April 2024: Summer is Icumen In

Howdy, folks!

It looks like we’re (finally) turning the corner into some warmer weather here in the UK, which is sure to have a real impact on my mood – I’m very tired of being freezing cold all the time (because I’m too Yorkshire to put the heating on), so the mercury rising will hopefully lighten me up a little..!

The Usual

Coco Con in Lancaster at the start of the month was lovely, with a bunch of good people hanging out in a nice venue and with great footfall to boot. I did much better than I was expecting sales-wise, and had some great conversations with people while there (both exhibitors and punters). I’m looking forward to the next event the Coco team put on already!

The main focus of my time at the moment, however, is a (relatively) big piece of news – the Brigantia Vol. 2 campaign is being assembled, and we have a pre-launch link! Go here to sign up – I’m aiming for a mid-June launch, and will get all the layout/design work done on the book around then so it’s ready to send off to print as soon as the campaign wraps. Cast your eyes downwards for a reveal of the front cover, by the prodigiously-talented duo of Alaire Racicot and Rebecca Nalty (who have also illustrated all the pages in the book):

The cover for Brigantia Vol. 2. Brigantia is menaced by the evil Veteris and Balor of the Fomorians.
Art by Alaire Racicot, colours by Rebecca Nalty

I’ll be banging the drum as loudly as I can for this one – it’s the concluding part of Brigantia’s story, and I think it contains some of my best and most emotionally affecting work yet. Plus the artwork is absolutely gorgeous and I’m excited to share it with people! I’ll share a few more sneak peeks in the coming months, so watch out for those.

Most of the stories for Secrets of the Majestic are now complete, with a few that’ll be done in the next week or two – all the creative teams have been fantastic about meeting the deadline and/or keeping me informed about their progress, so it’s been remarkably straightforward keeping this on track. I have some layout work (and lettering) to do for the anthology as well, so I sense that I’m going to be spending a lot of my evenings and weekends over the coming months glued to the computer..!

I was inordinately proud of this toilet roll caption box for a Secrets of the Majestic story…

The Record

• 6 pages lettered (Secrets of the Majestic)
• Various bits of design for the Brigantia Vol. 2 Kickstarter and book layout and the Secrets of the Majestic layout

Once again, no pages written this month, but I’ve come to terms with that – I’m going to stop beating myself up about it because I have more than enough on my plate as it is. There’s no value in forcing myself to write for the sake of it – if the desire to do so comes back then great, but I won’t chase it.

The Tunes

I was obviously going to put a Final Fantasy 7 track on here – but annoyingly the Lifestream theme which has been embedded in my head isn’t on streaming yet, so this is a worthy second choice! New John Carpenter is always something to celebrate, and the master of synth doesn’t disappoint with this track. I realised the other day that I hadn’t listened to Blood Ceremony in ages – this is off their latest album, a lovely little slice of witchy psych-rock with flutes. The John 5 album this next track comes from is one of very few guitarist solo albums that I like because he actually wrote a bunch of songs, not just incessant shredding – and all the songs are serial killer themed, for the true crime heads out there. I was getting frustrated with difficult videogames this month so I decided to replay Ocarina of Time, which is why we have Dragonforce with an intensely nerdy song full of Zelda references up next – delightfully cheesy. Sonja came out with one of my surprise favourite albums of 2023, so I’m excited to hear more music from them – this continues the claustrophobic, kind-of sexy heavy metal vibes of their debut. Beginning the black metal section of the playlist, Vorga make huge, atmospheric BM with fantastic production values and a cosmic theme – all things I love! They’re followed by some classic Watain with a song that I go back to on the regular (when I feel like I need a bit of that there Satanism), and then a new Zeal & Ardor track which goes in a very different direction. Lastly, I’m putting my own band Ba’al’s new single on here because I can – Ornamental Doll is off our new EP (‘Soft Eyes‘) which comes out on May 3rd. I’m extremely proud of the three tracks on the EP, and we’ve had some great reviews for it already – if you’re interested, we’re having a listening party over on the Ripcord Records Bandcamp page this evening where you can hear the EP in full and chat to us about it. And you can pre-order the album or grab it on Friday (Bandcamp Friday!) – either digitally from the Ba’al Bandcamp, or as a lovely physical CD from Ripcord Records.

The Links

First, a couple of promotional shout-outs for friends – Asa Wheatley is running the next Sagas of the Shield Maiden campaign next month, and you’re not going to want to miss this one – every book is a polished selection of fighting viking tales, and a joy to look at. Go here to sign up for the pre-launch!

Nick Bryan is also gearing up for a stint in the Kickstarter mines with The Collected Letters of Courier Z – I had a sneaky advance look at this and it’s a lot of fun, a collection of whacky sci-fi shorts about a very frazzled planet-hopping space postie. Hit the sign-up link here!

Next up, something a bit more intellectual – this was a very interesting long-read article about the history of Arab Jews and their solidarity with Palestine: https://www.vox.com/world-politics/24122304/israel-hamas-war-gaza-palestine-arab-jews-mizrahi-solidarity

I know embarrassingly little about the history of the middle east (because I’ve never studied it academically, and never felt the inclination to go and learn about it outside of those studies) so I learned a fair few things from this article that resonate quite loudly, considering what’s happening in the region today.


Thanks for reading – please sign up to the Brigantia Kickstarter, check out the new Ba’al release and have a great month. Summer is icumen in!

All the best,

Chris

March 2024: The Cry of the Planet

Howdy, folks!

It’ll be a pretty short newsletter this month – I have a few things to write about, but I’m also going through some real creative doldrums at the moment so it’s a struggle to come up with anything interesting! We’ll start with some updates, as per…

The Usual

  • A Kickstarter campaign with a story of mine in went live on Friday, and it’s very worth your time – Killtopia: Nano Jams!

    If you’re not familiar with Killtopia, it’s the cyberpunk/sci-fi brainchild of writer Dave Cook – set in a futuristic Neo-Tokyo full of satirical parallels with our world today. Nano Jams is a collection of short stories set in that city, with myself and a collection of other writers and artists tackling media and its myriad problems through a cyberpunk lens. My story is called Virtual Duality (with the amazing Mau Mora on art and Micah Myers on letters) and it’s about videogames, trolling and how sometimes the game gets far too real…
Sample page from Virtual Duality

Please check out the campaign and back if you’re interested – Dave has a spotless record on Kickstarter so it’s very worth your time/money, and there are a lot of very good pals of mine on the creative roster: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bust/killtopia-nano-jams-a-cyberpunk-comic-anthology

  • Next week I’ll be at my first con of the year – Coco Comics Con in Lancaster, run by the lovely chaps at Coco Comics. It was a delight to be invited to this one and I’m looking forward to catching up with people – those creative doldrums I mentioned earlier are biting hard at the moment so I’m hoping that talking comics for a day will reignite some of the fire in me.
    Me, at me, in 2024
  • Progress continues on Secrets of the Majestic – I’m getting pages in, a couple of the stories are all done and lettered, and there’s some really cool stuff in the planning stages for our prospective launch in November. I don’t want to share any more until the details are ironed out and everything’s in place, but all I will say is… keep some space clear on your Friday evening if you’re attending Thought Bubble this year..! 👀🚽

The Rest

I’m going to rip up the usual format for the rest of the newsletter this month, because a) it’s a long Easter weekend and I can do what I want and b) I haven’t really accomplished anything of note on the writing/lettering front, and I haven’t been keeping track of what I’ve been listening to. So instead, I’m going to write about Final Fantasy 7: Rebirth, and specifically about the idea of going back to your old work and trying to reimagine it. For anyone who’s midway through: don’t worry, I haven’t finished it yet so I’m not going to spoil the ending!!

Remakes are a tale as old as time at this point – Hollywood in particular is incredibly guilty of wheeling out the same franchises again, and again, and again, with the end product inevitably reeking of cynicism and corporate interference. The term has become associated with cashgrabs, trading on nostalgia and a longing for days gone by to try and wring money out of us – in a way it’s representative of a larger cultural malaise that hangs over Western civilisation specifically, where there’s a clear sense that the “glory days” are behind us and we’re all just staring down the barrel of a gun marked “climate extinction”.

I was conscious of all of this on going into Final Fantasy 7: Remake, a complete top-to-bottom reworking and reimagining of probably my favourite RPG of all time – a weird, kooky, very Japanese and yet globally relatable tale about the slow death of a planet due to its natural resources being mined for energy (sensing a theme here..?) and the lovable anime-haired moppets tasked with saving it. I steeled myself for it to be as cynical and as phoned-in as those Hollywood remakes, trading on our fond memories of the original.

And then Aerith showed up and I started full-on ugly crying because everything about her re-introduction was perfect, and I immediately realised how much it would devastate me having to watch the story play out again (spoilers for a game that was released in 1997, sorry not sorry: Aerith is killed by the game’s big bad, Sephiroth, at the end of the second act. She essentially sacrifices herself to restore the flow of energy within the planet so it can fight off the horrific calamity he wants to bring about. It is emotionally devastating.)

But as I continued to play through, dazzled by the amount of time, effort and care that had been poured into the game, I realised that the developers were up to something – not content with just fully realising a vision that suffered due to technological constraints in the late 90s, they were also playing with my memory of the story and how events unfolded. Don’t get me wrong – some of the sections are very faithful to the original, but with sharper and more mature writing (the Barret/Dyne scene in particular absolutely nailed what I was hoping for). But there’s a sense that instead of sticking to the story religiously, the writers decided to experiment with it. The original game is possibly one of the finest examples of an “unreliable narrator” trope in fiction, with some big twists baked into the story, and with this grand project to reimagine the game it feels like the developers are challenging us as players – what do you remember? What is real and what is imaginary? And crucially: what if things were different?

I’m genuinely torn about this in a way that I haven’t been about a videogame in a very long time – on the one hand, Aerith’s death was one of the most powerful and emotionally charged bits of storytelling I’d ever encountered, and part of me wants to see how it unfolds now that the developers can do whatever they want graphically. My own internal memory/version of FF7 has Aerith dying burned into it. But on the other, there’s a real sense of possibility here – they know that we all think we know what’s going to happen, and have managed to make it seem genuinely possible that fate might be altered and she might survive. Her sense of gentle sadness and resignation that was communicated merely through text dialogue in 1997 has been refined and deepened, and as a character she’s much more developed – so I want to see her live on, much as it would dramatically change the entire final act of a story that I’ve fondly experienced many, many times before and potentially make the last part of the story into a completely different experience.

Bringing this back around – I completely understand the desire to revisit your earlier work and see if you can just… do it better. Some of the earliest songs I recorded with Northern Oak have absolutely awful production (because I didn’t know what I was doing) and I think would benefit massively from a revamp, with all the technology and knowledge now at my disposal. But I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t have the will to completely rewrite them because even if some of the riffs are flawed or the lyrics aren’t perfect, they’re a microcosm of who I was and who we were at that time. Going back to something which holds such a special place for so many people and choosing to just shove your hands in and jumble it up is an incredibly bold decision, and whether it pans out or not, I’m very glad that the developers decided to make it. They could have made a carbon copy of the original game with PS5-level graphics and printed money – instead they chose to reimagine the whole concept of a cynical remake and create something much more interesting.

(this piece may become immediately dated depending on what happens when I finish the game at some point tomorrow..!)



Turns out I had more to write about than I thought..! Thanks for reading (if you got this far), and enjoy the rest of the long weekend if you get one. Back at it on Tuesday..!

All the best,

Chris

February 2024: Island Time

Howdy, folks!

February has rolled inexorably to a close (with an extra day this year, which really threw me off when I was typing this newsletter up!) and while I took a chunk of the month off for a very deserved break, some other stuff has been happening around the margins. Let’s get into it!

The Usual

I’m conscious that I’m in the incredibly privileged position of having parents who are quite well-off, which is the only reason I was able to manage the holiday I did this month – I spent a week in Barbados staying at an apartment they own the lease on and therefore didn’t have to pay for any accommodation (big phew!) That aside, it was an absolute godsend for my stress levels – I’d reached what felt like a breaking point at the end of January, with the stress of day job/an additional data analysis course on top of the day job/two bands regularly practicing/comics stuff all conspiring to make me feel like an absolute desiccated husk. A week soaking up 30° heat and sunshine, eating lots of delicious seafood, drinking rum, splashing in the sea and sending a grand total of 2 emails (I tried to stop myself!) was absolutely what the doctor ordered, and I feel much, much better for it. The rest of 2024 needs to watch out because I’m back, baby 😤

A photo of palm trees against an ocean, at sunset
The view from the road next to our apartment


That aside, I don’t have much to report on the project front – pages are starting to come together for SECRETS OF THE MAJESTIC, and I had a very exciting email relating to it last week which will be excellent if it all comes together, but BRIGANTIA VOL. 2 is still sitting with our hyper-talented letterer Hass to fit into his schedule. At the moment I’m still on course to have both books ready for Thought Bubble in November – the Brigantia KS will be in a few months once the whole book is finished, so I’ll spend about a month before launch date pushing the campaign link in everyone’s faces. Keep ’em peeled!

Also, because it’s a Leap Day today – I’m running a one-day-only sale on my webstore. Head to www.chrismole.bigcartel.com and use the code FEB29 for a 10% discount, today only!

The Record

– 4 pages lettered for The Phoenix
– 4 pages lettered for Secrets of the Majestic
– More emails than you can shake a stick at

Again, no writing progress this month – but that’s fine, I’m focusing on getting some of the projects which are already in motion cleared and out into the world before I start writing anything new. Know your limits!

The Tunes

Hell of a mixed bag this month! We’re starting off with something light from The Offspring, purely because “you gotta keep yourself hydrated” was stuck in my head for the entire holiday. Next up, it’s the ultimate cheesy power metal band Dragonforce covering Taylor Swift – A+, perfect, no notes. They’re followed by some heavy shit, starting with new solo material from black metal maestro Ihsahn (of Emperor fame) and followed by some antifa BM from Woe, a band that Ba’al have recently bagged a support slot for in London later this year. Next up is some excellent atmos black metal from Sunken who most of the band absolutely adore, and then we’re onto Ellende who also scratch that atmospheric BM itch. Last up in the run of heavy shit is a new track from Borknagar, one of my favourite bands and possessed of a distinctly unique sound. We then take a massive 180 – I finally watched Barbie on the plane over, so I now know and appreciate the song I’m Just Ken in all it’s glory. Finally, we’re closing out with my two favourite tracks featuring Barbados’ number one export, the mighty Rihanna (who they’re so proud of, they’ve made an “Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador”) – Bitch Better Have My Money, with a message we can all appreciate, and her cameo with The Lonely Island as a bank-robbing stunner saddled with Andy Samberg’s useless Shy Ronnie. Ha-haaa!

The Links

With thanks to Ritesh Babu who originally shared this one: https://vajra.me/2022/03/17/the-extractivism-of-setting-and-the-traitors-text/

It’s a bit of a deep read (and I’ll need to read it a few more times to fully grasp it), with a specific focus on speculative fiction and non-native authors playing in a jungle they can only lay claim to through colonialism, but I found this piece useful for interrogating the use of setting in your (my) own work. It’s something that has been at the forefront of my mind recently, with finishing the script for SENGOKU and the arrival two days ago of the new Shōgun series (which I am INCREDIBLY excited for) – how to tell stories set in a specific place/time that you have no inherent connection to without indulging that colonialist mindset? I hope I managed to arrive at the same conclusion as this article with SENGOKU, but time will tell (once I’ve found a suitable Japanese sensitivity reader to give me their take on it..!)

That’s all for this month – thanks for reading, enjoy your weekends and let’s hope spring starts to roll in properly next month!

All the best,

Chris

January 2024: Plots and Plans

Howdy, folks!

We’ve made it through the longest month and 2024 is well and truly underway – I’m particularly looking forward to a holiday in a couple of weeks (sunshine, beaches and lots of rum are in my immediate future) so I’ve been trying to get my ducks in a row before that! Let’s get to it…

The Usual

The earlier part of the month brought about a sudden flurry of movement on one project – Mad Cave Studios have opened up their creator portal for submissions, so Tango and I decided to take the plunge and send them our pitch for NO SPACE LIKE HOME (previously working-titled “Space Cowboys”). We have some pitch pages, with colours by JP Jordan and letters by Rob Jones (who both did an incredible job getting these together at short notice) and I’m quite happy with the pitch itself – it’s always hard to try and explain any story (particularly a very emotional one for you) to an unseen audience, but I think we made a strong case for why they should pick it up. Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope..!


On top of that, Rebecca turned in the final coloured pages for Brigantia #6, which means we can get those over to Hass for lettering. That’ll be in a few months, which gives me time to get the design work done on the book – the pages are looking absolutely beautiful already, and I’m very excited to share them with everyone. I’ve been reaching out to various folks for pin-ups/prints to go with the inevitable Kickstarter campaign, and I think I have a very strong line-up in place – I figured it was worth pushing the boat out given how much time, effort (and money 😬) I’ve poured into this story.

And on top of that, in a bizarre twist which hopefully bodes well for the rest of this year, I can now add “featured in the Harrogate Advertiser” to my CV: https://www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk/whats-on/arts-and-entertainment/harrogates-greatest-loo-inspires-new-book-by-famous-comic-book-writers-and-artists-4486034

I found out about the story thanks to a message on the Kickstarter campaign, and it was a wild couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon – a bit of digging later and I discovered that the hotel’s marketing team found out about the book and asked their PR firm to write a press release, leading to this coverage. I’m mostly extremely glad that they’re not going to sue me for doing a comic about their toilet..! 😂

The Record

Given all the above, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I’ve had a very unproductive month with actually getting pages down. But in my defence – I’ve got more than a few irons in the fire and I’d like to get some of them fully forged before I dive into writing anything else!

The Tunes

We’re kicking things off this month with some of that old-timey music – Bobby Darin with Beyond the Sea, which got inexplicably stuck in my head for nearly a week. Not complaining, mind! From there it’s into dungeon synth kinda territory – Arcanist make music that sounds like the soundtrack to a fucked up fantasy game but with some black metal touches. I can’t really describe it, but I think you’ll enjoy it! After that it’s The Night Watch with some proggy instrumental metal, before we take a hard left turn into mainstream territory – Tribute was one of the songs I played on this month at an event called Sparstock, where some of my best friends organise a whole evening of scratch cover bands to play all sorts of tunes, with nobody knowing the whole setlist except them. It’s always a delightful time, and it was fun shredding this on an acoustic and doing Jack Black high kicks across the stage! Oasis are up next because shut up, I like Oasis, okay? This song in particular is my favourite of theirs, despite having Liam Gallagher on lead vocals. Even a broken clock can sing twice a day..! I saw a great little documentary on YouTube with Keanu “The Internet’s Boyfriend” Reeves talking about his bass playing, which led me to actually check out his band Dogstar – and you know what? It’s good stuff – clearly not just a vanity project for him. Following that it’s another Keanu-adjacent track – I’ve been sucked into Cyberpunk 2077 and this track, PonPon Shit, remains the catchiest song on the soundtrack by far. Lastly we get a l’il trio of extreme metal to close things out – Japanese folk metal from Ryujin which is actually heavy, featuring Trivium’s Matthew Heafy on vocals; followed by Strapping Young Lad with another song I played at Sparstock (and a lot of fun it was too) and finishing with some crushingly heavy doom from Lee Dorian and With the Dead.

The Links

Here’s an article about why the modern Internet is fucking shit: https://gizmodo.com/interview-with-geocities-founder-on-the-new-web-tiktok-1849179509

We had it SO GOOD, you guys. I had a Geocities page (it was a little shrine to manga that I liked, and I would painstakingly scan some of my favourite pages from manga I was reading and then write about them and why I liked them. It was wholesome as fuck) and I genuinely miss that whole vibe every time I think about how bad social media is these days.

I’ve actually got the beginnings of an idea for a mystery/horror story with Geocities pages as the delivery mechanism, so at some point I need to sit down and work that out (and how possible it is to approximate the style, with Geocities itself long gone to the big LAN party in the sky), but in the meantime – enjoy the nostalgia!



That’s all from me for this month – Barbados beckons, and hopefully when I get back I’ll feel like I’ve actually caught up on all the relaxing I failed to do over Christmas/New Year. Here’s hoping..!

Take care of yourselves,

Chris

December 2023: Time Goes By

Hey folks,

It’s that time of year again! As is tradition, this month’s newsletter will be more of a “2023 round-up” one – a place of reflection on what I’ve done this year and some thoughts for 2024.

The Usual

Re-reading last year’s entry for December, I was clearly in quite an introspective mood, but I feel confident in saying that I’ve taken my own advice to heart – I deliberately tried to avoid focusing too hard on what I have and haven’t achieved this year, and while my list of comics-based “wins” is shorter as a result, I can still point to a number of items ticked off the proverbial to-do list.

All this is in the face of a world that seems to continue sliding into the shit, both here in the UK (where we’re still, somehow, suffering under an utterly corrupt Tory government) and across the rest of the planet. War in Ukraine (still), attempted genocide in Palestine, the ongoing climate crisis and the continual existence, somehow, of fascists in every corner of the globe. It’s overwhelming sometimes, and it’s been a real struggle to keep trying to write and create against all of that noise and a continually worsening economic background here in the UK. Hopefully we can kick out the Tories this coming spring (and replace them with a Labour party who are almost as bad, wheee, isn’t it fun not to have a viable left-wing party to vote for??) but even with that, I don’t know how many more comics I have left in me. I’m definitely shortening my mental project list and trying to focus on what’s achievable to stave off burnout.

On the agenda for next year:
– Crowdfunder for Brigantia Volume 2! Very excited to share this one with folks!
– Complete and release Secrets of the Majestic at Thought Bubble 2024!
– Exhibit at a couple of conventions
– Hopefully release two EPs (one with Powerhouse, one with Ba’al) and potentially even an album, if we can secure a good record label for it…
– Play some gigs in places I haven’t played before!

The Record

Pages written: 62 (2022 total: 71)
Pages lettered: 84 (2022 total: 78)
Anthology pitches: 1 (not counting the one I’m running myself!)
Miscellaneous: Ran two successful crowdfunding campaigns (the Art of Professor Elemental, a hardback collection of a huge chunk of comics written/edited by me and Secrets of the Majestic, a very niche anthology about a toilet). Recorded one album and one EP with Ba’al (totalling about 90 minutes of music) and one EP with Powerhouse (another 30 minutes). Played multiple festivals with both bands, plus went on tour with Ba’al in October across England, Wales and Scotland.

Again, my lettering output has outpaced my writing this year thanks to a chunk of work for The Phoenix and a few anthology shorts (including, for the first time, one that I didn’t write!), but I’m quite pleased that I’ve finally managed to finish up a first draft for SENGOKU – given how long I’ve been working on/thinking about it, it feels good to finally have a completed story, much as it will need polishing up and refining. My next challenge will be to find someone suitable to edit/act as a sensitivity reader – it’s very important to me that this story feels authentic, and doesn’t make the kind of mistakes that many stories about Japan written by white people make. That means this one will stay in the pot for a little while longer yet..!

The Tunes

The playlist this month is a mixed bag – some of it has been on my rotation for December, the rest comprises tracks that I’ve particularly enjoyed this year. We’re starting off hard with metal from Naeramarth, Svalbard, Atheist, Crypta and Wounds of Recollection, before it segues into synthier territory with Gunship (this song is impossibly catchy), Warrington Runcorn New Town Development Plan and The Ocean – we then close out with Naoki Sato’s phenomenal theme from Godzilla Minus One and a big finish from Masayoshi Soken (from the FFXIV soundtrack).

2023’s Top 5 Things

Because I had fun with this last year, we’re bringing it back – my top 5 things of the year, whether a movie, comic, album or an experience. Let’s go:

The cover of Golden Rage Vol. 1


5. Golden Rage Vol. 1 (comic) – Here’s a thing that people may not know about me – I really, really like Golden Girls. We started watching it a little while back for some wholesome sitcom entertainment and it has quickly endeared itself to me (plus the theme song is a banger). So when I saw that the pitch for this comic was “Golden Girls meets Battle Royale”, well… I don’t think I’ve ever slapped my money down faster. The writing is fantastic, it’s great to see a collection of older female protagonists, and Lauren Knight (who I collaborated with on a story for Sharp Wit & The Company of Women, which is now in Previews, AHHHHH) knocks it out of the park on art duties. Get on it!

The album cover for Unicorn by the band Gunship

4. Gunship – Unicorn (album) – I’ve listened to A LOT of albums from this year (around 207, to be precise) but this one is squarely at the top. Synthwave beats and a truly stellar list of guest stars (including Carpenter Brut, John Carpenter and HEALTH) are the starting point, but this has stuck with me because it’s absolutely rammed full of extremely memorable hooks and uplifting choruses. The production is beautiful (big, glistening, neon-soaked) and it keeps serving up bangers well into the runtime. Don’t sleep on this if you haven’t already heard it!

The poster for the movie The Saint of Second Chances

3. The Saint of Second Chances (movie) – I was curious about this purely because I’ve enjoyed a few movies about baseball in the past, even though I don’t really follow the sport – little did I realise that it’d leave me an emotional, sobbing wreck on the sofa. It’s a documentary about Mike Veeck, the son of a famous baseball owner who invented the concept of promotional nights (most notably the ‘Disco Demolition Night’ for the Chicago White Sox that ended in a riot) and later went on to run an independent team in Minnesota. I won’t spoil anything else about it here, but I can’t recommend this enough as a story about second chances and trying to do the right thing.

Cover art for the videogame Blasphemous

2. Blasphemous (game) – I’m a bit late to the party with this one, but what a party it is. Blasphemous is a Metroidvania type game (where you run around a 2D map, exploring, platforming and smiting enemies) – what makes it unique is how incredibly gothic and Catholic it is. The premise is essentially that a mysterious Miracle has unleashed judgement on a medieval world tormented by a corrupt Church, turning it into a hellish domain full of tortured souls seeking repentance or oblivion – and you, as the Penitent One full of clemency, must embark on a pilgrimage across this land. Honestly, the worldbuilding in this game is intoxicating and I love how incredibly grim it is – it’s full of phenomenal writing and characters that made me go “what the fuck is THAT” on multiple occasions. If you’d like a challenging (somewhat Dark Souls-like) gaming experience in a truly compelling world, I can’t recommend this highly enough. Now watch Blasphemous 2 be in this list next year..!

A photo of a band on stage lit up by blue lighting as a crowd cheers them
Ba’al on the main stage at Sheffield Corporation for the Heel Turn Festival

1. Playing gigs – I’ve been trying to figure out which gig this year was my favourite, and honestly, there are a number of strong contenders for that crown. Playing some big folk festivals (Whitby and Towersey) with Powerhouse was a lot of fun and meant I got out to rock some very big stages, while a number of Ba’al shows this year hit the triple sweet spot of great venue/big crowds/solid performance. So instead of choosing just one, I’m giving this slot to the overall experience of playing live – much as I sometimes feel shattered afterwards, I love playing gigs and connecting with an audience. It’s a chance to embody the emotion in the music and manifest it, and I sincerely hope I can continue to play bigger and better shows next year.



And that’s a wrap on 2023, folks! Thank you as always for reading my rambles this year (if you made it this far) – I hope you’ve enjoyed them. As another chapter of the heavy, heavy book of history closes, remember: you made it to the end of 2023, and that means you can do ANYTHING.

I’d like to close things out with one link for you – a list of actually good things that happened this year, because while it’s important to be realistic, it’s also important to have hope for the future: https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2023/12/28/24003198/10-good-things-that-happened-in-2023

Have a good evening, whether you’re celebrating or tucked up at home with a good book, and we’ll speak again in 2024!

All the best,

Chris

November 2023: The Neverending Pile

Howdy, folks!

It has once again been a hectic month and I’m rather feeling the strain of it – turns out that running a Kickstarter remains a stressful experience, and rather more so when a) it’s an anthology, so there are a lot more people you want to succeed for and b) you’re doing it in a climate where social media is utterly broken and there are at least two major conflicts currently going on in the world, so spending all your time shouting about toilets feels a little bit ridiculous..!

Add to that a general feeling of impending burnout on the band front (this year, with two bands, I’ve recorded an album and an EP, with another EP on deck next week; played several big festivals and done a UK tour) and I feel a little stretched… like butter scraped over too much bread.

Thought Bubble was also a weird one this year – I was forced to do a truncated appearance due to a family wedding on the Sunday, and it meant that I never really got into the swing of things. It was a fairly quiet day sales-wise, but I’m happy to attribute that to me not really having anything new on the table, and only a half-table at that as much as it’s down to the con being much more insanely busy than I remember it being the last few years. Still, my tablemates were a delight and it was lovely to catch up with friends, albeit for less time than I would normally do. Next year I should have both the anthology (more on that below) and Brigantia Vol. 2 to launch, so hopefully it’ll be a big one!

A large group of comics people cheering while sat on the bench in the toilets of the Majestic Hotel
Still managed to do this though – huge thanks to the contributors to Secrets of the Majestic (as many as we could round up) for indulging me!

Thankfully, my last creative endeavour of the year (an emotionally charged gig with Ba’al at the Heel Turn “For Absent Friends” all-dayer) is scheduled for the 16th of December, and after that I can take a bit of a break until 2024 rolls in. The current plan is to eat cheese, watch a lot of movies and do basically (pardon my French) fuck all. But before that, let’s crack in:

The Usual

November was toilet book month, with Secrets of the Majestic rolling along on Kickstarter. The campaign closes today, and I’m very glad that we’ve made it over the finishing line, with (at time of writing) 327 backers – a record high number for me! It’s been extremely gratifying as ever seeing people pull for this book – obviously the creative teams are all fully on board with the Majesticus Cultus, and their enthusiasm has buoyed me throughout a sometimes difficult campaign, but seeing other people who aren’t directly involved with the book wave the banner for it has been really touching.

Anyway, now that the funding hurdle has been passed, we get to do the fun bit – making a bunch of stupid toilet comics! I’m very excited to get stuck into that (and to see what kind of magic Chris Wildgoose can produce from our script). I’ll be sharing more as development progresses, of course!

The Record

  • 8 pages written – SENGOKU

I’ve made some more progress on SENGOKU, the samurai story I’m putting together with Andrew Browne. Everything is in place for the last act of the story, I just need to dive in and get the first draft nailed down. It’s a much more contemplative, character-driven story overall than you might think given my love of samurai action and katana duels, but the last act is where we get to cut loose and have some ridiculous Takashi Miike-esque fight scenes. I’d also like to get it finished and written before the new FX adaptation of Shogun (one of my favourite novels) comes out in February so I don’t end up accidentally cribbing from that…

The Tunes

This month’s playlist is fairly short and sweet! We kick things off with a cut off the new Gunship album, featuring Power Glove – not to be confused with the videogame metal band Powerglove, but a great collaboration nonetheless. Next up is some synthwave gorgeousness from Ocoeur, which I picked off the excellently named “POV: ur in an 80s film driving at night” playlist on Spotify. We then take a turn into some upbeat thrashy metal, with new Gama Bomb up first (I haven’t listened to a lot of their stuff, but I appreciate throwback thrash now and then) followed by Singaporean grind monsters Wormrot (who are apparently playing Sheffield next year with Napalm Death, Pig Destroyer and Primitive Man, a bill designed with surgical precision to reduce the entire city to nothing more than smoldering ashes). Next up we take a trip into atmospheric black metal country with Blaze of Sorrow and their viola-heavy blastbeats, followed by a new track from the king of BM Ihsahn where he’s leaning very heavily on the orchestral elements (and I dig it). Michiru Aoyama is a mini-swing back to lighter territory with a laidback, wintry ambient piece, followed by Canadian royalty The Tragically Hip. I learned at Thought Bubble that my Canadian pal Jordan Collver, a phenomenal artist, is actually from Bobcaygeon and I was truly blown away by the news – it’s a small world! Lights is next with a big blast of synth pop and soaring vocals, before the playlist closes out with the immense and undeniable riffs of Pijn. Pijn’s guitarist (Joe Clayton) is also an incredibly talented producer, and Ba’al worked with him this summer to record a huge chunk of music, so it was a must for some of us to head down and catch up with him when his band played Sheffield earlier this month – as you might expect given his ear for great tones, they sounded incredible, and this track got the whole crowd moving.

A picture of a frame from The Lighthouse with Willem Dafoe's character saying "Look at ye. Postin'"
Thanks, Rogue Print Co

No links this month – I’ve spent the whole of November spamming people with the Kickstarter (and checking it incessantly) so I’m going to take at least a week off postin’ after today. Thanks for reading, and for backing the campaign if you did – and have a great weekend!

All the best,

Chris

October 2023: Toilet Season

Howdy, folks!

First off: a happy All Hallow’s Eve/Samhain to all who observe it! I’ll be spending this evening in a spooky ghoul mask playing ceilidh tunes with Powerhouse at a new venue in Sheffield, so that should be fun, as gutted as I am to miss out on the usual tradition of watching a horror movie and welcoming trick or treaters. A few things to cover in this month’s edition, so let’s crack in:

The Usual

October has been an extremely busy one for me, what with the Lakes Comic Convention (which was a delight, albeit somewhat soggy and cold – one particular highlight was a Saturday night gig in a scratch covers band with Michael Lark, Shane Chebsey, Nick Rossert of Sloth Comics, my pal Tom Ward and Charlie Adlard on drums) and then two weekends of touring up and down the country with Ba’al. It’s also primarily been a month where I’ve been trying to drum up interest and hype for my next comics endeavour, SECRETS OF THE MAJESTIC. I’ve mentioned it in here before, but I’ve now announced all the creative teams and pin-up artists over on social media (Twitter/Bluesky) and we have a truly stacked line-up:

Kieron Gillen | Benjamin AE Filby | Tula Lotay | Laura Jones | Dave Cook | Laura Helsby | JP Jordan | Rik Worth | Jordan Collver | Owen Watts | Gavin Mitchell | Adlai McCook | Asa Wheatley | Sammy Ward | Rob Jones | Sam Chase | Paul Carroll | Lane Lloyd | Chris Wildgoose | Gary Moloney | Colin Craker | Aaron Thompson | Dan Bell | Aaron Eamer | David Cousens | Fraser Campbell | Craig Munro | Rob Luckett | James Lawrence | Ria Grix | Rob Burton | Sarah Peploe | George Joy | Mark Granger | Liam ‘Pais’ Hill | Umar Ditta | Paul Tonner | Matt Hardy | Jon Scott | Erika Price | Matt Simmons | Liana Kangas

Goddamn, right? What a group of established names and emerging creators. I’m thrilled to see what they come up with, now we just need to raise the funds so I can pay them and print the book!

Cover by Laura Helsby, colours by Dearbhla Kelly

The Kickstarter page is here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismole/secrets-of-the-majestic-anthology

We’ll be launching tomorrow, on November 1st! Please do hit the notify button, check it out, tell your friends – I firmly believe it’ll be a fun book of stupid toilet comics and well worth your time.

Oh god, I haven’t mentally prepared for the Kickstarter campaign stress 😬 I will probably be a hollow husk of a man by the time December 1st rolls around, especially if we’re struggling to reach the goal…

The Record

3 pages written for an anthology short

8 pages lettered for The Phoenix

I had hopes of doing more writing this month, but it’s amazing how much being on tour demands your attention – even with various very long car rides to and from Scotland I didn’t have the spare brain capacity to sit down and work on anything. On the plus side, no notes back for the anthology short so that’s all good to go. Next month can be a writing month – I have the final act of SENGOKU planned out (and came up with what I think is quite a neat way to dovetail the two strands of the plot together, wrong-footing the reader slightly in the progress) so I just need to knuckle down and finish the first draft.

The Tunes

It is (as ever) a mixed bag of tunes this month, with a slight bias towards some of the bands we played with on tour. Kicking things off is some ultra soothing piano in this Ghibli cover from Spirited Away – perfect relaxation music if you’ve had a stressful day. Surprising nobody (given my well-publicised love of Taylor Swift), next up is the new version of Blank Space. 1989 was the first album of hers I listened to and it remains (IMO) her best, so you’d better believe I’ll have Taylor’s Version of it on loop the next few weeks..! It wouldn’t be an October playlist without some spooky tunes, so here’s master of horror John Carpenter with one of his synthwave tracks – he’s done a few albums of these and they’re all highly recommended! Hail Spirit Noir are next with their own disco/synth/theremin groove (which sounds very little like their previous album, but I’m here for it) and then we’re into a real 90s nostalgia blast with Fatboy Slim. You can thank an episode of Derry Girls for getting this song stuck in my brain this month..! Myrkur marks our turning point into metal territory – this is from her new album, which is great, but not as strong (for me) as the masterpiece that was Folkesange. Sulphur Aeon are a recent discovery but this album slaps – big cosmic death metal with a lot of interesting atmosphere. Defod opened for Ba’al at our show in Liverpool, and I was very impressed with their sound – hints of Saor, classic Dissection and Primordial but a unique mix. Hopefully we can share a stage again at some point! This Borknagar track from their latest album is an absolute earworm which was in my head for the entire drive up north (see what I did there..!) And lastly is a track from Ofnus, our Welsh touring partners and possibly the nicest atmospheric black metal band you’ll ever meet. They made the whole tour a delight (and they write excellent tunes as well!)

The Links

I’m just going to drop the one link this month, alongside my hopes for a ceasefire and for cooler heads to prevail. I don’t feel at all qualified to discuss the complex geopolitics of the Middle East but I know that what’s happening right now is truly horrific.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/648292



Sorry for ending this month’s entry on a bit of a downer, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable ignoring the situation outright! Thanks for reading, please check out the Kickstarter tomorrow and pledge if you’re able and have a happy (and safe) Halloween.

All the best,
Chris

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:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismole/secrets-of-the-majestic-anthology

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!

Phew…

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:

https://collider.com/best-samurai-movies-all-time-ranked/

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,

Chris

July 2023: Sunshine & Showers

Good morning, folks!

Another busy month has flown past and I find it hard to believe that we’re already into the back half of 2023 – I haven’t watched Oppenheimer yet, but I’m sure Chris Nolan has something to say about time (on the atomic level) that would explain why this year has gone both faster and slower than expected.

Anyway, let’s crack on!

The Usual

After last month’s recording adventure, I’ve spent most of my weekends this month doing music as well – a gig in Cheltenham (roughly a 3 hour drive away) was followed the next week by three gigs in 48 hours, not an experience I’d recommend! First, my ceilidh band played a wedding in a medieval tent that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Tudor times, in a field, in the middle of a huge rainstorm, to a crowd comprised partly of drunk French people; the day after that, I played two sets at an all-day doom/metal festival in Sheffield with two different bands. Le Menhir (a solo project by a good friend of mine who has occasionally recruited me and some other friends for live performances) opened the show, and later on Ba’al played what was probably one of our strongest ever sets to an absolutely packed out room – I was absolutely exhausted afterwards but it was a fantastic experience and we got some great feedback afterwards.
A very large crowd watches a band bathed in blue light on stage.Beside all that I’ve even managed to get some writing done! The wheels are starting to spin up on SENGOKU, my attempt at writing an authentic and mature samurai story which deals with themes like familial duty over personal happiness and casts a justifiably critical eye at the bushidō cult of the samurai. As anyone who knows me will know, I’ve been a huge fan of samurai stories since I was about 13 – from Kurosawa and Miike in the movies to Hiroaki Samura, Goseki Kojima/Kazuo Koike and Takehiko Inoue in manga. But I’ve been holding off on this idea until I felt I could do it justice and actually interrogate the concept, rather than just doing a “cool samurai” story riddled with inaccuracies and calling it a day.

I’ve teamed up with a fantastic artist for this story – Andrew “Monomizer” Browne, who as well as loving samurai movies as much as me (and being the only other person I’ve met to have seen Kihachi Okamoto’s “The Sword of Doom”), actually lives in Japan and speaks fluent Japanese! Here’s a test page (not from the story itself) that he’s put together as we figure out the right artistic style:
A page of comic/manga art. A confident samurai is surrounded by ruffians. Close-ups on three of them show them preparing to attack, then the samurai dramatically pushes his sword out of his scabbard with a 'CHIK' sound effect.I’m very excited to start putting this one together – expect more news as the project progresses 🙂

And lest I forget to mention other projects that are currently moving: Alaire has now finished all the inks for Brigantia #5 (the middle part of the second volume) and is cracking on with the third and final part. I was going through her thumbnails yesterday on the bus on the way to work along with the script, and I’m so overjoyed with how well she’s capturing the emotion and power of this part of the story – even just the thumbnails got me a little choked up! It’s been a very long journey but we’re approaching the end and I can’t wait to share it with the world.


The Record

• 14 pages written (SENGOKU)
• 8 pages lettered (The Phoenix)

As the above spiel probably made clear, I’ve dived into writing mode with SENGOKU – at this point the goal is to get a first draft nailed down so I can move bits around or rewrite later. I already had about 10-11 pages written so the page count is creeping up, slowly but surely!

The Tunes

Actually not that much metal on this month’s playlist! The first few tracks are all on the light end of the spectrum – I’ve had a bit of a Ghibli appreciation month, so the Totoro theme opens things up. Try not to get it stuck in your head..! Next are a few pop starlets – Taylor Swift with my personal favourite track off her re-recorded version of Speak Now (not an album I got into when it first came out – my Tay-Tay journey started with 1989) followed by the divine Lola Kirke (who I have a MASSIVE crush on) with a track off her newest album. After that we have new music from the mighty Metric – I’m looking forward to the new album! My writing soundtrack for SENGOKU has obviously skewed towards traditional Japanese music, and here’s probably the most famous piece in that repertoire – Kojo-no-Tsuki, a certified banger. After that, something completely different to kick off the brief metal portion of this month’s list – it’s a death/thrash song by a band called Pizza Death about being eaten by zombie olives. Perfect. We follow that with some more atmospheric/serious stuff – Wounds of Recollection make lush blackgaze that’s a joy to listen to, and Lowen were a particular highlight of the festival I mentioned earlier in the newsletter with their blend of middle eastern vocals and big doom riffs. Lastly, we close out the list with some more electronic sounds – Mega Drive are a pounding bridge between metal riffs and vapourwave synths, and Carbon Based Lifeforms wrap things up with some big ambient space electronica, perfect relaxation music.

The Links

We watch episodes of Somebody Feed Phil (a very good, delightfully wholesome travel/food show) with a friend every Monday night, and recently saw the episode where he visits Korea – which reminded me of the amazing Buddhist nun/best chef in the world Jeong Kwan, and that led me to this article about the restaurant she’s opened up: https://www.lottehotelmagazine.com/en/food_style_detail?no=276

Chef’s Table (the show) is almost a parody of itself (and rightfully mocked in the fantastic film The Menu, when Nicholas Hoult’s awful Tyler suggests that he has an elevated understanding of Ralph Fiennes’ Chef Julian Slowik because he’s watched his episode of Chef’s Table multiple times), but the episode about Jeong Kwan is perfect – not just because it foregrounds her philosophy over her food, but because it makes every other chef profiled in the series look like an immature, petty little child obsessed with status and “being the best”. We could all stand to be more like Jeong Kwan, quite frankly!


Thanks very much for reading this bumper-sized edition (assuming you made it this far) – next month there won’t be a newsletter, since I’ll be on holiday in Athens, eating delicious food and looking at extremely old buildings. I’m sure you’ll cope..!

Until next time, cheers!

Chris

June 2023: What Day Is It?

Good morning, folks!

This month’s newsletter is a last-minute one again – I’ve been ridiculously busy this month (for reasons that will become apparent shortly) and neglected to write it until… well, right now. I’ll keep it short and sweet!

The Usual

Part of the reason for my inability to remember what day it is comes from how I’ve spent the last two weeks – I spent 11 days in a studio with my cohorts in Ba’al, recording an absolute swathe of new music that we’ve been writing over the past few years. We had 9 songs in total, roughly 90 minutes’ worth of music, and it was A LOT to get done – a little recording secret for you: you don’t just play the part once and move on, there are so many layers and alternate takes and overdubs and other bits and pieces involved in getting it absolutely spot on. It was extremely hard work (especially with driving to and from Manchester each night, roughly 3 hours of driving per day) and I basically crashed out as soon as we were finished and went to bed at 9pm last night!

Chris playing his guitar in a recording studio

That said, the songs are sounding fantastic and I’m very happy with them so far – we’ve got some extra bits and pieces to do, and then they’ll need to be mixed and finessed to get the balance right, but I can’t wait to share them with the world!

On the comics side of things, I’ve been keeping busy as well – a couple of projects have started to take their first tentative steps, I’ve found a fantastic artist to collaborate with on one of my biggest and most ambitious stories, and pages are still rolling in at a fair clip for Brigantia Vol. 2 from the prodigiously talented Alaire. The first part of that volume has also now been coloured by the wonderful Rebecca Nalty, and it’s looking incredible!

Veteris stares down at Anna, who looks up at him defiantly.

At some point I’m going to drop one of these plates but hopefully not for a little while yet…

The Record

8 pages lettered – 4 for the Phoenix, 4 for Fractured Realms

Mostly lettering this month, I haven’t had the time to write anything (due to the reasons above) but that should hopefully change as the year progresses – nothing like getting one big project out of the door to light a fire under you!

The Tunes..?

In a first for this newsletter, I actually haven’t put together a playlist for this month – my listening was basically just Ba’al demos on repeat to get them lodged into my brain, and then relaxing ambient/electronica after each day of recording as a wind-down from all the crushingly heavy metal riffs we’d been recording! So I’ll just recommend one thing to you: an artist called 2 8 1 4 who does relaxing ambient cityscapes, kind of like a relaxed neon Blade Runner vibe. A bit synthwavey, very chilled, some lo-fi beats. Perfect writing/relaxing music!

The Links

This month marked the 50th anniversary of British horror classic The Wicker Man, and I particularly enjoyed this long-ish article about the soundtrack which remains unmatched: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2023/jun/20/lusty-singalongs-and-brexit-portents-the-eternal-flame-of-the-wicker-man-soundtrack

It’s one of my favourite films and the music is very much part of that, so it was fascinating to read how appreciation for the soundtrack was part of keeping the movie in the public consciousness for long enough that it could be reappraised after a somewhat tepid debut. Worth your time!


That’s all from me for this month – hopefully next month’s newsletter will actually be written in advance? We can but hope!

All the best,

Chris