Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Who On Earth Was Thaddeus Mist? and other pressing questions...

Being that time of the year, this was going to be a year in review post but there is so much exciting stuff flying around right now that I want to talk about...so I'll do that instead.

I've been recruited into reviewing comics for the awesome Jim Schwitzer and the Tales From The Parent's Basement crew. So far the process has been nothing short of great fun. It also gives me a chance to read more comics and keep my writing sharp during down-time. My first review for them is the Oni Press graphic novel 'Guerilla's' and can be viewed here... http://talesfromtheparentsbasement.com/reviews/?p=563

A new prose story has lodged itself in my brain and, while it is foetal at this point, all arms and elbows, it may turn into something big. Time will tell...

Finally, I have been working for some months with Accent UK and I think I won't get in trouble for saying that I'm going to be editing their next anthology after Victoriana. It is some way off yet, so I'm reticent to give many details in case the whole thing falls apart in front of me, but the fully-collaborative graphic novel is entitled 'Who On Earth Was Thaddeus Mist?' I'm working with my favourite writers and artists in the industry on this one, among them award-winning creators Dave West and Marleen Lowe, as well as a slew of embarrassingly good talent. I'm very excited and honored to be working on it. More details soon.

Like any year there have been victories and losses, but on the whole things I had no clue were possible happened, and for that I'm very grateful. I met some truly great people, and worked harder than I have before on things people will see and things people will not.

I'd like things to keep getting better. Next year I want to defy gravity.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Batman Vs. Robin hardcover review

Like him or hate him - few fans remain indifferent - you cannot deny that Grant Morrison is a bold voice in comics. Never content with the mere title of comic book writer, Morrison has claimed himself to be everything from the industry's first rock star, to a shamanic god-like figure. But none of the eccentric Scotsman's drug stories or Buddhist anecdotes will be remembered in the final analysis. That responsibility will fall on his work and his work alone.

At his worst Morrison is self-indulgent, surrealist without a sense of purpose, forsaking a clear sense of structure and direction for the sake of poetry (a mistake Alan Moore rarely makes, despite the art of his language). At his best Morrison is without peer; the king of the mind-bending high-concept, a natural at shifting expectation, and a rare innovator of the form. I believe Grant Morrison only becomes one of the very best when he twins his flights of fancy with emotion, and story. All-Star Superman and JLA: Earth Two spring to mind.

So we come to the latest collection in the Batman and Robin series. With a roster of artists Cameron Stewart and Andy Clarke, Morrison follows strands of story and characters created for his 'Black Glove' run on Batman, namely Knight and Squire. The mysterious figure of Oberon Sexton is developed further and fractures in the relationship between the new Batman and Robin team begin to emerge, all set against the backdrop of a crime caper set primarily in England and Gotham. There are touches of genius (Talia Al Ghul giving a fresh spin on the controlling mother archetype, Damian Wayne taking on Wayne Enterprises, fascinating glimpses into the Wayne family history), but these are marred by a plot that warms up halfway through the graphic novel. Lazarus Pits are an intriguing proposition post-RIP, but Morrison used it to play a familiar and tired card.

The deluxe edition format looks and feels great. The extra's in the back of the book are a mixed bag (do we really need to see the different colors DC used for the logo?)but worth it to inspect Frank Quietly's always exemplary covers. The series has been struggling to maintain the standard he set since his departure.
I have no doubt that Batman and Robin will continue to be a pop-art kick in the middle of a comic market that takes itself far too seriously at times, but that original, breathless thrill ride that it was in the first few issues has been dimmed.

for fans of: Batman (duh)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Father of the Empire

Today brought the sad news that director Irvin Kershner has died at the age of 87.

The director of arguably the best sequel in cinema history 'The Empire Strikes Back', Kershner's legacy in science-fiction has been huge. He has also had a massive impact on the childhoods of millions of kids, myself included. It seems that I was hard-wired to swing around tree-branches and make buzzing sounds by blowing air through my teeth. Snow-days also meant missing school and spending the whole day on the frozen planet of Hoth.

I wouldn't be writing without those films. Thank you and rest in peace.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Stuff of Legend review

“But the years came and went without bringing the careless boy; and when they met again, Wendy was a married woman, and Peter was no more to her than a little dust in the box in which she had kept her toys. Wendy was grown up.”- Peter Pan

Stuff of Legend is a comic book about adult dangers imposed on the world of childish things. The book ties into a long tradition in literature and film, in which the objects of imaginative play are imbued with human personalities, wants, and desires; where fantasy is given a reality. Most notable examples are the movies The Pagemaster ,Toy Story and The Neverending story (itself a children's novel.) These works often form an effective metaphor - Toy Story concerns being replaced and unloved; The Neverending Story is about the collapse of imagination and child-like hopes.

The effective element in The Stuff of Legend is its period setting. The decision of writers Mike Raicht and Brian Smith to set the book during World War II is an important one in showing that the marvellous events of the book are a direct expression of one little boy's perception of a conflict his father is absent fighting. This gives the book a dark, hopeless edge that raises it above most stories of its ilk in which the main players' motives are selfish and altruistic. Here the toys fight to save a boy, the opening 'Battle at Brooklyn Creek' hinting at Omaha beach landings. This is subversive stuff for a book about a stuffed bear in a bowtie. The complex Percy - the boy's piggy-bank - is a fascinating character. Unique among the company in that his loyalty will be rewarded when the boy "breaks me", his allegiance is always in question. In another character, the fearless soldier 'Colonel', we see the boy's most unfettered desires to see his father realized. This is a book about loyalty to friends, a boy, a country.

The art of Charles Paul Wilson III is wonderfully whimsical and traditional in the opening section, recalling a melancholy storybook. Brilliantly, the crude, expressionless toys are replaced with living, dynamic counterparts when they enter The Dark (surely a fantasia version of Nazi-occupied Europe). The artwork evokes early James Jean and Dave Hitchcock, artist of Madam Samurai.

That this is a great, great book, is perhaps most evident in its simplicity. I enjoyed it but was not blown away once I closed it. The more I considered what it was saying and where it could potentially go (the next chapter 'The Jungle' is currently shipping) I understood what a rare find it was. Get 'The Stuff of Legend Book 1: The Dark now. There is nothing like it on the stands.

For fans of: The Neverending Story, Fables, Toy Story.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Retro Review: Champion of the Worms

Mike Mignola is now so famous as the mind behind what feels like the first truly classic modern creation in comics - Hellboy. The right hand of doom is now so recognizable and mainstream, appearing in every media from animation, video-games and two blockbuster movies directed by Guillermo del Toro, that many forget Mignola's earlier work.
Amongst these ventures, though, are some great comics that have since been almost entirely forgotten in the wake of the great BPRD franchise. In short, Hellboy is like McDonald's now...he's everywhere. I find it refreshing to take a look at Mignola explorer darker and quirkier paths on his road to superstardom.

Champion Of The Worms was released in 1997 (in fact after hellboy was created) by Dark Horse comics. This is a retro comic tale in the style of old EC horror comics and concerns a Hyperborean mummy (Azzul Gotha), who sets about sacrificing mankind to ancient worm gods...and that sounds freakin' cool. A heroic team of adventurers and scholars try to stop him, all set in an anonymous European city.

Mignola is on fine form, clearly revelling in the gothic, Lovecraftian universe that he would soon turn into his biggest property. This is European gothic fused with modern american macabre. That it all feels effortless is a sign of Mignola's visionary thumbprint. He has clearly always been comfortable with this material.

This rag-tag bunch of wierdo's and freaks fighting an equally bizarre enemy has clearly had an influence on modern comics like The Umbrella Academy (also by Dark Horse). Also Pat McEown proves a joy on art - reminiscent of Herge throughout, his Aztec flavoured decor and octopus hat (you heard me) are worth the price of admission alone.

This is such a fun, weird little book,that it really deserves your attention - especially if you're a Mignola fan. After this I need to hunt down The Amazing Screw-On Head.

for fans of: Hellboy, The Umbrella Academy, EC Comics.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Avengers: Children's Crusade #1 review

In April 2005, Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung's Young Avengers hit the comic scene like an atom bomb. Fresh, exciting and energetic, it introduced the world to a new team of teen superheroes desperate for a chance to prove they had what it takes to stand beside Captain America, Iron Man and Thor in the pantheon of Marvel greats.

When writing his invented (gasp: new characters!) team, Heinberg employed pitch-perfect characterization, snappy witty dialogue and daring, young voices. Cheung's clean, crisp but hyper-detailed artwork was a perfect match for the story. These elements all helped propel Young Avengers into the A*list.
Another element that probably generated interest - for good or ill - was the controversy sparked by featuring a gay pairing in the roster. Interesting and thought provoking, the letters column at the end of the comic was as enjoyable as the story itself (a rare thing in comics.) For me, the joy of Young Avengers was that it came out of nowhere and punched us all in the gut with a teenage smile plastered on its face.

Unfortuately, Avengers: Children's Crusade comes saddled with the weight of unfair expectations. You can almost hear the fanboys holding their breath. Chronicling the hunt for the Scarlet Witch - Wiccan and Speed's long-lost biological mother - the scope of Children's Crusade is exponentially widened. This is a blessing and a curse. Thankfully, Heinberg's characterization and spunky dialogue is present and correct; Cheung's artwork still as refreshing as ever. On the surface, Children's Crusade is as exciting as its predecessor. In my opinion, however, Children's Crusade is too self-aware of it's earlier endeavors to fully take off. This is most clearly exposed by the pushing of Teddy and Billy's relationship; originally just a part of their characters and mainly conveyed through hinted, quiet moments, it is less obvious this time around (Teddy kisses a homophobic criminal to provoke him as early as page three). What was once a charming and unique foot-note is now a selling-point of the series.

It's not that Avengers: Children's Crusade is a bad comic - I enjoyed it a great deal, but I do feel what it has gained in grandness it has lost in intimacy.

For fans of: Perez Teen Titans, Young Avengers, Blue Beetle

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Fall of the Wolfmen review

The trick to writing a sequel is not to write a sequel. Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a high-octane adventure movie - faster and leaner than it's predecessor which in many ways owes more to slasher horror than the action genre. The very best sequels expand the world built in the first installment, introduce new characters without forsaking the principle players, and ADD to the mythos with something new and fresh to say about a property we are familiar with.
So it is with Fall of the Wolfmen. The second part of Dave West and Andy Bloor's Wolfmen trilogy, published by Accent UK and unveiled at Whatever Comics in Canterbury of October this year.
If it were at all possible, West and Bloor have created a more muscular comic than their first effort. This is about acts of revenge, a natural evolution from the 'heist movie gone wrong' in book one. Packing it with more action and emotion, they have widened the scope to insinuate that the Wolfmen are not only following you down the street but are instead in all places at all times. They are inescapable. It is a nice choice of Dave West's in a book that is about the consequences of revenge, and the risk of retaliation. That retaliation comes when Grey's wife, Jenny, is embroiled in the plot(as a side note: it is nice to see a female character take such a large role in the noir comic, always considered a man's world.)

There are places in which a let up in pace, a little breathing room, would have been welcome, but it is a minor quibble with a book that competes in quality with the american industry. One might argue that Andy Bloor's bulky gangsters unrealistically rendered, but I think this misses the point. This is a question of style. Andy's characters are a perfect fit for the story being told. The Wolfmen are too big and mean to fit inside his panels, too unrestrained.

Fall of the Wolfmen is an ambitious comic, one that the UK small press needs because it reaches for something higher and is not held back by it's humble surroundings. Get your paws on it now.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Rocket Fuel!!!!!!

October has been an insane month full of various bits and pieces for me to get excited about...

On the 16th-17th of October I journeyed up to the Think Tank in Birmingham for this years Birmingham International Comic Show. I was on the Accent UK table and had a truly amazing time there; having long chats with Colin, Dave, Tony and Gemma about movies, comics, future projects and everything in between; talking to comic fans and selling books; signing my first ever comic (i couldn't believe it!), and generally making a nuisance of myself.

At the con I also pitched the new Accent UK anthology that I'm editing to prospective contributors, all of which I am incredibly humbled and grateful to get the chance to work with. That will move forward shortly, so watch this space...

I met some great new faces for the first time, one of which being Matt Soffe, an incredible writer/artist/colorist and all-round renaissance man that can be found here:- http://mygrimmbrother.blogspot.com/
Matt is now the colorist on 'My Maker and I'- the book co-created by myself and Dan Duncan - and I can't wait until he blows all your brains out with his paint-set. After receiving the (almost) final inks of the first pages on my return from the con, I have to say that Dan is doing unbelievable stuff on the book. How he's not working for a major company yet is beyond me...but he will be very soon.

Thanks for such an amazing weekend must go to the Accent UK boys for being such generous and supportive hosts, Andy Bloor for rocking the artist corner, Dave Hitchcock who drew in my sketchbook and chatted to me for longer than he had to, and the wonderful nerd-goddess that is Laura Ayres - for her burnt pizza, great conversation, and giving me somewhere to crash.
I returned to Oxford exhausted but satisfied.

This week has seen me working on pulling contributors together for the new anthology and lead a workshop on 'Word and Image' for the Oxford Brookes Creative Writing society. It was a great turn out - thanks to the efforts of society head Verity Heir - where I talked about the merits and tricks involved in writing screenplays, comics, illustrated children's books and television (anything involving the interaction between word and image, hence the title). I had fun and it was great to meet new, young writers taking their first steps.

There are other covert missions and underground clockworks, but all in it's time...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The Beginning.

Haven't posted in a while it seems...

The last month and a half has been concerned with moving to Oxford which has been both fun and stressful. I'm now completely settled in and looking forward to the different projects, weird art experiments and mysterious X-Files I will be tackling in my new workspace in the coming year.

Work has started in earnest on the second draft of my book, which is both exhilarating and soul-crushingly difficult to build on the old draft whilst trying to exorcise its flaws. Comics are taking a backseat as various wonderful artists have my scripts and are working to see them realized.

I have also been visiting Pitt Rivers Museum of anthropology and world archaeology. It is an incredible place full of inspiring stuff so if you live in oxford and haven't been, check it out!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Wireless Imagination

A fascinating discussion about writing and creativity hosted by artist Grayson Perry with interviews with Terry Pratchett amongst others. Starts off in a general way but then focuses on the creative process in detail.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

save independent stores

This has been happening for a very long, long time now, but in recent weeks it has become more apparent to me that many great independent stores are being forced to close down due to the pressures of the internet and the unreliability and laziness of local customers. Not only comic book stores are struggling, but from what I have seen these are being hit the hardest. Video rental stores, book shops and record stores (I was shocked and appalled to find not one place to buy vinyl records in Oxford last week); all are affected, pushed into closing down. It's a huge shame.
I think, to be honest, this is a problem with a root in several different places.
The internet is obviously a key factor, as well as large chains like HMV and Forbidden Planet taking custom away from smaller outlets.
However, independent store owners are not blameless...taking a stubborn 'I'm not going to change' attitude doesn't help. It seems to make simple business sense to alter your working practices rather than risk losing your business. Make a website, make a blog, get in contact with the people you want to come into your store.
I am not a businessman, but I am a fan, and I know that it was pure dumb luck that I stumbled across my local comic shop as an eleven year old. It was exploration of the most exciting kind, pulling comics off the shelves based on their covers in that feverish experiment that gave way to asking for more, for knowledge. The knowledge that independent store owners can give will outstrip any emotionless internet site, their hidden gems far more precious than the random nature of graphic novels ordered by the chain bookstores on the high street. That time I stole in the comic shop every week is incredibly precious to me now and it should be available to more kids.
The owners of independent shops across the country are fueled by pure passion, not profit, and they deserve to be rewarded for that. So go into the small places, the secret places, and buy from the men and women who truly earn your custom.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

My Dark Materials: Lecture with Philip Pullman

So my fellow Masters students and I were treated to an audience with visiting fellow of the college Philip Pullman. Below is a rather fetching image of him and some fish that appears on buses around Oxford (he's on a freakin' bus! The man's a literary rock-star)

Pullman read from his new work, 'The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ', discussed his inspiration and intention with the book, and fielded questions ("ask me anything," he teased), from comic books ("I devoured them") to the gargoyles of Oxford ("they come alive at night and fight like cats"). His intelligence and wit is fierce, but he is humble and inspiring, throwing stories and anecdotes carelessly like only confident storytellers with a vault of ideas can.
Being preoccupied with the first draft of my children's book I plucked up the courage to ask a question. It was this...

Q: It feels to me like many classic children's fiction like 'Peter Pan' and 'Alice's Adventures through the Looking Glass', more specifically stories concerned with burdening adolescence, arrive fully-formed; as if they are effortless. The concept of intercision is so primal. (N.B. intercision is a fictional operation in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy that separates an individual from their dæmon)
How did you condense such grand ideas into a story that did not patronize or intimidate children?

Pullman: Do not think about your audience. Not one bit. When you are writing, you are the sole authority. (Laughs and growls) You are the tyrant! You are the despot! Writing is a dictatorship, and while it is in your hands, it must remain your vision. Once it is published people will analyse it, and criticize it, and burn it or worship it, depending on their feeling. But you must write it for yourself and trust that if the book has coherence, truth, wit and power, it will find it's own audience.

Simple but true. It was a great lecture and a fun day.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Pilgrim's Progress

I undertook my annual pilgrimage to Bristol Comic Expo on the 22-23rd of May, during a heat-wave that was very unkind to the hordes of my nerdy people in attendance. It was a fun albeit sweaty event in which many comics were signed, many panels attended, and many obscure pop culture references thrown around.

Aside from picking up some Madman and Spirit back issues (and sporting a fetching laminated lanyard), I bought Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards' new comic Turf and hounded Kieron Gillen after his Marvel panel talk until he signed his first issue of Thor.
Dave Hitchcock was giving away artwork for his new graphic novel Madame Samurai which looked incredible, and I was lucky enough to discover some new indie publishers that I'd never heard of, among them Atomic Diner who can be found at http://www.atomicdiner.com

Nich Angell also rocked my world http://www.nichangell.co.uk/

Many have complained about the change in venue and drop in sponsors for Bristol in the last few years but the convention will always be important for me as it was my first convention, one I have travelled to visit for many years. It remains the safest place to geek out every May. I can't wait until next year.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Spider-Man commission

A quick one-and-done commission I got from a friend, a complete spider-man nut. I've never played around with Marvel characters before. It was a lot more fun than I had expected. Green Goblin (one of my least favourite characters visually) was strangely my favourite to play around with.

Monday, 10 May 2010

R.I.P. Frank Frazetta

I would be nothing without those John Carter of Mars paintings. He was in a category of one.

Friday, 30 April 2010

The End.

As previously stated, I have been writing and illustrating a children's book for about four years now. I find myself currently approaching the end of the main writing process (re-writes and editing will begin after a long holiday I think). It is bittersweet and I'm feeling a little fragile, but I am well aware that I have a lot of work left to do. I also don't want to give any specific details- the publishing industry being what it is there is no dead cert that any of this will see the light of day I suppose. I only know my personal journey with a project, and this one is finally nearing its end.

In other news, I have been doing some commission pieces for friends, one for a Spider-Man fanatic and one for designs for a website.

I was also given the opportunity to read the opening of Accent UK's Stevenson's Robot and was pleased to see that it is as bonkers and brilliant as I had assumed it would be. This is going to be a fantastic comic book.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

'They're coming to get you, Barbara...'

Following in the blood-stained footsteps of their sell-out anthology Zombies, Accent UK (www.accentukcomics.com) are releasing a second volume in 2011, featuring all-new shorts from the best of UK comic talent.

Although it's a bit of a way off yet, my contribution is entitled 'Fever Dreams' and features art by my regular collaborator Garry Brown (www.garrybrownart.com)
I'm always excited to be included in the Accent UK books along-side such talented creators, and I'm looking forward to reading the contributions of Marleen Lowe, Indio, Max Deacon, Dave West & Andy Bloor and Dan Duncan to name just a few.
It's going to be a very fun book.

More on this once production gets rolling.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

What I know About Writing.

I know nothing about writing…
...at least, in comparison to others. But there’s something quite exciting about that, isn’t there? At this point, the territory in which I have left to explore seems infinite to me.

I’d like to state straight off the bat that I am a very young writer, one as stupid and naïve as he is enthusiastic- as we all are at the beginning. Also (perhaps rightly as I have only a limited number of blog followers), this post is not meant as a pompous lets-see-how-I-can-impart-wisdom exercise. I am writing this blog much like I think aloud…maybe for no one’s benefit but my own, to order my thoughts and gauge where I stand in my views at this point in time. In some weird way it’s also intended as a time-capsule, something to look back on in the years to come to observe just how stupid and naïve and enthusiastic I once was.

Comics have always come first. I am a hopeless, four-colour addled comic book junkie. The breadth of subject matter capable in comics, along with the opportunity for a perfect marriage or juxtaposition of words and images, makes comics a unique medium. Sure, film is capable of achieving art through word and image, but it is so fast. The pace and intention of a scene is dictated to us. In comics, I can spend an hour deciphering an image with hidden meaning and subtext. In comics, I can flick back to a theme planted like a seed chapters in advance before re-reading the pay-off. Books came later, and upon finding them I understood that you can write about anything. The world didn’t begin and end with spandex, and I was relieved. Books are special, and they have an immense power. The relationship the book has with it's reader is just as unique as that which it has with the author.

For me the key with writing is constantly learning, constantly improving; exorcising the damage as quickly as possible, before moving onto bigger challenges straight away.
One of my favourite memories was at a comic con, asking Brian K Vaughan to sign my copy of Pride of Baghdad. I asked if he could give me a message about writing and he wrote, “All first drafts are supposed to suck.” Good advice. In the panel at that show he said he feels profoundly stupid, and treats every new gig as a chance to get down to the library and learn something new. In an idealistic ‘Thunder Road’ way, I’d like to believe that to be true. Be it art, or politics, or time-travel, there is always something to read about and, more importantly, write about.

I believe other things are true about writing. I believe that a project goes from being a good one to a great one with editing. I believe you need to understand the point you’re making, otherwise how can you communicate that to others. I believe in emotion over logic. I believe that we are all capable of having shit ideas, that it is part of the process, and that we should put our work out, and be proud of it, before moving on as quickly as possible.

The biggest and most important lesson I have learnt so far is that nothing gets the writing finished like actually sitting down and writing. It seems simple, but we’re all magpies at heart- distractions come easily. I’ve seen a thousand more talented writers at every level (school, university, the creative world) that are far in advance of my skill, but just didn’t find the time. All those beautiful books and comics and screenplays and poems exist out there, in the Unfinished Library of Haven’t-The-Time and Can’t-Be-Arsed. It’s a shame. This will be an ironic blog post if I give up writing next year, which could happen. But the point is that I don’t want to. I’ve only just begun but I know I want to do this for a living.

I hope I stay this stupid and naïve and enthusiastic for a long time.


Thursday, 8 April 2010

Installation Day.

1. Mural
2. Dressing
3. Floor
4. Philip
5. Efthymios
6. Jack

Installation Prep.

1. Base colours.
2. Coffee break.
3. Tentacles.
4. Producer Simon Cummin.
5. Detail.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Book-Worm Vs. Rock-Star

At seven, I decided I was either going to be a book-worm or a rock-star...

Just ask my parents about the hours of painful guitar solos they endured during my teenage years and i think it's a safe bet to assume they always knew my lack of musical talent or charisma left the rock-star path out of the running.
(A note to those who know me: if you read the titles of the books behind me, i think they explain a lot. Dinosaurs and fairy tales...have I changed at all?)

It's been a slow week work-wise, filled with odd-jobs and editing of one kind or another. Finished re-drafting the comic for Accent UK, only to start throwing around ideas for a new project via e-mail with editor Dave West (follow the link on the right to find yourself in his wonderful Strange Times blog).

I have been enjoying Matt Smith's debut as The Doctor, and I am reading Kafka. Wasn't sold at first but The Stoker short story has turned me around. Ray Bradbury is next. I haven't read a book of his since last year when I consumed Farenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man in a matter of days. Something Wicked This Way Comes is next on my list and I can't wait. I've missed him.

I also visited my friend Louise Richardson to talk about a mini-comic we want to make together, and I drew and inked a super-special-one-of-a-kind illustration for writer Max Deacon's birthday. If you ask him, maybe he'll show you.

I've promised a million times to have my installation photos up here, so that will happen in the next few days.

Until next time, when I have more exciting news than what I'm reading...

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Get well soon...


Monday, 22 March 2010

Break A Leg, Bruce...

This one's for you comic fans...

A frequent collaborator and friend Garry Brown asked me recently to put together a treatment for a five page Batman story, for an assignment he was working on for the Joe Kubert School or Cartoon and Graphic Art. He tells me the pages went down a treat in the Marvel editors portfolio session...which sounds like justice because these pages are unbelievably good.
I really hope I can put these up- which are the pencils of his work- without someone suing the hell out of me or something. All characters are copyright DC Comics....just in case. All art is copyright by Garry Brown who is the best comic artist about to break into the industry. Trust me, you'll be hearing a lot more about this guy. www.garrybrownart.com

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Aaaaand back to work...

My flu morphed like an angry pokemon into tonsillitis this week, so I remained bed-bound a few days longer than expected...which was annoying.
Now that the tonsillitis has released me from its sticky clutches i can post some photos of the installation back at the start of March.

These were taken by photography student Matt Golowczynski, who i met at the event and proved to be good company over the three days, talking about records and comics and photography. Hope to see more of his photos popping up in the future. Matt can be found here:- http://www.flickr.com/photos/golawola

I'll post the photos I took of the event soon.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Old School

Was trawling through my web-history and found some ancient links and reviews lost in the internet labyrinth.

This is me interviewed for Cumbrian newspaper the News and Star way back in 2006. My lack of hair I find disconcerting, and they spelled my name wrong (don't they always), but it was my first media mention so it's worth posting.


A review of Robots from the guys at Newsrama.com in April last year. They mention my and Garry's contribution, which is nice.


Finally, Garry's artwork also gets a mention at Whatever comics, where they review all of the then-released Accent UK books.


Saturday, 13 March 2010

Flu and Podcasts

I am currently holed up in bed with the flu, my only life-raft being a battered copy of Michael Moorcock and terrible inspirational sports-comedy The Mighty Ducks (it's a very guilty pleasure). I had planned to finished various writings these last two days, but it looks like that is not going to happen. I regret to confess to feeling grumpy and sorry for myself.

Before regular blogging resumes, here is an interview with Matt Boothman for his london theatre podcast.


Matt came along to the 'Home' event and although I sound very quiet and nervous in the podcast, he was a great interviewer and it was nice to see him supporting the event. His website can be found here:- http://www.mattboothman.com/

Watch this space for photographs of the event (i'm still stuck in the 20th century with my traditional camera), and more news about the writing gigs I am involved in.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

March: The month of biting off more than you can chew

,Just finished an exhausting but very enjoyable art installation in London (photos to follow in a later blog once I get them developed).
Met some old faces and some new ones, and it was great to see them all. Lara Stavrinou's new play Derelict was particularly good, and I look forward to seeing more of it.
I was happy to see lots of friends support me and the event in general, writers Max Deacon and Louise Richardson, historian and general gentleman of taste and distinction Jack Firth, biologist Efthymios Stamos. They're all my buddies, and it meant a lot that they were there at an event I was anxious about. Writing is something i'm comfortable with, locked away in my room away from the judgement of strangers. My artwork is a different matter entirely.

March is proving to be a penniless month. Which means eating beans and scratching away at various side-projects that are looming...

I am hard at work on the final stages of a comic book project for the guys at Accent UK, so more on that once it gets rolling. They are a great new comic book company and really gave me a chance starting out in comics when few others would. For more information about them and my previous work with them, visit www.accentukcomics.com

I have begun to teach myself animation for a documentary with young film-maker Somayeh Jafari...which is exciting because I've never done animation before. More on that in future.

Finally, and most hazy, is the germ of a collaboration with obsenely multi-talented poet and photographer Kate Vanhinsbergh. We've talked briefly about creating a photography and writing (and perhaps even illustration) project, but whether that shall be book, magazine or simply an experiment that will never see the light of day, i am not sure. Kate can be found here http://katevanhinsbergh.blogspot.com/

I also have a horribly precarious pile of books to get through. Gulp.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Mr First Art Installation- by Owen Johnson (Aged 22 and a third)

I hope it won't be my last.

'Enter The Home' is a theatre and arts showcase mounted by SJC Productions that will be taking place in a gorgeous old colonial house at Crofton Lodge in Sydenham, London, between the 5th-7th March.

I have been designing and painting a mixed media art installation for the event for the last few weeks. It's all very new and exciting and terrifying at the same time.

Tickets are available here if anyone is interested in theatre, graphic art or installations in general:- http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user?query=search®ion=xxx&category=misc&search=home+project

And I will be posting some process photos later in the week.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Brave New Words

This is an old project from last year that I think would be fun to unearth and work on again some day.


Myself and some fellow writers began an experiment to create a modern writing magazine featuring stories written by Victorian characters of our own creation. It was fun to create these personas (we remained anonymous throughout the project) and I hope very much to meet Charles Fall, Lady October and the rest at some point in the future.
My part in the magazines production was designing the look of it (it has a homemade, ramshackle energy that I love in retrospect), and making sure it was printed with the right pages in the right order. This is more difficult that it sounds when you're wrestling a pile of lurid 19th century fiction, while being gawked at by everyone in the printing shop as they staple together their weekly church pamphlets.
I digress. It was a fun little summer project that I did with my friends. Maybe you'll think it's cool, maybe not.

Monday, 1 March 2010

The New Kid

Hello World,
My name is Owen Johnson (pictured)
I began this blog so the people closest to me know what I'm up to creatively, through my artwork, writing or anything else I find myself doing. I'm also here to follow those creators working in comics, fiction or art that I really get a kick out of. There are a lot of really talented folks out there, and I intend to find them!
I've always been afraid of the internet as far as my work goes, it seems like some huge ocean I'm going to drown in, never to be saved. But despite the risk, here I am, trying to create a better web presence.

I thought it about time to strap on the air-tanks and dive in...