Life is Grand

Another hit at this year’s BICS was Grandville, at least judging by the fact that when I bought one (dedicated, sketched and signed by the man himself, as the smugly included photo indicates) from Mr Talbot on the Sunday afternoon, he was nearly sold out.

One of the most heartening trends of recent years has been the increase in mainstream book publishers putting out serious, novelistic works. Now, there’s only a select few graphic novelists playing at the top so far – aside from Talbot I can think of Satrapi, Mazzucchelli, Spiegelman, Ewing and very few others – and there’s an argument as to whether there’s any trickle down for graphic novelists working in the earlier stages of their career, but in general I embrace the trend. Yeah, it may be tough to get to that position, but how many literary prose novelists get solid book deals anyway? This could be the price of maturity.

Anyway, I’ve reviewed Grandville here, part of my efforts (alongside the revival of this blog) to push up my daily wordcount and become a better, more productive, writer. So, hopefully there’ll be a review from me every weekday – Grandville was today, and yesterday’s was Stargate Universe. I’ve still got at least one more item from BICS to go, the autumn TV season is getting underway now in the UK, and I’ve got a couple more general posts up my sleeve to come.

If you have anything to add or dispute, please feel free to say so in the comments below.

Mark

October 8, 2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

BICS bits

I’ve started reviewing some of the treasures I found at BICS over at Shiny Shelf, starting with Garen Ewing’s The Rainbow Orchid. More to come.

Now, sometimes I read, see or hear things that are by friends of mine or people I’ve worked with, and so I don’t tend to review these as such due to the hilarious levels of bias involved. That doesn’t mean I have nothing to say about them. Yes, it’s time for CORRUPTION CORNER!

At BICS I picked up a couple of works by my editor at Accent UK, Dave West, which are well worth a look.

Whatever Happened to the World’s Fastest Man? is a one-shot written by Dave, with art by Marleen Lowe, and is available from the Accent link above. Of the one-shots I’ve seen from Accent, I think this is the most accessible to the comics mainstream, a punchy high-concept SF story that thinks through it’s central premise logically and entertainingly. It reads a bit like an installment of the Twilight Zone, and Lowe’s art is pleasingly reminiscent of both Eddie Campbell (although that might be because the lead character resembles Alec, Campbell’s cartoon self) and more action-oriented artists like Mark Brooks, while being derivative of nobody in particular. Well worth picking up, it’s a concept that will stay with you.

Strange Times is a hardback collection of Dave’s webstrip, and is currently available only at cons (Update! Just found out that Gosh! have a few in stock, if you’re in London). I think this is a bit of a shame, to be honest, as while Fastest Man is closer to the comic shop crowd’s tastes, I think Strange Times would go down very well with a certain indie crowd, if given the chance for wider distribution. Nag Diamond about it today! I went into this not quite knowing what to expect – Dave wrote and drew the lot, and his art style is very much indie-cartoonist. As such, I was expecting a series of eccentric humour strips.

Instead, Strange Times has a wider narrative and a vast cast of odd characters, and narratively resembles one of the sprawling TV epics like Lost or Heroes or maybe even Fast Forward. What starts out as a disparate series of strands about a diverse cast of bar owners, psychics, detectives, mad scientists, robots, frogs and talking rocks comes together at the end of this first volume to lead to… well, it’s hard to tell, we haven’t got there yet. Dave’s set the stage, and I’m very much looking forward to where he’s going with all this. The story is interesting, the writing and art offbeat and appealing. If you like strange little comics about strange stuff, you should seek this out.

Mark

October 6, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

Eight weeks later…

… or thereabouts.

I’ve had an incredibly busy couple of months, to the extent that I can’t believe it’s ONLY been a couple of months, not three or four. I’ve left my job, finished editing a book, written a couple of short stories and a short comics script, moved house (and not across town, but to a completely different city), dashed off to deal with some family matters a few days after moving, then barely got back from that before heading off to Birmingham for British International Comics Show (BICS for short).

Speaking of which:


This rather fantastic sketch by Charlie Adlard was a raffle prize at the 70 years of Batman panel. I won.

Nice, isn’t it? I think Charlie went for the Jokerised look as he only had a green pen to work with, due to various art materials shortages that hit the panel.

I wouldn’t say I’m gloating, I’ve only put it on Flickr. And as my profile picture on Facebook. And tweeted about it. And posted it here. And I’ll tweet about this post. And post about this post on Facebook. So not gloating at all.

To be fair, alongside Sean Phillips, Charlie Adlard is one of my favourite comics book artists. I’ve already got a Bill Savage sketch I bought from Charlie at a previous Bristol con, and so to randomly win another sketch out of nowhere was a pleasant surprise, to say the least.

Anyway, I’m currently on a career break with the intent of doing some freelancing, working on some long term writing projects, and try and push up my writing productivity.

(In the highly unlikely event you’re reading this and are a commissioning editor with a budget, I can write anything and, due to a fluke of space-time, I do not just deliver ahead of deadline but before the original commissioning date.)

One of the things I’ll be doing to increase my writing flow is to revive this blog starting with… well… this…

It’ll get better. I promise.

Coming up – some more BICS bits, updates on ongoing projects, and more.

Or, if you’re lucky, less.

Mark

October 5, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.