Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Second Ringer

I've had a script accepted for a new small press comic mag being put out at the end of the year. Yay!

It's an anthology of pulp stories. So, brooding detectives, femme fatales, lost tribes, double crosses and smouldering looks were order of the day.

Did you know this doesn't 
actually feature any postmen?

I'd no idea what to write, so I spent a couple of days reading plot summaries for every 1940s thriller I could find. Then I came up with something that's part Gilda, part The Postman Always Rings Twice. Only with a tiny little dash of, um, The Hidden.

I'm looking forward to seeing it in print.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Dead parents and abandoned by God. It's for kids, yeah?

Welcome to my nightmare.

Welcome to Time Bandits.

The chaps at Hadron Colliderscope asked me to review a film. As they have foolishly agreed to take on three of my comic strips, I couldn't say no. So I did a little piece on this 80s classic, the scariest film I've ever seen. Here it is here (it's the second review, so scroll down):

I think it has something to do with free will

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Stick or Twist?

Ideas are cheap. Writing is hard.

Writing short stories is even harder, if you ask me. Because not only do you have to worry about all the things  that go into a story (y'know, characters and motives and plots and stuff) but you also need a twist. Twists are wriggly buggers. When you think you've got a good one, it slips away.

Writing a story with a good twist is mind-bogglingly difficult. Not only do you need a decent story, but then you have to get all creative again and come up with a twist. The twist has to be logical, fit with the story, be foreshadowed but not be obvious.
I know all this but I really struggle with it. I fear I can't do it, or at least do it well enough. Ideas are cheap because 99% of them are unoriginal. As an example: this morning I came up with an idea for a story where robbers use a time machine to steal gold in the future (dull, unoriginal) but the twist is they are stealing from their future selves (never saw that coming!), so they end up poor. That kind of thing would be laughed out of hand by most magazines as derivative pap.

                           Used with permission from the very funny Savage Chickens

But I wonder if such a set up can be saved. What about a double twist? You take the lame "seen it before" set up and play out the twist. But, in fact, that's just the set up for a second twist. You play with the reader's familiarity or anticipation of the first twist, creating a false expectation so that the second one is surprise.

I don't know if that would work. You still need to produce a logical and coherent second twist, and you will have the bulk of your story being dull or unoriginal - which is never good. But maybe the variation at the end could save it? My plan is to come up with a few stories that follow this structure and see what happens.

Of course, grand declarations of intent mean nothing. Knuckling down and doing this will not be easy. I know what I am supposed to be writing. I have an idea of what I want to do. Then again - ideas are cheap, and writing is hard.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Friggin' Tharg

Tharg, eh?

I sent the green so-and-so a script submission ages and ages ago - last May, in fact. Haven't heard a thing. Guess he's got better things to do, what with being an editor and all.

The scunner of it is, 2000ad is quite clear that you should only send one script at a time. Which is fine. I've got a pile of them, all ready to be rejected. But what do you do if you don't actually get a rejection? I've heard of one poor soul who waited 14 months before trying a new submission, and then got his wrist slapped for sending multiple submissions.

So I've waited... and waited... and waited. But then the fear kicks in. What if it never arrived? Did I properly address it? Did I put on enough postage? Is it lost?

What to do?

My cunning plan? Re-write the outstanding script and send it with a grovelling letter asking for an update. So it went off today. I'll post to say what happened as soon as I know - assuming I'm still doing this in 2012.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Bad Medicine

I've been lucky enough to have a couple of scripts accepted by Futurequake in the last few years. I'll probably post some of them in the future so it looks like I am doing stuff.

However, the current issue features Bad Medicine, written by myself and illustrated by Bruno Stahl with letters by Mr Bolt-01. It's a cheery tale. Here's a peek:-

So go buy Futurequake! You can procure it right here:

Richard Smith's cover is great.

Why not have a peek at the Futurequake blog while you're here?


Like a bazzillion other folk, I submitted some comic strips to Clint magazine. And then got ignored.

One of these was Malignancy. This is based on an idea I had years ago - a prose version, called If Thy Hand Offend Thee, made the Top 50 Short List in SFX's Pulp Idol back in 2007 (and you'll be able to read that version in an upcoming Starscape magazine, illustrated by Matt Soffe).

When I turned it into Malignancy, though, I made it a little more... visual. And Dave Thomson did a great job drawing it. I also have to give great credit to Jim Campbell, who kindly lettered it for nowt. His insightful blog is here

And here's a look at Malignancy.

It's now been posted on the American comic site Hadron Colliderscope. 

You can read it there by following this link. Only, it's not safe for work so be careful if anyone is looking over your shoulder. And don't tell my mum about it.

Starting This Blog

I was asked today for a link to my blog, and not for the first time. (Yes, it was the second).

So, here it is. I need to work out what to do with it but in the mean-time here's a picture from a comic I'm working on with art by Dave Thomson. More of this another time.