I've noted before that if you read this blog at all, there's a decent chance we know each other personally. At the very least, we've probably bumped into one another at a convention or something. That being the case, how are you? It's been an unspecified amount of time since we last met at that thing or place. There's probably an Other of measurable Significance to you, to whom I almost certainly offer wishes that are at least above the median line for such matters. Hey - remember that occasion in the past when an event occurred? Oh, how we laughed, complained or noticed!
So anyway, I imagine you're wondering why I gathered you here today. It turns out that August 2016 is a milestone for me. It's actually ten whole years since the publication of my first professional comics work! I knew this day was coming of course - or at least I reasoned that it would be coming eventually. Now that it's arrived, I'm sitting here trying to work out what to do with it.
In general, I think I feel pretty good about how these last ten years have gone. I've got seven graphic novels out, a run on an ongoing title under my belt and an ever-growing bibliography of one-shots and short stories. I've had one book optioned for a film adaptation and I'm currently writing a screenplay for a director who contacted me out of the blue. Looking ahead, I've got two more graphic novels and a fistful of short stories currently in production, along with at least five full-length stories nagging me to write them. I'm Marvel-styling a project with one of the best artists I've ever known, and there's basically a lot going on all over.
Right - back on topic. Here's where it all began:
That right there is the cover of Mongoose Publishing's Signs & Portents Wargamer magazine, issue #35. It's the issue that carried the first episode of Extinction Protocol, the Starship Troopers strip I co-created with artist, letterer and World's Greatest Human, Nic Wilkinson. The strip ran for around two years, right up until the licence with Sony expired. Without it, there would have been no chance encounter with Markosia in 2007, no run on the Starship Troopers ongoing series and, very probably, no second lease on life for Cancertown when Insomnia Publications notoriously shat the bed. Here's a taster of Nic's work on the story:
Extinction Protocol was what you'd call a true learning experience. Nic was dumped right in at the sharp end, getting to grips with both comics page composition and the equally demanding field of lettering. I had to come to terms with the technical side of scripting a monthly strip and the complicated process of working with an artist. Overall, a two-year run felt like a good innings for the series - and the massive readership (in the tens of thousands) Signs & Portents was pulling each month makes Extinction Protocol arguably the most successful thing I've ever done. The page rate was a minor bonus in comparison to the experience and enjoyment I got out of it.
So that's part one in a possibly one-part celebration of a decade spent with one foot defiantly on the lowest rung of the shortest ladder in the industry. Tune in ten years from now for more of the same, something different or nothing at all.
Looking ahead now - okay, let's see...
As for whether you'll ever see my name on a Big Two superhero cover, I can't pretend I'd turn it down if the opportunity arose. I'd have to say it's not something I've ever consciously chased, though. I've actually got a superhero book written and some of the most beautifully realised capes-and-tights art I've ever seen to go with it. You wouldn't want your kids to read it, though. Either way, we'll pencil a solid crack at mainstream work-for-hire in the "maybe" column for now. The indie world's been good to me and the future is, as ever, an unopened book of nameless terrors.