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?

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New British Fun Comics / Artist Call-Out

Splank! Annual 2018 is the brainchild of patron of these arts and dear friend, Peter Duncan. It’s a labour of love modelled on the British humour and adventure comics we read as children. The stuff that stirred lifelong fandom, the stuff that made the local newsagent holy ground. Peter has assembled some of the great cartoonists from those days and newer artists willing to re-create that Christmas Annual-book feeling.
(Peter authors the regular Splank! blog. It’s a keen eye on crowd-funded comics and classic UK comics and well, well written)
Peter has put a call-out for contributors, particularly: cartoonists who can write and draw; and creators keen to work on sport’s strips. Some more on the project (full posting here)
I’d like to represent as many of the styles and genres of British comics as possible. The book/magazine will be printed in a mixture of colour and black and white and at A4 format. I’m looking for offers of contributions from writers artists or complete stories that fit into any of the following categories.
– Humour strips, think Wham!, Smash! and Pow! but also Beano, Dandy, Monster Fun and the like. Be anarchic, bring old concepts up to date or hark back to memories of great strips of the past. The Power comics featured spy spoofs that fed off the movie and TV craze at the time. Something that mirrors that, or other TV memes that are current now. I’m looking for single page strips, half page gags or longer stories where warranted. I’m also looking for an artist to help me with a newspaper style strip that I may scatter through the pages.
– Adventure stories. Think the old British Hero sets, Robot Archie, Black Max, Janus Stark and Adam Eterno were my favourites. I’ve no formal page limits at the moment, but think 7-8 as a sort of maximum with 3-5 being a norm.
– Sports Stories. I always liked football comics more than I liked football. But a good sports strip would be a great addition. My own preferred sport is Rugby Union and I think I could come up with a few good Rugby gags if I had an artist to work with, but I’d be delighted to look at ideas about almost any sport. But please, bear in mind that any strip about international Rugby Union should end with an emphatic Irish Victory.
– Spooky stuff. I maintain that Misty, and to a lesser degree, Spellbinder were among the best comics produced in the UK. A Misty style ghost or supernatural story would be a superb addition and very much welcomed.
– Factual strips. Remember Look and Learn, Tell Me Why, World of Wonder? Strips that tell stories from history or science or current affairs.
– Nursery Comics – I learnt to read with comics. Things like Rupert the Bear and Tiger Tim. I don’t want a strip for young kids but perhaps something that is done in that style would be interesting.
All of these are just ideas and I’m willing to look at anything. I’m especially keen to get strips with female protagonists, so far I have none and it stands out like a sore thumb. I’m aiming for a PG-13 vibe so bear that in mind and if you have any questions please do contact me and we’ll see if we can bring Splank! back for the first time. All characters should be original, I’m not looking to tread on any copyrights here, and will remain the property of the creators.
If you are interested in becoming part of this project please do contact me. Writers should send a proposal for their story or, get in touch to discuss what they might look at. Artists should send some samples of their work and an idea of which story types they are most interested in working on.
This could be fun, let us see what we can do.
E-mails to Splank@boxofrainmag.co.uk
Physical Samples (if your prefer) to: Peter Duncan 16 Belmont Church Road Belfast BT4 3FF
 
The Splank! Annual is a great opportunity for high-profile creators so drop Peter a line. Soon, though. Spaces are filling up. So far confirmed are Glenn Matchett (Grayhaven Comics), John Robbins (Handful of Fingers), Duncan Scott and Dave Windett (Dandy), Nigel Parkinson and Leslie Stannage (Beano), Mike Higgs and Davy Francis (Oink!), Marc Jackson (Aces Weekly), Andrew Pawley (GalaXafreaks), John Farrelly (Captain Wonder) and Andy Luke (Whoever he is)

Ignacz Book Launch NOW

Today I’m sending out my new novel in part-work through Patreon. Next month it’ll start for free on my andy-luke.com but now S1 a month buys four chapters and $2 gets a weekly commentary. It’s a globe-trotting time-crossing  of adventure and escape which traverses the Edwardian age to World War Two. Some of you  know the highlights, retold since I began this in 2010. It’s in the vein of my Horatio Bottomley story for To End All Wars, Yet Unlike Anything. I’m very excited to finally get ‘Ignacz the Watch Thief’ off the ground. I understand if people wait for the free version on June 6th though I’d be grateful if you spread the word. This is unique.

More information at http://patreon.com/andyluke and the prologue is already there for subscribers with more new words tomorrow.


Calloused fingers from my new comic, stained with blue ink after a reasonably good launch; thankfully it didn’t stain the customer’s copy. Then the Enniskillen Comics Fest, were I got a good chat with Colin Mathieson among others. It was nice to see Alan & Sue Grant again, they give me a warm feeling. It was old skool fest life: abandoning the table, talking with everyone, getting excited about stuff! I hosted ‘Breaking into Comics’ with Colin, Jenika, Ciaran Marcantonio and Grainne McEntee, who makes Bubbles O’Seven: Simian Agent, which is really fun. I’m excited to be reading Ciaran’s comics soon. He’s properly excited about Neon Skies, and Red Sands looks great. I seem to be out of copies of We Shall Not Be Stapled, though it didn’t sell so well. Maybe a second printing. An e-version for sale in a month.

We Shall Not Be Stapled

Shout it in the streets. Get down to the Orange band and tell them too. Tell your friends carrying messages over the border.

The Comic Book Guys have been immensely supportive of Axel America. I’m delighted to be featuring in this cosy spot lunchtime launch. There’s a raft of old and new material (see here) including pieces by myself, and an unseen Sir Reginald piece from 2006.

I’ve been working on the launch of my exciting Patreon project and my new book, Ignacz the Watch Thief. The campaign starts on Tuesday 9th at http://patreon.com/andyluke – there’s little there, but you can bookmark it.

Before that, I’ll be appearing at the Enniskillen Comic Fest this weekend. On Saturday morning, hosting a ‘Breaking Into Comics’ panel featuring Colin Mathieson (Accent UK), Jenika Ioffreda (Midnight Tea), Ciaran Marcantonio (Neon Skies) and Grainne McEntee (Bubbles O’Seven: Simian Agent) From there, I can mostly be found at the Sector House 13 table. They’ll be selling a zine edited by Laurence McKenna and Peter Duncan…well, it’s a glossy zine, with a strip beautifully painted by Ryan Brown, and marvellously written by Laurence, a feel much like The Shield, which is a perfect tone for a Mega City One Judges story. I’ve a prose-poem in there. I’m Likin’ It. Actually, that’s the name of the story. It’s good.

 

The Name of This Band Is…

Righty-oh naughty blank page, off to Kingpin’s wall with you. Sector House 13 Dredd story written, poems – check. Patreon project on in three weeks. New novels coming. Lots of readers. New comic, at 44 pages or more, 33 laid down. No idea of the title – polling Facebook / Twitter next week. It’s an anthology, many different writers, thus far confirmed:

Danny Pongo – Titanic Theme Park, What we too, and Madeley Feeds Africa.
Dek Baker and Richard Barr – Wee Hard Man
Mark McCann – The Game is Rigged
John Robbins – Real Irish Avengers, The Belt
Laura Reich – Gus
Ben Stone – Sir Reginald
Dan Lester – Bush Dream

I will be drawing from my own writing my too. Hands hurt but  enjoying working with different creatives: one big comics hurrah. It debuts at the Enniskillen Comics Fest on May 6th, cost £3-£5. If you’d like to pre-order I’ll post it UK for £3.50 or digitally for £1.25. Paypal drew. luke@gmail with a note.

Meantime I’ll leave you with some excerpts of the thing to come, whatever it’s called. Words by Lester, Pongo and Robbins.

24.03.2017

Next week I start work on my first comic book in quite a long while. It’ll have new strips written by Richard Barr and John Robbins, maybe a few other people in the mix, we’ll see. It’ll debut at Enniskillen Comics Fest May 6th. I’m sharing a table with Sector 13, the local 2000 A.D. group, who also have a comic/zine out, including a flash-fic from me if I can.

The research on THAT novel is completed. THAT novel is THAT IS SO DEAR I want to land it at a large publisher. Aware that sales of Axel America were so hard, I’m bracing myself not to break down over THAT novel. I have a wonderful buffer in mind and big news on Andy-Luke.com to share in a few weeks.

Speaking of Axel America: keen readers of the novel found scenes where Axel on-air gave two tinyurl hyperlinks and passwords. Now one of these bonus features isn’t accessible so I’ve decided to just direct link them.

The Infothon: Secret Callers
Extended draft of the beginning of Chapter 16: Into the Madness
https://andy-luke.com/the-infothon-secret-callers/
Password: callers

Chapter 23.5: The Initiation
Unseen deleted chapter, set after ‘Axel-Bot 2’ and before ‘Secrets behind the Curtain of the Cabal’.
https://andy-luke.com/easter-egg-the-initiation/
password: initiation

They’re also now linked to on the novel blog page if you want to find them later.

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!