28 February 2019

Unexpectedly Positive Outcomes Are Possible In Stories

Alexi has a little story called 'The Future Is Actually Pretty Great' in FutureQuake 2019, the latest quality sci-fi comic anthology from those titans of small press comics publishing, FutureQuake Press.

Art is by Scott Twells, with colours by Owen Watts and letters by Bolt-01. It is just a one-pager but Alexi thinks it turned out lovely and it puts a grin on his face when he reads it.

FutureQuake 2019 is another 90+ page bumper bargain bonanza of twist-ending-heavy speculative fiction comics and you can purchase it from the FQP store here.

14 February 2019

Posting About Postal Puzzles

Puzzles. Life is full of them. Frustration and confusion abound, but then, hopefully: solution, coherence, progress, joy?

Cryptogram Puzzle Post is, frankly, probably the most interesting ongoing art project that Alexi has come across in years: an engaging narrative, based around themes of witchcraft, alchemy, occultism, combined with ingeniously interlinked brain-melting puzzle sequences (of the variety where working out what the puzzles actually are are the core of the puzzles), replete with evocative illustration and design. It's the work of Jack Fallows, who has, absurdly, kept the monthly schedule up for two years of befuddling delight.

Alexi has been a huge fan of the project since the first issue, so was thrilled to be given an opportunity to script a guest season (of three issues). THIS IS HAPPENING, starting in March! The issues will feature guest artists (including Steve Larder) along with Jack's own prodigious talents, and Alexi is understandably wildly excited about how it'll turn out.

This season takes a diversion from the main story (and its protagonist, Anna) to focus on new character, Otto. Otto used to be a magic user of some substantial skill, but is now old and tired and alone. However, the past is not done with him, and an unexpected visitor sets him on a journey that will at times be confusing, ridiculous, perilous, and occasionally, hopefully, comforting. Also: it will involve numerous brain-melting puzzles.

Alexi finds almost all his creative endeavours to be anguished experiences of exasperatingly incremental progress, but trying to plan these issues has been the hardest creative challenge he's worked through - but also the most interesting. More blather about all this soon.

The Stone Leaves season of Cryptogram Puzzle Post runs in March, April and May 2019. You can order the season here (along with various options for individual issues and bundles), but why not consider subscribing to the Cryptogram Puzzle Post Patreon - you'll not only get the issues but also a load of bonus content including behind-the-scenes process posts and exclusive puzzle challenges!

11 September 2018

Alexi talks a little bit about Terry Wiley

Terry Wiley passed away at the weekend. My condolences to all those who were close to him. He was both a good 'un and incredibly talented, it is a sad loss to the whole UK comics scene.

Terry used the acronym 'IDCM' as his brand for some of his self-published work - 'I Do Comics Me', and of the many folk I've met through Doing Comics, I can't think of many who Did Comics to the extent that Terry did.

I was always in awe of his skill and versatility as an artist and storyteller. His work on the mammoth run of Sleaze Castle (with his longtime creative partner, writer Dave McKinnon), Petra Etcetera (with writer Adrian Kermode) and most recently VerityFair (all Terry) is all highly technically accomplished. Even more importantly, those books are full of humanity, humour, surreal meanderings, highly engaging characters grounded in authentic detail existing in a meticulously detailed shared universe, frequent background in-joke nods to comics and friends, and sheer undeniable originality.

Although well-loved by pretty much everyone who's read them, I think these works still have yet to reach the wide audience their quality deserves, probably partly due to the hard-to-categorise-ness that is an element of why they're so great (and probably also partly due to Terry's modesty and bad-at-self-publicity-ness that was a small element of what made him so great). Nevertheless, Terry persisted in Doing Comics: continuing to constantly make excellent work for all kinds of projects, and being an active member of a number of creative communities - including the Paper Jam Comics Collective, where I met him.

I couldn't claim to have been very close to Terry, but it was a pleasure to have been his friend. His occasionally mock-curmudgeonly veneer fooled no one, his charm and cheeky wit always apparent. He was funny and passionate about comics, particularly self-published ones, and having someone like Terry in the gang always made us feel confident in what we were doing.

I was also lucky enough to collaborate with Terry on the short project The Sloper Gradient. I'd scripted a short comic about Ally Sloper and the roots of the modern comics medium for a proposed Victorian-era-themed anthology, but it had been rejected due to being way too dense and complex to find an artist to take it on. More than any of my (many) rejected scripts, I thought this one had potential and deserved self-publishing - if only I could find the right artist.

There was literally ONE artist I knew that had the skill necessary to pastiche the numerous different artistic styles required to tell the story, and to get across the human emotion needed to wrap it up. When I rather timidly approached Terry, he was intrigued by the script and took it on, no big deal. It's only a short comic (hopefully at some point, I'll post it on the internet for wider perusal) but thanks to Terry's incredible talent, my baffling script ended up as a comic I was really proud of.

That's how I'll remember Terry - affably able to do pretty much anything in the sequential art medium, because he was just that good at Doing Comics.

Terry Wiley, HDCH. RIP.

From 'VerityFair' by Terry

You can get the Sleaze Castle collections on Comixology or in print via e.g. Amazon. (Note: Sleaze Castle is not sleazy, it's a pun on 'Castle Leazes', a Newcastle University hall of residence that the story is set in a fictionalised version of).
You can get VerityFair on Sequential (physically, I think it's out of print, but you can find second-hand copies around).

(The Sloper Gradient, I'll try and locate a PDF and hopefully post sometime soon)