March 2023: Slowly, but Surely

Howdy, folks!

I’m writing this month’s newsletter on a train on the way down to London (for a tattoo session), in a rare example of “Chris decides to actually use his time productively instead of doing everything on Saturday morning” – long may it continue!

The Usual

There have been a couple of things on the creative ledger this month which I think are worth sharing – firstly, at time of writing there are precisely 12 hours left to go on the Kickstarter for Fractured Realms, a Norse horror anthology from the team at Limit Break Comics that I was very happy to be accepted into.

Cover for the Fractured Realms comic - a Draugr on the prow of a longship.

Here’s the link:

I’ve put together a tight little slice of psychological horror with my good friend (but somehow first-time collaborator) Gustaffo Vargas, and I’m excited to see how people react to it – I pushed myself a bit with this one and I hope it’ll show on the page when we’re done. The Kickstarter is fully funded, so at this point you just have a few hours to jump in and pre-order a copy of the book – and trust me when I say you will want to!

Next, but still in anthology territory – on Wednesday I announced/opened up submissions for an anthology that I’m running, entitled SECRETS OF THE MAJESTIC. It’s an extremely niche in-joke of a premise – basically, the men’s toilets at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate (the location of the Thought Bubble mid-convention party for the last few years) are ridiculously ostentatious and grandiose, and I thought there was mileage in a collection of stories exploring some wacky and wild theories about why they’re like that. The reaction to my announcement tweet was huge, so it turns out there are a lot of very talented people in the Thought Bubble crowd who are keen to explore the mystery of the toilets!

The cover for the Secrets of the Majestic anthology - the famous toilets!

The (incredible) cover is by Laura Helsby and coloured by Dearbhla Kelly, and I already know that we’re going to have some fantastic creative teams in the book once submissions close – if you’re keen to take part, you have until May 1st to team up and get your submission sent in! Here’s the link:

Lastly, my good pal Professor Elemental and I are embarking into the Kickstarter mines ourselves with a collected edition of “The Art of Professor Elemental” – a vast Hardcover collection of (almost) all of the comics we’ve made together and tons of other artwork besides. If you found my work via the Prof and are keen on a hardback collection of steampunk whimsy for your bookshelf or coffee table, please do sign up for the campaign here to be notified when we go live (which will be in the next few weeks!):

In non-anthology news, Brigantia Vol. 2 continues at full speed – Alaire has been absolutely crushing the pages, and has now all but finished the first issue (of the 3 that will make up the next volume!) Her work looks beautiful, and I can’t wait to share more of it with you. Send her your prayers and blessings!

Lastly, a recommendation – don’t ever listen to Eve of the War from the Jeff Wayne War of the Worlds musical, because it’s far too catchy and it will be stuck in your head for a good few weeks (as it has mine 🙃)

The Record

  • 5 pages written, another story outlined
  • Logo design for SECRETS OF THE MAJESTIC

I had a pretty tight deadline for the Fractured Realms story this month, so that consumed a lot of my brain space – much as I dislike commuting to the office for the day job, never underestimate the usefulness of having roughly 90 mins a day walking/sitting on trams/walking some more when it comes to thinking of ideas and bashing a script around in your head. This was also the first month in a while where I didn’t have any lettering work lined up, and I’ll be honest – much as I enjoy being a “comics professional” on the side, it was nice to have a bit of a break! We’ll see if that changes next month…

Plus, now that Space Cowboys has moved into the very early production stages, I need to spin the wheel and decide which of my other longer story ideas I’m going to pick up and write next. There are a few in various stages of completion so it’s going to come down to which one I’m the most enthused about – which means I have to beat down my usual “all my ideas are terrible” self-doubt, and that’ll be a fun task!

The Tunes

We’re starting this month’s playlist off on the relaxed/light end of the spectrum, with (for my money) the best track off the Frozen 2 soundtrack – All Is Found. It might not have had quite the same seismic impact as the first film, but Frozen 2 was genuinely very good and the soundtrack is full of bangers, but this one always gets me in the feels. Next up is a chilled hip-hop classic courtesy of De La Soul, whose discography I had a dive through this month. We’re taking our first steps towards heavier ground with Lotus by Soen – I wasn’t familiar with the song before this month, but I’ve been asked by a friend to learn it for a recording project and it’s got some great melodies. Quest Master are a Spotify discovery – crunchy vapourwave/chiptune goodness for all your lo-fi adventuring needs! Chthonic have been one of my favourite bands for a very long time now, so new music from them is always welcome and this track promises great things from their next album. The same applies to Tribulation, who I love – although this song sounds like they’re taking a lot of inspiration from Ghost, it’s still great. REZN were new to me this month but my listening notes describe them as prog-doom and very good – this one is worth your time if you like big weighty riffs and soaring clean vocals! I was a rabid Trivium fan back when they burst onto the metal scene with Ascendancy, and while some of their albums after that left me cold, I’ve gone back to their later releases in recent years to re-evaluate them. This song in particular stands out – it’s not especially complicated but the refrain hits like a freight train. New Babymetal is a little less silly than their previous releases, but it retains all the hallmarks of their sound – epic J-pop vocals, crunchy riffs and polished production. I would still absolutely love to see them live, it’d be a hell of a show! Lastly, new Liturgy dropped a few days ago and it’s already making a strong push for AOTY status – glitchy, electronica-laced black metal with shrieking vocals, this won’t be for everyone but I love it.

The Links

Just the one link today, and it’s one I shared on Twitter a little while back – a piece published in the Guardian which looks at the links between the Guardian’s owners and the slave trade:

The essential message of this piece (and the accompanying scholarship) as I understand it is that British people can’t claim that we abolished slavery earlier than the US and therefore don’t bear any responsibility for it – we as a nation continued to profit hugely from slavery, and need to be honest about that fact. Colonial history still isn’t widely taught in the UK (I didn’t learn anything about it in school, and I have two history degrees – it wasn’t until University that I had cause to do some academic reading on the subject) and we’re long, long overdue a reconciliation with the darker elements of that history.

I’ll leave it there for today – the wi-fi on this train is somewhat spotty! Thanks for reading, back Fractured Realms and consider submitting for Secrets of the Majestic if you have a toilet story to tell – and have a great April!

All the best,

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