Spending the weekend on ICE

I headed to Birmingham last weekend for ICE, alongside my Seven Shades artist/co-creator David Clifford and our publisher Kev Davies, from Deadstar Publishing. Dave and I were at the Deadstar table, helping with sales and signing copies of the first two issues of our supernatural western series. Like many one day conventions, the event was family friendly, inclusive and well run, as you’d expect from an event run by Shane Chebsey.

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I also managed to meet up with Steve Aryan, my co-writer on a number of current projects, as we were both attending the Comics Uncovered keynote speech from Senior DC editor Jim Chadwick. It was an enlightening, realistic and inspirational talk and it was good to chat to Jim about our writing backgrounds during the Q&A session at the end of his session.

Although there wasn’t quite as much footfall as at some other recent similar sized conventions, the people who had attended were really engaged. We sold come copies of the book and had some interesting conversations about comics, art and creating. It was good to be back at a convention again, as ever half the fun is meeting up with other creators who you only get to see in this environment.

There’s no rest for the wicked, as Dave and I are representing Deadstar again this weekend, at Thought Bubble in Leeds. Our third convention of the year sees the launch of Issue 3 and 4 of Seven Shades, following a successful Issue 1 and 2 launch in Cardiff earlier in the year.

The Family Graves is Fantastic

A few years ago I was lucky enough to read the first draft scripts for Timothy Bach's The Family Graves mini-series.  Tim, like myself, is a member of the Comics Experience workshop and he posted the scripts for peer and pro critiques from other members. I had very few notes to give and I was instantly hooked, it reminded me of classic Fantastic Four stories and the other Marvel books I'd grown up with, escapist fun with iconic and immediate characters.

Fast forward to now and I've been lucky again, as Tim has let me read the first two issues (which are coming to comic shops very soon from Source Point Press and CE), with art by Brian Atkins. And now I love the finished honed comic just as much as those original scripts. The likes of Phil Hester and Mark Waid have already expressed how much they like the series too. 

You can read the first ten pages of Issue One for yourself here, and when you have I'm certain you'll be looking to pre-order it from your local comic shop, the Previews code is below. 

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Prog inspired urban fantasy - Chalk

Back in 2016 I shared some art from a comic series I had in development entitled Chalk. Eighteen months on and the project is back on track, with a new artist Diego Simone. We've almost completed the first ten pages of Issue 1, with Diego providing pencils, inks and colours and Sean Rinehart pencilling. 

I've known Diego for some time, he worked on stories that appeared in our Eagle award nominated anthology Eleventh Hour back when I was part of Orang Utan Comics. He went on to take over as series artist on Starship Troopers (Markosia) and has worked on books like Alpha Girl (Image) and as a colourist on Dark Horse Presents. So I'm very excited to finally get to work with him myself, it's already proving to be a fruitful and inspiring collaboration. 

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The book, which is set in and around Winchester in Hampshire, England centres around folklore Professor and former prog musician Howard Chalk. I can't say much more than that until we know the book has a home. More on this in the coming months. 

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Ready Player One takes me back to The Interactives

I was lucky enough to attend a preview screening of Ready Player One yesterday, thanks to ShowFilmFirst.  I enjoyed it much more than I'd expected to, it had the right balance of nostalgia and Spielberg. People I know who've read the book said it felt like it was written specifically for them and I think some of the pop culture references, nods and touches made me feel the same way about the movie 

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It was only after I left the cinema that I started to think of the parallels to not only things like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but also my own comic mini series The Interactives (created with Luciano Vecchio, Yel Zamor and Ian Sharman for Markosia). 

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I'd also wanted to create something that focussed on the power of people's imagination, that showed how living in an online world as an avatar was a form of escape and that revelled in nostalgia and our perpetual wish that we were still in our childhoods. I wanted to strike a chord with people my own age but also feel current for a teen audience too. 

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Elements of The Interactives’ premise unashamedly tap into our ever-changing relationship/dependency with the online world and its influence on reshaping the dynamics of our interpersonal relationships. Writer Peter Rogers’ hugely entertaining romp combines the disparate worlds of social networking, and those of myth and legend, as the foundation for a decidedly different take on fantasy storytelling.
— Broken Frontier
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If you've read Ready Player One or seen the film and are looking for something that scratches a similar itch, The Interactives is still available. Find it on Comixology, Amazon or ask at your local comic store or book shop. 

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Seven Shades shaping up

It's March already and this is my first blog post of 2018, which shows just how busy I've been. As the first quarter of the year edges closer to its finish, I thought I'd share what I've been up to, starting with comic book series Seven Shades

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Seven Shades is a supernatural western series created by Dave Clifford (Dexter's Half Dozen), with a little help from yours truly. Dave came to me with enough ideas for a few hundred issues, and every time we meet he suggests more crazy characters and warped plot points.  So in many ways my role on this project is that of creative ranch-hand, herding his ideas like cattle.

This process usually takes place, rather fittingly, in a local hostelry.  Then, once we've broken the story together I get to writing, Marvel style, describing the page but not breaking down the panels. This means Dave can really go to town when he approaches each page, perfect for a fully painted book, before I do a dialogue and captions pass. 

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Working on Seven Shades has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone and it isn't the type of book I'd have ever come up with on my own. Issue 1 and 2 are both complete and Dave is about halfway through painting Issue 3. We plan to have released the first four issues and initial arc by the end of this year. Watch this space for more about that very soon. 

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Favourite Things in 2017

Where does the time go? Another year comes to an end and with so many interesting things being released in 2017, this was a tougher list than ever to compile. And with the world going to hell in a handcart and one of my musical heroes Chris Cornell dying on my birthday, it was an odd twelve months in pop culture. As in previous years these are purely and simply the things I personally liked the most across the last twelve months, rather than me declaring anything the 'best'.  You can look back on the 2016 list here

TV Drama – Legion

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I wasn't sure if I was going to like the latest X-Men spin off from Fox, so colour me surprised that this was my favourite show of the year by some margin. Not only that, but I also feel that this show has massively raised the bar for TV superhero shows. As much as I've loved the Marvel Netflix shows (certainly up until Iron Fist), this show took more risks and was more creatively satisfying in its eight episodes than any of those shows have quite managed. Strong performances, shifting perceptions of reality, a mix of retro and modern styling, an amazing soundtrack including Pink Floyd and The Who, a character called Syd Barrett and an overall unnerving creepiness made this a must-watch. As much a sci-fi horror series as it is something from the X Universe, I loved every minute. Now I definitely need to watch showrunner Noah Hawley's other show, Fargo. I can't wait to see what they do in Season Two. 

Honourable mentions –  Star Trek Discovery was another unexpected treat. I'm not a particularly big Star Trek fan and those people I know who are Trekkies didn't seem to like this show too much. It certainly wasn't perfect, but the fact it didn't religiously stick to what you expect from a Star Trek series is what I liked most about the first half of the debut season. Strip it of the Trek mantle and it would have been an epic piece of quality sci-fi regardless, boldly going where a TV show like this hadn't gone before.  Another space set sci-fi that came close to being my favourite this year was The Expanse, I watched both seasons, but it was only the second one that was actually from 2017. I liked the first season, but loved the second, the characterisation got stronger and so did the plot, as things that were set up started to pay off. It's definitely a series I would heartily recommend. 

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Taboo was another interesting new show this year, but anything with Tom Hardy in it was always going to be well worth watching. GLOW took us into the world of Women's Wrestling and managed to be both engaging and unpredictable in equal measure. Among the returning shows Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones and especially Stranger Things did a great job of building on what went before and made me excited to see what the next series has to offer. 

After the disappointment of the lacklustre, dated and mis-cast Iron Fist,  The Defenders was a mixed bag largely due to the Danny Rand elements but it was good to see the characters united at last.  I was playing catch up with the Marvel Netflix shows all year, so perhaps if I'd found time for The Punisher that might have made the list.  I'm also kicking myself that I didn't get to the likes of Godless, Mindhunter or Jean-Claude Van Johnson before the year was out. 

Film – Baby Driver

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The trailers for this film hadn't really managed to get me that interested, it all seemed to smack of trying too hard, so I went into the cinema feeling somewhat sceptical. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. Meticulously constructed and edited, it reminded me of lots of my favourite 90s films. The inclusion of Kevin Spacey in the cast made that even more the case, but that's not something to dwell on any more. A bit like Legion, the use of music in this film was one of the reasons it resonated with me so much and both those soundtracks have been on heavy rotation this year. Hocus Pocus, Radar Love and Brighton Rock all in one film, that's heaven. 

Honourable mentions – Logan ran Baby Driver very close and if I wasn't such a big music fan it might well have pipped it to the post.  This was what I'd always wanted from an X-Men film and from a Wolverine film in particular, something with emotional weight as well as spectacle. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen are all brilliant and it's a film that felt more like a modern day Western than anything else. It also played to my love of heroes in the latter stages of their career looking for redemption, almost the Unforgiven of superhero films. I look forward to re-watching it and probably checking out the black and white cut too. 

One the superhero front in other years Spiderman Homecoming, Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Thor Ragnarok might have been up in consideration as I really liked them all, but there were lots of other films I enjoyed slightly more and for the first time it was a Fox X-Men movie that was the most interesting and different. 

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Dunkirk was as brilliant as expected, Christopher Nolan turning his hands to a war movie with his usual aplomb, the way time is used in the film is exquisite. Paddington 2 was an absolute delight, giving me even more warm and fuzzy feelings than the first movie.  In stark contrast John Wick Chapter 2 made things even darker than in the film that preceded it and sets things up well for a third movie.  Hidden Figures was another triumph, a truly inspiring fact based drama. 

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Star Wars The Last Jedi is a film I've seen twice but still can't quite decide what I think about. I think I fall someone in the middle, between those who have been berating it and those who are championing it. It's a Star Wars movie, so it was always going to be enjoyable on some level.  I'm gutted I didn't make it to Get OutBlade Runner 2049 or War for the Planet of the Apes, all of which I would have expected to enjoy. 

Album – To the Bone by Steven Wilson- On her Journey to the Sun by Rikard Sjoblom's Gungfly (tied) . 

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For the second year in a row I was unable to separate two albums, as this category has increasingly become the hardest one to make a final decision on.  Steven Wilson didn't quite go as pop sounding as some people might have you believe, but he certainly did move into a slightly different direction than on my album of 2015, Hand Cannot Erase.  To the Bone is a remarkably consistent set of songs that showcase his talent as a songwriter and helps cement his status as one of the best British musicians around. Seeing him get wider mainstream attention, like the BBC Breakfast interview and reaching Number 3 in the album charts, off the back of some very canny marketing from his new record label, has been very gratifying as a longtime fan. Can't wait to see him live next year, for the first time. 

Another musician who I greatly admire is Rikard Sjoblom, from his work with Big Big Train and Beardfish to last year's solo record, like Wilson he's another musician who seems to live for what he does and likes to be part of multiple projects. Somewhere between his solo work and the Beardfish output, this Rikard Sjoblom's Gungfly album blends pop, art rock and prog and makes something greater than the sum of its parts, catchy and clever in equal measure. The Guardian had it on their best of the year so far list back it the Summer too. Another record that barely left my ears since its release and I really hope I get to hear these songs played live. 

Honourable mentions –

Grimspound by Big Big Train came close to making this a three way tie, having followed up from last year's favourite Folklore and then being followed by surprise companion album The Second Brightest Star perhaps it was a case of too much of a good thing which slightly edged it out.  Zervas and Pepper, a band like Big Big Train that I discovered via comic artist Marc Laming ran things very close with their gorgeous collection of folk rock songs, Wilderland.  Will be seeing them in Cardiff next year and I'm already counting down the days  

It was a year packed with excellent albums by the likes of Mastodon, Magenta, Cosmograf, The Mute Gods, Tiger Moth Tales, And so I watch you from afar, Wobbler and a very grizzly and angry Roger Waters, plus some light and shade from award winning combo Anathema.  Prophets of Rage was exactly what you would expect from the line up, but it felt like an album we needed this year, the same can be said of Living Colour who also returned with a new long player. 

Song -  Pariah by Steven Wilson and Ninet Payet

I love Steven Wilson. I love Ninet Tayeb. I love melancholy duets like Don't Give Up. I love lyrics like this. 

I’m tired of Facebook
Tired of my failing health
I’m tired of everyone
And that includes myself

As soon as I heard it I had a sneaking suspicion no other song would top it this year.  

Honourable mentions –

Hotel Bible by Zervas and Pepper is a song I like just as much as Pariah, but  my personal sensibilities tend to mean that sadder songs appeal to me slightly more. Hotel Bible is blissful, like closing your eyes on a warm summer's day, a timeless classic that it's impossible not to let get under your skin. Sadly their Burning Lantern festival appearance was cut short, so I didn't get to hear it performed live, but I'm promised it will be on the set list when I see them in February. 

It's getting harder and harder to remember which songs are singles these days so this ends up being the hardest category to pull together.  As the Crow Flies, Meadowlands and Experimental Gentlemen from Big Big Train were all very strong, as were the singles from all the other albums I picked out, although as often is the case I preferred other album tracks more. Steve Hackett's Behind the Smoke and 50 Miles from the North Pole and Deep Purples' The Surprising (although I'm a bit biased) and Birds of Prey were other highlights along with The way you used to do by Queens of the Stone Age. I'm still shocked by quite how much I liked Sign of the Times by Harry Styles, which will do wonders for my street cred. 

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I was pretty certain on the day I bought tickets for this show that it would be the pinnacle of my live music going year.  Just like their Kings Place show in 2015, the Sunday matinee I attended in London was a life affirming and truly joyful event. A perfect set list, combining newer songs from Grimspound and Folklore mixed with classics from the back catalogue like Swan Hunter, East Coast Racer and Last Train. Having taken my daughter with me again and met up with various friends I've made via the band and some of the band themselves no other gig stood a chance.  Sadly we didn't quite make it to see the Tiger Moth Tales unofficial support at another venue on the Saturday afternoon, but I have been able to listen to that on bandcamp. Video from this year's shows isn't available yet, but as East Coast Racer was in the set then and now it's worth checking out. 

 

Honourable mentions –

Magenta get to have two honourable mentions to their name, as I saw them twice in 2017, under quite different circumstances. Early in the year they were at The Globe in Cardiff, supported by Kinky Wizzards (meaning their shared drummer did a double shift) for a loud show which included first live listens to songs from this year's excellent We are Legend album.  If the crowd didn't include so many chatty people, it would have been a pretty perfect show. 

At the tail end of the year I saw them again at Acapela,near Cardiff, for an intimate, acoustic show which included Les Penning and some other special guests and music from Rob Reed's other projects alongside Magenta's own material. It was a wonderful night and I'm pleased to be seeing Magenta in both venues again in 2018. 

Steve Hackett at St David's Hall, Cardiff was very good too. I've seen some amazing guitarists do their stuff this year, and Hackett is no exception. The first half of the show was solo material and the second featured Genesis songs largely from Wind & Wuthering, so it was the best of the both world's really. Seeing Nick Beggs on bass was a real highlight and the audience cheering when Steve mentioned Brexit was the low point. 

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Deep Purple at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff was a show I was lucky enough to attend thanks to working on The Surprising video. We missed Cats in Space, but did manage to see most of Europe's set and they were exceptional live, as were the main act themselves, exceptional musicians still going strong and putting on a phenomenal show. 

The Musical Box at The Tramshed in Cardiff was a real experience and the closest I'll ever get to hearing 70s Genesis in person - I reviewed the show over on Panic in the Skies.  It now means I've heard Firth of Fifth live twice and been lucky enough to see Supper's Ready performed fully too. 

Sadly work commitments meant I had to give my Opeth ticket away, which I'm still smarting from as I think they would have been quite a show. Next year Steven Wilson, Magenta (twice), Pearl Jam and Zervas and Pepper already beckon, despite my assertion that I'll reduce my gig going in 2018. If Rikard Sjoblom takes to the road then I'll be adding that to my list. 

Comic – Slots (Image Comics) 

 

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Dan Panosian is my favourite current artist, so when he writes, draws and colours a new hard boiled series set in Vegas and including boxing and shady hardmen I can't imagine any other book coming close, even after just three issues.

Honourable Mentions  - 

Lazarus has been my pick in every previous year. In 2017 we had one issue of the main series and then X+66 books which were told side stories rather than driving the main story forward. Still very good, but I hope we get back to the main story in 2018. 

Alien Bounty Hunter from Vault Comics  was the other book I read in single issues as the cover for Issue 2 got me interested, it was great fun and the kind of blockbuster action book that I always enjoy.

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Podcast – Here's the thing with Alec Baldwin

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Like most interview shows, your enjoyment will often depend on who the guest is. With Here's the Thing Alec Baldwin proves himself to be an excellent interviewer, so even if the subject matter isn't to your taste the questioning and approach make it well worth a listen. I've really enjoyed all the episodes I've listened to this year. 

Honourable mentions –

Last year's winner Unjustly Maligned was as excellent as ever, but that show sadly went on hiatus partway through the year, leaving a sizeable void. 

In the writing realm On Story and Nerdist's The Writers Panel continue to have some excellent interviews that provide a real insight into the creative process. In the music world I've been enjoying The Prog Report, The K-Scope podcast and Tabletop Genesis in particular, as their album by album discussion format works really well.  Long term favourites iFanBoy,  Geek SyndicateGrouchy Old Geeks,  World Balloon and Comics Experience continue to get well worth a listen too.  

Aside from these things I was busy watching Happy Valley and Toast of London , being disappointed by the new Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age albums and pulling my hair out about the current political climate. Here's to more distracting entertainment coming our way in 2018.

 

Novel for a dark Christmas for Tarja

Following the recent motion comic style music video for Deep Purple, I have been working on another music based project for earMUSIC in my role at Bait Studio.

Tarja Turunen, the former Nightwish lead singer (I have a CD copy of Once in my collection), has a new festive album coming out called 'From Spirits and Ghosts' (Score for a Dark Christmas)'.  

To support the album we have created a graphic novel, inspired by and loosely based on 'Together' a new original song by Tarja. Written by me, with art by Conor Boyle (Hook Jaw), colouring by Matt Soffe and pre-press by Sean Rinehart

You can order a copy of 'From Spirits and Ghosts (Novel for a dark Christmas)' exclusively here.  

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Surprising project with Deep Purple

In my role as Creative Producer at Bait Studio I've been fortunate enough to combine two of my passions on a recent project, comics and music. When the studio was approached by Coolhead Productions to discuss the prospect of a potential animated music video for Deep Purple I was very excited.  Way back when I was about 11 my class teacher played us Smoke on the Water to explain how stories can be told through song and I've held the band in high esteem ever since, sitting alongside the likes of other rock luminaries Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. 

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The script was ambitious and some of the visual references were from the comics world, specifically the Corto Maltese Italian adventure comics created by Hugo Pratt. With this in mind I suggested a motion comics approach, rather than full animation and put forward some artists I felt could create something epic and also capture the likenesses of the band members. 

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Matt Rooke was the artist we brought on board, following consultation with the producers and our contacts at record label Ear Music. I was already used to work with Matt, as Stephen Aryan and myself are currently developing a comic series called The Promise with him. His portfolio already included some excellent likenesses and as he is a motion graphics artist himself, so he knew how we would need to receive the artwork in order to animate it.  He also plays guitar in a rock and pop covers band called Kong which also helps. 

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The song that the video was for, The Surprising, happened to be my favourite on the Infinite album, Deep Purple's 20th studio outing. It has a strong progressive rock feel, having been written by the band from an idea that started with guitarist Steve Morse whose work I knew well from the band Flying Colours.  Matt did an amazing job, not only illustrating and colouring all of the art, but also co-directing alongside me and working with the producers Collin Ganes, who also edited the film, and Craig Hooper. Alex Hollowood, Aidan Brook, Francesca Fornoni and Nick Dacey from Bait's motion design team and Production Manager Helen Pooler worked tirelessly to bring the video to life.  I'm still pinching myself that I've worked on something that involves legendary music producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Deftones, Jane's Addiction). 

“The official video for The Surprising takes the viewer on a journey through the magical 50-year history of the band. With high attention to detail, the animated masterpiece follows the five heroes of our story – Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Don Airey and Steve Morse – through a stormy ship cruise full of allusions and sees them riding off into the sunset.”

 

Feedback on the video has been universally positive and I've enjoyed reading the YouTube comments where people have been trying to identify the different Deep Purple albums that are referenced within the video. I have some more work in my role at Bait with some other musicians in the coming months, so watch this space. Also, if you order the gold edition of the Infinite Gold CD, you will get your hands on more of Matt's artwork.

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Packaged on BBC Two tonight

A quick reminder that short film Packaged, based on my script and directed by Lemarl Freckleton, is on BBC Two Wales tonight at 23.15. 

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If you're outside Wales you can watch it on Sky or Freesat on channel 971. The film will also be available on the BBC iPlayer after it airs. 

Phillip John, who plays Jack in Packaged, deservedly won the Best Actor award at the It's my Shout premiere last weekend, so this is your chance to see his portrayal for yourself.  Packaged is the penultimate It's my Shout film to be shown on the BBC this year. They are all well worth watching and all seven English language films will be on the iPlayer for the next month or so. 

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Packaged on the big and small screen

Last night this year's It's my Shout Premiere and Awards Evening took place at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. Packaged, the short film based on my script (originally entitled The Package), was one of the nine films shown at the event. It was immensely satisfying to get to watch the film on the big screen and to experience the audience's reaction to it first hand.  

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The awards ceremony that followed the screenings was as uplifting and entertaining as the films had been (the standard this year was very high across the board).  From beginning to end I was reminded just how many people from across Wales get to take their first steps into the film industry through the work that It's my Shout does. Every single award winning trainee seemed to be more humbled and grateful than the one before. The awards part of the evening was rounded off in style with a suitably rousing speech from Inspiration Award winner Russell T Davies. 

The after party that followed gave me the opportunity to catch up with, amongst others, the film's director Lemarl Freckleton and lead actor Phillip Jones, who deservedly picked up the Best Actor award earlier in the evening for his portrayal of Jack.  It was also great to catch up with many of the other writers who I met at the BBC Writer's Room as part of the selection process too. 

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You can see Packaged on BBC Two Wales on Monday 18th September at 23.15 (Channel 2 or 102 in Wales and in the rest of the UK on Channel 971 on Sky and Freesat). It will also be available on the iPlayer for 30 days after it airs and I believe all the films will be on YouTube eventually too. It was a really enjoyable experience to be part of It's my Shout this year and it's made me keen to get more shorts made in the near future. 

 

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The Interactives villain comes to life

Working on 'The Interactives', my creator owned fantasy series for Markosia, was one of the most enjoyable collaborations I've ever had as a writer. Six years since it came out that's been borne out by the actions of the book's wonderful colourist Yel Zamor. 

Alongside artist Luciano Vecchio and letterer and editor Ian Sharman, Yel played a huge role in the series, not only did she add exceptional colours to the book, she also served as perfect sounding board, giving some insightful notes on both the script and character designs as we developed the series. 

Now she's taken things a big step further forward, by putting aside the time, effort and talent needed to cosplay as the book's antagonist Lord Legend. To say I'm humbled would be a massive understatement. 

 

Photos below are from Lord Legend's recent appearance at MCM Manchester, photos are courtesy of Food and Cosplay, who is also on facebook & twitter.  You can buy The Interactives here you'll find a detailed build journey for on Yel's cosplay page - Cos Moustache.

On set for The Package

I spent the day on location yesterday,  the second day of a three day shoot for short film "The Package". Written by yours truly and directed by Lemarl Freckleton, The Package is the eighth film produced for this year's It's My Shout scheme. 

It was truly humbling to see so many people, a mix of industry professionals and IMS trainees, working together and braving the elements to bring my script to life. It gave me the same warm and fuzzy feeling I got when I first received comic pages back from an artist many years ago.  It was an honour to be there to see some of the filming and I can't wait to see footage from the other two days, editing starts next week. 

The film premieres on the big screen at the Wales Millennium Centre on September 10th (tickets are available here), before being shown on BBC Wales later in the year.  

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Writing for hit series Gutter Magic

Gutter Magic, written by Rich Douek, was a four issue fantasy mini-series, published by IDW in 2016 to critical acclaim.  

Gutter Magic is smart fantasy that’s well worth your time and treasure.
— Charles Soule (DAREDEVIL, DARTH VADER, DEATH OF WOLVERINE)
Set in modern day New York City where World War II had been fought with magic and wizards are the elitists, the series follows Cinder Byrnes, a member of a wealthy family of magic users, who was born without powers and his journey to learn how to cast spells.

Rich recently ran a Kickstarter campaign to continue the series in a new anthology, Tales from the Gutter. The anthology will feature three new stories from Rich and artists Renae De Liz (Legend of Wonder Woman, Peter Pan), original series artist Brett Barkley and Eryk Donovan (Quantum Teens are Go, Memetic). 

As well as these three stories, there are also going to be two additional back up stories written and drawn by members of the Comics Experience workshop community, where Rich originally developed the project. I am pleased to announce that my story 'Throwing Caution' was selected from the CE workshop writer submissions and that it will be appearing in Tales from the Gutter, along with "Til Death' by Kenny Porter.  My story is focussed on a character from the series called Blacktooth, giving a little insight into his background, and what makes him the goblin he is today.

I'm really pleased and honoured to get to play in the exciting and well developed universe that's already been established within the pages of Gutter Magic. Details of the story's artist, colourist and letterer will be announced soon and I'll be sure to share it here.  You can read the original series on Comixology and it's available as a trade paperback at Amazon in the UK and US

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panic in the Skies - Genesis

My first article for my friends at Panic in the Skies was so long it had to be split into two parts. It centres around my growing love of the band Genesis and how I overcame my misconceptions about them

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Find out how I get into them in Part One.

Then follow me through the best of their back catalogue in Part Two

I really enjoying listening to the albums again with a critical ear and I'm hoping to find time to do more articles for the site soon. 

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Read my work for less in the Markosia sale at ComiXology

Digital comics platform ComiXology currently has a sale on books from UK publisher Markosia, with 50% or more off across their back catalogue until the 5th of June. So, if you want to pick up some of my previous work, now is a very good time.

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Here are some titles I worked on that you can pick up at a bargain price.  

The Interactives 

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A three issue mini series, written by me with art by Luciano Vecchio (Beware the Batman, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Yel Zamor (Grindhouse, Rivers of London). 

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The public is obsessed with reality and the creatures from fantasy fiction fear extinction. Dragons, giants, orcs, goblins, and trolls - one by one they're breaking through from The Realm to The Real. War is coming to London and only geek blogger scallywag and his online followers stand in their way. 

UK version, full series £1.49

US version, full series  $1.99 

The Intergalactic Adventures of Zak Ridley   

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A four issue mini series, co-written by me with Ian Sharman (Hero 9 to 5, Alpha Gods), with art by newcomer Ewan McLaughlin.

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Zakk Ridley is just your average smuggler and rogue until he and his robotic partner, Dan, get caught up in an intergalactic conspiracy. Zakk dreams of an easy life roaming the galaxy and making a fast buck, but as they say, in space no one can hear you dream...

UK version, full series £1.49

US version, full series $1.99 

 

British Comics Showcase Anthology Vol.1  

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 You can read Blood Dolls, written by me with art by Cheuk Po and Matt Soffe in this excellent anthology.

UK version, £1.99

US version $2.99 

Eleventh Hour Vol.1.  

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This bumper four issue anthology, created by me and Ian Sharman, is where you can see much of my very early work, along with a host of other creators. 

What goes on in the minds of the hottest rising talent in comics?A schoolgirl haunted by demons, vampire chicks on motorbikes and retired superheroes are just some of the things you can expect in this deluxe anthology title. Eleventh Hour features exciting new creators from across the globe, with ten standalone stories and a preview of sci-fi series Mamluk.

UK version, 69p

US version $0.99 

 

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Some more of my work can be found within the later anthology series FTL and I'd also recommend checking out work by my friends and collaborators Simon Wyatt, Cy Dethan, Ian Sharman and David Wynne elsewhere in the sale too. 

The Package selected for It's my Shout

I found out a few days ago that my short film script, currently titled 'The Package' has been selected as part of this year's It's my Shout scheme. Things have been moving very quickly since I got the nod and it's only now that I've had the breathing space to be able to share the news properly. 

I had a lunchtime meeting today with my director, Lemarl Freckleton, to discuss his vision for the film.  It was a refreshing change to be discussing something I'd written in a meeting, rather than someone else's project that I was involved with the visual effects or titles for.

As hoped it was very productive, we both come at the project from a similar thought process visually and narratively and he's already brought some interesting extra elements into play just from this one initial meeting. My next job will be to work on rewrites to get the shooting script into shape, which will be happening in tandem with the pre-production phase, including casting. The ten-minute film is due to be shot in August and will air later this year on BBC Wales and at the It's my Shout event at the Wales Millennium Centre in October. An exciting few months ahead. 

 Talking about other people's scripts at Cross Channel Film Lab 2016

Talking about other people's scripts at Cross Channel Film Lab 2016

 

 

It's My Shout/BBC Writers Room Wales

It's been a whirlwind few weeks on the screenwriting front. As I posted previously, I found out last month that my short film script 'The Package' was shortlisted for this year's It's my Shout. Since then I had some even better news, when I was notified that I had made it through to the even shorter list of projects that were being considered for production.

As a result of reaching this stage I was invited to the BBC Writers Room residential, two intensive days at Roath Lock, here in Cardiff, the BBC's state of the art centre of excellence for drama and home to Casualty, Pobol y Cwm and Doctor Who.  The workshop was overseen by BBC Writers Room Development Producer Rachel Williams and run by experienced producer Henry R Swindell. The first day was an overall look at story and writing for the screen. We discussed and watched lots of film and TV, all of which really helped cement the points that were being made, including relating the theory to our own favourite mainstream movie, in my case Predator. 

The second day centred around specific feedback on our scripts and pointers on what to focus on for the next round of rewrites. I was one of the first to get notes, so I spent much of the second day tucked away in a corner with my headphones on, listening to instrumental tracks while working away on the next version of the script. 

The notes I received gave me a lot to think about and really pushed me to take the bull by the horns and start to try some new things out. I spent all of last weekend and a good few hours last Monday working on revisions, until I had a version of the script I was happy to submit. The next stage includes not only the team from It's my Shout and the BBC Writers Room evaluating the revised drafts, but also the Directors who have also been selected, who get to decide which of those shortlisted they are most interested in bringing to the screen. Decisions should be made very soon, so I'll have more to say when I hear if I've been successful. Either way, this has all been really valuable and has given me lots of diagnostic tools for not only my screenwriting work, but also my comics projects as well. 

It's My Shout Script Shortlist 2017

I was very pleased to find out this week that my short film script "The Package" has been shortlisted by It's my Shout for further deliberation. This is the second year that I've put a script forward for the scheme, having submitted boxing drama "Break" in 2016. 

Wow! So after receiving over 200 scripts from writers across Wales and abroad we’ve managed to get it down to 47! Thank you to all those who entered a script this year. It was very tough to narrow down. For those who managed to reach this shortlist WELL DONE! This is an amazing achievement!

Should find out in the next weeks whether I am one of the lucky few who have made it through to the BBC Writers Room two day residential script development workshop. Fingers firmly crossed.