Sunday, 25 June 2017

Next stop: Macclesfield!

Thanks to all those who attended the Birmingham Comic Art Show yesterday, (part of the Birmingham Comics Festival) and who dropped by my table. The next comics event I'll be at will be Macc-Pow! next Saturday (1st July) at Macclesfield Town Hall. 

Other guests will include Laura Howell, Emma Chinnery, David Leach, Paul Grist, Joe Matthews, the Missed Deadline team and more. 

I'll be posting more about it soon, hopefully with a special announcement, but for now, check out more info at their website:

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Why self-publish?

Self-publishing is now an accepted form of direct communication with the readers, with both long-time pros and newbies having hands-on control of their product. (Even the mighty Pat Mills is publishing his own books.) Nevertheless, I still occasionally hear criticism of self-publishing. Accusations of "vanity press" and things like "things must be bad if they need to generate extra income by self-publishing". Such mean-spirited comments should easily be ignored of course, but sometimes that only leads to others accepting such unwarranted criticisms as fact if they go unchallenged.

Truth is, a lot of us enjoy self-publishing simply because of creative control. As enjoyable as mainstream comics work is, it often involves working on characters created by others, following an editorial remit, scripts that can be altered editorially, and (most likely) characters that are owned by the publisher. Self-publishing gives the creator(s) complete freedom to do things their way, in their own style, in their own time, and to design the comic exactly as they wish. We're artists. We're all hippies at heart, and we like our freedom, man.

("Hang on a minute", some of you might be thinking. "Wasn't Combat Colin done to Marvel's remit in the 1980s before you regained the rights?" Kind of, yes, but my editors gave me so much freedom on the strip that it always felt I had near-complete creative control anyway.)

As for the accusation that self-publishing is a desperate attempt to increase one's income, well, amusingly that's kind of flattering and insulting at the same time. Print runs for self publishing are often small, so profit is minimal unless a character really takes off. The point of doing it is not one of financial gain, but I understand how that might be a hard concept to grasp for some coldly commercially-minded people. It's all about the enjoyment of creating a comic that's 100% by yourself, from the cover to the last page, including layout, logo design, and all. If it breaks even, great. If it makes a small profit, even better, but if you're doing it solely for greed then you'll be disappointed. It's for the love of the art, mate, innit.

I must admit there are some practical reasons why I'm self-publishing again. There are a number of characters that are my intellectual property that were just languishing in limbo. It seemed silly to devote all my time on strips I didn't have the rights to and let my own creations fall into obscurity. So, in 2015 I brought back Brickman, last year I revived Derek the Troll (with Rock Solid as back up) and this year Combat Colin finally gets his own comic (with Suburban Satanists No.1 to follow either later this year or in 2018). I know that each of those properties has a following, and hopefully their individual comics will generate new readers too. Apart from a few contemporary references, I've always tried to make my humour feel timeless, so my 1980s material should work for modern readers too.

Most of my working time has to be spent on mainstream comics work though, as that's what pays the bills. That doesn't make it less enjoyable of course. Toxic, Epic, Doctor Who Magazine, and Beano each have their own identities and are great to create strips for. It's a privilege to work on the top comics titles in the UK and long may it continue. 

In my spare time I'll continue to develop my self-published titles, and although I may only have time to do two (or three at a push) per year, the plan is for them to continue. I hope you'll enjoy what's to come, including Combat Colin No.1, out next month!
(If you're interested in my comics, and I guess you must be if you're reading my blog, you can buy them directly from me here: )

Getting back to my initial point, ignore the critics. Some people just want to nitpick and sabotage what others create, to drag everyone down to their own level of misery and hopelessness. Other people will support such projects, financially if they like them, or even just by spreading the word on comics that don't appeal to them personally. The comics industry has evolved from where it was 50 years ago, and self-publishing is as legitimate and slick as mainstream publishing these days. Check out the tables at the many comics conventions around the country and you'll find comics that appeal to all tastes. 

Come to Brum this Saturday!

My apologies for any delays with replies or e-mail recently. As Combat Colin No.1 has gone to press, and I'd completed my deadlines on mainstream work, I thought I'd take a few days off to enjoy the weather in sunny Blackpool! 

I'm back now, and cracking on with drawing Team Toxic for the next Toxic, then it's Hygiene High for the next Epic, and there's another Daft Dimension that needs writing too! 

Then on Saturday, it's off to Birmingham for the Birmingham Comic Art Show at the Birmingham Comics Festival at Birmingham City University. Other guests include David Lloyd, David Leach, Al Davison, Ron Tiner, Hunt Emerson, Mike Collins, and more! Come along and join us!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

New EPIC this Wednesday

The stinkiest school kids in comics, the class of Hygiene High, are on the school bus in the latest strip in Epic No.133. Script by Niall Murray, art by me. See what mayhem they cause when the issue goes on sale this Wednesday, 21st June. Available from WH Smith, supermarkets, and newsagents. Bagged with a bunch of gifts.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Almost Combat ready

I've put the finishing touches to Combat Colin No.1, the first of a series of self-published comics that will reprint my Marvel UK strip of 30 years ago. The comic has now been sent to the printers, so should be out in July. I'll post more info about it soon.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A great summer for comic cons!

I really enjoyed the ICE International Comic Expo Summer Special at Brighton last Saturday, and you can read my report about it on my other blog here:

The next events I've been invited to are the Birmingham Comic Art Show on Saturday 24th June (part of the Birmingham Comics Festival)...

...then it'll be Macc-Pow! in Macclesfield on Saturday 1st July...

...and the London Film and Comic Con across the weekend of 23rd to 25th July.

After that, it's conventions in Aylesbury, Birmingham, Preston, and more as we enter the Autumn! Hope to see you at some of the events!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Bog to the rescue?

It's the second part of the Team Toxic two-parter this week as Bog attempts to save the city from the clutches of Butt-Face by recruiting the help of old enemy Techno Troll! What happens next? Find out in Toxic No.290, on sale Wednesday 14th June!