Sunday 31 August 2008

The Sisterhood Sneak Peak

One of the greatest things about having a talented team of artists working away on future Time Bomb Comics are the regular updates I get from them as to how the pages are coming along. Whether they're initial design sketches, page roughs or finished pages any art comes back to editorial for approval before moving to the next stage. This way I make sure that any changes can be implemented before any pages are actually complete - I'm always greatful for the time our artists spend on Time Bomb projects and would hate to waste it.

There's an extraz buzz when the pages are from scripts that I've written of course - every comics writer gets a kick out of seeing what they visualised in their heads actually on a finished page of artwork!

So here's some of the designs for the upcoming The Sisterhood by Dan Barritt, which came to me the other day.

Saturday 30 August 2008

Web Woes

I'll be honest, although I think our comics are great there's one area where Time Bomb has been seriously lacking since inception - and that's the official website. Just prior to last year's BICS I obtained the domain along with an instant website kit. This rapidly proved to be completely unsuitable for what Andy and me wanted (and envisioned) our website to be about. Bound to an existing template design, we discovered that the bells and whistles we'd come up with could not be integrated into what we were working with. The pages were lifeless, boring and just dull. Something had to be done!

Unfortunately the existing demands on Andy's time meant that the something would have to be done later rather than sooner. So I treated the website like a senile old relative, hid it away in the corner and tried not to talk about it. At the same time I made sure we had some kind of web prescence on Comic Space, Facebook and here on Blogspot. But it wasn't the same, and for the last year the awfulness of our official website has hung over me like the mariner's albatross.

However, the "later" has slowly shuffled its way to the head of the queue and I'm delighted that nearly one year on we've removed the existing website and happily consigned it into the bin marked "crap" to undertake a complete upgrade. I've also snagged the domain in the process which we couldn't get last year as it was being held by a US-based domain realtor for no other reason than they wanted to charge an arm and a leg for it.

So expect a much healthier official web prescence for Time Bomb Comics in the near future, which will include previews, updates, animations and an online shop where you can buy the very products that I'm always banging on about!

Friday 29 August 2008

Carry On Dick!

In just over a month's time the next Time Bomb Comic - Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead - will be available at the October BICS in Birmingham. Our first title Ragamuffins launced at last year's BICS so it's a good way of rounding out Time Bomb's first proper year.
Pretty much as soon as Ragamuffins went off to the printers we were discussing what we would do as a follow-up. I was keen to do something historical. Andy wanted to do something with horses in it. We both wanted something that was completely different to what we'd just completed - a total change of pace, genre and style. I also was keen to have something quintessentially British and featuring something not seen in comics very much at all - highwaymen. And what better highwayman to spotlight than the one that everybody knows - Dick Turpin!
I admit that for a while I was mulling the idea of coming up with our own highwayman, a self-created character that would have all the iconic trappings of the highwayman mythos that we could further develop if need be. But really, what was the point? Dick Turpin is one of those quasi-historical characters that everyone knows. Ask anyone about Dick Turpin and they'll trot out the same stuff - Black Bess, that ride from London to York, "stand and deliver" - Turpin's as ingrained into British folklore as Robin Hood. And just like the bloke from Nottingham Turpin's a legend. Could I really pass up the opportunity to work with a legend? Interestingly, once I started researching Turpin I discovered that, as with Hood, Turpin the legend was vastly different from Turpin the man - in reality a thoroughly nasty piece of work with none of the trappings and traits that he's remembered for. How Turpin came to be remembered as a dashing anti-hero is a fascinating story recounted in James Sharpe's Dick Turpin - The Myth Of An English Highwayman which is thoroughly recommended for anyone interested.
The script for Dick Turpin And The Restless Dead was completed in November 2007 and summarily passed to Andy Dodd. Andy spent until March 2008 researching costumes, flintlocks and horse anatomy before getting to the artwork proper, by which time we realised the original Bristol Expo release date in May 2008 was a mountain much too big to climb. Never one to miss a marketing opportunity, I got Andy to complete the cover artwork in time for the Expo so that we could have some fantastic high quality signed and numbered prints of it to sell and to get a bit of buzz about the project.
Which brings us to where we are now, with the artwork in the final stages and BICS on the horizon. The extra time it's taken Andy to complete the art really shows in the finished pages as you can see on the pages posted here, with a very "British comics" feel to it, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it will be received at the BICS Time Bomb Comics table!

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Highwaymen, Nuns, False Prophets and Scoopermen.

At the moment Time Bomb Comics have four titles in various stages of completion, so here's a quick overview of what to expect from us over the next several months or so.
Dick Turpin And The Restless Dead has been in development since last year and is slowly but surely inching its way to completion, and with it the distinction of being our second release. This one's pretty much what it says on the tin - a good old romp with highwaymen and zombies! To be honest I have high hopes for this one. I think Andy's artwork on this one is a huge step up from the Ragamuffins work - the pages so far look gorgeous - and I think the story is more linear and easier to follow. From my point of view it was a delight to write, and I'm looking forward to seeing what feedback we get on it. Hopefully, this will also be the book that gets us into the Diamond catalogue which will really take Time Bomb Comics to the next level.

The Sisterhood is a future war story in an environment where the soldiers are all nuns. The artwork is by Dan Barritt who we met at last year's Leeds Thoughtbubble convention. Dan's a great artist - check out his website here - and his style very much influenced the final script, injecting a manga vibe that gives the characters a very individual look. Dan's hoping to have this finished in time for this year's Thoughtbubble which will bookend the project quite nicely.

The Furies was the first serious comics project that I began working on with Andy Dodd back in 1985, so this graphic novel really can be said to be more than twenty years in the making! Originally the story concerned the apocalyptic events of the year 2000 - it's now been updated to the similar forecasts about 2012, but the basic story remains the same: a grim take on the true meaning of religion and prophecy with some thoroughly nasty deaths. I've done some revisions to it that makes the story more comtemporary as well as re-working some of the plot elements that 20 years on I really wasn't happy with, but otherwise this limited release will be an example to experience Andy and me as fledgeling creators, warts and all!

Finally there's Primetime, which is still very much in the early design stages. The artwork is by Paul Thompson who we came across on Comic Space and his style fits the concept like a glove. I've just started scripting it so it's very much a work in progress, but we're hoping this blackly-humourous story set in a City which revolves around mass-media lunacy will be ready for the 2009 Bristol Expo.

Expect some more in depth posts about each of these titles as the months go by!

Monday 25 August 2008

Ragamuffins: Stitches In time

This was our first title, a one-shot that debuted at the 2007 BICS. It features the first appearance of the Ragamuffins, a disparate group of unusual individuals that repair problems with time. I'd had the idea of the Ragamuffins for a number of years and it seemed the ideal concept to set out the Time Bomb Comics stall with. It's a complete mind-bend of a story, with some great time travel art effects that artist Andy Dodd did a phenomenal job on that really showcases his talents.

We also wanted to set the quality bar quite high in terms of the product itself, so it could quite easily sit alongside the shelf in the comics shops with the latest releases from Marvel, DC and the rest. A nice glossy cover and good paper stock was a must, and has made a difference at the convention tables and in getting the shops to stock it. Quite simply, sales for a small-press comic are much more likely the less small-press it looks.

As for the concept itself I guess the biggest and most obvious influence to the book was the late-Seventies TV show "Sapphire and Steel". Featuring Joanna Lumley and David McCallum as the title characters this series played with the whole notion of time and both baffled and terrified me as a 11 year old. As with that bizarre series Ragamuffins share a cast of characters that are very individual and operating on a very different plane to the rest of us. The intention was that the Ragamuffins had a history and an ultimate purpose but it's not something we were to be privy to, instead we were to be caught up in the weirdness of what they do without understanding why and how they do it.

What's interesting is that the feedback we've so far received - and one of the things about self-publishing is that feedback is few and far between - is that people seem to love the characters and want to see more of them, but also want to know the whys and wherefores that we made such a point of ignoring. Maybe it's the "secret origin" fixation that comics fans have with characters that pique their interest, but if the Ragamuffins revealed their secret origin then it wouldn't be much of a secret anymore would it?


So here we are with Short Fuses, the official Time Bomb Comics blogspot. Time Bomb Comics is a new British comics company based in Leicester, England, formed by myself and artist Andy Dodd in September 2007 and intending to showcase the work of talented writers and artists currently working outside the mainstream comics industry. (Obviously those talented writers and artists were originally me and Andy but shameless self-promotion is a cornerstone of the comics industry so who can blame us?)

Unlike many other comics publishers our we just have two simple editorial policies. The first is that we only publish one-shots - completely self-contained comics with a beginning, middle and end. The second is that each of those comics meets our basic requirement that we've also adopted as the Time Bomb Comics slogan: Telling Great Stories.

What makes a Great Story worth Telling? Well it can be fun, frightening, entertaining or thought-provoking but ultimately has to be something we regard as good solid comic book entertainment. Therefore any comics released under the Time Bomb Comics banner can wide and diverse in theme, genre and format, with only a single limitation - the imagination of our creative teams. Sounds good?

Whether we succed or not is what Short Fuses is all about. It's an ongoing journal of how we try to achieve our goal of putting together a comics company, our highs and our lows, to share the perils and pitfalls of self-publishing comics. There's also the shameless self-promotion bit of course - we'll be bigging up our project's like there's no tomorrow here make no mistake. Forget the PR - we want you to buy our comics!