Coming Soon: And Then Emily Was Gone #2!

Since its launch in local markets here in Glasgow back in July, the first issue of And Then Emily Was Gone has enjoyed great success.  It got nominated for 4 SICBA awards at this year’s Glasgow Comic Con, the only comic to get nominated for every category.  It has enjoyed a wealth of positive reviews:

Forbidden Planet

Big Comic Page

Broken Frontier

Comic Booked

The Off-Panel Podcast

Comics Anonymous

It’s even had some very nice testimonials from ace comics creators:

“This is a weird comic, but in a wonderful way. Best of all, it’s a comic with its own vision, a unique and bold vision.”

– Michael Moreci, Hoax Hunters, Skybreaker

“This was a wonderful, twisted little surprise. A David Lynch air throughout, it made me feel itchy and uncomfortable, which is the highest praise I can bestow. John Lees’ script is tight and mysterious, with a few curve-balls that really add to the sense of hyper-reality. The off-kilter energy. The real stand-out is Iain Lawrie on art duties. Equal parts Paul Pope, Nick Pitarra and Morgan Jeske (this reminded me frequently of Jeske and Ales Kot’s Change). Despite the content raw as a picked scab, the presentation and print quality is supremely professional. Extremely impressive. Find a copy.”

– Owen Michael Johnson, Raygun Roads

Super awesome, super creepy, super good. I really love the work of everyone involved on the book…”

– Nick Pitarra, The Manhattan Projects, The Red Wing

“This book is amazing, the first issue was ultra creepy.”

– Riley Rossmo, Proof, Green Wake, Cowboy Ninja Viking, Bedlam, Drumhellar

“It’s a masterclass in comics. it’s literate and the art? The art NEVER fails to impress. You just got to find out what happens next… BONNIE SHAW? GREG HILLINGER? THE BOX? What the fuck? It’s a movie for the mind ***** FIVE STARS.”

– Shaky Kane, The Bulletproof Coffin

“…reads really well, the artwork is just fantastic, intriguing premise, quirky and atmospheric and claustrophobic as I would expect – really impressed!”

– Frank Quitely, All Star Superman, We3, Jupiter’s Legacy

 

And after a sellout of our first print run, artist Iain Laurie and I are restocked and ready for our next convention: Thought Bubble in Leeds, on 23rd-24th November.  But it won’t just be more of issue #1 we’ll be bringing.  Nope, issue #2 is now finished, and ready for the show.  Here’s a sneak peek of the cover, drawn by Iain and colored by the magnificent Megan Wilson:

Emily2Cover

In this second chapter, Hellinger and Fiona begin to investigate Emily’s disappearance on the island of Merksay, with its very strange locals and terrifying hidden places.  Plus, we find out what’s in the box!

Black Leaf Debuts at MCM Scotland Comic Con!

2013 has been a busy year!  At Glasgow Comic Con back in July, I debuted a new issue of The Standard, and also launched two new titles with the first issues of And Then Emily Was Gone and Bad Sun.  I’ll be bringing all of those books to MCM Scotland Comic Con this Saturday, 7th September, at the SECC, but I’ll also have a new addition to the lineup, making its worldwide premiere at the show.

Black Leaf is a horror graphic novel I’ve been working on with artist extraordinaire Garry McLaughlin.  It tells the story of Stuart Lockie, a 12-year-old boy from Glasgow who travels up to the Highlands with his family to care for his ailing grandfather, and while there he uncovers ancient, dark powers residing within the local woods.  The versatile talents of Garry McLaughlin are on stunning display in this book, as he uses a grayscale ink wash technique to create a dark story-book vibe that permeates through the narrative.  And Colin Bell brings the whole package together with his masterful lettering and production prowess.  The final package is going to be 76-pages of story, but to build some buzz, the creative team decided to serialise Black Leaf exclusively for the convention market.  This first installment, containing the first 22 pages of the graphic novel, is getting a very limited print run, so if you want to get a copy, you better get yourself to MCM this weekend!

In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here’s a peek at the cover to Black Leaf #1.  You can get your copy, as well as copies of all my other comics, by visiting me at the Comic Village at MCM Scotland Comic Con, Saturday 7th September, at the SECC.

BlackLeaf1Cover

Open Call For AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE Art!

coverOkay, here’s the deal.  Recently, we’ve had quite a few examples of other artists drawing characters from And Then Emily Was Gone, the new mystery horror comic written by me and drawn by Iain Laurie.  Iain has found the whole thing pretty fascinating, as he’s not used to seeing other artists with their own styles do their own takes on his characters with their quite distinctive aesthetic.  The results thus far have been wonderfully diverse, and we’re keen to see more!

So, if you’re a comic artist and you’d like to have a go at drawing a character from And Then Emily Was Gone, send your pics our way!  You can share your artwork on Twitter with me at @johnlees927 or with Iain at @IainLaurie, or you’ll find both of us on Facebook.  I’m planning to make a blog post in the near future that’s a big gallery of And Then Emily Was Gone artwork from various artists, so your work will be showcased there.  Here’s a reminder of the key characters:

Greg Hellinger.  Full profile here.

Hellinger3Fiona Tulloch.  Full profile here.

Fiona1Vin Eckland.  Full profile here.

VinEckland2Bonnie Shaw.  Full profile here.

BonnieShaw1If you’re looking for any more info, just send me a message on Facebook or Twitter.  Looking forward to see what you guys come up with!

And Then Emily Was Gone #1 is now available in comic shops across Glasgow.

AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE and BAD SUN On-Sale in Glasgow!

BadSun1Cover

After the successful debut of the launch night, and a strong run at Glasgow Comic Con, the respective first issues of my two new comics – And Then Emily Was Gone and Bad Sun – are now available to buy in select comic stores around Glasgow.  Here are the places where the comics are now available to buy:

– Forbidden Planet (168 Buchanan Street, Glasgow)

– A1 Comics (31 Parnie Street, Glasgow)

– Plan B Books (55 Parnie Street, Glasgow)

– Geek Retreat (63 Union Street, Glasgow)

These are limited edition convention-edition print runs, so if you want to get your hands on the comic sooner rather than later, you better move fast!  I hope you enjoy the comics, and as always, let me know what you think once you’ve read them!

AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE #1
Writer: John Lees
Artist: Iain Laurie
Letterer: Colin Bell
Nominated for 4 SICBA awards, this dark mystery tells the story of Greg Hellinger, a man who sees monsters. A former detective driven to the brink of madness by terrifying apparitions, he is tasked with finding a missing girl called Emily. Hellinger’s search takes him to a remote community in the Orkney Islands, where strange and terrible things are happening…

BAD SUN #1
Writer: John Lees
Artist/Letterer: Chris Connelly
A sci-fi thriller set in a future Glasgow, BAD SUN is the story of Lenniidasz Cowan, a police officer and a member of an alien race that have taken refuge on our planet. In this first chapter, Lennii is placed in charge of a task force formed to oversee human/alien relations in the city, and must contend with both an alien terrorist group and the prejudice of his human colleagues.

cover

Glasgow Comic Con Review Roundup!

GCC13TableIt was Glasgow Comic Con this past weekend, and I had an absolute blast!  I was there exhibiting, sharing a table with artists Iain Laurie and Chris Connelly.  I was selling the first issues of my two new books – And Then Emily Was Gone and Bad Sun – and debuting issue #4 of The Standard, as well as copies of the earlier issues and the 1-3 graphic novel from last year’s con.  This was the con’s first year in the new venue of the CCA, right in the heart of the city centre, and I have to say it was a big improvement.  It’s a lovely venue, marvelously designed, and though there were a few minor issues it seems the response I’ve been hearing from both attendees and exhibitors was that they loved the locale.  The sun was glorious all weekend, perhaps a little too glorious on the Saturday as the top floor turned into a hotbox.  But it gave the whole event a fantastic summery atmosphere.

Overall, the con was a huge success.  Sadly, team And Then Emily Was Gone didn’t go home with any SICBA awards, despite being the only comic to be nominated in every category.  However, I made more in comic sales than at any other con I’ve attended thus far, with the most rewarding sales at all being people who either bought one comic on the Saturday and came back to buy the rest on the Sunday, or who had bought The Standard at last year’s con and loved it so much they came back to buy my new stuff.  Beyond the financial side of things, though, it was a pleasure getting to chat to friends old and new, be it fellow comics pros or passionate, enthusiastic comics fans.  One particular highlight for me was seeing this guy pop up in a Frying Scotsman costume!

FryingScotsmanCosplayBut the purpose of this blog isn’t to talk about my experiences as an exhibitor.  I want to talk about how I enjoyed the show as a fan of quality creator-owned comics.  Over the weekend I got a few sketches, jumping back and forth between Iain Laurie and Neil Slorance.  Here’s a look at them:

Bonnie Shaw from AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE, as drawn by Neil Slorance.
Bonnie Shaw from AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE, as drawn by Neil Slorance.
Gordon1
Gordon from AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE, drawn by Iain Laurie.

Neil Slorance's version of Harry Daghlian from THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS.
Neil Slorance’s version of Harry Daghlian from THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS.
Joseph Oppenheimer from THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS, by Iain Laurie.
Joseph Oppenheimer from THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS, by Iain Laurie.

That Oppenheimer is perhaps my favourite of the bunch.  It makes me wish I had exploited Iain’s good will and got similar onesheets for the whole cast of The Manhattan Projects.  Beyond the sketches, there were of course the comics.  Here are my quick thoughts on the comics I picked up over the weekend:

DARK ASCENSION:  Winner of both Best Writer and Best Artist at the SICBA Awards, Jim Devlin does his most accomplished work yet with this dark thriller.  The main story is 14 pages long, telling a pulpy noir/horror tale of a former grifter lying low as a circus clown who is faced by a sinister figure from his past.  The second half of the book is taken up by a reprint of a tale I read back in 2011, my first exposure to Devlin’s work.  It’s an appealingly nasty little story on its own, but when placed in the context of the main feature it creates this picture of the world of Dark Ascension being like Sin City with a dash of Lovecraftian horror lurking in the background.  It feels like Devlin is crafting the opening salvos of an ambitious, expansive mythology, and I can’t wait to see him progress further into this dark, intriguing narrative.

METRODOME:  The other Glasgow Comic Con debut from my artistic collaborator Iain Laurie, this sees him reuniting with Roachwell partner Craig Collins.  In a testament to Iain’s diversity, this is a very different type of comic from And Then Emily Was Gone, in both tone and execution.  The big supervillain smackdown Craig Collins creates is fun, but the most fascinating aspect of this comic for me is the whole process of how it was put together, as Craig explains in his foreword.  Craig’s fevered imaginings, paired with Iain’s twisted visuals, results in a compellingly weird piece of experimental fiction.

COSPLAY KILLERS:  I didn’t quite know what to make of this.  At first I thought this was supposed to be about a superhero team, which made me feel rather uncomfortable about the extremes of casual violence inflicted on people for seemingly dubious motives.  But if you view the eponymous Cosplay Killers as a gang of psychopaths whose actions we’re not supposed to condone, the whole thing takes on a Grand Guignol black comedy vibe – severed heads in the dishwasher! – that makes for suitably debauched entertainment.

RAYGUN ROADS:  This comic slipped totally under my radar, but over the Saturday buzz for it was building and building.  By the time Sunday came I knew I had to buy it to see it for myself.  And I’m glad I did.  This psychadelic slice of hyper-pop lunacy from creator Owen Michael Johnson is one of the most fiercely original bits of storytelling I’ve encountered all year.  The plot takes the idea of a band of being from a realm of pure imagination colliding with the humdrum regular world as a launching pad, then flies off into the stream-of-consciousness stratosphere, aided by trippy, dynamic artwork.  The whole thing is presented like music in comic form, which seems oddly fitting.  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the completed edition later this year.

CACACHUTE COMICS:  A collection of various comics shorts made by Coralie Bouguerra.  The earlier stuff in the book feels a bit rough around the edges, but by the time we get to “Sheol” and the second installment of “Zombies, Love and Rock N’ Roll” the work becomes noticeably more accomplished, culminating in the clever little epilogue “It’s Over”.  “Sheol” in particular is noteworthy, a grimly comic account of a lonely, depressed woman’s spectacular mental breakdown.

VAMPIRE VIXENS OF THE WERMACHT:  One of the breakout hits of the convention, selling out on the first day, I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of Alex Ronald’s magnificent grindhouse romp.  Everyone has been rightly gushing about Ronald’s amazing, superstar artwork – as Mark Millar points out in the foreword, the only reason Ronald isn’t an A-list talent right now is that he decided video games would be a more profitable career path and he has only just recently decided to re-enter the comics field – but the story too is a delight.  It features a sexy Nazi vampire hellspawn teaming up with a priest to fight the wicked occult forces of the Third Reich.  Cue a tale that infuses the spirit of adventure from the “boy’s own” war comics of old with the titillation of the raunchier Hammer Horror films.  If you like your breasts opulent and your penises severed, this is the book for you.  A perverse delight.

iHERO:  My good friend and table neighbour Luke Halsall wrote this, paired up with artist (and fellow table neighbour) Graeme Kennedy.  The result is both doing their most ambitious work to date.  Luke’s story, about the creation of an iPad/iPhone/iPod style gizmo that allows anyone to become a superhero, and the effect that has on the world, is a significant step up from the more small-scale, self-contained effort of his Mind Palace comic debut.  Graeme, meanwhile, leaps genres from the murky crime of Villainous to classic superheroics with a twist.  Once again he triumphs with a great cover design, which I saw customer after customer be drawn to on the con floor.

MAXIMUM ALAN:  As bonkers and nigh-indepicherable as the first installment, this splurge of raging id continues to get mileage out of putting Alan Moore in one ridiculous, humiliating predicament after another.  If you ever wanted a shot of esteemed comics luminary Alan Moore’s bare arse as he gets spanked, this is the comic for you.  But this second issue enjoys a major boost over the first one, as it marks the inclusion of Neil Gaiman as a character, brought to life arguably with even greater aplomb than our title character.

And this was just a selection  of the books available.  I had been meaning to pick up SICBA-winner Big in Japan, Royal Descent, See Far Enough and the new issue of Fatman & Ribbon, but was so caught up in selling  I never got round to it.  But I was once again taken aback by all the creativity in the Glasgow comics scene.  Another successful show…. the road to Glasgow Comic Con 2014 begins now!

GCC13Buys

 

AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE Profile: Vin

Vin Eckland is what some people may charitably refer to as a “hipster douchebag.”  His favourite pastimes include ironically watching Saturday morning cartoons, knitting novelty animals and playing quirky tunes on his tiny little ukelele.  He lives a life of leisure, often accompanied by Louise: his best friend since childhood.  He’s still recovering from the bad breakup of a long-term relationship, but has recently started dating again.

Vin has an interesting job.

VinEckland2And Then Emily Was Gone launches on Tuesday 9th July, at Geek Retreat in Glasgow.  More details here.

AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE Profile: Fiona

17-year-old Fiona Tulloch has lived her whole life in Merksay, a small island community in Orkney.  A bright, inquisitive girl, Fiona has always felt like she never really fit in with the isolated, sheltered existence of the Merksay islanders.  Save for her best friend, Emily, Fiona has never really connected with other people, preferring to lose herself in the world of her detective novels and dream of a more exciting life.

But when Emily goes missing, Fiona begins to see Merksay in an unsettling new light.  She starts to believe that perhaps that her difficulty in fitting in wasn’t something wrong with her, but rather something deeply wrong with the island and its people.  The more she delves into Merksay’s history, the more unsafe she feels: terrible things are happening in Merksay, and have been for some time.  And so, armed with her quick wit and many years worth of learned experience from trashy crime fiction, she decides to escape, fleeing the island and heading for the Scottish mainland.

But Fiona knows she can’t run away forever.  She needs to go back to Merksay.  She needs to find Emily, or find out what happened to her.  She needs someone to help her do it.  She needs Greg Hellinger…

Fiona1And Then Emily Was Gone launches on Tuesday 9th July, at Geek Retreat in Glasgow.  More details here.

AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE Profile: Hellinger

Once, Greg Hellinger was a rising star of the police Missing Persons Bureau.  Gifted with a brilliant analytical mind, Hellinger had the inate ability to find the thread left behind by people thought long gone, and track them down.  Solving a series of high-profile disappearances gained Hellinger some degree of fame and noteriety, and it seemed like his reputation and legacy was secure.

Then, five years ago, Hellinger started seeing monsters.

Plagued constantly by nightmarish apparitions that follow him wherever he goes, terrifying visions he is unable to fully comprehend, Greg has lost just about everything: his career, his family, his reputation, and even his sanity is barely intact.  Medical experts have no explanation for these visions, other than them being hallucinations caused by some unspecified massive nervous breakdown.  Now, Hellinger lives a life of seclusion, a haunted, broken man.

But one more case is waiting to be solved, Hellinger’s greatest challenge yet.  The disappearance of a 17-year-old girl called Emily Munro.  Can he solve this mystery, and in the process find answers to what is happening to him?  Or will Greg Hellinger discover that, as far as he has fallen, there are greater depths of horror and madness for him to plummet into?

Hellinger3And Then Emily Was Gone launches on Tuesday 9th July, at Geek Retreat in Glasgow.  More details here.

BAD SUN Press Gains Momentum

Last week I mentioned the SICBA award success of And Then Emily Was Gone, my comic with Iain Laurie, as it picked up 4 nominations.  This week I thought I’d provide an update on my other new in-development comic project: Bad Sun, with artist Chris Connelly.  This weekend, the two of us featured in popular Scottish newspaper the Evening Times:

EveningTimesForgive a few inaccuracies – the famed studio is in Hope Street rather than Union Street, we haven’t begun the process of pitching to anyone yet, and we have no plans on murdering Mark Millar – but it was still a real kick seeing my name and face in the paper.

Publicity for Bad Sun continues tomorrow, with Chris and I set to guest on the Big Comic Page podcast to talk more about our sci-fi thriller, the first issue of which is now off to the printers and in production, and set to be ready in time for Glasgow Comic Con on 13th-14th July.

Also, if you’re in Glasgow or nearby, you’re invited to come along to the launch night being held for both Bad Sun and And Then Emily Was Gone at Geek Retreat, in Union Street, Glasgow, from 7pm on Tuesday 9th July.  More details at the event page here.

Finally, I thought I’d wrap up this little update by sharing with you all the cover for Bad Sun #1, drawn by Chris Connelly and coloured by Ruiz Moreno.

BadSun1Cover