Friday, 23 October 2009

The Shape of Things To Come

Just got back from the MCM Expo. What a rush. 40,000 people in one hall. It's very different to the purely comics focussed cons, but it's very interesting to see a wide view of what is happening across what is increasingly being called "Geek Culture".

(The pristine stand before opening and Jeymes being interviewed about Buskers)

As always there was a lot of cosplay going on, and the costumes seem to be getting more professional and elaborate each year. Some favourite moments were selling a bundle of books to a fully garbed Roman centurion, talking about bustles (which I have always wanted) with a beautifully costumed Victorian couple, and finding myself in the middle of an impromptu corset lacing lesson with Ferret, Dave Monteith of The Geek Syndicate and Amy from Birds of Geek!

The Steampunk area had some amazing items and costumes on display, and there were full size replicas of the Halo Warthog, Ghostbusters Ectomobile and Flying Delorian from Back To The Future on show. I didn't get to play Lego Rockband, but I did get a look at the 3D demo of the Avatar game which had to be seen to be believed. And as for the "Carry on Alien Autopsy Strip Show Extravaganza!" well, that had to be seen to be believed.

Thanks to Will Pickering, Ollie Masters, Jeymes Samuel, Cy Dethan and Ferret who did stints signing and helping out on the stand. Especial thanks to Katy, Ollie's girlfriend, who was there for the entire show and surely did not know what she was getting herself into before she got in through the doors! She did survive the experience, though, and what does not kill you makes you stronger, right?

It was also good to catch up with some Insomniacs who were around the show during the weekend, Alex Willmore and Lauren Anne Sharp from Kronos City, James Peaty from Frank Sarte, Luke Foster from Dream Solver, and to meet Celeste Sharp from Shock Theory for the first time.

Huge thanks, or course, to the tireless Emma Vieceli for organising the Comics Village.

While the lovely pic below is actual a preview of a new double page spread from the warped pen of Mr Mark Chilcott, and not an artists impression of the show, it is pretty close.

The book is in the home stretches now, so keep your eyes peeled for the date we'll be delivering Damaged Goods . This time it's going to be the customers who are shop soiled!

PSP Digital Comics Update

There was huge interest in the announcement of Insomnia being in the PSP Digital Comics Store at the show, and for those who follow Twitter, you might have noticed this little tweet from the Sony PSN people last week.

If you want to follow us on twitter we are @insomniapublications and if you want to follow Sony's Digital comics updates they are @psncomics

New Graphic Novel Signing

As living proof that pitching at cons does work we are pleased to announce the signing of The Reckoning by Jimmy Pearson with art by Patrick Walsh, having first spoken to them about their book at BICS.

Solicit Text says:

"A nightmarish beast of Lovecraftian proportians goes head to head with a US Navy Destroyer just off the antartic coast. Isolated and cut off from command, the USS Reckoning and its impressive arsenal are all that stands between an unsuspecting humanity and an interdimension monstrosity habouring apocalyptic intent!"

Jimmy says:
"I am really chuffed to be working with the Insomnia team and Patrick on The Reckoning.

This story has risen from the dark depths of my fanboy heart and I am aiming to tick everybody's boxes. Big boats, big guns and even bigger monsters; all with the boiler room apocolyptic- tension of Crimson Tide!

Of course you can't argue with that, so we didn't!

Patrick says:
"I'd like to say that we are extremely excited at the prospect of joining the ranks of Insomnia and are proud to stand beside such fantastic titles such as Buskers, Cancer Town et al."

Patrick graduated in Illustration and spent a while as an Art teacher and have spent the last few years in the world of finance (where else!?) and is now looking to go full time into illustrating.

Speaking of artists...

Artist signed for Terminus

Last Wednesday was one of those days when you haven't had time to properly celebrate one piece of good news before 3 more follow hot on it's tail, within about 10 mins of each other!

The first of these to come in is that Keith "The Boys, Herogasm, Blood PSI" Burns will be doing both the covers and internal art on Terminus by Michael Moreci. Work will likely begin early next year.

Keith is also doing the cover for Quarantine, by Michael which will be out in 2010.

As for the other pieces of news - well, two are secret for now, but I can tell you about one more of them in the piece about the Hard Hat Riots, further down after more artist news...

Artist signed for Frank Sartre

James Reekie has been sharpening up his pencil, and limbering up his drawing fingers ready to begin work on Frank Sartre by James "Supergirl, JSA, Green Arrow, Batman" Peaty.

The signing of James Reekie to a book has to be the quickest in comics artist history. James P and I had been dicussing styles that would work with the script, Frank Satre is a very artistically demanding book amd we were even wondering if one artist could really do all of that. Then, as if the fairy godmother of comics herself had been listening, a portfolio arrived in my inbox that ticked every single thing we had been talking about!

I showed James the artist (this is is going to get confusing, or turn into Ivor The Engine, with both creators on a book sharing the same name!) the script and synopsis. He said:

"I'm totally sucked in, it's great! A lot of great visual references, homages... really really excited!"

and within hours I had concepts and moodboards.


City Scape

I sent them to James the writer (maybe I should refer to them as James the pen and James the brush?) and he said:

"Hell, yeah!' He's terrific"

And the rest, as they say, was history.

Speaking of history...

New Vigil Signing: The Hard Hat Riots

Those you who follow comics news at any of at Alternet, The Guardian, Boing Boing, (among others) will no doubt have seen the coverage of a web comic about the Honduran Coup by writer Dan Archer and artist Nikil Saval.

Not only is it fantastic to see politcal debate about real issues generated by comics in this way, showing their true potential, reach and power and bringing them to the attention of mainsteam media, but the fact that it is one of our own creators who is at the centre of it all is even better.

Dan Archer creates non-fictional, journalistic comics and co-teaches the graphic novel course through the Creative Writing Department at Stanford University.

We are very proud to present his first graphic novel, The Hard Hat Riots, based on the revolutionary fervour that took over New York in 1970.

Despite being downplayed by the media at the time, the growing dissent and rising power of the political left posed a significant threat to the establishment, mired as it was in the foreign policy catastrophe of the Vietnam war.

By reinvestigating this crucial turning point, particularly in the context of 1968 and the People's revolution, Dan aims to bring to life a period of history that is often overlooked by the mainstream whilst questioning our notion of historical truth.

Lower Manhattan in May 1970 and the city is on the brink of chaos. Nixon's recent decision to invade Cambodia has met with fierce unrest throughout the national student population, and the country is still in shock after witnessing the brutal murder of 4 students at Ohio University at the hands of the National Guard.

Famous from the Colombia University takeover, the SDS (Students for Democratic Society) has splintered and radicalised, engendering the Weather Underground, whose members believe only all-out revolution can rid the US government of its racist and imperialist agenda. The days of rage from Chicago's Democratic convention in 1968 are still fresh in the public's mind. Students are rallying in the big apple.

Meanwhile, construction on the East Coast is booming, and nowhere more so than in the Big Apple. Huge numbers of workers have been drafted in from across the country, attracted by the array of job prospects and steady income. But conditions are harsh and worker protection is almost non-existent. Exploitation and corporate greed have alienated a large proportion of this newly-mobilised workforce - a fact the student leaders are increasingly aware of, thanks to leftist guerilla reporting collectives like Newsreel.

Amid this chaos stands Joe Kelly, a Staten Island elevator technician, drawn to Manhattan by the boom in construction and the chance to work on the World Trade Center towers. Joe is self-declared 'pro-establishment' and thinks the long-haired hippies he's been seeing in the press and on the streets don't have a clue about the real world.

In Joe's eyes, Nixon and Agnew are patriots for their battle to rid the world of the red scourge, Communism, before it spreads beyond Asia. At heart, however, he just wants a stable environment for his children to prosper in - and the recognition that he and his fellow workers deserve for their contribution to NYC's booming construction projects

You can also follow Dan on twitter ID (@Archcomix) for more updates on his work.

SPEXPO Competition Winner

Amy Bennet is the lucky winner of the Insomnia competition at the recent SPEXPO in Maryland. Amy chose a copy of Cages by Xander Bennet and Mel Cook as her prize.

Huge thanks to Michael Farineau for promoting Insomnia from his stand during the con, and for running the competition for us.

And Finally...

Although, to be honest, there is so much more to say, I could go on for pages, but that will all have to wait for next week! So keep you busy and informed til then:

  • Martin Conaghan has been getting the word out recently, being interviewed for the Book Cafe along with James Ellroy and Patricia Cornwell (good company to be keeping!)
  • Valia "Snow" Kapadi has her comic 100% mushy reviewed on Comic Racks this week.
Until next week...

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