September 2023: Sleep is for the Weak

Good morning, folks!

This month’s post comes to you from my table at the Lakes International Comic Festival (through the black magick of ‘writing it a few days early and then scheduling it to post automatically’), and it’s probably going to be a bumper one considering that I took last month off – I beg your forgiveness. Let’s get into it!

The Usual

August was probably the busiest month I’ve had in a very long time – tons of band practices to tighten up for a pair of festival gigs with my ceilidh band Powerhouse in the final week. Both gigs went very well, and we had a fantastic reception, so that was great – I particularly enjoyed playing a massive stage at Towersey Festival down in Buckinghamshire and I think we knocked the socks off quite a few people!

Me and the Powerhouse crew backstage at Towersey!

Then I went on holiday – Athens was fantastic, and a very welcome respite from my day job drudgery. Ancient temples and ruins everywhere you look, delicious food and A LOT of people. History nerd that I am, the novelty of gawping at structures from over 2000 years ago (especially on top of the Acropolis, which is worth the hype) never got old and filled me with a sense of awe and reverence that was sadly not always shared by other visitors. Here are some of my favourite pics I took (because what’s the point of having a newsletter if I can’t force you all to look at my holiday snaps?)

That there Parthenon
My face next to the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion
An extremely aesthetic street cat on the island of Hydra

On the creative front, while I appreciated having some time away from it all, I also spent a chunk of the holiday fretting and planning (because I’m incapable of switching off my brain). A quick project update:

Brigantia Vol. 2: Alaire has just two more pages to draw, Rebecca has coloured two thirds of the book and we’re well ahead of schedule. Lettering depends on Hassan’s very busy timetable but we’re firmly on track to have the second half of Brigantia’s story wrapped up at the beginning of 2024! The pages are looking incredible and I can’t wait to share them with the world (not least because I’m funding the whole book myself and the sooner I can try to recoup some of that the better..!)

Pravin does some research! Art by Alaire Racicot, colours by Rebecca Nalty

The Art of Professor Elemental: has gone to print! Some minor design quibbles from the proof to sort out (which is to be expected when the book is 276 bloody pages long) but it should be in people’s hands very soon.

Secrets of the Majestic: It’s all systems go for this toilet-themed anthology (the premise in a nutshell is: why are the men’s toilets of the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate so outrageously opulent?); I’ve gone over all the scripts that have been submitted to add my preliminary notes, and my co-editor Gary Moloney will be doing the same so we can pass any feedback back to the teams. We’re currently on course to launch the Kickstarter in November, and you can sign up to be notified when that happens by clicking on this link:

The cover of the Secrets of the Majestic anthology; a marbled floor, a luxe leather bench and a pillar with a huge green tentacle snaking out from behind it.
The wraparound cover for the Secrets of the Majestic Anthology, by Laura Helsby and coloured by Dearbhla Kelly

Please do sign up – this is going to be a very fun anthology and we’ve got some truly amazing teams involved given the silliness of the premise! I’ll be sharing more on that on my social media over the coming month.

Space Cowboys: Tango has been doing fantastic work on the character designs for this, and is now into inking up a set of preview pages from the start of the 1st issue. It’s always a delight working with someone who completely gets what you’re going for, and the pages so far are matching and exceeding my expectations. The goal for this project is to find a publisher who’s interested in a slice of emotional space-Arthuriana with Jodorowsky/Moebius influences… can’t be many of those around, right??

The story’s heroine, Shay (art by Tango)!

Sengoku: I’m still making solid progress with the script for this, despite taking a writing break due to the holiday (and a million and one other commitments) – Andrew has the first ten or so pages of the script now which act as a kind of “cold open” to really set the scene and mood for the story, so we’ll keep making progress on that in due course. Given the number of other projects on my list this one is going to be more of a slow burn and that’s okay!


The Record

• 9 pages written (SENGOKU)
• 8 pages lettered (on a fun short story for the LET HER BE EVIL anthology)

A very sneaky peek from the Let Her Be Evil story! Art by Andres Labrada, colours by Maksim Strelkov, letters by me

• Cut together a first draft of the recording diary for my black metal band BA’AL’s recent foray into the studio
• Tons of other admin!

Not a huge number of actual pages written/worked on over August/September but it feels like I’ve been rushed off my feet – I’m spinning a lot of plates alongside the day job (and now a data analyst apprenticeship that I’m doing alongside my regular work, with the goal of beefing up my CV and ultimately getting paid more) which has contributed to at least one bout of stress/anxiety about everything. It’ll be nice to get some things cleared off the list so I can have an actual break in, I don’t know.. December?? 🙃

The Tunes

Kicking off this month’s playlist with one of my favourite tech-death-ish metal bands, Atheist, who are finally back on Spotify – this is the best song off their best album (IMO). Bouncy riffy good times! Still on the metal, we have Agriculture – a new discovery for me, their goal is uplifting nature/spiritual black metal. Strong Deafheaven vibes from this track which I appreciate! Astronoid continue the uplifting metal vibes with the big major key riffs and soaring vocals (which will get stuck in your head, soz!) I had cause to recommend Zeal & Ardor to a friend who doesn’t know them this month, and it sent me on a discography listen-through – the whole of their Stranger Fruit album is phenomenal but this track sticks out due to the ominous af lyrics. Piano break time! The rest of this album by Fleshgod Apocalypse is punishingly heavy symphonic death metal, but they give us a breather with this lush piece. A new Wolves in the Throne Room release is always cause for celebration (their last album, Primordial Arcana, was my no. 1 album last year) and this continues their tradition of reimagining previous releases through a more ambient and contemplative lens. The Pixies are a sudden turn back into popular music – this track in particular will be on the setlist for the “LICAF Variant Covers“, a scratch cover band that I’m guesting on guitar for this evening at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. It should be fun – I’m looking forward to showing off my guitar skills to a different audience than I might usually do! Next is Elisapie – I know very little about this album other than that it contains various covers sung in Inuktitut, the indigenous language of the singer, and that this is an absolutely beautiful rendition of Blondie’s Heart of Glass. You should all know by now that I’m a sucker for a) Final Fantasy music and b) emotive ballads, and Eyes on Me (from FFVIII) is up there with the best of both – so I’m very happy that Distant Worlds have finally recorded a version with the wonderful Susan Calloway. Lastly, to close out the playlist, we’re taking a sudden sharp turn into crushing funeral doom, with a 21-minute long slab of antediluvian heaviness from Ocean. I’ve never met anyone else who has heard this band (I picked up the CD in a HMV probably a full decade ago, and they have fewer listeners on Spotify than my own band) but this release is amazing so I’m more than happy to share it!

The Links

Just the one link this month – plenty to agree with in this list of “20 Best Samurai Movies of All Time”, even if I don’t personally put much stock in ranking films:

Still, the top two are a solid one-two punch, and there are some gems in the rest of the list as well! I’ve been watching A LOT of samurai movies as part of the research/vibe-setting for SENGOKU and it’s been great to revisit some classics I hadn’t watched in a while (like Hiroshi Inagaki’s Miyamoto Musashi Trilogy!)

And that’s all, folks! I did apologise for it being a bumper edition this month – if you made it this far, thanks for reading and have a great weekend. I’ll be at Table 23 in the Comics Marketplace in scenic Bowness-on-Windermere, hopefully hawking my comics and having a jolly old time!

All the best,


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