Signing

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Rogue Trooper #2, written by some bloke called Brian Ruckley, will be in your local comic shop and available for digital reading at comixology.com tomorrow. Huzzah! (You can even read the first few pages of it for free in a preview, here for example).

To celebrate, I’m giving away signed copies of Rogue Trooper #1 over on the Winterbirth fan page on Facebook. If you’d like to be in with a chance of getting your hands on one, all you need to do is head over to the Winterbirth page, go to the post that starts SIGNED COMIC GIVEAWAY and follow the entirely idiot-proof instructions.

If there are more entrants than available copies, I’ll pick a winner next Monday.

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… kind of fun. First time I’d been to one of these ‘pop culture’ shows that are sprouting up all over the place now, mixing celebs from film/TV/Sports with bits of toys, comics, all sorts of odds and ends. First time Newcastle had had one too, I think, and the level of interest seemed to have caught the organisers a bit by surprise, so there were biiig queues (at least on the Saturday, I gather it was all more or less under control by the time Sunday came around).

Anyway, I had a good time. Was great to meet Alberto Ponticelli in the flesh and spend a pleasant few hours hanging out with him. Talked to a few folks about Rogue Trooper, signed a lot of copies of the first issue. Got my own, unique copy as a souvenir, signed by me, Alberto and Courtney, the very nice lady from the convention crew who patiently sat with us for the whole day:

All the usual sort of stuff was going on …

… but a few personal highlights/impressions:

  • seeing a Rorschach cosplayer wandering around all day holding a can of baked beans (you’d have to have read Watchmen to get that …)
  • having lunch in the secret guests’ facilities while sitting next to Frank Bruno (you’d have to be a Brit of a certain age, or a serious boxing fan, to get that), and realising he really is as big as he always looked, and he really does have the deeeepest voice ever heard on the surface of the planet
  • watching (and filming, but that didn’t work) Alberto do a Rogue Trooper sketch in three minutes flat – which he then gave to me, because he’s nice like that:

  • being Judged (inexplicably, I was released without charge) …

  • realising I have never, not once in my life, been as much of a fan of any piece of entertainment, or brand, or celebrity, as many of the attendees were. Not being sure whether that was a good thing or bad; but knowing I didn’t regret it for one second.
  • coming out of the ‘celeb’ toilets just as Teal’c from Stargate SG-1 was going in, and thinking ‘Huh. Isn’t it funny how life turns out?’
  • being generally very struck by how extremely pleasant and patient and accommodating all the celebs were in dealing with their fans, no matter how big or small their celebritude was (and then overhearing one of them – who shall remain nameless – at the train station after the show telling someone it had been a ‘terrible, terrible madhouse’, and feeling some sympathy. Can’t be that easy, doing what they do at these shows and smiling, being utterly professional, all the way through it.)
  • giving Alberto a sustained and detailed introduction to the correct use of the word ‘Cheers’ in colloquial English (I think he got the hang of it, since he’s using it in his e-mails to me now …)

But you know what the best bit of the whole day was? It was the most striking, most obvious example of something that happened several times: people deriving enormous pleasure from their experience of being at the show. And even though this instance only involved me somewhat indirectly, it was immensely enjoyable to sit there and watch it happen.

A guy came wandering past, saw me and Alberto sitting there and came over to see what was what. He was after a copy of Rogue Trooper, but then he discovered Alberto’s small portfolio of original art pages for sale, and I could see his eyes lighting up in something approaching disbelief. To cut a long story short, this guy eventually (after queueing at a cash machine for about half an hour, spending another fifteen minutes trying to decide) bought a page of original Ponticelli comic art, and he was as happy as a happy person could be.

He said something along the lines of ‘You’ve made my day, I never in my life thought I’d own something like this’, and he absolutely meant it, and he was absolutely delighted. It was great. And it was kind of the point of the whole show, really. Whyever they came, whoever they wanted to see, I guess pretty much everyone who was there was just looking for that moment when they’d think to themselves ‘This is awesome. I never imagined …’

And although, on some really quite profound level I don’t get, can’t share in and indeed find a little dispiriting this whole celebrity culture, this idolisation of actors and characters and shows and films and fictions, this longing to be part of something, there’s no denying the happiness that was abroad in Newcastle on Saturday. And there’s no denying it was infectious.

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I’ve got a post up at SF Signal, about the experience of switching (temporarily! – I do still have a new novel coming out this October, after all!) from prose to comics writing: What Happens When A Novelist Tries To Write A Comic?. Do go check it out if you’re interested.

Enough about what I think about things, though. It occurred to me I’ve got a chance here to do something I’ve not done in a looong time, so for nostalgic reasons as much as anything, here comes … A Review Round-Up!

What some folks have made of Rogue Trooper #1:

‘Rogue Trooper is off to a killer start and I can’t wait for more.’ IGN

‘This comic nails the atmosphere of the world and the voice of the title character.’ Adventures in Poor Taste

‘Checks all the first issue boxes while still giving you a great story.’ Comic Book Therapy

‘We have a winner here.’ Comic Bastards

‘This is an impressive opening issue for the series.’ Unleash the Fanboy

‘Well worth adding to your pull list. Final score: 8 out of 10.’ Rhymes With Geek

‘A great piece of apocalyptic pulp.’ Flickering Myth

All of which is very nice. If you haven’t already, there’s still time to pick up the first issue at your local comic shop ( if you have one), or at comixology if you don’t (where I’ve just noticed, in the course of finding that link, that it appears to be piling up 5 star reviews, which is also very nice).

Thanks to anyone and everyone who’s said nice things about this first issue, wherever they’ve said them.

Now I must go and do some preparation for my first trip to a convention in a while: Me and the Rogue Trooper artist, Alberto Ponticelli, will be at Newcastle Film and Comic Con tomorrow, Saturday 8th March, where I believe we may both be doing such things as signing stuff and talking about stuff. If by any chance you’re there, do say hello. Neither me nor Alberto will bite. Probably.

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Newcastle Film and Comic Con runs Sat 8th and Sun 9th March. I’ll be there on the Saturday, in my capacity as writer of Rogue Trooper – issue #1 of which will, I think, be out in the world (in comic shops and digital sales-places) this very Wednesday. I believe signing and panelling may be involved during my day-trip to Newcastle, so do say hello if you happen to be there.

A probably rather greater incentive to say hello is that my rather talented collaborator on the comic, the artist Alberto Ponticelli, will be at the con on both days, signing Rogue Trooper #1. He’s created a rather splendid variant cover for the first issue, specifically for this and other Showmasters shows in the UK. Obviously, since he’s the interior artist, of all the covers so far done for the series, this is the one that most closely replicates the look and vibe of what lurks within.

Got to say, I’m kind of looking forward to the show. Partly because it’s my first chance to actually meet Alberto in the flesh; partly because I’ve never previously been – in any capacity – to one of these big ‘pop culture’ conventions that have kind of taken off around the world in the last few years. I’m curious, you know? I’ll take my camera, report back here on my impressions.

Incidentally, you can get a sneak peek at Rogue Trooper #1 – the first seven pages – over at comicbookresources right now.

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Have meant to post this a couple of times in the last month or two – first when I ran a signed book giveaway on Winterbirth’s Facebook page, and then two or three weeks back when I stopped in to sign a book – but keep forgetting.  Now I’ve remembered, and seems wise to strike while the iron’s hot, since sure as sure is sure I’ll forget again if I don’t.

So: a reminder, for those who care about such things (including those who missed out in the aforementioned Facebook giveaway), that you can purchase signed copies of any of my books – the paperbacks, at least; I think hardbacks are no longer available – from the jolly good Transreal Fiction, Edinburgh’s premier specialist sf bookshop.

The cost is cover price plus post and packing, and in addition to a signature, you can get a personalised dedication, date, whatever you like really.  Full details are on the relevant bit of the Transreal website.

End Public Service Announcement.

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In not-News, but vaguely News-related, News I’m celebrating the little burst of News last week by giving away signed books this week.

The action is over on the Winterbirth Facebook page, so if you’re a Facebooker head on over there and leave a comment on the relevant post (it should be obvious, since it’s titled SIGNED BOOK GIVEAWAY! or something similar) to be in with a chance of getting your hands on your choice of signed book what I wrote.

And as previously mentioned, I’m still thinking of having one more News Epilogue this week, in the form of an audio file of me talking.  I realise this will fill precisely no one with feverish anticipation, but as an unashamed podcast junkie it tickles my fancy to put my own horrible voice out there, in however modest a form.  So at some point in the next day or two, that may well show up here.

That’s all.  Au revoir!

With the publication of The Edinburgh Dead now looming, it seems a sensible moment to mention that, as with my previous books, those who want to get their hands on a signed (and optionally dedicated etc.) copy of the tome can do so through Edinburgh’s finest emporium of booky speculative fiction, Transreal Fiction.

At the modest cost of cover price plus shipping, anyone can obtain my elegant signature upon a copy of the UK paperback or, I believe with slightly more limited availability, the US trade paperback.  The details of how it all works are right here for your perusal, so if you’re interested, don’t delay, get your order in today!

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Item 1: First winner of the Facebook signed Fall of Thanes giveaway has been duly selected. One more chance to win – this coming Friday – so there’s still time to sign up as a fan and thereby get yourself entered in the prize draw.

Item 2: According to this review of Fall of Thanes, it appears I might have made someone cry. Good. I mean that in the nicest possible way, obviously.

Item 3: I did an interview at a slightly more unusual venue than my usual online habitat of sf/f book blogs: Grinding to Valhalla, which as far as I can tell is a sort of mass interview site for mmo bloggers/podcasters. As a result, there’s a little bit more in there about my gaming habits/history than is usually the case.

Item 4: And finally … well I’m not really sure what to say about this (found via CBR), other than that I am at once strangely fascinated and strangely repelled:

So, the plan is this: everyone signed up as a fan on the Winterbirth page on Facebook gets entered into a couple of draws – one next Friday, the 8th, the second the following Friday, 15th – and the lucky winners get themselves a free signed, and optionally dedicated etc., hardback copy of Fall of Thanes shipped off in the post to them by my own fair hand. If you like the sound of that, and aren’t already hooked up with the rest of the Godless World fans on Facebook, get yourself over there and join up.

Or, if you’re allergic to social networking, or just want to short-circuit the system and be 100% certain of getting yourself a signed, personalised copy, get in touch with Transreal Fiction and tell them what you want (click on my name at top right of home page to see how it all works). It won’t be free, but nor will your ownership of it be reliant on the whims of the gods of chance!

Oh, and for those who like these things, there’s a fairly chunky extract from Fall of Thanes to be found here.

Does it betray some weird psycho-sexual dysfunction (phallic insecurity, perhaps?) that my first reaction upon receiving the huge box containing my author copies of Fall of Thanes was to pile them all up into a tower and take a photo of it? Probably not, though I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility entirely. Behold my mighty book tower! See how it … towers.

Clearly, since these have shown up on my doorstep – and looking very fine at that – publication of the third and final part of the trilogy is now unavoidable. Early May, in a shop near you (or online if there’re no shops near you, of course). For those thinking of putting in an order, a reminder: should you be tempted by the thought of a signed, dedicated etc copy of Fall of Thanes all of your own, the place to go is the Transreal website. Click on my name at top right for all the details, but the most important point is that it’ll only cost you cover price plus shipping. Bargain!

While on the subject of books, I have been rectifying a shocking gap in my genre reading. Until this last week or two, my sole experience of Conan the barbarian was the long ago and rather dubious movies featuring a certain US politician in the title role. Now, I’m pleased to say, I’m making up for lost time by working my way through this gorgeous book – close to a thousand pages of pulpy, politically incorrect sword and sorcery merriment. I’m enjoying it considerably more than I thought I might, and for all the lack of ‘polish’ that occasionally crops up in the writing (these stories were being turned out incredibly quickly, after all), I’ve been struck by what an effective writer Robert E. Howard really is. There’s some seriously vivid and atmospheric work going on, alongside all the vigourous hewing and hacking and thumping. Great fun. How come I never read this stuff before? Idiot.

And finally, to the person or persons responsible for ms antispyware 2009, I have only this to say: may your toenails shrivel and crack, and turn yellow and crusty and stinky, flaking off into your socks bit by bit until they are all gone, leaving only a suppurating blisters where once they lay. And if your stupid little malware gets on my PC again, I hope the suppuration spreads up your legs until it reaches areas more vital than toes. So there.

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