Sign of the Hammer!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

May Triarchy

"April is the least-blogged month", as T.S. Elliot almost wrote in an early draft of 'The Wasteland'. Well, it was for me anyway. But now May is upon us, and no less than three separate new tales of mine are either already released or on the verge of being so.

The first, and in many ways the most personal to me, is a tale called 'Lay On, Macduff', appearing in Lizzie and Conor Boyle's new small-town themed anthology 'Disconnected'. This fine publication heralds the start of Lizzie and Conor's new publishing venture, Disconnected Press, and I was genuinely honoured to be approached for a script contribution for the first issue. As I type this, 'Disconnected' is making its debut at the Bristol Comic Expo 2012, complete with a cracking, somewhat Ben Templesmith-y cover by comics pro Matt Timson. (Coincidentally, I won his complete 'Impaler' series in one of the 2000AD forum short story competitions a while back - gorgeous stuff.) My artistic  partner for this is Gavin Mitchell, winner of the recent 2000AD pitch-fest, and a rare talent indeed. His work is hugely stylish and atmospheric: we can expect BIG things of this gentleman! Our story is set, as the title implies, in the north-east Scottish fishing town of Macduff, which is where my father and the Meldrum clan in general hail from. Macduff's most famous citizen is a man called Walford Bodie, the 'Electric Wizard of the North', an international stage-magician and hypnotist, who inspired Houdini and was even satirised by Charlie Chaplin. Without spoiling any plot details, Bodie is the star of 'Lay On, Macduff', and during this historical tale he becomes embroiled in eerie events in his home town.

The second tale is very different but also on sale in Bristol - it's my collaboration with Louis Carter for Dr WTF?! 2012. Yup, Nazi timelord Hauptmann Who stars in 'The Reich Stuff', a frankly ridiculous tale of the Infinite Reich, silicon-based communism and gestalt reincarnation, all wrapped up in a decidedly purple haze. I think this might be the oddest thing I've ever written - I'm certainly very happy with the result, in large part due to Louis's unbelievably superb art. His colours in particular were just glorious. Working with Louis was definitely a really great collaboration - as his various blog entries on the subject show, he put an enormous amount of thought into every artistic aspect of the strip, and constantly took my ideas and ran with them, coming up with his own psychedelic or Fortean twists, and at one stage making something implicit in the story decidedly explicit - let's just say that when I saw the last few panels, my jaw dropped. I'll do a full self-indulgent 'director's commentary' on the story, as I did for Dr WTF?! 2011 in due course.
The third tale - well, Paragon #10 looms, and that can only mean a healthy dose of Spencer Nero is imminent. In this one, he attempts to climb the dreaded north face of the Eiger, in a Heinrich Harrer-inspired yarn called 'Spencer Nero and the White Spider'. Art duties this time around go to James Corcoran, who has also blogged extensively on this strip. As is also the case with Louis and Gavin, I count myself really lucky to have been able to collaborate with such a talented artist as James - his work is just remarkable and, to my mind, has captured that tricky balance between ridiculous and sinister that I hoped Spencer Nero might achieve. Not a tale for arachnophobes, I'll say that much: something in James's style really gives things a Lovecraftian edge. More on this one when it's finally released.

Anyway, it's back to work. This collection of Martillo stories I'm intending on publishing won't write itself, y'know...