5 September 2013

Meteor in a bit, like

Alexi Conman has spent much of this year thinking about science.

Science is interesting and progressive. Comics are a good way of communicating information. A science comic aimed at 8-13 year-olds produced as part of British Science Festival in Newcastle featuring a stellar list of comics creators collaborating with university scientists - Alexi feels sure that this is an excellent thing. This is what Asteroid Belter is. It looks a bit like this:

The project was put together by North East artsy/comicsish polymaths Lydia Wysocki (Big Boss Ultra-Brain) and Paul Thompson (Technical Wizard), their team of arse-kicking editors (Britt, Jack, Mike and Mike), supported (and funded) by excellent Newcastle University 'engagement' folks, and it features the work of a whole shedload of awesome scientists and comics creators.

A mammoth undertaking to be sure, but the long road is at an end and the newspaper-format anthology is being launched on Saturday 7th September at Newcastle City Library.

Alexi's contribution to this comic included scripting two pieces:

The first: The Amazing Monkey With Three Parents
Working with scientist Sourima Shivhare, artist Tony Hitchman and editor/artist Paul Thompson to somehow try and explain the science behind high-profile cutting edge 'three-parent' IVF procedures to prevent mitochondrial disease at a level suitable for 8-13 year olds and within a satisfying narrative framework. MAN, THAT WAS HARD. Alexi thinks that this is probably the most work he's put in 'per page' of any comics project he has worked on. However, in the end, Alexi thinks this 'four-parent artistic process' managed the seemingly borderline-impossible and made the story work.

The second: Colossal Achievement
Artist Sigmund Reimann was keen to make a comic adaptation Prof Brian Randell's true-life story of how he found out about 'Colossus', the world's first programmable electronic computer that no one knew about for thirty years because it was built secretly to decrypt the Nazi's toughest codes during World War II. Alexi helped adapt Brian's presentation into a script for Sigmund, who then did a brilliant job of putting it on the page. The story is fascinating and Alexi strongly suggests you watch Brian tell it in his own words:

Alexi was also involved a little bit behind the scenes of the comic and was constantly impressed with the passion and determination in all areas of this project and was delighted to see the 10,000 copies of the comic finally printed. He urges that you try and get a hold of a copy if you can - it will be given away FREE during Science Week. For more info, check the website. (Alexi also did a little profile thing as a contributor where he tried to sound clever.)

**UPDATE: You can now read the whole splendid Asteroid Belter comic online (free).**

17 January 2013

Canny Cow Science

Alexi has been up to several things of late that are probably blog-worthy.

ONE! Alexi organised the Canny Comic Con again. Many many emails, but again it went really well and Alexi was moved almost to tears by the spirit of the comics community creating something good by force of will. He is very grateful to all comics folks involved (particular those who helped Alexi behind the scenes), and to the amazing Newcastle City Library for hosting. More blah will go up on the Canny Comic Con blog soon.

TWO! Top Cow ran an open submission Talent Hunt in the latter part of 2012 which will result in a paid gig for two writers and two artists. Alexi understands that it's good PR and that they probably got a sales spike from prospective creators buying comics to research the characters, but even so, he was impressed that Top Cow (or, specifically, editor Matt Hawkins) would take the time to run this kind of thing. It is admirable to see established comics publishers trying to engage with aspiring creators (apparently there were around 1100 entries!).

Anyway, mainly as an exercise in writing to a brief, Alexi decided to enter. He enjoyed the challenge, and produced a script (a slightly offbeat little story about pigeons and second chances) that he was pretty happy with. Along the way, he caught up with reading a variety of recent Top Cow comics. In honesty, Top Cow was not a publisher he had been paying much attention to in recent years, but he enjoyed catching up with their output. One title in particular stood out as excellent - David Hine and Jeremy Haun's new take on The Darkness, which is very human and engaging yet delightfully creepy and unsettling. If you're interested (and you should be), Alexi would point out that you can read the complete first trade for FREE here (legitimately)! Very much worth a go.

THREE! Alexi is currently getting involved in the Newcastle Science Comic, a fascinating project that will use COMICS to communicate SCIENCE to KIDS. Huzzah etc. Alexi is not exactly sure what form his direct creative input will be (if it will be involved at all), but he was recently at a launch event thing and heard a great many extremely interesting ideas whizzing around and is certain that the project is going to be aces.