Currently available in our Shop at Lulu.
Tomorrow is States of Independence, the annual independent book fair organised by Five Leaves Press and DeMontfort University.
Come along for a great free day of talks and indie press stalls.
Jay & I will be giving a talk at 3pm on “What d’you mean there’s no women in comics?”
Do come along and say Hi!
We always enjoy going to Thought Bubble, as it’s one of the most diverse comic cons on the calendar. Lots of creators we know and lots of new talent on display too.
Saturday started by bumping into comics bud Terry Wiley in the queue and then seeking out Lydia Wysocki’s Applied Comics Etc. stall. Special thanks to Lydia for letting us dump our coats with her and lending me her chair for a sit down later in the day.
Terry & Lydia have recently been involved in a project with the University of Newcastle Special Collections (WW1 archive – see Thomas Baker Brown below).
I made an unexpected impulse buy of this lovely hand-painted stone by Dominika Tomczyk. Dominika’s day job is as a mannequin make-up artist – who knew there was such a job! Those in London will have seen her mannequin work in various Xmas shop displays (e.g. Selfridges). We also caught up with Cliodhna Lyons, who was table sharing with Dominika and Benedict Bowen (storyboard artist & Phoenix Comic creator).
Jay’s impulse art purchase was this lovely print by Sonya Hallett, as the dog reminded us of our dog Loki (who does like eating orange things!).
We spent a lot of the Saturday and the Sunday chatting to the various people we bought comics/books from, as well as Andy Waterfield (who was involved in the British Comic Awards this year), Rachael Smith, Leah Moore & John Reppion, Antony Johnston and lots more.
Saturday night we went for a lovely Italian meal and catch-up with Matt Brooker, Jenni Scott & Richard Buck. Walking around the halls had worn us out, so afterwards we headed back to our hotel to watch Doctor Who.
Sunday saw us finally get to Armouries hall for more chat and swag. We also went along to meet up with some of the creators from the ‘Women in Comics’ FB group. It was lovely to catch up with Maura McHugh, Sally Jane Thompson, Karen Rubins and to meet Tammy Taylor, Julie Nick, Kerrie Smith, Edward Brophy and Sarah Louise Elliott. Jay wants to apologise to Sarah for almost cutting her out of the photo. That’s not how it looked on the phone, honest!
Jay has been busy writing short stories and has several being published in new anthologies:
The Perennial Miss Wildthyme
Right vs Left vs Wrong, by Paul Vayro
Wildthyme and The Wolf, by Graham Tedesco-Blair
Dolores Smith and the Birthday Bear, by Kara Dennison
The Girl Who Went Up In Smoke, by Greg Maughan
Onesies, by Steve Palace
The Opera of Samhain, by Donald McCarthy
A Grove Invisible, by Juliet Kemp
Michael Drake, by Dale Smith
The Midnight Empire, by Julio Angel Ortiz
Doppler Shift, by Ian Potter
Closure, by Paul Castle
Cover Artist: Paul Hanley
Available to pre-order from Obverse Books.
You Left Your Biscuit Behind
Elf Prefix by Graham Wynd
Between Love and Hat by Jay Eales
Black Glass by James Bennett
No Mercy by Kate Hollamby
That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles by Penny Jones
Feeding the Fish by Carol Borden
Mermaids in Cape Town by Mame Diene
Patron by E.J. Davies
The Price of a Biscuit by Kate Coe
The Princess, The Pekingese and the Ivory Box by R.A. Kennedy
Cover art will be by Michaela Margett
Kitchen Sink Gothic
1964 by Franklin Marsh
Derek Edge and the Sunspots by Andrew Darlington
Black Sheep by Gary Fry
Jamal Comes Home by Benedict J. Jones
Waiting by Kate Farrell
Lilly Finds a Place to Stay by Charles Black
The Mutant’s Cry by David A. Sutton
The Sanitation Solution by Walter Gascoigne
Up and Out of Here by Mark Patrick Lynch
Late Shift by Adrian Cole
The Great Estate by Shaun Avery
Nine Tenths by Jay Eales
Envelopes by Craig Herbertson
Tunnel Vision by Tim Major
Life is Prescious by M. J. Wesolowski
Canvey Island Baby by David Turnbull
Cover Artwork by Joe Young
The anniversary of the London bombings on 7th July 2005 reminded me that Lee Kennedy created a diary comic about her reaction to the bombings which we ran in The Girly Comic. I think Lee’s strip encapsulates the feelings of helplessness and the need to escape the news that many of us often feel (see below).
I can’t imagine how those directly affected by the bombings are feeling and our thoughts and wishes go out to them.
May turned into a very busy month for us with lots of events with some kind of creative connection…
First off was a visit to The Lakes with friends from The Speculators writing group. No writing was done, but we did lots of sight-seeing of writing-related places.
Writers in the rain – at Wordsworth’s favourite writing spot.
Next up was a trip down to London for the inaugural Applied Comics Network Event, which I had been invited to speak at about the sessions I do at work about using comics to communicate research. I’ve blogged this in detail over on my work blog.
We both did readings at the latest Fox Bites event, which is a Leicester event for writers to read 5 minutes extracts of their work in a relaxed atmosphere in a local cafe. Organised by the lovely Adele (aka Aunty Fox) of Fox Spirit Books.
Jay read his short story Spare Change, which originally appeared in Murky Depths. While I read Once in a Blue Moon, a piece of flash fiction I wrote for the event.
The others writers who read were:
Mayapee Chowdhury read a short story from her collection Embarrassing Siblings, Playground Taunts and other Growing Pains.
I went on a rather different creative jaunt during for the second Bank Holiday weekend, as I went on a sewing retreat. It was good fun and I learnt lots of new crafting techniques…
Fruits of my sewing labours.
May is being rounded-off with Jay busy working on a short story and a Speculators critiquing session this weekend.
Oh, and April brought the news that To End All Wars has been nominated for TWO Eisner Awards! Very exciting to have written for an Eisner nominated book!
I was rather busy in 2014 promoting ‘To End All Wars‘, so I forgot to give our prose stories the shameless self-promotion they deserve…
My most recent short story appeared in ‘Iris Wildthyme of Mars‘
Everyone agrees about the colour, at least. The rest is up for grabs.
Is Mars a dead and sterile desert, or teeming with life?
Are Martians red, green or blue? Nubile and lithe, or monstrously tentacular?
These Marses are of course incompatible, contradictory, and in many cases quite impossible. And Iris Wildthyme has visited them all.
My story Death on the Euphrates sees Iris and her companion Panda splashing down into a canal of Mars and becoming embroiled in several mysteries.
While Jay wrote The Revenant for The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 3.
Twelve stories of supermen, cops, Mysterymen, samurai and private eyes from the likes of Kim Newman, Rod Rees, Tony Richards and more … thrilling tales of pure Pulp Adventure.
Jay’s previous prose publications:
Mightier than the Sword, Faction Paradox: A Romance in Twelve Parts, Obverse Books, 2011
Imaginary Kingdom, Alt-Zombie, Hersham Horror, 2012
Nine Tenths, Terror Scribes, Doghorn Publishing, 2012
Faction Paradox: Burning With Optimism’s Flames, Editor, Obverse Books, August 2012
Born Among Briars, More Tales of the City, Obverse Books, 2013
The Five Faces of Fear (The Periodic Adventures of Señor 105 #8), Manleigh Books, November 2013
Zeitgeist, Terror Tales Volume 2, #1, Rainfall Books, June 2014
Selina’s previous prose publications:
The Periodic Adventure of Seňor 105: Green Eyed and Grim (Novella), Manleigh Books (2013)
The Great and Powerful, The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders, Alchemy Press (2012)
Light Fingers, Terror Scribes, Doghorn Publishing (2012)
Lone and Level Sands, Alt-Zombie, Hersham Horror (2012)
The League Against Santa Claus
by Selina Lock
The blue-hooded figure stepped up to the podium. His long, grey beard looked in need of a good trim, but his beady eyes took in the motley crowd before him. He banged his staff on the wooden floor and the murmur of voices slowly faded.
“I call to order this meeting of The League Against Santa Claus” he said in a voice that filled the village hall and made the straggly tinsel and foil stars sway slightly.
“First order of business is a battle plan to destroy that lowly upstart Santa Claus!”
This produced a ragged cheer from the crowd, with a crashing of chains from the hairy, cloven-hoofed beast in the far corner. The beast’s long red tongue lolled out of his mouth in a sinister smile.
The bearded man banged his staff again and started detailing his battle plan. After about forty five minutes of this, the Yule Goat spat out the fake Christmas tree branch he’d been idly gnawing and bleated for attention.
“I was promised biscuits and akvavit. Bring on the nibbles!” the goat demanded. The hooded man glared at him. The goat stared back, chewing the cud calmly before speaking.
“You know we’ll just follow your lead Odin. No need to bore us all to death with the details.”
“Boiled adzuki beans done yet?” two men in identical ogre masks and straw capes chimed up in unison.
Odin banged his staff on the floor again and stalked off stage.
“Fine, the nibbles are at the back” he said.
The Yule Goat ambled after him.
“Who invited the two namahage?” he asked Odin, gesturing with one hoof towards the men in the ogre masks. “They’re New Year demons. We don’t want them muscling in on our territory.”
Odin sighed. “We’re a bit short on troops this year and they did make a compelling argument that Santa had nicked their naughty kids shtick.”
They all got stuck into the stollen, Christmas themed beer and akvavit. The party was very convivial until Krampas attempted to dance on one of the tables. They decided it was time to take him home before he hurt someone.
Odin surveyed his troops. The drunken beast, the masked twins and the abnormally large goat. He wished Thor hadn’t been too busy in Hollywood to attend this year. He banged his staff again and the other members of the League rolled their eyes at him.
“Remember, we meet at the North Pole at noon on Christmas Eve. Anyone who needs a lift can hitch a ride with the wild hunt.”
On Christmas Eve they gathered on a snow-packed peak overlooking Santa’s grotto. Odin was sporting a shiny new blue robe, had combed his beard for the occasion and was sitting astride his eight-legged horse Sleipnir. Krampus had polished his chains and the Yule Goat was sporting one of those red Scandinavian style scarves that were all the rage. The namahage were jigging about and grumbling about the cold. Behind them, the ghostly horses of the wild hunt stamped their hooves, while their riders waved their spears and bows.
Odin’s ravens Huginn and Muninn could be seen flying above the grotto, scouting out the territory. They returned a few minutes later to make their report. Odin trotted forward and addressed his troops.
“It appears Santa got wind of our assault and has recruited a couple of security yeti, but we mustn’t let that stop us. This is our year! Ready your weapons.”
The riders, demons and beasts shifted around and tensed their muscles. Odin turned Sleipnir to face the grotto and raised his staff.
The strange crew thundered down the bank towards Santa’s workshop. An answering roar was heard, as lumbering yeti appeared, reindeer bolted out of the stables and the jolly man in the red suit rallied his own troops.
As the two sides got nearer, Odin released the first snowball, which hit Santa square in the chest.
“First point to us” Odin shouted in triumph.
Then the Yule Goat locked horns with Rudolph, the wild hunt went up against the other reindeer and Krampus and the namahage twins targeted the yeti. The snowball fight began in earnest.
The noise from the fight caused Mrs Claus and head Elf Freda to come running out of the house, where they’d been having a well-earned hot chocolate break. They skidded to a halt, as a snowball landed at their feet. Mrs Claus shook her head.
“Every year, every damn year this happens. He promised it wouldn’t interfere with loading the sleigh, but oh no, they have to have their fun. Men!”
She threw her hands up in the air and Freda patted her on the shoulder, not easy when you are an elf of restricted stature.
“Good job we organised extra elf shifts, just in case.”
“You’re a life-saver, or a Christmas saver in this case Freda” Mrs Claus replied. “Come on then, let’s get that sleigh loaded.”
They turned back towards the workshop, with whoops and yells ringing in their ears.
“But if he thinks he’s sleeping in our bed tonight he’s very much mistaken” Mrs Claus muttered as she went.
Naughty or Nice?
by Jay Eales
“You remember the rules, right?”
“Jawohl, mein Kapitan.” Carol gave a Hitler salute, with a mocking grin.
Rather than the desired effect of lightening the mood, Kristian’s expression grew grave.
“Indulge me.” He looked at Carol seriously, as though he was about to tell her the cat had been run over. Carol sighed, and played the game, rattling through the rules by rote, just as Kristian had relayed them to her: “No smoking. No drinking. No swearing. I thought this was supposed to be fun?”
“It better be. It cost me a packet to ship that crate all the way from Lapland.”
“I’d have been happy with a week at Centerparcs.”
“I can take you to Centerparcs any time of year! Where’s your Christmas spirit?”
“Under lock and key in the drinks cabinet until after Twelfth Night, apparently…”
“If you think my dad will stop smoking those evil Christmas Cuban cigars of his just because of some rules you’ve made up, you don’t know him as well as you should.”
“I didn’t make the rules. Rare Exports Incorporated do. I had to sign a contract before they’d even agree to let me buy one.”
“Might as well have been. I felt they’d charged me a pound of flesh. But, it’ll be worth it. This is gonna be the best Christmas ever, babes. Trust me. It’s all for you. Your dad will understand. Tell him we’re not smoking in the house any more, or something.”
“Careful, tiger! Isn’t lying on that list of rules somewhere too? Can I take a peek at this mysterious crate, at least?”
“Don’t be so impatient! Christmas Eve is just a few hours away. You’ll have to wait.” Kristian seemed to have cheered up a little at least. He’d regained some of his playfulness. It was a relief, as Carol thought he’d had it all knocked out of him with all the extra hours at work. A fat wallet was all well and good, but not if it meant losing the cheeky man-child she’d fallen for. Hadn’t she worked just as hard to keep up with the Joneses; live the dream; a top-flight career and a life?
“Can I at least have a teensy bottle of Grolsch tonight? It’s not Christmas yet. You haven’t even let me trim the tree. You and your family traditions. Look at the poor thing sitting there in the corner all naked and green. By the time you let me decorate it, the needles will have started to drop off. Come on, big boy! Just a beer and a bauble… I won’t tell.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Kristian!” Carol was growing just a little tired of her boyfriend’s inflexibility. What good was Christmas if you couldn’t let your hair down? Eat too much, drink too much and go a little wild. Let the credit card take the strain and repent at leisure when the New Year was safely begun. Kristian took a sharp intake of breath, “Careful… Do you want to be naughty or nice?”
“Oh, I like this game! Naughty, every time! It’s a fair cop, guv! Put the bracelets on. I can’t promise I’ll come quietly, though.” Carol pantomimed the universal invitation to put invisible handcuffs on her wrists, a prelude to a better end to the evening than its beginning, she hoped. Hope that was instantly dashed when she saw the horrified look on Kristian’s face.
“He’ll put you on his list.”
“He can check it as many times as he bloody well likes. The day I’ve had, I’m having a drink. Join me or don’t. And I’m opening the gingerbread packet. Don’t even try stopping me.”
Kristian knew he was on a hiding to nothing. When Carol set her mind to it like this, nothing short of coshing her over the head and dragging her from the house would change how this would turn out. He considered it.
The funny thing was, Carol did get her way and decorated the tree that night. Not in a modern style, though it could be described as ‘traditional’. When both sets of parents arrived for Christmas dinner, punctual as ever, Carol’s father stubbing out his filthy cheroot in the snow outside the house on the instructions of She Who Must Be Obeyed, they could see the tree glistening through the window first of all.
When they finally gained entry, it was the splintered crate they saw next, quite empty. Their calls to Carol and Kristian went unanswered. Confused that they might have missed a phone message cancelling dinner, they wandered about the house, finally arriving in the lounge to finally witness the tree in all its glory. Not a scrap of tinsel on the tree this year. Slippery red ropes strung about the tree, and those were definitely not baubles. Ho. Ho. Ho.
This story is a homage to the film Rare Exports & is not intended to infringe copyright.
Last weekend we were at The Lakes International Comics Art Festival in Kendal.
Our highlights were:
Jay and I will be heading up to The Lakes International Comics Art Festival next weekend (Friday 17th – Sunday 19th Oct), with a boot full of Borderline Press books to drop off at the Comics Clocktower.
Including the new Verity Fair collection by Terry Wiley, which we’re very excited to see as Verity first saw publication in the pages of The Girly Comic.
On Sat 18th at 10.30am I’ll be appearing on the To End all Wars – The Art of Editing panel, as one of the ‘ brow-beaten’ contributors. This will be followed by a mass signing featuring the attending TEAW contributors. Come along and say Hi!
Also looking forward to attending lots of the other events at The Lakes.
We’ll be heading up to Thought Bubble in November.
Looking forward to seeing the glory of three halls of stalls and catching up with lots of friends.
Very excited to have been asked to do a local book signing for ‘To End All Wars’ at the University of Leicester bookshop on Tues Dec 2nd. More details when confirmed.