6 March 2020

Comics are not reality

The best value speculative fiction sequential art anthology that you, puny human, are able to purchase is once again available to you. Yes, there's a new issue of FutureQuake - and Alexi has scripted a story in it.

FutureQuake 2020 continues the title's tradition of being an absolute belter of an anthology, providing a hundred pages of brain-melting science fiction comics from some of the most talented UK & international creators, for a mere £6.50. Alexi urges you to consider purchasing this fine item.

Valiance, the story he scripted - with art by Sinclair Elliot and letters by Bolt-01 - is a tale of a square-jawed space hero Vincent Valiance (who is perhaps not entirely unlike a certain Dan Dare), reflecting on the discrepancy between his clean-cut adventures as reported in comics, and the rather less clean-cut reality of space diplomacy. It was born out of a fondness for that classic style of space adventure where everything is disconcertingly well-mannered.

Obviously other more substantial comics have addressed that tension (between that vision of the future and a more rough-edged reality), including versions of Dan Dare himself (Alexi has always been fond of the Ennis/Erskine run and wishes it had had longer to develop), however, Alexi hopes his story has something new to say about this topic.

The script, as often seems to be the case with many of Alexi's scripted comics, was somewhat complex in structure - jumping between present and past, and real events and how they were reported in comics - but Sinclair (and Bolt) did a great job making it work.

The anthology is chock-full of other great work, and is available now from the FutureQuake Press web shop.

11 November 2019

Dream on

Alexi has scripted several stories for FutureQuake Press (appearing in FutureQuake, Zarjaz, and Dogbreath anthologies) over the years, but he had not written anything for their horror anthology Something Wicked - until now.

'The Dream Again' appears in Something Wicked 2019. It's a spooky tale of understated psychological horror, about feeling alienated even from the people closest to oneself, with art by Matt Johns and letters by Bolt-01.

You can get Something Wicked 2019 (featuring a bumper collection of horror tales, varying from spooky to visceral to humorous) from the FutureQuake Press shop.

28 June 2019

The Stone Leaves Part Three


Introduction to Alexi guest-writing The Stone Leaves season of Cryptogram Puzzle Post (Jack Fallows' monthly illustrated puzzle narrative project).

Alexi talks about the first issue, 'Otto & The Thief', and provides some deeper background to the project.

Alexi talks about the second issue, 'Otto & The Little Helper', and theorises about game and puzzle design ideas, rattling on about ludonarrative resonance and dissonance.


The third and final issue, 'Otto & The Old Friend' is at the printers and Alexi's little story comes to an end. Alexi's going to talk here a little about the issue and about some of the themes of the season as a whole.

As with the prior two issues, it features absolutely stunning cover art by Steve Larder, coloured by Jack Fallows:

(And the fab interior artwork this issue is by Sophie Robin.)

Reflecting back on it all, Alexi is happy with how the puzzles, story and art have fitted together across the season and is really proud to have been part of Cryptogram Puzzle Post. It may only be 24 pages in three envelopes of final product, but planning and writing The Stone Leaves took over a year, a 15,000-word script (that was rewritten myriad times), and an awful lot of time researching, doodling puzzles, and just THINKING, so Alexi is really attached to The Stone Leaves. It's the best thing he's done. He'd like to thank Jack for giving him the opportunity to play with their amazing project, all the guest artists involved (Steve Larder, Jem Milton, Dave Newman, and Sophie Robin), and anyone who has read the issues and tried to solve the puzzles.

As discussed in the previous blog post, this third issue is themed around moving and moving on. The protagonist Otto has to both make a literal journey and move on metaphorically, in several different ways. It ties up many of the narrative threads raised in the first two issues and links it all to the main Cryptogram Puzzle Post story.

The playlist for this issue hopefully reflects the bittersweet nature of the narrative and the sense of travelling in late Spring (and: sun, water, memory, cycles of life and death, friendship, regret): Brave Timbers - First Light; Alela Diane - Take Us Back; Aidan O'Rourke - An Tobar; Mary Hampton - Island; Colour Haze - Remains; Goldfrapp - Eat Yourself. All tracks appear as part of the main 'Cryptophone' playlist on Spotify, or, for convenience, you can find just The Stone Leaves season tracks here.

Hidden secrets? If anyone can spot a particularly obtuse reference to a North-East-based doom rock band, award yourself bonus points.

Otto's journey is about coming to terms with perceived failure. Having aspirations to do good in the world and for one's actions to have value, it's human nature, but reality rarely conforms to the shapes we hope to see. Other people just don't care or don't see things in the same way.

Otto is perhaps a bit older than Alexi, but Alexi thinks he knows something of what it is to feel old,  and tired, and lonely, and that all one's endeavours are ridiculous and for nought. To realise that efforts have been at best unproductive, and sometimes counter-productive, is hard to take. 'First World problems', sure, but sadness is sadness. If Otto's story is about anything, Alexi would say it's about trying to accept that futility and find some kind of peace - that's perhaps the only practical response to the indignities of life. Hopefully, there's solace out there (or, indeed, in there) somewhere, if the route to it can be found.

So, after all his absurd attempts at doing something worthwhile, his journey has finally reached an end, and at least he can rest.

Otto, I mean.