Monday, 30 March 2009

Art Attack!!!

I'm very sorry, I couldn't resist it.

So, there's an awful lot of art news this week. It must be something in the water, or perhaps this is the time that all artists come out of hibernation.

We have got full teams confirmed for several books that we signed up a few months ago:
  • Gary Crutchley has been confirmed as the artist on six months by Jim O'Hara. Gary has recently been contributed to the Accent UK Zombies, Robots and Westerns anthologies, and with Stephen Costello on his Split Lip web horror comic. Gary also has a story in Layer Zero:Choices, Soul by Stephen Stone, so you can see a sample of his work in the Layer Zero preview below.

  • Chris Wildgoose will be starting work on Dream Solver by Luke Foster. Cris is currently studying in North London and aspires to make connections in the film, comic and game worlds, and as a Fine artist. He has worked with a few directors and companies such as Iron Box films, Deleveres,Mehul Desai and most recently/currently working with director Luke Massey with his new film 'Warhouse' He also occasionally helps with prop design and creatiosn for Rorschach Prop FX.

  • Wu Li will be drawing Shiver by Christopher Barker. Wu Li has provided work for record companies, ezines and designed characters for various international publications.

  • Kev Crossley will be drawing Sidhe by Rachel Robbins. Kev has worked on the Kiss4k comic and done covers for 2000AD and the Megazine, as well as having work in Event Horizon by Mam Tor.
Layer Zero Previews

As I write this the deadline for Layer Zero is only 24 hours away and most of the book is already compiled, the covers done and the bios in place.

Pre-orders for this have been outstanding - so take a look and see the treat you're in for - and if you haven't ordered it direct from us you'll be able to find it on amazon very soon - it's just waiting for it's ISBN to be confirmed.

So, here are the previews - some are final pages, some are just showing pencils, and there are more to come. Where the creators are doing full length books with us I have noted that under the Layer Zero credits:

Beautiful People: story by Jim Alexander, art by Dean Stahl
(Watch out for Jim in the upcoming Focal Point)

Beggars Can't Be Choosers: Story by Christopher Barker, art by Des Langford
(Watch out for Chris in the Upcoming Shiver)

Borrowed Life: Story and art by Valium. K

Pin Up by Andy Bloor

Devils' Due: Story by Richard Casey, art by Preston Asevedo

Devil's Road: Story by James Johnson, art by Leonardo M Giron
(Watch out for James in the upcoming Dead Man's Gold)

Erratum: Story by Matt Gibbs, art by Des Langford
(Watch out for Matt in the upcoming Ion Monger's Daughter)

Love Like Like A Bullet: Story by Aiden Largey, art by Jane Summerfield

Fragile : Story by Corey Brotherson, art by Ariyana Vida
(This is "episode zero" of the Graphic Novel Butterflies and Moths)

The God Trap: Story by Chris Lynch, art by Gary O'Donnell

I am Dead: Poem by GM Jordan, art by Rachel Gater

Magpie: Story by Richard McAuliffe, art by Mark Chilcott
(Watch out for Richard and Mark in the upcoming Damaged Goods)

Nearest and Dearest: Story by Greg Carruthers, art by Monty Borror

So Much To Do, So Little Time: Story and art by Dave West

Soul: Story by Steven Stone, art by Gary Crutchley
(Watch out for Steven in the upcoming Urban Legends
Watch out for Gary in the upcoming Six Months)
Red Wire Blue Wire: Story by Alexi Conman, art by Larry Watts

The Right Choice: Story and art by Steve Butler

TimeWave Zero: story and art by Adam R Grose

The Turtle Guitar: Story and art by Ben Powis

Waste: Story by Cy Dethan. art by Ben McLeod
(Watch out for Cy in the upcoming Ragged Man, Indifference Engine and Focal Point)

Waiting For The End: Story by Marting Conaghan, art by Nulsh
(Watch out for Martin in the upcoming Burke and Hare and Focal Point)

And finally...

There was an interview on Sci-Fi pulse on Sunday night where you can hear Cy Dethan talking about Cancertown, not hear me very well (microphone hitch my end) talking about Insomnia, and hear Crawford wrapping up for a few minutes at the end.

A huge thank you to all the Insomnia creators who have been doing a fantastic job promoting each other's work all around the web, on twitter, at events etc. The results of this have been unbelivable. Cages is on the shelves now and, according to the reports Alasdair is getting back from the store managers is flying off them. The pre-orders for Layer Zero are about 400% over what we estimated for an anthology, and we have just had to take the decision to increase the initial print run of Cancertown by 50%.

The best thing is that as we work with more people this kind of thing will just get stronger.

Thanks also to everyone else who has shown such support for the books and helped us to get the word out. Special mention must go to John Freeman of Down The Tubes, The Geek Syndicate boys and The Comic Racks girls.

The help and support that the creators have given each other in making sure the anthology was all in by deadline has also been outstanding, and the number of new people getting in touch because what they have been told by people already working with us is amazing.

This is exactly what we wanted when Insomnia was founded.

Thanks for all your hard work guys - we wouldn't be here without you.

It's getting like an Oscar speech now, so I'll close before I cry on my ballgown.

See you in seven!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Insomnia At The Essex Book Festival

On Saturday 14th of March Insomnia, along with Tony Wicks founder of and artist for C2D4, were out and about running some workshops for the Essex Book Festival, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.

Not having done this kind of activity for the general public before we were unsure of what the turnout or the response would be. Conventions are one thing, but presenting comics as an artistic medium for all ages in public libraries, how would that be received?

Well, it was received fantastically, I'm pleased to say. The turnout was very impressive, we were extremely busy all day, and it was great to see such a wide range of ages, genders, readers, creators, students, old-hands and newcomers all celebrating comics in such a hands on way.

Essex libraries are doing a great job of bringing comics to the attention of their readers. Not only did the libraries we visited have very large, well stocked comics sections, but, in an attempt to widen readers' horizons have created "if you liked that you might like this" stands with selections of novels, non-fiction, comics, audio books which is great for finding out about things you otherwise might never have heard about. They are also working very closely with local schools and youth organisations and comics are often the perfect starting point for encouraging young people into reading.

We spent the day talking about the company, ourselves and the medium, while also managing to fit in a bit of talent scouting and some creative workshops with the younger visitors, including suggesting an opening line of dialogue for the six-foot standee of Crosshair from Cancertown, based on his appearance, 'Cages Consequences' which entailed writing a short story about two people trapped in a cage, and the likely repercussions of their forced partnership and the "Create A Hero or Villain" art challenge. By entering any or all of these, visitors were able to get a grasp of the various skills involved in the creation of a comic book.

We were particularly surprised by one kid of around ten who spent a long time talking to Cy about Cancertown - a book that is, as we explained to the adults accompanying him, completely unsuitable for someone that age.

Cy was able to assure him that the Corpsegrinder could indeed beat Crosshair in a fight (a fact that he'd somehow deduced from their relative positions on Paul Cartwright's incredible cover) and that Crosshair's arm would in fact grow back if the Corpsegrinder pulled it off (which actually does happen in the comic!). It wasn't just the questions he asked though - it was the understanding of narrative structure, conventions of the medium and character definition that he already had unconsiously at his fingertips. That's a kid with a future in the business right there.

Luckily we had the idea of blanking out the more colourful language in the sample chapters we'd brought along on the train on the way there, but there was another young visitor who spent most of the afternoon trying to guess what the words might have been. It must be said he had a very rich vocabularly and well developed command of the "creative swear" - and he was mostly right on most counts until someone overheard him and put a stop to it.

Special mention has to go to nine-year-old James Marshall, who brought with him a short Doctor Who comic he'd created from scratch. As Cy said at the time "From a structural standpoint, this little gem displayed a surprisingly sophisticated understanding of layout, pacing and dialogue. He really seemed to have an instinct for leading the reader's eye around the page.Seriously, if you'd seen the way he'd put this comic together you'd have been impressed too" In a stroke of genius, the organisers were somehow able to conjure up an award for James in the form of an official Doctor Who sonic screwdriver. It was well deserved, and he seemed pleased.

I had the great luck to meet a fantastically talented young artist named Rachel Gater who is off to study art full time later this year. I was looking for the right artist to illustrate a poetry piece for Layer Zero:Choices. It is a very unusual piece of work and needs exactly the right touch artistically. Having chatted to Rachel in the morning and been blown away by her enthusiasm I gave her my email and asked her to get in touch. By Monday I had an mailbox full of perfect images and we signed her up right away. Sometimes the stars just align like that. Watch out for this one.

Insomnia's and C2D4's works will be making an appearance on library shelves, and in their ebook catalogues very soon.

Based on the success of Saturday we've already been invited to do more events like this, so maybe one day we'll see you there.

A huge thank you to all the library staff, especially Annastasia Ward, Robert Coelho, and Darren Smart.

And finally a very special mention for Councillor Iris Pummell who's hard work and belief made the whole day possible.

Damaged Goods News

This week Damaged Goods and Layer Zero:Choices writer Richard McAuliffe has been interviewed by Jazma Magazine.

Have a read about what he has to say about "Porn Stars vs Demonic Chickens", how he got into comics, his work on Baby Boomers for Markosia, and take a look, if you dare, at the ebook preview of The Caretakers Uncannily Nasty Tales (it should be noted that this one comes with a severe language warning!) which was what he was doing, crouching somewhere in the dark, when we found him.

If you want to stare still more into the heart of Richard's darkness then we will be putting an ebook preview of the first story from Damaged Goods online in the next few weeks. I have just had the final art files from Mark Chilcott and they are outstanding.

Oh, go on then, here's the first page, unlettered:

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Don't Say He Didn't Warn You

Today we have some fantastic news that cannot wait until Monday night -

Bryan Talbot has written the foreword for Cancertown.

Creator of books such as "The Adventures of Luther Arkwright" (considered the first English Graphic Novel), "The Tale of One Bad Rat" and "Alice in Sunderland" he has also contributed his beautiful art to titles such as "The Sandman", "Fables", "Nemesis The Warlock" and "Judge Dredd".

Not only that but Cy Dethan says:

"The eye-opening experience of reading Luther Arkwright as a kid was one of the key reasons I wanted to start writing comics in the first place, so to have an introduction from its creator is simply unbelievable. "

So this is what Bryan had to say:

"For a first graphic novel from a new creative team, Cancertown is remarkable. Cy Dethan’s concept alone is brilliant. Is the protagonist, Vincent Morley, a cynical knight in tarnished armour battling unspeakable monsters in a gonzoid Chapel Perilous or a dying sad bastard besieged by visions generated by his terminal brain tumour? Vince’s chosen role, that of maintaining the equilibrium between the “real” London and its parasitic, demonic mirror image and his ability to pass between the two, by grace of his illness, sharply differentiates his story from others in the wide-boy urban sorcerer genre, notably represented by Alan Moore’s John Constantine and Mike Carey’s Felix Castor prose novels. And, though your worst nightmares are his everyday reality, Morley kicks serious arse while maintaining a self-deprecating cascade of gallows humour.

Moreover (do people still say that?) Cancertown actively embraces horror, the genre of horror fiction. It’s not trigger-shy. It doesn’t fuck around. It sets out to horrify, and it succeeds. Although Cancertown owes more to Clive Barker than Ramsey Campbell, it still, like Campbell, has its roots in H.P. Lovecraft and its evocation of genuine creepiness is undeniable. This is in no small part due to the visceral, hallucinogenic art of Stephen Downey working in tandem with the hard-bitten script, the atmospheric colours of Melanie Cook and inventive lettering of Nic Wilkinson. We’re seeing here the first outing of creators who will make their mark on the future comic industry.

Cancertown will disorientate you, suck you in, chew you up and spit you out and you might well be in need of a change of underwear by the end.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Bryan Talbot

Sunderland March 2009"

Cancertown will be released in May, and is currently available to pre-order from Amazon, or even better, ask your local comic shop to order you a copy in. If you don't have a local comic shop try getting in touch with Whatever Comics from Canterbury in the UK. I have been buying my comics there for nearly 20 years and they are outstanding. Tell them Nic sent you.
  • ISBN-10: 1905808135
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905808137
If you're going to be at the Bristol International Comic Expo and the Small Press Expo 2009, you'll be able to pick Cancertown up (along with its Insomnia brethren, Layer Zero 3 and Cages) at a special convention price as shown below
  • Cancertown RRP = £14.99, Con Special = £10

  • Cages RRP = £10.99, Con Special = £7

  • Layer Zero Choices RRP = £9.99, Con Special = £7

  • Cancertown + Cages for £15

  • Cancertown + Layer Zero for £15

  • Cancertown + Cages + Layer Zero for £20

You can also take advantage of the special prices by pre-ordering directly from us before the 9th of May (either to pick up at the convention or to be posted to you if you can't make it). Just email me at and let me know what you need.

Payment can be made by Cheque or Paypal.

In other news this week:

New Signings

  • The Indifference Engine by Cy Dethan:
    Responding to a strangely specific job advertisement, a distinctly ordinary twenty-something suburban slacker finds himself in the middle of an inter-dimensional task force staffed entirely by superhuman alternate versions of himself. Struggling to fit in, he uncovers a conspiracy that strikes at the very heart of the organisation – a conspiracy that only he can stop.

  • Quarantine by Michael Moreci:
    Quarantine follows a group of survivors trapped in a small town in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan shortly after a biological plague is released into the water supply. This plague turns a person into a homicidal war machine, which forces the borders to close, leaving our band of survivors to fight for their lives.

  • Butterflies and Moths by Corey Brotherson:
    Butterflies and Moths is about a young woman attempting to come to terms with a terrible affliction and her past, and in finding a kindred spirit discovers - through blood and betrayal - that death is a natural part of life. A prequel, "Fragile" to this can be seen in the upcoming Layer Zero:Choices

  • The IonMonger's Daughter by Matt Gibbs:
    Victoria Cross wants to see the stars. Against her father's wishes, she leaves the family business to embark on a journey to her mother's home world. Robbed, ensnared by the criminal underworld, arrested and conscripted into the army as a convict, her bad choices turn her dreams into a nightmare.

  • Focal Point by Jim Alexander, Martin Conaghan and Cy Dethan:
    The first in a new series of "by invitation" book where we ask three creators for three stories exploring one theme, all linked by a shared "focal point".

More on all of these as things progress.

Art Teams:

  • The incredibly talented South African art team of Neil Van Antwerpen and Peter-David Douglas will be teaming up with Cy Dethan once again on The Ragged Man towards the end of the year. The three of them last worked together on War Stories: Tasch as part of the Starship Troopers on-going series for Markosia.


  • On Saturday we attended the Essex Book Festival, more on that next week when all the images are in.

  • We have booked tables for Thought Bubble in November. See you there.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Getting Down To Business

This week over to our Sales and Distribution Manager, Alasdair Duncan for more on the Essex Book Festival, which is where you will be able to find him, me and Cy Dethan this Saturday if you live nearby.

"Insomnia will have slots at the events taking place at Harlow and Shenfield libraries as follows:

Cages consequeces - allows you to have a go at writing a plot, albeit a very simple one based around a tight structure in hat the two characters are locked in a Cage together. You have to put two characters into this situation and come up with an outcome based on their behaviour. It's a verys imple story but has large scope for using your wit and imagination.

Monster draw - invent your own monster and have a go at drawing and see that it's not as easy as it may look. First you have to come up with your ultimate monster and that's before you put pencil to paper.

Crosshair speaks - aside from looking really impressive at 6'2" tall with a leery grin and crosses for corneas , what happens here is that you must decide crosshair's first words. He could be a good guy, evil or simply lost ('do you know the way to the post office?') the choice is yours and againsets a challenge to budding writers. And with writer Cy Dethan on hand we might even find out what he really says.

There will also be the chance to simply talk comics and see Tony Wicks draw his C2D4 creations in real time. Want to know how to make a samurai chicken look cool. Tony will show you."

How could a samurai chicken not look cool? I mean, really? Tony is a brilliant artist and I have loved his work since I was first handed a copy in Whatever Comics with a "see what you make of this - I think you'll like it" by the ever-surprising and incredibly well informed Manny Armario, my comics dealer of nearly 20 years.

And now some news from Crawford:

“A little bit of business news as well this week:

We are very excited to announce that Insomnia Publications Ltd was recently approved for the Growth Pipeline from Scottish Enterprise. This means that we are receiving professional assistance from Scottish Enterprise and their networks, with a professional Business Advisor and Mentor to help develop and grow the business in the coming months.

We would also like to give a warm welcome to our new US Business Development Manager, Jim O’Hara, who recently joined the Insomnia Publications management team.

Jim’s role in the company is to assist us in our growth and development by exploring options in North America, helping Insomnia expand into the US market, and assist with the exposure of the company and our products.

Jim’s expertise in business, with running his own company Jigsaw, along with his experience in developing multi-million dollar promotional and marketing campaigns, and not to mention being another huge comic book fan, makes him a valuable addition to the Insomnia team.”

In the meantime go and see Watchmen. You know you want to.

See you in seven.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Signs Of Spring

Spring seems to be in the air today, at least where I am in London. The sun is out, the birds are singing (you can hear them when the traffic stops) and little weeds are poking up their heads in the flower pots outside the office.

It is probably just a pratical joke on the part of the capricious English weather system - but I fall for it every year.

Adding to the general air of hope and expectation we have news on some new signings, the start of the Fallen Heroes adaptation, Layer Zero pages starting to flow in and the plans for the Bristol Comics Expo starting to get underway.

So, to begin at the beginning with the signings:

Dream Solver by Luke Foster

When 22 year old picture researcher Ione-Rose Young has a disturbing, recurring dream about seeing her own death, she doesn’t know whether to dismiss it as just another weird dream, or worry that it’s about to come true. Unable to shake the dream from her mind, she sets out to decipher its meaning.

Urban Legends by Steven Stone

A collection of short stories all based on the urban legends that everyone swears happened to a friend of a friend. The book's 15 stories range from the comical to the terrifying and all of them leave you with the uneasy feeling that it could happen to you. But they're only stories right? Right?

Fallen Heroes

The Fallen Heroes adaptation now has a writer attached.

Martin Conaghan will be picking up the pen on this one and working closely with author Barry Nugent over the coming months.

I didn’t so much read the first scene of Fallen Heroes back in 2008, as see it come to life out of the page, so visually arresting is the writing. With the sharp, multi-layered plot and slick characters of modern crime writing juxtaposed against the shadowy agencies, ancient magic and bold dynamic characters of pulp adventure Fallen Heroes is going to be a truly striking comic

With any adaptation finding the best writer for the job was crucial. Given the book’s increasing cult status we had a lot of very good pitches from both known and new writers hoping to get involved with this project. Fallen Heroes will be a very complex adaptation, as those who have read the novel will know, and there is huge amount of work to be done on the structure and coaxing the characters over to a new medium before the writing even begins.

We asked Martin to do the honours as he is a very experienced writer and researcher and is making a welcome return to comics (with Burke and Hare, also for Insomnia) after a 10 year absence. Martin’s background as a journalist, his incredibly deep knowledge of comics, their creators and their history, and his ability to deftly re-structure disparate historical sources into gripping stories with vibrant, vital characters all make him the perfect person for the job.

Martin himself says:

"Fallen Heroes is jam-packed full of fantastic ideas and thrilling set-pieces. I’m looking forward to finding out where I can take Barry’s rich characters when I translate them on to the comic-book page; from the reluctant hero Jason Chen to the ruthless demon stalker Napoleon Stone. It has everything; a great blend of mythology, science-fiction, action and the supernatural - all told in a very visual style - it’s perfect for the graphic novel format."

If you would like to read the original novel before the adaptation then you can find it in Waterstones , Borders, or Barnes and Noble (if they can keep it on the shelves!), or on Amazon.

However the really lucky ones can get hold of one of a limited number of special editions from our table at the show in Bristol. These include some of the original sketches of the cover and some deleted scenes (which come with an explanation as to why they were cut).

We also hope to have Barry signing copies and talking about the story at the table at some point in the day, if his Geek Syndicate duties allow. If you want a signed copy and can't make the con then Waterstones around the country have Barry on a regular signing schedule, keep an eye on his website for dates and details.

Right then, I am off to try and sort out bowls of eyeball sweets for the table at Bristol. "Why eyeballs?" you say. Well, that is all to do with the Cancertown launch, but more on that later.

Until next week...