Monday, October 5, 2009

Blood Psi STILL getting great reviews!

THERE'S a lovely review of mine and Keith Burns' Blood Psi one-shot in episode seven of the Small Press Big Mouth podcast. Reviewer Stacey Whittle , who also blogs for, describes the cover and interior art as "gorgeous" and says the story is "very satisfying" and kept her guessing right until the end.

The review starts at 17 minutes 20 seconds into the podcast and you can check it out here:

You should also take a look at the SPBM blog here:

Blood Psi has been out for at least a couple of years now but a great review's a great review as far as I'm concerned.


I HAD a blast at the BICS festival in Birmingham over the weekend, catching up with lots of friends, meeting some great new people and selling loads of comics. Septic Isle and BritForce were my top sellers, suggesting punters are more interested in a meaty graphic novel-length read these days than in flimsier pamphlet-style comics.

If anything, though, the event very much underlined to me that I've really taken the self-publishing lark about as far as I can. I simply don't have the money to kick on from here, especially since Diamond's increase in their minimum order benchmark makes it harder than ever for tiny indies like me to get into Previews. Nope, my decision to concentrate on my writing and slowly run down the publishing side of what I do is, I think, the only one that makes sense right now.

To that end, on the Saturday morning I met with one of the artists with whom I'm going to be pitching to companies and we agreed a way forward for our project. I'm really excited about working with this particular illustrator (whose identity will remain a secret for now) and about the project itself. The plan is to get the 'pitch package' ready to show to people at the Bristol Expo next May.

I also met a young artist called Matt Birks whose work is terrific (strong storytelling, great design sense) and I'm keen to collaborate with him on a pitch, too.

I probably won't stop publishing altogether at this stage - BritForce's creator Andy Radbourne is keen to do a second issue and I might do the odd thing to keep my hand in just to sell at cons. But I'm not sure right now whether I'll be exhibiting at Bristol and Birmingham next year or whether I shall just attend as a regular punter/aspiring writer. I have to say it would be very nice to go to a comics convention and not spend all weekend stood behind a table endlessly spouting the same sales pitches for my comics. It's given me a sore throat and aching legs this year...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

BICS bits

I'M off to Birmingham tomorrow for the British International Comics Show - or BICS as it's better known. I have a table there as usual and Brothers and BritForce will both be making their BICS debuts. These are going to be the last titles I publish for the timebeing as I'm going to be concentrating on pitching projects to other publishers instead of putting out my own stuff.

As far as that goes I have three outlines with artists right now and the plan is to get proper 'proposal packs' together to show editors and publishers next year. I'm keen that this stuff shouldn't be rushed as I want to make all of the proposals as slick and professional as possible. I've certainly found three terrific artists to work on them with me, one of whom I shall be meeting up with in Birmingham to discuss our collaboration in a bit more depth.

In the meantime, new stories will continue to appear from me on the Moonface website - Mongo, Music Critic is already up there and will be joined in due course by a couple of other tales, one of which will be drawn by my old Septic Isle collaborator Mick Trimble.

After a very lazy summer - the kids being around gave me an excuse to do bugger all on the writing front - I'm keen to really get back into things. I've done a fair bit of work on another story idea but need to retool it a bit, while another couple are at the 'very roughly sketched out in my head' stage. After BICS I have a couple of weeks off work and intend to use them to get some of this stuff up and running...

Monday, September 7, 2009

All Hail Mongo!

MONGO, MUSIC CRITIC, my collaboration with artist Tommie Kelly, is now available to download for FREE as a PDF at

Mongo is a violent alien warlord with a sideline in scathing music journalism. All Earthlings must tremble before Mongo's might - especially those in terrible emo and indie bands.

Tommie is the creator of the frequently hilarious Road Crew comic strip, which you'll find here:

The first collection of Road Crew strips in book form - called Electric LadyLand - is now available for pre-order from that site, too.

Hopefully, Mongo will be the first of many free strips going up on the Moonface site. In fact, if there are any artists out there who'd like to collaborate with me on one, please get in touch. The strips will all be under 10 pages in length and I have scripts ready to send out right now...

There's a good chance an extra-special version of the now completely-sold-out one-shot TIM SKINNER: TOTAL SCUMBAG by 28 Days Later artist Declan Shalvey and I will be made available on the site at some point, too, although I shall probably charge a quid or so for people to download that.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Holding pattern

APOLOGIES for the lack of updates in the past month but the kids have been off school for what feels like an eternity (roll on September!) and my time is at even more of a premium than usual. And, to be honest, there hasn't been loads to report anyway...

Work on the Kurse proposal continues apace and I'm a bit nearer to naming the artists I'll be teaming up with on further pitches but that's about it really. All told, when the dust settles, I should have at least three or four things to show editors and publishers over the next year or so. The good thing is that the projects are all pretty diverse, spanning a couple of different flavours of sci-fi, a bit of comedy and some other tomfoolery I don't really have a name for yet.

One of the sci-fi projects is the post-alien invasion story I mentioned in passing a while back. Just waiting for the potential artist to get back to me and say whether he wants to do it or not - I'm actually quite nervous about his response as he would be SO perfect for it and it would be a disappointment if he doesn't fancy it...

* I'M seriously thinking about attending the Dublin City Con again this year - for me, it was one of the comic highlights of 2008 so if I can get a cheap flight and accommodation that's a few quid less expensive than last time I'll be there. I'm not sure the event's official website is up properly yet but when it is you'll find all the details here:

* I'VE seen a couple of pages of Dec Shalvey's 28 Days Later artwork and I think people are going to be in for a real treat. Dec's black and white stuff is as tight and dynamic as ever but the coloured version is lovely, too. I enjoyed the colours on Dec's Frankenstein graphic novel but felt they overwhelmed his art a bit. This is a much better fit - muted and subtle, perfect for the subject matter and a great showcase for Dec's work. Not sure when the first issue hits the shops (later this month, I think) but I'm looking forward to seeing it in all its finished glory.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kurse komes together

GETTING the Kurse proposal together continues apace with sketches of the story's main and secondary characters all completed by artist Chris Simmonds (with his permission I might post a few here at some point soon). I've now sent Chris the first 10 pages of script and I'm sure that will be keeping him busy for the next couple of months. I have high hopes for my collaboration with Chris as he got what it is I'm trying to do with Kurse straightaway and has already brought quite a few of his own ideas to the table.

I've heard from a few artists who are interested in collaborating with me on further pitches and they're all really good. Unfortunately, none of them has an art style that would suit the particular stories I'm working on. After all, it's pointless having an artist with a light cartoony style working on a black-hearted alien invasion story full of death, misery and violence. My search continues...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Road Crew collaboration

MY first short story to go up on the Moonface website will be drawn by Tommie Kelly. Tommie is the creator behind the frequently hilarious Road Crew webcomic (you'll find it here: and I met him at last year's Dublin City Con. Look out for it sometime during the next month.

* THOSE proposals for editors and publishers I've been mentioning are bubbling along nicely. I'm now working on four different stories. Two of the projects have artists attached and I'm hoping Keith Burns will take on one of the others just as soon as his workload eases a little. Last I heard he was pulling 14-hour days to hit tighter-than-tight deadlines on The Boys. Poor sod...

The project that's furthest along at the moment is Kurse and I got some preliminary character sketches from Chris (the artist) this week and I couldn't be happier with them. He pretty much nailed the look of the two main characters straightaway which is hugely encouraging.

I know I've mentioned my frustrations with the Kurse script on here before, but a few weeks ago I finally solved the plot glitches that had been giving me problems and the whole thing works rather nicely now. About bloody time...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Brotherly love

THERE'S a short but sweet review of Brothers featured on the latest edition of the Geek Syndicate podcast (episode 124). You'll find it right here, about five or six minutes in.

"Entertainment all the way" is one of the nice things Barry and Dave say about the book.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A decent proposal (hopefully)

I'VE spent the last few weeks working on a proposal for a mini-series/graphic novel that I hope to show to comics companies later in the year. I'm hoping to get together with an artist, who will also be my co-creator, to make the proposal as strong as it possibly can be with fully illustrated sample pages. I haven't got anyone lined up for this yet but hope to have someone in place by the end of the month.

The proposal I've been working on is called Isle Of Zeke and has, I think, a pretty strong premise (and therefore one I won't be divulging at this early stage). I decided that before I wrote up the story as a proposal to show editors and publishers, I'd actually fully script at least the first couple of chapters/issues to get a proper feel for the characters and to see if the ideas and aspects of the plot actually worked. As it turns out, I'm enjoying the writing so much that I might end up banging out the whole thing as a challenge to myself; to see how well I can actually write a 120-page script that has to satisfy as both a serial and as a complete story.

I'm sure I shall talk a lot more about Zeke in the coming weeks - as well as my other half-dozen proposal ideas.

* I'M very keen on getting some original short stories up on the Moonface website, so if there are any artists reading this who might be interested in illustrating one of my four-ten page scripts, please email samples of your sequential work to me at:

* BRITFORCE #1 got a nice review on the Waiting For The Trade podcast (episode 50, Wednesday June 3). Dave and Ang - your genial WFTT hosts - start talking about the book around five minutes in and give their mostly positive views a lengthy airing. You can download the podcast from here:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Burns notice

MY good friend and Blood Psi co-creator, Keith Burns, has had two great big dollops of good news recently. In April he became a dad for the first time (to James Francis Burns) and now he's working with Hitman artist John McCrea on the Garth Ennis-penned Herogasm. The mini-series is a spin-off from The Boys and my favourite line is "Come on my hump" which should give you some idea of the kind of weapons-grade filth to expect within its pages...

The first issue is out now – buy it and keep baby James in nappies!

* BRITFORCE #1 and the Brothers one-shot are now for sale in the Moonface Press shop. BritForce (written and drawn by Andrew Radbourne) is £4.50 for 64 pages and a gorgeous Glenn Fabry cover, Brothers (written by me and drawn by Andrew R) is £3 for 56 pages. By the way, just to clarify, BritForce will be an ongoing series with 64-page issues coming out twice a year. Issue 2 should be ready for Birmingham...

* ON Saturday I went to the MCM Expo at the XL Centre in London's Docklands (MCM stands for Movies Comics Media). It was the first time I'd been to one of these twice-yearly events and the first time I'd been to a con as a punter rather than as an exhibitor in years. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it – especially after the damp squib that was the Bristol Expo earlier this month.

One of the most noticeable things about the show was the fact the average age of the punters was around 10-15 years younger than at regular comics cons, with a lot more women and girls in attendance too. In fact, the show attracts many thousands of people - we were in the queue to get in for about an hour - and while that can make things a little bit cramped even in a big exhibition hall it also suggests that London really might be the best place for this kind of event after all.

The MCM show isn't just a glorified comics mart either - there are lots of signings (everyone from movie legend Tony Curtis to Warren Ellis on Saturday), advance previews of films and games and loads of cool Japanese and American merchandise it probably isn't that easy to buy elsewhere in the UK. Then, of course, there's the cosplayers. Now I know a lot of people (mostly grumpy old blokes) don't like cosplayers much but they never cease to impress the hell out of me. The hours and hours it must take to make some of the costumes alone is reason enough to cut them some slack and, to my mind, they always add a dash of colour and exuberance to these kind of events. Not sure about this weird "Free Hugs" thing they've got going on, though...

As a punter I'd have liked to have seen the comics industry represented at the show a little more strongly but apparently that's something the organisers are working on for the future. There were still quite a few comics people exhibiting their wares though, including Markosia, the Geek Syndicate podcast guys, Sean Azzopardi & Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Gary Erskine and the Tozzer boys. Tables in the 'comics village' area of the event are dirt cheap, too, so there's every chance I might have one at the next MCM show in October.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bristol: Reduced circumstances

THIS year's Bristol Expo wasn't the damp squib I was worried it was going to be but neither was it a patch on previous years. For those who aren't aware, the Expo's organisers weren't able to hire the usual big space at the British Empire & Commonwealth Exhibition Hall and had to settle instead for a variety of rooms and corridors at the Ramada Hotel. There was also a separate small press event on the Saturday at a completely different hotel a few minutes up the road.

All in all, this gave the event a very fractured feeling; the buzz you get from a great big room packed with creators, fans and colourful cosplayers sadly missing. They'd also limited tickets to just 500 which meant Expo was already less than a quarter the size it usually is.

Worse still, the indie and small press room at the Ramada was very small and stuck out of the way. There were times when exhibitors far outnumbered customers. Bizarrely, the bloke who played Greedo in Star Wars was also stationed in the room on the Saturday but he gave up and buggered off around 3 o'clock!

The other downside was that a lot of the people I most enjoy spending time with weren't around this year - Dec's beavering away on his 28 Days Later project, Keith Burns has just become a dad (congratulations, mate!) and Mick Trimble was, apparently, on his way down Saturday morning, only to be put off by the extortionate train fare from Birmingham to Bristol!

And while I'm moaning, Saturday got off to the worst possible start when BritForce creator Andrew Radbourne called to say his books hadn't arrived at the Ramada from the printer. Of course, after contacting the printer and generally running around like a headless chicken for an hour, it turned out the books had been at the hotel all along and they just hadn't been to look for them properly.

On the plus side, Moonface sales were pretty good. Not the usual numbers but far from a disaster. Oddly enough, BritForce and Brothers didn't sell particularly well but I knocked out loads of Septic Isle (the weekend's best seller), Hero Killers and Blood Psi. I also sold the last 15 copies of Tim Skinner which means there are none left until I can afford to print some more or put it up online (the latter's quite probable actually).

Having spoken to one of the Expo's organisers, it seems next year's event will again be held across two hotels rather than in the old exhibition hall. The reasoning is that it's simply too risky to put on a "big show" in the current economic climate. It seems a strange direction to take - especially as the Expos in 2007 and 2008 were the most successful yet and the event had become a genuine part of Bristol's cultural calendar. Once the credit crunch eases - next year or in 2011 - the organisers are going to have to graft incredibly hard to re-establish the Bristol Expo all over again. It's a risky strategy - especially with the Birmingham International Comics Show seemingly going from strength to strength and Leeds' Thought Bubble one-dayer garnering rave reviews from all and sundry.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pre-Bristol ramblings...

OFF to Bristol in a few hours and feeling a bit more optimistic than I was the last time I talked about the Expo here. It's probably got something to do with the fact Brothers arrived back from the printers this morning and looks absolutely brilliant. It's three quid for 56 pages with only one ad - the story and art are also pretty neat.

It'll be for sale on the Moonface website soon, too.

* APPARENTLY, there is going to be an Eagle Awards this year after all. From later on today, people can go and nominate their favourites in a host of categories here:

I wouldn't be too upset if TIM SKINNER: TOTAL SKINNER was nominated in the Favourite Colour Comicbook - British category and SEPTIC ISLE likewise received a nod in the Favourite Black & White Comicbook - British section. Just saying...

* ON the subject of Skinner, I only have 15 copies for sale left so anyone reading this planning to buy one in Bristol should probably turn up early on Saturday morning. Colour printing is horribly expensive so a second printing is very unlikely in the near future...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Newcomer sensation

DECLAN SHALVEY, who many of you will know from his work on Hero Killers and Tim Skinner, has a new gig. He's just been named as artist on Boom! Studios' new ongoing 28 Days Later series.

Not only will the title come adorned in covers by the likes of Tim Bradstreet (see above) and Sean Phillips, but its plotted by Alex Garland who was the screenwriter on the 28 Days Later film. You might remember he also wrote The Beach novel that ended up being made into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

By a weird coincidence, I once interviewed Alex – along with 28 Days Later director Danny Boyle – when I was working for men's magazine, Maxim. But that's another not actually terribly interesting story for another day...

Anyway, here's some blurb from the Boom! website...

Alex Garland, screenwriter of 28 DAYS LATER, lays out a story connecting the film 28 DAYS LATER to its sequel 28 WEEKS LATER in a new ongoing series! Focusing on Selena, one of the three survivors of the first film, as she embarks on an epic return journey to Great Britain! Co-written by HEXED and FALL OF CTHULHU’s Michael Alan Nelson and drawn by newcomer sensation Declan Shalvey.

I shall now be referring to Dec as "newcomer sensation" every time I see him and in every email I send him! It's lucky for him he isn't going to be at Bristol.

The book's Diamond order code is: MAY090724. Go and order it already!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bristol reservations

THIS year's Bristol Expo is under two weeks away and as ever I'm looking forward to it – although it's going to be a much smaller event than in previous years.

The organisers have also introduced a peculiar admissions policy this year, making tickets only available in advance, something which I imagine is going to have a fairly huge effect on the number of punters coming through the door. In fact, had I known this in advance of booking a table and hotel room, I may well have decided to give the event a miss this year and concentrate on making a big splash at BICS and having a table at Leeds' Thought Bubble one-dayer instead.

Hopefully, my fears of only selling three copies of Brothers, Tim Skinner etc will be unfounded, but I have to say I'm going to Bristol this year in a substantially less optimistic mood than before. I also suspect the size of the event and the strange admissions procedure is going to put off an awful lot of people who I enjoy spending time with there. Worst of all, my collaborator and good friend Declan Shalvey won't be there this year either as he's snowed under with paying work.

I know this year's changes were forced on the organisers in part by the unavailability of the usual venue, so let's hope the event returns to normal in 2010, as it should always be the highlight of the British comics calendar.

* BRITFORCE should be back from the printer this week and Brothers early next. Getting those two projects off my hands means I can return to doing some writing this week - more Blood Psi, another crack at Kurse and something new that I've been tinkering around with in the odd spare moment.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Skinner gets the Bullet

THERE are a couple of nice mentions of mine and Dec's Skinner one-shot over at Comics Bulletin.

In Regie Rigby's Fool Britannia column, he says: "Nobody is safe from Winter's acid pen. The caricatures are cruel, sharp and totally totally spot on. I don’t laugh out loud often, but I laughed out loud at this. If you have even a rudimentary knowledge of contemporary comics... you’re going to have the most fun you’ve had with a comic for some considerable time."

The full article is here.

And Kelvin Green gave Skinner 4 out 5 bullets in his review on the same site, saying: "It's a triumph of scripting and one of which writer Andy Winter can be proud. Not everyone can turn such an irredeemable git [Skinner] into a compelling character. Declan Shalvey's art is as impressive as I'd come to expect... the storytelling is strong throughout, and there's a looser yet more confident feel to the linework than before."

Read Kelvin's full piece here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Skinner love

THERE'S a review of Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag by Glenn Carter over at Comics Village. You'll find it here:

If anything, it's even more positive than the write-up the book got last week over on the Forbidden Planet Blog Log, with Glenn concluding: "[Skinner's] a great example of the best of the Brit Indie scene and probably the only essential purchase from that movement in 2009. 10 out of 10"

In your face, Diamond!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sick, perverted, twisted filth

JOE GORDON has written a very positive review of Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag on his Forbidden Planet Blog Log. You'll find it here.

It's "sick, perverted, twisted filth full of violence and sex," according to Joe which is just about spot on I think...

Friday, April 3, 2009

True Brit

HERE'S Glenn Fabry's gorgeous cover to BritForce #1 - now with added lettering!

The 64-page perfect-bound one-shot is launching at the Bristol Expo in around a month's time. This is the first comic Moonface Press is publishing that isn't written by me - the book is both written and illustrated by Andrew Radbourne, who is also the artist on Brothers.

Moonface actually has a double presence at Bristol this year - I have a table in the main exhibitors' area for the whole weekend and Andy R has booked a pitch for the Saturday at the small press event that's happening over at the Mercure.

Here's the BritForce back cover blurb...

Britannia! Bulldog! Lionheart! Stonehenge! Moonwitch!
Hellspawn! In the ’90s they were BritForce – the UK’s
very own team of super-powered heroes. But driven
apart by catastrophe, BritForce disbanded and haven’t
seen each other in over a decade... until now.

Waiting in the wings is a threat so huge it might just
be enough to throw the team back together. The Grail
and his army of meta-human zealots have attacked
Downing Street and are intent on making Britain the
power base for their brutal religious crusade.

Will BritForce reunite to combat the threat? Or does
Britain face a future crushed beneath the heel of religious
oppression, presided over by a man convinced he’s the
resurrection of the Messiah himself?

* I'VE finished lettering the Brothers one-shot but it's now that the hard work really begins - I have to print out all 52 pages and proofread them. It isn't unknown for me to change bits of the script at this late stage either - punching up dialogue and making sure exposition is kept as short as possible.

I'm really pleased with Brothers - it's the big, crazy, 1000mph story I set out to write in the first place with splashes of triumph, tragedy, romance and loads of completely over-the-top violence. Andy R has done some terrific work - there are several sequences from the script that he's just picked up and run with, transforming good, solid scenes into genuinely excellent ones.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Brotherly love

HERE is the cover for the BROTHERS one-shot written by me and illustrated by Andrew Radbourne. The 56-page book is being launched at this year's Bristol Expo (May 9-10).

I had pretty much decided to publish it in the same "graphic novella" format as Septic Isle - i.e. perfect-bound on thick gloss paper for four to five quid. However, because of the bleak economic situation, I've been thinking of doing something that's a bit more cheap and cheerful instead - maybe do Brothers as a straightforward comic on slightly less lovely paper for around £3-£3.50.

It isn't a done deal yet but if I can find a printer that can deliver what I'm looking for I shall give it a go. When flimsy pamphlet-style US comics full of ads are being flogged in stores for £3+, it strikes me that now might be a good time for indie publishers to do a bit of outreach to mainstream readers fed up with seeing their hard-earned cash buy fewer and fewer comics every week.

I'm also considering doing a 16-page comic at some point and selling it for a £1-£1.50. The idea would be to cram as much material in there as possible - maybe a couple of one-pagers along with some slightly longer stuff. The price would massively undercut pretty much everything else that's out there - including a lot of mini-comics - but would have the same top-notch production values as any of the stuff I've done before. This whole "value for money" subject is something I shall return to I suspect...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Skinner for sale

THE Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag one-shot is now on sale in the shop. It's £3, plus £1.50 p&p, for 36 full-colour pages (just one page of ads). It's the first time artist Declan Shalvey and I have worked together since the Eagle Award-winning Hero Killers and we're both delighted with the results.

Other people rather like Skinner, too. Jonathan Hickman (writer of Secret Warriors and The Nightly News) called it "Fucking Hilarious" and Rich Johnston (writer of CBR's Lying In The Gutters column) said it was: "A very self-referential, up-its-own-arse comic that I was destined to love."

The book contains scabrous parodies of a host of much-loved comic stories, characters and creators, including Lost Girls, The Boys, Power Girl, Blankets, Judge Dredd, zombie books and Jack Kirby. It's guaranteed to make you laugh... or your money back.*

* This statement isn't legally binding, I've checked.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Future imperfect

CAN'T believe it's been over a month since my last post here. Not that there's been much to report anyway - nothing good at least.

Diamond won't be soliciting mine and Dec's Tim Skinner: Total Scumbag one-shot, which is a bit of a blow really; especially as it's easily the best thing I've yet written and published. And Dec's full-colour artwork is terrific.

I shall probably be contacting Haven Distribution in the very near future to see if they might be interested in picking the book up but, to be honest, I can't see us getting nearly as many orders going that route as we would have through Diamond.

The worrying thing is that if Diamond don't want something as blatantly commercial as Skinner, I really can't see them going for anything else currently sitting on my release schedule (although Brit Force's Glenn Fabry cover might give that book more than a fighting chance).

That means I'm back to square one in many ways - publishing comics to sell online and at conventions. This is something of a backwards step so I'm going to have a serious think about making some changes. I'm currently in the middle of lettering the Brothers one-shot for release at the Bristol Expo in May but, after that, I'm going to take a long hard look at what I do and decide what my next step will be.

It could be that I stop publishing altogether and concentrate 100 per cent on writing and pitching to professional companies, but that would take a lot of the fun out of it for me. I enjoy the entire process of putting a comic together - not just the writing side. And, of course, the problem with pitching is that there's no guarantee any of my ideas would ever be picked up - I could spend years toiling away for absolutely no return.

As you can probably tell, I'm a bit confused about where things are headed at the moment - hopefully I'll feel a bit more positive after Bristol...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Diamond aren't forever

A QUICK browse across the net has already thrown up a couple of early casualties of Diamond's new minimum order policy.

Steve Tanner, of Time Bomb Comics, reports that his Dick Turpin & The Restless Dead book has been ditched by the distributor because retailer orders failed to hit the new threshold. Read about it on Steve's blog.

And over at CBR, Rich Johnston discusses Classical Comics' adaptation of The Tempest which has been dropped "due to a lack of sales expectations". Read about it in this week's Lying In The Gutters.

The Dick Turpin book's rejection is a shame but, under the new rules, understandable because a) it's from a tiny UK indie publisher and b) it's black and white. But I'm astounded at the news concerning The Tempest - it's full colour and the art (by Jon Haward and Gary Erskine) is gorgeous. Check out the cover at the Classical Comics website.

More than that, though, Classical Comics are a proper, bonafide company - they pay their pro writers and artists good rates and have budgets for the marketing and promotion of their books. As far as I know sales are good too - Dec Shalvey's excellent Frankenstein adaptation outstripped sales estimates and went to a second printing after just three months. The company and its books also get acres of positive coverage in the comics press and elsewhere.

In his piece, Rich suggests Diamond might take a "second look" at The Tempest and I very much hope he's right because, if stuff as good as that can't make it into Previews any more, then the likes of Steve Tanner and I have no chance at all.

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...