Thursday 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2010!

Yes, the blog has been extremely quiet of late, but we have a whole flurry of Time Bomb Comics news updates on the way in January - including details of some brilliant releases over the coming eighteen months or so.

So until the New Year I'd like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a very rewarding 2010!


Saturday 26 September 2009

Time Bomb Comics at BICS 2009

It's that time again!

Time Bomb Comics will once again be exhibiting at BICS and will of course be marking the occasion with the release of the 100-page graphic novel The Furies, written by Steve Tanner with artwork by Andrew Dodd.

We'll also have previews of a few of our forthcoming projects including:

Bomb Scares - An anthology that promises disturbing horror stories in a twisted vein. Ten stories from a mix of brand new and established creators (including Shane Oakley of Albion fame) that have been carefully blended into a chilling cocktail of both graphic and psychological nastiness.

London Calling - Ealing Studios meets Hammer Horror in this uniquely British one-shot featuring artwork by well-known DC Thomson "Commando" artist Keith Page.

Primetime - An outrageous murder mystery in a media obsessed future city where everyone wants to be caught on camera. Written by Steve Tanner with art from talented newcomer Paul Thompson.

Of course as well as The Furies all of our previous releases will be available at BICS 2009 too, and we'll be more than happy to meet and chat with any existing or aspiring creators all weekend about future project opportunities.

Enthusiastic PR aside, I'm personally really looking forward to another weekend of total comics indulgence in the heart of Birmingham! Not one who needs an excuse to buy some more comics, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on all the latest releases from the wide and diverse creators and publishers who make up the UK comics industry. Accent UK, Markosia, Insomnia, Renegade, C2D4, Cinebook, Orang Utan, Fallen Angel and of course Time Bomb are just a few - every year the full list seems to be getting bigger and bigger!
See you at BICS 2009!

Thursday 10 September 2009

Silence is Golden?

Well, it's been quite some time again since the last Short Fuses update. That doesn't mean that nothing much has been happening since June - far from it - but more that what has been going on has been taking up all our time and focus. And I must be honest, I thought it best to keep schtum until I had something to say!

So since June Time Bomb's focus has been making sure that The Furies is finally done and dusted. We've been going over the pages again and again, fine-tuning where we could and making sure that all our intended revisions have been done, and doing those last minute tweaks that no creator can resist on the eve of the printer's deadline!

I'll be the first to admit bias, but when I received the completed printer's proof back the other day I thought it looked like a great little package. A perfect-bound 100 page graphic novel in a bookshelf friendly A5 format. Unlike our previous one-shots we've printed The Furies with Bristol-based Fallen Angel Media, a very indie-comics friendly set-up headed by Mal Smith, who's also instrumental in organising the Bristol Small Press Expo. I'd recommend FAM to anyone after our experience of them - and I can see us using them again in the not too distant future.

So, barring some as yet unforseen catastrophe The Furies will be this year's BICS release from Time Bomb Comics which maintains our BICS batting average a treat. Of course, that's not to say we don't care as much about the other conventions - it's just that as we first launched Time Bomb Comics with Ragamuffins at BICS 2007, and followed that up with Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead for BICS 2008 the Brum show has become our unofficial anniversary show.

There's also a chance we may have another one-shot debuting at next month's BICS as well - but those unforseen catastrophe's that avoided The Furies have hit our Bomb Scares horror anthology book with a vengeance. Vanishing files, missing creators, exploding laptops - the gestation and publication of Bomb Scares is turning into a fair horror story in itself! So with the best will in the world we may be saving that for November's Thoughtbubble.

Still it does seem appropriate in saving a release titled Bomb Scares for the last big UK comics event of 2009 - that way we finish the year with a bang!

Friday 26 June 2009

Finally The Furies!

Those awfully nice folk who bought a copy of our first two one-shots will recognise the above image, as both Ragamuffins:Stitches in Time and Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead featured a teaser ad for The Furies on their back pages. Now, Ragamuffins was released in 2007 and Turpin 2008, so I confess we've taken a rather Hollywood stance on the phrase "coming soon", but from our point of view two years is just a drop in the ocean.
You see, The Furies is quite different from any of our existing or forthcoming releases, in that the whole story was conceived, written and drawn more than twenty years ago when both Andy and myself were callow, spotty youths with far too much time on our hands. It was the first major comics work we embarked upon after producing a slew of shorter stories for the 80's small-press scene, and was to turn out to be the last thing we seriously worked on together until we produced Ragamuffins so many years later.
Originally, this dark apocalyptic tale was accepted for publication in the late 80's anthology Ground Zero. Ground Zero was one of those semi-pro-amateur-zines that always seemed to be launching at the annual UKCAC conventions and was never heard of again, but unlike many of it's brethren Ground Zero lasted a mighty three issues before biting the dust. It even advertised its final issue in 2000AD! Debuting in Ground Zero #1, with Andy providing a Furies-themed cover, only three chapters of The Furies ten episodes ever saw publication. The whole story was complete, done and dusted, but it now didn't have anywhere to go and so we both moved on to other things.
Jump cut to 2007, and I decide to form Time Bomb Comics with Andy after getting in touch with him after a good fifteen years or so. We're discussing what comic we should launch with when Andy reminds me he still has all the art for The Furies tucked away somewhere safe. We toyed with having The Furies as our first release, a four-issue mini-series, but then we decided on our one-shots-only policy and The Furies would be better kept for later. Two more years later as it turns out.
However, it's finally time. The Furies will finally be released complete and collected, and of all the comics we've released so far this is one I'm most nervous about. You see, 99% of The Furies is my writing and Andy's art as teenagers. It's raw. Reading it through again after so many years there were some sequences that I still thought worked great - I mean, I'd challenge anyone to read chapter one and not want to know what happens next - but there were some bits that read the opposite. The urge to re-write was almost overwhelming. As it is, we gave everything a slight edit just to paper over some of the cracks and make it more contemporary (for example, originally it was set in the year 2000, now it's in 2012). Every creator wants their work to be the best it can be, after all. And back in 1985, when I wrote The Furies, it was.
So I've been looking at the forthcoming release as kind of a director's cut of a movie that was never originally released in the first place. It's been tweaked and tidied and cleaned where it could be, but not re-cast or re-shot. It's an original, not a re-make. But that original has it's flaws - and that's why I'm nervous.

Friday 22 May 2009

Forthcoming Attractions

Now that Bristol is out of the way and The Sisterhood:Morningstar is launched it's back to getting future Time Bomb Comics further along their way to future publication. Of course, that doesn't mean The Sisters are forgotten about - the one-shot has a listing in the inaugural Haven Comics! catalogue that's out this month and it will be interesting to find out how much comes out of that. Unlike Diamond's Previews catalogue, which for good or ill is still the main industry advance comics showcase, Comics! is purely designed for those comics buyers who
want something other than what the Big Guys can offer. Haven's customer base is exactly the sort of crowd who'll take a gamble on something a bit different, and there's a great range of varied publishers - including Time Bomb! - featured over the catalogue's 100 pages. Obviously we have a vested stake in Haven's success but apart from that as a comics reader it's something I want to personally support and see flourish, and it would be great to see Comics! regularly sitting next to Previews on the comic shop shelves before too long. Of course, that can only happen through reader demand, so please badger your local comics emporium to sign up with Haven and have their Comics! catalogue available.
Moving to the future Time Bomb has a number of projects on the boil, and we can now announce our remaining 2009 releases:
First off we finally have The Furies graphic novel, written by Steve Tanner with art by Andy Dodd. This was trailed on the back covers of Ragamuffins and Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead, and we now have a fixed October release date to tie in with the British International Comics Show in Birmingham. Time Bomb's first graphic novel has been a long time coming, much longer than most people realise.
You see, The Furies was the first major comic that Andy and myself first collaborated together on nearly 25 years ago, and it finally seeing print form in full is something that we've both wanted to happen for a long time. Ten chapters long and set in 2012, it's an apocalyptic tale of good, evil, and that grey area in between where most of us spend our lives, with a fair few dollops of the old ultra-violence throughout.
I personally think we're taking a gamble with this one - this is predominantly the work of two teenage creators inspired by 1980's comics, and is very different in tone and style and ability from what each of us do now. I'll freely admit that some parts of it make me cringe today but apart from a few tweaks to make it more contemporary and smooth over a couple of plot cracks it'll be published warts and all!
The other release is Bomb Scares, our first horror anthology. Also coming out for BICS, this features work from Andy and myself as well as a range of other artists and writers who have made themselves known to us over the last couple of years. Some of them are currently working on longer project's for us but a lot of the work in Bomb Scares is by very talented individuals who deserve to be recognised but just don't have the time in their already busy schedules to produce lengthier works for us - so short stories are an ideal compromise.
Anthologies seem a cormerstone of the UK comics industry these days (with Accent UK chunky yearbooks surely setting the standard) so it seemed fair time to throw Time Bomb's anthology hat into the ring as well. Horror comics have also traditionally flourished in the anthology fomat, from the notorious EC titles in the 50's and Warren's 60's and 70's monthlies to Steve Bissette's disturbing Taboo series in the 80's and 90's. Recently Accent UK's Zombies collection published a couple of years ago has been their most successful to date, so it seems comic fans love horror comics and I'm hoping they love our take on the format too!
And isn't Bomb Scares the most perfect title for a horror book from a company named Time Bomb Comics anyway?

Friday 15 May 2009

SPExpo Report

Going down to Bristol on Friday for the SPExpo, we didn’t really know what to expect. Would the split with the smaller publishers being in a separate venue make a big difference? Would the reduced numbers of tickets made available have a massive impact on footfall? Would Bristol be turned into a war zone as thousands of disgruntled fanboys rampaged through the city centre fuelled with the fury that they couldn’t just turn up and buy their tickets on the door? The answers, as it turned out, were yes, yes, and no.

The separation of the two events made a huge difference. This was no more evident than on Saturday morning when a steady line of people were queued outside the Expo’s Ramada venue in breathless anticipation whereas the SPExpo’s queue was non-existent. As us little guys were setting up our tables at SPExpo we were exchanging nervous glances, and the same question was on each of our minds: was this going to be a washout? Ninety minutes after official opening brows remained furrowed as the Mercure remained mostly empty and reports were coming in that the Ramada was packed.

Slowly however, the SPExpo kicked into gear, and whilst it may never have quite achieved the full throttle of its sister event, the SPExpo chugged steadily along in a most enjoyable fashion. The venue was wonderful. Time Bomb was in the bigger of the two rooms; a light, airy space that was only spoilt by lack of air-conditioning, that problem was sorted out once some bright spark actually enquired about switching it on. Footfall was steady throughout and those that were there seemed to enjoy themselves. Whilst never anywhere near capacity the SPExpo attendees were definitely the more discerning comics fan with much broader horizons than their spandex-devoted brethren who eye indie comics with suspicion as they scuttle past on their way to their next mainstream fix. So while numbers were low, sales were steady, and the majority of exhibitors – including us - seemed to at least cover their table costs and then some. In fact we had a more successful one day SPExpo this year than we did at the two day Comics Expo last year.

Our launch of The Sisterhood: Morningstar went well, with some good reviews already received, and sales were also brisk for Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead – quite a few sold to people who’d heard of it over the past few months and wanted to see what all the fuss was about for themselves. Several people came up to us to tell us how much they enjoyed our highwaymen versus zombies one-shot they’d picked up at BICS last year, and the smiles and anticipation when we told them about our forthcoming vampire-themed Dick Turpin and the Crimson Plague one-shot were great to see.

Only one aspect of the SPExpo fell flat – the after-show party/disco which couldn’t really compete with the usual Expo Saturday night at the Ramada. Comics fans and creators are much more drinkers than dancers it seems, and after an hour at the SPExpo party we went off to the Ramada ourselves.

The SPExpo was a one-day affair, so Sunday was spent in pure comic fan mode enjoying what the main Comics Expo had to offer. The first thing that struck me was how small and cramped it all was – such a contrast to the spacious SPExpo the day before. Those indie publishers that had been lucky enough to secure a table at the Expo were in a tiny room at the arse end of everything and whilst it was good to finally catch up with Accent UK, Futurequake, Smallzone, Factor Fiction and Moonface Press they did seem in retrospect to get the grubby end of the stick, and that some of them felt they may book into the SPExpo next year instead really said it all. To be honest I had forgotten how tiring conventions could be if you’re an attendee and by mid-afternoon I was just flaked out in the bar feeling a bit knackered and missing a table to sit behind - admittedly part of this could have been due to the previous night’s extended drinking finally catching up with me!

Over the weekend probably the biggest negative was how little awareness there seemed by Comics Expo ticket holders that the SPExpo existed. Signage and directions for the SPExpo at the Ramada was few and far between, and exterior signage at the Mercure was non-existent. So over the weekend we heard tales of fans who had no idea the SPExpo was running, where it was or how to get there. Several people (including some of the pro’s) didn’t realise the SPExpo ran for just one day and so had structured their weekend to check out the Mercure on the quieter Sunday. The announcement that SPExpo 2010 will be a two-day affair will at least address the latter but the organiser’s of both really should get together and get something in place that will better drive traffic between the two venues.

Of course the whole point of both the Small Press and Comics Expo’s are comics themselves, and between the two events there were also some great new titles to be had including but certainly not limited to:

Westerns – the latest Accent UK anthology book which is up to their usual fine standard and to me their best so far.

Tim Skinner – Andy Winter’s latest which surprised me when I heard that it was turned down by Diamond and now that I’ve read it that decision has flummoxed me even more.

Cancertown – Insomnia’s much awaited graphic novel by Cy Dethan. I’ve yet to read this one but it was easily the talk of the weekend as shifting 200 units of a £14.99 graphic novel in a weekend is no mean feat!

Atrox – Giovanni Spinella’s horror anthology published through the Comics Creators Guild with a beautiful cover and some genuinely disturbing tales.

Finally, despite the niggles Mal and the Fallen Angel team really did a cracking job of organising the SPExpo with a much shorter lead time than is usual for these kind of events and Bristol 2010 is a weekend I’m already looking forward to!

Friday 1 May 2009

Countdown to SPExpo

It's been a while since I last posted. Unfortunately a good 2 weeks of April were wiped out when my laptop motherboard decided to blow up, thus ensuring that while the fault was identified and summarily repaired I had no internet access or access to any PC files, folders and applications either. This meant that a lot of things were forced to grind to a halt, but we're now back on track.

This time next week Suzanne and myself will be clambering aboard a train headed for Bristol, with the combined Comics Expo and SPExpo looming. Above is the latest promo poster about the event released by Fallen Angel, and it's good to see the Time Bomb logo utilised so well again. Obviously a full report will follow but this looks like it will be a great weekend, with lots going on and proof that the UK comics industry is far from stagnant. Both shows have been announced as being sold out, which is a first for a UK comics convention unless anyone can correct me otherwise - which should indicate a healthy attendance but could also mean that the hotel venues have been subjected to some over-zealous health and safety restrictions. I do predict though that a lot of fans will be just turning up on spec, unaware all tickets have gone and geting quite upset if they've travelled across the country only to be refused access. Hmmm, I wonder how much unwanted Expo passes are going for this week on ebay?

In Time Bomb terms we're all set for the Saturday trade, piles of The Sisterhood:Morningstar await the train journey, and our promotional postcards and t-shirts arrived last week. The Sisterhood artist Dan Barritt will have his own table at the show so that gives us a useful opportunity to double our presence - and no doubt on the Sunday I'll be roaming the Expo to try and get some more interest and sales. Or just spend it in fan mode and send Suzanne to do that.

The only sour note is that Diamond USA have rejected The Sisterhood for distribution. Given the current climate and recent Diamond decisions (Eagle-award winning Andy Winter's latest one shot was also rejected, somewhat incredulously, as well as Classical Comics' The Tempest being pulled after solicitation) it wasn't unexpected, but Diamond UK still seem interested to make the book available to UK shops so fingers crossed for that. The Sisterhood will also be available through Haven and Smallzone, so not all gloom and doom.

Submissions continue to roll in, some great, some not so much, and following Bristol we hope to make some announcements about some forthcoming projects that are now very close to being green-lit. One in particular - Dick Turpin and the Crimson Plague - I completed the script for this week and has already been assigned an artist; expected sometime in 2010, Andy Dodd will naturally be providing the illustrations for a second slice of horrific historical featuring the notorious highwayman.

Finally, returning to the subject of SPExpo, if you are one of the lucky few who has secured a ticket and is coming along please make sure you drop by our table and say hello. Obviously we might give you a bit of hard-sell while you're there but much of the fun of these events comes from seeing old friends again and making new ones and enjoying all that the UK comics scene has to offer.

See you in Bristol!

Friday 3 April 2009

You've Got Talent - And We Want To See It

We get a lot of submissions here at Time Bomb, certainly a lot more than a small-time Brit Indie publisher could expect to receive, but in the last couple of weeks our submissions inbox has been more than usually busy. We love to get submissions, and we're always looking for new creators, but the level of interest we suddenly seemed to be getting seemed to warrant further investigation. I mean, we're small, there's maybe a handful of guys in the outside of Blighty who have read any of our books but suddenly we're getting emails from New Jersey, Delaware, Florida, Cuba, China - everywhere. So I do a bit of digging and I come across this website which explains it all.

Personally, it's great that we're listed on this site and I'm delighted that on the site illo (reproduced above) that our easily identifiable logo is sat just to the left of the one from Marvel Comics. It's the closest we'll ever get to level pegging with the Bullpen! But professionally I'm delighted that Jason Thibault has spent what must be hours collating a one-stop resource for anybody wanting to submit their work to a comics publisher. Lone reader, visit this site and bookmark it!

So that explained the surge in emails, but what was baffling was that on the site Time Bomb's submission guidelines are clearly laid out but a lot of the potential creators contacting us, invariably due to being listed on this site, weren't actually following the guidelines that were set! I've left a comment on Jason's site adressing this very thing but it's worth repeating here:

"Guys, whether you’re writers, artists, colorists, letterers or the whole package please make sure you actually follow the submission guidelines for whatever company you’re submitting to. Time Bomb’s are quite simple: 5 sequential pages of script or art. That’s it. So a couple of unrelated splash pages, or 2 comic pages, or a resume? No, we don’t want that. A link to a website is fine, but when we get there we want to see something close to those 5 sequential pages.

"Time Bomb are tiny at the moment, and we’re always looking for new creators that we can publish, but I’m guessing that if we’re not getting submissions in the format we want, then neither are the other, bigger publishers. So please, make sure you adopt a professional approach from the start and tailor your first pitch exactly to the specs given."

But I still love to receive submissions. So much so that Time Bomb are undertaking it's first official talent search at the upcoming SPExpo in May. I've sent a press release to the major UK comic news sites regarding this so keep an eye out, but I'm hoping we'll find some great creators at the show to develop future projects with. Certainly if you're an aspiring creator and you're reading this, please come along to our table at SPExpo with some samples of your work or contact us through as Time Bomb would love to see what you can do.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

SPExpo, Sisterhood, Censorship

Since Hi-Ex there's been more fall-out announced by the Diamond threshold revisions, with the monthly Harker book from Ariel Press being pulled after the first issue. This was one of the gems of last year's BICS and it's a great shame that this title won't get the wider notice it really deserves, but the plans to release the intended six-issue storyline as a trade further down the line is a silver lining on that particular cloud. Good luck, chaps!

Despite the Diamond hiccup work continues at Time Bomb Comics and we hope to secure future listings in the Previews catalogue. So much so, this week The Sisterhood:Morningstar has been sent off to Andy Martin at Diamond UK for scrutiny and hopefully approval. Irregardless of how successful that is, we're now looking forward to the Bristol SPExpo where this one-shot will be officially launched. This is shaping up to be quite an event and, for something that was put together in the wake of the downsizing of the the main Expo, is rapidly becoming the more interesting of the two. Just take a look at the SPExpo website for the incredible amount of exhibitors that will be there. And I reckon that despite the Main Expo being at the Bristol Ramada over the full weekend, the one-day SPExpo at the Mercure around the corner will be the place to be on the Saturday 9th May.

Other news, and one project on the horizon is Primetime, which has been briefly mentioned here before. The art on this one is by Paul Thompson - another new find - and Paul has been steadily working on the story for a few months now. Primetime is a fast paced crime caper in a futuristic city where televised entertainment is the be all and end all, and should be one of our early 2010 releases.

Also due 2010 is a follow-up to Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead, this time featuring everyone's favourite highwayman battling vampires in the heart of eighteenth-century London. I'm in the middle of scripting this one at the moment, but the Dick Turpin and the Crimson Plague one-shot is proving as much fun to write as the first Turpin story - and works perfectly well as both as a stand-alone and a sequel. Needless to say Andy Dodd will again be the artist on this one, and we should have a teaser piece ready for October's BICS.

Finally to get serious for a moment, please click over to the excellent Comic Shop Voice website which has been instrumental in forming the Comic Book Alliance in response to how the proposed Government Coroners Bill could have an effect on comics. Please read the excellent article on the Comic Shop Voice homepage and please then add your name to the online petition.

Friday 20 February 2009

Hi-Ex Hi-Jinks

Time Bomb Comics has been looking forward to the Hi-Ex 2009 convention since last year's Bristol Expo when we were sat at the opposite table from Richmond Clements and Vicky Stonebridge who somehow organise Hi-Ex along with being part of the Futurequake team and holding down day jobs. Our enthusiastic confirmation that we would attend the next show, followed by an equally enthusiastic payment to secure an exhibitor's table was only mildly tempered by the realisation of where the Inverness home of Hi-Ex actually is.

From Time Bomb Central in Leicester it's A Long Way - Inverness sits at a point in Northern Scotland where you imagine there's not much of anything further up, excepting remote wilderness, snow and extremely doughty Scots - so the prospect of a 10 hour train journey was not something either Suzanne or myself were looking forward to. Luckily it turned out we could fly up there from Birmingham airport for £30 cheaper and 8 and a half hours shorter so that was the far more sensible option. As it was our flight was delayed due to Inverness airport being closed by a sudden and unexpected blizzard but we still arrived in Inverness on a crisp Thursday afternoon safe in the knowledge that had we had laid ourselves at the mercy of the rail network we'd be just passing through Newcastle. If we were lucky.

With Hi-Ex taking place over the weekend, we had some time to have a good look around. Inverness itself is best described as small but bustling, but the main attraction must be the infamous Loch Ness. Friday afternoon was spent on a small motor-boat chugging up the centre of the Loch, and although we didn't see any monsters the atmospheric nature of the Loch made me understand why some people do. With Nessie in mind we also visited what is known as "The Monster Centre" which was sold to us as Scotland's best-rated attraction to do with the Loch Ness legend. I'd love to meet who rated it this way as it really was an appalling waste of time, just a series of dark connected rooms that play poor quality screen projections. That the gift shop is bigger than the "attraction" itself speaks volumes, that the gift shop doesn't contain any books, pamphlets, guides or even comics about the monster legend or indeed anything else speaks even more.

The touristy bit done, we could now look forward to Hi-Ex. We'd been following the Hi-Ex website closely and were aware that some of th high-profile guests had dropped out, so it was great to arrive at the Eden Court venue and find a healthy mix of publishers, small-pressers and dealers nonetheless. Along with ourselves Futurequake were there, as well as Murky Depths, Semiotic Cohesion, Cinebooks, Omnivistascope and Renegade Entertainment - a real mix! As with the BICS event last year, this time the Hi-Ex was split across the two sides of the venue, with all the artists and workshops being at the other end to us. This meant that at times the dealer's room was empty of visitors, but this was invariably followed by a mini-rush between the workshops, signings and panels as people looked for other things to do. (Overall I'm not sure if splitting the event like that worked - as with BICS there was a feeling that some visitors were not fully aware of where everything was - and hopefully this will be something Rich and Vicky will look at for future shows. Certainly the size of the dealers room and the wide corridor outside of it could easily have accommodated the creators who were in the other half of the venue.)
For us it was great to introduce Time Bomb Comics to a whole new audience, and our table did a healthy trade through the weekend - our previews of The Sisterhood generated a fair bit of interest which bodes well for the book's official launch this coming May at Bristol. We'd decided to do a special deal for Hi-Ex, with a copy of each of the three one-shots and a signed Dick Turpin poster for £10 and this seemed to go down very well with maybe three quarters of our sales coming from this deal, so we'll probably be repeating that at Bristol too.

The lulls in footfall meant that there was more time for the exhibitors themselves to have a look around, and a great feeling of cameraderie developed amongst us that spilled into the evenings as the creators and exhibitors all got together in the hotel bar, usually in a great big circle, and just got to know each other. I ended up next to Al Davison, someone who I'd seen at every convention I've been to but never had an opportunity to speak to, and had a thoroughly engaging and fascinating discussion with him about his comics career - including some juicy titbits about the forthcoming Doctor Who monthly comic he's working on with Tony Lee. As well as getting to know Al I spent time catching up with Terry from Murky Depths, and letting Alex know from Renegade Entertainment that their "new talent" artist Rudy Nebres had actually been working in comics a fair few years before most of us. It was also good to meet Gary from Heroes For Sale, Inverness' sole comic shop who bought a big pile of Time Bomb Comics to sell on to his customers and therefore revealed himself to be a thoroughly decent chap!

Of course, no UK convention these days seems complete without Stormtroopers and it was good to see the 501st Garrison out in force again. There's something about these guys that just puts everyone in a good mood, and they really added to the atmosphere of the weekend - especially when frog-marching a young lad out of the building for making disparaging remarks about Darth Vader! There were also big smiles when Judge Rosie arrived - the cutest of 4 year olds in a Mega City Judge outfit, the home-made pudding bowl helmet the icing on the cake!

It was also great to see a real mix of people at the show. Apart from the expected comics fans there were families with children who thought it would be a fun day out (they were right, it was!) and smatterings of folk who really never knew comics existed as they do and seemed to be happily amazed that comics are much more than DC Thomson, 2000AD and Viz. Encouragingly, one phrase we heard a lot from visitors to the show was "this is my first comics convention but it won't be my last!"

However, the real stars of the event were Rich and Vicky who spent the weekend racing around making sure everything was as it should be, making us all feel very welcome and continually thanking us for making the trip North.

The pleasure really was all ours, guys.

Sunday 8 February 2009

A Welcome Haven

It's been a mixed time of it since my assessment of the Diamond situation last week. The bad news we received was that Diamond will not now be distributing Dick Turpin due to inital orders falling short of those pesky revised thresholds. Obviously a big disappointment for us, but half-expected. Diamond UK are keen for us to continue submitting all our future one-shots so the door is not closed, but for the time being we may need to give it a bit of a shove.

At the same time we've been taken on by Haven Distribution, who for many are being hailed as the saviour to all those publisher's unable to get a Diamond deal. It's great they want to take us on, but it's no secret that they're a much smaller operation and with that not as all-encompassing as Diamond are. That said, they seen very enthusiastic to support the smaller publishers and have found themselves in the eye of the storm in the last couple of weeks, so hopefully everybody will benefit. For us, it means we get some Time Bomb prescence State-side, which is very good news. I've also directly sold 20 copies each of Dick Turpin and Ragamuffins off to a New Jersey based comic shop who sells mostly online, so it proves that if the Diamond Highway is closed to new traffic then the journey can still be completed on the B-roads!

Other better news: The Sisterhood:Morningstar is currently being printed up, and I should receive them back in time to pack some into my Hi-Ex flight bag come Thursday. The online preview is up on myebook and has already had a fair few viewings (as can you if you follow this link) and we've had some good online coverage of it already. The official launch date in May at the SPExpo seems a way off, but it's great to have something completed so far in advance for a change!
Time Bomb are also receiving a fair few submissions at the moment, which bodes well. Some are showing a lot of promise, so hopefully before too long we'll be making some official announcements, but to me it's great that other creators are seeing Time Bomb Comics as a viable means of showcasing their work and that we're steadily moving to a publishing schedule that's a good mixture of different talents. It's also a good feeling that not only are all our 2009 publishing slots full but our 2010 and 2011 slots are filling up too!
However that's still a long way off. The immediate focus now is Hi-Ex taking place next weekend, where we introduce Time Bomb Comics to Scotland, we get our first feedback on The Sisterhood and I introduce Suzanne to the delights of haggis and deep fried Mars bars!

Friday 30 January 2009

Three Steps Forward One Step Back

I've been following the unfolding story on some of the comics news sites of Diamond's decision to increase publisher thresholds. The thresholds are the minimum sales numbers a book must achieve through Diamond for them to agree to distribute it. More importantly these numbers equate to the profit margins that Diamond are looking to achieve on each comic and book sold through Previews. Needless to say this move has caused uproar in certain quarters of the comics community but here's my opinion of it all.

First of all, irregardless of how much this decision makes it that more difficult for smaller comic publishers including Time Bomb Comics to achieve wider distribution, I can wholly understand the business decisions where Diamond is coming from on this. Diamond do NOT have an obligation to stock every comic book under the sun. They're a distribution business, they only need to stock product they think they can sell and make a return from - just like any other distribution business the world over. If a distrubutor has a product that's not shifting the required units for it to make the costs involved in that distribution viable then they will no longer stock that product. Period.

Secondly there seems to be a general wave of anger with the comments on the various news sites that Diamond are killing off the small press with this announcement. That, somehow, it's Diamond's fault that the indie press may be squeezed out of business. Sorry guys, but Diamond aren't the big bad here. If any fingers should be pointed it's to the comics buyers who only read Marvel/DC, the retailers who only stock the mainstream, the shops who over-order just to get those variants which can be sold at a ridiculously inflated price. You see, it's a lot of us that's to blame here, for not supporting publishers who really needed it or even giving them a chance. Case in point, there's many comments on the varoius comics news forums that go something along the lines of "I really support the little guys but I never buy any of their books" which to me perfectly illustrates one of the big hurdles that the little guys have to jump, often fail to, and are now likely to be taken out of the race as a result.

That said, we indie publishers are a tenacious lot. Unlike the big guys, a lot of us really aren't in it for the money but just because we love the comics medium. So, alternatives will be found whether it's smaller distributors like Haven or (here in the UK) Smallzone, embracing more fully e-books and the opportunities they bring, Amazon listings, e-commerce or building up a base of friendly retailers with which to deal with direct. The only major drawback is the sheer global coverage that Diamond provides as a one-stop-shop will be removed if an indie book doesn't get that all-important Diamond listing in the first place.

Time Bomb Comics are looking at this whole situation with a three steps forward and one step back attitude, which I think is the best stance to take and which seems to be how a lot of our fellow publishers are approaching it. We have projects slated for 2009 and 2010 that will be completed and published whether or not Diamond feel we make the grade, so although it's no guarantee we'll be listed in Previews again we're going to be putting out quality one-shots no matter what.

Not a bad thing, surely?

Friday 23 January 2009

HI-EX on the Horizon

Time Bomb Comics' convention circuit is getting off to an early start this year with the Inverness Hi-Ex show on the weekend of 14th February. This is Hi-Ex's 2nd year and the first Hi-Ex gained instant notoriety not just because it was a great addition to the UK convention calender but also because it was snowed in following a very heavy Highland downfall! To be honest, the idea of being trapped in a convention centre for days with only 1000's of comics and their creators doesn't seem too bad a thing to me - but I'm not really sure how those variant covers would taste once the food ran out.
We had hoped to attend the first show but the logistics just didn't work out so we're delighted that we'll be there this time around. Our attendance involves a first for us - the first convention we've flown to, the 2 hour Birmingham/Inverness flight time much more attractive than the 9 and a half hours it would take by train. There's also been a great deal of thought given to how much we can bring with us, what with the luggage restrictions you get with flights, although I'm looking forward to travelling light with only 2 bags rather than the usual 5 that somehow are essential for those more Southern shows. We've also decided to leave our funky roll up banner behind - it was either that or no fresh clothes for four days.
Andy can't make it to Hi-Ex (it's much too far for him to travel without a carer) but both Suzanne and myself are getting very excited about it for a couple of reasons. Probably the main one is that it will be the first time most comic fans in Scotland will be able to sample our wares as I suspect not that many take the lengthy journey to Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds or anywhere else which has become the convention mainstays of recent years. So unlike the latter shows where we pitch up with one new one-shot as well as the previous releases, all three of our one-shots will be brand-new to a lot of the Hi-Ex crowd.
That's right - three one-shots - as we'll be using Hi-Ex to present some advance copies of The Sisterhood:Morningstar, fresh from the printer but hopefully not still wet. To be honest it was touch and go if we'd manage this, but Dan's finished the artwork and next weekend will be coming down to Time Bomb Central in Leicester to make sure that everything is set to print. The official launch won't be until May for this one - at the SPExpo in Bristol no less - but I'm really keen to be able to bring Hi-Ex a Time Bomb Comics mini-exclusive as well as getting some advance feedback about the book that we can hopefully use in our main launch.
To me, it's a key element to bring something new to each convention we appear at. Whether it's a new one-shot, merchandise or the brand in itself I'm a great believer in added value and when I'm taking in a convention as a comics fan - even if it's those quick 10 minutes away from the Time Bomb Comics table - I always get a big kick out of seeing what new stuff the other exhibitors have this time around. If it's the same old stuff as last year, then I'm disappointed.
The other thing I'm looking forward to at Hi-Ex is the fact that it's not as huge as the other shows just yet, so there's a chance I can meet some of the other exhibitors and guests that will be there. Sometimes the big shows can be overwhelming, the smaller events tend to have a tighter focus and usually everyone is slightly more relaxed about things. Two people who I'm suspecting won't be that relaxed are Richmond and Vicky, Hi-Ex's organisers, who will no doubt be displaying that manic stare and rictus grin over the two days that all con-runners seem to get due to putting anything like this together being no easy task.
But apart from them I'm expecting a pretty chilled vibe - and not just from the snow outside.

Friday 16 January 2009

Fathering The Sisterhood

Over the past few months there's been a few mentions of The Sisterhood on these pages. Now that publication of this latest one-shot is imminent it seemed a good time to give you an idea of what it's all about. Firstly, here's a few lines from the initial premise put together in November 2007:
In the far future the Church is all. Not since the middle ages has the domination of church over state been more manifest, but in this future the church rules on an interplanetary scale, system after system bound by rigid dogma – a dogma as convoluted and contradictory as the different belief systems that it has adopted into one.

The Church’s rule is absolute, but it is also ruthless. Anyone and everything that does not conform is branded undesirable and is marked for conversion. Anyone and everything that opposes conversion faces one thing – annihilation.
The church has many agents, but along with it’s popes, cardinals, bishops and priests is another faction that are feared by those even at the higher echelons of the church itself.

They are the Nuns of the church, women with the appointed the task of maintaining the proscribed faith and ruthlessly destroying any who would dare to oppose the church and its teachings.

They are The Sisterhood.
Or to put it another way: Space Nuns with Big Guns. The concept came after meeting with Dan Barritt at the 2007 Thoughbubble, deciding I wanted to work on a one-shot with him, and then coming up with an idea that seemed to suit his art style. The Sisterhood seemed ideal for that, Dan's manga-inspired artwork deserved showcasing with a story that could feature some of the elements so associated with that: science-fiction, action heroines, and hardware.
Following the original premise Dan and I spent a couple of months bouncing designs back and forth, locking down the look of the character's and the world they inhabit. This was a rewarding experience, the creative wellspring had just been tapped and the concepts and ideas gushed forth, not all of them useful and one or two pretty useless. I'll admit the useless ideas were mine. What was more exciting though was how the concept continued to evolve, the initial storyline I'd developed transmogrifying into something that really drove home how collaborative comics are.
I usually work on a comic script in sections. There's couple of reasons for this. Firstly I personally hate decompressed comics and the feeling that a 5 page story has been stretched out to 20 for no great reason, so I work on each six pages as a mini-episode in itself. This means that during those pages the story has developed somewhat and given me a focus to really tighten the dialogue and to lose any flab. By the end of page six there has to have been some development to carry the story forward into the next six, and so on. The second reason is that if something goes horribly wrong and I need to re-write or re-work a script substantially, scripting in smaller segments seems to allow me to fix things without too much of a headache. It's also useful to find out what the artist thinks as we go along as in some cases the story changes in the latter stages because of the feedback from the earlier stages.
The Sisterhood is a case in point, with a conclusion springing from some comments Dan made after receiving the first few pages of script that only enhanced what we'd already planned. The story road remained the same, but now there seemed some more interesting things to look at along the journey. Of course it didn't end there, at each stage of The Sisterhood's completion Dan and I would swap suggestions to fine-tune what we had, right through to the finished art stage. It's a great way to work and a true synthesis with writer and artist, creating comics as a collaborative process which is what they always should be.
Pending any last minute disaster The Sisterhood will be heading for the printers in February, and with the distinction of being Time Bomb's first full-colour comic. At the moment we're hoping we'll have some preview copies available for Hi-Ex but if not will be available through our online shop shortly.

Friday 9 January 2009


That, lone reader, is the exclusive order number allocated by Diamond UK for Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead. If you haven't already done so, please, please, please have a word with the nice chap at your local comics emporium and ask him to order a couple of copies.

Since the beginning of the New Year I've been speaking to lots of comics emporium chappies myself, calling as many UK comics shops as I can and generally bigging up Time Bomb Comics' highwaymen vs zombies extravaganza as much as I can. The listing in Previews is fantastic, but not much cop if we don't get any orders at all.

What's been interesting is how different some of the shops seem to be from my expectation of them, built up through years of seeing them mentioned online or in print. Some of the unknown, smaller shops turned out to be the most supportive and, yes, excited by our Dick Turpin book and that we'd taken time to call them about it. Others who I thought would be a shoe-in were far more difficult a sell, coming across as pretty disinterested. Fair enough, some you win and some you lose, but it was eye-opening when a shop who'd advertised in Comics International for years turned out to be more Indie-unfriendly than their full page monthly ads had always suggested. The other surprise was the comic shop who've always seemed to be championed as the role-model for what a comics shop should be turned out to be quite snooty, the voice at the other end of the tone laced with that "why are you wasting my time" tone of disinterest that I'm sure everyone has experienced at some time! Yes, comics are an art form but no, to promote that doesn't mean you have to act so bloody superior. Oh well, you live and learn.

But the good vibes far, far outweighed the bad and there's now a handful of shops out there who I'd say are very Time Bomb Comics friendly, and links to their shops will be on the main site in due course. One of these is also keen for us to do an in-store signing!

In the meantime go back and read the first paragraph again. Please.