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.
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.
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.
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 otherson 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.
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.
Dates for your calendar: the Mercurial Stephen Downey and I will be inviting you to make comics with us at The Arts and Disability Forum in Belfast. We were there in February and executive produced the baby leviathan, Beneath The Tide.
Beneath The Tide, featuring the work of Gareth Smyth, Andrew Cochrane and Roisin O’ Hagan.
You can see the full project behind this strip by downloading the pdf version which also features work by Richard Barr and Bisson. [15mb – pdf link]
The event is on Saturday 25th August. It’s free, and limited to fifteen places. Please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be on board.
ADF Festival logo designed by Gillian O’Hagan
It’s one of the first acts in the ADF’s week-long Bounce! festival. The programme has a number of people excited with an enormous roster of talent including Sinead O’Donnell, Garry Robson, David Hoyle, animator Joel Simon, Dan Eggs, Andrew Cochrane and Claire Cunningham.
I’d a lovely weekend at the Dublin Zine Fair run by the nimble Sarah Bracken and her team. Paddy Brown did a lot of arranging for us to be there, and there was a very positive turn out. I managed a spontaneous short comedy open mic bit, and got a lot of new friends from the series of six interviews I did with artists last week.
Sold a fair few comics too, including my sequel to Optimus and Me. Unfortunately Moods of Prime went out with a page error. It didn’t make a difference to the great story, but I thought I’d reprint the correct sequencing here.
My KaBlam/IndyPlanet copy of Hold The Phones, It’s Alex Jones! arrived looking like a grown-up magazine gospel rocker dancing on ice. The Series 1 11 page preview has racked up over 5,000 views.
The book has 28 pages of new material and costs $3.99 plus Indyplanet’s postage fees, which from the UK are a whopping $10. [Link to IndyPlanet print copy]
You can buy Moods of Prime in black and white for £1.25 or £2.50 in colour (plus and extra £1 for far overseas), by sending the amount over Paypal to email@example.com and including your address. All sold out of my own copies of Hold The Phones.
A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.
I’ve been making comics since childhood, since 1997, for other people to see. I practiced as a scriptwriter, drawing my own comics out of necessity. I’ve made around forty, and last year I made my first attempt at a graphic novel.
No one can tell you, as fact, what the right way to make a comic is. You do not have to purchase Bristol boards, you are not obligated to work with brush, or colour. (Heck, you can use a sandwich bag) You don’t have to pay printers a grand. As a comic strip artist, instructions per conformity like anatomy reference books are a choice. Successful use does not necessarily demonstrate a link in narrative content with the medical discoveries of Vesalius or DaVinci. Comprehende?
“Just do it”
I chose to work without script or thumb-nails and used an A8 (shirt pocket) note-pad with (light) 60gsm paper. A4’s wide open space is agony to me and the comfortable intimate pocket-book suited my wish to develop a sporadic style. “Don’t Get Lost” was based largely on personal experience rather than research and so I could dive straight to work at any point in my day. Many professional comics artists draw page designs on A5 (half a sheet of paper, the standard for many small pressers) and photocopying them by twice the size to A3 (121%) for use with a light-box. This is then pencilled to the page to form layout structure. I’ve even heard a tale of one professional who takes directly his A5 thumbnail to finished computer art. With this, the energy and spectacle of flow is retained and a good reader can notice and feel the difference.
My pencil work developed quickly to look confident. In one 24 hour session I unconsciously worked up thirty good pages in twenty-four hours. This didn’t happen creationist style, I’ve about twenty pages of shoddy, stumbling early work to prove it.
The accompanying video filmed in August 2008 is a bit waffly but gives an interesting insight into the strip’s content and that notable notebook.
My early experiences with using a gel pen at bus stops on Don’t Get Lost….that sentence finishes itself. I have little understanding of inking practice outside tracing, it’s clearly much more. Spending time on reference guides would have been a useful discipline to cultivate. That said, I did manage to put my corner-shop biro to some use. I’m becoming aware of how many great artists use the humble, unassuming biro. Paddy Brown works consistently in red biro, and the results blow the lay-man’s socks off. Graphic Novel Coming
I didn’t set out to create a graphic novel of 300 pages – it just happened that way. First, it was 40, then 150 and so on. Eighty pages in, the notebook went missing for a day I mentally screamed and wept and my insides nearly bled. Then it turned up, and I do believe I kissed the book repeatedly, pocket fluff and all. Then copied it, anally.
Sally-Anne Hickman’s diary comics inspired: looking drawn fast, relaying honesty, immediacy and reality. Her choice of start and cut-off points and the length of sixty pages, longer than most mini-comics at sixty pages made them feel like novels. I strove to replicate this, breaking my work into chapters, the first a 144 page pocket comic-book.
I was working part-time at a stationers and spent my staff discount on two magnetic white-boards and a batch of cheap magnets. A sob of regret dismembering the notebook. The pages were numbered along each row. Staple-bound comic books work in supplements of fours and for a 144 page book I had to work things out in advance.
Once I’d done this, I took 36 A4 sheets, folded them and lightly numbered the pages in pencil. The pages were removed from the boards and lightly white tacked until I ran out began stripping posters from my walls.
Graphic Novel Fail
A big problem with this method of assembly could be in production: carting precarious stickys to a copy shop results in confusion with much slimmer volumes. Many copy-shops will specifically ask for .jpegs or .pdfs but I was lucky to have access to the use of the university photocopy room off-semester, when students were busy studying their parent’s satellite wide-screens. Three copies were made at this point: one each for the critical faculties of John (Robbins) and the conscientious Matt (Badham) I bound the comics using a single elastic band, a method Sally uses for her sixty pagers that is surprisingly great. I re-read the completed work, noting changes and sent these out in the packages.
Reviewing comics is a lovely job, one I’ve found gets progressively harder the more I do it. In this case, it was an opportunity for my editors to alter the narrative. Concerns were expressed. John and Matthew were made aware my narrative was a damn disturbing one. There are places in the narrative were characters are plunged into shock and despair, sickening states. While DLG is light and enjoyable in many places, at core a survival narrative, these moments don’t have the immediacy of drama as device that the latter do. This was compounded by other subject matter: media social panics and ambiguities in regional translation. Telling narratives of other people led Matt to raise concerns that, without their consent, I could be overstepping ethical codes. I’d changed names and altered appearances, but the occasional photo-realistic style didn’t help. I certainly didn’t want it to look as if those portrayed could be identified even though I was almost sure they could not. It’s just a mini-comic based in a small town that no one from there is going to read, right? Almost wasn’t good enough, and I pondered making changes for quite a while.
By this time I had moved back to Northern Ireland. Unlike mainland UK, Canada and the States, we don’t have Kinkos, Staples or photo-copiers in corner-shops as common place. Copying seems pricier. I graduated straight onto the unemployment line and a friend’s sofa, the book sat on the shelf. I took my single copy on the road to the 2D Festival were I showed it off to a few, including an attendee who advanced me £4 for a copy before I lost his contact details. I also made mini-comic previews of selected scenes in the book.
The accompanying video from June 2009 shows how I set about making this 16 page mini from one A4 sheet preceded by the formative stages of another. It also shows a copy of the preview I sent Matt and John. Warning: Contains disturbed complexion and over-dramatic pauses related to an all-night stint before deadline.
Having produced those many pages made for good therapy and a sense of accomplishment. My stubborn nature and need to set a discourse off persevered. A friend I’d showed it to loaned me his scanner. I knew enough to host the images on my livejournal account, which has enough permanent storage space to hold them and to set up a free blogspot which was more accessible and would allow me to post in advance should I need to take a day off.
Some pages were muddied with dirt, wear or pencil smudges that deleting had to be applied to selected areas. I chose not to get bogged down, not wipe energy or construction in this. Ralph Kidson remarked that the pencils in my work may be a form of colouring, which I think is quite a good way of looking at it.
The new year was coming in and it seemed as good a time as any to launch the webcomic. However, other factors got in the way and I was too busy to promote it properly. I sent Matt and John courtesy emails, and quicker than imagined, word spread with links on Forbidden Planet, Bugpowder.com and the blogs of Richard Cowdry and Paddy Brown welcoming me to the world of webcomics. I doubt this would have been possible without these connections made over time.
I’d had some success posting preview pages on Twitpic over the summer. Pete Ashton has an interesting piece here on Neill Cameron’s venture doing something similar. This did more good than posting in communities were I’m less an active part, such as Digg and Delicious.
Were I to fill every comic forum with links, I would not obtain my objective. The narrative has many strong themes: sexual abuse through rape and it’s effect on secondary survivors, paedophilia and the media panic surrounding it. Blogging without links was once considered bad practice. I intend to build this over time, as the narrative unfolds. Linking to communities who deal with those issues and their resources I’ve found useful, outside of my pithy scribbles. If the strip is commented on too, all the better for making another community.
With 300 pages scanned in and another 50 to do, I have a comic out that doesn’t look as polished as other web-comics but is a damned formidable read. Don’t Get Lost is updated on Thursdays and I hope you’ll find something there to suit you. As all things, in time.