Occupied: Chapter 24 extract

One of the most explosive installments in Occupied is loosely based on the 2010 anti-tuition fees march in Belfast. At the urging of editor Claire Burn, (“this chapter was incredible… send this one”), I’m making this available now as a free PDF download.

Book time podcasting!

I learned last night our new bookcast, I’ve never read Discworld, made the Apple top 50 for UK book pods in September. O Team!

It was pleasant news after two days graft editing. There’s the new episode of The Drew and Look Podcast to come, in which I interview indie start-up SHP Comics about creative entrepreneurship, as well as sex, sci-fi and vampires. The Drew and Look has been on hiatus a while. Some months back, the interview with comedy horror novelist, Philip Henry, got a lot of love.

Sean Black is a household name: prime-time actor on stage and screen and linked to an unknown number of gruesome murders. Sean Black is the lead in METHOD, the creation of Philip Henry, a struggling dramatic novelist, film-maker and singer-songwriter.

Podcaster Andy Luke lures Philip to a remote country cottage to unravel his secrets. What emerges is a wide reaching conversation on writing, celebrities, romance, violence, ethics, feminism and Northern Ireland on screen.

The new episode is live on Patreon and I’ll be putting episode 2 of Discworld up there next week. It’s been a learning curve bringing in the video element on these series. Judging by the feedback on our first Discworld, people seem happy to wait.

My brother Gavin dumped his 15 Discworld duplicates on me in a big green canvas bag. In trying to procrastinate, I knew the reading experience ought to be chronicled and reached out to ask the internet for a co-host. Local writer PJ Hart responded: having read through most of the series and keen to revisit. And thus we became a legend in my own lunchtime.

https://anchor.fm/andyluke/episodes/Auteur-Philip-Henry-The-madness-in-his-METHOD-e1jfckn/a-a822jl6

‘It’s the fantasy version of The Wire.’

Experienced wizard PJ Hart guides the tourist Andy Luke through the first book in Terry Pratchett’s world: a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown); from the docks to taverns of Ankh-Morpork,to forests, temples and the edge of the world.

https://anchor.fm/iveneverreaddiscworld/episodes/Ep-1–The-Colour-of-Magic-e1o0nop

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.


Introduction to Spide: The Lost Tribes

I’ve been a bit rubbish at promoting The Lost Tribes since publishing it at the tail end of 2018. In hindsight, it was a bad choice for a second novel. It has none of the hooks of altruism or education which have garnered me good reception. Indeed, it’s a nasty book with no redeeming characters, and the central epic of the Ulster Cycle is purposely anti-academic, told through an unreliable berate-r narrator.

(For an actual sourced rendition of these legends, buy up Patrick Brown’s Cattle Raid of Cooley graphic novel.)

‘Spide’ is a slang term in popular usage in Northern Ireland referring to feckless male troublemakers, junkies and layabouts. Another variant is ‘steek’. In England the equivalent is ‘chav’, so I’m told. Spide’s roots come from 1970s Ulster paramilitaries, who wore spider tattoos on their necks, before becoming more casually used. (I suspect that word link muted one editor to compromising over a similarly branded but tangential work.)

The short novel is narrated by Dan Spide, who along with his sidekick Ape, is typical of those Irvine Welsh archetypes to be found on any low-rent council estate: swilling cheap lager; sexist; racist; horizons peaking with the next welfare cash or anticipated beating.

‘The Lost Tribes’ is a multi-fold extension, viewing the scoundrels’ own psychological turmoil in the wider culture of local authority figures with batshit insane philosophies. It’s a feature of N. Ireland’s political communications that a small vocal elite polices with literal Bible truths , Westboro Baptist ethics and tacitly endorsing paramilitary acts.

A subset of these subscribe to an Ulster-British concept where they self-identify as direct descendants of Israel’s lost tribe of Dan. Peter Robinson. Nelson McCausland. Edwin Poots. Never mind that the lost tribe of Dan has more biblical links to God’s banished, (necromancy, for one), these lead politicos and their advisors draw their family trees from Jeremiah and Jacob through Conchobar, Nuada and classical Irish myth. Stories where study tells of alteration to improve the fiction. The time displacement reeks.

I wanted to understand and show the perspectives of Dan and Ape and of these crazy rulers of the world. I’ve paired their ‘truths’ with the train route between Northern and Southern Ireland , making for a sort of psycho’s geography. It’s stories within stories, a slow build into an Indiana Jones romp, if Indy was a paranoid xenophobe. I’ve read their literature. The sources make for the most un-credible conspiracy theories.

Spide: The Lost Tribes is available by Amazon and on Kindle at a low, low price (or free with Kindle Unlimited)

Marc Savage is the cover artist for The Lost Tribes and I couldn’t have asked for a better expression of the bonkers blockbuster qualities.
Spide: The Lost Tribes may contain incidences of Northern Irish-isms.
You get the tablet phone thing, you put in the money you would have spent on a haircut, and fazoomio, it’s inyour hand!

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.

BOUT!

‘Bout! The Fight-Zine’ is a new short comic by John Robbins.  I love how John tells stories. ‘Bout!’ is funny, a bit deranged and prime twisting. It’s free: go and read it via @ComicsWendy this half hour!

Spide: The Lost Tribes is out on Thursday. In case you missed it, capsule review: two Belfast louts get roped into a Free Presbyterian grail quest, sped by the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise train and through the pages of history. The narrator, Dan Spide, is sat backwards on the journey, now that I think to tell you. I’ve caught most of everything else in the wee novella. The link to give out is https://tinyurl.com/thelosttribes – why not pre-order it in case Amazon crashes?

Advance feedback’s good and today the first full review is up from Chris McAuley at Talking Comics:
https://talkingcomicssite.wordpress.com/2018/10/28/spide-the-lost-tribes-a-novel-by-andy-luke/

The excellent cover is by @TheMarcSavage who was shooting for the Drew Struzan movie poster scale and succeeded. You can also find Marc at @media_large. I’ll be talking about it to Eileen Walsh on @Drive105 FM in Derry Wednesday morning.

At the weekend I was in Derry for Comics City Fest where a good time was had by alcohol. My comrades for the too-old-to-do-this nights drink were the wildcard Darren McCay, and No-Selfie Will Simpson. Here’s a shot of ‘The Ambassador’ with Lightspeed Stephen Downey.

The Comic City event at the Guildhall was bustling popular. Thanks to Dave Campbell and all the staffers who worked to make it be.

National Novel Writing Month is upon us: extreme prose writing and I’m using it to catch up on an outstanding project. When not smashing up telephones, I’ll be scowling at loud grandparents in cafes up and down the country.

Filling in on Patreon this month: 24 hour comics never seen before. That’s pretty big news actually. Should probably be a headline somewhere. Cough, cough.

(All calls are screened before the telephone ejection policy is decided)

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