Thus far, all the comics projects I’ve previewed in this series have already had some degree of exposure. The Standard, The Oxymoron and the GLoW anthologies have all been publicly promoted and available for sale in one market or another. Even Black Leaf had a little preview book that I made up for handing out to editors and publishers at cons that some folk have had a look at. For the remainder of the week, though, we venture into the unknown, as I get to announce two brand new comics that I’m currently writing, set for release in 2013.
The first of these is Bad Sun, co-created with artist Chris Connelly. The story behind this is quite interesting, as instead of me coming up with a story idea then seeking out an artist, in this case the artist came first. I’d gotten to know Chris via having mutual friends on the Glasgow comics scene, and hanging out together at cons and events. His award-nominated comics debut, Reality War, had been another big success story of Glasgow Comic Con, and currently holds the record as Scotland’s fastest-selling indie comic ever, I believe. We worked together on the GLoW 2 short featured on yesterday’s blog, and from there thought it would be fun to work on something bigger. So, Chris asked me to come up with ideas for stories for him to draw. That was an interesting challenge for me: after my beginnings of working in comics, where trying to find artists for your script was a titanic struggle, now I had talented artists approaching me looking for a partnership! I came up with a couple of ideas that didn’t grab Chris’ interest, but then one sunny afternoon (a rarity for Glasgow, I know!), while digging up soil in the garden, the idea for Bad Sun came to me, and I knew it would be a great fit for Mr. Connelly. I refined the idea, pitched it to him, and our collaboration was decided!
This handsome fella is Lenniidasz Cowan, better known as Lennii. He’s the protagonist of Bad Sun. He’s a policeman in a future Glasgow not entirely unlike the present-day version. And, as you might have noticed, he’s also an alien. In the not-too-distant future, an alien race known as the Tchairabun arrive on Earth. A portion of their population had escaped from their dying homeworld on a ramshackle armada of ships on a one-way journey, settling on Earth as their final destination. They landed all over our planet, being treated differently by different countries. In Glasgow, they were pretty much accepted and integrated into society, but even as our story begins, 35 years after their arrival, they still carry the stigma of being second-class citizens.
Lennii here is something of an exception. Raised from infancy by a human family (hence the “Cowan” surname), Lennii was granted many of the opportunities denied his Tchairabun brethren, enabling him to enjoy a good education, and an opening in his dream career on the police force. After excelling in his duty, he has found himself recently promoted to Detective Inspector, placed in charge of a new specialised unit specifically focused on Glasgow’s Tchairabun community and human-Tchairabun relations. Torn between the outside threat of an enigmatic Tchairabun extremist group known as Red Kroara and the interior challenge of an all-human team under his command that may resent taking orders from an alien, and set against the heated political backdrop of a nation divided over the Tchairabun right to vote, Lennii also has to wrestle with dark secrets and personal demons that threaten to destroy everything he is fighting for.
For me, sci-fi is at its best when it uses the future to say something about the present. The prejudice the Tchairabuns endure certainly holds some parallels to stuff going on in the world and even in Glasgow specifically today. Of course, while I wanted to tell a story that’s culturally relevant, I still want it to be a rollicking thriller with badass action sequences and tense set-pieces, so hopefully I’ve captured that balance. Narratively, this could be the most ambitious comic story I’ve attempted yet. Like The Standard, it will be a 6-issue miniseries, but the complexity of the plot and the sprawling size of the supporting cast is going to make it a challenging juggling act that I hope I can pull off. Also, for me, setting the story in Glasgow was a crucial aspect of the story. We’ve had so many future visions of New York, or Los Angeles, or even London, why not my beloved home city of Glasgow? This is a city with interesting, unique architecture and character that has not yet been explored to its fullest potential in fiction, certainly not in comics, and I want to do my part to amend that.
The first issue of Bad Sun has been written, and is currently being drawn up by Chris Connelly as we seek out a colourist and assemble together a pitch document for submitting to publishers. But whether it’s lined up with a publisher by then or we have to self-publish a preview run, one way or the other look for Bad Sun #1 to make its debut at Glasgow Comic Con in July. With the story’s strong Glasgow connection, how could we not debut it there? In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here’s a sneak peek at the pencils and inks of the first two pages. Some excellent, career-best work by the fantastic Chris Connelly, if I do say so myself!