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)

27 August 2018

The best all-ages sci-fi sports/cookery adventure comic you'll read today

Several years back, Alexi (working, unusually for him, under a ludicrous pseudonym of Quinston Q. Blowfish) collaborated with artist Cuttlefish on a story for a local all-ages adventure comics anthology, A4Adventure.

The resultant story, 'Trainee Space Chef', turned out well and Alexi and Cuttlefish decided that, as well as reprinting the story itself, at some point they must get round to doing another story featuring plucky chef-in-training-in-space Maria McMurdo.


Alexi is delighted to present a brand new Trainee Space Chef adventure: The Space Golf Caper!

The sporting spectacle of the upcoming galactic space golf tournament is the cause of much excitement - especially for the students of the prestigious Asimov-Ramsey Academy of Space-Catering, who have been allocated responsibility for providing refreshments to the players traversing the course across the moons of Epsilon-Gamma-12.

Diligent Maria McMurdo and underachieving Norton Hollandaise are stationed on moon thirteen. Everything seems to be going well until the tournament is thrown into chaos by the revelation that a daring heist has occurred right under the noses of the organisers and space golf viewing public.

With only experimental cuisine and youthful pep on their side, what can our heroes do? Will the pair be able to keep the players refreshed? Will they be able to foil the devious crime? Will Maria ever get an 'A' grade from Professor Battenberg? Find out in... TRAINEE SPACE CHEF: THE SPACE GOLF CAPER.

Sounds pretty good huh? And that Cuttlefish art looks pretty spectacular, yeah? You might quite like to read this, right?


30 April 2018

Hot Dogs!

A western IN SPACE!

That's kinda the underlying high concept of classic 2000AD strip Strontium Dog right? Sure, Wagner & Ezquerra took Johnny Alpha and Wulf on all kinds of sci-fi escapades, but the bounty hunter premise gives most stories the tone (and often narrative shape) of a gritty western.

Alexi has long liked the idea of this and finally got round to scripting a story for Dogbreath, the long-running Strontium Dog comic anthology fanzine from FQP. Turns out, he really enjoyed trying to come with a satisfying sci-fi western story, and ended up scripting a chunky fourteen-pager - fortunately, the editors accepted it and artist David Parsons (plus Bolt-01 lettering) really nailed the art.

You can find the resultant story, 'A Safe Haven', in Dogbreath #34. It's the tale of a sheriff of a prim backwater farming colony having to deal with a notorious criminal gang (pursued by Strontium Dog bounty hunters) trying to lie-low in his jurisdiction. (IN SPACE!)

Dogbreath #34 cover by Mike Collins

Panel from 'A Safe Haven', art by David Parsons

But that's not all! Also fresh out from FQP is FutureQuake 2018 - the latest volume in their flagship sci-fi anthology series.

FutureQuake 2018 cover by Gibson Quarter & Steve Denton

Panel from 'A Strange Thing Happened', art by Scott Twells

Snuck in on the back cover is a one-pager scripted by Alexi, art by Scott Twells, colours by Owen Watts, letters by Bolt-01, A Strange Thing Happened - a brief sad look at disaffection and loneliness... and dogs.

These fine publications are now available from FQP - direct via their webstore (details plus full contents lists here: Dogbreath #34, FutureQuake 2018), or catch FQP in person at Oldham Comic Con on the 12th May.