Thursday 24 November 2011


Publisher Ed Murphy on the key artists who worked with Rough Cut Comics over the last decade.
JAESON Finn was the first artist who joined the fledging Rough Cut Comics team at the beginning of the new millenium.
He was assigned to perform the art duties on the adaptation of THE SURGEON film script ... originally an attempt to gather another £150,000 to complete the budget for production.
I had known Jaeson as an avid horror-film buff who attended the Black Sunday Film Festivals in Manchester and Edinburgh. I became involved with an event in Glasgow; and eventually mini-bused the small batch of ticket-buyers to the massive Manchester event.
Years later, we met to discuss THE SURGEON and re-ignited our passion for horror. Jaeson was instrumental in visualising many of designs for Neil Marshall's apocalypse thriller Doomsday ... and it is here that Jaeson's innovatively gruesome ideas come into their own. He's great at bringing to life an Adam Hughes-style 'babe' ... as he did for ROSE BLACK. When he starts, he's a fast worker; able to devise accurate figure work in dynamics postures on 'first-take'.
His pencils on THE SURGEON were inked by Colin Barr and he provided the art for one later story in the series.
But it was his ROSE BLACK series and GN which his style was truly developed; and consolidated that great 2000AD style. Again, his work was inked by Colin Barr, but his comic-book set-pieces (like the helicopter battle and the final denounment) were brilliantly executed.
Jaeson also worked on a number of caricatures and designs for our comic-book music publication GREEN PAGES; and produced some early art and designs for the ROSE BLACK: DEMON SEED (originally subtitled ELOISE).
But Jaeson's passion was always in film and TV. He worked closely on a number of short-films projects (including innovative Scottish team Once Were Farmers; and their crawling horror The Midge) before creating a working relationship with Newcastle film-maker Neil Marshall; and moving on to collaborate on many international film productions (Your Highness, Unknown). But check out Doomsday and Centurion to see some of his classic design work.
Or if you haven't yet, pick up ROSE BLACK GN available to purchase again this winter from all good comic and bookshops in the UK or direct from the publishers at

Monday 14 November 2011


FORMER Rough Cut Comics Marketing Manager Johnny McKie recalls his favourite artist from the company’s 10 year history.
ROUGH CUT COMICS acquired the comic-book rights to Brian Yuzna’s cult horror satire Society in 2002 and produced stories which combined to be an official sequel to the 1989 film.
British artist NEILL CAMERON produced the artwork for the second issue of SOCIETY: PARTY ANIMAL in 2003.
Neill had developed a substantial reputation in the small press of the day. Publisher Ed Murphy was a huge fan of his Dumbass comic label and his work in British Bulldog. The Oxford-born artist, who studied at university in Glasgow, had a style which the team at Rough Cut Comics reckoned was truly dynamic … with potent strains of early Frank Quitely in design and presentation.
For the SOCIETY series, the artist had captured the Dali-esque caricatures of the story’s main protagonists: a race of upper-class deviants who ritualistically devour the poor.  His visualisation of the “Mega-Shunt”    the monumental melding of a hundred naked deviants engaged in a sexual orgy while oozing after hero Billy Whitney  – was fantastically grotesque. Thanks Neill.
Neill has since provided the art for the Classic Comics’ award-winning adaptation of Henry V, for which he won a Silver Medal Independent Publisher Book Award in 2008. His webcomic Thumpculture was also shortlisted for an IMAF (International Manga and Anime Festival) award.
He has also provided artwork for such licensed series as Transformers, Doctor Who and Marvel Heroes.
His latest work is Mo-Bot High, a brand new graphic novel series from David Fickling Books in the DFC Library. We are led to believe Neil is currently working on new projects which “combine dinosaurs, pirates and monkeys” for the new children’s comic The Phoenix, launching January 2012.
For more information on Neill, check out Check out some of Neill’s art from SOCIETY: PARTY ANIMAL on  … or on the Facebook page link:!/pages/Rough-Cut-Comics/142598199129432. We'll be reproducing more artwork over the next few weeks.

Friday 21 October 2011


ROUGH CUT COMICS released its first comic in November 2001 ... so celebrations are in order, right?
Well, after a decade creating and producing a range of popular titles which have attracted overwhelming credibility in the international comic-book marketplace, we’re far more interested in just getting started on the next 10.
In the past, we’ve organised parties to promote our key titles: from our launch night at Bristol Comic Con in 2001; our SURGEON showcase at San Diego Comic Con; a fifth birthday party at Glasgow’s Baby Grand; and a FREEDOM COLLECTIVE re-release cheese and wine in Berlin.
That’s excluding the myriad of late-night drinking sessions at Bristol and Birmingham.
While it’s always good to celebrate reaching another milestone, the real celebration in this day and age is quite simply … the NEXT milestone.
We never really imagined we’d ever go even one year.
Our first comic-book was devised solely to help raise the last piece of finance for the film production of THE SURGEON.
What was the inspiration behind that idea?
Back in the 1980s, film producer Milton Subotsky had approached Dez Skinn to produce a comic-book version of The Monster Club, the movie project based on R. Chetwynd-Haye’s horror stories. Subotsky was trying to create for vehicle for horror film legends Vincent Price, Peter Cushing and John Carradine.
Artist John Bolton had been producing comic-book versions of Hammer horror movies for Skinn’s inimitable House of Hammer publication and he was roped in to the produce the movie adaptation, which eventually brought in the final phase of cash at the Cannes and green-lit the film to be directed by Roy Ward Baker.
Twenty years later, our future Publisher Ed Murphy was working with the Film Development Corporation in pre-production with THE SURGEON feature film.
The project had attracted Richard E Grant (who stepped in after Harvey Keitel pulled out) and The Thick of It’s Peter Capaldi. The horror-thriller would be the debut feature film of Adrian Wright, an original member of the Human League who was then directing pop videos.
As a former contributor to NME, Murphy had long promoted the comic-book industry with his features on Alan Moore, Frank Quitely and Grant Morrison. A huge fan of 2000AD from Prog One and a collector of the aforementioned House of Hammer, Murphy felt a comic-book adaptation could help promote the project for international pre-sales.
Murphy’s early friendships with writer-artist Rob Moran and some of the Electric Soup team gave him a solid ground in putting the comic-book together … and it was planned and budgeted as a two-issue mini-series. The 32-page title had its editorial pages “typeset and pasted-up” the old-fashioned way and printed on web off-set press.
Jaeson Finn provided the artwork and his cinematic imaginations forged his career as one of Britain’s much sought-after storyboard visualisers for feature films such as Doomsday and Centurion.
Thanks to the tremendous team, Rough Cut Comics’ debut title was a monster success … with orders of 8500 copies through Diamond Comic Distributors.
It may be somewhat ironic that the marketing tool for the film didn’t prove effective, but it sparked a huge readership as a comic-book. Over the years, it has attracted interest from directors Sam Raimi and Russell Mulcahy; as well as British author Ramsay Campbell, who provides an introduction to the new trade paperback of THE SURGEON.
It’s these little facts and figures which lead us to the conclusion that Rough Cut Comics is an important British comic-book company.
Sure, the last few years have been quiet for us … but we’ve stayed in business by constantly re-printing our popular titles, while working on a series of original graphic novels (unfortunately, we don’t reckon the 32-page mini-series is a viable option for an indie outfit anymore).
Those include ROSE BLACK: DEMON SEED, the innovative reworking of vampire mythology mixed with spy-girl comic style; and AMANDA SWAN: THE HELLFIRE LEGACY, a supernatural adventure based around the British model who features in the comedy thriller The Don of 42nd Street.
We’re also paving the way for a new FREEDOM COLLECTIVE project, our unique tribute to Stan the Man and King Kirby which has attracted a huge following of fans … including Alex Ross and Grant Morrison.
So I think we’ve got good reason to go on for another 10 years.
Hey, that’s right … we’re ten years old next month. No need for any extravagant gifts.
But if you do want to give us something, then go tell a friend about Rough Cut Comics. If they’re on Facebook, ask them to look us up … and “like” us.
Then like you, they’ll be part of the next 10 years.

Saturday 24 September 2011


OUR newest title ROSE BLACK: DEMON SEED was given its biggest public outing since its official release through Diamond Comics earlier this month.
The graphic novel was on show at the Glasgow Comic and Toy Mart - and this was our first opportunity to engage with its potential readership; exchange notes and gain a temperature reading of its popularity in the market (We've spent the last month doing PR at comic shops around the UK).
Without any doubt, Joel Carpenter's startling cover design is an instant attraction. You'll surely have noticed it on our Facebook page and may have seen it has attracted plaudits from industry professionals all over the globe. It's quasi-religious design depicts the titular heroine being dominated by the celestrial, winged figure of the story's 'big bad' ... the Amazonian she-devil Eloise, all pale-skinned and dead-eyed.
We found many new readers who hadn't seen the first book and became intrigued by this dynamic cover attraction. So far ... so good.
Everyone who enquired, it seemed, were intrigued by our story concept of vampires NEVER existing.
That's the underlying premise of the Rose Black saga.
It outlines the idea of Rose being the last of these celestrial beings who 'drank from the body of man' to rid them of disease.
These creatures have been written out of biblical records by a sinister cabal who are now housed in the Vatican, and have been influencing folklore over the centuries; rewriting history with their own nefarious ideas of bloodthirsty demons preying on mankind.
I light-heartedly offered the notion of shadowy figures visiting FW Murnau, Bram Stoker and Joss Whedon in our alternative storyline ... and was relieved when one true Bram Stoker afficiando didn't sprinkle the idea with garlic.
For the second book, we tried to develop a new scientific break-through in theology: and introduced our concept of 'Organic Divinity'. In a nut-shell, we basically throw out the bible ... and replaced it with pure science. Not weird science. Just the notion of god being a collection of molocules in one big test-tube.
I wouldn't imagine we'd get any strong debate about this at the Glasgow Comic Mart, but we're expecting the Mark of Cain from a section of the American Right.
There was some healthy debate in Glasgow ... and I'm glad to see many of our West of Scotland readership still retain their sense of humour.
Joel's interior artwork follows on fitting from Book One's Jaeson Finn. Jaeson, I've told you in previous posts, now works solely in the film industry; designing the storyboards for films such as the Liam Neeson thriller Unknown and the outrageous comedy opus Your Highness.
DEMON SEED's art, which is coloured by Glaswegian Derek Dow, maintains Jaeson's cinematic style ... especially in the climatic battle between Rose and Eloise. But I'm not going into ANYMORE about the conclusion ... there's a definite cliffhanger.
I'm looking forward to promoting the new book around the rest of the UK, including a big event at our big 10th birthday showcase at Thought Bubble in November. Keep your eyes on the Rough Cut Comics Facebook page for more events in 2011.
If anyone wants to buy a copy direct, you can do by checking out
and clicking on STORE.

Saturday 20 August 2011


IT strikes me that sending your new book off to the printers is a little like your young child's first day of school.
The little offspring ROSE BLACK: DEMON SEED was conceived by Tom Campbell and I about five years ago ... and we had all the usual late night "feeds" of ideas; creative "nappy changes"; its first steps and first words; leading all the way through various "design nursery" misdemeanors before finally being ready to be unleashed into the big-wide world without its parents.
We've been able to pick the best school (printers) for our child's needs; and after choosing the right uniform (cover and design) and sorting out transport (delivery), we settled down for an early night and an earlier rise.
While I'm pretty sure I've taken broad liberties with this metaphor, there is absolutely no doubt independent comic-book publishers view their books more like "children" than the huge mainstream outfits do.
If you're a parent, I'm sure you'll understand if your child's being excluded from the current curriculum or find the young one being picked on or bullied by the establishment, you'd be none too pleased.
This is the position that we find our young "children" in every term ... facing up against the 'Big Two' who all the young retailers crowd around to curry favour.
No one knows whether our kid is a tremendous football player or a fantastic athlete because he's stuck on the bench behind the 'popular elite' of the class.
I know many retailers who don't have much faith in independent product ... and, like school bullying, that's just wrong.
But here's a true story.
When we first solicited The Freedom Collective - one of our older children - to Diamond back in 2005, we were rejected by Previews' editorial committee as being 'poor quality'. We howked the youngster around the UK comic festivals that year and the well-turned-out infant achieved an instant following, gathering 3000 fans (Go look at if you HAVEN'T seen our little jewel).
When it was resubmitted to Diamond a few years later, it was accepted ... and attracted more than 1,000 invitations from retailers. It was applauded by Prefect Alex Ross and a head boy called Grant Morrison.  I guess, the 'poor quality' pupil had some merit after all.
I'm thankful our big family gets some kind of worldwide support, but I always think about our Freedom Collective child's first school outing .. punted to the back of the class only to become a star pupil as the term moved on.
I'm glad there are new moves afoot to promote these young stars in British retailer outfits. And I look forward to promoting that in a future blog.
Right now, I ask all comic-book retailers to invite any new indie-product into their gang. There are a healthy array of talent in this year's class which are packed with 'hidden depths'; and it would be a good idea to let them florish.
As for little Rose and her DEMON SEED, I have high hopes for the term ahead.
I think she's be a popular girl with a great personality and a fantastic dress sense. Oh God, before I know it ... she'll been married off and living in Hollywood.
She's available to order from and click on STORE.

Saturday 6 August 2011


SAN DIEGO has always been the Mecca for comic-book publishers and their fans.

Every year, thousands upon thousands make the pilgrimage towards the Pacific Coastal city – the eighth largest in the United States – which is immediately adjacent to the Mexican border.

Your entry into the San Diego Convention Center gives you a tablet which enables you to climb this Mount Sinai of the media world: a quasi-religious domain where every comic-book company will bring their biggest names and biggest products to “sell” to a loyal congregation.

The religious metaphors are apt … because like many religions, comic-book fans have varying degrees and choices of faith (I remember many years ago as a genre-writer, I publicised my ‘illogical’ dislike of ‘Trekkers’, and received the Starfleet equivalent of a Fatwa. For years, I expected a red-shirted assassin to emerge from the darkness to stab me with a pair of ‘Spock’ ears … but it never came!).

Like mass religion, the congregations queuing to see the comic-book messiahs are legion.

Even as a small independent publisher pushing to preach their word, it is difficult to concentrate on the business at hand without being mesmerized by the parting sea of artists and personalities from the world of comics, television and film.

You’re dazed. You’re confused. You’re talent struck.

When you emerge from the venue after the first evening, you’ll believe that Edward James Olmos is driving your taxi; Ryan Reynolds is the bus-boy; Natalie Portman is the desk-clerk at your hotel; and Carrie Fisher is in the room next door (Oh, Carrie Fisher is in the room next door!).

Now, you may notice comic-book writer Robert Kirkman or artist Adam Hughes don’t merit a show in this dream-like daze.

That’s because San Diego DOES concentrate all its preaching power on the Hollywood bible.

This year, critics of SDCC have accused the organizers of neglecting its comic-book publishing origins.

I reckon this isn’t a valid argument because I don’t know one comic-book publisher who wouldn’t sell their product for film or television adaptation.

Rough Cut Comics’ biggest success was The Surgeon, launched in the wake of a big-screen treatment with Richard E Grant and Peter Capaldi. As the film project slipped into ‘development hell’ sales of this monthly title fell sharply. That was no coincidence.

Most of the biggest comic-book booths at San Diego are from publishers whose titles have been licensed by film or television producers.

Last year, Robert Kirkman and Image ruled the roost – not for the huge success of their Walking Dead series, but for Frank Darabont’s television adaptation. This year, Marvel went big-guns on Joss Whedon’s big-screen adaptation of The Avengers (due to released on the big-screen in 2012).

Both these comic-book titles are pushed further into the heavens while their big/small screen equivalents are on view on TV and cinema screens.

Who know what interest Rough Cut Comics’ newest title Rose Black: Demon Seed will get from next year’s San Diego?

The option on the original book recently expired, but some interest followed on from Jean Claude Van Damme (Whaaaaa!) … as well as representatives of the Italian model actress Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded, Prince of Persia) who figured she’d be a shoe-in for the title character.

When all’s signed, sealed and delivered, all roads eventually lead to San Diego. There are a myriad of great comic-book festivals in the UK and the States, but when you’re book finally reaches Tinsel Town, there’s only ONE pulpit you’ll be preaching from … and you won’t be reading that in Sci-fi Now.

Tuesday 26 July 2011


WHEN I used to do talks, one question I was always asked was: ‘Who’s Rough Cut Comics’ competition?’
In the business of selling titles, I was being asked who was DC Comics to our Marvel?
My answer hasn’t evolved since I first set up my stall: I didn’t have competition. I have inspirations.
I love comic books. And the fact I’m in the industry, doesn’t cause me to diminish any other book I DIDN’T publish as ‘competition’.
On the contrary, at our early stands in at the Bristol Comic Expo, you may have seen a corner of our table marked by ‘Comics we WISH we’d published’. Here, I’d promote some of the titles I’d just picked up and wanted to share with anyone who passed by our stand.
Rough Cut Comics had launched around the same time as Com X … and I was a huge fan of their titles (Trevor Hairsine’s fantastic artwork in Cla$$ War and John Higgins’ RazorJack were two highlights). They were big and bold; American-style with a real Brit edge and publisher Eddie Deighton had a flawless design strategy.
I was also mesmerized by the Springheel Jack mini-series from David Hitchcock, who perfectly summed up the nightmarish appeal of the old Penny Dreadfuls. Paul Grist’s Jack Staff series about “Britain’s Greatest Superhero” could still be the greatest underground comic of all time, if the creator’s Dancing Elephant title wasn’t picked up by Image Comics a few years back.
Last weekend, I visited Plan B Books in Glasgow’s Saltmarket to hear a talk from one of my favourite creative teams … Metaphrog.
John Chalmers and Sandra Marrs’ beautifully-conceived Louis character is an absolute joy to behold and they have received several prestigious award nominations, including recognition from the Eisner judges. Their work carries that special gift of magic that I’d attribute to every creation of Matt Groening (not specifically The Simpsons, but his Life in Hell strips); and it was a pleasure to hear about their inspirations and working styles.
In Glasgow right now, I have a whole host of “inspirations”
My old friend Jim Stewart has almost made an industry out of his Ganjaman creation … and it is a simple creative/artistic whiff of spliff culture which never fails to split my sides. Jim’s Ganjaman Presents title has brought together Alan Grant, Gelbert Shelton, Bryan Talbot and Doug Moench into one complete volume. What a coup!
Elsewhere, I also took great, retina-blitzing pleasure from horror media-mogul Alan Simpson, whose Sex Gore Mutants website launched the Living Dead; Glasgow title ... featuring hoards of fleshing eating zombies maurading through my Scottish home-town. It was more or less George Romero directing Trainspotting ... and it was terrific fun from creators who I know truly understood the dynamic ethos of King Jack Kirby.
These days, I’m constantly turning an eyeball to the works of Curt Sibling (Total Fear) and James Devlin (a genuine ‘go-to’ artist/colourist currently working on the new School of the Damned title from Black Hearted Press) and not forgotting the Great (and always late) Dave Alexander (currently doing Adam and his Aunts in Viz).
Just this morning, Rob Miller – from the Hope Street Studio – dropped a giddy, little three-frame item on Facebook which further emphasized the wonder of the ‘funnies’. His ‘Sir Freelancealot’ strip captured the ‘gloat and awe’ of social satire, delivered in Rob’s laid-back cartoon style. Laughed My Ass Off … luckily I was wearing my trousers!
If you’re waiting for the plug for the new Rough Cut Comics titles, you’re gonna be disappointed in this blog.
As Publisher of the company, I find it difficult to shake my former hand as a genre writer in Melody Maker, NME, VOX, Starburst and Shivers … constantly trying to plug comics I reckoned would set the shelves on fire. Not just my comics … but everyone taking the time to contribute to the long heritage of writers and artists in the comic-book medium. There are many. And that’s great for all readers and publishers.
These are my inspirations. I hope they can be yours.

Sunday 17 July 2011


A FEW months ago, I received an email from someone called Madeleine Jones from the Bournemouth-based Sci-fi Now magazine. It read:

Hi Eddie,
My name is Madeleine, I work on Sci-fi Now magazine at Imagine Publishing,
I wanted to get in contact as myself and the editor have been looking at your website and it is very relevant to the interests of our readers.
Do you have a phone number I can call you on to discuss further?

Ah, I thought, another astute media outlet looking to highlight the work we’re doing to promote good ideas in the comic-book medium. This publication had so far failed to pick up any of our press releases or published any reviews of our work (one of which was a comic-book spin-off of the cult horror film Society – for which they dedicated three pages in a previous issue).
When I got round to speaking with Madeleine, I got the impression “the editor” HADN’T been looking at our website and thus didn’t find anything relevant to his readers. I did get the impression SALES EXECUTIVE Madeleine reckoned their bank manager would be more interested in Rough Cut Comics’ hard-earned £425 for a small advertisement in their publication.
I put this forward in an email to Madeleine and explained Rough Cut Comics received good exposure in rival publications such as SFX, Fangoria and Rue Morgue and we were more likely to place advertising with those titles, which support us. We actually KNEW the response we got back from their reports and reviews, so I’d be more likely to spend any money with them. Much later, Madeleine emailed back:

Hi Ed,
Apologies, I didn't pick up the first email you sent,
Of course I appreciate that you have news worthy products to feature, however editorial space is priority for paying advertisers and unfortunately I cannot guarantee editorial without you advertising.
Also I am sure you can appreciate that we get many companies contacting us with the promise of advertising if we feature them, and of course, then they just use the free publicity as promotion and don't advertise afterwards.
I can forward this to Aaron*, but with out financial support from you, it is unlikely that we will feature.

Of course, I pointed out I WASN'T promising to advertise. I would merely consider it, based on how good a response we got from their coverage. Believe me, I can tell. I would see a feature on the writers and artist's behind our "official" comic-book sequel to the hugely popular Society feature film to be on a par with a feature on "the complete guide to Lost". No different.
Now, this brings me to the point of this blog. Which is, at what point did these publications choose to put a price tag on news from the small, independent, low-budget product-line.
Flicking through a few editions of Sci-fi Now, I didn’t see many advertisements from the major film, book or DVD distributors beside their reviews. I do see advertisements from indie companies, who DON’T have the backing of major corporations like Harper Collins or Sony Pictures.  
But I did see plenty of editorial coverage for both these companies and many, many more.
It made me wonder how the publication would they deal with a small British company if they got the comic-book rights to the True Blood series and didn’t have an advertising budget once they’ve parted with their cash for rights, artwork and production. By Madeleine’s reckoning, this would NOT appear in Sci-fi Now.
I’d say that a GOOD news story should be the key factor for the inclusion of the item in the publication. It’s been that way since my first day as a journalist and as far as I know, it’s still that way.
Over the last ten years, Rough Cut Comics have been given that opportunity by many understanding journalists from magazines and newspapers such as the Daily Mirror (who reckoned Rose Black was ‘out to get Lara Croft’ in a full page news item).
In her sales pitch, Madeleine told me Rough Cut Comics would get some editorial if I took a £450 advertisement in Sci-fi Now. So does that mean, they’d be giving a glowing ‘write-up’ to something they didn’t find worthy of coverage or review in a previous edition?
If I paid £1000, would I get a “first class” trip for one of our “poorly reviewed” titles?
It somewhat lessens the credibility of a publication.
I think this publication I mention is a unique case. I haven’t experienced anything like this with their rivals … but it could be the way the print media is going.
In the UK right now, there is a veritable slew of independent comic publishers which NEVER get their day in the metropolis sun.
That’s sad … for both the print medium I’ve loved and participated in for years, and the genre journalists who’ve been given the unique opportunity to be part of an industry beloved by millions of fans all over the world.
I vividly recall the day more than 20 years ago when a rag-tag bunch of writers and artists bungee-ed into the newspaper office I worked; touting their new home-grown publication. It wasn’t Watchmen or V for Vendetta … the big news stories of the day. It was a hard sell to my editor, but I lavished pages and pages on this very talented bunch of individuals.
The publication was Electric Soup … the fore-runner of Northern Lights and Wasted. And some of the artists in that posse were Frank Quitely (who was doing The Greens) and Dave Alexander. Somehow, I’m sure if Electric Soup was around today, it wouldn’t be getting any column inches by many of today’s genre journalists.
Rough Cut Comics and my fellow independent comic-book publishers are the Dark Horse Comics and the IDW Publishing of the future.
Right now, that’s acknowledged more by the internet news sites and media blogs
online … which, maybe just maybe, is dire proof of where the future WILL lie for your major news outlets.

In the meantime, I leave you with these thoughts:

*Aaron is Aaron Asadi, the Editor in Chief of Sci-fi Now which is published by Imagine Publishing.

Saturday 25 June 2011


YOU’D be forgiven for believing I’d finally found God if you rang into me last Saturday … but the sight of me kneeling in the pews of a North Glasgow church could well have something to do with publicising my latest instalment of the Rose Black saga to the Almighty (I have it on good authority the supreme being is an avid follower of the series, but that may be Bono … I’m not sure).
The occasion was, in fact, a far less sanctimonious affair. The stunning Macintosh Church – designed by the renowned Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mac – is now an arts and heritage centre dedicated to encouraging creative development in every kind of medium.
It was organisers Sha Nazir and John Farman’s intentions to use this unconventional venue to link comics to Glasgow’s rich artistic heritage that’s underlined by this charitable organisation.
The venue may have dictated the Con’s limited 500 ticket allocations. But these 500 were die-hard enthusiasts of comics … and specifically, the indie-comic-book publishers like us who preached from the back of the hall.
Obviously, I was there to publicise our new release, Rose Black: Demon Seed (released through Diamond next month), and the church venue couldn’t have been more appropriate.
If you’re not familiar with the Rose Black concept, the saga surrounds the titular, mysterious being: once thought to be part of the vampire legend which, in our mythology, has been devised by a corrupt sect in Vatican City. She is now revealed as a far more mysterious angel-like creature of unknown origin.
Religious folklore is a big part of the story’s mythology … much like Dan Brown uses it in his novels. But we’ve been trying to develop a theological/scientific angle through our “organic divinity” concept unveiled in Demon Seed.
It imagines religion re-defined as “an organism” living and growth in some kind of physical vessel with the power of evil and darkness manifested as “a disease”.
I reckoned the Catholic faith could have a good theological argument on that one.
Everyone loves our artist Joel Carpenter’s work on this book. The artist, who made his 2000AD debut this year, is already being praised by many industry professionals who are particular taken by his cover art previewed on Rough Cut Comics’ Facebook page:!/pages/Rough-Cut-Comics/142598199129432
Many were taken by his visual interpretation of the story’s key villainess on the cover: a mirror-image of angelic Rose’s black leather clad-look … and looking like zombified heroin-addict whose mind is riddled with lust and vengeance.
As a creator, it’s great to hear people enthused by your comic-book ideas.
Unlike, print or internet reviews, you get an opportunity to debate your ideas with the comic-buying public at comic conventions … and that’s what makes these things great fun.
Over the last decade, I've displayed at cons the length and breadth of the UK ... and visited many in all over the world (mostly Berlin and the United States).
For retainers attending these events, it is always an endurance course which can sort out The Green Lantern's from The Spectre's.
This Glasgow event coincided with a massive Wizard Con in Philadelphia. If you think getting your luggage and personals through customs is an ordeal, imagine the trauma of adding stock and promotional materials to the baggage. But Glasgow was a real bonus for me because the venue was 20 minutes drive from my home.
But even if the Glasgow Con was five hours drive, I’d have to say that based on the clientele, this is a MAJOR event for all comic-book creators. The event gave Rough Cut Comics many new fans; and if that’s means many new sales, that’ll mean many new comics and many opportunities for comic-book creators … of which we’re in so many awe of it. Hallelujah and Amen.

Next week, I’ll be mostly talking about … our new “top secret” project.

Saturday 4 June 2011


I'M an indie-comic publisher who should be plugging his new releases, but this week, there's only one item on the mind of anyone reading comics ... my big league competitor DC Comics' announcement of "relaunching" all their hero characters in their September titles.
For all indies putting out titles in the September Previews, that'll mean real stiff competition for purchases from retailers all over the world. (and I do think it will be a landmark month for DC sales).
But although we should never be afraid of fighting for space beside Marvel or DC (that threat is ALWAYS there), we should be more afraid of the ever-increasing threat of the two biggest comic-book publishers in the world struggling to maintain their market share.
That, after all, is the ONLY reason they're doing this. Sales of many of their popular titles are diminishing fast and repackaging Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Batman might seem to be a way of generating a sales tsunami.
But I always maintain GOOD stories sell. Bad ones DON'T. DC has had far too many bad ones.
Like Marvel, they still maintain an 'event' carries much more weight than devising a new threat for the Caped Crusader or the Man of Steel.
Over the years, many of the company's creative teams have under-estimated the power of 'shock value' or where to take it.
For one, I've always reckoned it was a BAD thing that they never understood when a character is dead ... he or she should stay DEAD. After all, this is a storytelling formula which has manifested in the worst aspect of TV storytelling ... soap operas. If you've got the balls to kill off Superman, for godsake keep him dead.
Story-wise, DC have delivered some great product -- the Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely Superman and Batman sagas have been invigorating. Sales have been very good here. So there's solid proof it can be done.
A lot of work has gone into this relaunch and I think credit should be given, not for the idea, but for the secrecy maintained by the move. It hit the industry like an earthquake last week.
The move will definitely affect retailers sales from Rough Cut Comics' release of Rose Black: Demon Seed in September.
So for December, I'm announcing all my titles are being "re-imagined" for a major relaunch of the company's most popular characters.
Rose Black will be rewritten as a beautiful hunchback werewolf thrown out of the underworld for cheating at cards with Satan; The Surgeon is a space-travelling tree specialist (see what I did there?) who inflicts arborial nightmares on Earth's alternative worlds; and Freedom Collective will simply be given jet-black costumes.
Good luck DC (I'm sure you wont need it) ... or will I be calling you AC Comics by 2012?

Saturday 28 May 2011


Rough Cut Comics celebrates its tenth birthday this month ... and we're elated with the public reception to the trade paperback edition of our debut title The Surgeon.
The book compiles the original two issue mini-series we launch at the Bristol Comic Festival back in 2001. We did a big launch and hired a small theatre at the WaterShed complex to introduce the writers and artists. Not many people in the audience would realise the title's penciller was Jaeson Finn, who would go on to be the renowned storyboard artist on features films such as the George Clooney production The Jacket, Neil Marshall's Doomsday and Centurian, and the recent comedy opus Your Highness.
But this wasn't just an ambitious comic-book idea. This was an adaptation of a full-fledged British feature film which had just lost a key co-producer at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. The horror thriller, about a time-travelling serial killer, had attracted the attention of Richard E Grant and Peter Capaldi in the lead roles; and Producer Alan Latham was going on to work on the Brighton-based thriller Circus, with Fred Ward, Famke Janssen and Eddie Izzard. Even before the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrel phenomenon of British cinema, The Surgeon was the talk of the town.
We took out advertising in Comics International, the industry bible on the day in the UK. We secured write-ups in Wizard and many of the indie publications and websites which promoted British product.
Our initial sales through Diamond were less than 1000 copies selling at $3.95 an issue and distributors taking 60 percent of each sales.
We were exactly breaking out the champagne for our first release. But over the next two years, The Surgeon had surpassed the 5000 sales mark and this figure increased by 2000 copies each year ...  demanding two reprints and the production of a few more instalments to satisfy the demand of the fans.
Over the years, The Surgeon has built up many fans; including film director Sam Raimi and horror writer Ramsey Campbell, who provides the introduction to the trade paperback. Ramsey said: 'How could The Surgeon have been struck off our cinema screens? Could the combined imaginations of writers Tom Campbell and Craig Forrester have proved too strong for the British Film Industry's sensibilities ... at least those of the moneymen?"
I admit having now spent ten years in comics, I'm intrigued to see if the sensibilities have changed. The Surgeon would have been my debut feature as producer. Who knows, maybe it could have been me directing X Men: First Class for this summer's release schedule. Right now, I'm booking my place on a Captain Britain feature film.