Words and Pictures

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Time for a few posts just catching up on various things as 2016 (that was some year, eh?) draws to an end.

First up, my return to writing comics. A couple of years ago I had the great pleasure of writing a Rogue Trooper comic for IDW – still easy to get the collected edition, should you be so inclined (e.g. Amazon US or Amazon UK).

highlander-1-francavillaThat was a huge amount of fun, but now I have the even greater pleasure of writing a Highlander comic, again for IDW. You know Highlander, right? 1980s movie: immortals, swords, a Queen soundtrack. 80s awesomeness, really.

I’ve got to say, writing comics is intensely enjoyable after having spent so much time over the last few years working away at novel-length prose. The collaborative aspect of it – writer, editor, artist, colorist, letterer teaming up and trying steer the ship to a destination everyone can enjoy and be proud of – makes it a profoundly different writing experience. And it causes my e-mail traffic to increase by a factor of ten, easily, which makes me feel important. So that’s good.

The artist for Highlander is Andrea Mutti, and he’s doing an amazing job. Which is high praise, because it’s not an easy job I’ve given him. This is Highlander – immortals battling throughout history – so of course the story I’m telling spans a looooong time; different periods, different looks, different styles. It’s a direct prequel to the original movie, so any fans of that celebration of immortal mayhem should definitely check it out. The first issue’ll hit the shelves of comic book stores, and digital comics vendors, in February 2017, sporting a very fine cover – as you can see up above – by comic artist legend Francesco Francavilla.

You can pre-order it right now, though, at your local comic shop – and if you do you might be able to snag yourself a copy with the special subscription variant cover by Claudia Gironi:Highlander -1-cover-Claudia Gironi

Cool, no? Correct answer is ‘Yes, Brian. Cool.’

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I’ve brought the curtain down on my Words & Pictures column over at SF Signal, where I’ve been talking about comics I like – on a slightly irregular schedule – for close to two years now.  (Two years!  That thing they say about time flying isn’t just a thing they say).

So anyway, that particular adventure is done for now.  Might resurrect it one day, but for now it’s in semi-permanent retirement.  The full collection of my comics-related ramblings over those two years is right here, including a final column on the subject of Conan. And if anyone isn’t already keeping track of the whole SF Signal site, I’d highly recommend doing so.  Not just because they were kind enough to give me a platform, but because there’s something there for pretty much anyone who likes sf, fantasy, horror.

And as that comics-related thing draws to a close, I’m gearing up for the next: writing a Rogue Trooper comic for IDW.  The series launches early next year, but there’s already a lengthy and detailed interview with me up at the excellent Forbidden Planet International blog.  Go there if you’re curious about what I’m doing, how and why.  It may not have all the answers, but it’s got quite a few (plus some truly gorgeous covers by some very fine artists, which are going to be adorning my first issue).

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A round-up of comics-related stuff that’s on my ‘should mention on blog’ list.

First up, for those of you with the kit/inclination to read comics digitally, there’s a stupendously good sale on (for another couple of days) at Comixology, where a whole heap of stuff from the publisher Top Shelf is at up to 60% off.  Top Shelf is a high quality publisher of diverse, smart comics, with not a superhero in sight (except as parody, I suspect).

Me, I snagged myself digital copies of Infinite Kung Fu and The Underwater Welder.  You, if you were so inclined and have not yet sampled their delights, could try From Hell, Far Arden, Essex County, SuperSpy (all better than good imho) or any of the other great books too numerous to mention lurking in the sale listing.

Second up, quite a while back now, top comics blog The Beat ran a 24hrs of webcomics thing, churning out links to heaps of comics that are just a click of a mouse away from your eyeballs.  There’s a whole load of great stuff in there, worth having a browse through when you’ve got a few minutes (hours?) to kill.

Third up, I am still doing some comics talk over at SF Signal, in my Words and Pictures column there.  Since last mentioning it here, I think I’ve talked about:

Prophet, the most wonderfullest, crazy, 70s-ish sf comic you ever saw, anywhere.  Probably.

Daredevil, in three different incarnations; my favourite superhero, I confess, and one who’s been blessed with some very good writers and artists over the years.

Revival and The New Deadwardians, two recent ‘zombie’ comics that do interesting and entertaining things with a rather over-exploited sub-genre, and manage to come up with something fresh.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, the original manga not the movie, which is a fascinating, multi-layered sf epic loaded with ambition and imagination (and cool aircraft dog-fighting with one another).

And fourth and last up, I’ll just mention again, for anyone who missed it last time around, that Forbidden Planet International were kind enough to inflict their Desert Island Comics feature upon me, and I duly came up with a selection of eight comics (plus one luxury) that I’d take with me to a desert island.

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Belatedly realised it’s been something close to an eternity since I offered an update here on what I’ve been talking about in my comics column over at SF Signal (though I can’t resist mentioning that if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll be more up to date).  So, since last we spoke of it:

I talked about the spectacularly good sf/fantasy epic-in-the-making Saga,

then I talked about the crazy, inspired mad scientist romp that is The Manhattan Projects,

then I talked about the Hellboy-related magnum opus B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs.

All are speculative fiction of a pretty high order, and well worth a try even if you’re not a regular comics reader.  Especially Saga, which is not only immensely accessible but I predict is going to be drowning in awards in coming months.

As ever, the full extent of my comics-related rambling is preserved for (inflicted upon?) posterity in the Words and Pictures archive over there.

I did an interview/conversation thing, for SF Signal, with one of the UK’s most multi-talented writers of speculative fiction: Paul Cornell, who has at various times turned his hand to TV, novel and comic-writing with highly successful results.  He’s probably best-known for his involvement with the world of Dr Who, but he has a great many other strings to his bow, and it’s those other strings that the conversation’s about.  Head on over there to witness the discussion.

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It’s been a while since I mentioned here, on this bloggy thing, that when I want to mention comics I generally go elsewhere.  Specifically, I go to SF Signal and my Words and Pictures column there.

It’s been such a big while since it mentioned it, in fact, that in the intervening period four columns have emerged.  Several of them are – unusually for me – actually about superheroes, which a lot folk seem to assume comics are always about anyway:

Gotham Central and All-Star Superman (recentish high points in the comics careers of Batman and Superman)

Walking Dead (not about superheroes, that one, as you probably guessed)

Demon Knights (sort of a superhero comic, but really it’s a heroic/epic fantasy riffing on The Magnificent Seven)

Catwoman (who’s technically a supervillian, I suppose.  But not really.)

As ever, these and all previous instalments are available in the vault-like Words and Pictures archive.

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Another couple of posts have gone up over at SF Signal since I last mentioned my comics-focused Words and Pictures column here:

First a look at a pleasingly bonkers, and satisfyingly concise, manga series by Nobuaki Tadano: 7 Billion Needles. It’s based on a 1950 sf story by Hal Clement, but is very much modern manga sf/horror of a cosmic sort.

Second, what I suspect is probably the most intricate, intimate sf comic currently being published in the US: the fascinating, unique and almost indescribable Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil.

As ever, the full extent of my waffling about comics can be found in the handy Word and Pictures archive.

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A couple of posts have gone up in my Words & Pictures column over at SF Signal in the last few weeks.

First, one on web/digital comics, talking about three free comics that are only a click or two away from your eyeballs: Abominable Charles Christopher, Lady Sabre and Valentine.

Second, one notionally about the Best Graphic Story nominations for the 2012 Hugo Awards, but mostly about the wondrous Locke & Key, than which there are not many better comics imho.

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Another Words and Pictures post is up at SF Signal, in which I talk about the best sf comedy-drama comic your hard-earned money can buy (as far as I know): Chew.

This and all my previous Words and Pictures posts are handily collected in this here archive for your perusing pleasure.

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A new edition of my Words and Pictures column is up at SF Signal, wherein I talk mostly about the best of the relatively few manga series I’ve read: Pluto.

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