January 2020: Planning Ahead

Howdy, folks!

This is the first of my attempt to write 12 blog posts/newsletters this year – one a month, to recap what I’ve done in that month and help me keep track of my writing. It’s an attempt to be a little more focused and keep my eye on the ball rather than doing things in fits and starts. We’ll see how it goes!

Here’s the record for January 2020:

  • 9 pages fully scripted (SPACE COWBOYS #1)
  • 5 issues plotted/first drafted (SPACE COWBOYS #2 – #5)
  • Edits and redrafts (HOCKEYTOWN #4)

On top of these, I spent some time revamping my website for 2020 with a great new header image shot by Manadh Photography. I’ve rejigged the layout, added some project pages and taken some down and added a store within the site so that my comics are available online. WordPress continues to be frustrating but we’re getting there!

HOCKEYTOWN is now fully scripted; my excellent editor Hugo Boylan has sent back his notes for issue #4 and the story has been tweaked accordingly. The next step is scouting for the rest of the creative team (art/colours) and then we can start getting some pitch pages and character designs together! That part could take a while – we’re both convinced that it’s a strong story, so I want to be sure that we find exactly the right artist for it.

My two other projects (THE BLACK RUBRIC and BRIGANTIA #2) are still at the art stage, but we’re getting ever closer. I’m planning to aim low with the Kickstarter campaigns for those – covering printing costs, postage and a few Kickstarter reward costs but little else. My last foray into Kickstarter (for BRIGANTIA #2) was for a high target and unfortunately failed- second issues are always a tougher sell than a #1 and there were plenty of things we could have done better. The goal is to stagger them somewhat as well so I’m not shouting all over social media about two projects very close to each other!

Just the one Powerhouse gig this month, on January 4th – we put on a benefit show to raise money for a friend of the band whose daughter is going through a horrific ordeal (the story has been in the news; CW for sexual assault). On the one hand, we raised a substantial sum of money for the cause thanks to a huge crowd (probably the biggest we’ve ever played to); on the other it was by necessity a slightly solemn occasion. Still, we played pretty well and got people dancing, so that’s good – I also managed to record some of our set thanks to a new phone mount tripod, so if you’re curious as to what a heavy metal/geek/folk ceilidh band sounds like… here’s our Star Wars medley!

On the personal side of things, January is always a difficult month – staring at the prospect of another year in a depressing office job and the anxiety and depression that accompanies it. This year, I have roughly 3 months to find an escape route (another role in the company or a promotion of some sort) after the project I’m currently on winds up or I’ll be thrown back into tedious work which I absolutely abhor, so that’s a “fun” challenge. On top of that, last January I spent a week on a blissful holiday in Barbados, which obviously wasn’t the case this year (thanks for punching me in the feelings, Facebook Memories!)

It would also be remiss of me to avoid mentioning the utter state of the world and how that’s weighing on me – today is a day that some people will probably be celebrating as Britain symbolically goes from being a tolerant, multicultural, open-minded society to an insular, closed-off one wracked with xenophobia and prejudice. It’s an upsetting and embarrassing thing to think about, and I’m trying not to dwell on it too much – but I have the privilege of being able to do so, and I know friends who are not so lucky. One thing’s for sure: I will never stop considering myself as European, and I will never stop hoping for the day that we rejoin the EU. The people who will suffer the most from Brexit are the ones who voted for it, and as Trump has shown, they’ll keep supporting it until the bitter end – so there’s a long drive until we see light at the end of that tunnel.

Before I get too maudlin, I’m going to finish this up with something fun (for me, anyway!); every month, a group of friends and I put together playlists (10 songs in length) which seek to capture our listening for that month. Here’s my January 2020 playlist:

It’s a fairly mixed bag, as usual. I spent a large chunk of this month with Rush after hearing of the death of their drummer, Neil Peart – not only one of the greatest drummers of all time, but an extremely gifted lyricist. There will never be another like him. Jonathan Coulton is well-written, nerdy acoustic rock – this particular song is on the list because I’ve been firing some emails off for a new project called NEMESIS and this was the only thing playing in my head throughout! Sega Sound Team is from the soundtrack of the videogame Bayonetta, a favourite of mine – this tune plays while you’re exploring one of the heavenly realms you stumble across in-game and it’s extremely soothing. Myrkur dropped a new track, and it’s absolutely breathtaking – I listened to it three times through on first listen because it’s such a haunting, beautiful piece. Wang Wen was a Spotify discovery that struck a particular chord – atmospheric, experimental and emotive. The playlist winds up with a solid 4 tracks of black metal – Fen weave in elements of Enslaved to create a cosmic soundscape for their riffs. The Infernal Sea are plague-ridden black metal, also from the UKBM scene; they have a great sound and a hypnotic stage presence. I was lucky enough to see them and The Great Old Ones at a gig this month, Warhorns Winterfest at Corporation Sheffield. I don’t go to enough gigs considering the strength of the local scene, so that was a highlight. Lastly, Skeletonwitch – their newest album sounds very little like their previous output, which was a lot thrashier and not really what I’d class as black metal. It’s also fantastic!

Enough rambling from me – that’ll do for this month. Thanks for reading!