Sunday, 7 May 2017

Knight of the Golden Light at the Chess Hall of Fame

Long-time readers of Strangehaven in its periodical format may remember my cover to issue #6, which featured an inset of the good Doctor Houseman (given that name, incidentally, almost ten years before Hugh Laurie’s Doctor House hit our screens). The background section of the artwork consisted of a Knight of the Golden Light’s costume and some chess pieces hovering about in mid-air.

The interior of the comic also featured the doctor and his brother playing chess, as well as incorporating a number of chessboard pattern motifs throughout, which is why it’s become part of a huge chess-themed comics exhibit at the World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Yes, comics can lead you down some unusual avenues. But chess is a frequent theme for many comics covers, and one that I have a penchant for collecting myself. In fact, the exhibition, POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics! has assembled over 200 chess-related comic books, and has them all on display, along with comic character chess sets, and plenty of fun stuff for kids to enjoy.

Among the gems on display are More Fun Comics #76 (1942), Action Comics #112 from 1947 featuring Superman in “The Cross-Country Chess Crimes” and original artwork by Bob Clarke from Mad Magazine #78 (1963).

There’s short video that's worth a watch here: KSDK website.

POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics! is open seven days a week and admission is free. It runs until September 17, 2017.


Friday, 3 February 2017

Post-valentine cure-all at Orbital Comics


Like a slightly anaemic grey-haired cherub, flying in from stage left I have the perfect antidote for all those lonely hearts who are destined to spend St. Valentines Day evening at home alone with a bottle of Southern Comfort and DVD box set of Peter Sellers' Pink Panther movies (i.e. me).

On the 15th February 2017 between 5:00pm and 7:00pm at London's fine pop culture emporium Orbital Comics, there will be a Meanwhile...#5 signing event to relaunch the freshly invigorated British anthology in its new 96-page format (which of course features the latest instalment of Strangehaven). I'll be joined by a selection of the other contributing creators including (in alphabetical order by surname) Nick Burton, Matthew Dooley, Sarah Gordon, Mark Stafford and Laura Trinder.

I'm sure we'll all be happy to scribble over anything that you legally own or have purchased on the night from the good folks at Orbital, and will happily interact with you dear reader, just like we are merely human and not the unfeasibly talented superstars we know we are beneath our modest demeanour. There's a rumour that Soaring Penguin Press publisher John Anderson will also be present, so if any potential contributors wish to,they can flash their portfolios in his general direction. Come drown your sorrows with us on Wednesday the 15th.

Orbital Comics' page on the event is here.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Anything is possible

So, that’s another year pretty much done and dusted, and by all accounts 2016 has not been the greatest in terms of celebrity deaths and politics, amongst other things. I certainly have no desire to rake over all those unsavoury coals (there will be plenty doing that in the days to come), but the last twelve months have proved that we can take nothing for granted (especially polls).

Not long ago you would have been laughed out of the office to suggest that Donald Trump might become POTUS or that 5000/1 outsiders Leicester City might win the Premier league, so if nothing else, at least we can take solace in the fact that anything is possible.

With that in mind, the plan for 2017 is that Meanwhile...will return as a hundred-page quarterly anthology from Soaring Penguin Press, and I shall be contributing new episodes of Strangehaven for each and every issue, starting in January. I’ve seen a preview of issue 5, and it does look pretty damn amazing.

Casting my view back over 2016, it’s been nice to have chipped in with the odd piece of cover art for Heroes and Sherlock comics from Titan Comics, to have been featured in two major comic art exhibitions in London and Italy, and to have enjoyed being a guest at another European festival. I didn’t see any of those things coming this time last year, so who knows what 2017 in store for me?

Or for you. Remember, it’s not about what you’re chasing, or whether you catch it...it’s all about the chase itself.

Click here to view or download a large image of my 2016 Christmas illustration

So, happy holidays to you and yours, and wishing you a wonderful, surprising (in a really good way this time) and healthful new year. Peace and Love.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

No sh*t, I’ve drawn another comic cover for Titan

My cover to Sherlock: The Blind Banker #2
The new Diamond Previews (a catalogue of forthcoming comics and related ephemera) is published this week and contains listings for two publications featuring my work. The first is the previously blogged-about Meanwhile…#5 (featuring episode 5 of Strangehaven: Destiny), while the second is my cover for Titan ComicsSherlock: The Blind Banker #2 (an English language edition of the Japanese manga comic adaptation of the British TV series featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Got that? I’m testing you later).

Those of you with, quite frankly, an unhealthy interest in my work may note some similarities with this cover and my previous commission for Titan, Heroes: Godsend #4.

The basic layout for the Sherlock cover was actually only one of four or five rough sketches I submitted to the editor (as was the case with my Heroes cover), and in both cases, despite my defiant resistance, the chosen design was incrementally tweaked, twisted and tampered until it resulted in a remarkably similar composition of single-point perspective street view and full figure portrait with billowing scarf. Even so, I was pretty pleased with how it turned out.

So pleased in fact that I made a crude animation (apologies for the low quality, I’m a Premiere Pro noob) to demonstrate the way I’ve built up the Photoshop layers to create the various colour and rendering effects.

To recap: that’s two items in the new Previews, one with a fourteen page strip by me and a cover by someone else; and the other with a cover by me but the interiors by someone else. One day my friends, I shall be doing both again, I promise you.

If you’d like to pre-order either or both, you can simply ask your local comic shop, and giving them the following Diamond order codes would probably save them a little time.

Meanwhile...#5 (Soaring Penguin Press) [Jan 2017] DEC161883
Sherlock: The Blind Banker #2 Cover 'A' (Titan Comics) [Feb 8 2017] DEC161927

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Return of the Prodigal Anthology

Meanwhile... #5 cover art by Yuko Rabbit
New format Meanwhile... officially announced for January 2017
“If Cinema Purgatorio is the new Warrior Magazine, then Meanwhile… is the new Escape.” – Bleeding Cool

Following the recent specifics-bereft tease that Meanwhile... was being relaunched in January 2017, publisher Soaring Penguin Press has issued an official press release providing further details of the new format.

Meanwhile... #5 will be the first in its new incarnation, a quarterly 96-page full colour softcover graphic novel format featuring both the continuing strips of my own Strangehaven and David Hine and Mark Stafford’s splendid The Bad, Bad Place. It also features the start of a new series by the über talented Sarah Gordon, the final instalment of Yuko Rabbit’s 10 Minutes and in addition the fine Ms. Rabbit provides the drop-dead gorgeous cover art for this issue.

As for Strangehaven: Destiny Part Five, this episode includes two significant plot reveals, both of which have been waiting to drop since the very first issue, as well as a terrible but well worthwhile pun for those who have been paying close attention.

Publisher John Anderson painstakingly explains the recent absence of Meanwhile... and its subsequent format change in his full press release (that you can read here: Relaunching Meanwhile) but essentially, sales were less than what were required to make the previous format financially viable.

The retail cover price for the new improved format may come as a slight shock to some – £17.95 in the UK and $23.95 stateside - but Anderson explains that he is offering substantial discounts to readers who purchase subscriptions directly from the Soaring Penguin Press website.
“The prices on the Soaring Penguin Press website will be about half that. And it’ll be even more economical if you order a subscription. Generally, it’ll be about 100 pages of comic for about a tenner. Ten pence a page. And no ads.”
Obviously this may not be a popular strategy with retailers, but I’m sure John has considered the various options and has concluded that this is the best route to ensure the book’s long-term survival.

Preview art from Strangehaven: Destiny episode 5 - Gary Spencer Millidge
Whether or not you consider the new price and format to be a worthwhile investment I imagine depends on how much of the other Meanwhile... content you enjoy, as I understand for a single episode of Strangehaven alone, the cost will be relatively steep. Fortunately, many of the other strips in Meanwhile... have been of exceptional quality so far, and with the promise of a new Sara Gordon series, this state of affairs promises to continue.

As John remarks in his press release, the current incarnation of Meanwhile... was at least in part created in order to help me complete Strangehaven, and I’ll be forever in his debt for that.
Rather generously, existing subscriptions will be honoured.

You can pre-order issue 5 here: Order Meanwhile...#5
Or you can jump in with both feet and subscribe here: Meanwhile... subscription

Meanwhile… will also continue to be available in digital format on SEQUENTIAL, Comixology and other platforms.

And of course, it will be available via the usual distributors, and will be available via your local comic retailer if you prefer to buy that way. Meanwhile... #5 will be solicited in the December 2016 Diamond Previews with the order code DEC161883.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Escape to the Country

At the inauguration of the Land Escapes exhibition. Photo courtesy of the TCBF.
Treviso Comic Book Festival 22nd-25th September 2016, Treviso, Italy. I made my first official comic event appearance last weekend since Thought Bubble in late 2014, foregoing a few more days at the drawing board to accept the incredibly kind invitation from the Treviso Comic Book Festival - to not only attend their show as a guest but to participate in their Land Escapes exhibition.
Treviso is a walled city in northern Italy, apparently known as ‘Little Venice’ (although ‘little’ is wildly misleading) and claims to be the birthplace of prosecco and tiramisu. It can now also claim to be the home of one of the largest comics events in Italy, with numerous exhibitions spread out over the centre of the town, a vast comics retailers’ marquee, and the Mostra Mercato comics fair which housed signings, talks, small press and publisher tables. Many of the local retailers participated with window paintings and displays which gave it the feel of a summertime Angouleme festival (despite it being late September, I don’t think I saw a cloud during my three day visit).
My friday evening was mostly spent trying to reconcile the size of the measures of drink and the disproportionately low cost which became more difficult as the evening wore on for reasons which I can no longer remember. There appears to be some evidence that I met up with rising global superstar Tula Lotay and her hubby, as well as co-curator of the Land Escapes exhibition Paul Gravett and designer and director of Escape Books, Peter Stanbury.

Surprisingly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the following morning, I walked from the hotel into town with Tula to the inauguration of the exhibition at the prestigious Spazio Bomben Fondazione Benetton, a mere half an hour’s hike in blazing sunshine guided by Mr. Lotay, Google Maps and lagging geopositioning. But we three sweaty blobs arrived at our destination in good time, thanks to the Italian relaxed attitude towards timekeeping, to meet up with fellow British guests Dave McKean, Hunt Emerson and Chris Reynolds.


The exhibition was duly opened, featuring a diverse range of British talent including dozens of pages of original artwork by the invited guests as well as Hannah Berry, Brian Bolland, Kate Brown, Stephen Collins, Gemma Correll, Gary Erskine, Tom Gauld, David Lloyd, Sean Phillips, Posy Simmonds, Carol Swain, Bryan Talbot and Andi Watson. This included an impressive eleven pages of Strangehaven originals, guarded on each side by a lifesize Golden Knight cutout, and vast reproductions of artwork by Dave McKean and Tula Lotay with everything elegantly displayed in the sophisticated gallery space. We were each asked to say a few words, and Paul Gravett said many. All was translated by the multi-talented Alberto Corradi, co-curator of the exhibition and coordinator of the British contingent.
Photo courtesy of the TCBF.
I also managed to catch up with some dear Italian friends including my co-editor on the Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman book, smoky man, audio genius Boris Susanj who I hadn’t seen since the Bristol festival in 2007, and international comics editor Antonio Solinas who I’m sure I see at every event I ever travel to.

Next stop was the Mostra Mercato in the formerly abandoned and mysteriously named I.S.R.A.A. building, where there were gazebos set up for signings and talks, numerous publisher rooms offering hundreds of beautiful Italian graphic novels and a courtyard of small press tables boasting a range of high quality material.  I picked up a couple of books from the impressive Delebile artist’s collective and would have scooped up many more if I had travelled to Italy with more than just a carry-on bag. Hunt and I signed some books and did some sketching while simultaneously fighting off many persistent yet friendly tiny flies.
The official convention guest dinner took place at a traditional Venetian cicchetti restaurant (cicchetti being the Italian version of tapas as I understand it) where much meat was eaten much prosecco was drunk, and where I met for the first time artist extraordinaire Lee Bermejo and the impressively bearded writer Matteo Casali. These guys know how to party hard and we all ended up with the Lotays at some kind of rave at an old Army base in the early hours of sunday morning where I encountered my first glass of grappa (a bit like low grade petroleum, but less pleasant tasting).
Photo courtesy of the TCBF.
Surprisingly still alive, sunday's duties began with a panel discussion about the exhibition at the Benneton Foundation for press and public, with the full roster of British guests and the curators Alberto and Paul. Translation always slows these discussions down and can disrupt the momentum, but there were some interesting points made. Dave McKean managed to plug his gorgeous new book Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash, Chris Reynolds did his best to promote his home country of Wales, Hunt Emerson articulated his complete indifference towards 2000 AD, Tula Lotay resorted to blatant pandering by professing her love of Italy, Treviso and her fans, while Paul Gravett made some vague insinuations that I was involved in the death of fascist dictator Generalissimo Franco in 1975.

Part of going to these events means that you’re more likely to have to stop in the middle of the street en route to lunch to sign a book or do a quick sketch for a reader of your work, but I admit it’s less of a nuisance when she’s young, pretty and Italian. With my ego sated, next up was lunch in a genuine Italian pizzeria where it was my turn to fawn, finally getting to spend some time chatting to the living legend that is Dave McKean, hoping that I might absorb some of his talent via simple proximity and trying to gently rest my head on his shoulder without him noticing.
Photo by smoky man.
Then there was enough time to buy a cherry gelato and wander out of the city walls for a few minutes to soak up some Venetian sunshine before the final signing and sketching marathon alongside Tula, Chris and Hunt. After which it was on to a wine bar for a last glass of prosecco al fresco, and time for a small bowl of tuna pasta in a beautiful old restaurant before having to dash off to the airport.

Festival organiser Alberto Polita kindly collected me from the restaurant and combined performing this mundane duty with auditioning for Fast and the Furious 9. Suffice to say I arrived at the airport on time but unfortunately my flight was delayed by half an hour. After being funnelled into a standing-room-only concrete bunker amusingly described as a ‘departure lounge,’ I had the unexpected pleasure to find two other astonishingly talented British guests of the show, botanical artist Katie Scott and children’s book illustrator Emily Hughes, which helped pass the last hour or so in Italy.


Every time I’m invited as a guest to a European festival, it invariably provides me with many indelible memories and Treviso is no different. I didn’t even make the short train trip to Venice, but I am already plotting a trip to combine sightseeing with another festival visit within the next year or two.


There are more photos in my Treviso album on Facebook.


The Land Escapes exhibition runs until 9th October 2016.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Treviso, Land of Prosecco

Poster for Land Escapes exhibition, all images ©2016 copyright their respective creators.
In what will probably be my sole “official” appearance this year, I will be a guest at the Treviso comic festival this upcoming weekend 23-25 September. I don’t have any details of signings or talks to hand, but I suspect I’ll be doing a little of both.
I’ll be humbled in the company of my fellow guest Brits Hunt Emerson, Tula Lotay, Dave McKean and Chris Reynolds, masters of the sequential arts, all.

I’ll also have an unusually large number of pages of original artwork on display in the festival’s related exhibition, Land Escapes: Visions and escapes from the United Kingdom at the prestigious Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche.
The exhibition also features artwork from Hannah Berry, Brian Bolland, Kate Brown, Stephen Collins Illustration and Comics, Gemma Correll, Hunt Emerson, Gary Erskine, Tom Gauld, David Lloyd, Tula Lotay, Dave McKean, Sean Phillips, Chris Reynolds, Posy Simmonds, Carol Swain, Bryan Talbot and Andi Watson.

Not only will I be seeing some old Italian friends again, but I’ll also get to reestablish my relationship with former Black Velvet editor Alberto Corradi (who worked on the Italian language editions of Strangehaven) who’s one of the organisers of the festival and is also co-curating the exhibition with the UK’s own Paul Gravett.

Meanwhile...an update (sort of)

Hardcore Strangehaven addicts will no doubt have been suffering withdrawal symptoms so far this year due to the lack of a new issue of the anthology Meanwhile... 
Last year four issues were published each containing a brand new full-colour episode of Strangehaven, but thus far issue five remains unpublished. The good news is that publisher Soaring Penguin Press posted this cryptic message on their twitter account:

“Meanwhile issue 5. Coming in January 2017. Watch for details”

Well, not so much cryptic as scant. And unfortunately I can’t flesh out those bare bones with any further information at present, so if you have any questions, it might be more fruitful to direct them towards Soaring Penguin rather than myself. Suffice to say that I do strongly suspect Strangehaven will form part of the aforementioned issue 5.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Pictures in an Exhibition


While the rest of the Internet was discussing the Eisner nominations last night I was at the private viewing of the new exhibition at London’s Cartoon Museum, The Great British Graphic Novel.

It has been meticulously planned and intelligently curated by Paul Williams and Anita O’Brien, ably assisted by the rest of the very talented gang at the Cartoon Museum, and not only tracks the development of the art form, it provides an overview of the diverse talent within the UK’s graphic novel community and also offers an insight into modern and traditional creative techniques.

It was great to hook up with so many of my gallery-featured peers including Bryan Talbot, Posy Simmonds, Oscar Zarate, Mark Buckingham, Meanwhile… stablemates David Hine and Mark Stafford, Hunt Emerson (who also drew the fold-out exhibition guide in the style of a tube map), Woodrow Phoenix, David Lloyd, Ilya, Steve Bell and John McCrea.

Also nice to bump fists with dedicated liggers Tony Bennett, Jessica Kemp, Arty Miss Jessica Martin, Mary Talbot, Jamie McKelvie, a certain Meanwhile... publisher John Anderson, his manager/wife Cheryl and podcast king Alex Fitch.

The exhibition also features original artwork by Dave Gibbons, Eddie Campbell, the Pleece Brothers, Carol SwainDarryl CunninghamNick Abadzis, Martin Rowson, and tracing the medium all the way back to William Hogarth.

My personal favourites were the spectacular multimedia work of Dave McKean and Mark Buckingham and terrific also to see two Exit pages from my old self-publishing colleague Nabiel Kanan.


I'm
 proud to say two pieces of mine are also on display, both pages from Strangehaven, and if for that reason and no other, I’d highly recommend visiting if you’re in London before the show ends on 24 July. Entry fee is £7.00 or £5.00 concessions.

And if you’re in the general Holborn area and like me you enjoy looking at various dissected human and animal body parts preserved in formaldehyde filled jars, I’d also suggest dropping into the Hunterian Museum (inside The Royal College of Surgeons)  which faces the splendidly tranquil Lincoln’s Inn Fields park, just ten minutes’ walk away from the Cartoon Museum.


More info here: The Hunterian Museum

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Invisible Girl

So no, I'm not part of DC's Rebirth, but I have sold my soul and become a corporate whore. I've contributed a variant cover for Titan's Heroes: Godsend #4 (out in June) which is listed in Diamond's April Previews catalogue (out today I believe), so if you want a copy you may need to preorder it from your comics retailer.

Here's the official blurb:
HEROES: GODSEND #4 (W) Joey Falco (A/CA) Roy Allan Martinez
Heroes: Godsend continues to explore the origins of Farah Nazan from the Heroes Reborn mini-series! Farah’s life becomes more complicated thanks to a huge hulk of an EVO named Mr Vance, a nasty young businesswoman called Philomena, and a bomb. Plus, could romance be in the air for Farah? (STL006050)
MATURE THEMES
MARTINEZ COVER—32pgs, FC (4 of 5) $3.99
MILLIDGE COVER—32pgs, FC $3.99