2000 AD 1891 cover by Alex Ronald
NEW THRILL! BLACK SHUCK // PART ONE
Scandinavia, 813 AD. Viking raiding parties continue to besiege the coasts of Northern Europe and the British Isles, returning with spoils and slaves. One such attack on the settlement of Dunwich in East Anglia has led to the warrior known as BLACK SHUCK being captured, but his journey back to the court of King Ivar will not be uneventful…
If you haven’t already got your copy, you can order or download 2000 AD 1891 right now. If you have already got it, read it, and enjoyed it, perhaps you’d like to join us for some (only very slightly) spolierish extras below. Read more…
Back in March Science Writer and blogger Ed Yong gave a TED talk on the subject of parasites and the fascinating ways in which they can sometimes “subvert and override the wills of their hosts” (a full video of the talk posted here on DG). In his talk Yong spoke about how rodents infected with the brain parasite toxoplasma gondii effectively become “cat-seeking missiles”; seeking out felines and getting themselves eaten just so that toxo can then develop and reproduce inside the cat. As much as one third of the global human population may be infected with toxo. Although mild flu-like symptoms occasionally occur during the first few weeks following exposure, toxo generally produces no symptoms in healthy human adults (toxoplasmosis can be fatal to infants and those with weakened immune systems, however). Opinions are currently divided among researchers as to what, if any, influence toxo has on the behaviour of infected humans (although links to schizophrenia are amongst the effects which have been hypothesised ). But, says, Yong in his TED talk, even if it isn’t from toxo, “Given the widespread nature of such manipulations [of hosts by parasites], it would be completely implausible if humans were the only creature not under the same thrall.”
Read the full article at dailygrail.com
The last time we stayed away over night was last years Thought Bubble. I don’t know if I can explain how excited we were to be off to Glasgow. Neither of us had ever been, but as soon as we arrived we felt at home. Possibly it was all the big sandstone buildings but we relaxed straight away.
Our table overlooked the bar, and was near to long time convention pals AccentUK who we snagged four volumes of Western Noir from. Four volumes! It has been a while since we’ve seen them but wow.
We signed and sold and pulled faces at Gail Simone and That Guy Scott across the way, until four, when we had a panel with the lovely Rufus Dayglo, and the mighty Howard Chaykin. We were discussing characters, and how you build them, how you bring them to life, but to be honest we all wavered from the point a fair bit. There were a few salient points to glean from the discussion:
1. Comic Creators are irregularly employed and paid. As much as we all wish we had long hours to create magical worlds, quite often we just have to get something thought up that afternoon. We still really care, and love our job, but it’s actually more on a knife-edge than anybody really admits to.
2. Drawing the Nesquik bunny makes you morally bankrupt right off the bat.
3. Howard Chaykin does not give one single dry miniscule fuck. An invigorating co-panellist.
Once we extricated ourselves from the gym-shoe-like furnace of the panels theatre, we packed up and went for food. Cocktail&Burger had really nice food, really nice staff, and cool library wallpaper.
We went back to the hotel to change and drink coffee and Sit Still Without Children which was heavenly and then we went in search of two things. People and Beer.
We found Stacey Whittle and Alex Ronald in Cocktail&Burger, and she alerted us to the cheaper beer 2mins down the road. Also, the music had started, leaving us all cupping one ear and shouting at one another like a geriatric away day. We walked back up to the CCA and had a beer on the terrace, before magically summoning lovely people with Twitter. Emma Vieceli (who gave us a copy of her Breaks prologue, which is stunning as one might expect!) Gary Erskine, Mhairi Stewart, and Hannah Berry all arrived like a cheery mob of awesome, and we moved downstairs away from noise and people so we could talk and catch up.
We had a wonderful evening, and stumble bumbled off back to Novotel.
We actually enjoyed having small hangovers because NO CHILDREN, and we especially liked breakfast. Hannah showed me the wonder that is the Automatic Pancake Machine and I ate tiny cakes. It was beautiful!
We had a bit of time before our signing slot, so we went and found Gary Erskine’s table and bought three amazing Roller Grrrls prints and a sketch book, Yishan Li was sat next to him so we got a print from her, and then a book from Hannah. We cast longing glances at Rufus Dayglo’s table but as per usual he had a queue a mile long, and we had to run away. We actually managed to scoot through the dealer’s room on our way downstairs and made it for our signing.
We saw so many adorable cosplayers, including tiny-little-girl-hulk a whole family of Green Lanterns, a baby ewok with his Luke and Leia siblings, Batgirl on her mobile, big Finn from Adventure Time, and lots of characters we are just not cool enough to recognise.
We sold and signed and then said our goodbyes, and walked back down Sauchiehall Street in the sunshine.
Would we go again? Definitely. Would we recommend it to you? Hells Yeah.
Bring on GCC2015!
One of those links was our series for Dynamite ‘Sherlock Holmes – The Liverpool Demon’, which has been out for a while and which we are still immensely proud of, but actually it turns out I’ve been remiss and not kept you all up to date.
You won’t have to rely on your trusty old back catalogue of Moore&Reppion Holmes based goods for much longer.
Les Klinger kindly invited us to be in his second Holmes Anthology ‘In The Company of Sherlock Holmes’ which we gladly accepted. We were lucky enough to get Chris Doherty to pencil it for us, and Adam Cadwell to ink and letter it. We’ve seen it and it looks stunning, but you will have to either wait until it hits the shops or pre-order it at unethical but convenient old Amazon. We are the only comic in the anthology, so we’ll be easy to find. Amongst the prose stories there are gems by the likes of Harlan Ellison, Cory Doctorow and Val McDermid.
Lastly, I am very excited to see that the latest Frogwares Sherlock Holmes game which we contributed a few cases to is almost ready to come out. Sherlock Holmes Crimes and Punishment will be out in September. Check out the trailer:
So yeah, we’re basically trailing about after the Great Detective in an unsettling way. Enjoy.
We’re very pleased and excited to say that we”ll be at Glasgow Comic Con next weekend.
We’re on table 5 on the ground floor of Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) from 12:30pm on Saturday.
If you want to pick up some books (we’ve got Sherlock Holmes – The Liverpool Demon TPBs, The Complete Dracula hard-covers, and The Complete Alice hard-covers) or get stuff signed then this is when and where you need to catch us.
We’ll be taking part in the Cultivating Characters Panel with Howard Chaykin and Gail Simone, hosted by Mike Conroy between 4 and 4:45 on Saturday too. We will do our very best to get back to the table as quick as possible afterwards.
We will now also be signing 11:30 – 12.30 on Sunday at the BHP signing table in the main courtyard at CCA. We do not have our own table for the rest of that day so Saturday afternoon is still the best time to catch us if you can.
The Summer Solstice occurred at 10:51 this morning and today is Midsummer
, 1 the longest day of the year. So, as has become my custom on Solstices and Equinoxes, here is a bit of quarterly bloggins.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to see Robert Lloyd Parry AKA Nunkie Theatre Productions give a genuinely astounding performance of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine at Square Chapel in Halifax. If you’re not familiar with Robert’s work (which I’m sure I must have mentioned before) then he does these incredible one man performances – usually of M. R. James stories. Here’s a trailer for his latest DVD release.
Robert’s production of The Time Machine is also a one man show, but it’s a lot more physical than his James performances. There are three or four props on stage with him, there are fairly standard (though highly effective) stage lighting effects, and there’s some sound (mostly ambient), and with just those elements I genuinely forgot it was only one person on stage. It was exciting, creepy, funny, moving. It was just brilliant.
The show is touring at the moment and if you can make it to any of the performances then you should. You really, really should. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
At a few of the performances Robert has invited speakers to give pre-show talks. Some are scientists, academics, and the like, and one – last night – was me.
I managed to arrive at hour later than I was supposed to because of train delays so I literally walked into the venue, was handed a pint of best bitter and launched into my talk. It was filmed, but I’m not exactly sure I want to see that. Here’s some photographic proof (and kind words) though:
— Square Chapel (@squarechapel) June 20, 2014
People seemed to enjoy the talk anyway so I thought I might share my notes with you – slightly edited (probably not enough) and minus all the underlining of dates and names I have to do, of course.
[adding a cut here because this post is MASSIVE] Read more…
- edit: okay, I may be *sort of* wrong about that, apparently. Although the Solstice and Midsummer are close, they’re not necessarily the same. Midsummer take place on a day between 21st June and 25th June, depending on regional traditions. In the United Kingdom Midsummer day takes place on 24th June, the feast of St John the Baptist. ↩
This is pretty much an info/link dump I’m afraid, but if you’re looking at this site it’s all stuff you should find interesting. Apologies if you’ve already seen all this via Twitter but I suppose that’s the way things go these days.
Enjoy your weekend!
Coming from Ghostwoods Books on the 26th of August 2014, Cthulhu Lives! is an anthology of cosmic horror stories with a modern sensibility.
H. P. Lovecraft’s influence is alive and well in the contemporary literature of not only America but other English speaking cultures. In this anthology, the ultra modern and the traditional combine in tribute to the timelessness of Mr. Lovecraft’s work.
Edited by Salome Jones, featuring new mythos stories by Piers Beckley, Michael Grey, Tim Dedopulos, G. K. Lomax, Adam Vidler, Iain Lowson, E. Dane Anderson, Helmer Gorman, Gábor Csigás, Lynne Hardy, Greg Stolze, Marc Reichardt, Peter Tupper, Jeremy Clymer, Joff Brown, Gethin A. Lynes, and myself, the book also boasts an introduction from Leeman Kessler of Ask Lovecraft fame.
A couple of weeks back we posted our answers for The Creative Process Blog Tour, at the end of which we nominated C. E. Murphy and Ramsey Campbell to follow on with their own answers. Ramsey doesn’t have a Blog but I told him Facebook would be fine and he posted his own answers on his FB page a couple of days ago. Not being a FB user myself (I use Leah’s account to log in and post bits to our own FB page) it was only yesterday that I realised that only Ramsey’s FB friends would be able to read his responses. So, I emailed him earlier today and he’s very kindly given us permission to post his answers here. He’s not just Britain’s greatest living horror writer, he’s also a lovely chap.
I’m on the Creative Process Blog Tour, in which each participating writer answers the same four questions and passes the baton to two more (my two are John Llewellyn Probert and Thana Niveau). I was invited by Leah Moore and John Reppion (http://www.moorereppion.com/
What am I working on?
A new novel, Think Yourself Lucky. It was originally announced as Bad Thoughts, but the present title couldn’t be more appropriate. I always try not to repeat myself, which isn’t to say that I often succeed. This one does feel like a departure to some extent – comedy of paranoia, certainly, but untypically anarchic at its core. Indeed, I think those sections may have more energy than the chapters that are interleaved with them. I look forward to trying some of them out on audiences once the book is published. I may say I’ve borrowed a technique from a friend, the fine writer Steve Mosby, whose work is published as crime fiction but in quite a few cases is my kind of horror.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
To be able to answer that with conviction I’d have to know more of the field than I can manage these days (though the indefatigable Steve Jones somehow seems to find the time to read everything that’s published in it). All I can say is that I find I can do whatever I want to with my writing – not just write what I choose to without eyeing the potential market but talk about whatever concerns me. Lovecraft declared that the weird tale – by which he meant much of what I mean by horror fiction – could only ever be a portrayal of a certain type of human mood. Certainly one of the pleasures of some of the greatest work in the field is the aesthetic experience of terror (which involves appreciating the structure of the piece and, in prose fiction, of the selection of language). I don’t see this as limited. There’s surely no more reason to criticise a piece for conveying only this experience than there is to object to a comedy for being nothing except funny (as might be said of Laurel and Hardy, surely the greatest exponents on film) or a tragedy for making its audience weep. Indeed, I wish more of the field still assailed me with dread: these days little besides the darker films of David Lynch achieve it. However, the field is capable of much more, and frequently succeeds – as satire or as comedy (however black), as social comment, as psychological enquiry, and perhaps best of all when it aspires to the awesome, the sense of something larger than can be directly shown. One reason I stay in the field is that I haven’t found its boundaries, and I suppose that’s to answer the question by saying that perhaps I don’t differ from it but try to embrace its best qualities, which are varied and considerable.
Why do I write what I do?
Because it engages my imagination. See the previous answer!
How does my writing process work?
I very rarely plot much in advance. Once I’ve begun to focus on developing an idea I gather any amount of material around it. This all goes in my notebook (one of them – I always have at least one for the imminent novel or the novel in progress, another for random ideas and also any short story I’m about to write). Many of the notes for a story often get abandoned as I form a clearer picture of it – of the characters and the situation, for instance. Sometimes a tale may move so far away from my early notes for it that I’ll use some of them elsewhere. For instance, the novel I was planning to write as The Black Pilgrimage travelled so far away from that notion that I dropped that title and renamed it The Kind Folk.
I’m here at my desk every morning I’m at home (Christmas and my birthday too), usually in time to see the dawn. Certainly I’ll be working on the first draft of a tale about six in the morning, when I’m generally most creative. One thing I’ve learned in fifty years as a writer is always to compose the first sentences before I sit down to write. I generally work until late morning on a first draft, sometimes later. If we go away the tale in progress goes with me.
I was also lucky to learn very early in my career – even before August Derleth sent me editorial advice – to enjoy rewriting. These days I do more of it than ever. Absolutely everything in a first draft has to justify itself to me to make the final version, which is pretty nearly always significantly shorter than the first one (anything up to twenty per cent shorter, I’d estimate). The first drafts of fiction are always longhand (with the solitary exception of “A Street Was Chosen”, written in the form of an experimental report, which I couldn’t write except on the computer) and the rewrites are at the keyboard.
Just as a final little bonus here, today I found out (via the always wonderful A Podcast to the Curious) that a reading of Ramsey’s Jamsian tale The Guide is free to listen to/download at darkfictionmagazine.co.uk
Don’t say we never give you anything!
May is an important month in the British folklore calendar, falling as it does midway between spring equinox and summer solstice. It is the month when the rising sap reaches its culmination; buds become blooms, lambs are in the field, and chicks are in the nest. The Old English name for the month was Þrimilci-mōnaþ (“month of three milkings”) while the modern name is thought by some to derive from the pre-Christian goddess Maia to whom a pregnant sow would be ritually sacrificed on the first of the month. Associations with fertility and with plenty are abundantly clear in both cases.
Although many surviving customs such as the crowning of May Queens (young women picked for their beauty and virtue to act as May personified for the day), dancing around the Maypole (a relic of pre-historic dendrolatry, or phallic pagan fertility symbol, depending on who you ask/believe), and so on, chiefly take place on May Day there are many varied traditions spread throughout the month. As we approach May’s end we come upon a curious cluster of events centred upon today’s date.
Read the full article over on the Daily Grail website.
Geoff Holder is a self described “Author, Scriptwriter, Proofreader, Curmudgeonly Old Git”. He’s the writer of Zombies from History, 101 Things to do with a Stone Circle, and Poltergeist Over Scotland among many, many others.
We met Geoff a couple of years back at the very fun and very interesting Manchester Monsters Convention and have been Twitter and email followers/correspondents ever since. Geoff very kindly nominated us to take part in The Creative Process Blog Tour in which an author answers four questions and then nominates two other authors to do the same.
What are we working on?
John: Lots of stuff. Some of it at the proofing stage (Black Shuck pages coming in from Steve Yeowell, The Problem of the Empty Slipper with Chris Doherty and Adam Cadwell for In the Company of Sherlock Holmes recently signed off), some still being pitched, some comics stuff fully scripted but not yet drawn.
Yesterday I sent off a page-by-page breakdown of a new Megazine series which we should hopefully start scripting in the next week or so.
Leah: I’m currently editing a big exciting project involving us, some two bit author nobody’s heard of called Alan Moore, and some of our favourite writers and artists. We hope to be able to announce properly next week maybe, so watch this space.
I’m also writing some articles for Lifetime magazine on parenting. We have three little boys, two year old twins and a four year old, so life is busy and loud at the moment. not ideal conditions to write in, but ideal fodder for these articles. We have a lot of pitches out there at minute, so we are playing the waiting game on them, and trying to get them in front of the right people. Its hard to keep pushing everything at all times, so we settle for nudging everything forward a bit on a loose ‘when we remember to’ rotation.
How does our work differ from others of its genre?
John: We work in lots of different genres. Comics is a medium, not a genre (as many people will point out quite wearily) and outside of our comics work we both write lots different stuff from Fortean articles to Mum-blogging.
Leah: I think our work is quite different because we love comics as a medium, but we are by no means super fans of most of the industry. Neither of us have ever really obsessed about any particular title or genre, so I think we draw on other sources to fuel our ideas. John is really into folklore and Forteana, which has a big influence, and when I get the time I love fat novels, especially sci-fi. We both like mysteries and crime shows on TV and big fantasy films, so we try and bring things from all of that to our comics, instead of referencing comics that have gone before. I hope the result is better for all of that.
Why do we write what we do?
Leah: I think we write for the love of seeing things real and in the flesh when they were once in our heads. The thrill of seeing your work in print, or on screen never leaves you, and the drug like buzz is certainly addictive.
I find the little articles I’ve done raise a lot of discussion and debate on Facebook and Twitter and I find that really satisfying, seeing people talking and chewing stuff over because of my writing.
I’d love to be one of those writers whose mind is overflowing with a waterfall of ideas and all they have to do is stick out a net, but i’ve always found it much harder than that, we have to put stories together quite carefully, and make sure they are good and strong enough to write. This means we are slow as anything, but we get there!
John: We just got back from a week-long family holiday and though it was lovely, it was really nice to get back to writing when we got home. It’s something you end up addicted to, I think.
There are things that crop up again and again – not themes so much as approaches or ways of looking at things. You have to be interested in in what you’re writing, even when it’s something that’s been assigned to you, and I think the ways in which you interest yourself, the angles to use to view topics from, are the things that give a writer a specific voice. It’d weird because there’s a Moore & Reppion voice which is neither of ours; it’s a composite entity we’ve created. We write what we do in comics because we’ve found a way of squishing our two brains into one hypothetical head.
How does our writing process work?
Leah: We work differently now to how we used to by necessity of children and limited free thinking space. We used to collaborate constantly walking and talking and thinking and writing, but now we have very little time so everything is done in frenetic bursts. It seems to still work, but its a slightly more stressful way of working. I think the story part of your brain is still working even when you are wiping up sick and shouting the kids to get off the table, I think you make connections all the time and eventually they work themselves into things. I hope so anyway, or we’ll have to get proper jobs.
John: Comics work used to be done via a lot of democratic discussion and back and forth revision but now we do it in more of a conveyor belt system where we hand things on to each other at different stages. I tend to work things out in my head a lot more thoroughly before I get to actually type anything nowadays – just because I can do that bit while I’m changing nappies, or pushing a pram, or whatever, as Leah says.
With some of our most recent work it’s been a case of me breaking things down into page by page plot points, then Leah roughing the pages out, then one of us typing up from the roughs, then the other going over the script. We’re still sharing the work out between us but we’re doing it in manageable stages.
The Nunkie Theatre Company is one man, and that man is Robert Lloyd Parry. If you are anything of a fan of M. R. James then you probably are (or certainly should) already be familiar with Robert’s incredibly evocative one man performances of the late, great antiquary’s ghost stories.
I have never yet had the pleasure of seeing Robert perform live but we have a mutual friend in Brian J. Showers of Swan River Press (and several others, as these things usually go). It was Brian who first introduced me to Nunkie via one of their excellent DVDs (which, along with CDs can and should be purchased here) and I’ve been a big fan of Robert’s work ever since.
Robert is about to embark upon a 27 date tour of the UK with his new one man production of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine.
1895. In a suburban garden, beneath a waning moon, a bedraggled man lies beside a remarkable machine. He has a story to tell. A story of darkness and light. Of fire and fear. An unbelievable story of the future, that he insists is true. Is it a Joke? A prophecy? A dream?
I’m lucky enough to have been invited to give a pre-show talk at one of his performances. The gig is on Saturday the 20th of June at Square Chapel in Halifax. My talk is titled Travels in text: the Time Traveller’s influence upon popular fiction and will be given at 7pm in the bar before the show, which starts at 8.
It would be fantastic to see you there but even if you ‘re not near Halifax you should definitley do your very best to get to one of the other shows (eight of which also have free pre show talks by other writers, critics, historians and scientists).
A full performance schedule can be found at www.nunkie.co.uk
This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day and this year we’re lucky enough to have a story in 2000 AD’s FCBD edition.
Ours is a Durham Red story drawn by the amazing Jan Duursema, with colours by Dylan Teague, and letters by Ellie De Ville and, since it’s available as part of the preview for the book, here’s page one:
You can download the full preview PDF here
Issue #1 begins the “Trial of Sherlock Holmes” which presents the great detective with an all-too personal quandary and explores the nature of the man and his world with a mix of refined ambiance, carefully crafted mystery and chilling suspense!
Written by Leah Moore and John Reppion with reverence and a modern edge, artist Aaron Campbell completes the Victorian mood under the striking and iconic John Cassaday covers.
Series: Sherlock Holmes (see also Vol 2. – The Liverpool Demon)
Writers: Moore & Reppion
Artists: Aaron Campbell (interiors), John Cassaday (covers)
Published: November 2009
Hardcover: 168 pages
For more information or to pick up the trade, go to the Dynamite website.
The legendary Beast is a surefire way to scare the new kids at summer camp. But when the line between prank and myth blurs, camp counselors Jeremy and April investigate exactly who is responsible for terrorizing kids in the dead of night—if it’s a WHO at all.
When vague memories about her summer job at Blue Mountain camp begin to surface, April Young comes to Jeremy Gilbert for clarification. But his revelations will shock her!
Reducing a mother and child’s life and relationship to just the way they are feeding is failing all mums, and sowing seeds of division and distrust when what they actually need most in the world is support.
Having fed babies every which way you can, I wrote why Breast vs Bottle is failing mums and babies.
Read it here…