Monday, May 14, 2012

Driving the Story Forward

The flow and rhythm in the process of Storytelling

Hi Guys,

I have been involved in this same conversation that I am sharing with you guys today, several times in the last few years.

I have always believed that the story will write itself and end when it is finished, not at some pre-appointed page. That said the publisher may have certain page counts, and/or word counts in mind when commissioning a book, due to the format, size and budget of the book in question.

The beauty of me controlling all the aspects of publishing nowadays, with my graphic novels, outside of the constraints of Marvel, DC and other major comics publishers and book publishers means the stories can unroll naturally and I do not have to conform to the decompressed style of storytelling prevalent nowadays in US comics, or indeed fit it into a page count needed for a story arc to be later collected into a trade paperback, or hard backed edition.

When I am writing a book, again that unfolds as per the needs of the story and also the age group. Thus I am aware of being more concise when writing a children’s book as against a novel.

I have to admit that my working in comic books as made me aware of being able to write in concise ways driving the story forward without having to write reams of unnecessary prose to do so. It is the same with the illustration side of things, as I am able to control how much, or how little is needed to convey the mood, atmosphere, tension and space for dialogue through the relationship of words and artwork and the pacing of the storyline(s). 

I have found you develop a gut feeling as to when the art is finished and so too the writing of the story. Comics have certainly also made me totally aware of what is needed for driving a story forward, whether it is inside of a comic, graphic novel, magazine piece, novel, children’s book, or TV/film/animation script and as to what can be left out.

Sometimes the comic writer will write down every single thing and leave nothing to the imagination of the reader, which sometimes alienates the artist from  having a totally immersed and yet involved experience. The same is sometimes the case with the editors as well as writers many of whom nowadays think that the text is more important that the graphical side of comics. A viewpoint I totally disagree with. The most important thing in a great comic is the storytelling and that is both textual and graphical. It is the perfect blending of words and pictures complementing each other to achieve a final creation of beauty.

Leave the visual side of things in the hands of an artist and let their imagination run wild and you get the best work out of them. Constrain them and, or give them all the details and you will see that in the stiffness of the work. Artists are not an extension of a writer’s hand they are, if working as part of a team, of equal importance.

That said, there are artists that prefer to work, or indeed can only work, with the story totally provided by the writer. Most, however, work at their best when asked to bring something along the table. 

The first thing ones sees is the cover, then the flipped pages of artwork, if the cover grabs your attention, at least, and then the story is read, if these pages also grab your attention.

For me the story should unfold, as naturally in written format, as it would be if being told to a group of people in a room, or around a campfire – no constraints, except those self-imposed upon the storyteller(s) themselves, made possible by their experience.

Each story has its natural length and will, like a sun, reach a point whereupon it will have expanded to such a point, as to have reached its limit and, if allowed, implode on itself, by which time it will most likely have lost the attention of its reader(s).

If the story is done right it will rise to a crescendo and then slowly let the reader off the ride at the other side of the tale. A beginning, middle and end, with characters, environment and plot all mapped out for the reader to become embroiled with and become wrapped up in totality with the exploits inside the pages of the storylines.

If the answer to the question, “does this person, or action drive the story forward” is no, then neither they nor it needs to be in the tale. Better to take the unnecessary bits out of the story early on as they are superfluous to requirement.

No one wants to be bored to death with unneeded details. There should always be a progression from the start of a story, through as many sub-plots as one deems necessary, to its eventual end.

Which brings me full circle with this little Blog. The story writes itself if it is allowed to. Looking to fit the content of a tale into a certain amount of pages is in itself a constraint. Although as I said earlier this very same process employed by comics companies taught me all about being concise in my storytelling it is, in my opinion, given the option, better to merely let the story unfold itself to you, once you have understood those rules.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 14th 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Coming of Age of the Creative in the Digital Age

Enlightenment for those of a creative disposition

Hi Guys,

As I said in my previous Blog, a while ago on one, or two of the comics forums a series of threads were started, which showed the level of unrest amongst the ranks of professional comicdom and looked at what is rife in US comics and nowadays the remnants of UK comics. The discussions broached on some very touchy subjects and they are just some of the things amidst a whole host of others that are fundamentally wrong with the system we work inside of within the machinations of the comic business.

One of the touchy subjects was producing samples years after becoming established as a professional artist. On a personal note, I have refused to produce samples without full payment since 1999 for two reasons:

1.) The editor/publisher should, if competent, be able to ascertain whether or not an artist can create/write/draw/paint, etc from existing work they have done, without the need to see whether, or not they can draw a horse, or a 18th century town house, because there wasn't one in the samples that were sent. If not, then the odds are it will end up being a typical comic scenario of changes for the sake of them and the general garbage that can arise from these kind of working relationships - the alarm bells certainly sound instantly with me now.

2.) We do not work for FREE! Freelance does not mean we work for free, it means we hire ourselves out to companies to produce work for them, without them having to pay out national insurance, tax, and any of the perks one may have working on staff with a salary.

My view is simply – just because that's the way it's always been, doesn't mean it is right, or indeed cannot be changed.

My previous Blog enlarged on scenarios, which would be deemed wrong when compared with the comic creators’ analogies here.

If anything good has come from the digital age of the Internet, it is the abilities to better network with fellow colleagues, be they writer, artist, letterer, graphic designer or production folks. Comics creators can now side-step the publisher in favour of publishing the books themselves. With the advent of the computer age we no longer need to pay for the artwork to be made print ready by expensive reprographics companies – therefore no more expensive scanning and separations, etc to pay for. These were the reasons most comics creators couldn’t produce their own books until only recently. As a result of all these things we ultimately take more control over the standard of work we can produce.

No longer are we just producing product, we can if we want produce labours of love. Creating stories and characters, which can stand the test of time without having to abide by corporate policies initiated by suited none-creative types from within the confines of a swanky boardroom office.

It also means we have much better access to marketing tools, information and above all contact with distribution and retail and some, indeed all of that we can also do ourselves. Information is power and the balance has shifted as a result of these changes.

When I first set up the Keep back in 2005 I paid a visit to Carl Critchlow and he showed me work produced in the small press that I have to admit had me wanting more and looking on the books in better light than I did with the mainstream, a name as you know by now I do not like.

There are for me, just two things in comics – Great Comics and Bad Comics, no matter whether that is in so-called independent publishing, or mainstream. “Independent publisher” and the even more demeaning “small press” were originally given to the folks that deemed it fit to work outside of the parameters of the constraints of the big publishers as a means to subjugate them and keep them in their place by these big publishers. It was a way to differentiate, alienate and demean the work produced outside of their halls and it has worked for years.

To me it has always sounded like some backhanded compliment given to the small fry of the scenario, by the bullies of the piece. Especially in light of some of the great works created in the past and now being produced outside of the big publishers.

The only differences for me with the independent and the mainstream is the creative freedoms the independence affords one, working outside of the main publishers. The downside comes from a lack of money generated from the work in progress, until it sees print, unlike a publisher, paying a royalty on sales, or a page rate. That and the ability to own and exploit the IP(s) in whatever way you wish – unlike work for hire in which you own nothing, except the original artwork, which you can sell on to boost income.

The real difference between the two is the time the larger publishers have been in existence. What needs to be said is that it was not always the case, as the big publishers were small once and given the that same time to generate a readership and a cash flow so too can the new kids on the block.

The return of artwork has been a bone of contention for years with countless thousands of unreturned artwork, rightfully in the artist’s ownership, mysteriously disappearing down some equally mysterious black hole. Nowadays with the advent of digital delivery at least that happens now fewer times.

Another sad aspect of the comics business is hearing from younger comics creators almost incredulously asking if there was ever a time when one could make a working living out of comics. The rates in the main have depreciated, whilst all other things have increased in value, including the price of buying a comic.

I prefer to look on publishing like this; there are the big companies and there are small ones and like any businesses the bigger they are the more impersonal they become and the smaller they are the more likely you are to speak to someone with the passion and drive that you have, as a creative person.

Outside of the top comics publishers for a while there were young folks willing to create stuff for free for the unscrupulous publishers out there, in the hope that some marvellous career was about to bloom through doing so. When they decided it wasn’t going to happen they drifted away leaving only the battle hardened warrior comics creators, still determined to make their marks. In the place of the young folks came the next generation of would-be creators and with each consecutive generation they too would fall into the same trap of working for free.

Hopefully this shift in the paradigm of print and publishing is showing even the would-be creators out there that this business model can never do anything except keep down rates and undermine the hard work of past generations of comics creators fighting for creator’s rights. One cannot work for free forever and in business the unscrupulous will exploit that love and need to work creatively to its very zenith – just ask most of the comics creators of the last six decades, if they are still here to listen to.

But things are looking very positive indeed nowadays, just look around and check out all the new stuff being produced, as I predicted years ago. Some fantastic stuff is being created by other folks joining me in working out in left field, outside of the normal parameters of US and UK comic books. Like the dinosaurs the bigger publishers have had their days now. Their own demise is on the cards brought about by a lack of vision, a need to repeat the successes of the past without any innovation allowed whatsoever, or incentives for the creative teams of the present day.

Given their knowledge of the treatment of the forefathers of the industry, the greats, the Kirbys, Everetts, Kanes, Colans, et al by those wielding the power of an at-times paltry pay check, or not, if they stepped out of line, it is hardly surprising those same young comics creators are looking to pastures new to invent their characters, to tell their stories and to make their livings.

It looks to me like a grand scale viewing of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” syndrome in the case of the big fish. Well the pond just got a whole lot smaller guys and the new fish inside it are full of life, eager to fight to survive and fit enough to eat the old guard. Think piranhas and great whites.

My money is on the piranha…

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 11th 2012

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Lot of the Comic Artist...

Art and respect outside of comics...

Hi Everyone,

There is a world outside of comicbooks, honest...

I thought I would be a little controversial with my opening comment here today, for which the reasons will hopefully become apparent, as the tale progresses. This is especially so as the coming words seem to express the exact opposite of my current career position. 

I originally wrote this Blog a couple of years ago after I was involved in a series of conversations on a forum on the internet and although it was a broad subject, it contained some of the subject matter, which I have broached in my Blogs since I started writing them. I had intended on publishing this particular Blog as a result of those conversations an age ago, but the machinations of the previous two year’s events conspired against me doing so before now, until I had managed to proof-read it.

The conversations between several comics professionals and myself covered lots of ground during the time we spent in them. Some of the discussions covered positive aspects to the business, whilst others were not so. There are some home truths here in this Blog and I have chosen not to pull punches, but I have elected not to name and shame, the damage is done to those in the industry that will appreciate these words and also maybe there will be some folks that hear of this Blog and see the words and recognise themselves as guilty as charged, but somehow I doubt that will even occur to such folks.

Ask most folks inside of the business and you will hear the countless nightmare stories of artists (pencillers/inkers/colourists), writers, and letterers waiting for jobs to come along and then getting insane deadlines because folks had sat on the jobs, late payments, just because creative folks were looked on as last in line for payment (at best), and sometimes even a cut in pay from the start of a job, because the publisher hadn't made as much as they wanted/expected, etc.

Pieces of artwork, numbering in the hundreds, if not in the thousands (per artist in question) that have never been returned to the rightful creators and sadly there are many artists that can lay claim to this fact applying to themselves. This artwork not being returned due to the facts that either it was not the policy of the said publisher to return artwork (despite having already received artwork from them in the past), or having them mysteriously disappear into the aether – you may argue the semantics of that last one, some call it theft.

Stories of editors that looked at portfolios and asked for the entire contents to be sent through to their office, as not just they, but their colleagues would definitely be impressed enough to give the artists in question work reverberate throughout the halls of freelance-land. Back in the day before the internet this meant a costly exercise in copying and posting heavy packages and which usually proved a fruitless and expensive exercise in which the editor(s) saw no benefit and saw fit to ignore any amount of follow up letters, answer-phone messages, messages left with colleagues, or at reception, and later on with emails. The only thing it served to do was to circulate the industry like a virus, with distrust of certain editors and as a consequence a dent to their credibility.

The above served no purpose, except to perhaps feed their ego in some inane way, as comics creators sought favour with them, baring their souls to them whilst they did so.

There is also the practise with seasoned professionals, not just those wishing to break into the profession, who are forced – through the nature of the beast that is the comics industry - to produce “free gratis” samples without recompense, or indeed the sure knowledge that any work would lead from their production. My question is if the professionals in question are already capable artists can the editors not make a judgement about whether the artist is indeed capable? If a comic artist can draw then they can draw anything, they have to, in order to keep working in the business. If a comic artist can draw sequentially and at speed and to deadline then surely they are worth their weight in gold? In no other profession would you be asked to show a sample of your skills to obtain work.

Even in book publishing, cover samples are covered in the price. In other words you may do four to six sample covers in rough and the publisher/editor chooses one to be worked up as a final one and that is covered in the price of the cover. Whereas in comics even trying to get the work even for folks having worked in comics for 25 years and above they have to “try out” for each subsequent book and that means producing samples for free, which in most cases amount to nothing, except inordinate amounts of sample pages in portfolios.

My take on this for years has been to all professionals – if you have to the time to produce your samples for free on books you know in your heart-of-hearts you will not get then why not just produce your own work, for your own books?

Like I said in an earlier Blog some time ago, can you imagine calling a plumber and asking him to fit some radiators, only to stop him after the first one and say you don’t think his work is right for you and then to do the same all throughout the house until it is finished with other plumbers? Or testing a loaf in a baker’s until you find the one you like...? I think not.

Woe betide those who saw fit to gain employment with other publishers too, whilst the famine from one publisher existed, even though that may last for several months, or longer. Tales of loyalty on both sides are rife in the comics industry. On the one hand a comics creator is expected to wait idly by whilst work is not forthcoming and bills are mounting and yet a publisher is not required to give any reason for why work may suddenly dry up for a comics creator. Tales of questions of loyalty against the creator with no work from publisher ‘X’ who gains work from publisher ‘Y’, when neither publisher ‘X’ nor ’Y’ show any loyalty to that same creator abound in the industry and not many folks have not been victim to this kind of act.

These were not the only reasons for thinking no other job, except a replacement in the creative fields would ever expect the balance to be so out of kilter. There were and still are other embellishments too, but one thing is certain in the industry, not many deem it fit to be outspoken about such working conditions for fear of reprisals against such thoughts – after all if work can dry up for no reason at all, daring to discuss it, or worse still criticise it are tantamount to sacrilege in the hallowed halls of comicdom. In fact it is almost like looking at a precursor of the PC brigade’s tactics.

One of the reasons I, myself, got out of comics in 1999 was to get a better quality of life and to stop putting Margaret and the kids through the habitual garbage that came from working in comics. Please note here that I will not name any companies and will also add that some were brilliant to work for and little if any of the following are either relevant, or pertain to those companies. The only company I will mention as to not being a part of these criticisms for certain was Defiant, who in every way proved to me that the comic industry did not have to screw around with people’s lives, nay, good people’s lives, in any way to make a profit.

As soon as I did leave comics behind I noticed three things right away that were different from my time working in them, something, which my fellow professionals have heard me say a great many times throughout the years.

Those changes were:
  • The money was suddenly many times better, which was a massive change
  • I was suddenly allowed, indeed expected, to use my imagination and not just act as a pencil and/or pen for any number of writers/editors who couldn’t draw, like an extension to their hand/arm
  • The respect for what I could do was also suddenly far more apparent, in every way.
Now, because of the money, I was able to afford to sit back and spend normal amounts of quality time with my family. Immediately everyone saw a difference in me. Suddenly I was there all the time (although maybe they hated that, but just didn’t say...LOL). I didn’t need to draw and create things outside of the regimented hours of work, which in most cases were glorified office hours. Okay, I worked longer than necessary, but that was through choice and noticing that setting off earlier and later to the studios was far better, as I missed all the traffic jams at peak times.

There were no insane hours being worked, for less and less pay as the years rolled on. No begging for monies owed, making one feel like a pauper literally begging for money and feeling also like it was something, which the client was doing as a favour to you.

There was a salary, which miraculously appeared every month in your bank account and the money was such that you felt like every weight of stress, fear and worry was taken away, replaced by an ability to live outside the use of credit cards, etc. There was suddenly no worry as to if you would be paid, you didn’t need to contemplate whether there was money being paid into the account; it just did.

I was also more productive and began to feel great about the stuff I was now creating – this was why I had chosen to work in comics in the first place, but in the end I felt let down when I wasn’t allowed to express myself in any way whatsoever. The trouble was the medium was too constrictive between the times that I started and when I got out. I felt confined beyond reckoning with the constant dumbing down of content during my time in comics. It just went increasingly worse over that period. It also didn’t help at all when some of the editors despised their jobs and their creative teams more.

Now anyone that knows me will be aware I am totally up for creating all-ages comics, as they used to be, but I do not advocate the dumbing down of comics for kids, until here in the UK we cannot truly say we produce comics anymore, at least not in any quantity. Most of the stuff of recent years has been puzzle and features based, etc and even those are dumbed down.

I cannot understand the mindset, which delivers dumbed down content to kids with such a visually advanced expectance of quality through the DVD’s, 3D animation, high quality 2D animation, video games and all the high tech designed toys within their reach nowadays. This is shown for what it is when we look at stuff published back in the fifties and sixties (with a progressively active dumbing down process throughout this period to the present) which is far superior in content, illustrative quality and writing quality too, which seems to be strange when the visual stimulus was provided only by the comics, themselves, along with the books and the films shown at the movies and the limited children’s times on TV, of the era, which at best where primitive with all the wires and such.

How can anything less than the above be expected to work with the kids of today with all the high-end visual stimulus that bombards their cerebral cortex every day. To think it can be shows exactly why the industry is failing on almost every level in the UK and US markets.

I have to add here none of the above paragraph I hold as the responsibility of the creative teams, but with the publishers/editors.

As I said in my opening, this Blog was originally written a while ago and in fairness there appear to be a small number of new licensed children’s comics on sale just now, so there is cause for optimism at the moment again. So for me the jury is out…

My time in theme park conceptualisation served me in good stead for when I was headhunted to work in the animation world. This would have been too huge a gap to leap, if I had gone straight from the constrictive world of comic books at the time. That statement alone would have astounded me to hear, back when I aspired to work in comics as an art student, with its implications. Comics were the perfect vehicle to just let your imagination, unique to each artist and indeed writer, be unleashed, just like Jack Kirby et al had. Sadly that was suddenly not the case.

In both the arenas of theme parks and animation the respect I received was incredible. No one looked down on the abilities you were bringing to the table and everyone was listened to. As lead artist/designer that was even more apparent. I am not one of those guys that needs his ego stroking at every turn, but just hearing someone appreciate the time and effort and the creativity you have shown served to both make one feel appreciated and good inside as well as feeling more confident in one’s abilities and therefore better equipped mentally to produce faster, better, and be generally more productive and far more creative.

However, despite all the above it was when I was between projects and looking at what I wanted to do again that I decided it was comics, my first love, that really made me happy, but how to do this certainly without stepping back into the same old rat race? I had started to re-edit a novel, something I dropped at length in favour of looking at a concept I had created back in the mid/late eighties, which would eventually become my current priority one project.

It was whilst I was working on a few different TV projects that I was approached by three different clients all on the same day. I had been out that morning and upon arriving back at the studio listened to three messages on the answer phone. To cut a longer story short (thank God, I hear you all cry) one was the RSPB and wanted me to quote on a large format digitally coloured job. I had never quoted on computer colour before so contacted my great friend and editor-in-chief (at the time) James Hill and asked him what his company had to pay out to the computer colourists that they used.

James told me and then asked me if I was looking for work and I told him no, especially not in comics and this was despite my working on the script and characters for my graphic novel. James, however wasn’t taking no for an answer and I was asked to look at a script, or two for a set of comic characters for an original humour comic, written by Pat Kelleher, whom I always enjoyed (and still do) working with – well coaxed into checking it out that was the decider for me and I did some work for James for a while on Thor Losers and Sgt Minor for Lucky Bag Comic – returning to draw Hot Wheels a few years ago too.

It was at this same time when James “cajoled” me into returning to comics with the humour stuff, as I say, that I was working on developing a series of graphic novels, using a concept I had created and originally written the synopsis for and designed the characters for in the eighties. It was just something to do, on the side between projects, as the kids were now older and pretty much doing their own thing. James and I have laughed many times about this since. He either ruined me, or helped to make my mind up - I’ll leave that for the jury to ponder...

I needed a vehicle to create the books within, however, and I knew that no one in the mainstream (I hate that word) would even look at it, so I looked at the possibility of becoming the publisher too, something I had always intended to do, if ever the opportunity arose, from being a kid – I always saw me having my own version of Marvel, etc... LOL.

The only trouble for me for the past five years has been the inordinate amount of time taken up by the Wizards Keep project, which has seen a return to the working of insanely long hours, but this time with a difference.

Now at least I am in control of what I am producing and all the set up and business stuff from the inception back in 2005 has lead me to today and now it finds me working pretty much exclusively on Worlds End at last. The business side of things took over, as it had to in order for the project to work. The networking, emails, graphic design, meetings, speaking to suppliers, buying in of product and equipment, lecturing, working for other clients, etc, etc now need to take more of a side step for me to enable me to finish off the digital paints and graphic design and finally produce the graphic novel series. With the first book published I can move forwards more confidently.

During the conversations, which inspired this issue of my Blog one guy said something, which I feel was right when he said that just as I have done with my company, this is the way forward for us as creative people within the comic book field, certainly if you wish to create new worlds and characters – for me it was the only choice I needed to consider. It took a massive amount of money though, to achieve, that and the support of my wife, Margaret, my kids, Joanne and Simon, my Mum and Dad, my best friend, Paul, my friend and accountant, John, and the indispensable moral support of John Ridgway, as well as other members of my close family and friends, if only in their abilities to act as sounding boards in most cases, is something I am grateful for.

There are also the colleagues that have worked with me on projects since 2005, John Ridgway, Joe Rubinstein, Yel Zamor, Frank Zigarelli, Sean Green, Jeff Meckley, Choi Chow, Albert Deschesne, James Hill, Rob Sharp and all the many suppliers, printers and background folks that have helped me to get this far.

The reason for this post, which, as I promised the fellow professionals in the conversations I have enlarged and used for this Blog, I think is just to say that those guys are correct in assuming that the guys we have aspired to be as good as were also in the position of being chained to their typewriters and drawing boards, earning far less money than they deserved. There is, however, the potential for massive amounts of money to be made, ask the suits at the big publishers.

The one thing I want everyone to know is that despite my own experiences of the bad side of publishing and that of  my fellow colleagues, some of whom have had horrendous times, far worse than I, nothing has made me lose my love for the medium, my heroes and their work, which as served to inspire me over the years (some of whom nowadays I regularly speak to on FaceBook, etc) or the love of the new work I continue to find and look at for the first time and get that same buzz that I did as a kid.

In other words my return to the art of sequential storytelling is as fresh and exciting to me as it was when I first saw my first comic, when I had my first Harrier Comics work published in 1983, when my first story was sent into and published by Marvel in 1984 in Mighty World of Marvel issue #14, when my first Transformers story inking Barry Kitson was published in 1985, when my first commissioned work for Marvel, Zoids saw print in get the picture.

There is a difference, as I have said though and that is controlling the projects and the wonderful feelings that only come along when you are being truly creative. Now at last I am creating the worlds I have wanted to create since I first decided on my career path, after seeing the work of Jack Kirby as an eight-year-old kid.

Whether digital publishing will be the saving grace for us all, is out to debate, as we could just be looking at an exchange of corporations, The digital-based publishers and the like merely replacing the print-based publishers. I just hope the same lack of creative freedom is not the result of any such change

That would be such a shame.

The only worry for me in this is that this is business after all and in business the creative is open to abuse. 

I have to admit that the additional clout of turning up as a suited director/owner of a company commands far more respect than it would if I turned up as the writer/illustrator and yet the madness of it all is; it is the fact I am creating the stuff, which gains folk’s respect, so go figure that one – same guy different garb. It’s just like putting on a superhero costume...LOL.

I want to add here that things are remarkably different in Europe, where respect for the creators from both the publishers and the general public far outweighs that of the UK and US. The spectrum of genres is more far-reaching too. One can see an obvious love of the medium for all concerned including the publishers.

If nothing else I hope this Blog will serve to get your collective creative juices going. In other words don’t let the situation grind you down, be willing to take a chance in a slightly different direction artwork wise and be patient.

If you have worked in the business and feel let down and disillusioned, if you have worked in the business and had success working on characters created in the past by our heroes, if you have never been published before but want it so bad it hurts, then do it. Create new worlds, new stories, new characters, new formats, new media, but at least CREATE!

Things are changing and I am seeing more and more folks trying my chosen route. The Worlds End graphic novels are now my priority and now at last with it finally out there in the real world I can see whether the past five years have been worth the sacrifices.

The support from the fans out there and my fellow comics creators is more than positive and makes me feel all the more excited about the future releases. For me it has been a baptism of fire and I can now get on with volume II; for you guys it will mean you will get a chance to continue to see something different from me, something no one has ever seen me do before and hopefully it will mean enough to bring you back for more.

This Blog is meant to be a positive look at the changes afoot as you read it.

Back in the early 60s when the Marvel, as we know it today, was formed out of the ashes of the old Timely Comics it ushered in changes – much needed changes to escape the confines of the stale and the stuffy.

Today it is long overdue and the changes are being made, slowly, but surely.

People don’t like change in the main, but another word for change is progress and that progress has taken mankind from the caves to the stars.  

My next Blog will look at a growing number of comics creators doing their own thing. The changes have started and there is a shift in publishing as a result.

Anyone wishing to take a chance with self-publishing please feel free to get in touch for a chat. If I can help, I will, but it may take a while before you receive a reply, all I ask is a little patience. In the meantime continue to create your own new worlds and I’ll hopefully see your book out on the shelves too.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 7th 2010

Friday, May 04, 2012


The Man Who Ate Daffodils

Hi Guys,

What? I hear you all saying. Has he been on something this fine day?

Well, actually no, I haven’t. The title of today’s little missive belongs to the graphic novel of the same name by my Welsh buddy, fellow comic creator and graphic novelist, Simon Wyatt.

I first met Simon around 2007 when I first started to frequent comics conventions once more. I had met him on line previous to this on one or more of the social and professional networks. Each time we met, we both spoke about our mutual projects – both of us were writing and drawing our own graphic novels and both of us shared a common passion and drive to see them come to fruition and publication.

Now, thankfully, both of us have seen our dreams fulfilled. Simon’s beat mine to publication by a month – Unbelievable in October of last year published by Markosia Enterprises Ltd and Worlds End in November by Wizards Keep Publishing.

The book arrived in the post a few weeks ago. I waited to read it until after I had finished writing the final draft of volume two of my Worlds End graphic novel series, as I wanted to savour this nice looking book.

It is a square bound, soft backed, US format black and white book and comes with a striking cover that gives nothing away, but a little intrigue – the way all good covers should. The back cover is equally well illustrated and comes with the following blurb:

“The close-knit community of Bryn Boncath has its share of local legends and half believed histories. It has also become the scene of a series of bizarre and mysterious deaths. People are afraid to go out after dark and sightings of a monstrous beast are on the increase once again. What Ben Ellis took to be the tall tales of his Grandfather may be more than just stories.”

There are some nice write-ups in the book with a couple of Forewords and Introductions and an afterword too. My particular copy came with a limited edition print, which was a nice unexpected extra touch from Simon – as there are only 20 such prints in existence.

I know some folks don’t like his work, but I love Stephen King’s books, especially the original batch; It, The Shining, Salem’s Lot, Needful Things, etc. So when I started reading Simon’s book, although it has its own voice, it has that same sense of rhythm that the Stephen King best sellers have had.

One feels the “real” world authenticity that he has put into it. I haven’t spoken to Simon yet about his book, but it feels like the places are based in a true reality with a fantasy twist thrown in for good measure. Now whether this is an accurate description I cannot say, but to me it has that same sense of place that Stephen King’s have in his version of Maine.

I cannot tell you anything about the story, as I feel that would spoil the whole experience, but suffice it to say that it has great characters – with whom you can relate. It harks back to the times when kids really could go out in to the countryside alone on their summery adventures. It has creepy characters and horror by the bucket load too. So if mystery and ghostly horror are your cups of tea, then this is a book for you.

It keeps up a tremendous pace throughout and left me certainly wanting more and more you need for there has to be a sequel, because, just like my own Worlds End book, this has a “to be continued” caption at the end.

There are some nice touches with the art too, which reminds me of the best Eric Bradbury and Tom Sutton artwork with dashes of EC and Warren comics in there to flavour the whole thing - no mean feat. Of late I have taken an age to read most graphic novels, as I read them last thing at night after working long hours, so often fall asleep with the books in my hands still. Unbelievable did not last that long. I read it in two sessions on consecutive nights… two consecutive cold end of winter nights, with the bedside lamp for light. The perfect setting to read this kind of book.

I had been shown pieces of the book, pages here and there, sketches and the like, but nothing prepared me for the one that now has pride of place next to my studio favourites long with such magnificent creators as Kirby, Wrightson, Windsor Smith, Buscema, Eisner, Ploog, Goscinny and Uderzo, Druillet, Ridgway et al. So he is in some great company.

There are monsters in there too along with some very creepy scenes – dark and broody, just like the village and landscape in which it resides. There is dark magic here and so much mystery you dare not take your eyes off the ball. It has the perfect feel of the best of the Hammer Films, or others such as An American Werewolf in London, or the TV adaptation of Salem’s Lot. In other words it has all the ingredients I like best in all of the above.

I received an email from Simon asking for my mailing address before he sent the book off. I replied and then a few days went by and with the writing of my own in progress I forgot about it until the package arrived. I opened it and gave it a quick perusal then put it on a shelf in the studio, where I leave books that are to be imminently read. 

When I first opened the book to read I saw it came with a lovely inscription personalised by Simon, but as I read further I saw he gave me a credit in the acknowledgments section of his book. My name is second only to the publisher, Harry Markos, as he thanks a handful of people that he says have supported his endeavours with this book. I would like to say publicly here to Simon that he was there for me too and add my thanks for caring enough to put a mention for me in his book.

A few years ago I started predicting a number of forthcoming sequential stories, that I knew were in the pipeline by certain as then unnamed comics creators, were going to open up a new market. This was one of them. If you haven’t seen it go out and buy a copy. It is available as a digital download, but get yourself a “real” copy that you can put on your shelves or get both. I think you’ll be glad you did. It will probably be one of the best-spent £12.99s you will part with this year.

All that remains is for me to wish Simon all the success in the world with his book and to add I cannot wait to see his next one.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
May 4th 2012