'll be pursuing in the coming months. Besides, I'm looking forward to attending the likes of Bristol as a punter - for a start, I might actually get the chance to talk to a few more people instead of being stuck behind a table on my own all weekend.

2. BRISTOL hotels really know how to take the piss. £2.75 for a small cup of tea in the Mercure Holland and £12.80 for three bottles of Budweiser in the Ramada. FFS!

3. SOME exhibitors didn't seem to care whether they sold any of their books or not. My table was in Hall 4 at the Mercure Holland hotel - right at the back in the spaces presumably inhabited by those of us who'd left it late to book. Chances are, this area would have been one of the last places punters visited as they made their way round the Expo and, as a result, it was quiet for a lot of the weekend.

Faced with such adversity, my reaction was to try and engage as many people as possible - I stood for the entire weekend (ouch!), said 'hi' to anyone within six feet of my table and pointed out I had a sale on. That slightly 'in your face' approach worked and I did better business than I had any right to.

However, I noticed a lot of other exhibitors near me made little or no effort to actually get people to their table. This was exemplified by the two guys sharing a pitch next to mine. They were both terrific artists with some high-quality stuff to sell, but I doubt they made a dozen sales between them all weekend. They seemed content to sit and sketch for hours at a time, occasionally breaking off to chat to friends.

I probably sound like a terrible capitalist pig for even mentioning it, but isn't the idea of being an exhibitor to get your work out there and try and make a few bob back on what it costs to actually attend in the first place?

4. IT'S been two years since I've exhibited at a comics event like the Expo and the sheer number of new small press and indie publishers that have popped up since then is astonishing. When I started self-publishing nine or ten years ago there were a couple of dozen other like-minded souls doing their own books. I bet there's a couple of hundred now, and a lot of them are very, very good.

5. I KNOW a lot of people hate them but Cosplayers really brighten up these events. My favourites this year were the rather chunky chap dressed as Deadpool and another guy done up as Strontium Dog - he even had contact lenses to give him that weird mutant dilated pupils look.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bristol weekend on its way

I HAVEN'T been to any comics-related events in around two years so am really looking forward to this weekend's Bristol International Comic & Small Press Expo. I have a table (#60 in Hall 4 at the Mercure hotel) from which I will be selling the likes of Hero Killers, Blood Psi, Septic Isle, Devilchild and Brothers for a once-in-a-lifetime sale price of just a quid each.

In fact, punters will be able to buy the entire Moonface Press back catalogue (except Shriek! and Tim Skinner which are sold out) for the princely sum of £7 - a bargain in anyone's language.

I'm also hoping to recruit a couple more artists in Bristol. I've already got two guys lined up to work on stuff I've been trying to get off the ground for ages but am keen to find a couple more collaborators for story ideas I've come up with more recently. If you're a comic-book artist and might be interested in finding out more, come and say hi.

My football-flavoured one-shot, Scoregasm!, is now being lettered by artist Duane Leslie and I'm hoping to launch it in time for the new football season in August. Watch this space for further details...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

New British Comics #3

I'VE been a bit out of the indie press loop lately so was pleasantly surprised when Karol Wiśniewski got in touch to tell me about the New British Comics anthology he edits. He was also kind enough to send me a copy of its third issue (see Lawrence Elwick's gorgeous cover above) which boasts 80 black and white pages featuring 13 different strips.

As with any anthology there is good and less-good but the former far outweighs the latter here. My favourite strips include Ink vs Paper by John Miers, a silent tale that is beautifully drawn and ingeniously constructed, and Better Living Through Distance by Dave Thomson, a bleakly amusing story about the universal nature of disappointment.

Best of the bunch for me, though, is Von Trapp by WJC. It's a nine-page vampire western that is not only atmospheric and chilling, but also boasts terrific, off-kilter art full of weird angles and odd perspectives. Loved it!

New British Comics #3 is a snip at £4. For purchase information, visit the NBC blog site at: http://newbritishcomics.blogspot.com

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The shock of the new

THERE'S a new four-page story to download over at moonfacepress.com. It's called The Saboteur and was written by me and drawn by Mick Trimble, who you may remember as my collaborator on 2008's Septic Isle one-shot.

Look for the link at the top of the Moonface home page – it's FREE to download as a PDF.

* ON the subject of new stuff, my one-shot football comic – cryptically entitled Scoregasm – should be winging its way onto the net or into print (or maybe both) in the next month or two. The brilliant Duane Leslie – whom I collaborated with on the third volume of Devilchild amongst other stuff – is the artist. Duane also did the cover, with colours provided by Eva de la Cruz (see below).

Bits of the story's DNA come directly from the kind of football stories I read as a kid in comics such as Tiger & Scorcher and Roy Of The Rovers. The strip Billy's Boots was certainly on my mind when I was writing Scoregasm, although my story operates in a very different, far more cynical world.

Blokes of a certain age should remember Billy's Boots. It was about a young boy – named Billy Dane – who had a magical pair of football boots that made him the best player on his school team. It was a fun, innocent tale full of last-minute winners, plucky underdogs overcoming the odds and scurrilous opponents who'd have been more at home in the KGB than on a school football pitch. Because of the 'magic' boots, the strip also had an almost-supernatural element (although you were never entirely sure if the boost the boots gave Billy was all in his head).

As I've inferred, Scoregasm is a whole lot darker than Billy's Boots (its sub-title is 'Sex, Secrets... and Football'). I guess it's all about the loss of innocence and perhaps reflects how my own opinion of the beautiful game has changed over the years. I LOVED football when I was a kid, was obsessed with it actually, whereas these days I find many elements of the cynical, brutish soap opera it has become thoroughly dismaying.

There are hardly any football comics these days (Striker in The Sun and very little else) so I'm hoping Scoregasm may get people talking. I'd like to reach actual football fans with it but god knows how I'm going to do that. Ideas on a postcard please...

* MY old friend Phil Hall is currently telling the story of his lifelong relationship with comics over at his blog: http://alifeincomics.blogspot.com

Three chapters in, Phil hasn't got to the really juicy stuff yet (I suspect the recollections regarding his time as News Editor at Comics International will make essential reading, as will the chapters dedicated to Borderline magazine), but it's still an enjoyable, nostalgia-tinged read that British fans of 70s Marvel and DC will find essential reading.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Event Horizon

AS I mentioned in my last post, I'm keen to attend some UK comic events this year. I was going to do BICs but 2011's event has been postponed because the organisers need to find a new venue (this is a shame because I always really enjoyed visiting Millennium Point and its museums).

Anyway, after giving it some thought, I've booked a table for the Bristol Expo (May 14-15). I intend to use the weekend to meet up with old friends, recruit a few artists and to sell off some of my remaining stock of comics. It also works out quite nicely for my missus whose sister lives in Bristol and who she hasn't seen in ages.

I've booked table 60 in Hall 1 at the Mercure Hotel (I'm next to Mirus Entertainment) so if you're attending, please come and say hello.

Monday, January 31, 2011

On a more positive note...

IT'S been an interesting start to the New Year. As I mentioned in my previous post (you know, the ranty, embittered one about how awful 2010 was), I've been talking to a film producer for a few months now about turning one of the comics I wrote and published a few years back into a movie.

Anyway, things seem to be moving in the right direction at the moment and just last week I was in London (at swanky Soho House) to meet said producer, a couple of up and coming young screenwriters and a well-known actor/director whose work I admire enormously.

The premise of the meeting was to start thrashing out a plot made up of the stuff from the original comic (which would probably only make up 15 minutes of film time), a load of new material I'd written to continue the story and a variety of ideas from everyone else. It went very well and although there's still a lot of work to be done and obstacles to overcome, I got the feeling everyone present was really committed to making this happen.

I won't be counting my chickens though. I was in a very similar position a couple of years back after being contacted by an American producer who had worked on a hugely successful '90s serial killer flick. Everything was really positive for a few months and then slowly but surely the whole project crumbled to dust. I'll get round to telling that whole sorry story one day (perhaps on here) but it still hurts just thinking about it.

* I'VE been writing some short stories recently (well, I might as well get on with something while I wait for a couple of decent, reliable comic artists to make themselves known). I haven't written prose in years and years but it's going quite well so far. It's much harder work than writing comics, where you have an artist to rely on for a lot of the tricky stuff. Anyway, I seem to have settled into a kind of horror/comedy groove and am going to have a look around to see if I can find some anthologies to submit my stuff to.

* THERE should be a new four-page comic story available for free download from moonfacepress.com in the next few weeks. It's called The Saboteur and is written by me and drawn by Mick Trimble, my collaborator on Septic Isle. It was originally intended for Accent UK's Robots anthology a few years ago but the story's original artist never got round to finishing it and Mick stepped in.