Too Old To Die Young

“The most fantastic thing about the present time is that we’re actually still here.”
—William Gibson

Another day, another year, another lap around old Sol.

This past year has probably been among the best years of my life, despite all the tragedy and confusion taking place over the world. We lost a whole slew of Great Artists, the like of which I’m not sure humanity can produce still.

My life went from calm and carefree to super-busy and full of responsibility.

Photo by Timjan Dahlén

I know it’s cliché to say it, but parenthood really does change you in ways you can’t fully understand until you are there, holding a helpless little human who somehow managed to hijack your entire existence.

The journey of self-discovery and self-reconciliaton I began last year entered a new phase, and so did my creative pursuits.

As a result of everything else, the blog here had to take the back seat. But that’s okay. I started it mostly for myself, and even though I’ve managed to get some very loyal (and highly appreciated) followers I still write as much for my own sake add for anything else.

Life changes, but it keeps moving forward – relentlessly – until with a little luck we are too old to die young.

Interview: Tom and Nimue Brown

Dear Reader, when it rains it pours! 

Last week saw the release of a new urban fantasy series, and this week sees a new edition of one of the most interesting comics I’ve come across – Hopeless, Maine by husband-and-wife creator team Tom and Nimue Brown – sees the light of day, released by Sloth Comics.

Now, what is Hopeless, Maine you may wonder? Well, I will do a full feature later in the week, when it’s been released, so for now I’ll just give you a little teaser:

Hopeless, Maine is more than just a name: it is a place (an island, to be exact), a graphic novel series, a wealth of stories (told as well as hinted at); it’s a mythology of it’s own, even. Tom and Nimue have created a wonderful world – one which I myself have really only begun to explore – rich with myth and mystery. Nimue’s writing is really brought to life by Tom’s gorgeous artwork, and together they create a very unique style which really fits the story they are telling. Hopeless, Maine is a creation that stands solid in it’s own right, and the feeling I get from it reminds me of those first forays into the fantastical worlds of people like Ursula Le Guinn, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and most recently Joe Hill. Yes, it’s that good!

In preparation for the launch I had the honour of doing a mini-interview  with its creators, Tom and Nimue Brown:

Hopeless, Maine began its life as a webcomic – what were the principal reasons for bringing it to book form?

Tom: It was meant to be printed comics from the beginning, really. We just got impatient waiting for a publisher, mostly, and wanted to get the story out there. First, we started the Hopeless, Vendetta, which was a weekly “newspaper” from the island. This was a lot of fun and we had people coming and roleplaying island residents of their own creation in the comments section. Then, we launched the webcomic with The Blind Fisherman going up all at once and then pages weekly. It helped keep us going, and improved morale, greatly because people were commenting and theorising about the story and waiting for pages. Having the webcomic succeed as it did actually helped us land our first publisher, so it is a thing that I would recommend to people starting out in comics. Webcomics also has a great and vibrant community, and i’m glad we didn’t miss out on being a part of that.

Every creative team has their own unique approach to the work, so what’s the dynamic between the two of you? How does a typical project start, grow and develop?

Nimue: There’s an ongoing process of passing things back and forth, and bouncing things off each other. So, we don’t have a specific system, we talk about things, we wave ideas at each other. A lot of the best ideas come when we aren’t deliberately looking for them – when we’re out walking, particularly. We try not to spend too much in-bed time talking about work, but early on that happened more than it should have done. We both tend to get excited about /obsessive over whatever we’re working on, so the bigger issue is often holding boundaries so the projects don’t totally take over our lives! A big part of what makes us work as a creative team is that we are both excited about each other’s work, excited to see what the other one does with an idea or where it goes, so we throw things at each other in a really unstructured way and just let it happen. It’s a very fertile way of working, but it depends on high levels of trust and being on the same wavelength, and always being willing to let go of things to accomodate the other person’s vision when they’ve got the better idea.

Tom, you don’t ink your artwork – which gives it a unique, almost visceral style that I really admire – how has that changed the way you approach colouring?

Tom: Yes, i’ve fallen away from ink as a way of finishing art. I did the first two page spread for Personal Demons in rendered pencil and have not looked back, since. For colouring, well, in the early years of Hopeless, Maine I just used a very limited palette and saved the saturated colours for magic and emphasis. Brightly coloured pages would not have suited the story. All of this was done in digitally. Later i discovered that textures gave an organic and aged quality to the art. For Book two (Inheritance) we were living on a narrowboat with limited electricity so I used watered down acrylic transparently over the pencils to save on computer colouring time. From book four and onwards (and on the cover art for The Gathering) Nimue is doing the colours with posh coloured pencils over the roughs and i’m doing the finished rendering on top. (This is resulting in the best looking art so far, I think!)

Finally, who would you say are your greatest inspirations?

Nimue: Shared inspirations – Hayao Miyazaki, Clive Barker, Ursula Le Guinn, Margaret Atwood, Robert Holdstock, and many others. We’ve got a lot of enthusiasms in common, I think that’s part of why we’re so much on the same wavelength. It’s not just famous people – we are part of a fantastic circle of creative folk locally, and in the wider world through the internet, and they inspire us and keep us going, and we hope we do the same for them. Landscape and big skies are always a source of inspiration for us, we go dancing and bat watching, and we play music together and all sorts of things. We’re always looking for things that lift, engage, inspire us that we can share and immerse ourselves in. Both of us find being exposed to other people’s creativity – whether that’s on deviantart, or a story telling session, some else’s book, or a gig… that feeds us, and it makes us both want to keep doing the things.

Thank you Nimue and Tom, for taking the time to answer my questions.

There you have it, Dear Reader – I will post again as soon as Hopeless, Maine – The Gathering is available. The book is a re-release combining part one and two (Personal Demons and Inheritance, respectively) along with some new material and – for the first time in print, I believe – The Blind Fisherman. I can’t wait!

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Feature: Veil Knights – Arthurian Myth meets Urban Fantasy

There’s a new Urban Fantasy book series out, bringing the myth of King Arthur into the modern day. This is a very ambitious project, involving a whole group of excellent authors – including a few of my personal favourites.

Check it out:

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Art by Lou Harper

Not all legends are make-believe…

Three years ago, Jessie “the Berserker” Noble was at the top of the MMA fight game, a world-title contender with a brilliant future ahead of her. Then the visions started and her world came crashing down. Hard. Now Jessie’s a shadow of her former self, taking no-holds barred fights in the underground circuit to earn just enough to buy the drugs she needs to keep the horrible things she sees at bay.

When a man named Dante Grimm tells her she’s the modern incarnation of a champion of old and that she and her soon-to-be companions are desperately needed to hold back the darkness to come, Jessie thinks he’s as insane as she is.

But Grimm’s far from crazy. There is a battle coming the likes of which the world hasn’t seen in centuries, a battle against a foe straight out of their worst nightmares.

And for them to succeed, Jessie going to have to dive deep into the heart of the very thing she’s been running from all this time – her visions.

Arthurian myth meets urban fantasy in this new series from Rowan Casey!

Twelve New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors – Lilith Saintcrow, CJ Lyons, Joseph Nassise, Steven Savile, Annie Bellet, Jon F. Merz, Pippa DaCosta, Robert Greenberger, William Meikle, Steve Lockley, Hank Schwaeble, and Nathan Meyer – have come together under the pen name of Rowan Casey to create a modern re-imagining of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table sure to please fans of urban fantasy and Arthurian legends alike!

Launching in November 2016, the Veil Knights urban fantasy series will be published under the pseudonym Rowan Casey and will feature a new volume detailing the exploits of one of the knights every month through summer 2017, when season one of the series comes to its stunning conclusion.

  • Book one, The Circle Gathers, is available now
  • Book two, Hound of Night, will be out next week on Nov 29th.
  • Book three, Cloak of Fury, will be out on Dec 13th.
  • After that, they will be putting out a new book every month!

Each eBook will debut at $0.99 for a full week and then jump up to its regular price, so you’ll want to get them early to grab the best deal. Paperback editions will follow in just a few more weeks.

Grab your copy of The Circle Gathers today :
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MSP0HYG
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MSP0HYG

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Cover Art by Lou Harper

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Cover Art by Lou Harper

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Cover Art by Lou Harper

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Reblog: What Now?

Some insightful thoughts from Sean Patrick Hughes about the human psyche, the state of America and what is needed for the future:

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I’m not a liberal. I’m not a safe space, social crusader. I’m not a sore loser who can’t get over the fact that Hillary Clinton wasn’t elected president. The notion that I had to put what lukewarm support I had for a candidate behind her was a source of great frustration for me. I am, at my very core, someone with conservative foundations. I believe that men and women, whenever possible, should be free to live their lives without government intervention. My family and my Christian faith are the center of my life. I like my guns. Chances are, I’m better than you at using them. I’ve worked with and for the toughest most dangerous men on the planet-men you’ve read books about, men you’ve seen movies about. I’ll never claim to be one. But I’ve proven myself useful in their presence. I share this with you so you understand…

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Lady Phantom

Dear Reader –

I haven’t been posting much lately, and there are three reasons for that:

  • First and foremost, having a baby boy (he just turned 5 months old) takes a lot of time and effort.
  • Second, with the advent of our child. me and my girlfriend are busy planning our future and working toward finding a home for our family.
  • Third, the project I’m working on – the one I have been teasing here and elsewhere:

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So what is Lady Phantom, you may wonder?

Lady Phantom is the title and main character of an upcoming superhero comic, written by Julie K. Taylor and drawn by R. Thomas Allwin (that’s right – me!). Now, don’t run off and try to find it quite yet, though – we are just starting out. For the past six months, we have been busy refining the original concept, working out the script, doing concept art and storyboards – now, we have all the preparations done and we are ready to start in earnest.

It’s going to be a while before the first issue is available.

I am just now putting pen to paper and starting the actual interior art, and between my day job and my family there’s only so much time to put it. Our plan is to start with a six-issue mini series and go from there.

Everything else will be in your hands, as readers and critics.

You will be able to follow our progress on the facebook page:

Lady Phantom

We will post updates, teasers, news and information about ourselves there – though of course there will be updates on here as well – so if you want the latest info as it happens, swing by and follow us there. Who knows, there may even be some surprises popping up there later on!

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Welcome to Costa City!