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?