Monday, 22 June 2009

Cancertown Triple Header

Saturday 27th of June 2009. Three separate but linked events in three separate but linked countries. No longer able to operate just as one team, this is day we split apart and operate as The Cancer Cells.


In Ireland we will have Stephen Downey hosting Insomnia's table as a guest at the Q Con (the annual Gaming Convention hosted by Dragonslayers, the Queen’s University Belfast Gaming and Anime Society.) He'll be sketching and selling copies of Cancertown (with display copies of Cages and Layer Zero from 6 on the Friday night and all day Saturday.

One of the competition prizes is a set of Cages, Cancertown and Layer Zero as well as an original A3 sketch by Stephen, seen below.

Having begged Stephen until he sold me a page of original art (the final page of chapter two of Cancertown, if you were wondering) I can tell you that this is really something worth having.

Andrew Croskery will be on hand to help all weekend and you should go and talk to him about Kronos City which is just zooming along. I saw some more pencils today and they are amazing. We'll also be running a Kronos City colouring competition with a graphic novel of your choice up for grabs as a prize for our favourite. We'll put the winner and any special favourites up on the blog.

For more details check out Stephen's blog and the Kronos City blog.


Insomnia Overlord Crawford Coutts has been invited to speak at the Dundee Literary Festival alongside such luminaries of the comics world as David Bishop (Tharg to mortals such as we) and Warren Ellis.

He will be on at 4.50pm for anyone who is around and will be speaking about Insomnia, the developments in the UK comic industry and its changing readership.

He says:

"I'm very excited that Insomnia has been invited to be a part of the Dundee Literary Festival. Dundee was well known for its historic 3 J's - Jute, Jam and Journalism. In the past decade all three had all but disappeared for the future "Interactive Media". It's great to be a part of re-embracing the journalistic origins of the city and returning to the printed page and the great art of story-telling in all its forms of literature."

There will an Insomnia table on the Sunday with previews on show and books for sale. Throughout the festival you will also be able to get our books from the Borders stand.

He's a Dundee boy himself, so this will be something of a homecoming for the "Local Boy made good".


Cy Dethan, Alasdair Duncan and I will be in Chelmsford for the first of the Waterstones signings from 11am-1pm.

Organisers often ask for some background to help them promote the events they are putting on and encourage people to come along - so here is Cy, talking a bit about Cancertown:

"My primary focus right now is on prying open whatever doors I can jam a foot in, and using those opportunities to tell the best stories I can.

I've had a phenomenal run of luck in my short time in the industry, and some influential and talented people have been saying very nice things about my work.

Of course, the responsibility now is to somehow live up to that. I'm busy out in the trenches, paying my dues.

The big milestone I've hit with Cancertown is that it's my first creator-owned book. Since there isn't a licence or established continuity to adhere to, I've been given an astonishing amount of freedom in where I can take the story.

That freedom, combined with Stephen Downey's ability to keep pace with every insane idea I could throw at him, has really served to kick the training wheels off our collaboration and allowed us to explore the story in a much more comprehensive way.

Cancertown has really benefited from Stephen's gift for horribly distorting an image while maintaining its essential character. The book requires a number of key locations to be rendered in two distinct forms, one for each of the "realities" represented throughout the story.

Stephen has the Quixotic ability to look at a giant Ferris wheel and consider, just for a moment, that it might contain giant jellyfish/eyeball creatures that latch onto your chest and suck out your personality. That, fundamentally, is what makes him the right guy for the job."

And here is Stephen:

"People have asked me a lot what was the initial appeal of the project and I'd say that right from the beginning it was the concept outline and the range of things I'd get to draw. I was hoping the script would live up to the high concept and after reading chapter one I was itching to get my teeth into the project.

I think the high concept allowed Cy (Dethan) to keep me on my toes. He has managed this really delicate balance of alternating real-world and Cancertown scenes at just the right time so that after working a bit more methodologically on drawing the real-world London, the scene changes just as I'm itching to go crazy with the pencil in the much more monsterous Cancertown version. Then, just as I feel the need for straight lines and ink work again, Cy is just about to reign it back in again. I think this is something readers will relate to as well.

The story is filled with an alternate corroding world, monster gang lords, beautiful women, a little burnt girl and one angry man trying to find his place amongst all this, so to say there were interesting visuals to come up with is an understatement.

I always read visually so when I'm devouring a new script from Cy I'm imagining the scene as I go along (and often reimagining as the script adds layers to the scene). I often revisit these scene and change the 'camera angle' around to get the most dynamic or best storytelling view.

Its almost like Cy has planted little seeds in my head and the world grows out of them by themselves (and of course as Cy feeds them new scripts). There were a few things like a "looking down through a whirlwind of daggers a hundred foot tall" that I had to figure out a way to convey, but its usually the case that there are too many angles and interpretations that I want to draw rather than lack of them. Although I ended drawing every dagger in that worldwind so I wasn't hoping to draw that more than once!

I get asked about particualr highlights in the projects, and an unexpected one was probably just seeing the improvement in my own art from the first pages until the last. As the book builds to its climax in the last few scenes I had gotten to know these characters inside out (some literally) and was able to create a finish to the last chapter that I wouldn't have had the ability to do as effectively when I first started the graphic novel.

It's also a delight to see your artwork coloured and lettered by great talent (thats Mel Cook and Nic Wilkinson respectively), its a surreal tranformation seeing a penciled/inked piece of art turn into a comicbook page."

So there you have it - and if that doesn't encourage you to come and see us at whichever event is closest to you, I don't know what will!

Burke and Hare: The Musical

Well, not quite, but we are very pleased to have been approached by an Edinburgh band, Static 18 (who, we learn, are three drunken reprobates from South Queensferry, who aim to bring their own brand of noise to the Edinburgh scene and beyond!), wanting to use a panel from Burke and Hare as the cover for their demo album Infamous Crime.

In their own words they are:

"Some kind of cross-breeding experiment between Punk, Ska aand Metal!"

You can have a listen at their MySpace or Facebook pages, go on, you know you want to.

And my favourite artist quote of the week is from the blog of Will Pickering himself:

"Crowd scenes are a bit like tattoos: they can look great, but you need to be a particular kind of crazy to put yourself through the pain of getting them that way, and one careless line can ruin everything."

We feel your pain, Will, but you're nearly done, and the results are worth every bit of the agony.

Michael Moreci News

Some news just in from Michael Moreci, writer of the upcoming Quarantine, and The Police Channel short story for Layer Zero:Survival

This Sunday Michael will be speaking on a panel that is part of the annual Think Galacticon. The panel will be at Roosevelt University, from 1030-1145 a.m.

He and others (including Third Coast Comic's Terry Gant) will be discussing "ANARCHISM AND THE SUPERHERO: ANTI-CRIME DIRECT ACTIONIST OR ENFORCER OF THE STATE?"

When he was invited he leaped at the topic.

The description reads like this:

"Let's talk about superheroes. From Alan Moore's Watchmen and V for Vendetta to Warren Ellis's The Authority to DC's Superman to Marvel's Captain America there are a variety of perspectives on the superhero and politics."

Oh yes, we bring you creators who know their stuff.

Also, if you pop over to Michael's blog you can catch a preview of the first lettered page from his short 'Underworld', which will be seen in Something Wicked out this Autumn.

The art is by the excellent Keith Burns, who is currently doing pencils and inks for Garth Ennis's Herogasm (and a fill in for The Boys) - not to mention the cover for our very own Quarantine, and the art for Michael's story, The Police Channel in next year's Layer Zero: Survival.

Back to clearing the mound of emails now, back in seven, with, fingers crossed, some exciting news.

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