Moon comic

Small Press Big Ideas

Back in February, Steve and I were preparing to attend the London Comic and Small Press Expo in New Cross. It was the first con we’d ever done (we hadn’t even had the books printed at that point) and the plan was to have a nice quiet one in order to learn the ropes before hitting the bigger summer cons. Didn’t really work out that way in the end…

A few days before the con, an email went out from the organisers stating that one of their panels had been cancelled and they could really do with somebody to fill the spot. Being the humble, introverted souls that we are it took us all of 2 emails to decide that we were the people to fill that spot. I threw together some ideas stuff that Steve had talked about at the Fallen Heroes panel in Cardiff, mixed them with various pub rants the two of us had engaged in over the years and the Small Press Big Ideas Panel was born. This is the blurb for the panel:

With the falling cost of producing comics and the rise of the internet as a tool for marketing and distributing comics, it’s becoming more and more viable for creators to publish mainstream, commercially viable comics by themselves. These books share little in common with the more artistically driven labours-of-love that are traditionally associated with the small press so is it right that they are all classed under the same banner? We will examine whether there is a difference between a true small press book and a mainstream book that is printed in small numbers. Is it damaging creators and limiting ambition by creating an artificial underclass of comics? Is it time for up and coming creators to abandon the term ‘small press’ and just make comics? 

Now, I’ll be honest, when I first wrote that I wasn’t totally sure how true it was. I knew that we definitely didn’t feel that Moon fitted into the classic definition of Small Press but I wasn’t sure if that was part of a wider thing or whether that was just a personal preference thing. I figured that at the very least it’d be an interesting academic debate about the terms we use to define our industry. Besides, it was Steve that was going to be on the panel so if a lynch mob formed I’d have plenty of warning and would be able to flee the scene while he heroically, if unwillingly, sacrificed his life for the greater good.

London Comic & Small Press Expo 2011

What happened was that the panel ended up being the talk of the town. Steve argued our points superbly and the discussion got so in depth that the panel over-ran by over half an hour. After the show was over, the organisors came up to us and asked if we’d be willing to repeat the panel at Bristol. So here we are.

Ok, before we go any further, I should probably clarify what my actual stance on Small Press is. I have absolutely no problem with tradition Small Press books – by which I mean those labours of love that are produced in very small numbers, often using home printing equipment and sold almost exclusively at small cons. Some of the most interesting things I’ve read are exactly these kind of books; produced by hobbyists whose only desire is to share their work of graphic literature with people and hopefully pay for a pint at the end of the event.

Badger from Cute But Sad Comics is a perfect example of a true Small Press book and it's absolutely wonderful

But that isn’t what Moon is. We have a budget, we have a business plan, we have objectives for every event we go to. Our books are printed to a professional standard, they are 22 pages long, they have advertising, they have far more in common with a Marvel book than they do with many Small Press books. The only real thing that we have in common with the traditional Small Press is that we are largely self funded. Again, I’m not saying that this automatically makes us better than Small Press, but we are different and I think that’s worth acknowledging.

And it turns out that we’re not alone in that regard. Since LCSPE we’ve met creators from all over the UK (and beyond) who are thinking exactly the same thing. People who got into the industry to be considered ‘Comic Book Creators’ not ‘Small Press Creators,’ people who are after a lot more than a pint at the end of the con.

Barry Nugent's Fallen Heroes is a great example of an indy franchise with big ideas

We are living through an extremely exciting time for comics. The internet revolution that the music industry went through a decade or so ago is just starting to reach our shores. For the first time in our industry’s history we have the power to create, print, market and distribute our comics without ever having to involve an established publisher. All you need is a bit of start up capital and a willingness to throw all of your free time into it.

To me, trying to place a label like “Small Press” or “Big Press” or anything on your book is entirely redundant. We are in new territory here and while the old institutions do still exist, they are far from the impregnable fortresses that they once were. Comics are changing and if we as new creators have the will to do so then we can be a part of shaping that change. But to do so we have to think big.

Companies like UKomics have made it possible to self publish indy books that are totally indistinguishable from mainstream comics

Stop thinking in terms of Small Press and Mainstream Press and just make comics. Your book is what you make it, not what convention tells you it is.

Is that the sound of a lynch mob? I’d best find Steve.

Take care, chaps.

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For more on this topic be sure to check out the Small Press Big Ideas panel at this the Bristol International Comic and Small Press Expo this Sunday. Details HERE!

Bizarre Magazine Gives Moon Four Stars!

Moon has always been a fan of the bizarre but now it seems that the bizarre has become a fan of Moon! The latest issue of Bizarre Magazine contains a review of Moon #1 and it seems that they rather like it. In a section of reviews on alternative comic books they described our beloved little child as “vibrant and action packed” before going on to award us a glorious 4 stars!

We had a lovely chat with some of the magazine’s reporters at Kapow and at the time they seemed pretty keen on getting the book mentioned somewhere, but it wasn’t until today that we found out just what kind of mention it would be. A thumbs up from a publication as big as Bizarre is a massive boost to a new company like us so as you can image we’re over the…er…orbital-rock-based-satellite.

You can pick up the magazine from any newsagents as of today. If you read the first Kapow article then be sure to have a little look for Mr Penfold in one of the photos, it’ll be like the oddest game of Where’s Wally you ever played. 😉

If you’re a new follower of Beyond The Bunker after reading the review then welcome to the site. Please have a look around and make yourselves at home. You can buy the comic HERE or read more about it HERE and there’s a metric asstonne of other stuff to read and enjoy around the site, with more added each and every day. Welcome to our odd little family!

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Moon 1.3 – the full process

Moon Page 3. Perhaps the image that went through one of the most extensive additional design work. It passed backwards and forwards between myself and Iv as a black and white, a colour and finally a graphically enhanced image. As it is effectively a one panel page it was a great opportunity to stretch ourselves a little and Page 3 is probably one where I genuinely feel the finished product appeared as it had originally been attended. It also confirmed that myself and Iv knew what we were doing… (at least vaguely)

The original inks. Drawn over pencil line work to decide layout and composition and the finer details. Fairly basic stuff. A detailed description of what we were looking for was sent over to Iv.

Iv applied her own artistry to the page, adding her own ideas to the tones and hues – something she always does really well. In particular, the decision to take the plain black of the sky behind and make it a more interesting blue. The figures at the base of the main image were intended to be uplit red / yellow. However Iv lit them blue to tie them together with the main image and not undermine the central Moon deity figure. It also sets apart beautifully the main abstract poster image and the bottom panel. These are her colours as they were returned back to us before I got my greasy mitts all over them again. Iv is an unnaturally talented colourist and a pleasure to work with.

Next some graphics to enhance the basic colours. Taking existing constellations, one is a lifted selection from astronomoical photography and the other is painted digitally using the template of the original constellation taken from a low res image. I think this one is in CMYK (the standard format you have to put it in to go to print – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black (K for some reason)) so the colours are bleeding and the colour map has altered slightly but it is still the same image as the others….

… and slap on some lettering using Illustrator and finishing in Photoshop by creating layers and slicing and placing elements behind the central figure. Otherwise the linking branch of the speech bubble would really detract. Et voila. Page 3 of Moon 1. More of the same coming soon. Danke.

Last Chance for Bristol Comic Con Tickets!

Hey chaps, just a quick message to remind you that this is the LAST day you can buy tickets for this year’s Bristol International Comic and Small Press Expo. If you don’t book them by the end of today then you won’t be going to the con, which means you won’t be meeting Weebl, you won’t be going to any of the sweet panels that they have booked this year and you won’t be picking up one of the final FIRST EDITION copies of Moon #1 .

I’m sure you’ll agree that missing out on all this would be a tragedy of Hamlettian proportions, so head over to the Bristol Comic Con site right now and book your damn ticket!

CLICK HERE TO BOOK TICKETS!

(Please remember that Beyond The Bunker will only be at the con on SUNDAY 15th)

See you there!

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Dropping Science: Just How Big do Stars Get?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEheh1BH34Q&w=560&h=349]

We’ve got a bit of a size comparison this week. Turns out that for all his bluster, Moon is just one small piece in a much bigger puzzle. I remember seeing this video for the first time a couple of years ago and it really blew me away just how small our solar system is compared to some of the bodies out there. The fact that it has a slightly sinister soundtrack just makes it even more fun. 😉

I’m rather liking this little science drop at weekends. It’s nice to be able to share some of the stuff that inspires me in indirect ways as well as direct ones. More next week.

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Secret Behind The Scenes Photos From Moon & [Box] Fresh

I was helping my fiancée sort out her Twitter account last night and I stumbled upon a little treasure trove hidden away on her laptop. Fi produced a lot of our earlier films and, ever the professional, she took a load of production photos along the way and stashed them away for safe keeping. Given that we’re a little light on comic book content right now as Steve is locked away in his studio, working on issue 2 of both Moon and Fallen Heroes, I thought it would be nice to dig some of these pics out and share them with you dear people.

These photos all come from The Day The Moon Got Too Close and [Box] Fresh, which were made by myself, Fi and Paul Wade.

"The Day The Moon Got Too Close"

Moon-fact 1: The original Moon-head was made out of an old lamp shade with a tonne of Papier-mâché slopped over it. Wise men that we are, Paul and I elected to do this the night before and consequently it didn’t dry in time and I had bits of gluey paper falling on my face all shoot.

"The Day The Moon Got Too Close"

Moon fact 2: This is from the closing shot of the film. The battery on our camera ran out with just one line of dialogue left to record and we ended up going out to a totally different wood a little later in order to get that 2 second shot at the end. There was supposed to be a ‘walking into the sunset’ shot but I couldn’t walk in a straight line on account of having a face full of glue.

"The Day The Moon Got Too Close"

On set with Al Crow, who played Shades Rodriguez in the short. The character was never named in the film itself, I just made up the name for the credits because I thought it sounded funny. Years later and the character has taken on a life of his own.

"The Day The Moon Got Too Close"

I love how ropey the original Moon head looks compared to the one that we use for publicity events nowadays. This version didn’t have any kind of head support inside it so it always flopped forwards. I like how it kinda makes Moon look permanently melancholy.

"The Day The Moon Got Too Close"

I can honestly say that I don’t recommend trying to direct a film while you are a) in said film and b) wearing a massive ball of paper and glue on your head. I still have the chipped tooth to prove it.

"Box Fresh"

This was taken in Margate while filming the ‘Mime murder’ gag in [Box] Fresh. It was mid spring and totally freezing so I donned a coat only to discover that without the stripy shirt, I just looked like I was on my way to a Kiss concert. I kept the hood up until we were safely out of the town centre.

"Box Fresh"

I can’t remember how I ended up playing the pretentious not-at-all-a-jibe-at-anyone-real arthouse director, Zach Hoovermiester in [Box] Fresh. I think we had somebody else lined up for the part but they pulled out last minute. Either way, the end result was that we dug a blonde wig out of our props box and I sat and rambled in front of the camera for about two hours in order to get 20 seconds of footage. Oddly enough, that shirt is actually the one that Steve used as the basis for Shades’ shirt in the Moon concept art. Also, I have bleached my own hair that colour in the past and I cannot recommend it highly enough if you want to avoid people taking you seriously.

Hope you enjoyed that little peek behind the curtain. Hopefully we should be bringing you some brand new artwork very soon, so keep your eyes on the Moon, Bunkerites.

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Moon Heads to London Film & Comic Con This July

Not content with rocking out LCSPE, Kapow, Bristol Comic Con & MCM, we decided to go ahead and book in another summer appearance. This July, Beyond The Bunker will be heading to Earls Court for 3 days of Film & Comic madness. The globe headed one will be mixing it up with the likes of Christoper Lloyd & Clive Barker as well as furnishing you with all sorts of big Mooney goodies.

Want signed Moon stuff? Seek out this stand!

LFCC really is a lot of fun to go to. It has a very different feel to Kapow or MCM with more traders, WAY more tv and movie stars and ticket prices that won’t murder your wallet. It will also be our last con appearance of the summer so if you want a signed Moon comic to enjoy in the sunshine then this is your last chance.

When? – 8th, 9th 10th July
Where? – Earls Court 2, London
Why? – Because you’re on a drug called Moon.

Check out the LFCC website for a full list of guests and to book tickets.

Moon #1 Review Roundup

Most of the reviews are in for Moon #1 now and so I thought it was about time that we collected them all together so you can see what the critics have been saying about the book.

Geek Syndicate –  5/5 – “Iconic”

Major Spoilers – “Very impressive”

The Void – “A great cast of characters”

Small Press Big Mouth Podcast – “Very slick, very professional, very witty…you’ll love it.”

Geek Planet Online – “Deserves to be a breakout hit.”  (Heres a LINK to the interview I did alongside the review)

Good Comic Books – “Like if HBO made Blackadder…awesome fun!”

Hi-Ex! Blog – “Complex and exciting…Buy it!”

Comic Buzz – “Huge fun and was a pleasure to read. I’ll be back for Issue Two and I’m willing to bet that everyone who reads this will be too!”

We had faith that people would like the book when we put it out there but the sheer level of enthusiasm that people have shown for it has been frankly staggering. We are hard at work on issue 2 right now and we’re still aiming to have in in your hands by the end of summer. If you’ve not bought a copy of the book yet please order one online or come and see us at Bristol, MCM or any of the other cons we’ll be visiting this year. The faster we sell issue 1, the faster we can put issue 2 out. Bunkerites, we need YOU! (I may even stop calling you Bunkerites if you help us sell a tonne of them 😉 )

Please, please, please take a bit of time to hop on twitter/facebook/whatever and give us a quick shout out. We really appreciate the help you guys give to this rapidly accelerating project.

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The roots of great art: Moon 1, Page 1 in black and white

The grand plan was to post up B&W versions of the preview pages of Moon before the colours to show how the project was progressing. However, because we are effectively Monkeys with guns ( or I am at least) when operating this blog (or were – we are now geniuses at it) it came about that the scheduled colour pages appeared (by accident) beforehand. So rather than short change you we opted to bring the Black and Whites back.

First up Moon 1, page 1!! You’ll see that the title is Moon: Rise. We changed this in the final book because the title was on the facing page as well so Dan felt it was a little over the top. After a brief argument in which I couldn’t be bothered and thought it was fine – I capitulated and the page has been changed. True story. Tell your friends….

Moon Compared to The Tick, First Editions Almost Sold Out & More Reviews Are In – News From The Bunker

Afternoon chaps,

Wow. We’ve had a whole tonne of stuff going on since Kapow so I thought the best thing to do was just chuck it all together and give you a bit of an update on what we’re up to right now.

Steve and I signing copies of the book at Kapow

First off, massive thanks go to everybody who bought a copy of Moon at Kapow and to those that have ordered copies of the book via the website. We were expecting the level of interest in the book to pick up a bit after some of the reviews came out but it has utterly floored us just how many people seem to want to read about our big Mooney hero. To give you an idea of where we’re at, we had predicted that our initial print run would cover us for about six months and it’s almost completely sold out in two. Yikes!

On that note, if you are thinking about picking up a copy of Moon #1 but have yet to do so then you should know that we are now almost completely sold out of “First Edition” copies. The second print run of the book will have a slightly different cover, so if collecting is your thing then you’re going to want to get your order in as soon as you can. Once the First Editions are gone, they’re gone for good. Which reminds me…I should really reserve one of them for myself.

If you want this sexy cover then you'd best be swift.

We’ve had a couple more reviews come in this week as well. I’m going to post up a full page of links to them once the last few are in but in the mean time you may wish to know that The Void thinks Moon has “a great cast of characters” and that the Small Press Big Mouth Podcast generally loves the book (I’d suggest enjoying the whole podcast, but if you just want the Moon review then skip to around the 10min mark). The Small Press Big Mouth one especially blew me away as it’s one of the most positive reviews we’ve had so far. They seem to genuinely get what we’re trying to do here and the fact that they likened the book to The Tick makes me happier than you can possibly imagine.

Ok, well I have a tonne of writing to do if I’m going to get Band of Butchers done in time, so I must return to the laptop. Take care of yourselves Bunkerites, thanks for all the support so far and please keep spreading the good word.

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