If you’re looking to buy disturbing, adult horror comics, you’d better add the Lakes International Comics Art Festival (LICAF) in Kendal and Thought Bubble Sequential Arts Festival in Leeds to your calendar, because I’ll be exhibiting at both later this year, selling copies of Gothic-horror series La Belle Dame Sans Merci and obscene horror-comedy anthology BLACKOUT, as well as launching a new collection called LOVE WILL TEAR US APART.
I’ll be at the Lakes Festival with BLACKOUT co-creator and long-suffering accomplice Jack Fallows on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th October 2014, in the Comics Clocktower, alongside fellow GHOSTS comic-art collective member Owen Johnson. The first LICAF last year was an incredible experience where the town really embraced the spirit of a European comic festival, so I was thrilled to receive an invitation to exhibit again.
At Thought Bubble I’ll be sharing a table with (you guessed it) Jack Fallows again, creator of the misanthropic romance collection Axolotl, and we’ll be in Leeds on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th November, in New Dock Hall. Thought Bubble was founded by my old workmate Tula Lotay and is one of my favourite events of the year. See you there!
In other news, the CULT exhibition that I put on at Orbital Comics in London with GHOSTS Owen Johnson, Andrew Tunney, Jon Lock, Mark Penman, Nich Angell, James Lawrence and John Pearson was an overwhelming success. Extended for an extra week due to popular demand and attended by some fantastic people, CULT was a chance to create dark art for the masses, and we had a ball.
Bleeding Cool called us “an extraordinarily impressive group of creators” and “seven of the best comic creators on the planet making the best comics they can”. Forbidden Planet International called us “seven extremely talented individuals”. The focal point of the exhibition was a massive party with live music and live art, which culminated in me ending up wearing facepaint at a bar in central London where Korean tourists queued to have their picture taken with me and I tried to convince the team behind Twisted Dark that Newcastle Brown Ale was nothing to turn their noses up at.
Over the summer I also acted as a juror for the British Fantasy Awards for the second year in a row. Organised by the British Fantasy Society, I acted as juror in the categories of Best Comic/Graphic Novel, for which we chose Becky Cloonan’s Demeter, and Best Artist, for which we chose Joey Hi-Fi. Both very worthy winners, and I felt privileged to read so many talented works of art in the judging process.
Lastly, and probably more important than any of the above, Brett Schwaner at Screen Door Revolution reviewed the second issue of La Belle Dame Sans Merci (which you can buy here), which he called “a morality-bending psychodrama”, saying “Issue two continues with non-stop nihilistic demonic mayhem from cover to cover, as P M Buchan’s femme fatale unravels like a cackling witch and readers are taken along for a psychotic ride with a ritualistic child killer.” This particular review meant a lot to me, because Brett supported LBDSM from the outset, and I *really* didn’t want to disappoint him with the second issue!
I’ve been quiet over the summer because I mostly stopped reviewing for Starburst, INFINITY and The Times Literary Supplement, wanting to focus on my own stories this year. You won’t be seeing the fruits of that work for a while, but I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with some incredibly talented artists in 2014, and the future is looking pretty exciting. La Belle Dame Sans Merci Chapter Three is due out at the beginning of 2015, and The Final BLACKOUT had to go on the backburner for the sake of our sanity, but the summer has definitely not been wasted. Watch this space.
Today marks the opening of an exhibition that I’m a part of at Orbital Comics in London. Running from Monday 14th to Sunday 20th April, CULT is a collection of cult-inspired artwork created by the GHOSTS comic-art collective, which includes Owen Johnson, Andrew Tunney, Jon Lock, James Lawrence, Mark Penman, Nich Angell and me. Today is your first opportunity to buy specially designed prints and original art from the members of GHOSTS. Many of these creations will only be available at the CULT exhibition or have very limited print runs that will be made available to attendees of CULT exclusively during the exhibition.
I’ll be at Orbital on Saturday 19th April signing and selling comics from 2pm until 5pm, and then we’ll be hosting an exclusive lock-in party throughout the evening, where you can join us for drinks and occult conversation. The party will also feature a one-night-only live music performance by cosmic punk band, Raygun Roads & The Kittelbach Pirates. Entry is free with a purchase of GHOSTS exhibition material. If you want to be guaranteed a place at the party be sure to arrive at Orbital before 6:30pm. Space will be limited and we’re expecting a lot of guests.
UPDATED – To accompany the exhibition, the brilliant Alasdair Stuart from Bleeding Cool has conducted the definitive GHOSTS interview, An Army of GHOSTS Takes Over London. Click on the link to head across to Bleeding Cool and find out how GHOSTS was founded, which member of the group Mark Penman head butted and what happened during the dark puberty of Owen Johnson.
Alex Fitch of Panel Borders also interviewed Owen Johnson, Andrew Tunney, Mark Penman and James Lawrence on his (GHOSTS of) Young Graphic Novelists show, which can be streamed or downloaded from the Panel Borders website. Thanks also to downthetubes and Forbidden Planet International for covering the show, which gives a little too much insight into the minds of these deranged creators.
Of course, the central conceit of GHOSTS is that of seven UK comic creators working together to extend our reach and shake off the ghosts of our predecessors. As soon as we started work on the “Seven friends…” tagline, as soon as that basic rule was established, I knew that I was going to break it. Because the theme of the exhibition is CULT, and I was already working on a project based on the Manson Family, and what drives young people to put their faith in the wrong people, with an artist called John Pearson. John and I had never worked together before, but surely it couldn’t be coincidence that we were creating art inspired by life in the love and terror cult, and that the GHOSTS collective had independently suggested the theme of CULT?
My section for the exhibition was created in collaboration with John Pearson, a man I hardly knew who has become integral to the CULT exhibition. Given that he was a complete enigma, I spoke to John to find out more about what inspires him and why he agreed to work with me on such a dark project.
Who are you? Tell me about your background and how it led to sequential art.
I’m a troublemaker living in Leeds, who draws things. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember in one form or another. The biggest influence on my passion for drawing had always been my oldest brother. He got me interested in science fiction and fantasy through the old Fighting Fantasy choose your own adventure books and I was always trying to draw the quests I would read about. He would let me borrow his old comics and I would just sit and draw, I’d spend hours with the old Marvel run of Star Wars comics and just sketch out the images. Over the years I’ve done more jobs than I can remember in the creative field. I come from a Fine Art background, which has given me experience across the board with creative approaches, and an overwhelming “fuck it and do it” sensibility, so I’ve always been one to just get stuck in without reservation when it comes to creative work, regardless of whether or not I know what I’m doing.
I had a lot of links to the hardcore punk scene across the country around the time I graduated, and started up my own DIY screen-printing and design company out of my garage. I printed t-shirts and record sleeves for a range bands for a few years before the isolation of printing in the darkness on my own, in the blistering heat and often only in my underwear, finally set in. I worked in education for a while as well as illustration after that, and always endeavoured to combine my personal artistic influences with the classes I taught. I can remember getting a group of 11 year olds to recreate a huge Jack Kirby spread, each taking a small section and putting their own spin on it then combining the sections to make a gigantic mural. There was nothing more satisfying than witnessing a group of kids getting excited about sequential art from an activity I’d devised, not only just soaking it in but actually exploring the art in their individual ways and making it their own.
After spending a long time illustrating movie posters and film related commissions, I decided to finally do my own comic book a few years back and collaborated with an old friend to create a vile piece of work called Lies & Phalluses, and then a far more personal comic book following that called, Square Brow, about the daily adventures of my best friend Lauren. From that point I did a lot of character design, got involved with Thought Bubble for the last few years and worked on exhibitions including CULT. I keep taking on far more commissions that I can deal with, but sleep is something I’ve learnt to live without.
Where might people have seen your work before?
I’ve completed a variety of projects over the last few years, from Secret 7″ to working with Lionsgate films, and have exhibited illustrations in the UK and in the USA. People usually find me in Leeds lurking around in the shadows of art events with a beer in hand. I’ve been doing a lot of live illustration of recent which is something I’m working on developing over the next few months. I did a piece with Black Rose Collective last month, they’re an artist led group that sets up a lot of live painting events around Leeds and that’s prompted me to push things to a larger scale. I’ve been selling my wares at conventions and pop ups and generally being a thorn in people’s sides over the last few years. You might have been one of the few people brave enough to pick up one of my comics or illustration zines from the last few Thought Bubble conventions.
I’m currently working on a comic based on the dream journal that I’ve been keeping, which is shaping up to be a mixture of Charles Burns and Jodorowsky in terms of content. There’s minimal dialogue and no linear narrative, it’s focusing on the images and recurring themes throughout the dream extracts. It’s exciting to be working on something so personal, but at the same time a little daunting that I’ll be putting down on paper depictions of my raw experiences being digested. Snippets of that journal have escaped into existence through different forms already, the best of which was when I went to an open mic night with the intention to read poetry but had nothing prepared in advance. I signed up and was the final performer of the night following a sea of deluded acoustic acts. I was wasted and wild by this stage, and all I had with me was my dream journal, so I asked the organiser if I could open the fire escape and read from the car park. I made him stand next to me holding my whiskey and lighting my cigarettes, dedicated the reading to the previous musician who I said I would fuck for an unknown reason, then read a dream about me cooking a turkey in fear until when I opened the oven door the turkey was crowned by a huge penis which gave me an intense sense of relief. Whatever insight into my subconscious that gives is still up for debate.
Who would you say are your peers or biggest influences?
I’ve always loved film, and a lot of the posters and concept art that goes with it has been a massive influence to me. Drew Struzan was one of the biggest influences, it always blew me away how he could capture the characters so perfectly and compose the pieces in a way that flowed from the page and made you desperate to see those movies. Jean Giraud is another influence, such a crisp style and balance of detail and negative space that makes the work pop. I’ve always been a sucker for detail and capturing people accurately, and it’s a constant challenge for me developing my illustrations to reach that balance of detail and space without overworking them. So many pieces fall into being overworked and it’s easy to get caught up in those details and miss the purpose of the final piece.
Someone who I’m really liking at the moment is Ben Horton who does the designs for $lave skateboards, he’s got a beautiful style that mixes realism and something more expressive. I read an interview the other day with him that he got into skateboarding because of the freedom to do whatever the hell you want, and that comes through in his art. I think that’s something that can be a downside to a lot of sequential art to be honest, it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of predictability and conforming to what’s already been laid down, but thankfully there’s a hell of a lot of people pushing to do things a little different in the UK indie scene and self publish on their own terms.
Do you have a soundtrack while you draw?
I smash my own face against the wall rhythmically and scream “WHY ME?!” over and over again when I have tight deadlines, which, when coupled with an internal dialogue of self-deprecation and background white noise, makes the standard soundtrack to any creative endeavour.
Music and illustration have always been synonymous to me, I spent my childhood in a dark room listening to punk records and reading comic books, then worked a lot of designs for bands whilst playing music myself and helping put out records on a DIY label. I cannot work without music, it fuels creativity. Currently I’ve been listening to this big playlist for the work on CULT, here’s a little taste of what’s on it:
Danzig – Am I Demon
Misfits – Hybrid Moments
Simone Felice – Ballad of Sharon Tate
Sufijan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy Jr.
Death In June – All Pigs Must Die
Eagulls – Nerve Endings
Dead Boys – All This and More
Stooges – Gimme Danger
Reagan Youth – Degenerated
Why are we working together?
Two years ago I illustrated a comic called Lies & Phalluses, about a designer drug that gives the main protagonist uncontrollably intense erections and a compulsion towards debauched sexual experiences. That comic was filled with images of trousers being torn apart by a gigantic penis and culminates with the ejaculations becoming so intense the main character is pulled down through his body and out through his own cock, flipping him inside out in a bizarre birthing ceremony. At Thought Bubble this caught your attention, as it was around the release of the first colour BLACKOUT, and from that we ended up having conversations about collaboration based on our mutual love for the vile and depraved. The ideas for the CULT pieces developed quickly and stemmed from other projects we were talking about involving members of the Manson family. The most beautiful thing about working together is that I’ve been given a taste for how far we can push things. There’s nothing I enjoy more than testing limits, and the work we’ve made for CULT is just a glimpse of what we could achieve in future.
What is it that attracts you to dark art?
The most interesting things are pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable, I’ve always felt a sense of warmth with the darker side of things be it art, film, music or everyday life. A lot of that comes from the dreams I have. I’ve been blessed with lucid dreams and recurring nightmares throughout my life, and have sporadic sleep paralysis. Every time I say to someone how I woke up believing I was possessed, trying to scream and escape myself but being trapped in my own mind they give me an awkward look and generic comments about how it sounds horrible, to which I laugh with “nothing makes me happier”, and it’s true. The shock of things is stimulating, it’s not about being sensationalist and simply doing things for a reaction, it’s more of an internal thing for me.
When it comes to art, I’ve always been interested in depictions of pain and the human condition, be it Francis Bacon, Goya, Walter Sickert and so on. When it comes to sequential art the turning point for me was when I started reading 2000AD, I can remember the exact issue that did it, I was ten years old and it was prog 901. I fell in love with how much darker, grittier and brutally hilarious it was compared to the Marvel titles I’d read previously. Mark Harrison’s work on Durham Red was mindblowing, and so sexually charged. The same goes for Chris Weston on Rogue Trooper and Clint Langley on Nemesis. I could almost taste those illustrations, they were so saturated with character, at the time I was almost sickened by it, because it was so different to what I’d experienced and I didn’t understand that sensation, but then I grew to love that feeling and kept trying to recreate it with more extreme visual experiences. That first prog I picked up really left a long lasting impression on me.
Where do you see your art leading you in the future?
I’m working on so many ventures right now, my body is on the verge of shutting down. I’m in the process of getting new studio space at the artist led Assembly House Studios in Leeds, to work on some bigger projects. There are two exhibitions I have in the pipeline for Leeds in the next few months, plus the dream journal comic book that I’m hoping to have out for Thought Bubble in November. As far as where all this is leading me, I’m not sure, and I like it that way. I take hold of every opportunity and always push myself. While that might ultimately be the death of me, so far it’s working out pretty well. I’m spontaneous, I don’t dwell on things to a point of inaction, I just get things done when they arise. I’m looking forward to new collaborations and projects whatever they might be, especially with the sequential art side of my work. I like to keep flexible so I don’t have a path I feel compelled to tread. I love illustration in any form, and the one thing I know I’ll be doing for sure is drawing until my fingers bleed.
Also, completely unrelated to CULT, I reviewed Higurashi Volume 24 for Starburst Magazine this month. Higurashi is easily my favourite manga of all time, and this penultimate volume doesn’t disappoint.
2014 is already shaping up to be my busiest year yet. Steve Morris at The Beat broke the story last week that I’m working as part of a new UK comic art collective called GHOSTS. Co-founded with Owen Johnson (Raygun Roads), Andrew Tunney (Girl&Boy), Mark Penman (Peabody and D’Gorath), James Lawrence (Dangerine), Jon Lock (Afterlife Inc) and Nich Angell (7String), the idea behind GHOSTS is to team up with some of the most exciting emerging comic creators in the UK and shining a spotlight on our work. Our first public event will be CULT, a week-long underground comix exhibition at London’s Orbital Comics, starting on April 14th 2014. The main event will be a club night held at Resistance Gallery on April 19th, where we’ll all be present to talk about our work, sign comics, drink cocktails and play live music. With live drawing, music inspired by our art and the opportunity to talk about comics like they matter, with people that really care, this is going to be a fantastic event. More details to follow in the run up.
The other big news for February is that I teamed up with Oklahoma-based dark punk-rock band For the Wolf, who have recorded a new song based on my Gothic-horror comic with Karen Yumi Lusted, La Belle Dame Sans Merci. For the Wolf’s new track, A Faery’s Song, is available to download free here, with an accompanying music video here. This has been a long time coming, but having an artist record music based on something that I created has been a fantastic experience. For the Wolf are the second band to sign to HorrorHound Records. The first signing was Harley Poe, my favourite band of all time. Harley Poe founder Joe Whiteford contributed to our obscene horror-comedy anthologies BLACKOUT and BLACKOUT II: YOLO. Joe does fantastic work whatever medium he sets his mind to, so do go and check out some of his grotesque sculptures and monster porn artwork. For the Wolf’s new album, Turn on the Dark, is released at the next HorrorHound Weekend event in March, where they’ll play alongside horror-punk legends like Calabrese and the Creeping Cruds.
News of my collaboration with For the Wolf was really well received, so thanks to Digital Spy, Forbidden Planet International, Down the Tubes, Comic Related, 3 Million Years, Starburst Magazine and Comic Buzz for sharing the story.
At the beginning of the month I was quoted by The Guardian online about the appeal of manga to young people. When I worked in a public library, I used to run a Manga Reading Group for teenagers. The first meeting that I set up, one girl attended, and by the time I left we had to turn people away frequently, because I couldn’t handle leading a session of more than 25 teenagers stuffed into a hot, sweaty room at a time. Reading traditional graphic novels and manga can be an expensive hobby, especially when you follow a series that is up to its 60th serialised volume, so public libraries can have a lot to offer to young people in that respect. Creating that sort of universal access negates the need for online piracy or the elitism of people that can afford to buy crates of manga versus the rest of us. Something to think about for anybody contemplating further cuts to public libraries, or telling their constituents that “everything is online now”. Everything *is* online, but that doesn’t make it legal.
The fantastic academic horror periodical Exquisite Terror reviewed my short story with artist Martin Simmonds, All Roads Lead To Hell. Created for Disconnected Press back in 2012, this is still one of the comic strips that I’m most proud of. One testament to the success of All Roads Lead To Hell is that I’m still working with Martin on new projects now, almost two years later. Exquisite Terror‘s Jim Reader has this to say:
“On the surface, Buchan’s text is an extreme, moralistic fable, but its simplicity naturally makes its meaning all the more obscure and alluring. It’s a riddle I’m still trying to pin down.
“Martin Simmonds’ superbly graphic artwork, on the other hand, brings this obscurity to life. The depictions of hell are as torturous as the flashes we witness in Event Horizon, and the sacrilegious, sexually violent imagery is in line with the work of Clive Barker. The concept of perverse, demonic visions continuing to plague Mary, in what appears to be the mortal world, shares familiar ground with Silent Hill and Jacob’s Ladder.”
I was invited to appear as a guest on BAMF UK comics radio show. It was a horror special, and we discussed the real origins of BLACKOUT, my influences in writing La Belle Dame Sans Merci, and a raft of horrific comics like Higurashi, Tomie, Crossed and The Nail. Listen to it here: http://waabamf.podomatic.com/entry/2014-02-05T09_25_13-08_00
Finally, I also reviewed Daniele Serra’s art book of erotic horror, Veins and Skulls, for Starburst Magazine. Desolate and haunting, this collection of watercolours from the Italian artist juxtaposes images of beauty and death to brilliant effect. You’ll see Serra’s work on the covers to so many recent novels and anthologies, there really is no escaping from this talented artist, and Veins and Skulls represents some of his best work.
The second issue of my Gothic-horror series with Karen Yumi Lusted, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, and BLACKOUT II: YOLO, the satirical horror-comedy anthology that I co-created with Jack Fallows (Axolotl, The Newcastle Science Comic) and Phillip Marsden (Kerrang!, Off Life) are both now on sale in digital and print editions! They launched at the end of November 2013, at Thought Bubble in Leeds, which I wrote about in two MASSIVE columns for Bleeding Cool, which you can read here and here.
Comic-book journalist Laura Sneddon named BLACKOUT II runner-up for anthology of the year in her 2013 Comic Book Grrrl Awards, and said of the comic in her Thought Bubble rundown on The Beat: “The overall quality of the books, both in writing and art, is incredibly high. The Object of My Affection (is) a particularly disturbing and on point look at misogyny – a delight to see in such a collection!”
“Special mention goes to People Ain’t No Good by Buchan and Jack Fallows, a wonderfully rendered slice of insanity… Similarly Trystan Mitchell knocks it out of the park with Romance is Dead and The Frog King – those colours! Love.”
Reviewing the first and second issues of La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Sneddon said: “The story is strong, and I loved the essay at the back of the first chapter (by Miranda Brennan of Bad Reputation expounding upon this adaptation of Keats work) and the prose story at the back of the second chapter which expands upon the life of one side character. I’m looking forward to seeing more of both series.”
La Belle Dame Sans Merci: Chapter Two opens with La Belle Dame visiting her grave after the events of Chapter One, and reintroduces her to the lover that she escaped from hell to be with. Flashbacks to her childhood go deeper into the choices that led to her current predicament, continuing our deconstruction of the myth of the femme fatale. This issue also features pin-ups by the dazzlingly talented Anna Fitzpatrick (KORE, Between Worlds) and Jessica Monster (who I discovered after seeing her design for a recent Harley Poe t-shirt), as well as a short story giving fresh insight into the life of a major character from the first issue.
BLACKOUT II: YOLO is more of the sick filth that you’ve come to expect from the UK’s most abrasive underground anthology. This time we were joined by Chris Doherty (Video Nasties, The Whale House), Trystan Mitchell (Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone, Black Star) and familiar faces Michael Barnes (Cornelius Blow, Potemkin 2205) and horror-folk-punk band Harley Poe’s Joe Whiteford (Herschell Goes to Heaven).
Forbidden Planet International and John Freeman’s Down the Tubes were both kind enough to blog about BLACKOUT II prior to the release. More excitingly, in his Best of the Year 2013 post for Forbidden International, Raygun Roads creator Owen Johnson named me a person to watch out for in 2014. He said: “His Starburst strips impressed me, his BLACKOUT anthologies appalled me, and his work in progress sickened me with jealousy. It will blow everyone away. Bucky’s propelling himself forward with uncompromising vision and a rock-solid work ethic.” Which is nice.
Finally, Starburst Magazine issue 396 is now on sale, featuring my original three-page comic strip, Meat the Parents, with LA-based horror artist D W Frydendall. Frydendall recently illustrated a strip for Dark Horse’s Creepy anthology, but is perhaps best known for his work on SLG’s Haunted Mansion anthology and his t-shirt designs for bands like Calabrese and Necro. Starburst 396 also featured my final column about comic-books, Adventures On Alternative Earths, in which I recommend Disconnected Volume 3, by a lot of talented creators, but most importantly Max Deacon, Raygun Roads, by Owen Michael Johnson and Indio!, and The Black Project, by Gareth Brookes. This will be my last printed column for Starburst for the foreseeable future, while I take time out from reviewing, to concentrate on macabre creative projects of my own.
This has been quite possibly the busiest month of my life, but it has all been worth it. The second issue of Gothic-horror series La Belle Dame Sans Merci, as featured in The Times Literary Supplement online, and BLACKOUT II: YOLO, the UK’s most offensive underground comix anthology, will both launch at Thought Bubble comic convention in Leeds on 23rd November. I’ll be exhibiting with BLACKOUT co-creator Jack Fallows, who’s also launching his ode to romantic humiliation, Axolotl, in New Dock Hall, table 109.
La Belle Dame Sans Merci: Chapter Two is illustrated by Karen Yumi Lusted, with pin-ups by Jessica Monster and Anna Fitzpatrick (Kore, Between Worlds), additional design by Mike Stock (Dead Roots, VS Comics) and a bonus short story that I’ve written, giving further insight into the world of LBDSM. Based on the poem of the same name, by John Keats, and illustrated in a monochrome manga-inspired style by Karen Yumi Lusted, who’s currently living and studying in Japan, this is a dark feminist deconstruction of the myth of the femme fatale. Circumstances conspired to stop feminist pop-culture blogger Miranda Brennan from contributing a backup essay to Chapter Two, but she’ll be back next year for Chapter Three.
In his recommendation for La Belle Dame Sans Merci: Chapter One , Storm Dogs creator, David Hine, said: “P M Buchan’s loose interpretation of Keats’s poem is as enigmatic and disturbing as the source material,” and Bleeding Cool reviewer, Brett Schwaner, called it: “Beautiful and brutal, elegant and eerie… one of the best horror comics of 2012.”
BLACKOUT II: YOLO was created by me, Jack Fallows (Asteroid Belter: The Newcastle Science Comic, The Big Bang), Phillip Marsden (Kerrang!, Off Life), Trystan Mitchell (Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone, Black Star) and Chris Doherty (Video Nasties, The Whale House), with lurid colours by Michael Barnes (Cornelius Blow, Potemkin 2205) and a nasty pin-up by horror-folk-punk band Harley Poe’s Joe Whiteford (Herschell Goes to Heaven).
Containing 32 pages of satirical filth about absent fathers, remorseful werewolves, drunken miscreants, accidental murderers, witchcraft, cannibalism and bestiality, this is the sequel to last year’s BLACKOUT, about which British Comic Awards judge Stacey Whittle said: “This is a really awful, depraved, sick book… It’s that hilarious (where) you feel really guilty that you’re laughing, and you know that you are a bad person,” and 44FLOOD CEO, Kasra Ghanbari, said: “Sick, brutal, odd, precise… disconcerting in much the same way as a staring contest with a pathological liar. Who are these beautifully sinister bastards?!?” In the run up to Thought Bubble I’m selling digital versions of the original BLACKOUT for only 10 pence, but you’d better snap them up quickly because these digital puppies are selling out fast. ;)
Starburst Magazine issue 395 is also now on sale, featuring my column about comics, Adventures On Alternative Earths, in which I recommend Jonathan Cape graphic novels The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, by Isabel Greenberg, The Great War, by Joe Sacco and Lighter Than My Shadow, by Katie Green. Starburst 395 also features my one-page strip with artist James Lawrence, Noah’s Folly, which printed absolutely brilliantly. With a complete lack of respect for religion, we’ve brought Noah kicking and screaming into the BLACKOUT generation, and I think this is the best work James Lawrence has ever done.
I did make time this month to review James Smythe’s dark, modern classic, The Machine, for the Amazon Vine programme. I don’t normally shout about my Amazon Vine stuff, mostly reviewing books and toys for my kids, but this is the best novel I’ve read all year, and I urge you to read it. Themes of science, religion, love and loss collide spectacularly. It’s pretty much the best novel I’ve read since Smythe’s The Explorer, and is unmissable.
I also interviewed Ben Templesmith for Bleeding Cool. He’s promoting his new Kickstarter, with 44FLOOD, The Squidder, and from what I’ve seen this is career-best art from a dark artist whose highlights, like Welcome to Hoxford and Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, rank as some of the best English-language comics ever created. Show him some love.
Finally, on top of all the hellish work dragging LBDSM and BLACKOUT II to print, I’ve been working with Martin Simmonds and letterer Mike Stock on the beginnings of a Folk-Horror series that is the darkest, most harrowing story I’ve ever created, and art to die for. The project is still in the very early stages, but we’ll have some printed pages with us at Thought Bubble, so look for us if you want to find out more.
La Belle Dame is coming. Thought Bubble, in Leeds on Saturday 23rd, November is now the official launch date for La Belle Dame Sans Merci chapter two, which features a stunning cover by Karen Yumi Lusted, the next chapter in La Belle Dame’s quest for vengeance or redemption, a back-up essay by feminist pop-culture blogger Miranda Brennan, pin-ups by Anna Fitzpatrick, Jessica Monster and Miranda Brennan, and additional design by Mike Stock. Oklahoma-based punk-rock band For the Wolf are also recording a new track to tie in to chapter two, A Faery’s Song, which will be available to download free from Winter 2013. Keep checking this site for updates about when the track becomes available, and download a copy of For the Wolf’s Aethry to hear one of the tracks that I listened to on loop while writing chapter two.
Everything this past month has been gearing up for my appearance at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (LICAF) on Saturday October 19th and Sunday October 20th, where I’ll be exhibiting in the Comics Clock Tower and sharing a table with BLACKOUT co-creator Jack Fallows. I’ll have copies of BLACKOUT and La Belle Dame Sans Merci chapter one on sale, plus a small amount of my earliest self-published comics, none of which are available online (mostly for very good reasons!). I’ll also have a very limited number of limited preview editions of La Belle Dame Sans Merci chapter two, containing the full comic strip but none of Miranda Brennan’s backup material. Come early if you want to buy a copy as stocks are extremely limited and this won’t be available online until the official launch at Thought Bubble.
October saw the release of my final column about digital comics, in issue four of INFINITY, the free digital magazine of graphic novels and sequential art published by Russell Willis and Panel Nine, creators of the deluxe iPad graphic novel app SEQUENTIAL. Not only does INFINITY contain my column, I also contributed reviews of Adam Cadwell’s The Everyday and Marc Ellerby’s Ellerbisms. If you have an iPad and like comics but haven’t downloaded SEQUENTIAL yet then you really should, as it’s pretty much the best method of reading digital comics , and you can download all kinds of free cool stuff on it, like the Off Life anthology and a festival guide for LICAF. You can also read INFINITY online, though it lacks a lot of the functionality of the iPad edition.
Mike Garley‘s zombie comic anthology Dead Roots reached its funding goal a couple of days ago, meaning that the fantastic digital anthology will now be released in paperback and hardback. The contributors come from the worlds of TV, animation, film, comic-books and games, including the likes of James Henry, Jason Arnopp and Gordon Rennie, and a number of creators like Martin Simmonds and Mike Stock that I’ve collaborated with on other comics. I’m going to write three one-page zombie strips for Dead Roots in the style of my Starburst strips if £12,000 is pledged towards the anthology, so get pledging if you haven’t already.
Starburst Magazine issue 394 goes on sale this month, containing my column about comic-books, Adventures On Alternative Earths, and my new three-page comic strip, My Heart Is Yours. In my column this month I recommend Anna Fitzpatrick’s dark meditation on depression, Kore, James Lawrence’s hyper-kinetic fruit-themed superhero, Dangerine, Gordon Rennie and P J Holden‘s supernatural adventure, Department of Monsterology, and the collected edition of Howard Hardiman‘s tender meditation on the world of gay prostitutes, The Lengths. My Heart Is Yours is illustrated by the brilliant Anna Fitzapatrick, who is definitely one of my favourite artists in the UK and whose webcomic Between Worlds is definitely worth reading. Next month’s Starburst strip, Noah’s Folly, is blaspheming fun-for-all, illustrated by James Lawrence.
Things show no sign of slowing down here. As soon as LICAF is over I’ll start devoting my attention to satirical horror-comedy anthology BLACKOUT II: YOLO, which will also launch at Thought Bubble. We’ve got some new contributors thrown into the mix with me, Jack Fallows, Kerrang! illustrator Phillip Marsden and Mike Barnes this time, and so far they’re fitting right in. By which I mean that they cry themselves to sleep every night that I send across new pages of script to be illustrated.
Everything is beginning to come together this month. Issue 2 of my gothic-horror series with Karen Yumi Lusted, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, is on schedule to be released at the Lakes International Art Festival in Kendal in October. (Issue 1 is available to buy here, with a free preview available here courtesy of Emanata app for iPad.) BLACKOUT II, with Phillip Marsden, Jack Fallows and some very special guests is on schedule to be released at Thought Bubble in Leeds in November. (You can buy BLACKOUT here, if you have a strong stomach.)
I’ve been acting as one of the jurors for the 2013 British Fantasy Awards, and this month I’ve appeared on the Longlist for the 2012/2013 British Comic Awards, in the categories of Best Comic and Emerging Talent.
I also interviewed writer Rob Sherman this month, along with Random House Digital Publisher, ‘Digital’ Dan Franklin, about their grossly interactive digital fiction, Black Crown. Rob is an innovative, willfully obtuse and seriously talented writer, and Dan is a digital publishing powerhouse with blistering taste in music, so between them you really need to enroll at the Widsith Institute and give Black Crown a try.
Starburst Magazine issue 393 is now on sale, featuring my new comic strip with Kerrang! magazine artist (and BLACKOUT co-creator) Phillip Marsden. Monty’s Bank Holiday is adapted from H G Wells’ Island of Doctor Moreau, and is a whopping three pages of drunken debauchery, bestiality and Weekend at Bernie’s-esque antics. Not bad for my monthly one-page Starburst strip…
My column in Starburst 393, Adventures On Alternative Earths, contains recommendations of Metrodome and Crawl Hole, by the thoroughly disturbing Craig Collins and Iain Laurie, Christopher Nolan-esque superhero epic Eponymous, by Mike Garley and Martin Simmonds, post-apocalyptic anthology The Waste, by Mark Penman, James Lawrence and Andrew Tunney, and lastly Asteroid Belter: The Newcastle Science Comic, by more quality writers, artists and scientists than you can shake a Greggs sausage roll at.
For issue 394 of Starburst next month I’ll be joined by a very special artist, Anna Fitzpatrick, creator of Between Worlds and the upcoming Kore, which massively exceeded its goal on Kickstarter recently and will be available directly from the creator shortly. Anna is immensely talented, and we’ve been trying to work together since collaborating on the initial pitch for Doomed Romantics last year, so its gratifying to know that we’ll finally have some work in print together.
Finally, a new BLACKOUT review appeared online courtesy of Stephen L Holland, from Nottingham’s best comic shop Page 45. You can now buy BLACKOUT at Page 45 or through their online store, and frankly my stocks are running low, so by all means give them your money!
Holland, who is one of the judges for the 2013 British Comic Awards, said that BLACKOUT is “sexually explicit; a good old-fashioned throw-back to underground comix.” Reviewing at its best.
Everything else is business as usual at Team Buchan. Children that never sleep, more ongoing commitments than I have hot meals, horror-punk blasting out my speakers while I work, and still forging ahead on the second novel.