Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Trick or Treat - "Choices" from Insomnia

The clocks have gone back, the year is drawing to a close and unnatural things are on the prowl in the dark. The long winter nights being perfect for Insomniac storytellers we are putting out a call for submissions for the next edition of our Layer Zero anthology: Choices

To get you in the mood here is the first panel from the first page of art from the first piece we have accepted: Magpie by Richard McAuliffe with art by Mark Chilcott.

The days may be getting colder and the nights may be getting longer but Halloween marks the start of the holiday season for many. It can be so much fun, but there are so many choices to make: where to go, what to do, what to wear, trick or treat?

We are looking for writers and artists - independently or as teams.
Submissions should be:
  • stories on the theme of Choices
  • 2-10 pages long
  • Black and White or Greyscale
  • Scripts should be submitted by 31st of December.
  • Art will need to be complete by March 2009
The pieces will be published online initially at www.myebook.com, where we will show a selection of stories in rotation, and then collected for publication as an album in mid 2009.

There is no payment for inclusion in Layer Zero, you should think of it as an opportunity to showcase your work, but you retain all rights and may reuse the work elsewhere.

Stories in Layer Zero may also work as "pilot episodes" for longer works that we could expand into full length books if they are successful. If you would like to know more about this before you make a submission please drop us a line at submissions@insomniapublications.com.

Cover art for Choices, along with a very special story will be provided by the extremely talented Scott James. This collection will also feature the very first episode of Butterflies and Moths, by Corey Brotherson, a gritty magic realist tale about balance and burdens.

Contact Nic Wilkinson by email at submissions@insomniapublications.com for more info or to make a submission.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Burke and Hare Signing: Insomnia Works the Graveyard Shift

Over a 12 month period from 1827-1828 in Edinburgh, Scotland, two Irishmen by the names of William Burke and William Hare murdered 16 people and disposed of their bodies to the eminent dissectionist Dr Robert Knox at 10 Surgeon's Square. History often mistakenly references the murderous duo's graverobbing or 'bodysnatching' activities - when, in truth, the pair never set foot in a graveyard with the intention of stealing a corpse.

Writer Martin Conaghan and artist Will Pickering delve into the murky, misquoted history of Scotland's most notorious serial killers with a research-based graphic novel that unwravels a ghoulish story of medicine, murder and money.

Nic Wilkinson says:

"Burke and Hare could have stepped, in full lurid glory from the pages of a penny dreadful. The tale of the resurrectionists is classic gothic horror in the tradition of Sweeney Todd, Varney the Vampire or Spring Heeled Jack. It also happens to be true.

Martin and Will are getting back into mainstream comics in earnest, following a 10-year absence, and we are delighted to have them back with us."

Martin Conaghan's first published writing work appeared in Aceville Publications' Comic World in 1992, in the form of interviews and reviews with writers and artists such as Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell. This was followed by a one-off Tharg's Terror Tale in the 1995 2000AD Yearbook and several short stories for the American publisher CaliberPress, including an issue of their popular Raven Chronicles title. In 1997, he produced a weekly internet column for The Big Issue in Scotland, in addition to writing feature articles for The Herald and other Scottish broadsheet newspapers. He now works for the BBC.

Will Pickering worked on the strip 'Dr Ballard' for the Glasgow-based indie comic 'Frankly' and continues to work on his self-published superhero series 'Something Fast'. He also illustrated Martin's issue of Raven Chronicles for Caliber (entitled 'The Compensators'). He has worked in music journalism and magazine editing, and was a candidate for the rectorship of Glasgow university in 1999 (beaten by former Eastender Ross Kemp). He also produced a strip for the final issue of the popular independent comic Northern Lightz.

Please contact Nic Wilkinson, Creative Director, at nichola[at]insomniapublications.com for further details, or requests for interviews with the creative team.

Until next week.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Unbelievable Signing - Insomnia Captures The Beast of Bryn Boncath

It's Midnight, it's Monday and here we are with the first of the Regular Red Eyes. This time the eyes are not red from sleeplessness, and, instead of burning, they glow.

With BICS 2008 now a fortnight in the past We are ready to announce our first signing from the show: Unbelievable (The Man Who Ate Daffodils) written and drawn by the Welsh Wonder that is Simon Wyatt.

Unbelievable: (Adjective: Not to be believed: inconceivable, incredible, unimaginable, unthinkable. Idioms: beyond belief, contrary to all reason).

The remote mining village of Bryn Boncath has its share of stories, of local legends, of half believed histories. It is a close knit community, with closely guarded secrets. It is home to the orphaned Ben Ellis and his grandfather, Emrys, and it has become the scene of a series of bizarre and mysterious deaths.

A new neighbour has moved in. A man long thought dead has returned. Livestock are missing. There are noises in the night. People are afraid to go into out after dark and sightings of a giant hound, or maybe a big cat are on the increase once again.

Suddenly it seems to Ben that what he took to be the tall tales of his grandfather may be more than just stories. It seems that something is stirring in the forests and the mountains around Bryn Boncath. It seems that ancient history is repeating and this time round Ben has an important part to play.

Unbelievable is a dark masterpiece that weaves strands of Welsh legend, modern murder mystery and horror with a dash of crytozoology that wonders: What if seeing isn’t always believing, but believing will allow you to see?

Nic Wilkinson, Creative Director says:

"I first saw Simon's work in progress on Unbelievable on his comicspace page back before I was working with Insomnia, and the art just blew me away. I love British mythology and we chatted about an earlier project of his, Mabinogion - Dawn of The Gods. He promised to draw me a sketch of my favourite Unbelievable character if we met up at BICS later in the year.

Months pass.

BICS rolls round.

I meet Simon in person at the launch party on the Friday night and he tells me he has my sketch. On Saturday morning I spot him sitting at the Orang-Utan table, drawing away and go to collect my picture. It is fantastic. Since we last spoke about Unbelievable things have changed. Under the table is a big black folder with the art almost complete and a spiral bound pitch book with character backgrounds, concept sketches, the full plot breakdown the whole works. I am now working for Insomnia.

If the samples in comic space looked good, the whole thing together was incredible - unbelievable, even. I hurry back to tell Crawford what I have found. They talk. We talk. BICS ends. There are lots of questions and emails and phone calls and things to work out. On Friday last week the deal was done.

I am very proud to be able to say this was my first signing for Insomnia, and it exemplifies everything we are looking for in a book and from a creator. In short, being able to bring out work like this is everything that we, as a company, are trying to do.

Simon has been illustrating books, comics and games for over 20 years and was National Young Cartoonist of the Year for Wales. He has worked for various indie comics publishers including Orang Utan Comics Studio, Angry Gnome Comics and Markosia. This is his first full-length graphic novel.

Part of me is hoping She-Wolf of St. Trinians will be his next, but you'll have to ask him about that."

Until next week.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Red Eyed and Bushy Tailed

Welcome aboard the Red Eye, the new weekly blog from Insomnia Publications.

Insomnia is an independent comics publisher founded by Managing Director Crawford Coutts. Insomnia is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, with various partners in London, Dundee and Vancouver.

We mostly publish "instant trades" or "albums" in the European model so that readers can find our books in bookstores and online as well as in dedicated independent comic shops. We believe strongly in the importance of creators rights, and all creators who work with us become part of the Insomnia Family. Nic Wilkinson, our new Creative Director, will be back with more on this in an upcoming post.

Those who have not been sleeping nights the past few months may have noticed a faint glow from Insomnia HQ as we have worked through through the darkness to deliver our first set of books blinking into the light of day.

So, rub your eyes and take a look at the previews on MyeBook:

If you'd like to get in touch you can reach us at redeye[at]insomniapublications.com

If you would like to make a submission as a writer, penciller, cover artist, inker, colourist or letterer please contact us at submissions[at]insomniapubications.com

All aboard the Red Eye same time, next week.

A Trip To Cancertown

"Remember - nothing here is real, and everything can hurt you."

Cancertown, coming early 2009 from Insomnia Publications, is the first creator owned original graphic novel from Cy "Starship Troopers" Dethan. Art on this monstrosity is provided by Stephen Downey, who’s an important discovery for Insomnia and Colours are by Cages artist Melanie Cook and Letters are by Nic Wilkinson.

Cy Dethan says:

"Okay, so get this: Vincent Morley is a barely functional former mental patient with an inoperable tumour nestling in his brain. See that? That’s our hero. Morley suffers from a rare mental disorder that causes him to believe a number of unlikely things about himself and his relationship to his environment. Chief among these delusions is the idea that he has the ability to step out of reality and into a monstrous alternate world he calls Cancertown.

Now, that’s all very well as a personal, private little Hell – but when normal people start tripping over the cracks in reality and falling into Cancertown, Morley decides that his role in life is to find them and ferry them back out again.

Unfortunately for all concerned, there are other forces at work in Cancertown, and not all of them understand or appreciate what Morley’s trying to do..."

We will be hearing more from all of the creative team in future posts as they tell us what it was like to build Cancertown.
Cancertown is now available to preorder from Amazon

Please contact Nic Wilkinson, Creative Director, at nichola[at]insomniapublications.com for further details, review copies or requests for interviews with the creative team.


"Lovely... and disturbing. Let's not forget disturbing." - Ben Templesmith.

What if you’d spent your whole life in a cage, never glimpsing the world outside? What if everything you knew was darkness, fear and cold, clinical steel? What if one day, an angel came to you with a message of hope – a message that you were about to be set free? This is the story of CAGES, a dark future tale of horror and redemption.

CAGES is written by Xander Bennett, illustrated by Melanie Cook has cover art by Jonathan Hickman & a foreword by Ben Templesmith.

In a post-apocalyptic world torn apart by biological weapons, cities and governments no longer exist, and the very atmosphere is poisonous to breathe. The few survivors are ruled by a shadowy group of near-omnipotent leaders who dwell in an artificial underground paradise known as the Vault. These Vault-Lords have commanded their minions on the surface world to build and maintain sinister medical research facilities in which prisoners like Gabby and her two brothers are kept caged.

Gabby, Mike and Raph aren’t exactly your average twelve-year-olds. They have memories of a life spent in the miserable confines of the labs, of constant experiments, of growing up in captivity and relying on each other to survive. Aside from her brothers, Gabby’s only comfort comes in the form of an angelic being of light that only she can see.

But when an unexpected order from one of the Vault-Lords threatens to destroy everything, a chain of events is set in motion that leads to the children escaping from the lab and tasting freedom for the first time – only to come face to face with the many dangers of this deadly new world. From genetically-engineered monsters to brutal scavenger tribes and agents of the Vault, the three children must face their demons and overcome them together.

As current world events focus attention on issues of wrongful imprisonment and human rights, CAGES seeks to tackle these issues head-on.

The strongest cages are the ones we build around ourselves.
It’s time to break free.
Please contact Nic Wilkinson, Creative Director, at nichola[at]insomniapublications.com for further details, review copies or requests for interviews with the creative team.

Layer Zero: Special Edition TPB

Insomnia Publications’ Layer Zero project is an anthology book showcasing creators with a wide range of styles and approaches, but all dealing with a common theme.

Collecting the sell-out, critically acclaimed "Insomnia" and "Time" Layer Zero Anthologies. This special edition has an all new cover by Paul Cartwright and showcases the work of over 30 creators.

With over 30 creators involved, including Cy Dethan, Paul Green and Thomas Mauer along with talents such as Paul Cartwright, Alasdair Duncan, Luke Hinchley, Mike Webster, Robert Robinson, Thommy Melanson, Nic Wilkinson and many more,

The special edition was launched at the Bristol Comics Expo 2008 where the first printing sold out over the weekend . Everyone who had pre-ordered was entered into this year's Insomnia Competition for copy of Cages, all the way from San Diego, signed by Xander Bennett, Melanie Cook, Jonathan Hickman, and Ben Templesmith

Layer Zero Special Edition 2nd printing is now available to Pre-Order on Amazon

Please contact Nic Wilkinson, Creative Director, at nichola[at]insomniapublications.com for further details, review copies or requests for interviews with the creative team.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Looking Out For Creators

Insomnia Publications are inviting submsissions.

Hi everyone this is Nic Wilkinson.

I am very pleased to announce that, as of a few days ago, I have recently accepted the role of Creative Director for Insomnia Publicationsm having been involved with the company as an artist and letterer for about 18 months.

Insomnia are currently inviting submissions from both writers and artists (pencillers, colourists, inkers and letterers). We are looking for both complete "graphic novels" or "albums" of between 80 - 200 pages or short stories for our anthologies of between 4-10 pages.

I know inviting submissions like this is a bit unusual in the industry - but as we receive great scripts from writers who do not personally know artists, and great samples from artists who do not know any writers to work with - why would we not introduce you and build creative teams instead of hoping you meet by chance some time?

The books we have in progress at the moment cover a wide variety of subject matter, and we look for originality and quality rather than concentrating on any specific genre. We would rather have something unusual, challenging, inventive, creative, inspired, literate, thought provoking (you get the idea) than another version of something that is already out there. You can get mainstream works from many places, that is why they are called mainstream and there are lots of publishers who already do those kinds of books extremely well.

If you have been published before or have self published in print or online and can show us a portfolio, that is fantastic. However Insomnia is all about new writing, new art and new concepts and we certainly welcome submissions from new talent.

So, let us know:

For Writers

I need you to tell me:

About the story - proposed length, how much (if any) is complete, about the characters, the setting, What happens, Why it happens, – all of that not just a 10 word high concept "idiot pitch". That tells me if you are good at formulating snappy high-concept pitches, not what your scripting, structuring and storytelling are like - although the high concept pitch will be useful for marketing if your work is accepted.

I also need to know:

  • Character profiles for the main characters
  • Overall story synopsis (eg what happens for the whole story)
  • Story structure (eg how the plot breaks down by "issue" or "chapter")
  • Setting / Locations / Time period (important to know for finding artists - so any visual ideas you might have, although it doesn't matter if you prefer to leave all that to the artist)
  • The story rationale (eg what it is really "about" that is the concepts you will be exploring rather than the "what happens" of the synopsis that tells us how you will dramatically execute the discussion of the concepts)

Samples are good if you have them but not required at the pitch stage

We do not care if you have the right script formatting software or fonts at this stage, we want your talent, not your technical know how.

If you want to get in touch first to ask if your idea sounds like the kind of thing we are looking for before you put the whole pitch package together you can contact me at:
(remember to put the "h" in my name, it is the reason most emails don't reach me :)

For Artists (Pencils, inks, colours or all 3)

  • We would like to see sequentials as well as pin ups (unless you want to be purely a cover artist - which is fine, but let us know that)
  • What formats you work in - traditional media, digital etc
  • Whether you work in Colour or black and white
  • If you are submitting to be an inker or colourist then we need to see copies of the underlying pencils as well as your work.
Please don't send any one email with attachments larger than 7Mb or it will not come through.

Contact me at:
(remember to put the "h" in my name, it is the reason most emails don't reach me :)

Finally one of the most important things for both writers and artists is to let us know the length of story to which you feel you can commit. We have an anthology title for people who want to do short stories through to complete graphic novel series of hundreds of pages. Also we appreciate that many creators are showing incredible dedication by working on their comics alongside day jobs and other commitments, but if we like your work enough to publish we will work with you to agree a schedule that suits all parties

Many of us at Insomnia are/were creators ourselves and we appreciate that making submissions can be difficult and nerve-wracking. We will look at everything we receive, and although it may take time we will respond to everyone. The important thing to remember that your work may be great, and we may even personally love to read it, but it sometimes will just not what we are looking for right now.

We are also interested to hear from games designers, animators, and model makers as we often need to call on such services.In most cases we will look to put our books out as albums or "instant trades" so that they can be sold in bookshops and online as well as through comic shops.
If you would like to see examples of Insomnia books to get a feel for the type of material we publish then you can see previews of two forthcoming Graphic Novels and a selection from our Anthology title online at MyeBook

Cancertown - by Cy Dethan and Stephen Downey
Cages - by Xander Bennett and Mel Cook
Layer Zero Anthology Selection

You can reach me at submissions[at]insomniapublications.com or nichola[at]insomniapublications.com

Hope to hear from you soon


Creative Directions

Crawford Coutts, Managing Director says:

“Nic Wilkinson, letterer and artist on several Insomnia books, was promoted to Creative Director of Insomnia Publications in September 2008. As well as continuing work on projects using her artistic and lettering prowess, Nic will be assisting in the processes of recruiting, guidance on products and merchandise, and marketing and PR.”

You can reach Nic by email at nichola[at]insomniapublications.com

Con-tamination Cancertown infects BICS 2008

The Insomnia team had a fantastic weekend at the Birmingham international comics convention this year. Many thanks to the extraordinarily dedicated Shane Chebsey and team for their superhuman organisational skills.

We had previews of Cancertown (Cy Dethan and Stephen Downey), Daemon (Alasdair Duncan and Daniel Lopez) and Shaman (Xander Bennet and David Montoro) to view on the table, and a small number of exclusive pre-release copies of Cages (Xander Bennett and Melanie Cook) and the Layer Zero Special Edition for sale.

The Cancertown trailer we had running on a laptop on the stand attracted a lot of attention, as did the Make Your Own Monster competition, the all new Insomnia badges, and, of course, the big bucket of chocolate (well, it's nearly Halloween).

We met some great people and saw some outstanding portfolios and pitches from both writers and artists. Hopefully we will be announcing some new titles as a result of those meetings very soon. Thanks to everyone who took the time to come and talk to us.

We had a very quick interview with David Monteith from the wonderful Geek Syndicate podcast and will be sending them some never before seen internal art from Cancertown for their website very soon.

Thanks also go to Ferret, textile artist extraordinaire, for helping to mind the stand. Expect to see more Ferret/Insomnia collaborations as time goes by.

We will be at the MCM expo in London on the 24th of October and at Thought Bubble in Leeds on the 15th of November this year. Come over and say Hi, and if you want to send us submissions to discuss at the shows then get in touch at submissions[at]insomniapublications.com