I’ve had quite a bit of fun this week, laying out my various upcoming comics projects and sharing a selection of awesome artwork I’ve received from my talented collaborators. For today’s final entry in my little 2013 Preview series, I’ve got something special for you. Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a huge fan of artist Iain Laurie. A hero of the Scottish comics scene, Iain Laurie has blown me away with his unique, visionary artwork on the likes of Roachwell, Mothwicke and Horror Mountain (the latter ranking at number four on my list of the top 10 comics of 2012, up there alongside the best of DC, Marvel and Image), and I’d rank him as one of my favourite artists: not a patronising “one of my favourite indie artists”, but one of my favourite artists in comics, full stop. Well, in 2013, I shall be ticking one of the items off my comics bucket list and doing a comic with Iain Laurie!
Initially, the two of us were scheduled to collaborate on a different project, something large-scale that still must be kept top secret. That project is still in the mix with a major publisher, but is in something of a holding pattern at the moment, and could be for some time. So, rather than just waiting for that to materialise and for us to finally get the greenlight on that, Iain and I decided to come up with something else to work on together in the downtime. Iain fired three great story ideas my way, one of which was called And Then Emily Was Gone and revolved around the mystery of a missing girl on a remote Highland community. I loved all three ideas, and due to my vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself, I decided to combine elements of them all into a single intricate narrative, taking the title from the aforementioned story outline. From this, And Then Emily Was Gone was born.
Greg Hellinger was once a brilliant detective, specialising in finding missing people who had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. But five years ago, he started seeing monsters. Plagued constantly by nightmarish visions he is unable to comprehend, Hellinger left the police and has retreated into a life of squallor and seclusion, slowly being driven mad by the demons that haunt him. But one night, a teenage girl shows up at his door, asking for help. The girl is called Fiona, and she has fled from her home on the Scottish island of Merksay, in Orkney. Her friend Emily has gone missing, but what happened to her? Is she a runaway, as the authorities believe? Has she fallen victim to an ancient supernatural evil, as Fiona fears? Or is it a monster of the human variety that lies at the heart of this mystery?
Mystery. That’s the key word that is at the core of And Then Emily Was Gone. I’m a huge fan of Twin Peaks: there’s a strong case to be made for it being the greatest TV show of all time, and I think it’s fascinating to look at the phenomenom created around that shows central mystery of “Who killed Laura Palmer?” I think the serialised nature of the comic medium makes it a perfect place to present such an ongoing mystery, and I would love to emulate that with And Then Emily Was Gone. I talked yesterday about how Bad Sun could be my most narratively ambitious project yet in terms of its scale, but And Then Emily Was Gone could in fact be just as ambitious in its scope. While I do have a 6-issue arc in mind to introduce us to this dark, eerie world, this is a mystery that could easily unfold over 10, 20, maybe even more issues, depending on just how deeply I want to explore its various dark, murky corners.
Not that the homage to Twin Peaks ends with the mystery element. I remember seeing not just Twin Peaks, but other works of movie maestro David Lynch – the likes of Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet and Lost Highway – in relatively quick succession, and they just blew my mind and changed the way I thought about storytelling. And while my approach to narrative has been mostly straightforward since branching out into comic, I’ve been very curious to experiment with something more off-kilter. One of my favourite quotes regarding Lynch’s work was how it could exist “in the twilight realm between the crime and horror genres,” and that’s where I see And Then Emily Was Gone existing. More recent British output such as Kill List and Utopia has also been chucked into the melting pot of influence, hopefully resulting in a comic that’s going to feel deeply strange and unsettling, with even innocuous interactions laced with an impalpable menace and a cloud of dread hanging over the narrative. Or it’ll just be crap. Either way, at least it’s going to look stunning!
Iain has been bombarding me with fantastic character sketches and designs, but I simply can’t wait to start seeing his sequentials. The first issue script is written, and it’s going to me amazing seeing Mr. Laurie bring it to life. As is the case with Bad Sun, the plan is to compile a submission package and shop And Then Emily Was Gone out to publishers. But, as is also the case with Bad Sun, there is also a plan in place to get the first issue of this series ready to launch at Glasgow Comic Con in July.
Which brings me to an announcement. I am now confirmed for Glasgow Comic Con on 13th-14th July, at the CCA in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. I’ll be in attendance, sharing a table with both Chris Connelly and Iain Laurie. This is very exciting news for me, as – and I was shocked to discover this – Glasgow Comic Con 2013 will mark Iain Laurie’s first ever official appearance at a comic convention! So, rush in your droves to our table, get sketches, get copies of his other fantastic comics, and pick up And Then Emily Was Gone!
UPDATE: I’m now able to share with you guys a sneak peek at a couple of mind-blowing interior pages for the first issue, as drawn by Iain Laurie. Take a glimpse inside the nightmarish world of Greg Hellinger…