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...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Insomnia On Demand: Catch the RedEye on PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable)

In the blackest hours before dawn, when all good comic readers were tucked up in bed, the Insomniacs crawled into their dreams.

What were they whispering into the darkness? What did they wish for, lost in the sleep of the innocent?

No less than:
  • To be able read Insomnia comics anywhere, at any time
  • Take their entire comics collections wherever they went
  • To listen to their own music while reading
  • To navigate pages their own way
  • To find and buy comics easily and access content instantly from the PlayStation®Store

All this will be on offer for PSP owners in December 2009, with the opening of the Digital Comics Store on the PlayStation®Network.

Red Eyed and bushy tailed, Insomnia Publications will be standing proud on launch day as our critically acclaimed books take their place on the virtual shelves, next to world famous names in comic book publishing.

Insomnia Publications’ graphic novels will be presented in the store as single-issue length chapters, following the publication of the book. The first chapter of every book will be offered free to readers as a “taster” of the story.

Crawford Coutts, Managing Director of Insomnia Publications, says:

“We are incredibly excited to be partnering with Sony in the launch of the Digital Comics Service.

Insomnia is committed to nurturing the very best new art, new writing and new concepts in its original graphic novels and the unprecedented scope of this Comics Store will connect independent publishers and readers around the globe.

The help and guidance we have received from Sony throughout truly demonstrates their commitment to support the medium, the publishers, the readers and the comics industry itself.

Many of our creators are gamers themselves and so were delighted to hear that their work will be offered through PlayStation Network.”

With the first Insomnia titles available right from the December launch, you will be able to:

With a growing range of titles to choose from and the phenomenal scope of the Digital Comics Store, this is just the beginning.

Come and visit our stand at the MCM Expo on 24th to 25th of October to learn more.


  • The Comics Store will launch on the PlayStation Network for PSP in December 2009

  • Official Sony Press Release and video demo

  • For further information, interviews and comments please contact Crawford Coutts, MD

  • Insomnia Publications can be found online at:

Monday, 12 October 2009

Burke and Hare: The Grand Tour

Following the mightily succesful launch of Burke and Hare at BICS 2009 last week Will and Martin were out and about spreading the word to the next generation.

Over to Martin for his write up of the event:

"Will and I gave some talks last Tuesday to 5th and 6th year high school pupils at two North Lanarkshire libraries about Burke & Hare, and the response was fantastic.

Many of the kids were keen on graphic novels (some were avid comic collectors) and everyone enjoyed seeing the book and learning about the process via which Will and I reconstructed the story, produced the script, created the artwork and lettering - and the extensive research we carried out to recreate a sense of authenticity.

It demonstrated that comics-books and graphic novels are not always about super-heroes or goofball characters, but can also incorporate abstract themes or concepts and expand to include stories of a historical nature, like our ghoulish story of the Irish serial killers Burke & Hare.

As Will said in at one point our talk – comics are words with pictures, so whatever you want to happen, can happen – and the knock-on effects can include the widespread exploitation of the source material, such as in film, television and computer games.

We hope to do it again at some point in the future."

And we certainly hope they will do it again, too, and have requests in for a repeat of the talk in several places already. I'll posts dates and venues here, and on the events section of the main website.

If you work at a school, museum or other organisation and are interested in arranging for Insomnia creators to come in and do talks, workshops or signing events then visit our FAQ page for more details.

No one ever to came to talk to us about comics when I was at school!

Fallen Heroes

Sticking with Martin we turn now to the Fallen Heroes adaptation.

Fallen Heroes is Insomnia Publications first adaptation, and I am incredibly excited about the book getting underway. Barry Nugent's dark, stylish, cine-literate, multilayered and tangled plotting, fused with Martin Conaghan's gift for the creation of living, breathing worlds, peopled with complex charismatic characters, mean we are set for the pulp adventure comic of the year.

Truly these are the Fallen Heroes we've all been holding out for.

With Burke and Hare having safely flown the nest Martin and Barry met up for some in depth chat at BICS to really explore some of the ideas that have been flowing between them.

Martin said:

"Barry Nugent's Fallen Heroes isn't just a great debut novel - it's a wonderful collection of vivid characters whose lives interweave on a heart-stopping action-packed journey into ancient magic and discovery. I can't wait to get started and find out where Napoleon Stone and the rest of the Barry's Heroes take me."

Barry said:

I am very, very, very excited about the way Martin wants to take the adaptation and some of the ideas nic has thrown in in terms of dealing with some of the story elements which may not make it into the graphic novel. I think it's going to be very different than what people might have been expecting the FH adaptation to be be, in a very very good way."

If you'd like to read the novel in the meantime you can get it from Amazon and from Waterstones, and we will also have a very small number of the special "sketchbook edition" available from the stand at the MCM Expo.

MCM Expo

Speaking of the MCM Expo, it takes places 24-25th of October and it will Insomnia's first time with a stand at the show.

As usual we will have books for sale, previews of upcoming art, special offers, pitching and portfolio review sessions and creators on the stand to talk about their work.

Cy "Cancertown" Dethan, Will "Burke and Hare" Pickering and Jeymes "Buskers" Samuel" will all be signing on the stand at various points throughout the weekend.

There will be a limited convention edition of Buskers available which
includes an exclusive CD featuring music by The Bullitts & the never before seen script and storyboards for the animated prequel to the forthcoming film.

If you would like to pre-order or reserve copies of books to be posted out to you or collected at the show please visit the Insomnia special offers page and contact us with your order.

Watch out for a big announcement related to all of this next week!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Bics and Pieces

"Wow", as Tony Shahloub said in Galaxy Quest, "That was one hell of thing!".

The Death Star like Think Tank at Millenium Point

I think I have the shellshock under control now, apart from the tw-twi-twitching! But where to start? I started making some nice neat notes of everything that happened that I need to mention and it's ended up looking like the scribblings of a madman.

Let me try and break it down for you...

Very Special Thanks

The important bit first, then.
  • Huge thanks to Shane Chebsey and James Hodgkins for organising a wonderful show yet again. The effort that goes into making something like this happen is mammoth, and I hope they are now having a well deserved rest.

  • Special thanks to Lauren Anne Sharp for creating the Insomnia Trailer (which I will be putting up on youtube very soon) that was playing on the screens throughout the show.

  • Thanks also to quilt artist Ferret for bringing along the showstopping Bad Rain quilt (I don't know if quilting books have ever sold at a con before this one, but we always like to be a the bleeding edge!),
Stephen Downey and Alasdair Duncan with Bad Rain
  • Our unbounded gratitude to Sarah McIntyre who did an amazing job interviewing Michiru Morikawa in the brilliant panel about her work on the Sunday. She also invited Jeymes Samuel join in to talk about the comic and the upcoming Buskers film and the panel was described by Matthew Badham of Down The Tubes as "one of my personal highlights of the whole weekend." in his write up of the show.

  • It was great to have so many Insomnia creators come to the stand over the weekend for signing and sketching. Not only was it lovely to see old friends we've been working with for a while now, and to meet others in person for the first time, but to hear you all talking so passionately to visitors about your work, and seeing their response is fantastic. Having people there from all around the world really brought home what an international family we are.

  • To everyone who came to the stand to pitch, show portfolios or leave submissions, thanks for taking the time to do so. The standard was incredibly high once again, and seems to be increasing each year. I will hopefully have some news to come out of some of these discussions in the coming weeks.

  • Of course this would not be complete without thanking everyone who came by the stand to buy books, look at previews, talk about what Insomnia is up to and what we are all about. We do it for you, you know :)
Book Launches

The con saw the first public appearances of Burke and Hare (Martin Conaghan and Will Pickering) and Buskers (Jeymes Samuel, Sean Michael Wilson and Michiru Morikawa).

I saw lots of people just gazing at and even stroking the beautiful cover designs by Rian Hughes (Burke and Hare) and Richard Johnson (Buskers). Seeing them join all the Insomnia books in a row on the table made my little heart swell with pride - I felt like a kitten in a cream factory.

Martin Conaghan and Will Pickering with Burke and Hare

When I say that Alasdair, valiantly manning the sales table, did not stop for a break the whole weekend I mean that literally. He didn't even get away for lunch, or a quick cup of tea, and had to snap quick bites of his sandwiches as an when he could! At several points I could not get back to the stand for the deep crowd around it!

Copies of Burke and Hare were going by the boxload, and the special con edition of Buskers with CD all but sold out. We have only a few copies left for the MCM Expo show in 3 weeks, so anyone who wants to be sure of getting a copy might want to order it from us directly before then.

Following Michiru's interview on Sunday we had a point where we literally could not get the books onto the table quickly enough for people to buy them and get them signed. It sounds like Crawford will be making a visit to the film set soon, but more and that (and pictures we hope!) in the coming weeks.

Michiru Morikawa and Jeymes Samuel with Buskers

Sadly we could not even get away to the Sunday panel for publishers and retailers to explore how to improve sales in the current market, as we were too busy selling! People were still coming up to make last minute purchases as the stand was being packed away. Alasdair had to retrieve the cashbox from where it had been packed away, get copies back out of their boxes again.

Given the current economic climate all we can say is "Thanks everyone!"

Reviews and Interviews and Podcasts

There was quite of bit Insomnia based podcast activity going on before and during the show:

  • Cy Dethan talks about Cancertown and his upcoming work on Comic Book Outsiders and why Richard McAuliffe thinks he is "...a lovely bloke, but one intense looking Motherf**ker"

  • The Geek Syndicate do the first ever review of Burke and Hare, coming to the conclusion that the book conclusively proves to them that "comics are a medium, not a genre". Way to go Martin and Will!

  • The Sidekick podcast fought their way to the stand and interviewed Alasdair about Insomnia and what we get from doing events like this, and Martin and Will about the launch of their book. "I was truly blown away...These guys have lived and breathed this story and it shows in every part of this chilling and macabre production."

  • Just in time for the show the guys at the Temple APA brought out a mammoth size issue 5 which has a large section on Insomnia including interviews, reviews, previews of upcoming books and some never before seen artwork. We have David Hailwood and John Kirkham to thank for bringing this monster to life.
New Signings and Teams

We are pleased to announce:

  • Lauren Ann Sharpe joins the Quarantine team as colourist, along with Michael Moreci, Monty Bloor and Jim Campbell. This is her second Insomnia book and long may it continue.

  • Shock Theory by Celeste Sharp:

    "After a horrific tsunami, England is abandoned and forgotten; even by history. Rising from dark times, a single city known as Hubris is suspended in the Sky, providing a new life based on technology and social order. The N.O Government has put the clocks back to zero and reinvented London as a completely clean slate for a prosperous society and economy... But Hubris wasn’t just built on the ruins of London; it was built on shock. "

    Set in a dystopian England, where the totalitation regime uses the Techframe to control its citizens using shock and sedation, Shock Theory draws on the dystopian heritage of George Orwell and Philip K. Dick, woven with theories of investigative journalist, Naomi Klein, to follow Eva and her companions as they attempt to unravel the sinister nature of Hubris and offer the only resistance to the tyrannical Dr.Shock and the New Order government.

  • Gamebreaker by Cy Dethan

    "Those who even remember the legend of Bloodshot Iris and her insane, megalomaniacal schemes consider her a myth. They’re right – and like all great myths there’s a potent, even dangerous, nucleus of truth at her core. When the greatest villain of the Cold War emerges from retirement to reintroduce a disaffected world to the glorious chaos it once knew, she has only one target in mind – her nemesis, the ultimate superspy: Capablanca."

    Spiralling Insanity returns to the British spycraft scene as the last remnant of the Cold War makes her bid to kick-start the era of the psychedelic super-spy

    If you visit Cy Dethan's blog you can brave The Citadel of Comics: A Fantasy Convention in which YOU are the hero and experience the trials and tribulations of convention pitching yourself.

    It may be the maddest blog post ever made - you have been warned!

  • Dream Solver now has it's own blog where you can follow the progress of the book in production.

Best of The Rest

  • Walking through the door on the first day of the con, what was the first table I encountered? Why it was the good Dr Bryan Talbot himself. Pouncing on a copy of Grandville as soon as I could, before even going to the Insomnia stand, he sketched a badger in the front of it while we had a good chat about how the book was doing (very well, with a seque, Grandville, Mon Amour, already underway), how great it has been to have his intro to Cancertown, and the possiblity of a Luther Arkright sequel as he mentioned in a recent interview on the Forbidden Planet blog last week. We went to his talk later in the day and it was mind blowing. The man is truly a comics god.

    Bryan Talbot (borrowed from Down The Tubes)

    Bryan is doing the talk at a number of locations as part of the launch tour, and you should try to catch it.

  • Had a lovely time chatting to the lovely Fetishman creators, while coveting a beautiful coat that one of them was wearing, and admiring his magnificent moustache. They do a hilarious illustration of just how absurd some of the proposed new laws are that could affect comics - but you'll have to catch them at a con and ask them to do it. Describing it in words would not do it justice!

    The Fetishmen!

    And if you haven't encountered Fetishman before you should buy it. It's up to issue 9 now and it is laugh out loud funny.

  • The Robosteel sculptures were truly a sight to behold with their 2.5metre sculpture of a Transformer, made all from scrap metal and weighing 155kg!

    They do smaller pieces as well - and I think that one of them is going to find a new home with me as soon as my house move is done.

  • I got to catch up with Tony and Martin. the C2D4 crew, eat their sweets and admire their new collected edition of Jack In The Box.

  • Shout outs to our friends at Markosia, Monkeys With Machineguns, Orang-Utan comics, Timebomb, Murky Depths, Comic Book Outsiders, Geek Syndicate, Small Press Big Mouth and Comic Racks - I wish I could have spent more time with you!

Special Offers

We will extending our convention special offers for those that could not make this show or cannot get to the MCM take a look at our website for details on how to order.

... And Finally

Crawford made a very special visit to a secret location before flying back to Edinburgh on Monday. Hopefully I'll be able to tell all about that next week!

Until then...