Thursday, 28 April 2016

Moments of Adventure!

Printer's cover proof !

Aha, well finally I can confirm why I've been fairly quiet despite some amazing events and times these last few weeks (months? years?), the release of my new comic strip collection is here!

Suitably, the unveiling will be in my hometown (well close enough anyway!) Aberdeen at the Granite City Comic-Con show, which makes a hotly anticipated return this weekend - and kindly includes me, (wearing my Accent UK hat) on a 'Breaking into Comics' panel on it's launch event!

Not sure that Team GCCC got my image right on this one?

The comic is a new collection of four of my strips (and more) all newly re-mastered and in full glorious colour from the talented duo Matt Soffe, who coloured three of the strips and Aljoša Tomić, who does one strip and the cover, all amazing.

I will post more about contents and previews but need to be heading North to sunny Scotland for it's launch, so after recent fab events in Liverpool, Edinburgh and Birmingham - of more see Dave's always timely reports here - I'll finally be attending an event again with my own new comic, which I am soooo excited about!

A wee snippet of one of the panels!

It's been a long journey and will lead to more as I also work to finally complete the collected Zulu graphic novel (again with Matt) and onto something totally new that only a few folk know about! 

So many folks have helped and encouraged to make this happen, too many to name all here but you know who you are, so big thanks for now and see you in Aberdeen and beyond!





Saturday, 9 April 2016

No Zulu's Round Here?

"Keep your head down Bromhead, the Ewing brothers have posted their podcast!"

Aha a quick wee post for those of you who've found your way here thanks to Garen and Murray Ewing's War Film's Podcast, featuring of course, ZULU! - and if you haven't yet had a wee listen check their well informed and entertaining thoughts here. 

Their shared blog also offers opinions and insights into other adventure and war movie classics like, A Bridge Too Far, The Man Who Would Be King, SHE, Lawrence of Arabia and the like so is well worth checking out and listening to when you can - see here for details!

"Quick - to the Adventure Films Podcast!"

Details of my own Zulu related posts on the movie, comics and my trips to Zululand can be accessed by clicking on the 'Zulu' topic on my blog labels to the lower right. A good place to start is probably my own recent re-watching of the movie at a classic cinema showing which can be found here and maybe followed by an earlier, 'all things Zulu' posting here.  

"No! Zulu:Water Cart Rescue is still out of print!"

My main related comic, ZULU:Water Cart Rescue! that Garen mentions, is currently out of print having sold out of both it's first and second editions some time ago. However I'm pleased to say that it has been re-mastered and brought vividly to life in glorious colour by the excellent Matt Soffe and, with a brand new back up strip, will be due for release as a graphic novel from Accent UK Comics later this year.
 
The news that Colin is to release a new comic was too much for some!

For those that can't wait, I am very soon to release a collection of some of my short comic strips under this blog's true title, Moments of Adventure which, amongst other delights, features a six page Zulu story, Day of the Dead Moon, with my explanation of why I think the Zulu's famously defeated the pride of the British Army at Isandlwana! 

Keep an eye on this blog for big news about that very soon - promise - and please check in from time to time for other comics and Zulu related news!



Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Oxford Makes The Grade!

The Examination School Oxford - venue of Ox-Con!

Well that was more like it! I'm pleased to report that last weekend's new Ox-Con, (the Oxford Comic-Con), was a success for all participants. Within the stunning historic examination school buildings, comic creators, authors and actors mingled with comic fans, cos players, families and bemused Oxonian academics as comics came to town.

The venue behind - no signage or queue?
Great Oxford views














 




This was perhaps a more modest show launch than perhaps we'd seen elsewhere - no huge snaking queues here - but perhaps it reflected the quiet efficiency of the organisers and Oxford itself. Signage was largely absent but didn't seem to matter as social media & word of mouth had insured that the show had sold out of tickets in advance so there was minimal 'walk in' opportunity.

The Impressive Corridors
Upstairs to the convention!










Entrance Hall - Wait! Is that our The Man Of Glass comic?











 
 
The advance sales had also been carefully organised into early bird and general admission with a two hour gap between ensuring that there was a gentle stream of people making their way up the impressive stairwell to the two oak panelled vendor rooms, with talks taking place below.

Set up at Ox-Con - note the oak panelling? Other shows please take note!

People seemed quietly relaxed about the show, taking their time to study the stalls and options before carefully making their choices, meaning you soon saw the same people make their way round several times before making their purchases. That though was the immediate difference compared with our recent Bolton experience, people were genuinely interested in comics and wanted to find out about them before deciding if their interest was piqued enough to buy, meaning that we had a steady stream of browsers and purchasers from the start.

Inside our 'wing' of the convention floor
Our surroundings!












Although the show was a sell out, the numbers had been restricted by health and safety requirements to 'modest' levels, meaning that, with the rich variety of talks and attractions on offer, the halls did regularly empty with the crowds ebb and flow.

This was fine though, given us frequent chances to nip out for refreshments, (one downside with using a historical building is that no hot drinks were allowed inside!), and to catch up with familiar faces, like T-Pub's Neil Gibson, Mild Frenzy's Iqbal Ali and Richy Chandler amongst many new folk who were also pleased with the way the show went.

Chewie asks Dave to dance
Well dressed customers!

The pauses also allowed us to enjoy the great soundtrack provided through the school's speakers, a carefully curated play list of contemporary music and movie themes which caused many impromptu dancing and movement between the aisles - don't worry those pics are staying hidden!

The Troll find's a home!

Excellent Bowie/Goblin King tribute


So an enjoyable show and although sales were slowly steady, given the attendance restrictions, we were pleasantly surprised to see that we had in fact done pretty well for a first-time show and had indeed covered our costs - despite Oxford City Council's best efforts with outrageous parking charges and aggressive traffic cameras!

The devil's in the detail, they say!

We understand from the organiser's that this was a bit of a trial for both them and the building's trustees and that plans are already underway to open up more areas to allow for a bigger show next time, increasing the attendance restrictions. On this basis, and providing the dates don't clash in the crowded convention calendar, we will gladly return, and review our assessment on Ox-Con's pass mark which on it's 2016 intake, I would award a respectable 2.1 :)

Dave's Oxford thesis can be assessed here.





Thursday, 3 March 2016

Accent UK go to Oxford Town!


Something strange in Oxford this weekend?

Accent UK are revving up their tour bus again for this weekend's 'Ox-Con' in, of course, Oxford!

It's been years since we've  been there for comics but we've fond memories of the 'homely' Caption small press gatherings at various tranquil locations in Oxford but this promises to be something very different.

It's the organiser's first time but they're doing their best to make it memorable, taking place in the famous historic Examintion Schools (does this mean we have to do a test?) for starters and a good mix of comic folks, exhibitors, cosplay and media guests so hopefully will be good. They've even got an unique 'Oxford' spin on the programme of talks with a decidely more academic leaning than what perhaps we normally see, with physics, globalisation, alienation and redemption among the usual superhero and 2000AD  topics!

Here's the floor plan with Dave and I parking up at Table 9:


Following the recent Bolton, we're on a run of new (and new to us) shows coming thick and fast with MCM Liverpool and The Edinburgh Comic-con coming shortly after Oxford, so we'll see how we do, there's even rumours of someone having a new comic at one of them?


Sunday, 28 February 2016

Not The Comics You're Looking For?



Ah well that was a shame, Accent UK exhibited for the first time at Bolton Comic-Con and.....erm didn't do very well! Maybe we were due a blip as the last two years have seen our show sales markedly increase so maybe we were getting a little complacent about things?

All set up and waiting for some sales!

When you do have a setback you tend to analyse things a bit - and Dave and I had plenty of time to chat things through. We couldn't fault the organisation or the venue, both of which were excellent and well suited to the event, nor could we say that they had too many exhibitors. We didn't do an exact count but there must've been around 60 - 80  other vendors so not too swamped and both our table's aisle and the hall in general were pretty easy to navigate around so it wasn't like we were in a bad spot or anything.

The well laid out hall - can you spot Dave?

The trading floor (taken from the handy upstairs chill area)

Nor could we blame the attendance, which is generally the reason for not doing so well at some shows. In Bolton's case we had a steady stream of punters throughout the day - they had a staggered early bird/general ticket system which gave a spike in numbers for the first few hours - so despite the cold weather, they must've approached their expected 3 to 4,000 attendees? That sort of level would normally guarantee that we did well but it took almost 3 hours to make our first sale (!) and we ended up selling only a small fraction of our modest expectations of what we would expect to sell from that decent level of attendees!

Some of the other vendors, original art & steampunk weapons!
A retro gaming arcade area which seemed popular

What went wrong then? Well looking around before opening, there strangely were precious few actual comic exhibitors or vendors. Including ourselves, we counted only 3 indie comic creators plus 3 or 4 invited comic guests and no back issue dealers, so not a big comics showing amongst the many toy, print, canvas, merchandise, jewellery, greeting cards, cupcake and fudge sellers! There were also a couple of authors, including our delightful table neighbours, Nat & Phil Gosney, (check out her Wolf Born saga here!) so quite a varied range of exhibitors really.

And that may have been the problem as almost straightaway we realised that while punters seemed happy to browse the toys and merchandise etc, we and our comics were being ignored. Now we're used to having a slow start to shows but usually we have a fairly constant stream of browsers and chats with folk even if they choose not to buy or say they'll return once they've seen the rest of the show. At Bolton, we weren't even having browsers, it was as if we were selling something so alien to what they were looking for, they didn't even give us a second glance! We laughingly likened it to when you're at the supermarket and you unexpectedly see a double glazing salesperson who you then do your best to ignore! But it was worse, imagine those double-glazing folk being ignored at a window conference, that's how we felt, comic creators being ignored at a Comic-Con!

One end of the hall with movie props and Big Hero 6 cosplay!

Now of course it could just be us and the quality of our comic books but the fact that people weren't even looking at our table and our 15 year experience exhibiting tells us otherwise. It seems that folk were generally there for a day out and buying whatever merchandise or cakes took their fancy and actual comics were low down their priorities. And of course there's nothing wrong with that, certainly the families and punters we saw all seemed to be enjoying their day out among the colourful displays and cosplayers, just they didn't seem to be particularly interested in comics themselves?

Thankfully we had a few late browsers and finally made some sales ensuring we at least covered table costs with a little to spare. An unexpected bonus was meeting Gary and Team from Player 2 Comics & Games who are now stocking our comics in their Widnes and Liverpool stores, so there was value in attending the show. That said, we'll think twice about trying these again but are glad to have had the experience and at least we won't have to squeeze any further shows into an already crowded comics calendar.

Dave's view on things is here 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

1 Down 14 to Go!

 

Well the 2016 comic convention season is well and truly underway, Dave and Gary kicked things off last weekend with their successful trip down to Maidstone's Demon-Con, (which you can read about on their blogs here and here) and this Saturday we set up at Bolton Comic-Con!

Bolton is a new one for us but being a local one we thought we'd give it a try hearing good things about it's inaugural show last year so we'll see how we get on. You can find out show details on their facebook page here.


We'll take our full range of books but after a stock take we're getting pretty low on some, Zombies2 sold out last year and Who on Earth is Thaddeus Mist? won't be far behind it....


 ....and perennial favourite, Robots anthology is now down to it's last couple of  boxes so will also likely sell out in the first few months of the year. We normally don't reprint - last year's Zombies was an exception - so if you do fancy any of these, best grab them when you see them.    


If you've been keeping an eye on our convention list on the top right you'll see that we've a total of 15 planned at the moment for this year, with most of these already confirmed, so it promises to be a very busy one indeed, hope to see some of you around on our travels and maybe we'll surprise you with a new book or two!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Comic Cover Roughs!

It's not all Holidays and Zulu's on here you know, I am also working hard on a couple (yes, there's more than one!) comic projects at the moment. One is a short collection of some of my adventure strips and is more advanced than the others, so much so that it's time to think about the cover!

I initially had a very simple design in mind which would just use snippets from the various interior artwork which would probably be fairly easy to pull together. But maybe 'easy' is another word for 'lazy' and I thought that a brand new cover would be more appropriate.


What you see above then is literally the back of an envelope when I scribbled down a couple of ideas a few days ago. It's important to do this as ideas tend to go as quickly as they come and it's frustrating to forget them so a quick scribble on whatever is handy will do the job.

I returned to these scribbles a few days later and decided to prominently feature only one of my characters on the cover, ideally in a suitable pose representative of his story and the contents.


I quite liked this but to fit in both the planned logo and contents list, I'd have to think carefully on where best to place the figure, while (hopefully) remaining in a dramatic and representative pose. That's where thumbnails come in to quickly get down a variety of poses to see which works best;


Each one is very loose, a little frantic and takes only a few seconds to do. They're a couple of inches square each, all squeezed into a single page of scrap A4 paper. The idea is not to be precious over it,  it's not about the quality of the drawing, it's about looking at the shape, style and layout and seeing which best fits your ideas. You can do dozens of thumbnails sometimes but it's best to give yourself a time limit otherwise you may find you don't do any actual drawing!


I liked several of them but as often happens I liked the movement of the first one best and decided to work that up into pencils on A3 Bristol board that same day, which didn't take too long. Normally I do nip out to the Copy Shop to duplicate my pencils before I start inking - it's an old habit of mine, mainly so I have a copy of the drawing so in theory I can go back to it if I ruin the original inking! On this occasion though we had a busy day lined up (wee bit of shopping, tea out and cinema - the disappointing Dad's Army this time!), so I didn't get a chance and rather than lose time today, I just dived into the inking before nipping out to the Copy Shop just before it closed.

I'll post about the pain, joys of inking another time,  but here is the cleaned up, reduced, scanned copy to compare with the thumbnail above;


It's maybe a little different and possibly lost some of the 'urgency' afforded by the quick thumbnail, but I'm happy that the image works in the context of what I need. It'll soon be coloured and have logo, text and bits n bobs added to it as the collection is assembled and announced - more of that to come later -  but this hopefully shows an honest evolution of a simple cover which, surprisingly for me, only took only a few short hours to produce over a busy weekend!