Howdy, folks! It’s finally starting to feel like summer, and I have plenty of reasons for optimism so this month’s update will be a little chirpier than previous months…
It’s amazing how much can change in the span of a few weeks. All the complicated legal/house stuff I was dealing with is now (as of last Friday), by and large, resolved – there’s still plenty of work that needs doing in the house but my partner and I will have full control of that by this time next week and can tackle it at our own pace. It’s no exaggeration to say that my mental health is vastly improving, and coinciding with some lockdown restrictions being eased over here in the UK means that brighter times appear to be ahead – even though I still intend to be cautious (no pub drinks for the time being!)
Work/comics-wise – I’m pushing the start date for the Brigantia Vol. 1 Kickstarter back a little bit because I want to be sure that we have all the art we need to run a really strong campaign. Harriet’s completed the preview pages, and I posted a snippet from those on Twitter not too long ago – she’s also working on the cover at the moment, and that’s a must-have (the only campaign I’ve ever run without having a finished cover failed, and I’m too superstitious to see that as anything other than a sign!)
Remember to sign up at the campaign pre-launch page so you get a notification from Kickstarter! I’ll be breaking my once-monthly rule to fire out an email blast when the launch date is locked in, and another when we actually go live – a strong start is going to be absolutely critical to our chances of success, given that the total for this campaign is a lot higher than the last issue: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismole/brigantia-volume-1
While I’m on the topic of Kickstarter comics, I also wanted to shout out one that will be launching soon (on June 3rd, to be precise) – Sagas of the Shield Maiden Book Two. The writer behind this project, Asa Wheatley, has pulled together a great collection of talented artists for more tales of his red-haired Viking Shield Maiden – I’m going to be backing this one as soon as it hits because it’s 100% my jam (and you’ll see exactly how much praise I have for it on the campaign page!)
One last note for this section, on a more downbeat topic – this month, Dave Evans (a.k.a Bolt-01) of Futurequake and Zarjaz fame, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I was more of a passing acquaintance of Dave’s – he lettered some of my very first forays into comics (in Owen Watts’ Psychedelic Journal anthologies), and also graciously gave me my first taste of published comics by running my story ‘Loan Sharks’ in an issue of Futurequake (with future artistic superstar Joe Palmer, who’s now being published by Image!), but I wouldn’t call myself one of his close and personal friends. However, I am very good friends with Owen, and seeing the impact that Dave’s death has had on Owen (as well as tons of other people in the UK comics scene) has really hammered home just how much of a beloved guy Dave was. His absence will be keenly felt for years to come. If you have the means and want to help his family give him a good send-off, there’s a JustGiving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/rememberdave
*This month I have written precisely zero pages, and that’s okay!
Finding the headspace to concentrate on any projects has been extraordinarily difficult of late – I’m hoping that I’ll be able to start wrestling my way out of the creative doldrums now that I’ve cleared some of the life admin, but at the same time, I don’t want to overload myself. I already have the Brigantia Kickstarter launch coming up (which will consume me with stress for a full 30 days) and then the accompanying fulfilment of that campaign, plus some of my musical endeavours are starting to wind back up now that band practices have become a viable option again. I’m waiting to hear back about a couple of anthology pitches, and if those get accepted that’ll give me scripts to work on, but I need to be realistic about what I can actually afford to get made at this point in time.
As usual, it’s quite a mixed bag this month – I think there’s a good mix of new (to me) tracks and old favourites. Let’s dive in!
First up is probably the best song that Judas Priest have ever written (feel free to argue with me, but you’d best come armed!) If you don’t feel the urge to raise your claws to the sky and scream “HELLRIDER!!” along with the chorus then you might be dead… next up is Violet Cold, a predominantly black metal one-man project from Azerbaijan. This is from their new album, which was intentionally designed to piss off any fashy right-wing types who want to claim the band as their own – the cover art makes it very clear where the creator Emin Guliyev stands on issues of LGBT and human rights. After that we have another explicitly anti-fash BM band, Dawn Ray’d – their last album was a triumph and this new song is more of that good stuff! Heretical Sect were a Spotify discovery for me and a very good one – we’re going heavy on anti-fash/progressive/left wing BM this month, apparently. Lustmord w/ Karin Park is a collaboration I found out about via the Roadburn Redux festival – deep atmospheres with soaring, ethereal vocals, very useful for concentration. Next up, you might recognise this Washed Out track as the intro to the wonderful TV show Portlandia, but the full song is excellent in its own right. WagakkiBand are basically designed for me to like them – Japanese folk rock with traditional instruments and band photos like this? Love it. 3 have a very unhelpful name if you’re searching for them online, but this album is very well-crafted prog metal with soaring, pop music-esque vocals. I also remain convinced that this song’s concept is a nod to a series of fantasy books from my youth, the Death Gate saga (which featured a serpentine race of baddies that could shapeshift!) VOLA are a new discovery, and this is from their newest album which is extremely good – the lyric “I could leave this house, but I won’t” stuck with me this month for obvious reasons! And lastly, some classic Bob Dylan – I’m not a massive Dylan fan (never been able to get over a live recording of “Like A Rolling Stone” which highlighted his complete inability to sing) but this is a classic for a reason, and reflects my current mood.
Let’s start this section off with something that’s heavy, but must-read: a Vox feature on the Tulsa, Oklahoma Massacre https://www.vox.com/22456481/tulsa-race-massacre
I know I mentioned it above, but: don’t miss out on Sagas of the Shield Maiden Book Two: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/asawheatley/sagas-of-the-shield-maiden-book-two
It’s an old article, but I can’t be the only person who saw this photo and went “Abin… Abin Sur??” https://www.wired.com/2017/01/bright-green-meteor-lights-mountains-india/
That’s all for this month – thanks for reading, hit the Brigantia Kickstarter link if you haven’t already and I hope you get to enjoy some good weather where you are!
All the best,