Saturday, 26 November 2011

Paragon and Done It for the 9th Time...

above: Thrill, Gasp and Shudder - in whichever order you please - to Paragon the 9th (cover art by Davey Candlish)!

Hmmm. Seems like only a few posts ago I announced the arrival of the 8th issue of Paragon Comics.


Right, that was only a few posts ago. But that was posted three loooooong (and looking back, they sure felt loooooong, or maybe just sloooooow) months ago.

In the meantime I've been busy. Some massive comics and prose projects are afoots and afouls, in the offings and prowling the yards. Been simply itching to blah-blah-blog about these, but...well, besides being sworn to secrecy under the penalty of death or tickling or something like that, I always feel that the more I'm blogging, the less I'm doing what I ought to be doing: offing things.

Words are precious, so why waste them on blogs or facebook posts, twitter feeds or myspace spaces (does anyone even myspace anymore)...?

So anyway, yeah, um...right, okay. Let me stop pissing away letters and cut to the chase: Paragon #9 is out, and you should buy it. Ordering details to follow, sales pitch here:

I've got two stories in it, Jikan: Caves of Death and Rise of the Mekkosapiens: Who Am I, Robot?. In Caves of Death (art by James Corcoran and letters by Jim Campbell), time-traveling samurai Jikan slaughters a horde of demon-possessed cavemen, while in Who Am I, Robot? (art by Louis Carter and letters by David Withers) G127 learns who he was a thousand years before the rebellion...and then robots are blown up into bits.

Also in the magazine you'll find the latest installment of Icarus Dangerous, a great strip by my good friend Dirk Van Dom (art by the fantastic Stephen Prestwood), one-off Western No Compromise and the initial adventure of a pulpy hero-type called Spencer Nero (good old Davey Candlish renders these two tales).

In the UK you can order your copy of Paragon #9 - and copies of 1-8 while you're at it - by adventuring to the Paragon Blogspot; US buyers, journey to Lulu. All you cheap bastards and trendy e-reader readers, you can get yours on Lulu for only 99p British cash-money.

Now...I'm off to the offing, afeeting, prowling and afouling.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Jikan Noon Rides off into the Sunset...

above: Jikan and his Demon-Killing Posse protect a wagon train from the Deminjun Horde (art by Davey Candlish).

‘And just as suddenly as he appeared, the stranger disappeared, riding that hot wind to the next hell he would cleanse...’

After thirty-one weekly episodes spanning over six months, the Old West chapter of Jikan’s life is concluded. We’ve been through airborne fights with harpy gunslingers, an orgy of blood and butchery at the hands of a horde of deminjuns, and a gut-wrenching finale involved a giant planet life force dearth worm…

(right...I've collected all the weekly episodes of Jikan Noon for you to read, but in my normal fashion I’m going to ramble a bit, so click here to ignore me and skip to the comics)

Writing a strip like this has its challenges – action and adventure has to dominate, because that’s what keeps the audience (both of you) returning week after week, and every episode has to end with a cliffhanger of some sort for the exact same reason. Yet somehow, for the sake of “character development”, a quiet moment or two has to find a place between all the violence and bloodshed. The process of writing a three-panel weekly can seem confining and frustrating at first, but really fun once you get the hang of it (and there are those of you who will question whether I’ve gotten the hang of it yet).

Davey Candlish – creator of Jikan and editor of small press comics anthology, Paragon Comic – began the time-traveling samurai’s adventures in this exact format (you can find that strip collected in the Jikan Chronicles) as content for his blogsite. The next few Jikan stories were written (by Mark Howard) for Paragon, and traded in the newspaper strip format for the…um…yeah…the comic book format (I love it when I hit a spot like this, where there’s no better way than the obvious to describe something - but as a so-called writer I first feel obligated to “make it sound better” and then sheepish for being unable to do so).

I’d just finished a pair of stand-alone Jikan scripts for ParagonJikan: Witch Fires and Jikan and the Caves of Death – when Davey asked me to come up with a sequel to the original newspaper strip.

What I like about Jikan is that, because he hops around from time to time, he can really go anywhere or do anything; one strip can find him in feudal Japan, the next can launch him into outer space; he can wade through an episode of violent action or creep through a horror-plot.

For the newspaper strip's relaunch, Davey wanted a gritty Western - but I convinced him to let me write a whimsical fairy tale...and the adventure of Jikan & the Kappa King unfolded over the next six months.

above: a rotten-mean oni steals a bouncing baby in Jikan & the Kappa King (art by Davey Candlish)

When Jikan & the Kappa King concluded, I felt the script an uneven bit of writing; there are several really fine moments scattered throughout, but those moments are cancelled out by unfunny jokes and a very rushed ending. I could have had the story go on ten more episodes, mostly to explain the Oni’s back story, but simply ran out of space; this was mostly the result of me making the story up as I went, and when I blinked the weeks had flown by and I had an ending miles off but only inches with which to tell it. I had to wrap up the Oni’s origin in TWO PANELS

Having learned a few valuable lessons - and having read reams of Prince Valiant and Conan the Barbarian newspaper strips to see how it should be done - I was eager to give the format another go. Davey again asked for a story set in the Old West. This time I sat down with an idea – and wrote every episode in one sitting. As a result the pacing in Jikan Noon is much better than in Kappa King, and the cliffhangers are more natural. I supplied Jikan with a new set of supporting characters, yet managed to give each of those characters a bit of depth...(if you consider THIS NONSENSE depth)!

Look out for Jikan Leviathan, the time-travelling samurai's next small-format weekly adventure, next year!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The (Something) Wicked Witch of the Mists...

above: Yeah, there's definitely Something Wicked after the poor sap on the cover of issue 7 (art by Adam Bolton).

Creeping from out of its grave, the seventh of issue of Something Wicked - FutureQuake Press' annual horror anthology - is sure to leave slime-stains all over the carpet. Flipping through the crumbling (not really) pages of this unholy (not really) tome you'll find my 'Spear & Juju' strip, Nakis: Witch of the Mists.

above: a Warrior-Sorceror battles a hungry swamp creature in the Spear & Juju epic, Nakis: Witch of the Mists (art by Vicky Stonebridge).

Witch of the Mists is the first chapter in the saga of Nakis, a Warrior-Sorceror who wanders magic-haunted prehistoric Africa in search of - souls to steal. In the Land of the Witch, Nakis comes upon 'villages wiped out by plague, chieftains transformed into blood-drinking demons to prey on their tribesmen, and women possessed by evil spirits to eat the flesh of their children'. The maker of such doom-magic must have a powerful dark soul indeed...and can only be the dreaded Witch of the Mists.

Order your copy of Something Wicked 7 here.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

AAAIIIEEE!!! Hallowscream is Back From the Depths!

above: Back From the Depths' Hallowscream Special doesn't suck - it bites! ...and gnaws and chews and makes a bloody mess of its unfortunate victims (cover art by Andrew Milne)...

Every ghoul's favorite Scream! tribute comic is unleashed for the third straight Halloween, and dare I say it's quite the carnival of carnage. Best of all for you Whorror fans - it's FREE!!!

112 pages of FREE gore and gristle! 112 pages of FREE exquisite evisceration, delightful disemboweling, a veritable cornucopia of carnality! FREE, FREE, FREE!!! AAAIIIEEEEEEEE!

You can download the comic (for FREE) at CLICKWHEEL and DROPBOX, or view it (for FREE) online at MYEBOOK. Printed copies of the current issue - and back issues - will be available in the near future (those, sorry to say, will not be FREE).

As you perform as autopsy of the magazine, quickly chop away the flab and fat to locate page 86. There you will discover a ghastly tale of sickening sacrifice as grim-faced monks encounter an evil spider goddess on an alien world in Ubek Naren-Ka! My collaboration with the aptly monikered Ghostpockets and the Ever-Letterer, Bolt 01, is sure to have you barfing your insides out...

The first two issues - each featuring one of my gruesome monster morality tales - are still available (for FREE) - here.