Print Comics

The determined pedants who take up the majority of the cheapseats around the Workblog will note that the division between comics I’ve done online and comics I’ve done in print is somewhat false. Some of the comics here first appeared online, only later collected. Equally, some over in the webcomics section are actually aimed at a life on in ink in the future. And surely the second I put a sample page online, it becomes a webcomic, eh, eh?

Pedants. Bastards, the lot of them.

The division I’m using is pretty simple. Webcomics are stuff that’s for free. Print comics. well, someone, somewhere is paying me for it. I would have used pro and amateur work as a suitable dividing line but, that’d just be a capitulation to the system and damn the free work by implication. Some of my free stuff is aces, and most of my paid-for work is absolutely rubbish.

Only joking, Mr. Commissioning Editor.

“Well told… Basically, it’s the type of story that never gets old.”
– Lars KÃ¥re M. Sukka, RPG United.

My first professional sale was to the anthology comic published by Games Workshop about their maximalist fantasy/horror/sci-fi universes. My first story was published in issue 74, entitled Herd Instinct with art by David Millgate. While reasonable enough, I was far more pleased with my second, “The Chosen”, which appeared in issue 83 with art by Steve Pugh (Which caused me to hit google to see if there was another Steve Pugh who drew comics. Perhaps Steve Pugh, plumber and part time scribbler. Surely it couldn’t be that Steve Pugh). It’s a much better piece, and definitely the best piece of action comics that has touched a printing press. It’s a fun universe to write in, machismo fetished to ludicrous excess. I just about get that with “The Chosen”, where I found myself hammering out captions like “The sun did rise and fall in the sky, seven times over. And still the battle raged.” With little discernable irony. Sadly, Warhammer Monthly since ceased publication, clearly worried that it’d never match the heights we’ve achieved. An understandable fear. Better to burn out the heretic than fade away.

In collaboration with Jamie McKelvie, this is our monthly comedy strip for Official Playstation 2 magazine. The idea is that rather than writing about specific games or happenings in the gaming world, it deals with elements of gaming life which don’t really get mentioned in magazines. Previous subjects for this light observational blend of comedy include inverting your controls, someone only ever using one special move in a fighting game and other things which mean absolutely nothing to someone who doesn’t like with a joypad attached to one hand. Inevitably, a hot punk rock girl gets worked into the plot for McKelvie to draw. We like to think of it as a trope of our particular sub-genre. When we regain rights over the comic, I’ll be adding them to a gallery. Where can you find that? Move your mouse pointer down a bit. There. There you go.

Travis Johnson asked me to contribute to the first of his Variance anthologies. I ended up contributing two stories. HIT was the last of my early comics to be finished, was an experiment in extreme time compression in a silent comic and about injecting universes into your forearm. Art handled with impossible style by Wilson Hall. The second was called “Something’s Wrong”, was what I described as an Apocalypse romance and was my first collaboration with the ever delightful Charity Larrison.

Due to Variance’s innovative model, it’s still available to order. And here’s some sample pages.

In terms of the future, I should have a story in one of the next Variance anthologies. It’s called “Heroes”, is drawn by Oliver Sapnu and is a deconstruction of a few elements of traditional fantasy stories. And to tease, here’s the first unlettered page.

It’s slightly humbling to think that even if I suddenly became a world famous comic-icon, this merchandise tie-in comic would still be my most widely distributed work. Digital Jesters had the idea of doing a 22 page comic to introduce the concept of the game to people. At the time of writing I just thought that one would be included in each copy of the game. They liked it so much they decided to use it as part of the actual advertising push of the game, with 280,000 (!!!) printed up and inserted into just about every games magazine on the shelf. The comic itself was most interesting as a technical exercise, in that I had around nine different teams to introduce, each with a couple of star players and still had to make it have some kind of functional narrative. I kinda did better on the first part of the challenge than the second, though the latter wasn’t helped by some (er) problems with the final book. If you want to hear a rant, ask me about it if you ever see me in a pub. Be careful, however: prima-donna hissiness is never the prettiest of things.

“I defy anyone to read HIT – a series of five-page stories, all based around different interpretations of the title – and not be impressed by its inventiveness and execution.”
– Antony Johnston, Ninth Art.

Originally appearing on the now-defunct, this series of conceptually linked short comics were my first attempt to write for the form. The high-concept was that each story was based around a different definitions of the word HIT, though that evolved from my first two comic scripts both needing to be titled so to make them work. And when you have two, you might as well see how many other ones you can have. While webcomics by nature, they’re not currently online and exist online in a dirty-indie-comic form. I’ve a few copies left, and I’ve a tendency to lob one at anyone who asks, especially if they order a copy of Commercial Suicide.

Failing that, I’ll get them all back online eventually. While there’s some hilarious errors in them, they’re not half as terrible as they could have been. For that I thank the efforts of my collaborators Brian Laframboise, Jeff Coleman, Natalie Sandells and Andy Dale, who did their very best to make me not look like a complete idiot.