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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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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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

 

 

Big Big Inspiration Part Two

As I'm writing this I'm listening to Along the Ridgeway, the third song on the new Big Big Train album Folklore (which isn't in shops until May 27th, so I highly recommend that you pre-order it now). If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll remember the name of the band, as they were the subject of a long and praise laden post last August.  

Since that blog post, my daughter and I have had two more unforgettable days that revolve around the critically acclaimed band . In March we spent the day on St.Catherine's Hill in Winchester being extras in the video for the album's title track  (which you can watch below) and yesterday we were with the band again, this time in Box, Wiltshire. We were lucky enough to spend the day alongside many more of the band's fans, known collectively as Passengers, at the Folklore listening party at Real World Studios, musical home to legendary singer Peter Gabriel and the place where the album was recorded. 

We were also treated to a two song acoustic set by the band, minus drummer Nick D'Virgilio who was back in the States but did join us by video later. Hearing Wassail and Uncle Jack played up close and personal was an unexpected treat.

This is all very good and well and just like the concert last year at Kings Place in London both these days will live long in the memory, but what exactly does it have to do with my writing? Well in my August 2015 post I said the following and it has proven to be very true. 

Music has always shaped me as a person and as a creative and Big Big Train will continue to be a big part of that. 

I'm working on a new comic project currently, I can't say much about it yet as it's very early days with no artist attached and nothing pitched to publishers. What I can say is that I've loosely plotted it as a five issue series and Issue 1 is completely broken down with seventeen first draft pages written. Tonally it's not a million miles away from my 2011 book 'The Interactives' and it's already it's shaping up to be a book only I could write. I've taken inspiration from lots of sources, including Big Big Train's back catalogue and some of the iconography surrounding their latest release. I've also been listening to two albums by another modern prog band Phideaux, The Great Leap and in particular Doomsday Afternoon along with anything I can find on Spotify's The Sound of Neo-Progressive playlist, while working through the plot. I find that the best bands in the genre have music that really helps expand your mind and frees up the imagination. I do almost all of my plotting in the gym these days, on the treadmill doing something I've christened "Running through a story", which should probably be the subject of a process post all of its own.  

If you read the previous blog, it outlined some things that becoming a fan of BBT had made me think about when approaching a new project.

  1.  Collaborate with lots of talented people.
  2.  Don't be afraid to be British.
  3. Take risks, put things together that may not obviously belong with each other
  4. Don't be afraid to be emotional.
  5. Smile.

Does this new series meet those criteria? Not intentionally, as this wasn't set out as a plan or manifesto. However, by being true to myself and evoking the mood and spirit of Big Big Train's music has definitely taken me in the right direction. 

  1.  Collaborate with lots of talented people. I'm on the look out for an artist. 
  2.  Don't be afraid to be British. The story is all set in England. 
  3. Take risks, put things together that may not obviously belong with each other. There are some interesting things in Issue 1 already. 
  4. Don't be afraid to be emotional. I can see the book going more that way over time. 
  5. Smile. I've been doing that every day while working on this story, it's been great fun. 

I'm sure that as I become more accustomed to BBT's latest long player (I'm only on listen number four) it will have an even more profound impact on my approach to my work. I should have a first draft of Issue 1 of the new book completed this month and I'm hoping that once I have an artist I can start sharing a few more details. In the meantime....Wassail! 

 

 

Collaboration not commoditisation

Unless you are working in prose and self-publishing without an editor, writing tends to involve other people. When you are putting a comic project together you are very much becoming part of a creative team. 

Declan Shalvey posted something on twitter yesterday that reminded me how important it is to approach every book you work on as a true collaboration.  It was an ad that a writer had placed online, looking for an artist for their long-term project. 

I'm going to give this person the benefit of the doubt and assume that somewhere in amongst these twenty points they have the best of intentions. I'm not going to focus on the sheer misogyny of #8, the sheer ludicrousness of #7 or even the infeasibility of #10 on a back-end only deal, instead I want to turn my attention to the overall sentiment of their post. For me this is a prime example of commoditising creativity, seeing the creation of a comic as a production line and not something fluid that evolves as more people bring their own talents into play . Not only does it suggest a 'writer is king' mentality, it also shows a complete lack of respect for the most important person in a comic project  - the artist. If you can't draw and you can't convince an artist to work with you, you don't and never will have a comic. Writers have to be prepared to court their potential artist, rather than pillorying them in advance. 

I'm going to guess that the person who posted this ad has been let down before (possibly by a female child who drew one page of stick figures with no faces or hands and had to walk away due to their fear of success) and is using that one bad experience as the basis for how to treat a potential artist. Even if this writer has bucket loads of cash to throw at an artist up front, I think the attitude they have taken would make finding someone to work with challenging. Ironically it would leave the kind of unreliable, unprofessional collaborator that they seem to fear as the most likely respondent. Add to that the fact that there is, as seen in #17, no money on the table then the one potential motivator for anyone with talent and an ounce of self respect to apply doesn't exist.

The Interactives creative team. 

The Interactives creative team. 

Having worked with a number of artists over the years, some of whom I met through posting ads online, it's easy for me to be judgemental about posts like this one. I've also worked in radio, television and advertising where being part of a creative team is central to all aspects of the work, so probably have more experience of bringing out the best in collaborators. Even so, treating others as you'd like to be treated is just a basic part of being a decent human being. And I strongly believe that a commoditised creative process is fundamentally the wrong approach. Work with talented people, make them feel valued, let them express themselves, give them a strong sense of ownership and watch them fly. Collaboration for the win! 

Something old, something new...

I decided that I wanted 2016 to be a year where I procrastinated less and wrote more, and so far that's be going to plan, as the year has gotten off to a very productive start.

Title - TBC

(Comic short) 

In January I took an idea that had been in my head for about four years and finally put it on the page as a short story. It doesn't have a title yet, but I already had it accepted for an anthology title once a suitable artist is found. This story ended up taking on a life of its own and went in a slightly different direction than I had planned and the ending wasn't what I was expecting. I think the story is all the better for these changes though. 

Working Title - Viva Las Venus  

(Comic mini-series) 

Re-evaluating old work has been part of this year's plan too. Looking back on unfinished projects and deciding whether to ditch them and move on or give them another chance has been a wise move. 

This space opera project started life about ten years ago and I wrote the whole mini series for submission to Visionary Comics. I've gone back to the concept a few times over the years, but disliked so much of what I'd written that I could never quite get past it. This time I ditched a lot more, kept the world and the two main characters but dropped parts of the high concept. I also brought in characters from two other sci-fi story ideas that had stalled in the early stages. Creating an ensemble piece gave the series a new life and pushed me to take the story further and I'm really enjoying working on it. I think two pages from the original book have made it into this new version. 

I wrote Issue 1 in January and did two rounds of rewrites in February. The plan is to do some more rewrites this month and then to look for a suitable artist while working on the other issues.  

Title - The Package

(Short Film) 

    

 

 

This project started life a short comic script in about 2009, when I first came up with the idea. Two years later, having lost the original script I wrote it again, following the same plot and that version has been sitting on my hard drive ever since. Every now and then I'd consider pitching it to an anthology title, but it never quite felt like the right fit.  

I've been thinking for a while that the concept is much more suited to film, so took the plunge and wrote it a third time last month, this time as a short film. The cringeworthy dialogue from the 2011 version has all gone and despite the plot being essentially the same, the characterisation is stronger, the pacing more interesting and the overall finished script far more satisfying. It's coming in at eighteen pages currently, so would be pushing twenty minutes so my next job is to try and get it back to fifteen minutes.  Once I've done that I'll start thinking about ways to get it made. 

Title - Break

(Short Film) 

Another short film, which I've been mulling over for the past few weeks prompted by a specific call out for submissions. The submission has some specific criteria that the story has to meet and at one point I did consider reworking 'The Package" to make it eligible. In the end I decided that having two shorts written was a better plan than trying to make that story into something it wasn't intended to be. I got the plot for this one down on paper yesterday and I'll need to have it written, polished and submitted by the end of the month. 

As well as these projects I'm also working on 'Seven Shades', a supernatural western comic series with artist Dave Clifford (Dexter's Half Dozen). It's based on an idea he had, which we fleshed out together in January. I'll be doing this one Marvel style, to allow him to really flex his artist muscles and I should be starting work on Issue 1 very soon.

Sci-fi mini series 'Flux' which I'm co-writing with Steve Aryan (Battlemage) is gathering pace. Artist Maysam Barza is hard at work on Issue 2, Issue 3 is written and we're in the process of tightening up the breakdown for Issue 4 before we start scripting it.

Lots going on, hopefully I can maintain this pace throughout the year. 

 

 

Looking back on 2015

As I start to make writing plans for 2016, it felt like a good time to look back on what has happened in the past twelve months. 

In Print

Two books came out in 2015 with my my name on them and both involved me writing in universes created by others. 

The Law Above was a short story for the second Torsobear anthology 'All Stitched Up', the brainchild of writer/artist Brett Uren. I thoroughly enjoying reading the first fluffy noir collection about detective Ruxby Bear and his adventures in Toyburg. So I was very pleased to get the chance to join forces with children's book illustrator Mike Motz to tell a tale of the prison guards who were once involved in the Saturday Morning war. As a big fan of 80s action adventure cartoons, the subject matter was right up my street.

The collection features a veritable who's who of indie creators like Cy Dethan, Glenn Moane, Juan Romera, Jon Scrivens and many more.   You can pick up the collection on Amazon or on Comixology.

'Imagine Frank Miller's Sin City... Now, color it with all the crayons from a third grader's school box . . . That's the barest inkling of the cruel delights that await you in this
incredible volume.' - Tony Caballero, Fanboy Comics

The Lament of Lady Mary was my second one-shot for the Unseen Shadows universe, created by Barry Nugent and spinning out of his pulp novel series. This time I got to stretch my writing muscles in a historical setting as my story, which centred on the relationship between Lord Oliver Cademus and his Mother the titular Lady Mary, was set after the end of the crusades. It also meant I finally got to work with artist Conor Boyle (Pirates of the Lost World), something I've wanted to do for years. He was the perfect artist for this story and colourist Jo McClelland helped give the story even more depth. It's one of the scripts I'm most proud of and you as it is set at the very start of the Unseen Shadows timeline, you don't need to have read the first novel Fallen Heroes or any of the other comic stories to follow along. You can pick the book up now from Comicsy

In Progress  

Things have been moving forward with Flux, the sci-fi thriller mini series I'm co-writing with Steve Aryan (Battlemage) with art by Maysam Barza (Fubar) . We've got ourselves a publisher,  Issue 1 has been lettered by Sean Rinehart. Issue 2 is partway through, Issue 3 is written and is undergoing rewrites and Issue 4 will be written next month. Expect news of a release date for the series to be announced early in 2016.

Work is also underway on another series written with Steve, The Promise, which features art by Simone Guglielmini (Near Death) and one written solo, Fifteen-Minute Heroes with art by Cheuk Po (Blood Dolls). 

I've gone back to my roots in 2015 by taking up various offers to write short stories for anthologies. Two stories are currently with artists, Back to Work is with Federico De Luca (Murder One) and Good Night, God Bless is being worked on by Wamberto Nicomdemes (Rage). 

Back to Work

Back to Work

My role as Comics Experience's Digital Content Editor has been gathering pace and keeping me busy, more to follow on that front when we hit the New Year. There will also be an announcement relating to the no (comic) code anthology I'm putting together to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Pearl Jam album no code.  

All in all an eventful 2015, with lots of projects on the go, which meant my convention appearances were somewhat curtailed. Next year my convention calendar will be somewhat fuller in 2016, with London Super Comic Con, Bristol Comic Expo and Thought Bubble among the shows that I'll be attending. 

Here's to a very productive 2016. 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Big Inspiration

Music is a very important part of who I am and it plays a significant role in my writing. I've been reminded of that a lot lately and the gig I went to on Sunday afternoon brought those thoughts to the fore once more for a number of reasons. It got me thinking about my relationship with music, what part it plays in my everyday life and in turn my creative pursuits. 

 Music has the power to connect people, to elevate us above and beyond our own limitations and restrictions. In many ways I think music is one of the things that makes us human. I'd be lost without films, TV shows, books and comics but I have a feeling that music is the entertainment medium that I'd be most unable to live without. Probably because I could listen to music while trying to make things for those other outlets myself. I actually tried the making music thing, but having attempted to sing in a couple of bands as a teenager I soon realised that wasn't going to be my most fruitful creative endeavour. 

My gateway to music was through my Dad, I didn't like absolutely everything he listened to but he's someone who tends to have music playing all the time, in the house or in the car, so I was exposed to a lot of music at a young age.  I actually took my eight year old daughter to the concert with me on the weekend and watching her sing along to songs she'd discovered in my car reminded me of learning songs the same way, at around the same age.  

Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.
— Aristotle

As I type this I'm listening to an album that my Dad and I played a lot when I was seven, as that's the age I was when it was released. Time by ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), came out in 1981 and unsurprisingly it was the first concept album I'd ever listened to. The songwriting and the production made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and overwhelmed my young psyche with a range of unexpected emotions. This wasn't just music to dance to or sing along with, this was music to think and feel to, music that told stories. Thirty four years later, the feeling I get listening to this album is the same as it was then and I still know all of the words. It's an evocative collection of songs, conjuring images of the future, time and space travel. The young writer in me found inspiration in this collection of songs when he first started putting pen to paper. Any album with a prologue and epilogue will help teach about about structure, build up and pacing, even if it's only subliminally. 


The album tells the story, through its songs and lyrics, of a man from the 1980s finding himself in the year 2095 and trying to come to terms with being unable to return and adjusting to his new surroundings.
— Wikipedia

Robin of Sherwood was my favourite program growing up, it ran from 1984 to 1986 so I was ten to twelve years old when it was shown on ITV. My favourite character in the series was defintely the Saracen assassin Nasir, played by actor Mark Ryan (who Wikipedia tells me has written for DC Comics, in fact his whole career sounds fascinating). As well as enjoying the acting and adventure on the show, this was the first time I'd really noticed the music on TV. In films I was used to the score being an integral part of the whole experience, but I'd never felt this sensation on the small screen before. Robin (The Hooded Man) was the theme, but the whole soundtrack was something very special indeed. My Dad bought a copy of "Legend" by Clannad, which had all the songs from the series on it and we played that a lot in the house and in the car. Those songs didn't just live on through that cassette copy though (which come to think of it may actually have been my older brother's), it also played almost constantly in my head. Growing up in the countryside meant lots of fields and woods to play in, and those Clannad songs were the backdrop for my own Robin Hood adventures too. Years later I bought my own CD copy and I still listen to it regularly. It was one of the albums I put on when I was writing medieval story "The Lament of Lady Mary" for the Unseen Shadows universe, along with Last Samurai, Kingdom of Heaven and some other selected soundtracks. 

My tastes have changed over the years, but I still have to listen to music every day. Music is still one of the things that inspires me as a person and also helps fuel my own creativity. A lyric, a song title, the production values of an album, a particular riff or refrain, all can spark story ideas or help shape the ones I'm working on. Much of this is relatively under the surface, but there are times when I use music in a more direct sense when I'm writing. 

My one and only screenplay Restitution Day (a Western) is named after a Jerry Cantrell song lyric and contains characters taking their surnames from Cantrell himself and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. In my early comic work I weaved in references to the likes of Iron Maiden, The Smiths and The Doors, into the shorts I wrote for anthologies and I've written two separate stories featuring vampire rock bands - the most recent Blood Dolls appeared in the British Comics Showcase from Markosia.  I totally wore my heart on my sleeve in my graphic novel The Interactives, which featured a character taking on the physical appearance of Mother Love Bone lead singer Andy Wood and a group of other deceased rock stars. 

 One of the mini series I'm working on, Viva Las Venus, was loosely inspired by PM Dawn's song Downtown Venus, an old series idea 5th Outlaw took some cues from the Velvet Revolver video for She builds quick machines. I was also planning to delve into another music centred concept with a mini series idea simply called Prog, but the existence of This Damned Band by Paul Cornell and Tony Parker from Dark Horse, probably put paid to that one. I'm currently editing and writing for a Pearl Jam based anthology I put together called no (comic) code, which features almost eighty other comic creators with an affinity to the band too. So I have plenty of out and out influences that come from the world of music. 

For each series I write I usually create a playlist, not necessarily to write to as I try to avoid lyrics when I'm working, but to help shape the tone and feel of the narrative. I might put that playlist on during the staring into space stage of the writing process, be that sat at my desk, in the shower, car or gym. Then when the actual physically getting words onto paper stage happens I shift to the likes of Matt Stevens, And so I watch you from Afar and film soundtracks to stop me from being too distracted. Although silence usually ends up being my final destination once I get into the real nitty gritty of the work.

So what does this all have to do with the gig I went to on Sunday. What was it about that two and a half hour show that made me think so much about how important music is to me, or why and how it helps fuel me as a writer?

The concert on Sunday was at Kings Place, near Kings Cross in London and the band we went to see was Big Big Train. I discovered the British prog band via comic artist friend Marc Laming (Planet Hulk, King's Watch) after he shared the video for Make Some Noise on twitter and made it his 'jam'.  That song was quite immediate and not as overtly prog as the rest of their music, it also reminded me of those teenage bands I mentioned earlier.  I delved into their English Electric: Full Power double album and was instantly liking what I heard.  I was already a big fan of Porcupine Tree and this was a slight left turn from that band, through the prism of Peter Gabriel era Genesis

Fast forward just under two years and Big Big Train have become one of my favourite bands and certainly my favourite current one from this side of the Atlantic. Like many other progressive rock outfits they are immensely popular with other creative people. Fables and Miracleman artist Mark Buckingham is a fellow Passenger (the name given to the band's loyal fanbase, as seen on the official Facebook page) and he was also at the gig on Sunday too. Comedian and actor Mark Benton also put in an appearance at Kings Place and Justice League artist Jason Fabok is also a fan. 

Wish I was in London for the @bigbigtrain shows. Best band in the world at this moment in time IMO.
— @JasonFabok
Photo by Neil Palfreyman, courtesy of Greg Spawton (Big Big Train)

Photo by Neil Palfreyman, courtesy of Greg Spawton (Big Big Train)

So why was Sunday's concert so important, what was it about two and a half hours of award winning progressive rock that felt so enlightening? It was a number of things, taking my daughter with me was part of it, seeing how much she enjoyed the show (we're in the photo above together) reminded me how I bonded with my own Father over shared musical tastes. That took me back to those early albums and early musical experiences that shaped my first forrays into writing when I was at school. Secondly the whole thing was so joyful, the crowd were all complete afficinados of the band and each musician seemed to be thriving on the fact that they literally had a captive audience to play to. Then, above and beyond all else, there was the music, some of the best songs I've discovered in recent years played expertly by a set of extremely talented musicians, each bringing something to the stage that made the whole thing far, far more than the sum of its expert parts. 

With reflection there was a lot I could take away from this concert and from becoming a fan of Big, Big Train and listening to their music. 

1) Collaborate with lots of talented people. 

Fidelity isn't a trait I hold highly in my musical heroes. Artists like Neil Finn, Steven Wilson, Mark Lanegan and Mike Patton record under a variety of names and with a variety of musicians and their discographies have been all the better for it. Members of the Seattle bands that were such a big part of my teenage years have tended to form supergroups and have numerous side projects on the go too. I like the fact I have music by At the Drive In, Mars Volta, Bosnian Rainbows and Antemasque in my collection too.  Big Big Train evolved from being a duo into the eight-piece band they are today (thirteen when they add in the brass section) and each member of the band has other projects and other collaborators. Founding members Andy Poole and Greg Spawton have changed instruments over the years, guitarist Dave Gregory is also in Tin Spirits and was on twelve XTC albums, Rikard Sobjolm also fronts Beardfish in his native Sweden, Nick D'Virgilio was also the Spock's Beard drummer, he's recorded solo records, worked with Cirque de Soleil and appeared on a Genesis album, violinist Rachel Ward used to perform in a duo alongside her Father, vocalist David Longdon and pianist/double bass player Danny Manners have both been in the Louis Philippe band.   I'm remnded that I can write alone and co-write with people, work with a variety of artists and in a mixture of genres to keep my work fresh and interesting. 

2) Don't be afraid to be British.

Big Big Train's award winning song East Coast Racer, which closed the second set on Sunday,  is about the Mallard train, Judas Unrepentant centres around art forger/restorer Tom Keating, they have songs that feature places like Highfields, Upton Heath, London and Winchester. In my own work The Interactives is one of the few British set stories I've written, as the action takes place in both Monmouth and London. Listening to Big Big Train has reminded me that not all my stories need to be in space or the USA.  

3) Take risks, put things together that may not obviously belong with each other.

Prog rock is a genre of music that sometimes doesn't get the respect it deserves (you could level the same thought process at comics as a storytelling medium too), one of the things it does really well is taking lots of diverse influences and experiences into one song, one album, one show.  BBT and other bands like them remind me to try new things, to experiment and to not be afraid of failure. 

4) Don't be afraid to be emotional.

Grown men cried on Sunday, that is the power of the music and lyrics of many Big Big Train songs. You are taken on an emotional journey, powerful enough to make you feel very different by the time the song is over. My favourite comic writers do the same thing in their work, the likes of Jason Aaron and Brian K Vaughan. I'm reminded that this isn't a bad thing to aspire to. 

5) Smile. 

Big Big Train are a band whose lyrics hold weight, but they also seem to approach what they do with a sense of collective joy. Guitarist Dave Gregory smiled almost continuously through the thirteen song show and I'd love to capture that feeling, the unadulterated joy of creation and sharing it with an audience. I'm going to remember his smiling face and use that to push me forward whenever I feel like my writing has hit a wall, or if I'm riddled with self doubt and over analysing my early drafts.

Sunday was an amazing, magical, truly life affirming and almost spiritual occasion, probably the best concert I've ever attended. It will live long in my memory, but the impact on my writing will hopefully be permanent. Music has always shaped me as a person and as a creative and Big Big Train will continue to be a big part of that. 

 

 

Work very much in progress

It's not exactly the latest news from San Diego Comic Con, but it did think it was about time I posted about the progress of the various mini series I'm working on. 

Flux - I'm co-writing this sci-fi crime series with Stephen Aryan, with Maysam Barza on art duties and Sean Rinehart on letters. Twenty pages of Issue 1 have been inked and once the final two pages are complete, we'll be prepping for colouring and lettering. The script for Issue 2 has been through a few drafts and it is currently getting peer and pro feedback over on the Comics Experience workshop. We hope to have the full four issue series completed this year and released early in 2016.

fluxPC

Fifteen-Minute Heroes - This super-hero series has art by Cheuk Po and letters by Tomas Marijanovic. Issue 1 has been coloured and Issue 2 is written and is about to be re-written, following the latest round of feedback from the Comics Experience workshop.  

fifteenminute

The Promise - This crime series is also co-written by Stephen Aryan, with Simone Guglielmini (Near Death) on art. The whole book is plotted out, we've written much of Issue 1 and have a pitch package that we've been sending out to prospective publishers. 

The promise

Saturday Mornings - This all ages fantasy book is plotted out and half of Issue 1 is written. It was recently submitted to a publisher for consideration. Artist/s TBC. 

Beta Wolf - I'm in the very early stages of this action series, having changed the title and made some major plot improvements to the initial idea I had. Plan is to complete the plot and move onto scripting very soon. Artist TBC.  

Viva Las Venus - This is a very old space opera idea I had, which I've given a major overhaul recently. In the very early stages and won't be plotting it fully until other projects have moved further along. Artist TBC. 

The Rush - This is an experimental sci-fi series, put together with a writer's room approach. The five issue first arc has been plotted out by myself, Stephen Aryan and Cy Dethan (which some initial assistance from Chris Lewis). Three issues have been written, one each by Steve, Cy and I. We'll be coming to this book soon and planning to have a different artist on each issue, much like Zero from Image Comics. 

Forgotten Planet - This sci-fi adventure was originally developed with artist Azim Akberali. Later I returned to the book with Giancarlo Caracuzzo (Random Acts of Violence) and we ran two failed Kickstarter campaigns with Scar Comics. At some point I would like to revisit this and may attempt crowdfunding again.

forgotten

Hopefully with so much going on, there will be plenty of my work on the stands next year.