Thursday, March 29, 2007

Eagle Award nomination

Hero Killers, Declan Shalvey and I's one-shot comic about super-powered assassins, has been nominated for an Eagle Award. Please go and vote for the book here:

Our category is #13: Favourite Black and White Comic - British.

That is all.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's a Rat Trap... and I've been caught!

I was hoping the fact that the phrase "Septic Isle" prominently appears in the lyrics to a Boomtown Rats song (Banana Republic, 1980) would remain a secret known only to me and the three remaining fans of the band. No such luck. I mentioned the book to Mike Carey in an email the other day and he rumbled it instantly. "Is it a reference to the Boomtown Rats' lyric?" he enquired. Agargh!

Seriously though, trying to come up with a decent title for the book that would eventually become Septic Isle turned out to be a bit tricky. Initially, I was after something punchy, evocative and preferably with the word 'England' in the title. Unfortunately, "This Is England" is the title of the new Shane Meadows film, "England's Dreaming" was nicked for Leah Moore and John Reppion's Albion, and "Made In England" was used by Warren Ellis in Desolation Jones.

Then I thought a bit beyond titles with England in them, only to encounter the same problem: "Jerusalem" is the massive novel Alan Moore is currently working on and "Wasteland" is an ongoing series from Oni! I nearly used "London's Burning" (an old song by The Clash) but knowing my luck there would be another terrorist atrocity a few days before the book's release and I'd look like a horrible, insensitive bastard! And of course London's Burning has already been the title of a terrible ITV drama about firemen in the 90s.

Anyway, despite it's Boomtown Rats connection, Septic Isle does the job just fine, mainly because it's a play on a phrase from a soliloquy in Shakespeare's Richard II...

"This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."

So there!

First among sequels

I'm seriously considering writing sequels to both Hero Killers and Blood Psi. That said, there are three major problems with me doing so.

First, I'd made it clear that both stories were standalones - "no cliffhangers, no continuing characters, no complicated continuity" was my mantra on both books. Second, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to call upon either of the original artists to work on them. Declan Shalvey (Hero Killers) is living the life of a starving artist in Aberdeen and only draws for cold hard cash these days, while Keith Burns (Blood Psi) is about to leave the country to work as an illustrator in Hong Kong. Third, I'm not going to have time to write either sequel this year and next year is already filling up with projects (a second helping of Jacob Marley for a start).

And yet I feel there was something just a little dissatisfying about the way in which both stories were left, and that the characters and situations themselves have a great deal of potential to carry on in some way.

Clearly, I need to think about this a bit more before committing myself one way or the other...

* The interview with Alan Moore last Thursday evening went very well. As expected, it was a marathon chat with me finally wishing him good night and hanging up the phone after an hour and 50 minutes.

Subjects covered included his latest bust-up with DC (not pretty!), Jerusalem (the 1,500-page novel he's currently working on), the magic book he's writing with Steve Moore, his appearance on The Simpsons, and the fact there's finally going to be a Watchmen film (he's far from impressed).

By far the biggest section of the interview concerned the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The Black Dossier is finally seeing the light of day in September (it's Alan's final work for DC/Wildstorm) with the three-issue Century following in the new year from Top Shelf. Century sounds like it's going to be great fun but I suspect it's The Black Dossier that's going to really knock people's socks off – especially if the book's 16-page 3D section turns out as mind-bogglingly brilliant as Alan and artist Kev O'Neill hope it will.

All I have to do now is transcribe it and file a 4,000 word feature based on it by the end of April. Piece of piss...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Marketing weak

This week has been all about sorting out a marketing plan for Blood Psi, before it appears in Previews. Just typing the words "marketing plan" makes me laugh as it seems to infer I have a couple of million to splash around like I'm the head of EMI or something.

In reality, I've got enough to cover a half-page, black and white ad in Previews, a direct postcard mail-out to a couple of hundred retailers and a dedicated website featuring a ten-page preview of the book. I might be able to stretch to some banner ads on comic news sites but when I did this for Hero Killers (with CBR) it wasn't very successful.

Beyond that, it's going to be all about getting actual coverage in as many places as possible. We've already had a nice preview up at SBC's All The Rage (you can see it here: and I'm working on getting similar column inches elsewhere.

I'm also about to mail out a pile of pre-print "dummy" copies of the book to comics journalists in the hope they'll give it a positive review and maybe provide me with a suitably gushing quote I can use in press releases and other publicity.

* I realised the other day that the Bristol Comics Expo is barely a month and a half away. I'm not sure how it's going to go this year as I have nothing new to sell at all (the new version of Blood Psi won't be printed until June when I've got advance order numbers from Diamond). I was tempted to cancel the two tables I'd booked and go down as a punter rather than an exhibitor, but decided that would be a waste of a golden opportunity to publicise the books I have coming out later in the year.

I thought about printing a special Moonface Press Sampler featuring pages from Hero Killers, Blood Psi and Septic Isle but decided the 500 quid it would cost me might be better spent on printing the books themselves, especially as Septic Isle is going to cost a few quid (it's going to be a 52-page, perfect bound graphic novella).

Also, Bristol's always a good place to meet and recruit new artists (it's where I first met the likes of Declan Shalvey, Keith Burns, Mick Trimble and Duane Leslie), so I'm planning on doing a fair amount of that too.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I remember telling my wife that ITV's Saturday night sci-fi drama Primeval was going to be utter drivel and that neither of us would want to bother with it again after the first episode. My confident prediction was based on the show's premise ("Oh bloody hell, CG dinosaurs... again!"), the fact it was on ITV (the spiritual home of terrible dramas featuring ex-soap stars) and the cynical way it was marketed as the 'New Who'.

Against all odds though, Primeval turned out to be a bit of a cracker and the first season's final two episodes as good as anything Russell T Davies and co have come up with over at Who central (those magical Steven Moffat episodes excepted).

I liked the scripts (simple, direct, fun, a pleasing lack of technobabble and pop culture references); I liked the characters (little more than stereotypes at first but imbued with a bit more depth as the series wore on); I liked the love triangles (even great shows like Battlestar have those); I liked the cast (especially foxy Lucy Brown as Claudia) and I really, really liked the CG dinosaurs. In fact, the fight between the Gorgonopsid and the creature from the future in the season finale was easily as good as anything you'd see in Jurassic Park and surprisingly visceral for a Saturday tea-time.

Add to that list a couple of very successful homages (Hitchock's The Birds in episode five, Predator in the finale), plus a healthy dose of humour and a terrific cliffhanger ending, and you've got a series fully deserving of its six million viewers and speedy recommissioning.

It's just a pity that it took the success of Doctor Who to prod ITV into doing something like Primeval in the first place. Perhaps with Michael Grade now in charge, the channel will start setting the agenda a bit more instead of slavishly following successful formats.

And maybe Primeval's success will lead to the channel trying its hand at a few more sci-fi or fantasy shows – after all, let's not forget The Avengers, The Prisoner and Sapphire & Steel were all on ITV so it's hardly crazy talk.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Alan Moore knows the score

I'm doing a phone interview with Alan Moore next week and am rather looking forward to it. Mainly because he's my favourite comics writer of the last 25 years and also because I can't wait to revisit some of the subjects we covered when I last interviewed him (back in the mid-80s for KOOKS!, my music, film 'n' comics zine).

Obviously, the main thrust of the interview will be Alan's comics (Lost Girls, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, who'd win a fight between Swamp Thing and Tom Strong), but I'm also hoping to get him to talk a bit about his politics.

Back in the '80s Alan was involved with Northampton's local green group and even illustrated some promotional posters for gigs they put on to raise funds (I still have photocopies of a couple of them knocking about somewhere). Of course back then green politics were viewed as being strictly the preserve of hippies, anarchists and other long-haired ne'er do wells, a somewhat hilarious contrast to now when politicians of every hue compete unconvincingly to see who can be the most eco-friendly.

It'll be interesting to see how Alan feels about the "mainstreaming" of the green agenda and whether he views it as cynically as I suspect he might.

I'm also going to tackle him on why his material these days is seemingly less political than it was in the '80s when he wrote the brilliant Brought To Light and organised the AARGH! (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia) book to combat Section 28.

I'm conducting the interview for the latest incarnation of Tripwire magazine, which is reinventing itself as a 128-page, full-colour book retailing for around 15 bucks (a tenner over here I think). If this first effort is a success, my good pal Joel Meadows (the book's editor) plans to make it an annual event. Look out for news of the book's launch at the San Diego Comic-Con in July.

To be honest, I'd pretty much done with comics journalism (I'm far more interested in writing comics than writing about them) but it isn't every day you get the chance to talk to someone as fascinating and complex as Moore. Not that I expect to get a word in edgeways mind...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Secret identities...

I'm not sure but I think my kids are keeping something from me. A really big secret perhaps...
By the way, Dylan's the one dressed as Spidey. He's three. Connor's the miniature Superman - he's one.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


A pain in the arse week. Four days straight at work (doesn't happen very often) and a heavy cold to boot mean my output on the writing front has been non-existent. I have Tuesday and Wednesday off though, so meaningful work on Brothers can finally begin again then.

I say "again" because Brothers was one of the projects I noodled about with at various points last year without actually finishing it. Having a look through the script the other day I realised that I'd actually got about half of it written so I'm hoping to have it done, dusted and with artist Will Sliney by the end of April.
The story itself is a superhero yarn set in modern London. Brothers Tom and Phil Burgess are members of Crime Crushers (there's a good chance that name will change), England's answer to the JLA or Avengers.

Tom – aka Empire State Human – has the power to expand his size and strength exponentially, while Phil – aka Firework – can emit powerful blasts of brightly coloured energy from his fingers. Tom's a priggish square, Phil's a boozy troublemaker. They don't get on very well, something which constantly undermines Crime Crushers' ability as an effective force for good.

Tom and Phil's stormy sibling relationship has been mostly inspired by that of Noel and Liam Gallagher (with a pinch of Matthau and Lemmon's The Odd Couple thrown in for good measure). Musically, Oasis haven't particularly interested me for the best part of a decade but I've always found Noel and Liam's squabbling and merciless baiting of each other both fascinating and hilarious. It's a relationship dynamic that's an absolute gift for a writer because every scene they share together gives you the opportunity to create conflict (the essence of drama, according to many writers).

What happens though when great danger stalks the team – can Tom and Phil put aside their personal enmities and face it head-on together? You'll find out later in the year...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Septic Isle - first look

Here's an early look at Jacob Marley, the main character from SEPTIC ISLE, by artist Mick Trimble. Very nice too...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Welcome to my blog...

I'm Andy Winter and I'm going to use this blog to talk about the comics I write. I've been doing something similar here for the past six months or so but you have to be a MySpace member to see it, so I thought it was time to try and expand my audience a bit.

For anyone not familiar with my work, here's a quick rundown of what I do...

I write and publish my own comics and graphic novels under the name Moonface Press. This has been going on since 2002, when I published my first graphic novel, Devilchild Volume I: Hell Is Round The Corner. Two more volumes of Devilchild followed in 2004 and 2005 before I called it a day on the series.

Since then I've been publishing one-shot US format titles. The first of these was Hero Killers, which was released late last year, and the next is Blood Psi, which hits comic stores in July. Both Hero Killers and Blood Psi were carried by Diamond Comics Distributors. Blood Psi is solicited in May's edition of Previews.

My next published work will be a seven-page story called Pop Zombies (with artist Natalie Sandells). It's due to appear in Zombies, an anthology released by British indie publishers AccentUK in May.

Beyond that, I've just finished writing the script for Septic Isle, a gritty spy story set in post-7/7 London, and am currently working on Brothers, a superhero tale about two feuding metahuman siblings. In other words, I'm keeping really busy so should have lots to talk about here. Stick around if you're interested in finding out more about me and my work...