Tuesday, 16 September 2014
Very nice of them :)
We asked writer Monty Nero to walk us through his must-read comic.
Warning: strong language.
Warning: strong language.
Friday, 20 June 2014
Sunday, 15 June 2014
here: The awards ceremony is at the London Film and Comic Con on July 12th.
The Death Sentence hardback collection is out in three days on Wed 18th June.
News story here: http://dundee.stv.tv/120265/
Friday, 9 May 2014
The Death Sentence Hardcover is here - and I can't remember the last time I was so excited about anything!
It's been a tortuous journey, from messing around in my bedroom with character designs and dialogue, to meeting artist and co-creator Mike Dowling; getting the first pages together as a preview - then toiling over the other one hundred and thirty three pages we needed to make a graphic novel. It took years to make this, and in the process we ran through all kinds of emotions and obstacles buoyed only by a single unshakable goal - to make something we'd be proud to own.
So to finally put it on my shelf with all the other graphic novels is a landmark moment.
Just a tiny section of my GN shelf (which stretches across three walls and two decades) - but you get the idea .
Most of all I want to to thank Mike Dowling, the wonderful artist who blew my socks off with every page, and my wife Chrissy for all her incisive creative feedback. If either had been a smidgen less supportive, I wouldn't have the book beside me right now.
Titan call it a "deluxe hardcover" and all I can tell you is everything from the paper stock, to the binding, to the care we took preparing the bonus material is of the highest possible quality. It feels like something that's going to outlast me, and that's some feeling.
I'd be honoured if you check it out - in your local comic shop, book shop or from the usual online retailers.
Tuesday, 6 May 2014
Monday, 5 May 2014
Welcome to The Writer’s Blog Tour, where writers answer four questions and then pass it on. I got nominated by top 2000ad scribe David Baillie, the swine, and you can check out his answers here:
Check them out; they’re a diverse and talented trio.
What am I working on?
Mostly I’m trying to buy a car, cutting back the conifers overhanging the pavement, and raising a three year old. That kind of stuff takes up half of every week. When I’m not fending off Edinburgh’s shadiest auto dealers or wiping sick off the bed I also write a bit. Specifically I’m writing the new volume of Death Sentence, which I’m trying to make better than the first. I’m about half way through and it’s going surprisingly well so far. The first issue’s all drawn and it looks absolutely beautiful. I also got some gorgeous X-men art back this week, so I looked that over and tweaked the dialogue and captions to match all the cool ideas the artist had. That’s enormous fun and quite surreal, looking at Wolverine and Storm doing what I told them to do. Finally I did some work on a brand new series I can’t discuss just yet – other than to say it’s dark and twisted and funny and beautiful and I’m hugely excited to be doing it.
How does my work differ from the others in my genre?
Hrmm. I try and make whatever I write unique to me, my personality, my way of seeing the world. All good writers do that, I think - and if you’re true to yourself you can’t help but create something original. I didn’t get into comics to work on other people’s characters, or earn a living, though I’m happy to do either where it intersects with my own passions. I just wanted to express something personal, and create something special, and damn the consequences. It’s a lot like jumping off a high cliff into thick fog and hoping there’s a soft landing. It takes balls – or desperation – or both. I’m very lucky that, right now, I can keep doing that to the best of my abilities – such as they are – though whether it’ll last is anyone’s guess. I’m just enjoying it while I can.
Why do I write what I do?
Complex reasons: Partly because no-one was writing the kinds of characters I wanted to see. Partly escapism - a reaction to settling down. Partly the sheer joy of having an idea and making it tangible, transmitting my thoughts to others. Partly because I’m a Dad now and I love the flexibility writing brings as my daughter grows up. Partly because it was a childhood dream to write these kinds of stories, and fulfilling that dream makes me very happy. Partly because all these ideas just keep popping into my head and I have to get them all down. Partly because it’s what I’m best at in the world, for whatever that’s worth. And partly ‘cause I’m lazy. I mean, I can wrestle with the interior monologue of a character with the best of them but I used to wipe old people’s bums for a living so, in that sense, writing is very easy - an honour and a joy. I just roll out of bed and start jotting things down. There’s no hassle with writing. It’s just you, in a locked room.
How does my writing process work?
Well, there’s a much longer step-by-step in The Guide to Making Comics (in the back of Death Sentence 1 to 5) but in a nutshell I simply note down ideas all the time. Every week I read them back and one or two will stand out as interesting. I’ll write them up into little synopses, which are mini stories a paragraph or a page long. While I’m doing that all kinds of character moments, visuals, scenes, and dialogue will occur and I’ll jot them all down in a freeform way. I come back and read it all after a break and if it grabs me I’ll continue. But I also reject a lot of my own stuff at this stage too. A lot of good writing is editing, in my humble opinion – binning and amending all the rubbish. There’s a lot of plotting next, turning the notes into individual scenes with a sentence long description as to what the scene does and why. I write those on little cards and shuffle them around on the floor, change them, combine them, replace them until the story really motors. If I get stuck at any point I go for a run, or go swimming, or driving, or wash up and after a while my subconscious figures it out. When I’m happy with the scene flow I just grab each card, read what it says, and write that segment of the story. I’ll try each scene a few different ways until the characters and the situation ring true. I tend to do dialogue first, no panel descriptions. The dialogue triggers the other stuff like a mnemonic, so I don’t write that bit till the very end. When I’ve got something that makes me happy I go back and edit it, which usually means chopping the meandering guff at the start of every scene. I always try and come in as late as I can. Then I write up the scene descriptions, spell check and format it all properly, and send it off.
Prose is similar, but more metronomic. I write about 5000 words a day. Every morning I read it over and fix whatever I don’t like, then write another 5000. That leaves plenty of time for thinking, usually while I’m doing something practical away from the computer. All the clever works done in the head, and all the graft is forcing yourself to sit down and churn out the words. I’m very much of the ‘create a pile of chips’ school. Inspiration’s great but you can’t sit around waiting around for it.
Writing isn’t rocket science. I mean, you need talent and to study the craft - the mechanics of what makes a compelling narrative or character - but after that instinct, heart and discipline are much more important. And you have to live a life beyond writing – otherwise there’s nothing to write about. Then you just throw down all the ideas in your head with as much passion as you can muster - and fix it later. There is no empty page. Though I’m no master and I don’t ever want to be. The day I stop learning is the day I’ll stop writing.
Who to pass this on to? So many great writers, so many wiser heads. I could have nominated a score of people but the three writers I admire who got back to me first were...
INJ CULBARD: Writer/Artist and the author of some wonderful Lovecraftian adaptions and Celeste from Self Made Hero /http://injculbard.tumblr.com/
SI SPURRIER: Novelist and scribe of ace works like A Serpent Uncoiled, X-Force, and Six Gun Gorilla http://sispurrier.tumblr.com/
MIKE SIZEMORE: Screenwriter and producer of Mercia Adams, Caper, and comics like Avalon. http://www.sizemore.co.uk/
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
You can order the 192 page hardcover Death Sentence graphic novel from any comic or book shop right now, or via
The rrp is £16.99 UK, $22.99 USA, and $25.95 CAN. Release date is 18th June 2014 in comic shops and 22nd July in book shops.
Monday, 31 March 2014
The Curious Comics Blog: Death Sentence Deluxe Hardcover: What would you do if you woke up one day with the powers of a superman... but you knew the virus that gave you those powers would kill you i...
Friday, 21 February 2014
With this cover I just wanted to paint all the characters together for the first time, and convey a more superpowered vibe with the glowing hands and so on, without losing the sensibility that links the previous issues together. On the other covers the characters look like ordinary people, albeit with the kind of magnetism that looks as at home on the cover of a music or film magazines, which was kind of the point. I took my inspiration from the newsracks, not comics.
Death Sentence 6 is also fairly unique among the comics on the shelves in that it gives you a clear view on the point of life, which isn't bad for 3 bucks.
You can order it from any comic shop right now, like this one in the UK, or this one in the US - or from comixology on 13th March 2014.
Saturday, 15 February 2014
Each issue of Death Sentence has 5 pages of advice on making comics. In issue 5 we pass on all the facts & figures re print comics: Costs of printing, packing and distribution; how much of a comic book's price goes to the printer, publisher, retailer, distributor & creator; lots of advice on publicity, serialisations, press releases, working with publishers or going solo and dealing with shops directly. It's essential stuff - and it's never being reprinted anywhere else.
Check it out here:
Hope you find it useful.
Thursday, 13 February 2014
Here's a page from Death Sentence 5, the least spoilerific I could find. It gets to the heart of some of the points we're making. And it made us laugh. I love the way Marvelous Mike Dowling handled all the body language and acting here - masterful! You can see more here if you like :)
Tuesday, 28 January 2014
So here we have the original cover pencils for Death Sentence 4. I wanted to capture Verity's mood as she sits in confinement, drinking and drawing, contemplating her impending demise: that distinctive Death Sentence vibe of creativity, doom, and decadence. My wife posed for this one, and she'd probably rather not get dressed up like Verity and pose - so that conveyed a highly appropriate sense of surly depression. Good on her for indulging me - no wonder I married her.
This is the also the issue where Verity meets Weasel, which is going to profoundly effect her future. The scenes they share in this comic are some of the wildest so far - so to mark the occasion I dropped their names onto the amp stack during the painting process. I also used a slightly different technique to the other covers, using the pencil shading in the artwork rather than simply painting over it with a similar tone. That way none of the time spent on the pencils is wasted. You can use the pencil marks to add texture into skin and clothes, which looks a little more alive. Then I used different photoshop bushes to get texture into the wall, floor and amps - saving some time. It was one of those paintings where I was pretty much convinced it wasn't going to work until right at the end, when it all came together.
The next issue of Death Sentence is out next week. You can read every issue via Comixology or order it to be delivered from any comic shop (like OK Comics in the UK or Things From Another World in the USA).