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.

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