New Unseen Shadows Project in the Works

Morning everyone,

Those of you who follow me on twitter will know that I’ve been having a bit of a moan lately about how as a writer you’re never allowed to talk about the stuff you’re working on. It’s a one of the drawbacks of being at the very start of what is always a very long creative process but there are very good reasons for it. Many projects that get started go nowhere and if I went around every script that I started work on then you’d come to believe that we have an upcoming catalogue comparable to Marvel. 90% the stuff I start writing goes in the bin or goes back into the closet to be brought out at a later date and until one of those ephemeral ideas begins to coalesce into something more substantial, I don’t see any benefit in talking about it publicly.

Which is all a rather round about way of saying that I probably have another new comic coming out later this year. Since Christmas I’ve been working on a new Unseen Shadows one shot for the follow up anthology to Tales of the Fallen (available from all good stockists and this one) and it looks like it’s far enough along that you can all know about it now. The script went off to Unseen Shadows editor, Barry Nugent, last week and, pending a few edits we should be looking for an art team in the near future.

The comic itself is not a direct follow up to last year’s Band of Butchers but rather will feature a tale about Unseen Shadows’ front man, Napoleon Stone chasing down his old mentor in a story of friendship, betrayal and big fights in exotic locations. It’s been a real thrill to get a crack at writing one of the Unseen Shadows A-listers and, as always, Barry has proven to be a very fine editor indeed. The man knows his universe but he’s not afraid to let others play in it, the perfect combination to my mind.

I’m now going to go back to doing that annoying “not talking about the project” thing as we need to secure the rest of the dream team that will bring this book together. As soon as I know more about stuff like release dates etc, I promise that I shall let you know. For now be content to know that if you dug Tales of the Fallen then you will be smiling even more by the end of 2012.

Take care,


(I’m also working on a film project right now…but I can’t talk about that.)

Joe Quesada’s Building The Cover – Avenging Spider-man #1

Those of you who follow Marvel Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada on twitter may have seen his occasional “Building The Cover” sessions in which he explains the entire process of creating his astounding cover images. He posted a special one from New York Comic Con last night and I thought that it was interesting enough to share here. Just so we’re clear, this is not our work or associated with us in any way. The intention here is simply to compile together Joe’s tweets on the subject for easy reading. Enjoy.

“First step was to work up a few thumbnails. Here’s a thumbnail template I made just for such an occasion”
“These initial thumbnails were drawn in Sketchbook Pro. The absolute best pencil sketching program on the market”
“I was immediately partial to the center image, but decided to make life difficult and make it a wraparound cover…Once again, in Sketchbook, I used their mirror function in order to get a nice symmetrical framework”

“Not crazy with Spidey’s head, too stylized and he looks hunchbacked. also started toying with possible background”

“Still in mirror mode and trying a different positioning for his arms and hands. Also expanding the web idea.”

“Since Hulk and Wolvie are in the issue I decided to alter the arms again and to make room for cameos. I also decided to drop the web motif…So lets try a gargoyle while we’re at it”

“Not killing me, so perhaps a more passive Hulk and Wolvie and a smaller gargoyle”

“For those wondering, I’m drawing all of this digitally on my Cintiq using their stock pen tip and working in Sketchbook Pro at the moment…I switched over to Manga Studio EX 4 and start to lay in a perspective grid for possible buildings”

“In the middle of working on this cover I see Joe Mad’s AMAZING cover for the book, he has Hulk and Wolvie on it so I abandon the idea…No longer in mirror mode, I now start to rework Spidey’s arms and hands so that they’re different and have a much more naturalistic feel…And also back in Sketchbook, notice the digital pencils are getting tighter”

“It’s at this point that I regain my senses and wonder if I’m working to hard, maybe a single cover will do”

“Okay, who I kidding, I’m a masochist, lets go back to wraparound. I bounce now to Photoshop and start building the figure in black line…Here’s the beginning of that”

“Also, I’ve abandoned the gargoyle idea altogether, I think it’s going to be webbing and noir cityscape…Next is a light study, the idea being that Spidey is lit from the city streets underneath him”

“Now for a much tighter drawing, we’re getting close”

“A real rough pass at the kind of feel and weight I want the webbing to have”

“Time to block out the webbing for real now. Keep in mind, this is for placement only, sans all detail”

“Okay, I’ve got webbing, figure, lighting and city perspective done. Now I print this out at actual page size, light box and start penciling…here’s the final pencils as Danny Miki received them”

“For those unfamiliar with this kind of stuff, the X’s on the board indicate to the inker that that area needs to be a solid black…I rarely use x’s, but this cover had so much black and shadows that it would have been a gray mess if i had actually filled that stuff in…And, this afternoon I just got the final inks from the brilliant Danny Miki TAA-DAA!”

Fascinating stuff. If you want more stuff like this then be sure to follow Joe on Twitter.


Comics Did A Good Thing

Those of you who are into both comics and twitter may well have seen the hashtag #comicsdidagoodthing floating around your feed as of late. This will especially be the case if you’re a follower of Gail Simone (Wonder Woman, Secret Six) and frankly if you’re not then you need to stop reading and go follow @GailSimone right this second. Essentially this hashtag is a collection of stories from individuals for whom comics have had a profound and meaningful effect on their lives.

I’ve been utterly engrossed by this topic since it first appeared a few days ago. Both by the candour of the people writing and the range of emotions encapsulated in the stories themselves. As a writer, you’re always trying to find the shortest way of expressing something important and on that front some of these tweets are staggeringly powerful. Unique, deeply personal stories of hardship and hope, encapsulated in under 140 characters and laid bare for all to see.

From the inside of comics I think it can be incredibly easy to forget just how important these books can be to the people that read them, often far more so than to the people that make them. It’s for that reason that I wanted to share a few of these stories. After all, it’s for people like this that we write.

thewolverina Wolverina
Comics kept me sane & able to cope after a motorcycle crash left me injured & unable to hold a normal book open. #comicsdidagoodthing
As a child without a good male role model in my life, I am glad I had Clark Kent and Peter Parker. #comicsdidagoodthing
theisb Chris Sims
One of my favorite things I have to remember my father by are Kirby-inspired drawings of the Silver Surfer and Odin. #ComicsDidAGoodThing
BJLG Bryan J.L. Glass
Daredevil showed me that you get back up no matter how hard or how many times you’ve been knocked down. @GailSimone#comicsdidagoodthing
hangofwednesday Brian Williams
When I spent a lot of my early years of childhood in oxygen tents in hospitals comics gave me joy when my life had none #comicsdidagoodthing
David0Monroe David Monroe
I was 9 white, privileged & isolated. O’Neil/Adams’ GL/GA run opened my eyes & set me on my path as a Social Activist. #comicsdidagoodthing
eris404 Gaia Gardner
@GailSimone Comics, specifically Sandman issue 8, helped me deal with the death of my mother. #comicsdidagoodthing
IliasKyriazis IliasKyriazis
X-men is the ONLY reason I didn’t grew up a bigot #comicsdidagoodthing
Paul_Cornell Paul_Cornell
And let’s not forget Stan Lee’s effect on children’s reading ages. @GailSimone#comicsdidagoodthing
ryanoneil ryanoneil
Thinking about Wally West pushing beyond exhaustion as he ran has kept me going on more than one training run. #comicsdidagoodthing
emcgillivray Erica McGillivray
Comics got me to go to the first @GeekGirlCon meeting & now I’m running the org #comicsdidagoodthing
Highball2814 Buck Rowlette
RT @monksp@GailSimone A buddy used my Green Lantern trades to help bridge the gap between him and his stepson. #comicsdidagoodthing
777damm Steve Damm
Gambit showed me redemption is not free, the past is not permanent and mistakes are natural. #comicsdidagoodthing
gamoid Matt W.
@GailSimone Secret Six helped me distinguish sharks from not-sharks. #comicsdidagoodthing
loveandcapes Thomas Zahler
@GailSimone Comics helped me get the $32,000 question right when I was on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”.
pcvis Pat Vis
@GailSimone They made me happy. #comicsdidagoodthing
There are literally hundreds more examples that you can find by clicking on the hashtag. I hope that by recording a few of them here we’ve helped to retain some of this fascinating topic for the future. If nothing else, it’ll give me something to look back on any time somebody says “they’re just comics”.

Chameleon vs iPhone – It’s on!


Steve got his first iPhone the other week. Apparently the sight of me constantly tweeting and instagramming at conventions has finally proven too much for his iron like resolves…or it could just be because he loves Angry Birds with a frankly terrifying passion. Either way he’s now one of us and I find myself one step closer on my quest to make him read digital comics. So far, aside from some rampant sabotaging by Ryan Brannon of Cold Callers, he seems to be enjoying his new toy, but I wanted to take a chance to warn him of a key safety point that isn’t covered in the woefully thin instruction booklet:

Chameleons will mess yo phone up, son!

Beware Cold Callers bearing reptiles, Bunkerites.


(thanks to Geekosystem for the vid)