Did you hear? It’s coming home.

What’s in my books, and why do I make them? My books seem to have a common theme of wanting to share my experiences with propaganda and activism with a desire to make people laugh.  I’ve had years of experience writing. It’s in my bloodstream. People like what I do enough to pay me. I’m in a rare position of being basically comfortable so that I can try to make a living from it.

Earlier this month I was in Oxford with friends.  Arsalan Haider Ali took this incredible photo of me in Piddington Wood.

I hope it’s okay to share it. You can see more of his TriptychTakes at Instagram.

Means of Production played the Wheatsheaf. They’re Jeremy and Tim Day, presenting electro-synth and meta-photograph installations. They blew my socks off. Let them give you some love at their Facebook page.

Then it was Brighton and discussions for a new micro-site, The 101% Truth. Nothing up yet. When there is, I’ll remind you. There were difficulties getting home and sickness took its toll. At the best of times I’m fearful of travelling, of missing connections and long hours. Good to get some inspiring perspective from Elin Errson’s little gesture, important difference. A one-person stand-up protest  on a plane that prevented an asylum deportee returning to a place where his life was in danger. Well done, that woman.

Work was really hard to go back too. Depression, epileptic absences. Then somehow, it all clicked back into gear. There are two new poems, Migrant, and Diffusion. The completed Watch Thief and commentaries are going out on Friday. The Youth of 2062, is a black comedy short set in a home for the elderly, and that goes out tomorrow perhaps? I also got it into gear to finish The Trebitsch Lincoln Conspiracies. It’s a three part documentary, by power-point, narrated by Frankie Boyle and Alan Moore impersonators. Okay, there’s just one person doing both voices. The first part is here:

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=SCgl69E7_1k

PAY MY STATUS ON PATREON.COM/ANDYLUKE

 

 

Patreon Year 2 (X-post to Patreon & LJ)

Thank you! I wouldn’t have had as much fun with all these writings without the encouragement of my patrons.

In June, I’ll be running the last commentaries, Season 2 audios, artblogs and the promised Trebitsch conspiracy vid. There’ll also be bonus poems and posts.

Year 2, I’ll be working up back-room material. Out-front, I’d like to create shorter works. On Patreon I’m now accepting commissions patrons want to see me work on.

Want SF prose? Ask, and I’ll go for it. Want specific? Ditto. After meeting some patrons at a marriage equality march I was to draw a ‘Fuck the DUP‘ colouring book. Do you have a concept (‘draw a poem comic about a polar bear called Arcutus that works for Lockheed-Martin’) in mind? Or a script? Ask and receive.

In the event of dead air, I’m lining up new novellas and ‘Wee Hard Man’ comics. Phase 2, I think, should bring Patreon back to the intention: collaboration between funder and creative. Think of it as an artist on the payroll and get thinking. There’s a poll below to get us wondering what that will look like. Get specific in the comments. Friends can vote although priority is given to patrons and Patreon subscribers.

The Day Off has been Prophesied

It comes to us all. Some day this week I’ll be delving into a few of those films pushed at me. I’ve not seen ‘The Exorcist’ in full, and Richard Barr, devil that he is, has compelled me to watch it. Richard has had a few shorts published recently. ‘A Dismemberment of Corpses’ is dark beyond slapstick, a spide horror of the most gruesome. It features Danny Pongo, not-star of downedalbitros blog, and several ‘We Shall Not Be Stapled’ strips, and I probably should deny reading it, but it features on the very cultured Scum Gentry site so I’m linking to it now. He’s also got ‘Last of the Little Atlanteans’ out, a delightful cartoon horror satirising the anti-emigrant haters in Swiftian fashion. ‘Atlanteans’ is my favourite of Barr’s prose. It appears in Gruesome Grotesques Volume 2 from Trevor Kennedy. There’s lots in there. I enjoyed Samantha Lee’s ‘Hidden Depths’, a sensual bleeder of a piece and the perfect length for a bus journey.

So, it’s all holiday. Leisure before Brexit. Spend before the shops shut because picket lines of the future will happen online. A call to Forbidden Planet Belfast yesterday netted me two cheap volumes of Peter David’s X-Factor, sure to be fun. The esteemed Malachy Coney, (blog here), took time to discuss with me why Axel America wasn’t selling, (sold here), and compared my writing process (as explained in the video below), to that used by China Miéville. I’ve also been finding James Roberts’ identity sitcom, Lost Light, and loving it; via Aaron at Comic Book Guys.

Work-wise I’ve just finished Chapter 36, all but for the fifteen minute read through. The commentary is half written. Nine audio readings await editing. Tomorrow I plan on spraying anti-bacterial disenfectant everywhere! I always listen to audio when I clean. I’ll have to line up some good music. Morrissey’s politics have me weaning myself off his music. Mozza started off not unlike Grange Hill’s Danny Kendall and has wound up as Gripper Stebson.

Aha, there’s a new Comics City Cast on the air! 

I wonder if anyone’s reading the free version of The Watch Thief and if I shouldn’t just pull it to improve chances with publishers. The Facebook generations don’t comment on blogs, not like the old set. Chapter 33 is on here next week. It’s the start point for ‘Series 4’, and deals with attempts to come to terms with a war on two fronts in China, 1923. Here’s a teaser:

And just to prove I’m SERIOUS about the day off, this is where I’ll be staying during my holiday in Amsterdam.

IT’S A HOSTEL AND A TRAIN.

 

Writer’s Commentary – The Watch Thief Prologue / Chapter 1

Research and illness took their toll on schedules for The Watch Thief – the novelization of the remarkable life of Trebitsch Lincoln: adventurer, crook, spy, journalist, rector and the events and cities he lived in. You can read it here at https://andy-luke.com/watch-thief/

For a change I’m delivering two commentaries previously only available to Patreon $2-a-month subscribers.  Refresh yourself with the Prologue and Chapter One or dive straight in!

Hello, patrons. Thanks for reading the first shots in a story that’s sustained my interest for years, and my first regular wage in as long. The prologue begins with Ignacz’s father scrubbing up for church. I wanted to begin with physical contact. It’s a far way from the shaving scene beginning Joyce’s Ulysees (with that amazing image of crossed razors on top a mirror), but I think it works. Nathan and his family are Jewish Orthodox, I wanted to make that a special point, name the clothing exactly, so I found info on attire at UnitedWithIsrael.org and Mazorguide.com.

The Comedy Theatre of Budapest, aka The Vigszinhaz, was the big draw in expanding Budapest, but unfortunately it wasn’t built until 1897, the time of Chapter 1. So Ignacz was on his way to the Municipal Theatre. I wasn’t able to get an exact location but I was sure Paks, were Nathan’s family lived, was a journey that meant he’d cross one of the bridges over the Danube. The Municipal was old already, and small, though it was moneyed and elegant.

Austria-Hungary’s merger and dual monarchy was created in 1867. Budapest, rapidly expanding in the 1890s, was a finance and import capital. Magyar is the name Hungarians give themselves and the 1890s saw the nobility move there and bring more finance into the developments.

The prologue takes place on March 16th, according to Jens Malte Fischer, who recounts events at the performance of Lohengrin, in his book Gustav Mahler, by Yale University Press. I’m not sure if I got away with the Count Zichy reference, and to cast some exposition… Géza Zichy was the city commissioner with some suction in Arts and Culture but he was also part of the right-wing anti-foreigner attitude in government at the time. Mahler had been teaching, and serving as the principal conductor under a ten year contract since 1888, six years. He’d already been in line of sight from Budapest’s cultural conflict in the press a few times. When Zichy’s new role as Intendant was announced, Mahler understood many of his rights were curtailed and powers transferred. The cards were on the table. Mahler signed a new contract with the Hamburg Opera on the q.t. and knowing Zichy wanted him out, he approached him and a severance was offered. Mahler announced his resignation, but to the public it might have looked like Zichy shoved him, which would have happened eventually. I’ve no evidence to suggest Ignacz was there on the night of the Lohengrin riot, or attended Mahler’s classes, but he did try to fake his Drama School papers and sneaking into a theatre seems in his character.

Chapter 1

Nathan moved his family closer to the city. This occurs shortly after the prologue. He moved from “a solid barge transportation business to…high finance” (Wasserstein), and essentially playing the stock market, and lost it all. This is where we pick up, with Ignacz at Drama School, and all is not well.

Budapest Metro Line 1, still running, is the third oldest underground railway in the world, built 1894-1896. The other two were Tunel in Istanbul and City & South in London. Ignacz’s route along Andrassy Avenue has him in the direction of Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square), where there’s a monument to the men of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. His brothers, Lajos and Sandor, share their names with the two front-men, still well thought of, so it seemed safe to assume they were named in their honour.

When writing the graphic novel script for this, it took six years to settle on a good idea for the opening page. It began with a first panel family row, and six panels devoted to Ignacz’s starry-eyed hallucination during the mugging. There’s no record to Ignacz suffering hallucinations here or any eye condition. It just fit with the new metro lights, and the star vision I had in mind. I’ve hallucinated or seen silver ball floaters attributed to Ignacz, since, oh, my teenage years. Often after I’m beset by a coughing or sneezing fit, but at times with no corresponding origin point. My earliest memory that fits how they look is from a Primary School teacher who had a box of Mercury in her room and delighted us moving about the shimmering globules. Mercury is highly dangerous and toxic. Rather than live in dread of seeing my floaters I’ve long ascribed a good luck status to these, despite being not generally superstitious.

It was important I get right the culture of theatre and opera surrounding Ignacz at that time and I selected five operas performed in 1890s Budapest and read the liberetto scripts. These were Siegfried and (as noted) Das Rheingold, Eugene Onegin; Don Giovanni, Lohengrin and Tannhauser. I used a cut-up style with about ten lines from each then paired that down to a manageable size. The arrangement was more conscious than random. Das Rheingold’s tale of greed, lust and narcissism is a good thematic fit. Lohengrin is a classic heroes tale about nobility. I should mention Ignacz’s mother, Julie, was from nobility, though it didn’t seem to do her favours when business went bad. The story of Tannhauser fit with Ignacz’s art ambitions and want to travel. Don Giovanni mixes “comedy, tragedy and drama with the supernatural”, which covers all my basis and Giovanni and Ignacz have many similarities. It was uppermost in my mind.

Lohengrin is a heroes tale of political conflict, a story closer here to Mahler than Ignacz, though maybe not in Ignacz’s mind. I was offered the chance to watch Lohengrin with a rowdy group a few weeks ago, but sadly slept in. (We have a monthly Opera Club where we watch streaming content on a large screen, mainly from the excellent Opera Platform ) Eugene Onegin, the only opera from these I’ve seen performed, has little in relevance in story to Ignacz’s tale. It’s also the least interesting tale. Stick with Don Giovanni, or Das Rheingold. I have a list of which lines came from which operas but do you really want to know?

Oh, and we also get quotes from Clerks 2 and Forrest Gump, and I was aiming to place Quantum Leap’s ‘Oh Boy!”

A Note On Wasserstein

My research for Ignacz comes from many sources. Easily the most invaluable of these is Bernard Wasserstein’s The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln, from Penguin. Wasserstein’s version is a notably excellent piece of historical autobiography, drawing on solid research and it’s a riveting read. With this, which will rightfully be called an adaptation by some, I’ll be leaving out notable details, inventing others…Wasserstein delivers context but I aim to push this further, colour it in, include unsubstantiated reports Wasserstein firmly refutes.

I’ve amassed a large image archive and I’ll be reproducing some, though it looks like Patreon requires me to make separate posts.

Over on Patreon, Chapter 24 is nearly ready: the half-way point! You can read every chapter and commentary for The Watch Thief for just $2 U.S. for 30 days through Paypal, bank account, debit or credit card.

That’ll also get you e-comics, ‘We Shall Not Be Stapled’ by myself and ‘A Hand of Fingers’ by John Robbins. If there’s a rush on, or you sign up for $5 I’ll also unlock the artblog, the photo grids, process videos, poetry and short stories.

Live interview incoming

I’m being interviewed by Captain Ashley Sanders for the Who’s This? podcast in a few hours. You can tune in live and compliment Ashley on her skill handling me, have an eased ole time, and ask a few questions if you like. We’re up around 8:30pm GMT, 3:30pm ET at https://www.facebook.com/CaptainAshleysHappyPlace

I aim to be talking Watch Thief, but Absence, Axel America and conspiracy theories have also come up. So who knows? Ashley seems like a vibrant person so fingers crossed for me.

I am about to steal your watch.

Hello your name here.company man

The Watch Thief is going great, I rate it right up among my best/your favourite here. A few patrons are braving monthly donations. On June 7th #BelfastBookFest I’ll be unleashing The Watch Thief into free cyberspace, every weekday, and waking up ALL THE KITTENS. I see T-shirts. I see other writers run to me. In my dreams and heart, I’m relatively happy.

The first act was finished over a good cup of coffee this afternoon, in the shade. I’m working between my Ballyhackamore home, the city’s Farset Labs and The Intercontinental Bar open space on Ravenhill. Ignacz The Watch Thief is set to five days a week as it’s been doing on Patreon. Subscribers already have the first three chapters. It’s only 80p a month, for goodness sake. That’s cheaper than the Green Party! Or if you can afford the best book of the year, £3 a month gets you weekly commentaries, a freMoniaive 2017e comic, art by Ruairi Coleman and John Robbins, and today, a poem called Omelette Day. I’m really very grateful to everyone who signed up.

A few shout-outs:
Alan and Sue Grant are running the Moniave Village Comics Festival, that’s somewhere in Dumfries and Galloway. That’s 10th-11th June, reasonable admission, and great contemporaries guesting such as MacManus, Nero, Bishop, Collins, Handley, Dobbyn, Emerson and McShane.  Contact sue grant 23 at me.com

Comic Book Guys have moved to their new store on 110 Great Victoria Street, just beforeIMG_20170526_170526 Shaftsbury Square. It’s new, snazzy boutique appealing and I do hope you visit them. If you’re looking for print copies of We Shall Not Be Stapled they’re the only place with stock left. Tell Aaron (or Austin) you want to buy stuff, jabroni.

On the subject of comic shop patrons, my thanks to Malachy Coney at Forbidden Planet Belfast. Malachy interviewed me about Axel America for the Facebook page. Malachy’s one of the sweetest, smartest and most interesting people in comics, though lesser spotted unless you’re an FPI regular. You can read his own blog, Curiouser and Curiouser, here.

Next week, I’m recording a process video for Patreon and doing final takes on the all-access promo. As well as new Watch Thief, I’m finalising plot structure for a M.A.S.H.-like situation comedy novel. Then, Sarah and I are off to Achill Island for a few days. If you’re good I’ll bring you back gifts.

Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Just do anything.

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.