Thursday, 30 July 2009

Truth, and murder, will out

For what seems like forever Burke and Hare writer Martin Conaghan has been on holiday in Florida and filling Twitter with his jealousy inducing posts!

Proof arrived this week that his rest has been well earned, though, when Alan Grant sent in his Burke and Hare foreword.

He says:

"There's a moment in life that I savour: that delicious, perplexing instant when you realise that something you've 'known' for years is actually a crock of nonsense. Like discovering there's no Santa Claus. Or realising your parents can't read your mind when you think about sex. The Universe ripples like Predator shimmying through the jungle...and when it rights itself, reality has taken on a slightly different hue.

I had just such a mini-epiphany the first time I read Martin Conaghan and Will Pickering's 'Burke & Hare'. At school in the 1950s and '60s I was taught almost no Scottish history, and I spent the next 50 years believing Burke and Hare were 'resurrection men', graverobbers who dug up freshly buried corpses and sold them for cash.
It was a revelation to discover they were actually serial killers, vile brutes who measured the price of human life in pounds, shillings and pence, monsters for whom alcohol and smothering were the tools of their trade.

And yet...
Burke and Hare were men, too. They were human beings who - superficially at least - weren't all that different from their Edinburgh contemporaries. The major difference between them and most of the human race is that they saw murder for financial gain as an acceptable way to earn a living.

Revealing their story in generally short, concise chapters, Martin Conaghan's script is sparing and very much to the point. Indeed, he takes great care not to over-embellish the story with fiction, sticking almost religiously to the facts as presented to us by history. It is an approach which works well, presenting the killers' heart-chilling evil deeds as being almost mundane in their execution.

Will Pickering's art fits the story - and the times - perfectly. Facial expressions are beautifully captured, as are the dress and general atmosphere of the period. The detail on many pages - especially those external shots of Edinburgh in the early 19th Century - is priceless.
And Rian Hughes' cover design is exactly what the story inside demands.

Together, Martin and Will have produced something of which they and their publisher - the relative newcomer, Insomnia - can be very proud. As well as being educational and entertaining, they've gone one better and given us something important.

Hopefully, the Universe will ripple and change for a great many of their readers. "

Alan Grant, Moniaive,
July 2009

Alan Grant is not only a great comics writer, but a great Scottish comics writer, so having his involvement in the first book from the Vigil imprint, which is itself an Edinburgh story, with Scottish creators, from an Edinburgh publisher, is perfect.

And it's a relief to many of us to finally find out that our parents can't read our minds when thinking about sex.

Oh, we've got the Frank Quitely pin up in, too, but that's for another time, when everyone has been really really good.
Stephen Downey: Exhibitionist!

Stephen Downey is taking part in a local art exhibition showing off a few pages of original Cancertown art as partof the Belfast Feile.

The event runs from 3rd to the 14th of August at Westcourt Centre , 8-30 Barrack Street, Belfast.

Not content with merely showing off his skill as an artist Stephen will also be demonstrating his prowess as a musician, running Irish music workshops on the morning of Saturday 8th in the same building so he'll be there in person on that day.

A few of the pages will be up for sale and there will be a copy of Cancertown on display but if anyone wishes to buy the book either the school will take names for orders, or direct people to amazon.

Full details of the event, the pieces on display and the program can be found on Stephen's Blog.

New Signings


  • This week we welcome talented horror writer Steven Deighan to the Insomnia family with the sinuous, sinister, time-twisting Gravemaker.

    "The ghosts lay in wait in the shadows of the streets, in those places where the old and new merge like some distortion of skin and stone. Noiselessly they become one with the city of Edinburgh. The city of the dead."

    Steven is a prize winning author of short form horror fiction, and is now set to bring the energy of his dark, raw, passionately intense style to the world of the graphic novel.

    Be afraid.

    If you want to get your hands on some of Steven's prose fiction then he has a new book out this month Stages of Undress with a foreword by Tim Lebbon (author of Hellboy: The Fire Wolves) details on his website.

    You can also order copies of his debut anthology A Dead Calmness direct from Lulu.
Damaged Goods
  • Not a new signing exactly, but another "Insomnia Supergroup" as Jim Campbell joins the Damaged Goods crew on letters. I hope they play nicely with him!
San Diego Comic Con

Mel Cook (Cages, Cancertown, Average Joe, The Indifference Engine) was at the San Diego Comic Con last week, and here is what she got she got up to:

"The overwhelming supernova of insanity that is the San Diego Comic Con has well and truly passed for another year, leaving nothing but a giant katamari of two-hour lines, back-to-back panels and an excess of Dr. Horribles rolling about in my head. For the most part the experience was relatively pleasant, save for the events of the first day in which I arrived to find I had no accommodation and accidentally boarded a tram bound for Tijuana – “Ahh... why do they need sniffer dogs at the Convention Centre?”.

For someone who's spent the majority of the last three months working in solitary confinement chained to her Wacom, the hustle and bustle of around 125,000 costumed figures found me clinging to the walls with a mild case of agoraphobia. I credit my survival thankfully to the relative quiet of the Small Press section and the cool dark of the air-conditioned panels, with the exception of Hall H which I personally believe to be a fully functioning Hell-mouth responsible for the increase of bad mojo and 3rd degree burns amongst con-goers.

Highlights for me this year include the addition of CBLDF's 'Master Sessions' with such comic gods as Mike Mignola, Jeff Smith and Dave Gibbons, the consistently exceptional Colour for Comics panel by Hi-Fi's Brian and Kristy Miller, and waiting in line behind Heroes' Masi Oka to board the Amtrak back to LA (well technically not 'behind' him, as he was in Business Class and I was in Coach – starving artist ahoy).

Oh yes, and most importantly, learning in one panel about the wonderful Window >> Arrange >> New Window workflow in Photoshop. If, like me, it's something you've yet to stumble across, check it out ASAP. It's insanely helpful. You can modify your artwork whilst viewing it simultaneously in two windows at different magnifications and/or rotations. That MADE my day. I can not believe I did not know that. Man, I'm such a geek.

In between comic sessions and hunting down Scott Pilgrim badges, I vaguely recall attending a couple of film and television panels. Premier among those being Peter Jackson's Comic-Con debut at the District 9 panel, and the pilot screening for upcoming TV series V, a reimagining of the 1980's miniseries of the same name. District 9, directed by Neill Blomkamp (initially lined up to direct Halo with Peter Jackson) delivered some amazing visuals and visual effects for its exceedingly low $30 million budget, and looks to be an interesting watch given it's largely improvised script played out in the hands of relative unknown and school-mate of Blomkamp, Sharlto Copley.

Master Sessions and badges aside, I'm grateful to have survived the chaos, all limbs in order and loot in tow. The only regret to come out of the weekend was my failure to attend the True Blood panel thanks to a moment of sleep-deprived insanity. Ah well, there's always next year, Mr. Skarsgard."

Sharing the Love

Two loves to share this week as Insomnia creators extend their influence throughout the industry:

...That's all folks!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Cancertown Stitched Up

The glorious "double page bedspread" (as Cy Dethan has memorably named it) that is Bad Rain, the Cancertown / Quilting crossover event of the summer is now complete.

The original art by Stephen Downey, with colours by Mel Cook, looks like this:

and the quilted version looks like this:

If you visit Ferret's (the quilter responsible) blog then you can see photos of the various stages of production and read more about how it was done.

In the meantime here are some key stats she posted about it - and I always love stats:

  • When bound the quilt will be at least 90"x70"
  • There is over 4000m of thread on the front of the quilt
  • About 40 pre-wound bobbins were used in this quilt
  • More than 1/2m of solid black appears in the quilt - it surprised me, as most of the black - isn't
  • 4 1/2 cans of 505 spray baste held the pieces down so I could stitch them
  • 3/4 roll of freezerpaper was used to make patterns
  • 5m of washaway stabiliser was the pattern and quilting design
  • over 15m of ombre fabrics went in to this quilt.
  • the master pattern was 112 sheets of A4 paper
More on the quilt and other related Cancertown matters will be revealed in The Insomniac's Guide to Cancertown next year. As well as additional background material, unseen art from Stephen and more on the various techniques and processes, there will be an all new prequel story thrown into the mix, and maybe some clues about Volume 2, Blasphemous Tumours.

It'll be a lot like the bonus discs you get in some DVD packages, only in book form, and will be the first in a series expanding various Insomnia books.

New Signing:

The Empyre by Stephen Aryan

On his first day in office, the Prime Minister meets a member of his Cabinet he didn’t elect - Alistair Donovan, the Secretary of State for Nocturnal Affairs.

Donovan runs a secret government department that has existed for over a hundred years. In extreme circumstances, when a swift resolution is needed, the Prime Minister calls on Donovan and his team of hand-picked specialists.

The Empyre mixes fast-paced action with politics and drama, charting how the UK starts to become a world leader in a secret technology, and the effects it has on international politics.

If you watch 24 and The West Wing on TV and enjoy comics such as Ex-Machina and Queen and Country then keep your eye out for more news on this one in future.

Stephen is the co-host of the Comic Book Outsiders podcast and creator of Mythos, a mature superhero comic.

The Art of Kev Crossley

We are extremely pleased to announce Insomnia's next art portfolio book just as the first, MILK by Stref, goes to print.

Kev Crossley, the superhumanly talented artist on Sidhe is working closely with Art Director Rich Johnson to compile a book so beautiful it will break your heart.

Kev says:

"In life you have ambitions for the future: Get a nice car, find a great job, swim with squid, get your own art book published... those sorts of things. So far I've not managed to find any Squid to swim with, but that doesn't matter anymore as Insomnia have offered me my first ever Art Book!

If that wasn't enough, the design A.C.E. that is Rich Johnson will be designing the layout and graphics, so it is going to look STUNNING.

I'm so honoured, and hope to repay their awesomeness by filling this book with as many cool, weird, exciting and amazing illustrations as possible, including plenty of brand new pieces. "

Watch this space for up-dates!

I wonder if I can find him a squid from somewhere?

Fallen Heroes News

Barry "Fallen Heroes" Nugent was a special guest on the 30th episode of the Kryptographik podacst.

He discusses how his novel FALLEN HEROES started out being self-published through and has since been optioned for adaptations into both a graphic novel and a TV series, and the show also looks at how and why changes are made when stories are adapted to other media, past and upcoming adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, opinions about The War of the Worlds (starring Tom Cruise) and Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Kryptographik is a trans-continental podcast featuring Brian (in the U.S.) and Damian (in Australia), providing news, reviews, commentary and interviews covering horror, dark fantasy and science-fiction.

You can listen to the episode here

Insomnia Comics Workshop and signing on the Isle of Wight

The first workshop and signing went extremely well with lots of interest in the books that were, the books that are, and the books as yet to be.

Once again we had some brilliant, interesting and extremely wide ranging chats with people of all ages, into all kinds of different things, and the local newspaper (the Isle of Wight County Press) came along to take photos and talk about the books and the company.

This was the first time I had combined a signing with a pitching and portfolio session for local creators and there were some very promising discussions, so watch this space.

The shop is very keen to have us back for more of the same, so we must have been polite and well behaved.

Thanks to Paul Armstrong, Manager, for organising all of this.

More details next week, as I have literally just stepped through the door on returning from the trip and am now off for a well earned cup of tea!

See you in seven.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Buskers: The Graphic Novel

Popquiz, hotshots: What do the artists Mos Def, Kevin Spacey, Damon Albarn, Ian Brown, Sean Michael Wilson and Michiru Morikawa have in common with Insomnia Publications?

A: All of the above are involved in some way in with Jeymes Samuel's BUSKERS project, some with the comic, some with the music, some with the independent film.

BUSKERS is an offbeat tale set in contemporary London with an array of odd but realistic characters. The comic book is based closely on a screenplay written by singer and writer JEYMES SAMUEL (who might be tired of being refered to as the brother of the singer SEAL, but just so those not familiar can get an idea) .

It's written by Sean Michael Wilson, who we profiled when we announced the recent signing of his book, Conway, and is illustrated by Michiru Morikawa, an incredibly talented Japanese artist who won the International Manga and Anime Festival Award a few years back.

“Yet you get into a full blown fight over Joni Mitchell and I have to just suck it up. I mean, what is it with you and Joni Mitchell? As soon as Gary’s face heals he’ll be looking for me, because of you and Joni Mitchell. I had to do a pick up from Terry Ryan because of you and Joni fucking Mitchell.” - CABBAGE

I just loved the dialogue from the very first balloon.

Jeymes is currently working on the film version of BUSKERS and the different versions will complement each other.

He says:

"I was a comic geek since I’ve been able to read so it was an absolute necessity for me to have a graphic novel of BUSKERS whether I was making a film or not.

I liaised with Mike Lake (the founder of Forbidden Planet comic stores), who then introduced me to the the cult pen-man Sean Michael Wilson, who in turn brought on the IMAF Award winning Manga artist Michiru Morikawa. Thus began the creation of BUSKERS: The MANGA graphic novel."

You can find out more about the film version, and its soundtrack, on the Buskers Movie Blog.

This is how Jeymes summarises the story:

"Timothy Book is considered a big success amongst his peers – a high ranking job in banking, plush city apartment and trophy girlfriend to top it off. He’s on top of the world – until he crashes back down to earth with an almighty bang!

After underhand dealings at work lead to a police escort off the premises and a botched suicide attempt on the Thames, he turns up on the doorstep of ex best friend Cabbage, a streetwise busker who Timothy fell out with many years ago.

Cabbage inhabits the exciting underbelly of London’s colourful busking scene and Timothy is introduced to a side of life that he has never experienced.
As he tries to claw his way back to his previous self he becomes embroiled in Cabbage’s eventful and often dangerous lifestyle and begins to fall for the lovely Variniana – Cabbage’s beautiful girlfriend.

Timothy falls deeper into the busking scene and is forced to re-evaluate his former existence, friendships and relationships while embarking on an eventful journey back to the real Timothy Book."
Buskers the comic will be launched at BICS 2009 in Birmingham, UK where we will have a very special edition of the book (signed and limited to 100 copies), including a "Buskers Demo CD", with previews of a number of songs from the incredible soundtrack by The Bullitts.

If you cannot get to the show this year there will a number of books set aside for pre-order by paypal. You will need to email me at nichola[at] for details. Also if you want to be sure of getting your hands on one at the show, you can reserve your copy for pick up on the day.

The creators will be on the Insomnia stand at various points throughout the weekend, watch this space for more details as the event approaches.

Sean is a special guest of the show and will also be speaking on a panel showcasing his AX: Alternative Manga work for the godfather of indie publishers, Top Shelf.

New Signings

  • Babble by Lee Robson and Bryan Coyle

    "Carrie Hartnoll is a working class English girl stuck in a life going nowhere fast, but after a chance meeting with her old university professor she heads to America to start a new job as part of his research team.

    The team works to resurrect the mythical language of Babel - a language, Curtis theorises, that can be understood by any human being - and use it as the basis for the world's first universal translator.

    In this tale of dead languages and deadly secrets it’s not what you say, but how you say it that counts.

    Lee and Bryan have worked together before, with work appearing in the Accent UK anthologies and Futurequake
  • Sun Moon by Matt Gibbs

    Not about to let Matt slip away now he has completed the frankly wonderful Ion Monger's Daughter script we have signed him up to a second project, Sun Moon.

    "One ageing, one eternally young, two lovers must overcome the growing gulf, as their differing social classes remain locked in an endless cycle of oppression.

    Exploring love, devotion and duty, SUN MOON is the story of star and time crossed lovers, set against a backdrop of environmental disaster and segregation. One of the underclass, Leto is the son of a cryogenic engineer and destined to follow in his father's footsteps. A member of the ruling elite, Selene is a young and gifted scientist and one of Leto's cryogenically frozen charges. As the years pass they fall in love, against the conventions of their segregated society and the counsel of their friends and peers.

    For Leto their affair is a few brief days grabbed every few years, for Selene it is the passage of weeks, watching him grow from a boy to a man much older than her. As the years move on Leto becomes a dissident, rebelling against the injustice and oppression of their society, forcing Selene to choose between him and all that she has known."

    Matt says:

    "I’m really excited and grateful that Insomnia has signed Sun Moon. I’ve been kicking around the idea in one form or another since before The Ionmonger’s Daughter and the opportunity to realise it now, as a graphic novel, is fantastic.

    It is great keeping Sun Moon in the family, so to speak. Working with Larry and Insomnia on The Ionmonger’s Daughter so far has been a delight. Chatting with people on Twitter, reading people’s blogs, it is obvious everyone who is part of Insomnia is doing work they love, and it shows in the atmosphere and attitude of all involved.”

  • A big welcome to letterer Jim Campbell who will be joining the Kronos City team, for starters. Jim also works with Classical Comics on their range of graphic novel adaptations of classic literature, and for Zenescope's Grimm Fairy Tales.

    Jim's sensitivity to the art in devising his lettering styles is exquisite, and I'm incredibly pleased to have him on board.

Rachel Robbins: Sidhe-Wolf Of the North!

Proving that not only is she a great writer, but a bit of secret artist on the side here is what Rachel "Sidhe" Robbins has been up to instead of writing her script:

Rachel says:

"This piece --titled "In the Dark"-- features a blindfolded Brigid O'Connor, Queen of the Bean Sidhe.

The story is an amalgamation of mixed mythology, twisted history, and borrowed genres.

Our book is a celebration of collaboration and the marriage of contraries and this piece is an expression of exactly that:
darkness juxtaposed with light, Celtic paganism, gothic mentality - multi layered in both themes and media"

Combining various elements from both creators: Kevin's modified drawings, Rachel's painting/collaging, Sharpie (!), various paper textures, random glossy clippings, etc. the collage truly reflects the nature of Sidhe I: The Howl and is a perfect expression of the minds of two creators truly working as one.

The knot is a letter taken from the Book of Kells. Rachel is offering a free copy of "In the Dark" to the first Redeye reader who can translate! Go to the new Sidhe facebook group for full details.

I've been talking with Kev Crossley and Rachel about some incredible ideas for the presentation in this book - you've been warned!

Insomnia On The Road

  • Cancertown Signing and Comics Workshop in Waterstones, Newport, Isle of Wight. As well as a signing with Cy Dethan we're going to do a bit of a comic workshop, open pitch session and portfolio reviews. Anyone who's interested will be able to take a look "behind the curtain" and see how the whole process works

    In other Cancertown news I was pleasantly surprised to find, on a random visit earlier this week that the free ebook preview of the complete chapter one has now had over 100,000 views.

    Visit our ebook page on our website to see what other previews we have for you.

  • Half Term Seminar: What Makes A Comic with Alasdair Duncan

    On Tuesday 21st of July writer Alasdair Duncan will be holding an Insomnia workshop in Colchester Central Library from noon onwards.

    Topics covered will include what is a comic; where you find comics; how do comics differ from prose and paintings ans illustrated texts. Practical sections will explore using a familiar sequence of events to look at scripting, layout, artwork and types of panel progression.

    It will all be very much hands on, with with lots of examples and exercises.

    The workshops will run approximately one every 8 weeks, with the students having produced a book by the end of the course that will be published with the help of the library.

The Oxfam Comics Event sounds like it was a great day for all involved. Here is the piece from the Evening News that appreared the night before the event (click on image to read full size version):

Crawford writes:

"I arrived at the McDonald Road Library with banner, table and previews in hand and my glamorous assistants - my girlfriend, Audrey and my good friend, Matt. We were the first to arrive and met up with Jamie, one of the organizers from Oxfam who had very kindly arranged for Insomnia to come along and be a part of the Edinburgh event. While Jamie was busy setting up all the stock from the Oxfam shops, including some Akira, Ghost in the Shell, 2000AD, Nightmare on Elm Street, and a copy of Insomnia’s Cages (which was purchased later in the day) John McShane, Publisher of the Bogie Man (amongst many other things), former owner of A1 Comics in Glasgow and the panel chairman for the event arrived.

Soon after, Ferg Handley (Commando, Spiderman) and our very own Insomniac Stevie White (MILK) appeared. Stevie had brought along some of the original pages from MILK to put on display.

I was introduced to Barbara Bryan who’s producing a graphic novel on Human Trafficking which sounds very interesting, and Ben Morgan (Zoo Keeper) arrived later on, along with Callum Carr, who is contributing to the next layer zero and currently talking to us about some longer projects.

On the first panel, talking about “Comics in Scotland: Scottish Comic Creators” were John McShane, David Bishop, Ferg Handley, Stevie White and myself. This was a light-hearted discussion about how we’d all become interested in comics, our backgrounds, and our inspirations

At the first interval I spoke briefly with David Robertson (Carnoustie Library) and Jeremy Briggs (Down the Tubes). Before the next panel I gave a short presentation on Burke and Hare, showing the eight pages which are currently available to view on MyEbook and two exclusive pages which have never been seen before. The second panel was a discussion about “The Up’s and Downs of Small Press Publishing”. This time David Bishop took to the audience and we were joined by Bad Press and Wasted’s Fraser Campbell for an insightful look at Small Press from screen to print and distribution.

I spoke with Lyndsey Hutcheson, who’s producing a piece for the Burke and Hare Gallery in the book, briefly at the second interval and Fraser about his work on Wasted. Meanwhile, Stevie spoke with visitors about MILK and was able to show off some of the incredible artwork he’d brought along. The last session of the day was “Inspirational Scotland: Why do so many comic folk come from Scotland?” with the original 5 members, David and John brought up interesting discussions about 2000AD and Ferg spoke about his work on Spiderman in Edinburgh and much about his work on Commando and using locations in the highlands of Scotland.

Concluding the comics fest we headed along to Pearces Bar (on Elm Row) for a good bit of “after-party networking”. Amidst the consumption of numerous pints there were thoughts and suggestions bouncing around of a monthly meeting with the Edinburgh local creators. If any of the folk that were there are reading this, please get in touch with me and we’ll see what we can arrange!

It was fantastic to be a part of the Oxfam Comics Fest, and I hope all the visitors found the topics interesting… we’re already discussing what to do for next year!

My thanks to Stevie for coming along and braving an audience, and to Jamie and Andy, from Oxfam for inviting us and for putting together a superb event."

And Finally...

The Geek Syndicate are running a competition to celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray release of Watchmen on July 27.

Paramount Home Entertainment and Empire have teamed up to offer you the chance to meet Dave Gibbons and also have him draw your favourite Watchmen character!

More details on the Geek syndicate website - but quick though, it closes on 23rd July.

Bryan Talbot was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Arts last week by the University of Sunderland. This is the first time such an award has been given to a comic book artist.

Bryan says:

"This doctorate, a first in the UK for work in the comics medium, is an indication of the growing recognition of the graphic novel as a respectable vehicle for entertainment, education and communication and the medium itself as a legitimate art form. There's still a lot of prejudice and preconceived notions of what comics are but we're getting there."

Congratulations to Bryan, and well deserved. He's been blazing the trail for all of us for decades, and he's still as far out in front as ever.

Read the full story and see a picture here.

See, it's not all happening at San Diego.

Monday, 13 July 2009


If not then you can you pre-order the special edition hardback from amazon now!

MILK is an incredible piece of work by artist Stref, and has been 10 years in the making. In fact, rather than me tell you about something so visually arresting why don't you have a look at the ebook preview:

Myebook - MILK - click here to open my ebook

There will only be 100 of the original hardbacks, all signed and numbered, to co-incide with a gallery exhibition of Stref's original art at the Fine Art Library in Edinburgh during September.

There will be the opportunity to buy some of the original artwork during the course of the show, although, of course, you won't be able to take it home until the exhibition has ended.

The gallery is open open 10-8 Mon- Thurs, 10-5 Fridays and 9-1 on Sat.

Alan Grant said:

“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.”

So what is MILK?

MILK is a collection of short stories but unlike the usual comics anthology, every story is written and drawn by the same artist.

MILK is an artist retrospective, but unlike most art portfolio books, each piece is masterfully executed in a completely different style.

There is currently a competition running over at the The MILK facebook group to win the original art for this fantastic page:

And if you're still thirsty for more MILK take a look at:
Oxfam Comics Fest

Staying in Edinburgh this Saturday, 18th July, will see our beloved leader Crawford Coutts is taking to the podium again this week and this time "it's for charidee, ladies and gents".

Crawford will be part of a panel on “the ups and downs of small press comics” with Ferg Handley (Marvel Heroes, Commando), David Bishop (2000ad, Doctor Who), followed by a Q&A session.

There will also be a sneak peak at some of the never-before-seen pages from our imprint Vigil’s upcoming Burke and Hare Bio-Graphic Novel.

The event takes place at:
McDonald Road Library,
2-4 McDonald Road
12pm - 3pm
Tickets are £3 from all city Oxfam Bookshops.

Six Months: First Art

This week I saw the very first "work in progress" art for Six Months.

Six Months is by Jim O’Hara, with art by Gary Crutchley and is an uneasy exploration of what happens when, perhaps too late, you discover the answers to what it is that gives your life meaning, the relationship between law and society, and what it means when you longer need to hide anything from yourself or others.

Sidhe Pin Up, Stage Two

Last week you saw the rough pencils for the Sidhe poster, now Kev has finished them off.

Soon I'll be able to show you the final version, which Kev hopes will cause salivation, so make sure you bring plenty of tissues.

Quilty Pleasures

Yes, you did read that right, and no, it's not often you will find a comic publisher's blog that has something to say about the world of quilting.

However, this is no ordinary comic publisher's blog, and this is no ordinary quilter!

Those you who have visited the Insomnia stand at UK events may well have encountered Ferret helping out (long dark hair, lots of tattoos, mischievous gleam in her eye!). Yes, that is her real name. No, that's all of it. Yes, really, it is. However being a stand helper is just a cunning disguise for a woman who, in her time has been a real life rocket scientist (oh yes!), a maker of musical instruments, and deadly weapons (both real and as movie props), part of a drag racing crew and who, a few years ago, unexpectedly and triumphantly turned her talents to the world of textile art.

In fact one of the most famous people in the field, Ricky Tims, just said this about her in the foreword for her first book, Ferreting Around:

"Every now and again, a new talent emerges in the quilt world that transcends the ordinary and is instantly unforgettable."

You can read the full foreword and pre-order the book at her website

To put it in context for us, that's like Jack Kirby saying you draw a mean superhero!

Now that's all very nice, I'm sure you're thinking, someone you know has achieved artistic recognition and success - but what does that have to do with comics?

Well, I'll tell you: Ferret is creating what we think is the first comics/quilting cross over piece for a gallery show she has this summer. It's called Bad Rain and is the first double page spread fight scene from Cancertown. It's going to be 90" across. That is half as tall as me again!

The book will be on sale alongside the piece, and Cy and I will be going to help out at the gallery on the Saturday while Ferret is teaching, so we may even get some signing in.

Surprisingly we have found quite a lot of interest in the graphic novels in the quilting community when Ferret has mentioned the project to her students. They are, or course, both very visual media, and the project has opened up whole new audiences on both sides. But then I guess you only have to have to look at the Bayeaux Tapestry to realise sequential art and textiles have a heritage older than it might first appear.

Watch this space for news of a possibly "Unbelievable" further project in the future.

And Finally...

  • We are pleased to announce that we now have our very own Hollywood Agent to look after the screen adaptation side of things for us.

  • Kronos City chapter one is now complete, so look out for an ebook very soon.

  • I just want to mention the beautiful limited edition of Razorjack that is out from Com.x. This is nothing to do with us, but it fills me with joy when I see other independent publishers getting out there and doing something really different and special.

And until next week remember the immortal words of Torquemada: "Be pure, Be vigilant, Behave".

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Worth A Thousand Words

After last week's mammoth wordfest this week we have lots of pictures to gaze at, in a great range of styles. I can't tell you how excited we are about all the books and how they're coming to life.

To think, when we started this blog not yet a year ago we wondered if there's be enough to go in it to make it weekly!

So, let's kick off with the latest ebook preview:

Myebook - Burke and Hare - click here to open my ebook

This little bundle of greatness will let you have have a peek between those gorgeous Rian Hughes covers for a look the sequence of pages 5-12.

Sidhe Pin Up (Work In Progress) by Kev Crossley.

With this one you really need to click to get the bigger version to appreciate the trademark Kev Crossley detail.

This is really a "mood piece" that Kev is working on at the moment as he starts to explore the feel of the world. Our heroine, Emer, can be seen in the foreground, with The Goddess presiding behind her.

Writer Rachel Robbins says:

"Creating Sídhe with Kev Crossley is both an honor and an adventure. What a delight to work with such an intuitive artist, and find myself repeating ad nauseum, “Yes, that’s EXACTLY what I was picturing!”

Kev deftly captures concepts, themes, and mood—his intuition is so spot-on that he picks up on minute nuances which makes me read my own work in a different way.

We’re constantly bouncing ideas off each other; his drawings influence and shift my characters, settings, and story in exciting directions I hadn’t anticipated.

Having always wanted to be a musician, Sídhe gives me a taste of what it might be like to compose an apocalyptic rock opera with a like-minded performer who is equally compelled by what is beautiful, what is hideous, and what is hideously beautiful."

Artist Kev Crossley says:

"With Sidhe, Rachel couldn't have concocted a tale better suited to the sort of work I like to do: Grotesque villains, gorgeous heroes; ancient angry forests and the clotting shadow of a new order.

It's a modern story in which Celtic Mythology seethes beneath the asphalt as the saucer eyed masses exult with pharmaceutical zeal within cavernous temples of gaudy Devotion.
...but it's so much more than just that...."

These two complement each other so perfectly it's a bit unreal.

I first got in touch with Kev through Rich Johnson, who went on to become our art director, and as you can see, has a great eye for talent.

Damaged Goods: Manifestation Panel for Karma Police by Mark Chilcott

Now speaking of the hideously beautiful...

When we said Damaged Goods delivers "short dark tales to keep you up all night" this is what we were talking about.

As they were having one of their more lucid periods we let Mark and Richard out of the dark attic where they are usually chained to let us know how things are going:

Artist Mark Chilcott says:

"From my point of view, it's the story [Karma Police] I've had the most fun with, and I just love the character. I hope me and Rich and can expand on him and his "worlds" in the future, Rich's scripts are always fun and leave me enough room to add my own personality.

The THING panel was easy, you've met Rich"

Writer Richard McAuliffe says:

"We are getting to the half way point now and seeing the stories come to life the way they have has been kick ass and a little disturbing. I keep thinking "Wow, Mark is really messed up" then check back and realise he's just done what was in the script. That stuff never seems quite as dark in my head as it does on Mark's pages with all the cool touches he adds.

I honestly cannot wait till we get this done and I can show it off... especially to my mother in law who always thought I was too weird for her daughter.

Couldnt be happier with how this has all come together and with the support we've got from the lovely people at Insomnia (I have to say that, they have my signed copy of Nemesis the Warlock hostage)"

First, though, he said a bad thing involving Princess Leia,, and don't listen to his lies about Nemesis the Warlock either, that's how he gets in your head. He just covets my original sketches by Kev O'Neill and Bryan Talbot - and I have my OWN signed copy, thank you.

Oz: Fall Of The Scarecrow King coloured page and Concept Sketches by Barry McGowan

So, above you can see the fully painted page one, and the character sketches for the Lion, Tin Man and the Scarecrow. It's almost like they could just step right off the page isn't it?

This is another artist who was introduced to us at Bristol by Stephen Downey, who, it seems, breeds exceptionally talented people down in his cellar or something.

Butterflies and Moths splash page test by Jennie Gyllblad

Speaking of artists herded up by Stephen, Jennie Gyllblad, despite the heat and lack of wrist supports, has been painting at something near the speed of light. Last week if you remember, we had just signed her up, and she had done some concept sketches. This week she has already done a rough for the first splash page.

If you skip on over to her blog you can see the pencil stages there as well.

And Finally...

  • For those wanting to order Cantertown via a comic shop it was in previews this month and the order code is: JUL091827

    A reminder that the Cages code is NOV085310

  • Layer Zero:Choices is about to go for a second printing and will be in Previews next month.

    Speaking of Layer Zero, Survival is now full, and there is a waiting list for inclusion. The next book will be Exile, but I'll be doing a proper announcement about submissions for that in a few weeks.

  • Alasdair Duncan will be running a workshop as part of our Essex Libraries tour on the 11th of July at Pretty Gate Library from 10-12am

    The event is part of the launch of the the teen/young adult reading section at the library.

    There will be a chance to participate in several events that give an unique insight into differrent aspects of comics story telling including the ever popular Cages Consequences, a colouring competition and a Caption Creation with art previously published in Layer
    Zero Insomnia/Time.

    There will also be a display of current and upcoming Insomnia books.

  • Cy Dethan and I will be running an Insomnia Comics workshop at Newport Waterstones on the Isle Of Wight on the 25th of July. As well as being able to get signed copies of Cancertown it will be a chance for all aspiring local writers and artists to come in and chat about getting into comics, working with a publisher, see books in production and pitch ideas or show portfolios.

    If you haven't heard the story, Cancertown was first born out of an incredible migraine attack on the island, following a huge thunderstorm. When inspirations strikes, it can strike hard.

  • For those of you going to San Diego Comic Con, have a great time. We don't have a table there this year, but look out for several of our creators, including Mel Cook and Kelvin Chan who will be around all weekend.
Take Care of Yourselves...

...And Each Other