Friday, 30 July 2010

The One That Got Away (Part 2) - The Unseen Marvel Comics

Well, as promised, here's the second strip I wrote for Marvel Superheroes of Science. This one is pencilled, inked and coloured by Gary Erskine who did a great job in a very short space of time.

The idea of these strips was to convey a basic science-based story set in the Marvel universe. The first was Spider-Man and volcanoes, this one's all about Tsunamis. It was based very much on the Iron Man of the movies, and the computer was originally called Jarvis but was simplified at the editorial stage. These stories were initially going to appear as one-off adventures, but as the series progressed the seemingly disparate events would all tie together into a big crossover and the Battle for the Planet would begin, involving the entire Marvel universe. I guess this was my only chance to do an Invasion/Civil War epic with Marvel characters. Sigh. 

Unless... Joe, are you reading this? Call me!

The next is the X-Men and is all about magnets (guess who's in that one!) also drawn by Gary Erskine. Stay tuned, true believers!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The One That Got Away (Part 1) - The Unseen Marvel Comics

Well, in this funny business they call comic books there are endless projects that professionals work their guts out to do, creating lovely works with high quality production values, get paid for, and then the projects never see the light of day!

It happens far more often than you'd imagine. The reasons for this are numerous, from lack of advance sales to companies going bust. I've adapted Alan Grant's Ace Lightning TV scripts for BBC Worldwide into graphic novels, written comic strips for Weldon Owen, and produced numerous other comics for publishers that have never seen print. So here, with permission, I'm posting you a treat—a strip I wrote for a partwork series I was developing with DeAgostini in the UK, Marvel Super Heroes of Science. The concept was to teach kids the basic principles of science using... well, you get the idea. Each week they'd get a magazine with science projects and part of a lab they would put together to test out the theories on. I thought it was a pretty solid idea—until the recession hit! Hey ho.

The Spider-Man: Magma Madness script is by me and the art is by Marvel stalwart Nelson DeCastro, who did a fantastic job. The lettering and the page surround are a tad ropey, however. The idea was to capture the tone of the old Sixties strips. Please bear in mind that if you are over 12-years old then this story is not for you. 

Next up is Iron Man by me and Gary Erskine.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Geek Out Moment

OK, so maybe the rest of the comics industry is in San Diego whooping it up right now, but I've just had my little geek out moment here in the UK. 
I just received a mailing postcard/flyer (above) from my US publisher, Abrams ComicArts, encouraging people to sign up to their e-newsletter.

On the front is a list of authors, including me amongst some seriously illustrious company. You know you've "arrived" when you are mentioned in the same breath as Jerry Robinson, Chip Kidd, Jaime Hernandez, Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, Les Daniels, Mark Evanier, Matt Groening and Kyle Baker! I'm simultaneously humbled and honoured.

Plus, they've name-checked Gene Kannenberg, Jr who helped with the research on the Erotic Comics books and Helen McCarthy who I commissioned to write The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, which is up for an Eisner tonight (Best Comics-Related Book)! Fingers crossed we all come out smiling tomorrow morning!
Above: Chip Kidd at the San Diego Comic Con 2010 Abrams ComicArts stand, being stalked by my Erotic Comics books. He looks worried!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Montague Terrace


A week ago I went and saw Brighton University’s MA Digital Media Arts Final Year Show, which just happened to feature two comic-related “mature students”: former independent publisher, Peter Pavement, who used to run Slab-o-Concrete Press, and comic artist par excellence, Warren Pleece.

Peter’s Slab-o-Concrete was one of the UK’s best independent publishers in the 1990s producing work by Woodrow Phoenix, Craig Conlan, Simon Gane, and Ed (Ilya) Hilyer – who was also visiting the show on Friday. Since abandoning the days of small press Peter has been getting heavily involved with all things internet and digital and his degree entry ( was a very impressive “open submission, open judging photographic competition” where the inhabitants of Brighton can post their photographs, judge each other’s entries, and have them pinpointed on the map, building a visual tour of the city. The submissions are open until November 2010 and there are prizes apparently!
Above: Two Punks by Simon Gane. Gane is one of the greatest and most underrated artists in the world and
was regularly published by Slab-O-Concrete.

Warren Pleece’s showpiece was an interactive installation based around he and Gary—his writer brother—’s forthcoming project, Montague Terrace (inspired partly by the Scott Walker track of the same name). I’ve been a fan of Gary and Warren’s work ever since they first came in to sell their self-published comic Velocity, when I ran the small press section in Comic Showcase back around 1988. 

The installation consisted of a main entrance to a block of flats with four buzzers to push, each one revealing a short video animated by Warren. The videos peek into the lives of various inhabitants of Montague Terrace and—in classic Pleece brothers style—they are a melange of dysfunctional misanthropes and odd balls on the fringes of society. There’s “failed ex-pop crooners, Special Ops OAPs, nervous magicians and magical bunnies, and unsuccessful megalomaniacs...” Paul Ian Gregory, is a the former popstar, now embittered by his recent lack of success; Beatrice Green AKA “Babooshka” is the little old lady with a secret; and Martin the Magician and his talking rabbit Marvo. Talking rabbits seem to be de riguer as Garth Ennis’ Chronicles of Wormwood also features a talking rabbit. Not that I’m complaining. I have rabbits, they just don’t talk to me.
Montague Terrace is fabulous and should be coming out as a graphic novel from Jonathan Cape next year. In the meantime the installation will be appearing in London at the Hypercomics exhibition at the Battersea Park Pump House Gallery between 11 August – 25 September, which also freatures work by Dave McKean, Adam Dant and the excellently named Daniel Merlin Goodbery. You can read more previews of Montague Terrace here and Warren tells me that the videos from the installation will probably appear online at some point in the future.
After only seeing Warren around town approximately every 5 years I bizarrely I bumped into him and his lovely wife, Sue, again this afternoon after just over a week since I last saw them! Brighton's getting smaller!