Red, White & Blue issue 2 – coming “soon”

…though when people will actually be able to buy it is anybody’s guess. Perhaps at Camcon 2013, in May/Jun/Jul next year… unless I’ve gone to Japan, that is. I think I need to get an Etsy shop set up sooner rather than later! Of course if I do go to Japan I will have to shut that down, as I’d probably, by selling stuff I’ve made in Japan to British readers and having them put money in a British bank account, be evading taxes XD. So then the issues (until I come back / get Japanese citizenship… one or the other) will only exist ‘in theory’.

But, then again, this one is another that has missed it’s deadline by two months – and considering what I intended to get done this weekend (finish and print it), and what I actually got done (most, but not all, of the lettering), it may even eat into the 2/4 months earmarked for issue 3. And that’s with 10 of the 15 black and white pages already completed – as they are reprinted from the old series issue 2. Though I have re-lettered them (in all caps, from now on) and also rewritten the stories slightly.

It’s a bit pathetic really, isn’t it?

 rwb2covweb.jpg

Red, White & Blue issue 1 and Camcon

All the way back in May 2011, I decided to ‘retrospectively’ ask IPC for permission to use Sexton Blake in my Red, White & Blue comic, and got turned down! So I decided to re-launch the comic, now with a new detective called Norman Saxon, and three black and white serial comics instead of two. The initially-planned release date for the new issue 1 was July, then September. Then February 2012, and then “Camcon 2012”, which was held on the 12th of may. I was up until 1 in the morning the night before printing and stapling! This in spite of the fact 10 of the 15 comic pages had already been drawn. I’m still hoping to make the comic bi-monthly eventually, though. Mind you only the first issue has a 25,000-odd word article about the history of British comics in it, which took “a while” to do (and still has a few mistakes – see under the History tab!).

So what does the finished product look like? Well I’d already posted the cover design on here, but the final has been altered slightly – mainly to “double date” it (I wish it had ‘only’ taken those four months to produce) and also to point out not every issue will have 40 pages!

camconr01.jpg

Same price as the old 24 pagers, though!

The two serial strips from the old version have returned. The first parts of them have been re-scanned and the script has been altered slightly. I’d actually intended to re-draw a few of the worst panels, but didn’t get time in the end. Oh I also added unobtrusive “previously published” labels – more as an excuse than anything, it’s not like many people ever saw them the first time around!

camconr02.jpg

I’m planning several “fictional people in real events” stories to make the comic “educational”. Including the Falklands War, Taisho / Showa-era Japan and the Great Storm of 1987.

Joining the two old strips is a new one – The Gun. It’s actually based on my  “first” (not really, but the actual first one made no sense at all) adventure comic, which I created from the ages of about 11-15. In the old version the world has been randomly carved up into two weirdly-named armies, who are fighting World War 3 (in the vein of all those war toys with “goodies” and “baddies” from no specific country). The new version is, of course, more realistic.

Oh wait, no it isn’t! Instead a huge, brainwashing cult has captured a huge territory stretching from Zimbabwe to western China, and is now aiming to take over Europe, Russia, the Arabian Peninsula, China and Korea. No doubt certain people will take the concept of a “huge, brainwashing cult” centered around the Middle East threatening the world the wrong way. But actually the enemy are going to be more based on that sort of smug, ivory-tower, “this is the correct way to live, you uneducated plebs” person, than on Muslims (who are not all the same anyway, if you’d bother to spend 5 minutes wiki’ing it). The first part of the story just introduces the main character and explains how the war starts – the enemy are called Intersoc, and have been inspired by Eurosoc, an orwellian dictatorship that briefly takes over the EU. World War 3 in this story is fought more like World War 2, but with jet planes and cooler tanks. The lack of nuclear weapons blowing everybody back to a radioactive stone age in 10 minutes is explained away unconvincingly – but if you want to read that, buy the comic!

camconr03.jpg

There will be an Etsy shop eventually. OR I may syrup-ticiously have a small quantity on sale at the Saturday of this year’s May MCM.

Of course, the main attraction of the comic is the complete detective story in each issue. The first one is around 11,500 words long and introduces Norman Saxon. The early continuity of Sexton Blake (in fact, quite a bit of the later continuity too!) was very confused and contradictory. As I’m coming up with a new character, I have given him a solidly-defined age, house, assistant and skill set right from the start! My old Sexton Blake stories jumped around, ranging from 1900 to 2007. Norman Saxon, though, is going to be firmly set in the Victorian / Edwardian period. The first two RWB stories are set in 1900. The first Trident story will be set in 1899.

camconr04.jpg

I think I need to work on scene composition

And, of course, there is that article! The version currently available under the History tab is version 2, the print version is actually version 2.1 – it has a few minor spelling and grammar corrections. There are a few others required, though. The next online version will be 2.2 – and will also contain pictures! The only picture in the printed version is the title. The aim of the article is to give the readers (who will mainly be at these conventions for US / Japanese comics) a new enthusiasm for British comics, and so it is a bit biased and ‘fluffy’. That said I took care to make sure all the facts were correct, and certainly avoided “the Dandy was the first British comic with speech balloons”-type waffle.

camconr05.jpg

In the far future an absolutely corrected version may be printed as a book with lots of colour pictures and sold seperately.

Oh and the back page contains profiles of the characters in the RWB, both in the current issue and those coming in the near future. That’s near future issue numbers-wise anyway!

camconr06.jpg

Hopefully by the time I get to the football story I’ll be a bit better at drawing distinctive faces!

With the comics printed and packed (and my huge stack of Roy of the Rovers sorted out, finally), it was time to pack and sleep. I even got everything into one case!

camconr07.jpg

It weighed a bit.

I’d also been attempting to record a Camcon video diary, but have scrapped it for two reasons. One, when I’m “talking to myself” (or machinery) my voice goes even more high pitched and pathetic than it already is. Two, I blu-tacked the camera to the dashboard of my car and made several ‘amusing’ comments during the journey, but I’d forgot there was a delay before it started recording, so all of those clips were of me turning the camera off again! I decided to just quit while I was ahead.

In the spirit of promoting British adventure comics, I also decided to create my own T-shirt with a Phoenix reference. I also took the latest issue and showed it to a few people on the day. Conveniently my 1p comics (always a draw, once you tell people the price) and the latest Phoenix both have rampaging dinosaurs on the covers! So let’s hope the guys and gals in Oxford have a few more subscribers before long.

camconr08.jpg

I’ll wear it at the MCM later this month too!

I’ve never been one for Cosplay, though I’ve since had a few cool ideas that might not be too difficult to make. But promoting The Phoenix comes first!

Anyway, having arrived at the venue decently on time (fortunately some horrible roadworks right in the middle of Cambridge have now been finished) I went around and started to get set up. As well as RWB issue 1 I also had the only issue of my old Scum Slaughter comic and a couple of 1p comics. I needed some “padding” so took various duplicates from my collection, including a load of 80’s Roy of the Rovers, and some older Union Jacks. Also a couple of volumes of The Windsor Magazine, a Victorian Strandalike. A few people had a look at them but didn’t buy them – far too heavy!

camconr09.jpg

The only picture I took at the con proper. The table closest to the camera was for an enigmatic “Cielia” who never turned up XD.

As you can see, the room was rather small, and so the walkways were very narrow. The tables were extremely close together, me and the girl behind me kind of had to take turns sitting down because we couldn’t both do it at once XD. But then again I prefer to stand up at these sort of events, you can engage the customers on the same level. Some “general anime memorabilia” merchants were next to me, and appear to have booked “back to back” tables so they could sell to people passing on either side of them.

As I didn’t have quite so much stuff I was set up in only a few minutes. I decided to start drawing some better signs for my table, though only got one of them partly done before the doors opened. I didn’t exactly have a decent range of pens either! It’s Cambi, the Camcon mascot, with Britannia fighting off clutching zombie hands. Or would be If i’d had time to draw them. I also forgot Cambi’s glasses and boots.

camconr10.jpg

 Next time I’ll make the effort and watercolour up something proper

The con was underway! And as usual I got generally ignored XD. A few, ahem, “older” guys came to the table. attracted by the Roy of the Rovers’s. But in the end I only sold 3 RWB’s, 1 Scum Slaughter (the guy loved the look of it, wonder what he thinks now?), 2 penny comics and a couple of secondhand items. Oddly I assumed the really old ones would go like hot cakes but they didn’t sell at all, I did dispose of a Union Jack from 1932, though.

I was opposite Sweatdrop Studios, which is not the best place for an obscure comic to be! Their table(s) were mega-busy virtually all the time. Still in a quiet period Emma Vieceli did actually realise who I was from some odds and ends I’d posted on thier forum XD. I was also able to collar a Thai girl who I’d previously been talking to (along with other Sweatdrop members Sonia Leong and Morag Lewis) at the previous week’s Hanami Exhibition. She’s interested in the history of the comics of all nations, and so I was able to sell her an 80’s Roy of the Rovers. I bet “I sold a Thai girl an 80’s Roy of the Rovers” is a googlewhack and a half. She later came back to ‘complain’ that it was full of football stories XD. But I was able to persuade her to part with hard-earned money for a certain other publication with a big article about comic history in it.

Other amusing incidents include some old guy who asked me how long I’d been interested in “manga” and didn’t seem impressed with the answer of “since May 2009, and I only read one!”. Some other guy also bought an RWB off me but then seeded my table with a load of leaflets for a tabletop RPG convention. I quietly shifted them before I had people coming and asking me about it XD. Also saw a few people from my Japanese classes, but didn’t sell anything to them. They were well-warned in advance!

The room was cold in the morning, but later in the day I discovered the painful way that one whole side of it was made of thick glass – it was like an oven! At least I wasn’t facing the window, I felt sorry for those guys. As time went on the number of visitors dwindled away and I went on a buying run of my own. I didn’t get much as there was a “last flicker of the candle” rush of people just as I’d extricated myself from behind the tables XD.

 camconr11.jpg

The 9th Art book I actually got for free, it’s a regular(ish) anthology of comics creators from Cambridge and Oxford. I doubt they’d like what I’d send them, though! “White Violet” is one of Sweatdrop’s most interesting sounding comics, but one I’d somehow not bought until now. Vampire Freestyle is an adorable and amusing series by Jenika Ioffreda, who is insanely dedicated and attends ALL the cons! Even otherwise-unrelated craft fairs and goth conventions XD. I’ll do a proper review of the series one day. Sidekick appears to be a series of comics in which the main character keeps jumping genre (and mocking them). In the first one it’s a slice-of-life type story, but in another issue he finds himself in a sci fi space battle. A western looks to be on the cards too! Also there’s Fantasy World, which I’ve barely looked at (good, clean art though), a Sonic sketch and the conbook. The conbook also contains a short strip and a one-page cartoon about comic collecting, by me! There’s a few other bits of incidental art and loads of little Cambi designs.

camconr12.jpg

Oh and I got kitty/squirrel ears. They make my own ears look even bigger!

After the con closed down there was a break of an hour or so, in which I took my case back to the car (that was fun, I had to drive out of the space, chuck the case in, and then park again – in a multi storey! Lucky it wasn’t busy). After that I ate, did a bit of drawing on a big roll of paper, saw some other friends and watched a little anime in the tiny, boiling hot screening room. I don’t normally like anime but, well, there was nothing else going on. Also Dominion Tank Police has entered my “must watch” list. It’s cheesier than Space Mutiny!

Later on there was some singing and that. Zonic, aka Ziggy Newman, the organiser of the con, performed some of her own songs. Some of these involve putting words to music from the Sonic the Hedgehog games! Then the Cambridge-based clubnight Psychocandy rounded off the night with a load of geeky music including club remixes of the Nyan Cat music, a metal version of the Ghostbusters theme, Twilight by ELO and of course The Timewarp XD. Didn’t hear the Mandelbrot Set song, but you can’t have everything, eh?

Progress Report

After far too long, the “new” 1910 Press website was launched recently. It’s the third or fourth “revamp” it’s had which is not actually a revamp at all, just a few small alterations that took 6 months.

 1910site.jpg

And even then it’s not finished!

The URL is http://www.felney.co.uk/

It actually needs further edits, as I have decided to cancel The Small Press Digest and The Sentinel before they even began! As they are both “newspapers” my typical working speed meant that by the time they got printed the news in them would have been hilariously out of date. I’ll stick to the blog for that!

I originally intended for The Sentinel to join “The 22 Club” and merge with The Red, White & Blue at a later date. I may instead just add a one-page “The Sentinel Says” article to the RWB, containing news of small press cons and new British Comic releases.

rwb1.jpg

Marcus Morris wouldn’t have liked this

Speaking of The Red, White & Blue, it’s bi-monthly publishing schedule began at the start of 2012, meaning the first issue is dated Jan-Feb 2012. So where is it? Horribly delayed! Virtually all of the artwork is done, but the “Complete history of British adventure comics 1777-2012” article turned out to be rather long, for some reason. An early draft of the article, with huge numbers of spelling and grammar errors, and not a small amount of factual errors, can be read under the History tab. It is being slowly revised, the Norman Saxon story will also be re-read and corrected and the first issue will hopefully “go to press” on Friday, in time for it’s unofficial “launch party” on Saturday.

The party that the RWB will be “hijacking” is actually a premeeting for Camcon, the first Comic/Sci-fi/Anime/Cosplay/Roleplay/My Little Pony (all the cool kids are going mad for it, seriously) convention to be held in Cambridge!

 camcon12.jpg

www.thecamcon.com 

I have decided to prepare the first two issues of the RWB in time for Camcon, in May, and put them both on sale there first. After that I’ll sort out an online shop, probably using the arts and crafts website Etsy.

The first issue of the RWB, including the overlong article, is going to be a “mammoth” 40 pages! From issue 2 it will be 32 pages and from issue 3 (after various ‘setting up’ articles and editorials are out of the way) will contain:

One colour comic strip (4 pages)

Three black and white strips (5 pages each)

One complete text story about Norman Saxon (7-8 pages)

One text serial instalment (3 pages)

Plus other short complete stories/strips, articles and filler.

Unless I can find somebody to help with artwork (and who in the UK small press cares about jingoistic boys’ own comics?) the page count will be drastically reduced in future. Probably shedding the colour strip, one black and white strip and the text serial. Of course I will try to keep the  “full size” comic going for as long as I can manage!

As for the release date of the first issue of The Trident… your guess is as good as mine! If I can manage to get ahead of myself on the Red, White & Blue I’ll take a week off work and pummel the keyboard until it’s finished! The story in Issue 1 is going to be the “actual” first Norman Saxon story, set in 1899. It will be a heavily-revised version of an old Sexton Blake story I wrote, which can be found here: http://www.felney.co.uk/web/blake/hong.html  (warning: long and terrible!).

 

And now, in light of the cancellation of The Sentinel, here is Black Widowe, the comic strip that was due to appear in it! I will continue this one day, I’m just not sure where or how!

 blackwid01.jpg

 blackwid02.jpg

 blackwid03.jpg

What laziness has wrought

You may remember that I was required to take my self-published comics The Red, White & Blue and The Trident off-sale, because it turned out the character of Sexton Blake was copyrighted after all. Well I’d hoped to have had them both re-launched by early September… some hope! I’d like to make some waffling excuse, but the actual fact is I’ve been far too lazy. The 3-page Speedway story in issue 4 of the old RWB took me almost 2 months, the time I’d set aside to do the entire issue in. Oh and each issue (once it gets underway) is intended to have 19 comic pages in! Plus a 10-15,000 word text story, a 2-3,000 word serial instalment, an editor’s page and illustrations for all of those… and still be bimonthly!

 rwbre1.jpg

WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Oh well, the new date for the debut of issue 1 of both publications is January 2012. Even I ought to have finished them by then! From then on, hopefully, the RWB will be bi-monthly, and the Trident intermittent but ideally about 3 times a year.

BUT in addition to that, I also hope to be emigrating to Japan sometime next year. That means I’ll be (to begin with anyway. Perhaps things will change if certain circumstances go well) on a work visa which will restrict the type of things I can do for money. “Making comics to sell on the internet” won’t be one of those things, and so they won’t be on sale, just tantalisingly have their covers previewed on the website. Still at least for a while people won’t notice if the issues are not finished in time, so long as the covers are!

rwb_1big.jpg

This took me ages, as you can see.

Anyway In some other bad news, I have been working on a manga-style comic for a competition organised by the Japanese embassy. The closing date for the competition is November 1st, and I’m fully booked this weekend. So it looks like that won’t be finished in time. However I do have tomorrow off work, lets see just how fast I can draw eh?

If I don’t finish the comic in time I’ll instead finish it more gradually and upload it here in a rudimentary form (the screen toning will be more Gordon Livingstone than Takeshi Obata). At least then somebody will read it!

If I had been sensible I could have had the manga nearly finished by now, but “sensible” is not in my line. I decided my room needed a re-arrange, so that I could put my various books in some sort of order, free up some shelf space and most importantly put the bed closer to the heater. I thought that this re-arrange would take “maybe 2-3 hours” and started at 5:50 on Saturday. I finished at 7:00 today. Still it feels good to have a collection that looks like a collection!

This picture was actually taken after the furniture moving was mostly finished. The only book re-arranging that had been done was the fitting of the dark brown shelf and putting the books on it (which before were where the bed now is).

lazy01.jpg

No more than 2-3 hours work, this(!)

The arrangement of the rest of the books got, er, a little complicated…

lazy02.jpg –  lazy04.jpg – lazy03.jpg

Still it’s no worse than the comic section in Smith’s…

Finally, though, some order started to emerge. All the Boys’ Friend, Chums, Union Jack, Chatterbox and Captain are together!

lazy05.jpg

 With a row of odds n’ ends in the middle.

Aand here we are, everything together with it’s companions. I even found room to put my volumes of Punch that I rashly bought on Ebay years ago and haven’t been able to shift since up there. Weirdly enough jokes about political scandals of 120+ years ago just aren’t funny today, especially if they are in French (which language Punch apparently expected it’s readers to know). Even the quality of the illustrations doesn’t save them!

 lazy07.jpg – lazy08.jpg

Finished!

Oh yeah as well as moving my desk I also freed up some space on it.

lazy09.jpg

What will I do with all this? well, draw comics on it hopefully.

Oh well, Just to show I haven’t been totally idle, the back page of the first issue of the new RWB is going to introduce the first “Felneyverse” characters to  make it into print. Here’s the rough artwork, which still needs processing, colouring, lettering and putting together.

 lazy10.jpg

Erm, quite a bit of processing…

Here we have Norman Saxon, the Sexton Blake replacement (but set entirely in the early 20th century). Xin Zhou, Norman’s assistant who will also feature in a series of boarding school tales. Eugene Manx, the secret agent hunting down escaped Nazi criminals, and the Tigers of Punjab, fighting for justice during Indian partition!

 lazy11.jpg

All my character’s faces look the same so I cunningly part-concealed one in a space suit

And here is Steve Gunn, a soldier in World War 3 which happens from 2020 – 2023 (this is set in a very different alternate universe, which diverged from our own history in a major way in 1985, with the discovery of zombies!). Sarah Millman, the future cop who features in the first colour strip (her arm looks bizarre, oops). Robert “Rocket” Redferne who will take to the space-lanes from issue 5 onwards. Finally there’s Mary of Middleford, who has a 4-page intro story on the website and ought to “kick off” (ha ha haaaa) in issue 7 or 8.

Oh and also I’ve created a new logo for The Trident too. The new version will be A4 sized and will feature a complete story of 15-25,000 words and a short story of 5-10,000 words and/or a serial installment. Not quite decided yet! Oh it’ll also have illustrations, unlike the A5 sized old version.

 lazy12.jpg

Red, White & Blue to be re-launched!

Having produced four issues of my self-published comic The Red, White & Blue, plus one of The Trident storypaper, I thought it was high time I looked into selling them online. I’d also “recently” discovered that the character of Sexton Blake was not public domain, as originally thought, but was owned by IPC. I decided to contact them and ask for permission to use him in my own comics… and got turned down!*

Anyway, the upshot of this is that I will need to re-launch the Red, White & Blue and Trident with my own characters. I have some ideas that I’m currently putting together. One advantage of starting from scratch with my own character is that the continuity issues of 70-odd years of constant publication Sexton Blake had behind him no longer exist – so my own detective(s)** can have a cohesive background and the stories can all link together. This isn’t going to turn into a serial, though – the long text story in each issue will still be complete, just like it was in the Union Jack!

rwbre1.jpg

 The covers of the old series…

Of course, I need to dispose of the old stock of printed comics, but I can’t sell them. Instead I’ll just chuck them in the recycling. Mind you, though, I wouldn’t want to overwhelm Cambridgeshire recycling with one huge lump of paper all in one go. So I’ll distribute the comics to people for free at some event, they can then take them back to all different ends of the country/world and dispose of them there. Of course I’m not sure which event I can dispose of them at yet.

rwbre5.jpg

Picture unrelated. It is especially unrelated to Saturday May 28th.

In order to dispose of the comics I’ve been putting them into “packs”. Most of the packs, for the people who get to me first, will contain issues 1-4 of the Red, White & Blue and issue 1 of The Trident. Then a few with issue 3 missing. Then a few with issue 3 and The Trident missing. Then many with just issues 1 & 2 and then finally a few issue 2’s on their own.

rwbre2.jpg

Pilez O different sizez

There’s no suitable comic events coming up before my planned emigration time that I can reasonably get to and/or get a table at. So whatever I distribute them at I’ll have to have them in a backpack and wear a T-shirt with “Free Comics!” written on it. Events such as the MCM Expo May 28th at the Excel Centre, London usually have “Free Hug” people, so it will just be an extension of that with something you can read on the bog.

rwbre3.jpg

Like this but in T-shirt form.

As an aside I did take that box to work to see if anybody there wanted the lure of free Jingo. I think I only gave away 3 packs at most. Yep, I literally can’t give it away! …so when the re-launch comes (earmarked for August, hopefully issue 1 of the new Trident will be sooner) and the comics are available online, make sure you form an orderly line to pay £1.50 for something people didn’t want for free!

rwbre4.jpg

Tempted?

 * – They also mentioned that a certain large US comic company owns “exclusive print rights” …which possibly explains the non-appearance of the next Snowbooks compliation. It’s also a worrying development as we’ll quite possibly see some full colour version of Sexton Blake fighting against the British government and Empire after uncovering unjust conspiracies. Doubtless set in 1895 but showing him being assisted by Tinker who didn’t appear until 1904 in the proper stories. Or at least that’s the worst-case scenario. Hopefully the big US comic company will just be content to sit on the character and not do anything with him – staying out of print is far better than the wringer they’d put him through in the interests of “updating”.

** – *devious grin*

Red, White & Blue issue 4

On the 26th of April I finally put the finishing touches on Issue 4 of my own British adventure comic, the Red, White & Blue (cover dated Jan-Feb 2011, ahem). It contains 5 stories in both text and strip form, plus an editor’s page in the style of The Boys’ Friend and such-like story papers from the 1900’s.

rwb41.jpg

The cover

As this is a proper British adventure comic it has parts of stories on the cover, in the same way that The Boys’ Friend, Eagle and Victor did! Usually the story on the cover will be the colour story, but in other issues (starting with the next) a new/important story will be given it’s first page on the cover to promote it.

rwb42.jpg

Why yes, photo reference was used heavily here!

An interior story called “A Sting in the Tail”, a short complete strip about speedway racing. Based extremely loosely on real events… which a friend on Facebook posted on his page once.

rwb43.jpg

Now this is a wall of text!

The complete Sexton Blake text story, and the primary reason for this comic being so late. It’s almost 25,000 words crammed into 10 pages… at 7.5 point font! Other pages do have some block illustrations. The story itself is called “Sexton Blake in Hong Kong” and is set in 1900. That’s the pre-Tinker era, when Sexton Blake was assisted by a Chinese boy called We-Wee. In this story he leaves the detective’s service after getting homesick… though in the actual Blake canon he did feature in one more story in 1901!

rwb44.jpg

Thuuuugs!

Tigers of Punjab, a war-adventure serial set during the Partition of India in 1947. Like Action, Battle and 2000AD this is a more “hard hitting” story – or it was, at any rate. I have now converted it into a more generic adventure story rather than a harsh criticism of Imperial policy. (Though not a criticism of the Empire itself… you ought to know me better than that!)

 rwb45.jpg

 That actually says “Korea Sky” in Korean… I doubt Altavista would be good with fancy compound words!

The continuation of Sarah Millman, and also part of the text serial story called The Day of Green Skulls. I needed a filler, so this story is actually just based on an amalgamation of the two places I’ve worked ful-time at getting attacked by crazed animal rights activist, with the main character being based on me! (As one of the scientists, of course, not the attackers).

So when can you buy this? Erm, well, actually quite possibly never! There appears to be no conventions I can reasonably get tables at between now and August, when I hope to emigrate. Also the use of Sexton Blake prevents me from setting up an online shop. I used to think the character was in the public domain, but actually he still belongs to IPC. Reportedly IPC don’t mind “non profit” fan fiction, but the setting up of an online store rather than selling comics at car-boot-ish conventions could eventually nudge my publications into profitable territory. Yep, I’m just producing these comics for fun!

I could always maybe cheekily ask IPC for permission to use the character. Well stranger things have happened – Spaceship Away gets published despite the Dan Dare Corporation being a bunch of petulant childish mud-slinging vermin, after all.

Issue 5 is cover-dated Mar-Apr… so I doubt it will be on schedule! However as we do have time off at the moment I have managed to finish the Sexton Blake tale for issue 5, a rather more modest 10,000 words… and set in the 1980’s! In the previous issues I treated the text stories as afterthoughts, and worked on them at work, using time at home after work to concentrate on the “hard” drawing and inking. However it turns out I really need to use relaxed, stress-free time to write the text stories in, or else they turn into mush.

London SP Expo 2011

The UK Web & Mini-comix Thing is gone, but the London SP Expo is here to replace it! It’s run by the same people who started the Bristol SP Expo, which is a few years old and now runs over two days.

Anyway, the first one was held yesterday and I went to sell my comics. I didn’t get issue 4 of the Red, White & Blue finished in time. Even though my new year’s resolution was to take it bi-monthly, and the cover still actually says “Jan-Feb 2011” it’s still not done! I’d like to blame a cold I had late last month, but really I was just too lazy. I did have one new production, in the shape of issue 1 of The Trident. I finished this last year and it’s an unofficial continuation of the Sexton Blake Library and Boys’ Friend Library, ie one long text story. The first is about Sexton Blake in World War 1, I sold an amazing two copies! XD

But before setting out to the convention I had to make a “colours nailed to the mast” T-shirt to wear. Using rubbish print-yourself iron-on transfers, it didn’t go well. But then again it only had to last a day.

 lonsp11_01.jpg

First print a mirror image… (my dad inevitably had to point out that it was “wrong” in case I “hadn’t noticed”)

 lonsp11_02.jpg

Get yer amazing Tesco value t-shirt, and a mum with an iron

lonsp11_03.jpg

One not-burned-down house later… The E was the corner I peeled the paper off first, and some of the red went with it. Also the far corner wasn’t stuck down.

 I’d been intending to stay up for “as long as it took” to finish issue 4, but it had got to 9 at night and I’d still not finished the (20,500 words so far!) Sexton Blake story, and not even started on the 5 pages of Tigers of Punjab (the three of issue 4’s short Speedway story took all of January). Anything produced that quickly wasn’t going to be any good, so I decided to not produce it at all and leave issue 4 out. The Sexton Blake story could do with some big tweaks too, if it’d printed it as-is it would have been very rambling and bland. So instead I packed what I had, printed the strips for issue 4 that did get finished, and went to sleep at a decent time.

lonsp11_04.jpg

Stuff packed. I have some display stands this year!

lonsp11_05.jpg

The finished material in a display book. I need to take my printer’s colour management in hand… things that are supposed to be darkish grey are almost-black purple! It will be sorted out for when the actual comics are printed.

As it NOT traditional for my comic convention trips, the transportation ran perfectly smoothly. Nobody had dropped a match at a station or anything. (Actually the fire that closed Cambridge station last year really was huge and could be seen over most of the city, plus a tall former mill was in danger of collapsing onto the station. But at the time I didn’t know that XD).

lonsp11_06.jpg

Had to use the “London Overground”, I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I just thought it was a funny nickname for the parts of the Underground that aren’t actually underground (which is a surprising amount of it, actually). But the Overground is actually a seperate train with it’s own lines.

lonsp11_07.jpg

Packed with convention-goers, as you can see.

lonsp11_08.jpg

Is that some blue I see?

After arriving at New Cross station, apparently near Millwall stadium (they weren’t at home, I doubt supporters of a club with a reputation for hooliganism and long-haired comic con goers would mix!) I predictably got lost. At least the Thing was on a straight road from it’s station, even I can’t get lost on a straight road XD. I found the venue pretty much at 10 o clock when the event was opening to the public, though for the first hour it was pretty much just the exhibitors, still. Several wandering around and chatting to people they knew.

lonsp11_09.jpg

What I could see. Opposite me were several DFC contributors. To my shame I never got that comic, but will certianly be getting The Pheonix, it’s “replacement”. Even if I hope to have emigrated by then I still will!

I just took lots of pictures… all of the architecture!

lonsp11_10.jpg

Wanna see a huge organ?

lonsp11_11.jpg

 All ceilings should look like this

lonsp11_13.jpg

Balconies

lonsp11_14.jpg

The top, sadly the windows are obscured by this horrible modern lighting rig. They ought to use ornate chandeliers. I’d love to be in this room alone when it’s raining heavily.

I also set up my table. The new stands make it look a lot better, but I really need an A5 one for The Trident (and, when it’s done, The Dragonfly). Also I’d hoped to have the A6 sized penny comics in a seperate box all jumbled up (the different stories will be different colours), but I’d only got one finished (-_- and that was a reprint) so into the stand they went as well.

lonsp11_12.jpg

I later made a seperate notice pointing out the price of the penny dreadfuls which got a bit more attention XD

After that I took a quick run around the hall to look for the stuff I wanted to buy especially, but as I was in a hurry I actually didn’t see any of them. I did see  Yuri Kore but she didn’t have any new books out. But if you haven’t got the two she had released then buy ’em! One of them won a competition organised by the Japanese embassy!

lonsp11_18.jpg

How do they work?

At 11 I phoned up my girlfriend, who is Japanese. I’d not had any contact with her since the earthquake but she said she was fine, just that she had to walk home from work which took 10 hours O_O. I also found a yen in my change bucket and gave it to some anime fans behind me. From about 11 on people actually started arriving and browsing. Though I didn’t make any sales til gone 12 I did give out a few hastily-made (they always are) free flyers.

There was also no less than three film crews wandering about at one point! Well this is in a university, I suppose the media studies students wanted to get their “interviewing” badge. “for some strange reason” they didn’t interview me. Oh well, I only would have said that a story paper that ended in the mid-1920’s was the best comic ever.

lonsp11_15.jpg

“You’re sure that’s not a Tribble”?

As the day went on I handed out a few more free flyers, though oddly enough still had a few left. People won’t take shoddily-produced rubbish with silly puns in it even if it is free! No less than three people who came to see me had actually heard of Sexton Blake! The story paper revolution gains momentum, comrades! Around 1 I went off for food and then a longer wander around the hall. I found all the stuff on my shopping list, including (finally) some issues of FuturequakeOmnivistascope (both near-professional quality publications inspired by 2000AD’s heyday) and some Starscape productions, including the Starscape Storypaper! It’s A6 sized but what can ya do. It’ll while away some time at work. “For some strange reason” the guy at the Starscape stall thought I’d be older. Well I do mainly collect comics from before World War 2.

I also got the first two issues of Non-repro (a seperate post about this will be made eventually!). This came about when somebody posted on the forums of Sweatdrop Studios (a seperate post about them will be made eventually!) saying “Why isn’t there a regular UK manga anthology?”. The people who came to produce Non-repro said “Why isn’t there a regular UK manga anthology?” and made it!

Aand I also got “The Comix Reader” – 24 tabloid-sized pages on newsprint for a pound! There’s all sorts in it and some is not for children. Encouragingly it says “Issue 1” so unlike the similarly-formatted Gothic there will hopefully be many more!

I got heaps of other stuff too, and ought to blog about some of it eventually. I want to treat all British comics the same, whether they be million-sellers or photocopied pamphlets!

lonsp11_16.jpg

Free advertising! Where’s me discount?

lonsp11_17.jpg

Buys

Eventually the day came to a close. I’d spent a good 50-odd quid all in coins and sold about 10 comics, so my case was considerably heavier on the way out! One of the rules of this con, unlike the Thing, was that we had to help put away the tables and chairs too. I was half expecting a load of whinging and moaning and sudden development of bad backs, but actually everybody was making themselves useful and actually doing it. Then again contrary to expectations the majority of people at the con seemed to be working class, when you’d think a bunch of “creative types” would be airy fairy and middle class. Oh well, comics were always too good to be wasted on the likes of them!

 lonsp11_19.jpg

My real name is tarquin wetherby but I used my cleaner’s name to blend in.

Then it was time for the journey home, which was similarly uneventful. I’d used cheap Tesco deodorant which didn’t last the distance, luckily the trains weren’t crowded and stereotypes about comic con goers remained unproven to the public at large XD. Wierdly when I arrived at Ely station it was soaked and smelled like heavy rain, but the train had not passed through any rain, and my dad said our village hadn’t had any either. Very narrow band!

Thing 2010 Report!

Yesterday the one time per year (though maybe that will change this year!) when people can buy my own comics rolled around, The Thing!The day before i was still putting the finishing touches to Issue 3 of the Red, White & Blue, mainly the two “2-up” panels on the front cover. By aroundabout midnight i had finished it, compiled a PDF, printed it, scanned the text pages back in as images, and made all the images 300dpi. NOW i could start to print! However as i was still getting used to the intricacies of both my new printer (which i got a few days ago and which ought to greatly increase my self-publishing abilities)  and Publisher 98, which i was using to quickly and easily stick two A4 sized images on one A3 sized page.

thing1

The amazing(ly heavy) printer and the old computer i had to drag out to connect it to, as it only has a parallel connection.As i was still experimenting, i didn’t think to shrink the images slightly and so on the covers of most copies the logo and strip are shifted and slightly cut-off one way or the other… just like on proper comics! (mind you all the colours are in the right place). The interior pages are much better, mind you. I only printed 25 copies of issue 3 so i could actually go to bed that, er, night.

thing2

We have comics!

thing3

The rest of the room. The small table also had my other old printer (that i got from a skip) on it pumping out penny comics and flyers earlier in the night.

 thing4

Everything else in the room got shoved aside, i actually slept on the bed there as i couldn’t be bothered to move it all back XD.

Having finally finished the stapling at about 3 in the morning i went straight off to sleep after only a token ‘shoving aside’ of the old computer so i wouldn’t tread on it when i got up.At about 1 minute to 6 in the morning my cat climbed in bed with me, expecting me to get up at half 6 as i usually do. She was a bit surprised to find me immediately getting out of bed, and stretched out one paw and yawned confusedly.  After having some rushed tea and a wash i packed and left for the train.

thing5

The packed case the nex- er- later on that morning.

In the spirit of the first Thing that i went to, the trains were a disaster. Apparently somebody in Cambridge dropped a sodding match so they literally metaphorically evacuated THE ENTIRE WORLD, and also cancelled all the trains that would even be going past that station and not even stopping there (as the Ely-Kings Cross one i had planned to get was doing). I could then either get one to Stanstead and get into London by the Stanstead express, or go to Peterburough and then get a London train from there. The latter choice was the one i made, and probably the worst one considering it was going in the wrong direction… but i just wanted to start my journey somehow! So off i went.

thin g06

Going to Peterburough… must be a good 50 or so miles in the opposite direction!

yhing07

No it’s not actually near the coast, those are just flood plains and probably only a few CM deep. They’re bound to still have scratty estates built on them eventually though.

I texted my friend Natasha, who lives right near Cambridge station, saying “so is it a smouldering bin or a real fire?”, she asked me where and then didn’t reply when i told her, so i guess it was nothing special. Having changed at Peterburough (and being reminded of my university days) i was finally on the way to London, luckily the train was fast and non-stop. I had to keep my case upright so sat on it in the doorway, probably not the best of ideas as i was going to be on my feet all day.

Anyway, on arriving in London i set out for the underground, dreading that experience as Mile End, the station i normally used, was shut. However it turned out the alternative one, Stepney Green, was actually closer! So i did alright and even made it to the Thing just before the opening time of 10!

thng8

People setting up before the event opens.

The grand old hall was still the setting for the Thing (it was in something different the first year, when i didn’t go). This time i was up on the stage, facing the reading/drawing/cartoon watching area.  To my left was Geek-girl and to my right was the wonderful Vampire Free Style by the lovely Jenika Ioffreda, who i thought was Slovakian for ages but actually she’s Italian… oops. She also out-Japanesed me, and i’m supposed to be learning it for real!

I began to set up, with my amazingly-made flyer container and penny comic display (made from a not-even-disguised cat food box). I also had my giant Union Jack as a tablecloth this time, it looked good, i might continue to do that even when i’m at a table with a wall behind it.

thing9

My table… If you have seen my picture of it from 2008 you will notice the difference… yes, in all that time i have made ONE new comic!

Some people came around promoting Caption, another small press con held in Oxford which is kind of a meet-up event rather than a selling event. I may go to it as a visitor one of these years. Also the people who did the genius Dino-Saw-Us“passports” came around giving out blank stickers for those of us who hadn’t bothered to order any proper ones. Amazingly i saw some people not taking part in it anyway! It’s an amazing idea as it encourages people to visit tables they might otherwise just wander by. As it was almost starting time i just dashed off “RWB” letters on a sheet of them. Jenika next to me did loads of cute small designs with punk skulls and things… wish i could be talented enough to do decent drawings quickly XD.

thing10

Random picture! I didn’t know there was chairs up there.

The doors opened to the eager public who… stayed away. There was some other conventions being held that day including one in Scotchland and also Memorabilia in Birmingham. Also it turned out it had been raining that day reducing the numbers of casual passers-by as well. Still a few people came by early in the day just checking stuff out before buying. I handed out free flyers and a few passport stickers profusely. Even if they didn’t come back then they’d still have my URL. I managed to lure in a few people early on to buy penny comics too, but i don’t think i sold my first RWB until about 11! Also i managed to nab Vampire Free Style fans, it pays to be next to somebody good XD.

Business became a bit more brisk by mid morning as people came back and actually wanted to talk in more detail about the comics. I couldn’t really explain what mine was beyond “Old fashioned boys’ own adventure” as i doubt 99% of the people there would get references to Amalgamated Press and The Boys’ Friend. Did run into one guy who had heard of Sexton Blake, though. But only through the allegedly comedy radio show XD.

thign11

One of the boxes

During the lean periods us people on the stage had cartoons to watch! Though at a funny angle on a projection screen in a room not really suited to projection. Early on they had some Edd Egg ones that looked entertaining. On a wander i went to see if they had a DVD of them for sale but the table was too mobbed to ask much questions. Also shown were some old Mr Men ones, some odd-looking ones made by students, and something apparently called Avatar, though it didn’t seem to be related to the blue people film (not that i’ve seen it). It had a wizard creating some sort of blob thing that people were flame-throwering, and a kid making a whirlpool in the air with his hands… or something. As i said i couldn’t see it very well XD.

thing13

The screen, the camera actually captured more details than my eyes did.

Around 2 i went for my first walk around to buy essentials, which included TozoMassacre for Boys (the British adventure comic parody that’s not crap… unlike just about all the others), and West. Going back to the table i had probably my best time, even came across somebody who had bought issue 1 of the RWB last time and wanted 2 and 3. Another bloke bought all 3 but also paid with a 20 pound note, eating up all my change! (which all seemed to be 50ps anyway). This put a bit of a downer on it as i wanted to have a later wander and buy stuff at random from unloved-looking tables… but i had to be more selective. Next year i’ll have two change collections, one for the ’till’ and one for buying!

I also met an Irish guy who said it looked good but the name Red, White & Blue put him off… which was apparently the reason why the name of it’s spiritual predecessor, Union Jack (1894-1933) had it’s name changed to Detective Weekly. An American girl came looking around but when i offered her a penny comic she said she actually had no money at all XD. Quite a few people were attracted by my old comic, Scum Slaughter, because of it’s name and grimy-looking artwork. Makes me seriously consider a second print-run of it (only with colour this time so you can see the blood!). Mind you i still didn’t sell too many, i ought to have pressed the fact they were 20p harder! Also a girl had a long look through the Red, White & Blue’s and settled on buying issue 2, after i convinced her that the serial stories were “easy enough to pick up if you miss an issue”… i think she beleived me, bwahahah.

thign12

About as full as the room got… damn those schedule clashes!

A guy then came up saying “You are Felneymike and a claim my five pounds!”, i knew immediatley this was somebody who knew XD. Mind you i use that username everywhere so couldn’t narrow it down at first, til he explained he was from the great website Comics-UK, I was just glad to be able to explain my own comic in proper terms like “it’s got complete Sexton Blake stories in the style of Amalgamated Press, text serials in the style of DC Thomson, ‘Square panel’ adventure strips in the style of Victor or Knockout, ‘Jagged panel’ strips in the style of Action and colour cover strips vaguely like Eagle”. Phew… no wonder i call it “The comic of the twentieth century – today!”.

I had my second wander of the hall with a little more change, and was able to collect a bit more by using notes on other people. Still i had to pass up a heap of interesting looking stuff, but got some great things including Jambo, “the UK’s first jam-powered superhero!” (sounds, but doesn’t look, like something straight from Viz!) and the amazing Delicate Axiom, which starts out normal and then just gets weirder and weirder, but the weirdness is treated in a matter-of-fact “yeah… you didn’t know?” way.

thing14

Yup, all gorn.

Aroundabout 4 i ran out of free flyers. I had 103, so that’s 103 people who got my URL (even if only 10% will bother to visit it XD) . They’re always worth making and mine only took minutes. I also had time to chat to the people either side of me about various stuff including other conventions, cats and learning Japanese.

thing15

Binbuyin’

Just before 5 some bloke who was not the organiser bellowed out “The show’s over so bugger off”, to rapturous applause from the tables downstairs. Guess it was some in-joke that was going around down there. Stinkin’ non-stage people thinkin’ they’re better than us… They were jealous of our Mr Men.

thing16

About 5 minutes after the announcement of the end. 

My pack-up time was remarkably rapid, and i sodded off. Only then discovering it was cold and wet outside. I had been intending to track down the New Globe pub for Schmurgencon, but was far too tired so went straight for the train. After almost falling asleep on the underground i decided to sit on my case in the doorway of the train back to Ely. However this was crazily uncomfortable so i then moved to a proper seat.

thing17

Going home…

Uuuntil we got to Cambridge where the train was splitting, and everybody had to overcrowd into the front carriages. Surprise Surprise, Cambridge station was not a smouldering ruin but completley undamaged. A huge area was cordoned off by police tape for no apparent reason. I was again sitting on my case in the doorway until Ely, when i walked around to the Park and Ride car park and drove home for a very long and deep sleep!

A new post at last!

Well, it’s been a while since this site got updated eh? But university is finished and job-finding is not going very well (according to probably third-hand information from my mum, one job i applied for at a nearby laboratory got several thousand applicants -_-). I was also working on a videogame but now that is finished i intend to give some attention to comics and story-papers once again. Though primarily my own! It’s well over a year since the last issue of The Red, White & Blue was finished.

To begin with, here’s a scan of a cool page from last week’s issue of 2000AD (prog 1645). If you ask me it perfectly sums up the quirkiness of British comics…

does anybody read these titles?

(2000ad copyright 2009 Rebellion inc).

And now, the logo’s of my own two comic projects. Here is the re-designed logo for my main comic, The Red, White & Blue, which is a mixture of picture-strips and text stories.

RWB logo

Very grand, eh? The pictures depict numerous British (or at least half British for some of them) discoveries, inventions or works that have had a large impact on the world. They include Antibiotics, the Lee-Enfield rifle, an A4 class steam locomotive, Association Football, Cricket, SS Great Britain, Boolean algebra (at the heart of almost every computer), DNA, Newton’s Phiosiphae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, a Spitfire, a Newcomen steam engine, Lawn Tennis, a Mini (far from the first front engine front wheel drive car, but one that gave rise to the imitators that in turn gave rise to almost every car on the roads today), Concorde and of course Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Phew! Left out due to space constraints were Magna Carta, a speech baloon representing the English language, a map of the empire, some representation of Shakespeare, a King James bible (for it’s language, not it’s effects on it’s readers!), Collosus, Television (the invention of this is disputed), a Telephone (and this), an Iron cannon and The Magnet … because Shakespeare was forgotten for a long time then rediscovered and hailed as a genius, in the same way Charles Hamilton will one day be.

Trident logo

The logo of The Trident, this will be an A5 sized all-text story paper. With the occasional full-page illustration, depending on the length of the story the number of these will vary. The first story is going to be an epic Sexton Blake tale set in 1916 which will see him caught up in the mire of the Western Front (i’m aiming for a balance between the jingoistic “let’s get ’em!” of the contemporary story papers and the sombre reflections of Charley’s War), he then travels to a castle in Germany where secret weapons are being tested. After a lot of cloak and dagger (literally, in one scene!) action, during which the “German Blake”, Herr Milzinger, will be introduced to the world, Blake and Tinker escape back to England. Here they find Herr Milzinger has preceded them and a final showdown occurs in the cosy confines of Baker Street.

I hope that issue 3 of the Red, White & Blue, and issues 1 and 2 of The Trident, will both be ready for sale at the UK Webcomix Thing 2010, which is to be held at the Great Hall, Mile End Road, London on the 27th of March. As i tend to be highly lazy with regards to buying envelopes and stamps &c, it’s unlikely i’ll ever be setting up an online shop for my comics – so this event will probably the the only chance to buy them! But watch this space.