Tag Archives: comics

Why do books suddenly appear…?

Reading back on this blog, I find that titles of books and anthologies appear – full of promise. They linger – flirting for a while. And then they disappear, like a boyfriend who simply won’t return your calls. [Younger readers, insert appropriate social media metaphor.]

And then, after a while, in a strange coming together of circumstances, all your ex-boyfriends turn up at once.

OK. Metaphor stretched a little too far… Let’s get to the NEWS!

This weekend marks ThoughtBubble, the UK’s biggest independent comics festival. Held in Leeds over the course of a week, ThoughtBubble culminates in a two-day convention where you can pick up a comic in almost any style, on almost any subject and really get under the skin of a blossoming UK creative industry.

I am DELIGHTED that the following will be happening this weekend:

thwmu_cover_newThe Heart Which Makes Us will launch. This is a 100 page graphic novel, written by yours truly, illustrated by Aaron Moran, lettered by Paul Mclaren and edited (and inspired) by Barry Nugent.

The book follows Kathryn Monroe, a brilliant crime scene analyst, fresh into her job as an investigator and longing for her first big case.

Find out more at http://unseenshadows.com/comics/the-heart-which-makes-us/ – including a link to the Unseen Shadows Comicsy store if you’d like to order a copy online.

Secret GardensSecret Gardens will be on sale. OK, so technically this is last month’s news, but I haven’t told you yet! Secret Gardens is an illustrated choose-your-own-adventure book, for all ages, which I launched last month with artist Conor Boyle.

Set in the landscape of Lowther Castle in the Lake District, Secret Gardens contains four choose-your-own-adventure stories featuring ghosts, wizards, witches and some very organised squirrels…

You can order a copy of Secret Gardens from http://www.comicsy.co.uk/disconnectedpress/store/products/secret-gardens/ for just £5 plus P&P. You can also buy Secret Gardens from the gift shop at Lowther Castle!

What else?

Ah yes, the Pigs. This weekend, we launch Issues 3 and 4 of our horror comedy madcap apocalypse comic Sentient Zombie Space Pigs. If you haven’t followed the story so far, where have you been? Alien lands on farm. Farmer shoots alien. Pigs eat alien. Things go wrong. And that’s all before page 5 of Issue 1…

SZSP Teaser 2Sentient Zombie Space Pigs is an affectionate tribute to all things zombie, and is an awful lot of fun to write. You can buy the complete story – The Whole Hog – at http://www.comicsy.co.uk/disconnectedpress/store/products/sentient-zombie-space-pigs-the-whole-hog/ for just £4 plus P&P. Yes, honestly, the issues are £1 each. Because comics are for everyone (perhaps with a little parental guidance….).

The GrimeSpeaking of parental guidance, the other Lizzie Boyle story that comes out this weekend is called Free Go and it features in a new anthology called The Grime. Edited by James McCulloch, The Grime is twisted, nasty, horrific and dark. And don’t say I didn’t warn you….

Free Go features a teenager in 1950s Brighton who thinks the fortune telling machine is just a waste of time. Artwork is by the brilliant Bekah Withers, who I last worked with on How To Kill Bears just as she was starting her degree (she’s just graduated. I feel old.).

It’s great that so many projects have finally found their way onto pieces of paper. It also means that the next wave of projects can get the love and attention they deserve!

Do get in touch if you have any questions about writing for comics, editing or publishing, or if you just want to natter. I’m on Twitter as @lizzieboylesays and always happy to help!

 

 

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Ghosts, goblins, tanks and flick knives

A quick update from the Land of Lizzie, as it’s been a while. I’m currently in full-on writer mode, having taken some time off from the Day Job, so I’m showing up at the desk every day and these, you know, “words” keep coming out.

I’ve been writing on many and varied subjects, including – but not limited to – those listed in the title of this blog. I’ve also blown up some rabbits, travelled through time, taken on the Russian Army, saved the world and had an encounter with a very creepy puppet.

Suffice to say, I’m having a good time!

Things to look out for:

The Heart Which Makes Us – a graphic novel about a forensic psychologist – should be out later this year. The artwork has been completed by the wonderful Aaron Moran, so we’re now at lettering stage, and then it’s over to publisher Barry Nugent to decide when and how to launch. His Unseen Shadows universe is full of great stories if you like action, thrillers and a little bit of the supernatural thrown in (and who doesn’t?).

Sentient Zombie Space Pigs 3 and 4 – yes, it seems my abiding legacy may be a throwaway tale about a farm-based apocalypse, but I’m getting used to it. I also like to imagine the intro they give when I win the Booker, but that’s another story. Sentient Zombie Space Pigs 3 and 4 are “with the artist” – some chap called Conor Boyle – and we’re hopeful that at least one will be ready for your perusal later this year. If you haven’t read Parts 1 and 2, never fear – you can order them for just £1 each from our Comicsy shop or get them from Disconnected Press at Comic Conventions during the year.

The creepy puppet – features in my contribution to a new horror anthology from writer James McCulloch, who is the nicest guy ever to terrify you on a dark night. More on that as it happens; I think there are plans for a Kickstarter so I shall tweet vigorously at the appropriate time.

– On the prose front: novel #2 is coming along, and should be two thirds drafted by the end of this month. Novel #1 has kind of ground to a halt on its quest to find a mainstream publisher, though I have had some incredibly positive feedback. Currently debating its future…

– Oh, and there’s another super-secret project, but I can’t tell you about that. Nope, not even you.

Things I’ve learned over the last wee while:

– Writing more means you write more

– It’s hard to write horror on a sunny day

– Massive sheets of paper covered in scribbles are your friends

– I highly recommend Sibelius, Paganini and Vaughan Williams as good listening while you type. And www.bnwmovies.com when you want to be distracted.

More soon!

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PLUG! Two new comics out this weekend!

I am a woman of many hats. Writer, environmental consultant, avid watcher of James Bond films, lover of cheese, wife…. And also – as of this Saturday – publisher of comics.

Disconnected Press is the name of the venture, and we’re launching two small anthologies at the Bristol Comic Expo this weekend. Continue reading

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Only when the clock stops does time come to life

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will have heard my enthusiasm for the fair town of Middlesbrough earlier this week. It was my first time there; the sun was out; the people were friendly; and I tracked down two of life’s essentials: a comics shop and a Gregg’s (pasty-gate permitting).

The other thing I tracked down was MIMA – the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art – a great glass cube in the heart of town with a quirky and eclectic mix of art, sculpture and video installations.

One installation had me completely hooked. John Gerrard‘s video installation shows a Cuban school from the 1960s, now derelict and skeletal. You, the viewer, slowly orbit the school at ground level, one orbit equals one day. Nothing really happens.

So far, so modern art, eh? Continue reading

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My second favourite thing from ThoughtBubble

My second favourite thing from ThoughtBubble: a most marvellous and very definitely unique sketch from the mighty Graham Pearce.

He doesn’t do sketches, he says. I suggested that the worst type of convention-goer would be one who asked for something preposterous, for example Sgt Mike Battle riding a unicorn and fighting Mussolini and his heavily-armoured rhinoceros. Lo and behold, several hours later, I was presented with this slice of fried gold.

Sgt Mike Battle: riding a unicorn whilst fighting Mussolini and his heavily armoured rhinoceros. Obviously.

So, Graham Pearce does do sketches.

And everyone should thank him by purchasing as many copies of Sgt Mike Battle as they can carry. You can get them at http://www.sgtmikebattle.co.uk/ or on the magical world of Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/78623714672/.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what my favourite thing was about ThoughtBubble: it was getting the chance to give the lovely Graham a hug to say Thank You <blush>…

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It’s grapic and it’s a biography: Hellraisers

Hellraisers is new from Self Made Hero, a comic adaptation of Sellers’ 2008 book Hellraisers – The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole and Oliver Reed. With a title like that, you know exactly what you’re getting: anecdotes, stories, fables, myths, all related to the tremendous capacity for mayhem and alcohol shared by four of the greatest actors ever to walk the stage and screen.

I read the original book and loved the light touch with which Robert Sellers wrote. He let the stories tell themselves, allowing the personalities of Burton, Harris, O’Toole and Reed to bounce off the page at you. The same happens here – the stars are the stars – although there’s some clunky op-ed stuff about the nature of celebrity in Sellers’ (prose) introduction which doesn’t necessarily sit comfortably with the main narrative.

But the characters are what you want and the characters are what you get. They are beautifully rendered by artist Jake in a style that you start by thinking might be too primitive for the material, but come to recognise as being perfect for capturing the essence of the individual. Lee Marvin makes a cameo appearance (drunk) and is spot on; Elizabeth Taylor is fabulous, beautiful and tragic, as she should be; Humphrey Bogart is an aphorism in a hospital bed.

As for the four leading men, they each bring their own tales of hedonism and decadence along with an absence of regret or recrimination. It’s the lack of apology that is central here. Each does things that would make a sailor blush. Why? Because they could? Because they were insecure egos seeking solace in a bottle from the pressures of fame? Because they were the children of alcoholics, or fatherless boys adrift in a changing world? In a sense, it doesn’t matter why – and Sellers doesn’t labour it – because what matters is what they did, not why they did it. They were behaviour in extremis and in essence. They lived through their actions.

So, how does the transition to graphic novel work? In the main, extremely well. Sellers and Jake make the most of the form. There are some fantastic transitions between scenes and sections of the story, some laugh out loud visual moments (Harris and Burton quitting booze whilst filming The Wild Geese; a panel of Elizabeth Taylor and Burton with the caption “You could say our marriage was disintegrating fast”; Harris and O’Toole shinning up drainpipes), and some moments of real, deep tragedy, particularly the later years of Harris’ life.

There are also layers in here. The framing device for all of these stories is a “Christmas Carol” type experience for a wayward husband, father and boozer called Martin. He is visited by the spirits of the four stars and he hears their stories: sometimes he is a passive listener, sometimes an active participant, sometimes he talks to other characters about the four men in their absence. It is part comic, part dream, part reality, part hallucination, part commentary, part vague memory of a 40 year piss-up.

There’s a lot in here on the theme of fathers and sons – which does work – and there is a leaning towards a wider moral message – which, for me, doesn’t work. The moment you try to pin down a moral message about the behaviour of these four drunken, violent, cheating bastards is the moment you start to miss the point of them. Sellers knows this, I think, and may have resisted trying to draw regret, recrimination or a message of “good, clean living” from all of this, but every story must have an ending.

So aside from a quibble about the introduction and an uncertainty about the ending: I loved this book. And now I know there’s a prose follow up called Hollywood Heroes (featuring Brando, Nicholson, Beatty and Hopper), I am adding it to my Christmas list and looking forward to Sellers’ and Jake’s follow up adaptation. More please!

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