Monday, 24 November 2008

The Nightly News

Well, it's been a very busy few weeks with the Birmingham, MCM Expo and Thought Bubble Conventions. Insomnia becoming a limited company with shareholders and everything (meaning we can now offer better contracts to all our creators), and that sugar fueled frenzy of signing up new books that I mentioned last week.

Now that's all done and we're able to catch our breath we can tell you what all that means for Insomnia, and give some well deserved congratulations to some of our wonderfully talented writers and artists.

Layer Zero Update

Layer Zero: Choices is almost full now. Take a look at this:

Wow, right?

This amazing piece of work-in-progress will be the cover. By the time you see it on the shelves it will be in colour, but I was so excited I wanted to give it a preview here. It is by the brilliant Scott James. Scott is one of those artists you can just say a few words to and trust he gets completely what you want. A few days later you will open your email and something like this will be waiting for you. Just like magic, it is exactly what you wanted, but also so much better than you could have imagined.

So, what else is going to be in the book? Well, so far we have confirmed:
We are still accepting submissions until 31st of Dec.

The theme of the next anthology will be "Survival", and I have one story signed for that already.

New Books Signed

Our newest signings are:
All of these will be getting their own posts over the next few weeks with all the details.

Congratulations Due

And finally, give it up for our fantastic creators:
Until next week when I will be handing over blog duties to Crawford as I will be away.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Night Thoughts - Thought Bubble 2008

On Saturday the 15th of November Insomnia had a stand at the 2nd Thought Bubble convention as part of the Leeds Sequential Art festival.

This is a fantastic show with a really great atmosphere. It seemed more creator focussed than other cons and we met a lot of very talented people, all of whom had many unique and interesting ideas they wanted to talk to us about.

There was very much a sense that creating comics is suddenly, dizzyingly, possible, that people are no longer believing what they are told and are finding new ways of cutting through, tunnelling under, bounding over or just completly ignoring what they have been told for decades were impassable obstacles. This is exactly why Crawford Coutts formed Insomnia, and it was a real pleasure to meet so many of you face to face.

The drive and creativity of the indy scene is staggering - and extremely inspiring. The generosity of creators is always heartening and hearing how many people were recommending each other for projects, or introducing people to each other because "they need to meet" is great to see. We have seen some amazing work and met "just the right person" so many times this way, which we would, most likely, never had done so were it not for this collaborative attitude.

The visitors, publishers and creators were the most diverse mix I have seen at a comics event, and it is really becoming very apparent that comics as a form are making their way out of dank back bedrooms and clammy collectors paws to stand proudly alongside any other storytelling media. Kind of reminds me of what happened to computer games when the original Playstation made it into clubs and front rooms and gaming became not only socially acceptable, but cool. Still, I digress.

Different cons have different feels and so each is better for getting particular things done. The buzz and enthusiam from creators from all aspects of the industry made being a publisher at Thought Bubble like being a kid in the world's best sweetshop. Now we get the great job of stickily making our way through all the goodies we gathered and signing up our next wave of books and creators in a sugar fuelled frenzy.

As well as meeting up with lots of old friends and seeing people "live" for the first time that we had only spoken to online, particular Insomnia Related Highlights from the show were:

  • A great meeting with Barry Nugent where we discussed how the Fallen Heroes adaptation is going to work in practice.

  • Signed up several new stories for Layer Zero on the spot, and discussed ideas with several more writers who want to make submissions. Watch this space for a Layer Zero update about some of the stories, writers and artists very soon.

  • Found several new artists for our longer projects on the strength of some stunning portfolios on show. Any artists who brought portfolios and but didn't get to speak to us please drop me a line at (the biggest file I can receive is 7mb in one email, though)

  • Discussed several full length Graphic Novel proposals of exactly the kind of challenging, left field, thought provoking stories we are after. For those wanting to make submissions, but could not make the show then have a look at our submissions guidelines page.

  • Had a brilliantly in-depth meeting with Chris Barker about Shiver a creator owned original graphic novel that we first discussed at BICS. In the last few weeks it has gone from an outline concept to a full proposal for an unsettling story that is by equal turns , horrifying, moving and, best of all, deeply troubling. I can't reveal more at this stage, as nothing has been signed, but I am hoping to be able to tell you that has changed in the very near future.

  • Spoke with Markosia boss Harry Markos, MyeBook and the Superman of Independent Comics Publishing, Shane Chebsey about a plan to make it easier for readers and retailers to find out about independent books in a bit more depth than you get from Previews. We know all about how annoying it can be as a reader or a retailer to hear about an independent book from a friend, online, via a review or whatever and just not be able to find any details about where to buy it, or how your local comic shop can get hold of it for you. Big thanks must go to Manny Armario of Whatever Comics for adding a veteran retailer's experience to this discussion over the last few months. More on that as we work out the details.

  • Spoke to Neil "Dynamo 5, X-men, Iron Man" Edwards about drawing a new OGN by Cy "Starship Troopers, Cancertown" Dethan. More news as and when, if everyone's schedules work out so it can happen.

  • While I was having all the fun talking to creators, our sales manager and co-founder of Insomnia, Alasdair Duncan, was doing the hard graft of manning the stand and talking distribution and logisitics and all the organisational side of things with various retailers and chains. He really knows his stuff, and we are pleased to say that if your hometown has a comic shop it won't be hard to find Insomnia books on the shelves.

  • Alasdair also found time to run the interactive "Monster Wall" where you had a chance to design your own monster. This been succesful at cons in the past but was a huge hit this time.

  • I was gratified by the number of people who said they were reading this very blog, and the fact that people were coming over to speak to us about project because they had heard good things about working with us. But you'll have to ask them about that.
Which is all a very long and round about way of saying the con was great for us - if there is any chance of you making it next year I highly recommend you take the trip to Leeds.

Thanks to Tamsin, Lisa and all the other organisers for making it happen.

Until next Monday...

Monday, 10 November 2008

Ben Templesmith Caged

This Saturday (15th November) Insomnia will be at the Thought Bubble festival in Leeds for the first time. The comics convention is part of a longer festival in the city designed to "celebrate sequential art in all its forms".

At the show you will be able to get your hands on a limited number of pre-distribution copies of Cages by Xander Bennet and Melanie Cook before its official release in December.

We sent a copy of Cages to the Horror Master Ben Templesmith himself. Here he is with Xander, and the book, at San Diego Comic Con, ready to sign some copies. Everyone who pre-ordered a copy of the Layer Zero special edition at this year's Bristol Expo was entered into competition to win a copy signed by Xander Bennett Melanie Cook, Jonathan Hickman, and Ben Templesmith.

Being a lovely man as well as one of the most talented artists working in comics today, he agreed to write us a foreword. Here are some of the things he said:

"Cages is quite a book.

You can tell from the first page there's a love for the medium. You can clearly see the labour of love gone into this book, and clocking in past 100 pages is no mean feat in an age when many artists struggle to merely pencil a 22 page book.

I have to say, I'm a sucker for tentacles (yeah, bad pun). If anyone is familiar with my work, they'll know of this... and probably worry that I've got some rather strange fetishes. But by Odin's hairy balls, it's not a real book unless there's some tentacle action, if you ask me.

Cages has it in spades. You can't beat talking critters in bio-tubes either. In fact, the world Melanie and Xander have created here, the vibe they've given the work, is really quite lovely. And disturbing. Let's not forget disturbing."

And really, you can't argue with that.

If you want to see the tentacles in action before making up your mind to buy, then head over to myebook where you can read the first chapter for free or visit the Cages Comic website for more from Xander about the book.

In other news this week:

  • Insomnia have signed up the cult hit Fallen Heroes by novelist and co-host of the Geek Syndicate Podcast, Barry Nugent for adaptation into a graphic novel. Fallen Heroes is a stylish supernatural thriller with a rich dark heart. The sharp, multi-layered plot and slick characters of modern crime writing juxtaposed with shadowy agencies, ancient magic and pulp adventure heroes make for a heady fusion of action romp nostalgia. The creative team is yet to be confirmed but details here as soon as it is.

  • Average Joe by Thomas Romeo and Kelvin Chan has also been signed up for publication in around 12-18 months time. Joe is an ordinary Glaswegian who has become Death, the job having been passed on to him randomly after he freezes to death one night in his car. The story of how the team for this project came about, and how it came to us is an inspiring tale in itself - but that deserves a post of its own. For now we will just say "Thanks to Millarworld".
Time's up for this week, come by and say hello if you're going to Leeds.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Milk Before Bedtime

So, time to spill the beans, but hopefully not the MILK on a project we have been in discussions over for a while: MILK by Stref.

Visuals that will blow you away..
Stories that will mess with your mind...
Welcome to the world of MILK!

Instead of me telling you about it, take a look at this:

"Coming from a virtually unknown artist, MILK contains some of the most beautiful, expressive art that I've seen in a long time. It deserves to be a huge commercial success".
ALAN GRANT, June 2008

Yes, that Alan Grant. One of my absolute heroes. The man who co-created Johnny Alpha, the coolest character to step out of British Comics. In fact he wrote a lot more than that about the book, and has been very supportive to Stref during the creative process, but you'll have to wait til it comes out to find out about that.

And yes, it looks like Mr Grant is right. This is, after all, the book that got its facebook profile page suspended for having too many people sign up to it!

What is MILK all about then, and why has it got the internet so excited?

The simple answer is that MILK is a collection of short stories, but unlike most anthology titles they are all the work of one man. Every story in MILK is drawn by the same artist, but unlike most art portfolio books each piece is masterfully executed in a completely different style.

The book will be about 100 pages long, and consists of 14 short stories (so far!), a gallery of artwork, and plenty of "back matter" covering Stref's extraordinary style, the history of the project, and his creative techniques and inspirations.

MILK is a book you need to bring your brain to, with a range of story telling styles to match the diversity of the art, but it will also make you laugh. The stories are a mix of b&w, full colour and two colour work, sharing a similar themes and a very British strand of dark humour. While the stories are all individually excellent, reading them as a collection elevates them to a whole new level.

We heard of the MILK project through SmallZone a social network for independent comic creators run by the wonderful and indefatigable Shane Chebsey. This is a fantastic example of how technology, the web in particular, is changing "the way the comics industry works" and just the kind of thing we are keeping our eyes open for. Talent will out and there are so many ways now to connect creators, publishers and readers (and many people are something of each) in a glorious, blossoming chaos (to quote Cancertown writer, Cy Dethan in a recent interview) that can only be good for the medium we love.

This is one glass of MILK that won't give you a peaceful night's sleep.

Until next week.