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Projects Update July 2013

Thought I would just do a quick general post on the projects I’m currently working on.

The Novel – The next draft has gone off to my agent for her feedback. I’ve timed it just right so that I can go on holiday in a few days and I won’t spend the entire time pondering, staring off into the distance and making notes. I’m going to chill out for a week, switch off, unplug and just unwind. It will also give me time to ponder (more quietly in the background) what I’ve written, or defrag it and reorder it in my head, to fall back on my old computing terms. Hopefully when I return I can then listen to the next set of comments and be a more detached and hopefully make the next draft even better.

The Game – I’ve been quiet on this for a while, but we’re starting to move forward again. This is a work for hire job I did where I wrote the bulk of the main story. I have to be very vague on details, but I can say it’s currently in testing, so once testing is far enough along, they will plant a flag in the sand and announce a release date. The game is innovative in many ways and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, which is one of the goals we set out with. I’m very excited to see what happens with this, but it is also another string to my bow as writing this was unlike anything I’d done before and if I get a chance I’d like to try it again in the future.

Flux – This is a comic mini series I’ve co-written with Pete Rogers and with art by Maysam Barza. We’ve now sent the submission package off into the wide world to a couple of comic book publishers. Now comes the awful waiting, the nail biting, the gnashing of teeth as we wait for an answer. In the meantime Maysam is cracking on with the next chunk of art.

ComicSeries2 – I’d not co-written something before and when I approached Pete about writing what would eventually become Flux, it was with a lot of trepidation. Writing is normally a solitary affair, except for TV where you have writers rooms (which I’ve not tried, but would love to), so I had no idea if it was a good idea and if it would work. I chose Pete very carefully too as I thought we were well suited and I thought we would get along, but again there was no guarantee. Thankfully my leap of faith paid off, it worked really well and we immediately starting talking about doing something else. There’s a working title for this but I’m keeping it mum as it might become the actual title. With this project we’re doing something completely different to Flux, totally different genre and approach and right now it’s in the early stages. But I’m feeling the same level of excitement and am looking forward to seeing what we can come up with together.

The River – Adam, Ryan and I put Empyre on the shelf, as despite what we thought was a cracking and interesting idea, with amazing art (that’s me saying that not Adam, as he doesn’t think he’s very good!), the publishers we submitted to weren’t interested. We were told there’s too much like it out there already. A big shame but we did learn a lot from it, so we just have to chalk it up to experience and move on. What Adam and I are cooking up now with The River (working title) is pretty off the wall, but I’m also keeping it pretty focused which is something I seem good at doing. It’s very different to anything I’ve developed before and we came up with the core of this idea together. It’s based on lots of different things we’re both interested in, so we keep brainstorming lots of little touches, which is making the world feel more realistic and lived in. When I get back from my holiday I’m going to press on with this with the goal of having another submission ready before the end of the year. Sounds easy, six months away and all, but experience has taught me lots of stuff gets in the way, so Christmas is reasonable and any earlier is brilliant.

Dapper Chimp web comic – Digital comics are going through a revolution, there is so much innovation in that space at the moment it’s amazing. I’m not a full convert, but I really like some of what is going on, such as what Mark Waid and others are doing at Thrillbent.com and what they’ve done with MonkeyBrain comics. They’ve produced short, punchy comics that are only available digitally, and at some point may be available as physical collections. Several different publishers have expressed an interest in different titles and they are printing the trades. Dapper Chimp was set up by Pete Rogers and the first digital comic will soon be available on ComiXology. I’ve recently developed a superhero satire in the mould of Mystery Men, as a mini series, and the idea is to publish it exclusively via Dapper Chimp and then if it does well, produce a physical printed edition at some point. The story is ready, now all I need is an artist. So if you’re a budding artist, looking for something funny but also with heart, get in touch.

The second novel – I’d actually started working on this before I submitted my first. I’ve got the spine of the story sorted, the characters are ready, most of the main beats are there and I’ve written the first couple of chapters. This has been put on hold of late but I’ve been poking around at it again recently, looking forward to it and also backwards to book 1 to make sure they fit together. They’re not connected like you’d find in a trilogy, as each book in the series is a standalone story, but there is connecting tissue between them as they’re set in the same world and linear in time. I guess I’ll inch this along as and when I can in the next few months and just see how I do.

All of that sounds like a lot, but everything moves at different speeds, so it’s rare for many things to overlap. Occasionally I do start to flap a bit, and what follows are several late nights until the pressure is off a bit, but overall I am able to juggle different things quite well. It also follows the whole ethos of not putting all my eggs into one basket.

 

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Projects update April 2013

Just a quick update on current projects. The day job has been keeping me busy, but I’ve been chipping away on the creative endeavours which fuel me.

Sadly, it looks as if Empyre is dead. For now at least. We submitted it to a few comic publishers, one of which didn’t bother to respond at all, so after several months we sent it to a different one. An editor got back in touch with us, told us it was too similar to lots of other comics out there, and he thought the art was good, but not great. I disagree completely, and despite his modesty, I think Adam’s art is excellent, especially when I’ve looked back at the original pages he did a couple of years ago. He’s progressed significantly since then and he is a really good artist. As to the comic being too similar to others out there, well, I can’t find any, but perhaps they’re in the works now and will come out soon. Anyway, my disagreements don’t really matter as they don’t want it. So, we talked about self publishing, we discussed other options and decided to leave it for now and maybe come back to it. So in the meantime we’re currently thrashing some out some new ideas together, and Adam, Ryan and I will start work on something new very soon.

Flux is pretty much ready to submit to a publisher. We had to make some changes to the first few pages of art, due to external complications, so that required a rewrite and then Maysam rejigging and redrawing parts. However, that’s all done, we’re tweaking the submission document and then it can be sent off.

I also want to move forward with a digital comic idea I’ve been knocking around. The whole script is done, I just need to find an artist now with the right style and then get it moving.

On the novel front, I’ve been delaying the inevitable. I’ve been revising it, and editing it, polishing it and then polishing it again. I’m currently working my way through another polish, this time by printing it all out on paper in a different font to normal, and marking it up with a red pen. It’s slow going and I’m taking my time and trying not to rush it, but I also think I’m now just stalling. Once this latest draft is done, I’m going to submit it to the first agent on my list. This will be some time in May by the time I’m done with the red pen. I’ve very carefully drawn up a list of agents, listened to a lot of the #askagent Q and A sessions on twitter, done my homework on other authors and who they are represented by, and I’ve listened to a few agents at events. Feedback from beta readers has been positive, and I’m looking carefully at their comments, but now it’s really all up to me.

So, it’s almost time to cross my fingers, close my eyes, and hit Send.

Once it goes off, I will move forward on book 2, which I’ve actually started and have gone over the first chapter eight times already. Normally I keep moving forward, then come back and revise, but I’m being a little bit more careful this time. I suspect once in find my rhythm again it will become easier but I’m a bit rusty.

I’m still remembering to take the odd day off, relax, not do any writing and try not to feel guilty about it. I’m also trying to remember a previous promise I made to myself about getting enough sleep, which I seem to fail at regularly. So, it’s a work in progress, like everything else it seems.

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Show Don’t Tell

I’ve posted a few times on here in a vague fashion about some of the comic projects I’m currently working on. Today I’ve decided to just show you some of the artwork and you can judge for yourself. The first two pages are from Empyre (with Adam Bolton and Ryan Taylor on art) and the second two from Flux (co-written with Pete Rogers and with art by Maysam Barza). Empyre has been submitted to a publisher and we’re awaiting their response and we haven’t submitted Flux yet but are getting close.

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Bring Me My Red Shirt

There’s an old joke I remember from my childhood about a brave pirate. Whenever his ship is about to be attacked he calls for his red shirt which he wears over his other clothes and then fights as hard as he can. The idea being that no one will know if he is wounded because the blood won’t show. Then one day they are attacked by several ships at once and he calls for his brown trousers.

Anyway, the story is apt as I’m now approaching the critical red shirt stage. I’m not quite at stage two yet, but I think that will be next year when projects are no longer under my control and are in the hands of readers! This week, my artist partner in crime, Adam Bolton, will be at the New York Comic Con. Adam is the artist for an all ages book called ‘Where’s My Shoggoth?’ which came out about two weeks ago from Archaia and he will be signing copies at the Archaia booth. So if you are going to the show, please drop by and say Cthulhu at him and jibber and rave about monsters from the sea. He’ll appreciate that. And buy a copy of Shoggoth as well please. Anyway, Adam is also armed with about ten pages of Empyre (the four issue series which I wrote and he drew) which he will be showing to various people. While he is doing that I’m going to be sat here in the UK, biting my nails down to the quick, checking my phone every ten seconds to see if he’s sent me a text. And if not, why not? Should I text him? When is it appropriate to text him? After the first hour? First two hours? How many times can I text him before I become a nuisance? and so on. As I said, red shirt time.

Next month in the UK, is the Thought Bubble comic book convention, and Pete Rogers and I will be armed with completed pages from Flux, the mini series we have co-written. Maysam Barza, the artist, has been doing a remarkable job and I am very impressed with his work. Both Pete and I are confident that we have something quite special, so now it’s our turn not to mess it up and speak about it with both passion and clarity. The schedule for Thought Bubble was released yesterday and there is more of a focus on creator owned comics and Image comics than in previous years which is very encouraging. Eric Stephenson, the publisher of Image comics, and several Image creators will be attending, so I’ll be taking notes and listening closely to conversations throughout the weekend.

I think there’s definitely been a shift in the comics industry in the last two years, more so in the last ten months. More established creators are getting involved in creator owned projects, crowd funded projects and digital only projects. I could talk at length about that but I won’t here. The relevance to me is that readers are more open, now more so than ever before, to new voices, new characters and new publishers. For every well established creator working at the Big2, there are now two dozen names I’m vaguely familiar with who are slowly building their own following, through their creator owned and work for hire comics. Three years ago no one knew who Scott Snyder was, but now he is a rising star and his name is very familiar. Equally Jeff Lemire was known to some for his creator owned work like Essex County, and his Vertigo book Sweet Tooth, but it was his step into the mainstream with Animal Man that put him on the radar of many mainstream readers. There have always been new faces (artists and writers) at both companies, but there’s definitely been a bit of a change lately, or at least it seems that way to me.

Online digital platforms and catalogues like Comixology mean that once a reader has gone through their usual stack, there are so many other comics they can try with just a click of a button. Some people, retailers in particular, are very afraid of digital but in my opinion it’s another flavour, not something that will completely replace print. Nothing digital will ever be able to compare to a glorious hardback, super sized, collected edition with a sketch and signatures from the creators. IDW have been publishing some amazing art books that are glorious artefacts that would be inferior, in my opinion, if read on smart phone or tablet.

So the market is shifting and constantly evolving, and I’m trying to wade in and tread water and it is both terrifying and exciting. I’m really looking forward to what happens in the next few months and what 2013 will bring, which could see writing posts about when a comic book project will be published, rather than if it will be published. That’s when I move out of the red shirt phase.

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Projects Update

So as it’s three weeks until the New York Comic Con (11-14th October) and there is some related comic news of a sort, I thought it was time for a bit of an all round projects update. Apologies for being vague in some places, but this is because of contracts and NDA’s, not me being petty.

As has been mentioned a few times, I’m currently working on a 4 issue comic book mini-series with artists Adam Bolton and Ryan Taylor. Adam has a new graphic novel coming out from Archaia Entertainment, written by Ian Thomas. It will be released on September 26th in comic shops and October 1st everywhere else. Adam will be attending New York Comic Con this year, and here is a link to a recent interview he did with Ian about their book ‘Where’s My Shoggoth?’ At the end of the interview Adam mentions what he is working on next and I get a brief mention. Without giving away too much, we’ve got a good chunk of the art completed for issue 1 and I’m sure Adam will have some in his portfolio when he is at NYCC. We’re hoping to pitch Empyre to a publisher very soon.

The graphic novel is ticking along, I’m working with a third party to pair me up with an artist. We will then create a submission pack and start sending that out to publishers. The other mini series I’m co-writing with Pete Rogers and with art by Maysam Barza, is also approaching the critical point where we will have enough material to submit to comic book publishers and I’m very excited by the idea and story.

Project Alpaca, is a games project where my contribution is done, and now lots of other people are busy working very hard to make it the best possible version before they release it out into the world. There is not a fixed release date, but realistically I would not expect to see it before 2013.

I have also just finished the first draft of my fantasy novel. I was then swept along by two very busy weeks at work, and since I intended to have a two week break anyway, it worked out well. I now have a little bit of distance and there is an initial list of 50 things I need to fix, both big and small, before I start re-reading it and editing it over the next few months. It will be ready to submit to an agent at some point in 2013. There again I’m not willing to put a date on it, because I will only get one chance to make a good first impression and I want to make it the best version of this book and be 99% happy with it before I show it to any professionals.

Looking back at all of the above, it looks as if I must never sleep as everything is happening at the same time, but of course that’s just how it has worked out as some of these projects have been cooking for a few years. I think 2013 will be a busier year whatever happens, and hopefully a positive year for me creatively.

 

 

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