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.
Starburst Magazine issue 392 is now on sale, featuring my column about comics, Adventures On Alternative Earths, in which I discuss Neil Gibson and Caspar Wijngaard’s horror series Tabatha, Owen Johnson and Indio!’s Raygun Roads and the Infinity Loop Death-Trap of Ulysses Pomp, Vera Greentea’s Papa and Robert Ball’s Winter’s Knight: Day One. That’s three superb, independent British comics and one dark and unique Kickstarted anthology from America, all waiting to be discovered by new readers.
Starburst 392 featured my comic strip with obscene artist Jon Michael Lennon (Cheeselord Comics – NSFW!) , Idiots Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, which continues the adventures of Frank and Fat Jackie.
My review of The 100 by Kass Morgan is also in the newest issue of Starburst, but you can read it online here. Mostly I found it to tackle complex, adult issues in a completely safe environment, where not even abortions or the end of civilisation are explored as anything more than an impetus to drive teen romance.
This month the jurors for the Best Artist category for the British Fantasy Awards have selected a winner, and I can’t wait until this is publicly announced. It doesn’t feel like very long ago when doing things like representing the British Fantasy Society, writing for publications like The Times Literary Supplement, or working with some of the phenomenal artists that I’m currently collaborating with, seemed like an unrealistic dream, so it’s thrilling to see some of my hard work paying off!
It’s been a quiet month for writing at the Buchan house, and we took a much needed family holiday filled with trips to the zoo, (foam) sword fights in ruined castles and an unfortunate incident when a seagull stole a whole donut from my indignant son. Everything will be picking up again now as I prepare to make appearances at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October and Thought Bubble in November. The second issue of Gothic-horror series La Belle Dame Sans Merci should be ready to launch at one of those two conventions, as should BLACKOUT II. I’m hoping to put together a collection of previously published comic strips at some point in the future too, but there doesn’t seem to be time to think about that right now. Work is coming along nicely on my second novel, which will surely take far longer to finish writing than I expect, and I’m due to deliver a short story about social media suicides in the middle of September that I haven’t thought about writing yet. My next Starburst strip, with Kerrang! artist Phillip Marsden, will give a taste for what to expect from BLACKOUT II, and I recently interviewed Rob Sherman and ‘Digital’ Dan Franklin about their interactive narrative Black Crown, so expect that to surface sometime in the next month also.
This week I have another In Brief review featured in The Times Literary Supplement (No 5756), of the Soaring Penguin Press translation of Regis Loisel’s Peter Pan. In short, I found Loisel’s version to be brilliantly dark, but slightly marred by the creator’s treatment of women. Andy Oliver gives an insightful review of the same graphic novel over on Broken Frontier.
Starburst Magazine issue 391 is now on sale, featuring my column about comics, Adventures On Alternative Earths. This month I’ve focused on the thriving comic-book community in the North West of England, looking at Adam Cadwell’s slacker vampire series Blood Blokes, Chris Doherty and Andrew Cheverton’s Lynchian mystery series The Whale House, Ravi Thornton’s seriously disturbing graphic novel The Tale of Brin & Bent and Minno Marylebone, and Mark Penman and Andrew Tunney’s video game prequel The Strange Tale of Byron Spencer. My two-page Starburst strip this month, The Hanging Tree, is a fantastical tale of love and greed illustrated by Stephanie Scott.
This has been another busy month for graphic novel reviews (given that I’m supposed to be focussing on about ten other projects that are coming to fruition!). Click on the links to read my reviews of the Yen Press graphic novels Btooom! volume 2, Higurashi: When They Cry – Festival Accompanying Arc volume 1 and Stephen Lloyd Jones’ debut horror novel, The String Diaries.
There are still a plethora of projects on the horizon that I’d be unwise to talk about publicly, but all are progressing nicely. La Belle Dame Sans Merci #2, particularly, is really coming together, so I should be on track to release at least a couple of new full-length comics at conventions towards the end of the year.