Thursday 29 March 2012

Great Hi-Expectations....

Aha, hopefully it won't prove to be too grim up north this weekend as Braw Books descends on Hi-Ex, sharing a table with our good friends at Polygo Books / New British Comics.... There isn't much else to say really, except, em....

Friday 23 March 2012

A Chronicle of Doom....

Another timely visit to Pester Hailes housing estate yesterday, spending a leisurely afternoon assisting at Ice Station Zebra. The missing pages of the 80's tale Renegade X, Android Smasher, 1988 A.D. were finally unearthed (meaning the related collection is now complete and, well, production won't now have to take place from scans of aged, scabby, degraded comic pages) and the impending cover is now 75% inked and looking very smart (and suitably intense) indeed. Add to that a few conversations about revising the appearance of Dan Hunter's "Timeship Volto" in the now drawn 2nd chapter 2 of Evil Hollywood, "Zone of Destruction" and there's a pleasant day's events right there.

Sounds: Live at Leeds by The Exploited: Hang 'em High, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Dominic Frontiere: Blows Against The Empire by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick et al: Music From The Body by Ron Geesin and Roger Waters: A View to a Kill (7") by Duran Duran: Seconds (7") by The Human League: Bits and Pieces by The Dave Clark Five: Sky Pilot (7") by Eric Burdon and The Animals: Room To Move e.p. (7") by various.

Dominic Frontiere - Hang 'Em High

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Monday 12 March 2012

We're covering your back (cover)....

With Monday upon us, here's a sneak peek at part of the proposed back cover for Evil Hollywood Over Subterrania, a snapshot into the fascistic homeworld of Zzador....

Monday 5 March 2012

We've got it (bonus) covered....

As promised, here’s a sneak peek at the cover to the forthcoming sequel to The Atomic Society of Justice, titled Evil Hollywood Over Subterrania....

In addition to this cover treat we’re happy to announce that during a recent visit to Ice Station Zebra (on the 23rd of February) Agent Johnny announced he has begun working on the cover(s) for his new collections, one concentrating on his ’00′s output and the other on his 80′s output (plus anything we happen to have missed out in the meantime as we’re both finding new art all the time!). They’re shaping up just great, and since the pencils were premiered he’s informed me over the phone that he’s “cracking on” with the inks.

Sounds: Blows Against The Empire by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick et al: Bear’s Choice (side one) by Grateful Dead and Psycho, original motion picture soundtrack (side one) by Bernard Herrmann.

January 26th, 2012....
Agent Miller visited 'Section, 2', Glasgore on Tuesday and a day was spent conversing in the Attic regarding upcoming projects. Doctoring of Secret Agent X4 for publication was discussed and resolved, and the Crimesmasher amendments approved. This means the interiors for The Collected John G. Miller, 2000-2011 are now complete.

In addition, notes for Chapter 4 of Evil Hollywood Over Subterrania provisionally titled BATTLECAT versus Subterrania were begun, the sheer volume of ideas meaning this may take a while to shape into a coherent storyline. However, a few main plot threads were established.

Sounds: Two from the Vault by Grateful Dead, BBC Sessions '68-'69 by The Pink Floyd, Record Store Bonus Disc (feat. various artists) from Wooden Shjips, Blows Against The Empire by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, et al. Caravan (track) and Rox (track) by The Aliens and Darkwave Driver/Big Drill Car (track) by The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

The Aliens - Rox

January 13th, 2012....
Another leisurely Happy New Year's swill at Ice Station Zebra with Agent Johnny yesterday. A recent letter contained the final 6 (of the 8 ) pages of Zone Of Destruction, 'fer me to draw', and page 1 of John Stark: Agent of S.M.E.R.S.H. is about 80% complete, some inking aside, with the entire tale roughed out over the Christmas period.

Too Many Criminal Idiots was discussed and, with the copies sent now registered 'officially missing', we agreed it falls to myself to make a few 'minor tweaks' for approval prior to publication.

Sounds: A Saucerful of Secrets by Pink Floyd, Soundtrack from the film 'More' by The Pink Floyd, Zabriskie Point: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (various artists) and The Best of The Pink Floyd.
Visions: Batman Original TV series and D.C Showcase Presents: Doom Patrol, Vol. 1

Friday 2 March 2012

We've got it covered....

Aha, February proved to be quite a month for revealing upcoming covers, so here are all 4 (and an older one) in one bumper bundle! Next week, as we move into multi-posting tandem, we've another new cover to show off, courtesy of John Miller (and, no, it's not what you think!)....

BRAW! (at last!)

Aha, and so February was draws to a close with a preview of the in-progress Braw! comic cover which we can guarantee will be a special wraparound effort, so you'll need to at least see a copy, if not buy one, to find out just who that mysterious hand belongs to!


....and as Friday is finally upon us, it's time to make good on our promises and pop up another cover preview, this time featuring no one's favourite, Elexender Browne, preparing to make an impact in his very own collected works, from his earliest beginnings to his later (more indulgent but) better drawn edventures.... Colours t.b.c. as ever....


Early in progress cover for the forthcoming A5 format 'exclusive special collectors' limited edition edition'....


As promised (and as due to the fact we have a few books with no actual covers), here's a brand new cover with, em, no book! Only kidding! This 24-28 pager has just hit the production line, along with this month's other goodies.... Stay tuned.... (all colours, finishes etc. t.b.c.)


Finally the time of 'Braw ...presents... #1' approaches.... Of course, (part 1, or indeed any part of) the mooted Kounter Kultyer Kevn opus (pictured) has yet to materialise, but the bones of a first issue anthology, 32-36 pages, are now all but, er, fleshed out.... The theme is likely very Scottish, with a second issue centering around a vast Big Moff tale, 'Strap On Japan' and other musical (od)ditties set to follow.... More soon....

Thursday 1 March 2012

The best of 2011....

Aha, is it too late to post this, I mean, we're only 1/6 of the way through the year, so....

Production-bot Rob Miller was honoured to be asked by the kind chaps over at Graphic Eye to submit a 'best of....' list for the year gone by. You can read his musings on the past 365 days' worth of comics here.

Check out the site for more 'best ofs....', 'round-ups', etc. courtesy of the (Scottish) comics scene....

Or, if you like, the full piece (with 2 tiny revisions and some extra links) is below....

Thanks to the relative luxury of working at Hope Street Studios I have access to all sorts of comics and graphic novels that perhaps I wouldn't necessarily pick up, so with that in mind....

Jeff Lemire's Essex County came with a heavyweight reputation, and although I greatly admired the structure, theme and could see what he was doing, I found the art just too raw, a bit too primitive overall for my liking. So I approached volumes 2 and 3 of his Vertigo title Sweet Tooth with some trepidation, but found it to be excellent. The art is occasionally quite patchy - I can only picture a single truly striking, memorably rendered scene across the 3 books, but there is an odd, cumulative effect - but the writing is very well paced, strong and genuinely affecting. I went back and picked up Book 1 to complete the set (so far.... I can't wait for more....)

Speaking of the 'New 52' we've been very lucky in that Frank Quitely has been generous enough to share his comp box with us, allowing the Studio the chance to indulge themselves in all things 're-boot'. Hmm.... Really there's been nothing to tempt me back to (reading) mainstream comics, but Tony S. Daniel's work on Detective Comics #1 showed improved confidence, managing to reference both Jim Lee and Frank Miller (aided by some lovely, restrained colouring) whilst stamping his own authority on the character, especially (and perhaps unusually) in the more subdued moments - 'he is the goddam Batman artist'.... ....only the quiet, sketchy subtlety of Greg Capullo's work on Batman slowly crept up on me too. Of particular note was his attention to peripheral characters, with some lovely facial expressions and body language throughout. Then again, in spite of its obvious slick look, there were some outstanding, moody pages to be found in the heavy blacks of the Batman and Robin title, courtesy of Patrick Gleason with Mick Gray's inks. So Bats wins the art wars hands down, so many of the other titles are of course technically brilliant, created by talented teams, far beyond anything I could ever hope to aspire to, but in their own way everything's just a bit flat and uninspiring.

It's no surprise that writing-wise Grant Morrison's Action Comics is already by far the best and most interesting of the bunch, and the art is great too (although, typically of bonus features, the roughs for #1's cover had much more life, energy and verve than the actual finished, polished product).

Two other artists who leapt up in my estimation were Cameron Stewart (yep, that's that Frank connection again!), who I knew primarily from his Seaguy (despite the story passing me by) and Batman and Robin work, but the exclusive sneak peek of his forthcoming Batman Incorporated pages blew me away - just gorgeous! I cannot wait to see these collected and put out as a trade. Again, Doug Mahnke's work on Grant Morrison's Frankenstein also made a real impact - I hadn't been all that taken with his chunky work on Final Crisis, but I loved this stuff, the art really contributing to the book's appeal.

A bit late, but my art discovery of the year was Edvin Biukovic, who contributed 4 issues of Human Target in 1999. In fact, an earlier Star Wars book aside, this was about all his contribution to mainstream comics as he died suddenly from a (just diagnosed) brain tumour aged 30. Take it from me and hunt it down - you won't be disappointed, it simply gets better with every viewing.

I've always followed Fables, and it's been a joy to watch Mark Buckingham grow into a sublime artist from the earlier books, whilst enjoying what is some of the best adult comic writing from Vertigo, both pacey and intelligent. In saying that, I can't help think the book has peaked, and the last few trades (whilst still entertaining) just can't hit the heights of the war against the Adversary and the death of Boy Blue. Even the art, much as it pains me to say it, seems to have simplified to the extent that, rather than looking like a controlled, skilled use of minimal line and spotted blacks with excellent composition - it all just looks a bit sparse, occasionally samey and you catch that slight sense Mr Buckingham's 'coasting'. But in all fairness, in a recent collection his art somehow managed to make that of Mike Allred seem rather flat and pedestrian by comparison, so y'know....

Thanks to someone having a clearout at home (guess who?) the first 4 trades of Eddie Campbell's Bacchus have now surfaced in some sort of order, so I'm currently marvelling at the sheer scope of that. From the moment I first spied the character (the sort you wished you'd visualised and created) in passing; his worn look, the suggestion of warmth, a life lived, I've been anxious to get to grips with this mammoth saga. Lucky for me It seems all 1000+ pages are set to be reprinted by Top Shelf in 2 volumes next year, so I'm very much looking forward to that.

It'd be most unfair of me to think back over the year without mentioning the publishing bete-noire of the last twelve months, so here goes....



I finally got round to buying some comics from sometime Khaki Shorts contributor Noah Van Sciver (who cut me a great deal, sending me 2 issues of Blammo together with The Death of Elijah Lovejoy and Dueling) and he certainly merits a mention here. I enjoyed his little comical / serious vignettes, and rate his drawing, a great sense of environment and sweetly emotive and expressive when needed. Elijah Lovejoy and Dueling were to prove the springboard for his forthcoming 182 (give or take post-editing) graphic novel The Hypo, about Abraham Lincoln, so that'll be one to look out for next year.

Talking of next year and the underground, it's no surprise that 12 months sporadically working on 'digitally transferring' the comics of John Miller, Dave Alexander and Frank Quitely (for sometime 2012 publication - front covers to all pending!) has seen each of them grow even further in my estimation, whilst knocking my own confidence tenfold. The opening 12 pages of The Collected John Miller, 1990-1999, was nearly enough to have me hanging up my pens for good - simply astonishing, quite unlike anything! So if that wasn't depressing enough, a few months of chipping at 80 pages of The Greens, et al, followed by 150 or so of The MacBam Brothers it's a surprise I can be bothered to put pen to paper ever again! It's amazing how close working reveals the hitherto hidden skills and layers of drawing at play, be it composition, style, technique, etc. and how one's own art develops all the better for it.

Glasgow Comic Con in June provided the opportunity to meet the very charming David Lloyd, another of my artist heroes, and Kapow! afforded me the opportunity to see beyond the clouds of (oddly smelling) smoke that often envelop the Glasgow comic scene - such a range of work on offer from my underground contemporaries down South made for a very humbling and shaming experience, which has changed the way I look at such comics for good (and for the better).

Finally, it'd be unfair to not mention Curt Sibling publishing his 5th (and best) Total Fear collection (I know, one day I'll get round to working up the courage to ask him about collecting all 7 issues of the earlier, mid '90s series of this....), which didn't disappoint. Furthermore, it was nice to see him branching out with the fantasy tale King Evil and collaborating on Hiss, also notable for featuring the sublime art of youngster Stephen McShane - the new kid on the local block, and a definite talent to watch. Amazing to think of all the great comics out there, but when it comes down to direct influences, and people who inspire you to push your work on even more, they most often than not can be found scribbling in the next room.... For all his fleeting sightings, I have to mention Jean Pierre Lapeyre - the snippets of his work I've seen suggest that his forthcoming weighty tome will be the underground book to look out for here next year. Shades of John Miller and a whole host of arty and original thought - this is without a doubt the one I'm waiting for.

Oh, and big thanks due to Tom Campbell, that's for sure, a former local artist (responsible for the Alex Ross approved Freedom Collective) who adapts Red-Eye pens for ink, and is probably in an odd way the most influential person presently at work in Glasgow comics - his home-made brush wares have made ripples with the manufacturer and found their way into ink work by Gary Erskine and Frank Quitely. By encouraging me to take up these mighty pens he's been directly responsible for an incredible loosening up of my own work, in turn opening up a new avenue of personal expression and creativity. Thanks Tom, you're my comics guy of 2011!