The End

Caspar just called me to tell me that he’s just finished uploading issue 6 of LIMBO to the server, and that means we’re done with the book for the time being. Now we just need to, you know, promote the bloody thing.

It’s been a stunning experience working on the book, and the feedback for each issue coming in is never less than fantastic, so thank you all for that, and for sticking with us. It’ll all make sense in the end, kind of, if you tilt your head and squint at it in the right way at least. We’re really happy with where we’ve left it.

On to new projects for the foreseeable future, some really exciting things are in the pipeline and I can’t wait to get cracking.

 

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LSCC looms…

This weekend is LSCC already, and my God that came round fast. Caspar and I will be exhibiting in Artist Alley at table A64. We’re very much looking forward to seeing everyone there, the con seems particularly jam packed with talent this year. Come say ‘hi’ if we haven’t met before. Please. We get so lonely.


 

Now that business is out of the way… I’ve been thinking a lot about the comics medium and our general approach to it after re-reading Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing. I think the book is absolutely sublime, one of the best written things in comics; yet I’ve heard a whole bunch of creators, Neil Gaiman among them, describe the book as “slightly overwritten”.

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This kind of bothers me a lot, partly because I love the prose-heavy nature of the book, how voices and narration blend together and a whole load of story can be told in a single issue, but mostly because I think I’m quite firmly opposed to the proclamation that there’s a ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ amount of words on a page that is acceptable in the medium. Obviously there’s loose guidelines, and 60 words in a panel is not going to fly in an issue of the Beano, but I don’t think that’s any reason to stop experimenting with words and pictures and how they can be put together. I think Swamp Thing proves my point there. It might not be to everyone’s taste, and may be slightly tougher to get into than some other comics… but since when was that not OK?

Not every comic has to read like a storyboard.

We went to Aberdeen and did stuff.

The final script for LIMBO is done, dusted and currently being drawn, and I feel strangely at a loss without that particular sword of Damocles hanging over head. Caspar and I just spent a rather fantastic weekend in Aberdeen signing at Asylum Books and Games, whose owner, Mike, could not have been more hospitable and seems to know everyone in comics. Can’t recommend highly enough to anyone who’s looking for a place to sign.

Other than that, we had a rather lovely mention from Eric Stephenson in his big interview with CBR at the end of last month, where he pointed us out as a lovely new book that that deserves to get plenty more attention. Slightly bittersweet I suppose, but greatly appreciate being singled out!

Issue 4 of Limbo is out now. Head to CBR to check out a preview of the first few pages. Reviews and feedback so far have been ridiculously positive and you’re all lovely people.

Chat soon.

In 2015 I read some books.

Here are a few of those books.


 

So begins another year, so begins another 365 days of vaguely intending to update this WordPress and probably not getting round to it much.

Well, 364 days. I meant to update yesterday and didn’t, so that’s a good start. Though to be fair I’m currently trying to get the end of LIMBO out of Caspar and my heads and onto your comic store’s shelves, while simultaneously polishing off a solid 8000 words of essay for the month; and that’s not to mention pitches. All together, this means that doing extra voluntary writing is beginning to feel a little bit like undergoing extra voluntary root-canal.

That said, I quite fancy an unedited word-vomit to cleanse my palate, so here I am on a wet and cold Saturday night in the glow of the monitor, bravely ignoring the mountain of Derrida and Nietzsche that I really should be tackling, thinking about how things have and haven’t changed this year. I don’t particularly want to bang on about myself, but realized I can probably track my year through ‘book highlights’. So without further ado I’ll vomit away, a list of the books that have really stood out and defined my 2015.

‘Book highlights’ is so very definitely not a term that people use.


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  • LIMBO

OK sure, this one’s my own… but it has defined my year somewhat. My second graphic novel with Caspar Wijngaard (and the first we own) was picked up by Image. That’s a pretty big change I guess, though we’re only two issues in so it’s hard to gauge just yet. We’ll be making a lot more noise on this end as we move towards the summer, when the TPB will be released. Until then we’ll be doing the rounds, signing at as many comic stores and conventions as will have us, and generally having a grand ol’ time.

  • FINNEGANS WAKE

9e68fc899c907d8b7e1aa51fe3b8dea5_400x400Read a lot of amazing stuff this year, but I finally ‘finished’ Finnegans Wake,
and I think that can safely be described as my mammoth undertaking of the year. At first I tried to make a go of it forsaking any kind of reader’s guide, before realizing that the text is far too rich with reference to things I’m never going to know about for that to really be a fruitful endeavor. So I put down my pride and picked up Tyndall’s guide, which made things slightly more transparent. Like a glass bottom on a boat sailing through oil. At night. It still helped though. I think.

  • THE UNNAMEABLE

The final of Samuel Beckett’s Three Novels trilogy, ending with what are in my opinion the most perfect couple of sentences ever written. Though I’ve long been a fan of his work, this is the year I decided to take Beckett really seriously academically, which could be only very slightly hindered by my French being atrocious (read non-existent). Beckett’s prose is so sparse and so pointed that it feels like he’s painstakingly carving words out of a vacuum, which marks a nice contrast to Joyce’s ‘maximalism’ which apparently was somewhat the point; Beckett allegedly found his writerly voice by aspiring to do the opposite of his countryman, realizing that there was no possible way to out-Joyce Joyce. Still, it’s nice to know that even the greats can suffer from anxiety of influence.

  •  METAMORPHOSES

If between Beckett and Joyce there’s not a lot of ‘plot’ to talk about, Metamorphoses is perhaps a nice counter to that. A nest of stories within stories within stories, Ovid’s epic spans the length of history from the creation of the universe to Ovid’s own time 5049161418050076during the reign of Caesar. I decided to tackle the book as I had a few scattered nuggets of ideas that seemed to be leaning in its direction, but it turns out that Metamorphoses doesn’t particularly need ‘tackled’; I was surprised at how wonderfully readable and gripping this work is (at least in the Penguin Classics translation I have; I do feel that Penguin are sometimes happy to sacrifice accuracy for readability). I was also surprised at how much the gods seem to enjoy turning people into birds: In mourning for a lost lover? We’ll turn you into a bird to cheer you up! Oops, in a bit of of a pickle? How about we turn you into a bird so you can escape! You have dishonored us, mortal? BIRD!

  • IN THE DUST OF THIS PLANET/ STARRY SPECULATIVE CORPSE/ TENTACLES LONGER THAN NIGHT

I’m actually still chewing my way through Tentacles, but the last two of Eugene Thacker’s trilogy of books about philosophy-in-horror and horror-in-philosophy were released this year and have pushed my writing in directions thascreen-shot-2014-09-10-at-12-07-24-pm1t I’m really excited to explore in 2016. Especially enjoyed Corpse, with its pessimist takes on Kant and Descartes. A lot of writers and artists seem to be falling into the cosmic pessimism void recently, the first season of True Detective perhaps being exhibit A. We could be in for a rather horrifying cultural zeitgeist.

  • THE KOLYMA TALES

Varlam Shalamov’s account of life in the Gulag, structured as a series of short stories which gives a slightly fable-esque sense to these tales of needless human cruelty and suffering. Shalamov himself spent 17 years in Soviet labour camps, and yet he presents his account as emotionlessly as possible, neither passing judgement nor particularly pausing to empathize with his sufferers. There’s so much to say about the act of witnessing performed by this book that has been said by far better people than me. What I will say is that this book and Primo Levi’s If This Is A Man are definitely the most harrowing books I’ve read this year. When faced with the ultimate evils of mankind and the horrible things that we’ve actually done to each other, it’s difficult for everything else not to start to feel a bit arbitrary.


And on that horrendously depressing note, I think I’ll leave it there. There’s probably a whole load more books that should be on that list, but they aren’t at the front of my mind for now, this post is now over 1000 words and I really should get back to my Derrida. Here’s to 2016… here’s to many more books, and the many more shifts in perspective they bring with them.

 

 

Orbital Events

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Managed to quickly go dark on here, something I was trying to avoid, but I’ve been simultaneously plunging down the dark hole that is Finnegans Wake while attempting to pay bills and keep on top of everything else.

The book is unknowable and unreachable, an act of utterly mad, audience-less genius. An utterly Derridean nightmare. Rather enjoying it.

Meanwhile, Caspar and I have been doing the rounds to promote Limbo before issue two drops next week; we’ve destroyed our livers at Thought Bubble, recorded podcasts for Orbital in Conversation and Consequential and signed a whole bunch of issue ones at our launch in Orbital Comics.

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Photo pinched from Chris Thompson

We recorded the Orbital podcast live with Chris at a Waterloo Library event as part of the Fun Palaces weekend. The events are running as Lambeth Council is threatening to shut down the library and ‘replace’ it, for all intents and purposes, with an un-staffed shelf in the corner of a gym. Culture is being decimated, and you can sign the petition against it here.

Thought Bubble probably deserves its own post, but it’s almost a month on and I’ve still barely processed it. That said, I can probably just create my own by cutting up the posts of others: Amazing party, alcohol, best con yet, alcohol, great to see everyone, alcohol, sorry to everyone I missed, alcohol, alcohol.

Will be back soon with more to say. Honest.

The Day After Launch Day

Sore heads all round, I think.

Feedback for Limbo #1 so far has been extremely positive and overwhelmingly kind. Someone on Twitter remarked that the Teleshaman reminded him somewhat of Bob from Twin Peaks, which we’ve taken as a huge compliment. Tomorrow we’re Thought Bubble bound with the rest of the comics community, which will most likely cumulate in a lot more sore heads.

In the meantime you can take a look at issue 2 in an exclusive CBR preview here. Issue 2 is just about still pre-order-able from your LCS with the previews code OCT150519 which, as ever, would be much appreciated.

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Launch Day

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Limbo issue 1 launched today through Image comics. The book is written by me, drawn by Caspar Wijngaard and lettered by Jim Campbell. People have said some very nice things about it so far, and hopefully it’s a good read. One thing I can say for certain is that it looks phenomenal; Caspar has inked and coloured the whole thing by himself, a workload that is eventually likely to either kill him or force him to ascend to a higher plane of existence. Jim’s letters are impeccable and he put up with far too much of our shite as we put this first issue together.

It’s out in the ether now, and you can check out the first 6 pages on the Image website before heading down to your LCS to buy like 6 issues.