Monday, 29 June 2009

All The News That's Fit To Print

Right sooooo much news this week. I don't know if it's ever been so busy! Let's get on with it then, or we'll be here all night.

Zoo Keeper
Cover Artist Confirmed

Just too late for last week's blog we got confirmation that we have a cover artist signed up for Zoo Keeper by Ben Morgan.

He's just got to get that pesky Batman and Robin Reborn out of his way and then...

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Zoo Keeper will be sporting a Frank Quitely cover, and we most certainly do give a damn.

Quarantine Artist Signed

The quarantine team is now complete, with Monty Borror signed on as artist.

Writer Michael Moreci saw this sketch arrive in his email box:

And said: "Wow. Absolutely nailed it. This is probably as close as I get to giddy. " which is always a good sign.

Monty has worked with us before, of course, in Layer Zero, and I've been itching to put his talents to use on a full length book for a while.

Monty recently won a Bronze medal at the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Horror category for work on Cold Blooded Chillers with Bob Heske.

Butterflies and Moths

Not content with only one happy writer per week we put smiles all over Corey Brotherson's face by causing these to show up in his mailbox.

These characters sketches are the work of Jennie Gyllblad a young artist I met at the Bristol Con back in May.

Jennie had come along to the show as a visitor for a look around in the afternoon as she lives locally, although she hails from Sweden, originally. Falling into conversation with Stephen Downey as he was sketching at the Insomnia table she let slip that she was an aspiring comics artist, currently an illustration student at UWE, Bristol and just finishing her second year.

Stephen, sharing the Insomnia love, immediately sent her home to gather together a portfolio in whatever form she could, and promised he would find me for her to talk to by the time she got back. Difficult as that was in the craziness of the con he did find me, find the now returned Jennie, and brought us together.

With only 15 mins til the doors closed we headed to the Mercure bar where I first got to see the mad talent that is the work of Jennie Gyllblad.

Her colours are dazzling, and the intuitive use of space and form in the layout was incredible. The expression and emotion in her characters gives you the feeling of something alive looking back at you through the panels. It didn't matter that she didn't have a business card printed (she wrote me her email on a scrap of paper), or that I had her work in a pile across both our laps and not in the smartest portfolio case money can buy.

Her talent and her passion radiated from every word she said to me, and from every image she showed. That's what's important.

Welcome to Jen, and a big thank you to Stephen Downey for encouraging her to show her work. It's great to see people who have got into the industry holding the door open for others.

Conway Signing

This week we welcome two new faces to the Insomnia Original Graphic Novel fold, Sean Michael Wilson (writer) and Adam R Grose (artist) who are the creators of Conway:

"By trying to financially help his grandmother, a young Scottish man gets in over his head with Irish gangsters.

On the journey that follows he begins a loving relationship, steals a large amount of money; and finally resolves the life long tension between himself and his grandfather.

Sean is a comic book writer from Scotland, now living in Japan. His work is mostly mature stories: biographical, historical, slice of life, though sometimes also fantastical stuff, especially magickal stories, collaborating with artists such as Sakura Mizuki of the popular RING horror series and Mike Collins, art on Superman, Batman and Harry Potter, etc.

Most recently Sean has been working on books for Classical Comics (The Canterville Ghost, Sweeny Todd and Wuthering Heights), Top Shelf (The AX alternative manga collection) and NBM Publishing (the Hong Kong based Story of Lee).

He has recently been contracted to write a long historical manga, based on the classic bushido samurai text HAGAKURE for Kodansha in Tokyo. They are the biggest publisher in Japan, therefore one of the biggest in the world. Samurai Japan being one of my personal interests I'll be snapping this up myself, even if I have to brush up my (very!) rusty Japanese to read it!

I met Adam in person for the first time at Bristol this year, although we had been in touch before this as he is a contributor to Layer Zero (with a story in the 09 Choices volume, and and one in the upcoming Survival for 2010).

When Sean first got in touch about the project, he didn't know that I knew Adam already and really loved his work, so that was one of those lovely coincidences that the universe is kind enough to throw out every so often, when I've been good.

Adam divides his time between writing, drawing, painting and teaching.Following exhibitions of his paintings in a variety of galleries, cafes and shops he continues to create paintings exploring the relationship between the image and the viewer. His current work is focusing on a variety of abstractions and the figurative, exploring themes associated with politics, war and religious iconography, from a humanist perspective.

He began writing the 550 page graphic novel Cosmogenesis: The Chronicles of Quongo in 1998. The series was collected together as a Trade Paperback in December 2007 and released to rave reviews. It has been compared to the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, Franz Kafka and Joseph Campbell in its scale and depth of this epic mythological tale. The saga contains many hidden codes that readers can decipher, leading to a deeper understanding of human history as told and written down in myths and expressed in celebratory rituals.

His current projects include The Dragonfly: An Eleanor Moreau Mystery, a Detective Story told in twelve chapters. Chapter One is currently available online at Clown Press. This will see print as a graphic novel in 2010.

A fantasy piece called Phoenix: A Warrior's Tale with Tony Suleri (who will be making his Insomnia debut in Survival), is to be published in September 2009 and a larger graphic novel which will explore hidden knowledge based on the origin of human civilisation and how this links to current political events and modern popular culture is in the works.

Crowley Signing

The next Vigil bio-graphic novel has now been signed up and it will be Crowley: Wandering The Waste by Martin Hayes.

Martin says:

"The first Crowley book I ever read was The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley: Tunisia 1923 edited by Stephen Skinner. That would have been around 1997 or 98, when I was nineteen or so.

I’d always been fascinated by characters who were surprising and unusual – Peter O’Toole, Bon Scott, Harlan Ellison, Alan Moore, William Blake, David Lynch. Anyone who set out to do interesting things, their way, and who didn’t care what the world thought of them. And if they got smashed off their face on drink and drugs while doing it, then so much the better. That's probably why Crowley caught my attention.

Over the next five or six years I read pretty much every Crowley book I could get my hands on, even the early poetry . . . “The burden of caught clap. How sore it is!”

When I heard that Insomnia were starting a new line of in-depth, historical graphic novels, I immediately knew that if I got the chance then my subject would have to be Crowley, Perduabo, The Great Beast 666, The Wanderer Of The Waste, The Wickedest Man In The World.

He's the only subject I'd be willing to expend this much effort on. There will be an awful lot of research involved, but at least I know that none of it will be boring"

And this is what we will be in for:

"Aleister Crowley was a man out of time, born too soon to a world that was not ready for him. Raised among the conservative Plymouth Brethren, he soon shook off their grim shawl of enforced piety and embarked upon a life of sexual adventurism, drug experimentation, and a serious and lifelong study of the occult.

He was a man of extremes and opposites; a formidable chess player, a world traveller, a noted mountaineer, the giver to humanity of a new religion for the aeons, a victim of venereal disease, a British Spy (or treasonous wastrel), a drug fiend, a poet, a prophet, a spoilt child, and someone who would become known in his own lifetime as The Wickedest Man In The World."

Martin’s short stories and comics have appeared in places like Nature, Neon, Futurequake, Wasted, and The Stinging Fly. He’s also currently working on an original graphic novel, Project Luna 1947 with artist Jim Boswell, to be published by Markosia.

Burke and Hare

As another book draws to a close I'm currently enjoying that "I love it when a plan comes together" moment as the final lettering layer is applied to the pages.

See what I mean?

Burke and Hare, it turns out, is now in the "eagerly anticipated" slot (even by someone's non comics reading Dad who knows the history) and it was receiving a lot of interest at the Waterstones signing on Saturday. Can it be time to start the pre-orders sheet for the Birmingham launch already?

The Big Fat Cancertown Weekend

Cy, Alasdair and I had a good time at Chelmsford Waterstones. This was our first bookshop signing (rather than an event or convention) and it was a very civilised affair.

The nice calm bookshop atmosphere meant that people could hang around and talk for much longer without there being some kind of pandemonium in the background, and we had some incredible conversations with people ranging from fairytales to chaos theory - via superheroes, surveillance culture and sexuality.

As always at events there was a certain amount of discussion with creators about submissions and ideas they have - so watch this space for more.

I've already mentioned the interest in Burke and Hare, and we also had some flyers for Kronos City, Unbelievable, Damaged Goods (and just how hard it was to find a page that would work on a flyer at an "all ages" event was harder then you realise!) and The Ion Monger's Daughter. The reactions just went to reinforce what we knew all along - we've got some amazing talent working with us. Thanks guys, we're honoured to be along for the ride.

Meanwhile, far to the North...

Crawford had a whale of a time at the Dundee Literary Festival by all accounts. He started the day by looking in on David Bishop’s creative writing workshop for an injection of Thrill Power, involving creating a 9 panel page to show the whole story from a choice of Jaws, Star Wars or The Wizard of Oz in only 5 minutes... not as easy as it sounds!

The event was held at Dundee University and Crawford had a good chat the art curator there and it looks like there may be original work from our creators on display there in the future.

Cages, Cancertown and Layer Zero: Choices were on display at the Insomnia and Borders stand, and after a quiet start, with most people in the lecture theatre listening to Ian Hague who’s writing a thesis on Comics and the Linearity of Time followed by talks from Emma Vieceli and Mel Gibson (no, that one, the other one!), things suddenly got busy in the afternoon with a lot of interest in the preview books,
containing pages from our upcoming titles, Burke and Hare in particular.

I was very pleased to hear that a good number of creators who attended the event are very interested in what we’re doing and several had very promising ideas which I’m looking forward to seeing.

Crawford’s talk was the last slot of the afternoon and after a few technical hitches, and despite the latest of the hour he was well away. He had a lovely shiny slide show and received lots of positive comments afterwards about so, as I thought, his nerves about it all were misplaced.
He says:

“It was great talking with lots of people who were involved in the industry and getting their opinions about what’s happening to the medium and the industry, and the compliments about what Insomnia are endeavouring to accomplish.”

He also managed, in between all that, to sort out the local Borders stocking our books, so you’ll be able to find them there now, should you ever find yourself in need of something to read in Dundee.

Meanwhile, across the sea…

Over at the Q Con things were going well with Stephen Downey and Andrew Croskery sketching and selling as fast as they could.

The Kronos city colouring competition went down a storm. The winner was Kieran Devlin with his trippy psychedelic version of the page. In Andrew’s words “It's funktacular!”

All the other entries will be posted up on the Kronos City blog for you to see as soon as Andrew can get them scanned in.

Stephen got a lot of sketch commissions, some of them bordering on bizarre. His first was a pirate fighting a ninja and a dinosaur, which he subsequently challenged Andrew to draw and that will be up on his blog very soon. They also designed some fun characters including Belinda the Depressed Banshee, Rosie the Troll Pimp, Mortimer the dapper skeleton and an unnamed pumpkin head man who gets attacked my birds who want to eat the creamy insides of his head.

You can see some sketches and photos over on Stephen's blog.

Apparently there was a lot of interest in Layer Zero from budding creators – so I’d better get the call for submissions out for the next one very soon!

To top it all off we found Cancertown had received yet another great review, this time from John Freeman at Down The Tubes. He said:

"I described to someone asking me what it was about as a "rip-roaring mindf***".

Now, that is a cover quote for the second printing!

He continued:

"The overall feel of the book is distinctly unsettling but rivetting -- a graphic novel you'll find yourself wanting to read in one sitting...While this is still early days for Downey, with the right guidance I can easily see him making the jump to, say, drawing for Vertigo or other publishers. Good luck to him -- and Cy, too, whose potential as a writer is, frankly, enormous."

You can read the full thing on Down The Tubes.

And Finally...

  • Alex Willmore and Lauren Anne Sharp, our Kronos City art team have been illustrating for Paranormal magazine this month. Pop over to their blog for a look at the pages.

  • The technical gremlins that were plaguing sci-fi pulse last week and now been dispelled and you can hear Simon Wyatt's interview from the website.

  • Kev Crossley, artist on Sidhe by Rachel Robbins, has a 4 page "Artist Insight" feature in this month's ImagineFX magazine on designing insane aliens.
I did say there was a lot of news!


The Jeninator said...

Eeep! Thank you so much for the kind words Nic! :D I'm very happy to be on board. You guys are made out of awesome.

Writing Gaijin said...

Welcome, Jen, you and your amazing work! You're gonna knock 'em dead, break their hearts and make them dance with joy... possibly in that order. You have the powah!