November 2020: Winter’s Grasp

Hey folks,

It’s (somehow) almost December as this extremely odd and taxing year draws to a close, and I’ve somehow managed to do an update every month – giving myself a pat on the back for that! Tuck in:

The Usual

It’s been a pretty eventful month, despite the lockdown! Midway through November was Thought Bubble, which despite being digital-only was still a blast – I’m not naturally comfortable with the kind of online presence that’s required to fully participate in digital cons, but despite the weirdness of being sat in my little studio for the majority of the weekend it definitely managed to capture some of the Thought Bubble vibe. I had a great chat with Harriet (the artist on Brigantia) on the Sunday which you can check out at if you fancy learning a bit more about issue #2 and our plans for #3 and beyond, and the party on Saturday night was a lot of fun and executed brilliantly by partymeister Kieron Gillen – it was EXTREMELY 2020, with a muted Zoom meeting linking up with a shared Spotify playlist so we could all boogie to the same tunes, see each other’s faces and chat away in text, but it damn well worked.

Winter is (despite the cold) probably my favourite season – there’s something very pleasing about crisp, cold, sunlit mornings and the prospect of snow/frost. I’m less fond of the torrential rain that we often get in the UK and the shortened days, but it’s easier to warm up (cosy jumpers, putting the fire on) than it is to cool down during a hot, sticky summer which helps me cope. Even if I’m not one of those people who gets EXTREMELY EXCITED about Christmas (I’m holding off any decorations until tomorrow, December 1st, because… come on, people), I do enjoy getting a chance to relax and I have the privilege of some extended time off at the end of the year. This year, I’ll be able to finish my day job on the 22nd and not log back in until the 4th of January – truly delightful!

The Record

*All 68 pages outlined for SENGOKU, a Japanese history/samurai project that I have in the pipeline and will get to when I have the time!
*Issues #4 – #6 of BRIGANTIA outlined – I had a structure but needed to revisit that after making some changes to issue #3, which was finalised and sent to Harriet a few months back
*Lettering work – 6 pages of the next Professor Elemental project, NEMESIS, lettered

Couple of different things going on this month – I’ve still been crap at actually sitting down and hammering out scripts, but I’ve managed to do some good planning work and thinking about the structure of a few stories. SENGOKU is one I’m very excited about – in case it’s not clear, I’ve been a big nerd about Japanese history for YEARS (in 6th Form college, my final history project was a 3000-word thesis on Christian missionary activity in Japan from just before the Edo period to post-Meiji Restoration) and this is my attempt to write a samurai story which takes my youthful love of “cool samurai shit” and tempers it with a more critical look at bushido and the weight of familial expectation. There’s a Japanese proverb, “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down”, which is often interpreted as a ruthless insistence on conformity – I want to examine how the desire to “stick up” and craft your own path would manifest in a samurai family in the period around and shortly after the Battle of Sekigahara (1600), an extremely unsettled time which shaped Japan for roughly the next 250 years.

Plus, it’s an excuse to write extremely deconstructed, widescreen fight scenes inspired by Kurosawa, Takashi Miike and Takahiko Inoue’s Vagabond, who wouldn’t want to do that? 😂

This month’s “outdoor writing” session took place on top of Mam Tor in the Peak District – it seemed appropriate to hammer out the shape of the second arc of Brigantia while standing on top of the remains of a 3000-year old hill fort most likely constructed by Celtic Britons! My hands were extremely cold by the time I’d finished, but I’m excited about where the story goes in those issues – we’ll cover a bunch of cool mythological stuff, and I think (hope) that it’ll build the story to a satisfying and epic conclusion.

I’ve mentioned the next Professor Elemental project here briefly before – it’s being drawn by the excellent Jamie Keys, coloured by the mighty Owen Watts and lettered by yours truly. We’re telling the Secret Origin of the Professor’s Nemesis – this is the first time we’ve done a comic tie-in to one of his albums that isn’t just a re-telling of the album, and I’m genuinely quite proud of how I was able to take the character prompt from the winner of the Nemesis competition and build that into a compelling and sympathetic villain for the Prof. He’s definitely not a one-dimensional bad guy! Here’s a sneak peek at one of the WIP pages and Jamie’s gorgeous artwork:

It’s a fun little 16-page story, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with people!

The Tunes

This month’s playlist swings quite dramatically between tracks I’ve loved for a while, new material and some lighter, fun ones – I’d apologise for the language on the final track but it doesn’t say anything I haven’t expressed myself on multiple occasions! First up is the fantastic Agalloch – this song is just a tour-de-force, and if you’re not familiar with Agalloch and enjoy it I’d highly recommend checking out the rest of their discography. Next are a couple of discoveries by Mogwai (who I somehow haven’t listened to before) and Bibio – both quite contemplative and laid-back. After that we’re back into metal territory with the excellent anti-fascist BM band Dawn Ray’d – I’ll always appreciate any band who make a point of stating that trans rights are human rights during their live sets, and it’s a delight to find a black metal band whose politics I don’t have to be wary of. Cairiss are fantastic, and I’m hoping they release more music soon – their lead singer has some of the most controlled and accomplished vocal skills I’ve ever seen/heard. Tribulation are great, bouncy af doom metal with an ear for a good hook – this is a new track, and I’m excited for the rest of the album. Next is a turn to the utterly ridiculous with Jay Diggs – I blame Dearbhla Kelly since she played this during her Thought Bubble set and I couldn’t stop laughing. We then get into “politics territory” with a great track by Wolverine from one of my go-to albums – the song is related to George W. Bush, but I think it can still apply. We follow that up with the triumphant Clutch – this song is an absolute banger, reflects my joy at the result of the recent election and I will always join in at full volume with these lines:

First thing that I’m gonna do is disclose all those U.F.O.S
Put Jimi Hendrix on the 20 dollar bill
And Bill Hicks on a five note
Hot damn! The democratic process
What a time to be alive
Oh, I’m ready to give the people what they want
And what they want is straight talk and no jive!

Last, but by no means least, please enjoy a minute and a half-long song about the current Prime Minister of the UK, an utterly contemptible human being!

And that’s all for this month – enjoy the tunes, try and find some time to wind down as we get closer to Christmas (we’ve already watched Die Hard 2: Die Harder to get into the spirit of things) and take care!

All the best,


October 2020: New Hope

Hey folks,

Happy Samhain/Halloween! I’ve managed to put together an actual update this month, so grab some sweeties or another seasonally-appropriate snack and enjoy.

The Usual

Sitting down to write this month’s update definitely feels like less of a struggle than last month’s – we’ve managed to stabilise our living situation a little, and while there are still a lot of things to work through, I’ve been able to take a breath and relax more than I could last month. I haven’t done any substantial writing this month, so it’s mostly been about incremental progress on my current projects and laying down ideas for new things.

Given the state of this year, I don’t feel bad about giving myself some “time off” – I work full-time during the week, and that coupled with the uncertainty around the pandemic, the upcoming US election and everything else means that writing can feel like an insurmountable hill to climb when I’m already exhausted. There are two schools of thought here – one is that you should push through it and “just write”, even if you’re churning out crap that you’re unhappy with because at least it’s done; the other is that it’s okay to take a break and not force yourself into doing something that makes you angry and upset at your inability to smash words together. All things considered, I’m definitely in the latter camp at the moment!

The Record

*As noted above, no substantial page-count progress on anything
*However, I have smashed a few ideas together in my head for SPACE COWBOYS in order to try and figure out a way past the current blockage
*A sheaf of notes made for a 60-page graphic novella inspired by forest folklore, British myth and magic

I want to talk about the “forest folklore” idea a little first – last weekend I decided I’d been cooped up in the house for too long, so while the weather was lovely and crisp and autumnal, I headed out for a walk along Rivelin Valley, a beautiful forested area on the outskirts of Sheffield:

I wasn’t planning to be inspired (it was mostly just about getting some fresh air and listening to the trees), but I’d been out about an hour when I started getting hit with a wave of ideas for a story that could smash together a lot of the British myths and legends I’ve grown up with – Robin Hood, the Green Knight of Arthurian legend, the primal magic of the deep forest. There were benches along the route so I sat down and tapped out a huge stream of consciousness – here are a few highlights:

-The mystery of English woodlands
-Robin Hood and his Merry Men as elemental force of nature
-Sprites, fairies, the fae – a Midsummer Night’s Dream
-The Green Man – a Knight of Arthurian times, unflinching protector of the woods
-What lurks in the forest? Take only memories, leave only footprints… or else
-A huge, lightning-sundered oak tree in the depths

Do not tread on the bluebells!
-An ur-forest – all woodlands in England link into the same otherworldly sylvan realm

I still need to make all this into some semblance of an actual story, but it’s been taking shape in my head, which is always a good sign!

In other project news, HOCKEYTOWN has moved firmly into the art stages, which means it’s now become a real thing that we can share with people. The team for the pitch is set – the incredible Russell Mark Olson is on interior art, with colours by Dearbhla Kelly and letters by Kerrie Smith, both immense talents. Hugo Boylan has been the editor on the project since the early stages of me writing it and continues to be a force of enthusiasm and encouragement. Here are Russell’s finished inks for the first page of the story, because I’m utterly in awe of his work:

Utterly stunning, right?

Character bios and turnarounds are done, I’ve been tackling the pitch document, and once Dearbhla and Kerrie have worked their magic on these pages we should be ready to put it all together and start actually approaching publishers. I’ll be honest – this is all new to me, since I’ve never pitched anything before, and it seems to be quite mysterious (with everybody having their own approach). As we go through this process I plan to share it through these newsletters in an attempt to demystify the “how do I pitch to a publisher” question, for my own benefit if nothing else!

The Tunes

This month’s playlist is a very chilled out one, by and large – soothing tunes have been a requirement. First up is a nice little drum interlude from Lord Almighty which sets the tone nicely, followed by a big chunk of space jam (a Spotify discovery) from Dallas Acid. TPR does beautiful, melancholy piano renditions of video game themes, and this is one of my favourite tracks from Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker reimagined in a lovely fashion. Next up is a bit of classical from Hilary Hahn and Natalie Zhu which has been soundtracking some of my working afternoons, then a lovely new ambient track featuring Sigur Rós. After that we segue into more metal territory – new music from Liturgy (one of my favourites for their extremely avant-garde approach to black metal) and Zeal & Ardor (who have come out swinging with this EP, clearly inspired by this years Black Lives Matter protests and the continuing issue of police brutality in the US and across the world). Next up is long-song territory – a classic Summoning track inspired by me finally re-watching Lord of the Rings after having not seen them for years, new Pallbearer which is excellent, and finally a track from the new Ba’al album which dropped yesterday. Ba’al are a Sheffield band who I’m friends with, and they’ve outdone themselves with this album – it’s an absolute tour-de-force, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s in the mood for an album of extremely well-crafted post-black metal.

Enjoy the tunes and let me know if you have any other recommendations! I’m always interested in hearing new music.

All the best,


September 2020: It Gets Worse

It will genuinely be a short update this month, folks – I’m very stressed at the moment and have no time/energy to devote to anything in-depth. Writing has taken a backseat to the very real problem of finding somewhere new to live, and that stress is not conducive to creativity at all. I’m hopeful things will improve before the end of the year, but… let’s be realistic here!

The Tunes

Found some time to compile a playlist, however – a nice cross-section of my interests, I think! A chiptune opener by the fantastic Disasterpeace, followed by a couple of more laid-back tunes from new discovery Night Verses and the ever-reliable Ihsahn. After that it’s metal territory with sludge from 1782, an excellent Alice in Chains cover by Thou, an emotionally wraught track off Svalbard’s newest release and new music from the great Amiensus. Japanese folk metal from WagakkiBand serves as a bridge back to some more relaxed music – one of the themes I’ve heard the most from the great roguelike videogame Hades and a relaxing orchestral epilogue from Jóhann Jóhannson. I hope you enjoy!

All the best,


August 2020: All Change

Hey folks,

I know I say this every month, but this will definitely be shorter than last time – Real Life ™ has intruded on my creative endeavours with a vengeance, so I don’t have a lot of spare headspace..!

The Usual

The Brigantia #2 Kickstarter concluded on the 27th, and I’d call it a pretty big success:

It’s emotionally draining running a Kickstarter campaign, because you spend 30 days feeling like you have to be “ON” every single day and posting about it. Any day where you don’t push it in some form feels like a wasted opportunity, but you have to try and balance that with not overwhelming/pissing people off. I think I managed to strike the balance okay, but I’m sure my Twitter followers are happier now that I’m tweeting a bit less…

I’m now giving myself a bit of time off until the funds have come through from Kickstarter – once they’re in, I can get started on the fulfilment part which has it’s own stresses and issues!

This is all complicated by the fact that my living situation has suddenly been thrown up in the air, and my partner and I are embroiled in trying to find a new place to live. House-hunting is a particular kind of hell, and I’ve been having gut-level anxiety and panic attacks about it ever since we started two weeks ago – it’s going to suck up a lot of my mental bandwidth (and money) over the coming months. Fingers crossed we can get it sorted soon and resume some semblance of stability…

The Record

*Still tackling the story structure for SPACE COWBOYS
*Character bios for HOCKEYTOWN
*Absolutely zero actual pages written – nilch, nada, nothing

As mentioned above, the Kickstarter absorbed almost all of my creative energy for this month meaning that I didn’t have the bandwidth for any actual page-writing. It is what it is – some months are going to be less productive than others!

On the plus side, the anthology I wrote two 1-page stories for is now live on Kickstarter and doing extremely well:

It’s been exciting seeing that project come together, there’s a real murderer’s row of talent involved and I’m happy to be a part of it! I have one story with art by the amazing Elijah Johnson and another with my good friend Ben A.E. Filby.

The Tunes

Plenty of what I would class as ‘comfort food’ on this month’s playlist, mixed in with some new discoveries. The tracks by Martriden and Amon Amarth are both from albums I’ve long enjoyed and went back to this month; blackened death and Viking-themed melodeath respectively. There’s a couple of smaller/more underground bands in there – Luna’s Call play intensely technical and accomplished prog death metal, while Sheffield’s own Ba’al are a post-metal/black metal hybrid fond of BIG RIFFS. Obsequiae and Sojourner scratch my ‘slow, atmospheric, landscape black metal’ itch – reverb ahoy! The Power Trip track (a pure thrash metal banger) is in tribute to their vocalist Riley Gale, who sadly passed away this month at the age of 34 – only 2 years older than me, an absolutely tragic loss. After that we get some chilled synthwave from Boucle Infinie‘s new album, my girl Taylor Swift with a melancholy BIG MOOD of a song and lastly, the song that “unites the universe and brings about celestial harmony” from the newest Bill & Ted movie, Face the Music. It’s a most triumphant ending to the film (and the trilogy) and I’d highly recommend checking it out if you want some positive, feel-good entertainment during this utter shit-show of a year!

That’s all from me for this month – take care of yourselves (how is it September already??)

All the best,


July 2020: New Frontiers

Hey folks,

It feels like I have a lot more to write about this month – there’s definitely been more going on creatively in July than in previous months, but I’ll try to keep it brief nonetheless.

The Usual

The BIG NEWS this month is, of course, that Brigantia #2 is now live on Kickstarter! We reached our funding target (which was intentionally low, to cover the cost of printing the comic & rewards and the postage) in two and a half hours and we’re currently sitting at 224% funded after 4 days, which is incredible. I’m targeting one stretch goal (at £2000) and anything we raise beyond that will go straight into the production pot for the next issue.

Here’s the link:

I mentioned this briefly on a Twitter live stream after it went live, but – I know it’s not the point of running a Kickstarter campaign, but it’s always a huge boost to self-confidence. If you’ve put in the legwork, you get loads of people posting lovely things about you and your work and spreading the word, and it really makes the hours you’ve spent slaving over the project worth it! In this instance it’s truly heartening to see how much people respond to Brigantia – I’m very proud of her as a character, and it’s great to see that others are excited to see more of her adventures.

The Record

*Rewrites on Brigantia #3 completed (10 pages)
*6 pages written for a publisher’s talent search competition
*Plotting out a structure/page-by-page breakdown for issue #2 of SPACE COWBOYS
*Wrote up a one-page pitch for an anthology

It’s been quite a productive one! I definitely feel like I have a few more irons in the fire than I did this time last month, or two months ago – getting Brigantia out of the way and onto Kickstarter was a weight off my mind, and there’s been a little bit of movement on another project which is heading for the dread world of pitching. Outside of comics, I’ve been quite productive on the music front as well – the final backer reward for The Black Rubric (a song written by the band) is finished and I sent it to the backer last week, and I’ve also been mixing another track for an OCRemix album (going for a very heavy doom sound this time). I also got together with the Powerhouse crew for a socially-distanced, outdoor acoustic practice a few evenings back:

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy playing live music with other people – this was our first time playing together in 6+ months and it felt very comfortable! We’ll probably do some more of these to keep ourselves fresh until more restrictions are lifted and we can get back in the practice room for real.

The Tunes

It’s been a good month for new music! This month’s list starts off with something that Spotify served up for me, a jazzy/metal instrumental piece by Fata Morgana, then goes into a new track from The Ocean (possibly my no. 1 favourite band?) Their last album, Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic, was more of a grower than it’s precursor Pelagial, but it still contains some fantastic, heavy, uplifting tracks and I’m excited for more from them. After that things go a lot mellower, starting with the absolute earworm that is Husavik (My Hometown) from the recent Eurovision movie (‘The Story of Fire Saga’). If you’re at all familiar with Eurovision, I’d highly recommend it – it’s clearly been made by people who love the whole competition and are poking fun at it in good humour, and this song is a perfect Eurovision power ballad! Following that we have my personal favourite track from Frozen II – we watched the “Making Of” documentary for the movie that went up on Disney+ this month because I find that sort of thing fascinating, and I was struck by how much they struggled with the story – with something that polished and high-budget, it’s easy to assume that the story was the easiest part to iron out, but they clearly had trouble trying to get to the message they wanted to tell with it. Jennifer Lee (the co-director and main writer) remains an inspiration!

A couple of tracks of synthwave are next – Boucle Infinie have put out probably the best synthwave album I’ve heard, and I really dig the sound on this Lena Raine album. Wolfhand have a kind of dark, atmospheric Wild West sound that I find very enjoyable, and Firewatch had an extremely understated soundtrack that really holds up well on a proper listen. The new Taylor Swift album was a total surprise, and blew me away – she’s always been a highly competent songwriter and singer, but some of the songs on this album are truly phenomenal. This is my personal highlight – I’m a big fan of Bon Iver (particularly his self-titled album) so when I saw that they were collaborating I couldn’t wait to hear it. It’s powerful, majestic and tinged with sadness, and I listened to it about 4 times in a row on the day the album dropped..! The last track on here represents the videogame which has devoured a lot of my spare time this month – Ghost of Tsushima, an open-world samurai game on PS4. While it does fall into some of the obvious tropes of Western-made open-world games, the combat is a delight and it’s a breathtakingly gorgeous world to explore – plus the soundtrack is full of traditional Japanese instruments which really add to the atmosphere.

Quite proud of this screenshot I took during an intense, moon-lit duel..!

Thanks for reading, check out the Brigantia #2 campaign and pledge if you’re interested, and take care!

All the best,


June 2020: The Hell-Year

Hey everybody,

The Usual

We live in interesting times, huh? It’s been one hell of a month, both in the world at large (continuing and justified civil unrest, governments attempting to re-open despite the coronavirus pandemic still being at large) and within our comics scene. In case anyone reading isn’t aware: a number of previously well-regarded men within the comics scene (including Cameron Stewart and Warren Ellis) have been outed as having previously manipulated and abused women throughout their careers, and those women have come forward to share their stories.

It’s easy to call it “Comics’ #MeToo moment”, but that disguises the fact that comics has had a problem with this stuff for years – Eddie Berganza was a noted creep at least 10 years ago, and the response from DC editorial was to just move him to another office so that women wouldn’t have to interact him (but didn’t fire him, of course). I’ve seen a lot of despair, a lot of heartbreak, and a whole lot of anger over the last month, and I completely understand all of it – comics are wonderful, and there’s something about the art form that engenders passion, so it’s heart-wrenching to read stories of younger creators being scarred for life and giving up their attempts to make a career in comics because of the actions of predatory men.

I want to talk about the anger, though: anger can be useful. Anger can be an engine for change. If we’re angry enough about men getting away with this kind of behaviour, we can get angry enough to do something. My very good friend Jennie Gyllblad has already set up (with some other friends) an Association of Comic Creators which I’m a proud member of, with the goal of providing a first step towards comics unionisation – a supportive place for creators to tackle the negative behaviours in our industry and band together. However, I think the lion’s share of the work here needs to rest on the men in our industry (myself included) – we need to call out dickish, misogynist behaviour whenever we see it, especially from people that we call friends, and we need to push for a more diverse industry in our hiring and collaborative practices. We need to burn down the old, patriarchal way that the industry is run and make it more welcoming to women, to non-binary folks, to LGBTQ+ creators, to creators of colour – to the rest of the world that isn’t comprised of white, cis men, basically.

It’s not going to be easy, but it’s essential if we want comics to keep getting better. Let’s get to work.

The Record

*Rewrites on SPACE COWBOYS issue #1 completed (10 pages), further edits given by Claire
*Rewrites begun on BRIGANTIA #3, 22 pages rewritten – 10 to go
*2 one-page scripts written for pitching to an anthology

Much more productive on the writing front this month! I’ve been getting the Kickstarter page ready for BRIGANTIA #2, and that spurred me into a massive rewrite of issue #3 and a re-structure of the rest of the series – the goal is to have issues #1-#3 wrap up in a little mini-arc that we can collect into a “trade paperback” which will run around 108 pages (three 32-page issues, plus covers and extra content) before embarking on issues #4 through #6. That meant I needed a way to bring forward some of the cool stuff I previously had in issue #4 and work it into #3 – I’m around halfway through the issue now and I think it’s going to work a lot better.

Speaking of BRIGANTIA #2…

The preview link for the BRIGANTIA #2 Kickstarter campaign is now live, and I put together the short video above to get people excited. Here’s the link:

Please do check it out, click the button to be notified when we launch (on the 28th of July!) and spread the word. I’m very excited to finally get this issue out into the world – Harriet’s done an incredible job on her pages, Aditya’s lettering is stunning (as always) and I think the whole issue looks gorgeous.

Oh, one other thing – THE BLACK RUBRIC is now available on ComiXology right here. It’s always a thrill seeing one of my comics on ComiXology since it makes them feel more legitimate – if you backed it through the Kickstarter and enjoyed it, a positive review on there would be great (although I think you have to buy the comic on ComiXology to review it, so… entirely up to you!)

This month’s playlist starts off with a few tracks that I think encapsulate the protests which are still ongoing against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter. The new Run The Jewels is genuinely incredible, and this track blew me away – particularly this part of Killer Mike’s second verse, drawing on every ounce of his fury at the American police state:

‘And every day on the evening news, they feed you fear for free
And you so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me
Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, “I can’t breathe”‘

From there, it’s Childish Gambino‘s undeniable ‘This is America’ (still one of the most powerful videos I’ve ever seen), then a fantastic cover of ‘Strange Fruit’ by Oceans of Slumber. Their frontwoman Cammie Gilbert has one of the best voices in metal – I saw them at Damnation Festival 2016 and she blew me away. Next up is a slab of big, atmospheric BM by Vukari, a long-time favourite by the Mad Capsule Markets (one of my absolute favourite bands as a teen, their discography is FINALLY on Spotify and I couldn’t be happier), a couple of chiptune/vaporwave tracks that I’ve been writing to and closing out with an extended Japanese folk tune (played on koto, shakuhachi and shamisen) which is a soothing banger.

As ever, enjoy the playlist, sign up for a Brigantia #2 campaign notification and I’ll try to be less wordy next month..!

All the best,


May 2020: Banished From the Light

Hey everybody,

The Usual

What’s it like to go outdoors and feel the sun and wind on your face? I barely remember any more…

Joking aside (I’m responsible for walking my very good dog Tia once a day so I have been outdoors, albeit keeping a very safe distance from everyone), the world might be completely different to the start of the year but for me at least, it’s starting to feel like a new normal. At some point I’m sure it’ll get back to “business as usual” with people being able to go out and socialise, but I think it’ll take us all a while to get comfortable with hugging our friends.

Here is Tia, who is a very good girl.

I’m going to try and avoid getting on a soapbox on this topic (because nobody needs to hear from me on it) but I’ve been watching the protests in America over the last few days following the murder of George Floyd by police, and it’s been very hard to stomach the extent of the police brutality on show. Do what you can, amplify the voices of black people speaking out and try to educate yourself on your own innate prejudices – it’s not just in America, in Britain as well a staggering number of us (myself included) benefit from white privilege and we need to recognise and try to make up for that. #BlackLivesMatter

Anyway, here’s the record for this month:
*Begun rewrites on issue #1 of SPACE COWBOYS following editorial feedback – first 12 pages amended

Again, I’ve not done a huge amount of writing this month – I’ve been back to full-time working from home – but I’ve had some progress in other areas. At the time of writing, I’m just waiting on the last batch of BLACK RUBRIC rewards (t-shirts and patches) to arrive at my house so I can start posting out everybody’s stuff; I’ve been in touch with a potential (fantastic) artist for HOCKEYTOWN; and the aforementioned rewrites.

SPACE COWBOYS is (hopefully) going to be a very emotional sci-fi story, so I’m spending a lot more time on character backgrounds and how the cast relate to each other than I perhaps have done previously. It’s drawing from some of the HEAVY FEELS I’ve had in recent memory and marrying that with a hopeful sci-fi story, so hopefully that emotion will come through when it’s done. Claire (Napier) has given me some fantastic feedback on the first draft of issue #1, so I’m tightening that up (4 unnecessary pages chopped out already..!) and will then use it as a springboard to firm up and write the rest of the story.

One more bit of admin – I’ve finally set up a functional shop on my website, so every comic I currently have print copies of (Brigantia #1, Unusual Tales #1 and The Black Rubric) is now available at Please do go there and avail yourself of my wares if you’d like to/are able! We’ll be launching the Kickstarter for Brigantia #2 in a couple of months and there’ll be a catch-up tier for copies of #1 on there, but if patience isn’t your strong suit…

This month’s playlist doesn’t have a particular theme or goal, it’s just a collection of tunes I enjoy – I read an interesting article this morning ( about the struggles of listening to new music at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic, so it’s not too surprising that a lot of these songs are the aural equivalent of “comfort food”.

The first couple are in the J-rock/metal sphere – the Trigun theme tune is a classic banger and instantly recognisable, and track 2 is a studio recording of the song ‘Mikan no Uta‘ by one of my all-time favourite bands, the very cheesy Sex Machineguns – this track hasn’t been on Spotify previously, so I’m making the most of it! Le Matos are a great synthwave band who provide some tranquil bleeps and boops, then there’s an unpolished new recording of a CHVRCHES song which is absolutely one of their best. ‘Right Back Where We Started From‘ is an unofficial hockey anthem, due to it’s repeated use in the cult 70s movie Slapshot, and it’s just great fun. Ernesto Schnack provides a bit of a calm break, then we’re into the heavier back-end of the playlist – experimental BM from Secrets of the Moon, powerful and misandric BM from Feminazgul (recommended to me by Kieron Gillen, of all people), Sinistral King who embrace the more theatrical and imperious side of the genre and then a long and crushing funeral doom track from Ocean (a band I discovered at the age of around 16, when I would buy CDs at HMV based purely on the cover art) to close things out.

Enjoy the tunes, and take care of yourselves – we’ll get through this if we support each other.

All the best,


April 2020: Life in Lockdown

[This post was scheduled for March 31st, but website issues meant I couldn’t post it! Better late than never…]

Hey everybody,

It’s amazing how much can change in a month. Since last month’s update, the lockdown has grown to encompass every part of the country, and my free time (and creativity) has been swallowed up now that I’ve been sent all the equipment to work from home. I’ll be honest, it’s mentally draining being stuck inside the whole time – I’m finding it very hard to concentrate on most things.

Record for this month:
*Not a single, solitary page written

I’m trying to remind myself not to feel bad about that – I’ve been doing a lot of hustling and extra work around the Kickstarter campaign (more on that shortly) so it’s not as though I’ve been completely stagnant, but it really is a struggle to work up the motivation to write. The home-working setup has cannibalised the monitor/keyboard/mouse of my studio PC, and unplugging everything post-5pm (then plugging it all back in the following morning) seems like too much effort, so I’ve ended up saving project work for the weekends when I feel like I can muster the energy. It’s a weird and challenging time for all of us, so I’m trying not to be too negative (or dwell on the social media updates of friends and peers who seem to be thriving!)

As mentioned above, The Black Rubric Kickstarter has been running this month, and it’s honestly been a runaway success – the campaign just finished and we raised a stunning 270% of the goal for a total of £1802. I’m blown away by the number of people who are into the idea, and now we get to the fun part of the campaign (sending out comics and other rewards!) Since we made it through all of our stretch goals, we’re also doing band t-shirts and patches, and I’ll be sending out download codes for a 4-track demo of songs by the band – I’m looking forward to seeing what people think!

This month’s playlist starts off with an appropriately-titled track by one of my favourite bands, Ayreon (the brainchild of Dutch multi-instrumentalist and prog songwriter extraordinaire) – this was the first song of theirs I heard and it’s an all-time fave! From there, we’ve a couple of instrumental tracks by Astral Bodies and Sidewalks and Skeletons, then some heavy (heavy) metal courtesy of Ignea and Knight of the Round (I’ve been playing the Final Fantasy VII Remake a lot this month!) A couple of more avant-garde black metal tracks from Secrets of the Moon and Liturgy are a nod to the Black Rubric campaign, then the playlist closes out with some Canadian rock from The Tragically Hip, an obscure acoustic Agalloch track and the tranquil Vinter from Myrkur’s beautiful album Folkesange.

Hope you enjoy the tunes! See you next month – we’ll get through this together (as long as we stay indoors and continue to flatten the curve…)

March 2020: A New World

Howdy all,

Well, things have certainly changed a lot in a month..! Since my last post (as you’re almost certainly aware) the world has been gripped by COVID-19 (or ‘coronavirus’) and the UK has now gone into full lockdown to try and slow/stop the spread of the disease. From a purely selfish perspective, it’s been pretty good for my creativity – I’ve had a lot more time to work on projects while quarantined/locked up at home!

Here’s the record for March 2020:
*22 pages fully scripted (16 for PROF ELEMENTAL: NEMESIS; 6 for Gail Simone’s COMICS SCHOOL)
*Two sets of interview questions answered (THE BLACK RUBRIC press coverage)
*Lettering pass completed on BRIGANTIA #2

Not a huge number of pages scripted, but two separate projects started and finished! For NEMESIS, I wrote the entire 16-page first draft in a day – it’s been a while since I’ve been hit with the inspiration bug that strongly! This story is intended to delve into the backstory of the villain for the next Prof Elemental album, Nemesis – it’s the Secret Origin of the character and will explain quite why he despises the Professor so much. It needs to both be a compelling story and also provide a springboard for the Prof and his collaborator Mos Prob to bear in mind when they’re writing the lyrics for the album – hopefully I’ve managed to achieve that.

COMICS SCHOOL is a very fun thing that writer Gail Simone did on Twitter this month – she ran a 5-day course over Twitter with the goal of teaching anybody who was interested how to write a comic script. Part of the course involved coming up with a springboard/outline for a short comic in either one or two of a list of genres and then writing the script over the 5 days. I rolled crime and fantasy, and my 6-page script (entitled ‘THE HELLFIRE DIVISION’) is available to read below if you’re interested. I might try and find an artist for it at some point..!

Script link: click here!

THE BLACK RUBRIC Kickstarter is launching today (March 31st), so we’re full steam ahead with trying to promote that and hopefully reach our goal. Given the current state of the world, I was very unsure about whether to go ahead with the campaign – there are obviously other things that people will be concerned about – but since our goal isn’t massively high I decided to launch it as planned and hope that people back it because they’d like something to look forward to. All the pages are now completely done and they’ve gone to Hass for him to work his lettering magic – please check out the campaign ( and pledge if you’d like a copy!

I probably need to retire the phrase ‘this month’s playlist is a mixed bag’, because at this point all my playlists are going to be a little eclectic… nevertheless, here’s the selection for this month! There are a couple of heavy tunes, notably Forgotten Paths by Saor (an excellent folkish black metal band), Tere Muur by Fluisteraars (a Dutch atmospheric black metal band recently recommended to me) and the aptly named Virus Bomb by Anaal Nathrakh (one of my favourite bands – nihilistic, brutal, uncompromising extreme metal that sounds like the world ending). On the slightly lighter side of the spectrum, some post-metal from Red Sparowes (this album, Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun, is an absolute masterpiece) and The Ocean (again, fantastic album, fantastic tune). Lighter still is Go! from the incredible Public Service Broadcasting; we watched the Apollo 11 documentary on Netflix this month which was riveting viewing, made entirely with archival footage captured during the mission, and this song makes fantastic use of sampled audio from mission control. Plus it has a straight-up groove! Finally, there’s some jazz (the Overture from Whiplash, an incredible movie that has stuck with me), an instrumental from the tranquil underwater videogame Abzu, some equally relaxed folk from the incredible Myrkur (whose Folkesange album is already my album of 2020) and a fresh country bop from an acquaintance of mine, Country Legend Roky Moon!

Enjoy the tunes, and thank you for reading! See you next month (when the world will certainly have changed even more…)

February 2020: Admin Stuff

Howdy folks,

Month 2 of the recap posts, and this one will probably be a little shorter than last month’s since I didn’t have a Christmas break in which to write this month!

Here’s the (writing) record for February 2020:
*3 pages fully scripted (SPACE COWBOYS #1)
*Lettering pass on THE BLACK RUBRIC
*HOCKEYTOWN re-drafting (issues #3 and #4)
*Edits and redrafts on a comics-related article

It’s not as long a list this month because a lot of my creative energy has been spent on other things – most notably gearing up for the final stages of getting THE BLACK RUBRIC ready for the Kickstarter campaign and printing. Katie’s been churning out pages with incredible efficiency, the campaign page has been approved and we’re close to launch. Our goal was to have all the pages (inks, tones and any revisions or corrections we want to do) finished by the end of February, so we could get some pages to Hassan for a preview/potential press coverage and then he can aim to finish the rest of the lettering while the campaign is running. Katie’s now done all of her linework and is powering through the tonals/revisions part – hopefully we’ll have everything done today on February 29th, the unholiest of days! 💀

Harriet’s also been powering through pages for BRIGANTIA #2 – all her linework is finished and she’s moved onto backgrounds, flatting and colouring. There’s some big action sequences in the issue and she’s absolutely nailing the character action in those, so I’m excited for people to see the pages – it’s been a long road to get this second issue out but we’re getting there.

The most enjoyable thing I did this month was to shoot and edit a Kickstarter video for THE BLACK RUBRIC campaign (as mentioned above). I had a really strong concept in mind – a loving parody of Immortal’s seminal, self-aware and extremely low-budget music video “Call of the Wintermoon”, in which the band (in full corpse-paint) frolic around in a forest trying to look kvlt. I recruited three good friends to get dressed up and we headed for my favourite spot in the Peak District. Thanks to how committed to the joke the actors were, it only took a few hours to get some excellent (and hilarious) footage on my phone of them running around wearing capes and gesturing at things. The following day, I spent all morning holed up in the studio editing the footage together into a short video, and a chunk of the afternoon recording some frostbitten black metal music and vocals as a soundtrack – considering how quickly it came together, I’m extremely happy with it, and I think it perfectly captures the ridiculous but loving tone I was going for. I’m also hoping it’ll be distinctive enough to draw people’s attention to the campaign..!

Here’s the (<2 minute) video, for the curious:

You can also sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter campaign goes live at this link:

Right at the beginning of February, I took a rare weekday excursion down to London for the purpose of attending Kieron Gillen’s Comics Writing Masterclass session. It was an excellent evening – the room was packed and I made a lot of notes, which is generally a good sign of an engaging talk. Afterwards, some of us headed to a nearby pub with Kieron to have a few drinks and natter about comics, which was a lot of fun. I also got a sneaky pub peek at the first issue of Kieron’s forthcoming new series (with Jim Rossignol, Jeff Stokely, Tamra Bonvillain and Clayton Cowles), Ludocrats, and it’s an absolutely beautiful, bonkers piece of work – definitely worth your time when it drops on April 1st!

This month’s playlist is a real mixed bag – Borknagar (and specifically this song, Colossus) were a huge favourite of mine years ago, and I was reminded of them on the way back from the video shoot. PIST were a recommendation from a very dear and long-term friend – Manchester locals whose new album mixes in black metal elements with their sludge sound. Audioslave are a band that I’ve always enjoyed, and the refrain of this track stuck with me during some of my more maudlin moments this month. Le Menhir is a one-man doom project by a good friend of mine – I’ll actually be joining him on stage with some other musicians for the first ever “full-band” gig he does with the project on March 7th, so I’ve been listening to this song a lot to memorise it. Anthrax are probably the greatest thrash band of all time, so this one needs no introduction! Ihsahn is black metal royalty, having written one of the most important albums in the genre (Emperor’s ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’) back in the ’90s – I wasn’t expecting to hear an Iron Maiden cover on his newest solo album, but it’s a solid one! There’s another new Myrkur track on here because everything she drops from the forthcoming album is utterly perfect (and it will be my album of 2020, I already know this), and the playlist finishes up with the indisputable best Elvis song – I watched Blade Runner 2049 (which features this song) for the first time a few weekends ago and again, feeling maudlin at the moment, it stuck with me.

Thanks for reading – next month will almost certainly be a busier one!