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His and Hers

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tltu-ad-fm

So I also decided to do an ad for everyone, featuring both The Lion and The Unicorn, because, well, it’s called The Lion & The Unicorn.
I think the ads will run towards the end of April, so if you’re playing a Gameloft game maybe I’ll see you here.

Now I need to actually get back to making the comic. The digital comics version of The King is Dead Part 4 needs to go live.

Advertisement Break

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tltu-ad-m

The good people at Gameloft Games are going to be running an ad campaign for The Lion & The Unicorn ACTS digital comics’ release.

Here’s how it’s looking so far. Just need something for this character to say, a catchy call to action that’s going to get people clic, click, clicking. I’d rather it was something in the alternate reality of the comic, than a blatant click to win type of thing.

Anyone got any thoughts let me know.

The Great Comic Con Swindle

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 or Not much comic. A whole lotta Con.

Throughout the month of October I’ve taken The Lion & The Unicorn to a con a weekend. The comic festival Hamburg, The German  Comic Con in Berlin, FACTS in Gent and MCM in London. With the exception of Hamburg these were all Cons.

And by this I mean those towering colossi of corporate consumption based on the San Diego original. It’s this con model and the clue is in the name, this model of merch and madness, piled high sold cheap, that has less and less to do with the craft of comics, the art of comics and more and more to do with turning a quick buck.

con-facts

con-berlin

It’s this model that puts a lot of stain on the indie comics creator because increasingly the comic con isn’t really about comics at all. It’s this environment that forces the tricky issue of – dare I say it… – fan art.

You’ll find a lot of talk online about the issue of fan art at comic cons. As Matt Dyson of The Comic Village Alliance says “Simply thinking about fanart for a fraction of a second in a sealed room in the middle of a desert 12,000 miles from the nearest person or internet connection is sometimes enough to start off an all out Fanart holy war “discussion” that will last for days and make everyone involved hate everyone else involved.”

A lot of cons declare it illegal, yet few seem to enforce this, while artists and indie creators implore this is the only way they can make money. This is because most of the people who come to these mega cons aren’t looking for comics at all. Especially not new comics they’ve never heard of. Rather it seems what they want is something they recognise, something they know. Ideally  crossed with something else they know.

Exhibit A

 

But here’s a question, instead of the artists and creators, isn’t it the market that causes the problem?

Because a Comic Con now isn’t about comics and to have comics in the title is entirely misleading. Or perhaps this is what ‘comics’, a mis-used and misleading word at the best of times, will become to mean. Pop culture – geek culture if you must (but I don’t like to use the g word) – stuff. Mugs, posters, cuddly toys, overpriced photo opportunities.

And hey, that’s fine, if that’s what people want, let that be that. Let it sail off into the plastic product smog filed sunset.

But let’s also create a place for comics, just for comics. Because the audience is there. I’ve seen them, met them, talked at length with them, they’re seeking out new stuff, they want indie comics.

Thought Bubble in Leeds, Comiket in London, The International Comic Salon in Erlangen and Comic Invasion in Berlin are all great examples of the comic focused festival pitched at various sizes, catering to varied tastes.

And respect must go to the MCM Comic Village for supporting the independent creators, for providing a place that nurtures creativity rather than squashes it amongst merchandise piled ever higher, sold ever cheaper.

We must work together to ensure that the craft of comics is preserved, that the independent creator is subsidised and nurtured…

 Save the comic. Stop the con.

 

The Final Part of The Lion & The Unicorn Volume 0 is here at last!

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So here it is the end of the beginning, ok, the end of the bit before the beginning of the beginning.

Yes The Lion & The Unicorn – Volume 0, the prequel if you will, is finally wrapped up in a nice neat, deluxe print, ultra limited edition package.

So why did it take so damn long? The first version of issue 1 being released in 2011 (with the extended re-version released earlier this year). I’ll tell you for why because making The lion & The Unicorn is a massively long, ball achingly slow, laborious process for just a man… With a man’s courage, he’s just a man with a man’s power – Freddy

Then why in god’s name do you do it !? – Eddy

Because I want the world, the characters to look how they look in my head, Bladrunner meets Excalibur directed by Katsuhiro Otomo – and the only way to come anywhere close to this, for me, is by using a combination of photography, graphic design and illustration in a process I like to call, composographicfotorotmancy – Catchy!

The trouble is even once the comic itself is completed, proofed, printed and ready, then you’ve actually got to go and get it out to people, which is. incidentally where we are now.

Hi there.

This is also why the comic debuted at The International Comic Salon in Erlangen, Germany at the end of May and you’re only just hearing about it now.

In this issue the Lion and The Unicorn of the title finally come face to face in a showdown that is nothing less than earth shaking. Yes, you’ve got it, first they fight then they become friends. Although not in this issue. Not for a while. This is the character dynamic will be the driving force of the next 3 volumes.

Talking of future volumes, for volume 1 I know I need to get a more regular release schedule, that means quicker output, that means changing how I work. I’ll keep the photographic backgrounds for sure, but the characters will be hand drawn- check out the centre spread of issue 4 to see how this is going to look.. I’ll keep the occasional photographed and rotoscoped character for ‘special effects’ sequences and the like, also because the shoots are fun and a great way to get people involved. You’d be surprised how much people love playing comic books. PeeOw. PeeOw!

But hand drawn it is. I owe a lot to Martin Eden, creator of The O Men and Darren Wilson of Avengers UK a Facebook fan fiction comic that did a crossover with The Lion & The Unicorn for their Xmas special. It was great to see my characters rendered in pen and ink by another artist. It showed me it work and you don’t have to be Jim Lee to do it.

So I’m spending this summer honing my craft in drawing and writing too – as the artwork aside I’m keen to be able to have some more naturalistic dialogue. While I’m aware this will never be Saga, I’m also conscious that the rigid structure of the massive character arcs and the epic scale of the narrative means that the human, relatable aspect can get lost. And at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how cool, or not, the visuals are if the characters don’t speak in a voice that you care about, well you just won’t care.

And by the gods I want you to care.

I admit it. I was scared.

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Okay. Are you happy now?.

Fine I wasn’t just scared, I was terrified, gripped by a constant fear that I’d walk into my friendly neighbourhood comic shop and see something that thematically or stylistically would be the equivalent or, more likely, the better of what I wanted The Lion & The Unicorn to be staring back at me.

So in 2011 I rushed issue one and in my haste, I botched it too.

I didn’t know this at the time. Or at least I didn’t admit it. It took some tough love from one Richard Bruton from The Forbidden Planet International blog to open my eyes. Indeed I now know the best reviews are ‘bad reviews’, from a creative improvement point of view at least

So once I’d got past the anger, the sadness and reached acceptance, I sat down (actually I work standing up but you know what I mean) and pulled the book apart.

The beauty of working digitally is that I could go back into Photoshop files and rework a layer, then add to and adjust the layout in InDesign, improving the text via Illustrator, as I went along.

This lead to the Digital extended edition of issue 1 which went on sale via ComiXology in 2013.

However there were still aspects of the line work that I was unhappy with, not to mention the spelling mistakes (That apostrophe!) that had been haunting me ever since.

So finally, 5 years on from the original print, The Lion & The Unicorn – The King is Dead Part One Extended Edition goes at least someway closer to being the comic I want to see on those shelves.

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Why I love Gosh! Comics (and it’s not just because they pay up front)

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I have loved Gosh since I used to spend my pocket money there, when it was across the road from The British Museum. It always supported independently published comics and graphic novels and it was from this store that I got my first taste of the British and international Small Press.
You can imagine then the joy when Gosh moved to its current Berwick street location and a large part of the beautiful top floor was dedicated to the indies.
Gosh has undoubtedly lead the way in promoting independent comics, proving that if you present them in the same way as the more established titles and publishers, then they sell. Issue 1 of TL&TU sold out twice over and is now in stock again, with issues 2 and 3 also available as well as the ultra limited edition poster comics.

Keep it up Gosh (and thanks for paying up front).

The Lion & The Unicorn issue 2 launches at MCM

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Returning to London for the MCM Comic Con. My first major show in over two years and launching The Lion and The Unicorn issue 2.
No pressure!