Occupied extract: The Illuminati Man


The morning after the strike the camp was thick with frost and the three girls in the marquee sat in a wafting mist. Regardless, there was colour in Cat’s cheeks. She and Jack were talking about where they went for bargain clothes. It transpired they each went to the same charity shops. Kiera said they dressed so differently she’d never have realised it to look at them. The interruption introduced himself as Alex. He was well groomed, and dressed in a sports coat and slacks, smiles and winks all round. Alex sat down a little too close to Jack for her liking, but she let it go. Alex kept his his options open, making eye contact with Cat.
‘God, yous are game, camping out in this weather. So are yous into politics then?’ he asked unironically.
Cat responded dryly, and disinterested. ‘Nah. Whatever gave you that idea?’
‘Ha! Did you hear about that strike yesterday?’ he asked.
‘Well duh,’ said Kiera.
‘They said the UK could be on the brink of another recession,’ said Alex.
‘That’s the word. Not just us: Europe, America, Asia,’ replied Jack.
‘Yeah. It’s all starting up again, honey. You’ve got to wonder.’
Eoghan zipped his tent closed and wandered up the path, bleary eyed.
‘Alright Eoghan,’ said Kiera.
‘It’s all engineered,’ said Alex.
‘Morning,’ said Cat.
‘What’s happening?’ asked Eoghan.
‘Am I detecting some animosity here?’ asked Alex.
Eoghan threw his head back, puzzled. ‘No. No animosity,’ he said.
‘It’s okay. Eoghan’s a friend,’ said Jack.
‘Oh. Just a friend? Nothing more?’ enquired Alex.
For a moment no-one spoke.
‘What’s up with you this morning? You’re looking worse for wear,’ noted Cat.
Eoghan sniffed. ‘Ah, just tired and fucked off.’
‘What’s the matter?’ she said.
‘Ach. The usual. You-know-who is sticking their oar in again and we’ve all this shit to do before the rally on Saturday and I haven’t had a day off this week.’
‘That’s what they want though, isn’t it? They all get together and decide,’ said Alex.
‘Same old shit,’ said Eoghan, and he began to pour out a bowl of cereal.
‘Wait. Who decides?’ said Jack.
‘Well, that’s it,’ said Alex. ‘Labour and Conservatives argue
over which of them go to war. They get India and Pakistan to agree to fight. It’s the Illuminati.’
‘Oh, the Illuminati?’ said Cat.
Eoghan moved slowly to take his seat.
‘It’s true. That’s how they see consensus. War: good for the economy, good for technology. We’re in the middle of things they set up three hundred years ago. Go and look it up on Wikipedia.’
‘Aye. Wikipedia it, Cat,’ said Jack sarcastically.
Kiera turned her face away from them and broke out in a huge grin.
‘I don’t think they’re capable of planning that far ahead,’ said Cat.
‘The Illuminati,’ said Eoghan. ‘A secret organisation causing chaos in the world, though not doing a very good job of disguising themselves.’
‘It’s true. This current situation is all carried out by finance capitalists pretending to look weak. They manufacture a narrative that they’re hard done by so that they can turn round and do it again in five years time.’
‘He has a point,’ said Cat.
Fred staggered out of The Love Shack, one shoe crushed under the weight of his sweaty heel. The new streams of drizzle slapped his creased face. He hobbled on the slimy path a bit before fixing his shoe. Eoghan looked at Alex with scepticism.
‘That’s balls. You’re saying they didn’t get caught with their hands in the till, but they wanted to get caught?’
‘They staged it. They rule us by division. Even this movement of yours! Capitalist society is run by the secret elite. They’re dedicated to preserving bloodlines –’
Eoghan mimicked an English aristocrat. ‘What? Capitalism is a boys club, filled only with the wealthy? And the rich people only marry other rich people? My god, does anybody know? Does Lenin or Trotsky know?’
Fred took a bowl and filled it with cereal and milk, and sat down next to Alex.
‘It’s fucking obvious,’ Eoghan ranted. ‘Princes marry Princesses, they become Queens and Kings. That’s the whole system staying in place!’
‘Alright Fred. Are you off somewhere?’ asked Kiera.
‘I’ve to sign on in ten minutes. It’s twenty minutes walk: uphill all the way.’
‘It served a logical purpose possibly at one time,’ said Eoghan, ‘but it wasn’t a great system. People were trying to overthrow it for years.’
‘Well it’s true,’ insisted Alex. ‘The Illuminati are going to take over the world and kill everybody.’
Eoghan raised his voice as he became increasingly frustrated. ‘There’s no such fucking thing as the Illuminati! Look. Have you ever read the books by Robert Anton Wilson?’
‘I don’t read books, said Alex.
‘You don’t read books? You don’t read books?’ yelled Eoghan.
Again, no-one spoke. Fred froze with his spoon before his mouth, milk dribbling off it.
‘Ah!’ exclaimed Alex. ‘Sure it’s all the fucking Jews anyway.’
Everyone was staring at him except for Fred who got to his feet and slammed his bowl and spoon onto the chair behind him, splashing milk onto Alex’s trousers. He glared at Alex. ‘That’s what I like to wake up to in the morning. A good old bit of anti-Semitism. Who doesn’t need a bit of beat-the-Jew over breakfast? Fuck this. I’m going back to bed.’

24 Hour Comic: Mixed Up Media

Occupied: Mixed Up Media was my fourth 24 hour comic, following Gran, Absence and Don’t Get Lost. Created in Farset Labs in 2014 it served as a rough draft for Occupied chapters 11-12:

Optimising this for the web I followed the style Stephen Downey used at absencecomic.com. The images were merged in blocks of six with the easy free filesmerge.com making sure to keep altering the merge order as the display changed it in order of load. WordPress typically shaved 82% off image size but Freshtechtips provided a no-plug in solution: through settings to Media Settings and saving all image sizes to zero. The blocks of six were then re-saved to a 640 horizontal (maintaining aspect ratio) for efficient rendering, and re-merged.

This post was made possible by my supporters on Patreon before the three-month hiatus. The final version of prose novel Occupied is available to buy from Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle formats. Libraries and retailers, contact me about cheaper than Amazon stock. You can read more about the novel on this page on this website.

Quick plug for The Drew and Look Podcast: latest episodes on Hardwicke House and Press Gang are up at https://anchor.fm/andyluke

24 Hour Comic: The Spook

Moved by Gran? Educated by Absence? Interacted with Don’t Get Lost? Then you’ll probably want The Spook. Created in Farset Labs in 2018, this served as a rough draft for Occupied chapters 7-8. Early pages are raggedy but it gets good hi-speed comixing:

Optimising this for the web I followed the style Stephen Downey used at absencecomic.com. The images were merged in blocks of six with the easy free filesmerge.com making sure to keep altering the merge order as the display changed it in order of load. WordPress typically shaved 82% off image size but Freshtechtips provided a no-plug in solution: through settings to Media Settings and saving all image sizes to zero. The blocks of six were then re-saved to a 640 horizontal (maintaining aspect ratio) for efficient rendering, and re-merged.

This post was made possible by my supporters on Patreon before the three-month hiatus. The final version of prose novel Occupied is available to buy from Amazon in paperback, hardback and Kindle formats. Libraries and retailers, contact me about cheaper than Amazon stock. You can read more about the novel on this page on this website.


Post NanoWrimo Roundup

[Link] Spide: The Lost Tribes has been released today in print through Amazon.

[Link] Four by the week posts on my NanoWrimo experience.

[Link] to interview with Eileen Walsh of Derry Drive 105 were we talk about 24 hour comics, Absence, Spide and NaNoWrimo.

[Link] I’ll be reading brand new poetry at Mixed Jam, on December 10th from 5-7pm. That’s at East Belfast’s 248 East Bistro, which is a lovely venue.

Comics Around The Clock

Hello me hearties, and thanks for leaving behind Facebook for my blog, which was once in the Top Trillion websites but is now a speck of salt. Beezer time to us all.

Spide: The Lost Tribes is available for Kindle pre-order today, National Indie Author Day, October 13th. 

Dan and Ape must make community films with religious fundamentalists or risk losing their dole. Before they can do a bunk, they’re implicated in a three thousand year old conspiracy and a cross-border rail trip they’ll nat forget.

Spide: The Lost Tribes is a wild west quest through the pages of the Old Testament and Irish mythology. From Andy Luke, award winning author of Gran, Absence, and Axel America and the U.S. Election.

Fiction/Comedy

I’ve been taking some shots of my bed hair alongside the cover by Marc Savage. Maybe this’ll catch on…

You know, with you posting photos of your comical bed-hair…

…thus launching a meme whereby Spide enters the Top 100 and pays rent?

Priced 99p, October 13th pre-order; November 1st release.

I wanted to say something about Carlos Ezquerra but I imagine I’ve little to say that hasn’t been felt. I met him a couple of years back at Enniskillen for all of five minutes When he passed it seemed sudden, because though an age, he was full of hope and life. Anyone who read 2000 AD or IPC casually, most over 40s in the UK I’d think, knew Carlos’s work. That clotted ink style seemed to bleed through to all the other pages. His inventiveness with Mega City One ensured he was on a par with Jack Kirby, before we get to Stontium Dog, Al’s Baby and Third World War, one of the greatest influences on my own life.

24 Hour Comics Day #24HCD was last weekend. Eleven people showed up at Farset Labs to create around eighty pages of work. I was one of two who made the full 24, despite falling six hours behind. Silas Rallings made the count by 1am and his effort will show up on his poetry and cooking blog in the future. I’ll be sharing mine exclusively on patreon.com/andyluke as well as the unseen 2014 effort. I’m quite happy with the quality. Feast your eyes on the contributions, starting with our sponsors, the wonderful Comic Book Guys.

Aaron of ComicBookGuys with the prize bags for our winners.

@comicbookguysni prize bags were very generous.

And the art tools rounded up by co-organiser Glenn Davidson.

By ‘Loud’ author David Davies

Pants: by Tracey Chan

Hour 8: L-R Mini, Darren Beattie and Ross McGrath (Instagram: Randydandog)

Hour 10a:   Eileen Tom Thumb (of https://www.facebook.com/pg/togetherinpieces), and Mini.

If you turn the image sideways you can make out some Transformers art brought to me by one of my younger fans. Thanks Alex and Jawine! I’m still tickled about that.

Silas pp22

Silas pp23-24

Halfway point!

Ross Hour 12: Check out the thumbnails!

Darren Beattie – 3am http://www.darrenbeattie.co.uk/

Mini’s two stories

by Mini

24HCD Finish Line

My effort, Spooks, complete

20 Years of Making Comics!

Holy Shitzam, around fifty, more than I’d estimated. Twenty years since I got my first review from Comics International and Pete Ashton’s TRS review sheet. Rose Reynolds, my consultant, drew the first comics cover, with brother Stuart on the second. A few years later I was writing with Pete on Bugpowder, one of the UK’s first sites covering underground comics. By then I was making comics with people I wish I’d seen more of this last decade: Dek Baker, David Morris, Emmett Taylor and Gary Parkin etc. TRS and Bugpowder also put me in touch with John Robbins, thought-provoking flash-fic author and life-long friend. At the same time the Belfast Comics pub meets introduced me to Richard Barr, my sometimes one-man support network, whom I continue to collaborate with to this day. As well, I got to meet Patrick Brown, creator of ‘A Virtual Circle’. AVC was an astounding prophetic story of violence by internet. Paddy’s ‘Just do it’ process inspired my first efforts. Ten years later we were both making comics and literal neighbours, running The Black Panel small press distributor.

Around for the long vital loving in my comics making: Ralph Kidson, Sean Duffield, all of the Caption event people, Joe at FPI and John Freeman, my editors at Altern8, Glenys Williams, David Logicaine, Garr Shanley, Suzanna Raymond who goes above and beyond. The departed ones: Debs ‘Badass’ Boyask, a bright beacon of love and community in my life; John ‘Jackfirecat’ Grandidge, one of my biggest supporters who always made me feel clever and honoured. More recently, Helen Gomez, Miriam Turley, Peter Duncan, Laurence McKenna and Sector 13, Aaron Flanagan of ComicBookGuys, people who never let me feel like I’m not working in a vacuum.

John Robbins, gentleman artiste, has donated a free copy of ‘A Hand of Fingers‘ in PDF to the Ignacz readers on Patreon as part of this year’s Small Press Day celebrations.

And Aaron Flanagan of Comic Book Guys is hosting Belfast’s first ever Small Press Day this Saturday:

The store is located at 130 Great Victoria Street, between the garage and Shaftesbury Square. There’s likely to be a few surprise guests but here’s a who’s who to those announced:

Colin Langan – Artist on ‘A Life in Defence’, a medieval fantasy on life, death and leadership.
Dave Louden – Writer who draws ‘Detective Roscoe’ and publisher of Belfast City Comics.
Yours Truly, Andy Luke  – Another writer who draws, most recently on the collection, We Shall Not Be Stapled.
Roddy McCance – Writer/Publisher of Tales of the Fractured Mind, an important anthology of stories about mental health.
Glenn Matchett – Anthology mixer and writer of one-shot mystery/crime noir, Sparks!
Peter Duncan – Editor on Sector 13 and Splank! Annual, and the comics blog of the same name.

Right, who’s going to the pub?

Homespun Fun Comics

I managed to take some time last month for a social trip around England, kicking off with the Midwinter Comics Retreat, hosted by Sophie in her family home. This year was a bit different as I joined Jay Eales on the writing duties, shipping out scripts to seven artists. The experience was true to the MCR ethos of ‘fun comics’ and I feel enthused and inspired about making comics in the future. Crisis on Infinite Captions should be out from Factor Fiction Press later this year. Thanks particularly to Sophie, Jenni & Richard,  Arsalan, Glenys, Sean, Ciaran & Adrian and Suzanne for making it a holiday I won’t forget.

Helen Gomez runs The Girly Comic Club, an event in which she opens her home to trusted friends to draw comics two or three times a month. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? To come off wet streets and get handed a cup of tea, some cake, and draw comics in comfortable surroundings! Four or five people collaborating on a mini-comic or two, within hours! I’m hoping to try hosting something similar soon. It’ll be a LGBT-friendly called Boys Club, of course.

If you’d like to see what we’ve been up to try a wee comic-zine about Houses, or ones about Jeans or Monkies.

Sam Finnegan has attended a few of these. He’s a cartoonist in Bangor, NI, working out of Boom! Studios, and now SyncSpace in Dufferin. Sam has set up a zine and comics library there, with a great gallery, a regular Flea Market event (on Sundays), and some prog art exhibits planned.

An update on the Axel America coverage in form of a reading given at The Book Reserve. It’s from Chapter 10 a.k.a Masculinity Under Threat: The Effeminate Ephemera of FEMA. I also got a nice column in the February edition of Writing Magazine, and a mutual love-and-anger chat with Rob and Janelle Alex of the Authors Talk About It Podcast. And you can now buy Axel America at SyncSpace!

 

SF & F: Axel America and the News Election Race

Everyone’s keen to talk to me about Axel America and Donald Trump. Huddled together neighbours at a car crash, gleefully hiding terror. Never mind the politics, glance at the news media: photo-fit and run. The novel is about communication sciences: propaganda and cyber-stalking, everyday rather than futurist. It has many of the elements of science-fiction: Manchurian Candidates, super-intelligent defence systems and Tesla technology in the first five chapters and more throughout. Then there’s the psychology/SF cross-over: a presently advanced world subjected to Axel’s delusionary perception of global pandemics and martial law, holographic waves, time travel, light and sound weapons. It’s a book on the border of the news and conspiracy theory, fused by recent advances in social media. Threaded through it are themes of order versus chaos, war and peace, authoritarianism versus free will. One question I get a lot is ‘how do you satirise the satirical?’, and I say it’s a challenge, and we chuckle. Rupert Murdoch, Kay Burley, Piers Morgan, Donald Trump, Alex Jones: how do you look at the dark human cartoon and study their projections? One answer is to go right past the fiction of SF and into Fantasy. The novel pulls on the strings of bible prophecy, distant Pangaea, mercenary assassins, secret caves and valuable artefacts and more fitting elements to frame these dark cartoons. They’re comfortably enjoying their lives which disrupt. The incoherent, or unacceptable, nature of these news media antagonists and their rules requires hacking: not from the choices they give us, but from every choice.

I’ve been invited as a last minute guest to Titancon in Belfast this weekend at the Wellington Park Hotel. There you can pick up a copy of Axel America and the U.S. Election Race from myself at the AGPublishings stall.

You can support bookstores in Belfast by purchasing it from No Alibis, The Thinking Cup, Comic Book Guys and Forbidden Planet International. Or in Dublin, from Sub City Comics or The Winding Stair. The book is also available on Kindle and Smashwords.

belfast-89fm

Lisa Flavelle’s Morning Talk-In, Belfast 89FM.

We’ve had some good reviews in The Irish News, Authors Talk About It and Belfast 89FM, which you can find on the Axel America page, along with a round-table vid-cast I’m on, produced by Nimlas Studios, talking about mental health in fiction.

Cover artist Sean Duffield models Axel America.

Cover artist Sean Duffield models Axel America: oh, the pride!

Off to the White House

Or rather The Green Room…

green-room_bigger2

Of The Black Box, Belfast.

posteraxa2blackbox

That’s this Monday, just around from the Duke of York where I’ll be tasting beer after.

The books have arrived, big chunky things. Michael at Northern Visions TV assures me he’ll be getting through it before we shoot on Friday for two shows: Focal Point (news), and Novel Ideas. 

the call

Tomorrow, I’ll be in Dublin to talk to sellers, meet some pals and attend the launch of The Call, a new novel by Peadar Ó Guilín. He’ll be in Easons with Oisín McGann and a group of fans and pals. (Link: FB event) It’s published by Scholastic/Fickling and is a children’s book about child abduction (!) by the Sidhe faeries. [More about that on Publisher’s Weekly]

The Axel America Election Tour has begun, kicking off with the folks at Downbelow, a podcast about Babylon 5. A double episode on Secrets of the Soul (dismissed), and Day of the Dead (applauded). I took a while to warm, fighting the prevailing opinion on the first episode, but I was roundly welcomed and it put me in a good mood to start. (Thanks Ian for the on-air sale!)

Next day, the first of the email interviews with Pro Media Mag, and talking to Seemi about comics and the making of The Invisible Artist show. I really enjoyed this one and you can find it linked with the others on the Axel America page

The weekend began with a night out at Sector 13, a local group of ‘mature’ comics readers and cosplayers. I was picked up by Peter Duncan of great British comics blog Splank!, and we hooked up with social Laurence McKenna, Paddy Brown (soon appearing in Hawaiian shirts), the jovial Ryan Brown, the omnipresent stoic Bruce Logan, teller of tales Glenn Fabry and Ishtar, an author visiting Glenn from Brighton. It was a night of fine craic and welcoming faces and I’d recommend it for folks in the area. More setting up and more interviews. Writers Community is a local site with an interview. Alan asked me questions where I’ve gone into the mechanics and politics of the book, and given some advice on writing.

Old friend Ciaran Flanagan phoned me up on Sunday for a segment on the ComicCityCast and it was a delightful lapse into casual (but excitable) chat about the origins of the book and where it is now. On Monday, US blog Literary Links got in touch to ask about Axel’s showbiz links and the creative lifestyle.

Today, it’s more attempts to bribe journalists and bloggers with a free lunch, and some house tidying so when publisher Andrew arrives on Monday, he isn’t sleeping in a hammock of cobwebs. Keep an eye to @TheAxelAmerica – there’s things I’ll announce there that have blown our socks off.

Oh, just time to mention http://www.outsidergames.com/jennifer-wilde/Jennifer Wilde - Stephen Downey

Me old pal Stephen Downey is working on a game based off the beloved comic, created with Rob Curley and Maura McHugh. For those unfamiliar, Jennifer Wilde follows a French artist and Oscar’s ghost as they solve mysteries in London, Paris and New York.

Probably the best bus ride I’ve ever been on

Titancon is a fan-organised event mixing Game of Thrones with the best of Northern Ireland’s Horror, SF&F literature. From it’s first outing in 2011, they’ve run a Game of Thrones coach tour, chasing down new shooting locations. There’s great camaraderie, too. Organiser Phil Lowles’ habit of assuring passengers “They were only ten minutes away,” formed the basis of a poem I co-wrote with Cat Jones and Stephen de Meulemeester, which has become something of a favourite.


The two coaches have built up some rivalry over the years. This year it boiled right up, including some small trolling by yours truly. I created Twitter accounts for the coaches, and automated tweets where Coach 1 would routinely name-drop it’s direct line to the GoT stars, and Coach 2 would tweet about how it had hit an iceberg.
Over breakfast, I’d bragged to Titancon’s security man Ade Beattie about the twitter stuff. Ade was called out to pick up Miltos Yerolemou (aka Syrio Forel), who was running a little late. As they sought to catch up to us, the pair of them set up an account  for their journey: Coach 3 account.

Meanwhile, I gave Coach 1 people passwords to both twitter accounts so honest updates went out, as well as on personal handles giving us hashtags like #coachinthenorth and #miltosiscoming
Add to the mix, Cat, and Pebble, had decided they would make Coach 1 a sure extension of the Friday/Saturday format. Grabbing the on-board microphone (and one they’d brought with them), they arranged an improv con. The programme included:
Panel: Aragon economics

Crowdsourcing: What ghastly aberration will befall Titancon this year?
(Seals with rocket launchers, parallel universe collapse etc)

Tutorial: Milting
(Came about from a pun on Miltos’ name. It turned out we had an academic specialist on board for an informative talk and Q&A. Milting is fish sperm, sperm poured over eggs and grown in a box; the male dies. This also formed the basis of the sandcastle competition, photos on Werthead’s post below.)

Singalongs:
Popular tunes with the word ‘love’ replaced with ‘bum’. Other replacements included ‘Prostitute’, and ‘Hodor’.
SF Author Paedar O’Guillin teaches us An Poc Ar Buile (The Mad Puck Goat)
The Rains of Castamere – Rehearsals of the Red Wedding Song, for freaking out Coach 2 at the banqueting hall at the end of the day.

Game Quiz:
Google random images and assign as kitten or boobs

Limericks by Coach Poet Laureate:
Coach 1 is the greatest / We’ve songs and literary theatres / But Coach 2 know / Nothing like Jon Snow / Nothing like Barcelona waiters!
Champion blogger Adam Whitehead (aka @Werthead) has collated the best of all the Twitter activity at https://storify.com/Werthead/titancon-2015-coach-trip
Phil Lowles has just announced Titancon’s return for 2016. You can book for this year’s day event, at http://titancon.com/ and be sent an announcement when coach trip seats open later on in the month I imagine.