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?

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.

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.