Saturday, 30 April 2011

Joachim Darke

Hope everybody had a very Happy Easter. I've been trying to get a few days to myself with the family but I'm still working on the new book for New Page which is due with the publishers next month - it looks like I'll make the deadline. We've also been trying to get together something on Joachim Darke - the 17th century witch finder/devil hunter that David, Adrian and myself have been working on. The pages are ready and lettered but we've had a slight technical hitch in putting them up which will resolve itself and we'll try again at the weekend and hopefully have something up for you to look at soon. I've seen the pages and it's worth waiting on. Once again many thanks to everybody who contacted me on the Space 1949 strip - a few of you have made positive references to Jeff Hawke, which used to be one of my favourite newspaper strips. I used to get the Daily Express every day just for the strip. So I would be surprised if that didn't have some influence on me as I was growing up. Adrian is rather flattered that somebody described him as the new Sidney Jordan! Some of my American contacts described as "being very European" in tone and I suppose that's true - I don't know whether that's a compliment or not - but others have said that's it's different from a lot of the stuff that's circulating in Europe at the moment so I'm hoping that's good. It has even enthused me enough to draw up a preliminary Hal McLean strip - I've always though I might give him his own strip - set in 1953 and on one of the Jupiter moons. I've sent it to Adrian, who's in London at the moment to see what he thinks but it won't be done very soon. But we're thinking about it. But keep your eyes peeled for Joachim Darke - 1660 has never been the same since he appeared!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Jeff Hawke

It would appear that our Space 1949 has ceated a lot of interest. I've been getting a number of e-mails all containing interest and positive feedback and I gather through talking to him today, so has Adrian. We're trying to get the next set of strips up - which will be David Dale's excellent "Joachim Darke", the 17th century witch-finder - but it's a bit difficult finding the time at the moment. We have some lettering and text to put in and as we're all working elsewhere, we're striggling to find the time. So please bear with us - it'll be worth the wait. Some of you have said that the 1949 strip has the "feel" of Jeff Hawke, the strip by Sydney Jordan which appeared in the Daily Express newspaper during the 1960s. Although it was not intentional I can understand why. Jeff Hawke was - and continues to be - one of my favourite strips from that period. I enjoyed the characterisation, which was written by Willie Patterson, the humour and the style, not to mention the great artwork. I have conveyed to Adrian that somebody said that his artwrok looked like Sydney Jordan's which he has taken as a great complement as he enjoys Jeff Hawke too. But if the strip has that sort of feel then I'm well satisfied. Adrian and I were talking about putting further pages up as he, like me, is under pressure to develop the story. And we'll do it - we just need to find a willing publisher which is not easy in these recessionary times. But we'll get there - especially as all the reaction so far has been pisitive. And speaking of comic strips - I believe that an old story of mine may be out in Italian very soon. This was something m yself and David Lloyd did many years ago and which has been sold to NPS in Italy. They're doing a low print run but you may be able to see some more of the work in Portuguese as we're negotiating with a firm in Rio de Janeiro as a possible outlet. However, Adrian and myself want to keep 1949 in English for the present. So we'll keep you informed about how this is going. Hopefully somebody will look at it as a graphic novel very soon and if not we'll look at the possibility of printing a low print-run ourselves. The interest is there and our audience is out there. Let's go for it!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

TTA and Australia

Thanks to a number of you who have dropped us a line saying that you enjoyed the comic pages that we've put up. We're still trying to find ways to get the comics out there - we believe they're a little bit different from anything that's around at the moment - and we'll keep you posted. And thanks for the complementary things that you've said. We're also hoping to get more artwork - Joachim Darke - lettered and up soon, so you'll be able to read our take on Restoration England. Now some of you have asked what a couple of references in the Space 1949 strip meant and I suppose we've been working on the ideas for so long that we tend to take them for granted. For a start what's the TTA who own the ship that McLean and the others find. This stands for the Terran Trading Authority which is a regulatory body set up in 1925 to control both business and mining interests principally on the Moon but also on the small scientific colonies on Mars and mines in the asteroid belt. It was initially established by Britain and Germany who remain the principal controlling agents in the organisation - King Henry IX of England and the German Kaiser Willhelm V are still the two major shareholders in the TTA - and it is closely connected to the governments of both countries. This makes it a quasi political organisation and although it is principally concerned with trade it has links to the RSC and the Luftwaffe Aeronautik . However since 1946 the balance of power in the TTA has almost imperceptably shifted with the massive strides made by the Russian Simyorska Programme of near-space exploration and the increase in funding of American lunar bases by the CSA President Barry Goldwater in the mid-1940s. 1949 might be a pivotal point for new and emerging space powers. You have also asked about the Australians who are mentioned in the strip. Since the early 1920s, the main threat to world peace has been posed by the PSRA . In 1922, the Australian army seized the running of the country from a pro-British coalition which had governed it since the early 1900s. They installed General Abel Whitlam as President and although the country is nominally run by the People's Democratic Council it is controlled by a mainly army junta. Finances are provided by the still active goldfields ast Ballarat, and it is thought that the country is largely self-sufficient. In 1932, the Whitlam Government signed a treaty with representatives of the Grand Shogun, supreme ruler of the mysterious country of Japan - the Treaty of the Pacific Rim - much to the alarm of both Europe and America. This gave Australia access to the much rumoured "Ninja technology" which is able to shielf machinery and craft from detection through radar and sonar and can reflect light, rendering the subject invisible. They have therefore been able to launch undetected orbital platforms as part of the Australian Space Programme based at Woomera in the South Australian Desert. In 1947, General Whitlam stood down and was replaced as President by General Thomas Dundee who has pursued a more aggressive policy towards the West. He has also increased spending on the space programme launching shielded weapons platforms and space bases from sites in occupied New Zealand. There are also thought to be genetic experiments being conducted in the penal camps of the McQuarrie River Country used to house aborigines, rebels and criminals under the eye of General Charles Minogue, Head of the Interior Directorate. Subjects are being genetically modified, it is believed, to undertake long-haul space flights to Jupiter and beyond. Similar experiments are also believed to be carried on by the TTA in the German Congo in Africa The main face of Australia known in the West is that of Major Rufus Fox, Australian Foreign Secretary, a slick career diplimat who is also believed to be head of A.I.D. - The Australian Intelligence Directorate, the Secret Service - based at Studley Park in Camden, Sidney. Sir Gilbert Rawlings who appears in the panels we've put up is vastly opposed to what he sees as creeping Australian influence across the world and perhaps sees the development of the American space programme, first under President Goldwater and then under his successor President Oliver North, as a counter to it. Sorry if that sounds like a lecture but you did ask and I wanted to show something of the thought we've given to the political set-up of our alternative universe in 1949. We want to keep the sci-fi element - and there are aliens - but we wanted to keep it believable as well. Please let us know what you think of it and if there's any questions you'd like answered. Keep your eyes peeled as there might be more artwork. Next I think, we're off to England in the 1660s. See you there!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Sound Only Selected

Well, the first of the strips is now up on the web and my thanks to Adrian for helping me load them up. This is Space 1949, et in a slightly alternative Universe where man had landed on the moon at the end of the 19th century and lunar bases - and a scientific base on Mars - have been established. The strip is not professionally lettered as yet but we wanted to get something up there and let you see what we're about and get a flavour for the strip. What will McLean find on the drifting ship and what has landed on the island off the Irish coast? What hand does the Government have in all this and what are the contents of the mysterious Saturn Package? Oh and what is the Gorgon Stone? This is a strip about near space exploration, political intrigue, the secret service all set in an alternative . Let us know what you think about it. We're trying to guage the reaction to this. As yet the comic isn't published but we're moving in that direction hopefully and your response will help us. We're also looking at putting up some of David Dale's work on Joachim Darke the 17th century witch finder as he fights the forces of darkness, and his own inner demons, during the English Restoration. So continue to watch the blog - we think it's interesting and a bit different from the usual run of the mill but then we're biassed. Do you? Let us know what you think. Talk some more soon.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Space 1949 pages 4 - 8

Space 1949 pages 1-3

We have lettered up the first seven pages of Space 1949 for your viewing pleasure. These pages aren't lettered professionally, but we wanted to display the work we had done so far. Let us know what you think!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Doc Lazarus

Called into my local bookshop yesterday and had a look at the graphic novels section. I'm afraid it only confirmed what I'm thinking - lots of Thor and plenty of Green Hornet . I've more or less gone off buying comics now as there's nothing that interests me. I genuinely think it's time for something very different.
So Doc Lazarus, the time traveller - a very different sort of Dr. Who I suppose. When I was much younger than I am today the local newsagents in the small market town where I want to school always had copies of Rip Hunter on the counter. Rip was a scientist who travelled through time - why don't Dark Horse bring an anthology of him back, they seem to be doing everything else - and was one of my favourites. So I think he must have influenced how I created Doc Lazarus. He came about through a conversation with the main artist David Dale. David lives in Newcastle upon Tyne although he's originally from my own home town and I got to know him through a comic that he did for an exhibition centre in Belfast - W5. Because of the distance between us and because David's working, progress can be very slow but we're getting there. Doc is English and from 1912, just before the Great War and he has been working on a timecraft using materials which have come back through time with a Traveller escaping a war in the future and which were first used by his father to build the Chronion I. To build the ship Doc has to reluctantly rely on the British Government who see the ship as a weapon in the coming war with Germany and who help him ckabdestinely but who increasingly want a say in its construction. However, somewhere in Germany another time traveller has come back with all sorts of futuristic and the Germans are building their own ship. And of course there is the mysterious Time Dweller who seems to have its own agenda. So with Space 1949 that could be an interesting combination. There is already some artwork up on the blog and there will be more soon.

And yes Paddy, I am the same person who used to script the Scavenger with Dessi Hughes. I haven't seen Dessi in about twenty years I'm sure - he called into see me one night when I was living in Portrush and at that time he was working on a television programme with Jimmy Nail. After that, I lost touch and haven't heard from him since. And yes, I'm planning to go up to the comics event in Derry. We'll maybe meet up. Good to hear from you again - you brought back memories of the magazine in Lombard Street in Belfast.

I think that's it for now. More soon