This Weekend: Glasgow Comic Con 2015!

This coming weekend at the CCA Glasgow, from Saturday 4th July to Sunday 5th July, Scotland’s comics scene will be celebrating one of the highlights of its year, with the milestone 5th Glasgow Comic Con!  I have fond memories of the first Glasgow Comic Con I attended back in 2011.  I wasn’t exhibiting or selling my wares, I was just there as a fan.  But the first issue of my debut comic, THE STANDARD – back when it was just a self-published comic released locally in Glasgow – was nominated for a SICBA, and I’m aware that this show was the first time many people became aware of me as a comics creator, meaning this was the beginning for a lot of the things that have gone on to be a part of my life: from career path to the friends I’ve made.  And with each passing year, no matter if I’m also attending Thought Bubble or New York Comic Con or anywhere else, Glasgow Comic Con always manages to be my most profitable convention, because of the passion and enthusiasm of Scottish comics readers in supporting local talent.

Me with some Glasgow comics pals in 2012. So young, so full of hope...
Me with some Glasgow comics pals in 2012. So young, so full of hope…

And that brings us to this year, where I’ll be returning to the show, with my debut series, THE STANDARD, complete, and my follow-up comic, AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE, also complete.  AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE is nominated for a SICBA Award, for Best Graphic Novel.  You can vote for us here.

I’ll be tabling at the show, along with AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE artist Iain Laurie, at the Art Studio venue.  We’re on Level 1, at Table 68:

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But we won’t just be selling our wares and hobnobbing at the SICBA awards ceremony.  You’ll also be able to find Iain and I at the “Owning Your Own Work!” panel on the Level 1 Workshop Room from 1:15pm-2pm, where we’ll be joined by Emma Beeby, Monty Nero, Gordon Rennie and Shaky Kane, talking about our various creator-owned comics projects.

On Sunday, Iain will be participating in the Big Comic Draw event.  I, meanwhile, will be participating in the “GLoW Goes Global” panel at 2:15pm-3pm, where I’ll be joined by my pals Sam Read, Harry French, Colin Bell, Garry Mac and Gary Chudleigh.  We’ll be talking about the writers group that has been running in Glasgow since 2011, of which I was a founding member, and where each of us have gone in our careers since contributing to the collective.

Glasgow Comic Con is always a fun weekend, and I’m sure that will be the case this year too.  If you’re attending, come along and say hello!

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Glasgow Comic Con 2014: THIS WEEKEND!

It’s that time of year again!  There’s a little less than a week to go until Scotland’s comic community comes together for Glasgow Comic Con.  The show will be at the CCA on Sauchiehall Street, on Saturday 5th July and Sunday 6th July. I’ll be at the con, promoting my various comic projects. You can find my table up on the Level 2 Club Room.

Like And Then Emily Was Gone? I’ll have the last remaining stock of the black-and-white small press editions of issues #1 and #2 before the colour edition debuts worldwide at the end of July (this may be your last chance to get those, as once this stock is sold out I won’t be getting any more!), and I’ll also have an exclusive black-and-white preview edition of And Then Emily Was Gone #3 – Glasgow readers will get to see it months before the rest of the world! I’ll also be selling a range of limited edition prints, which look stunning. Only available while stocks last.

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Like The Standard? Well, at last, the series is complete. The final two issues, issues #5 and #6, will be available to buy from my table, months before their general release, with convention exclusive covers. We also have limited stock of all the other issues to let readers get caught up on the whole series.

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Like Chris Connelly? Well, he drew the convention exclusive covers for The Standard #5 and #6! He’ll be sharing the table with me at the con to sign any copies of the books you buy. We’ll also be selling the first issue of our Glasgow sci-fi series, Bad Sun, and Chris will be selling some lovely original art, and – I believe – doing commissions.

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You’ll also be able to find me at a panel on the Saturday, at 12pm.  In the CCA cinema, I’ll be part of the “SICBA Best Comic or Graphic Novel: Meet The Shortlist” panel, hosted by Craig Nielson, where I’ll be joined by Colin Bell, Craig Collins, Gil Hatcher and Morag Kewell.  Come along to see us all chat up our various comics, and discuss the process of creating them and getting them out into the world.

All that, and my books are also nominated for a bunch of SICBA awards! The Standard is nominated for Best Comic, I’m nominated for Best Writer, and Iain Laurie is nominated for Best Artist for And Then Emily Was Gone. voting is open throughout Saturday 5th July at the SICBA voting booth in the CCA’s first floor bar. If you’re attending, make sure to vote!

Tickets for the show are still available from www.glasgowcomiccon.com. It’s always a great show, and this year we have top notch comic guests like Gail Simone, Howard Chaykin and Erik Larsen, as well as familiar faces from the Scottish comics scene. Come along, have a great time, and support one of Scotland’s fastest-growing creative industries!

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SICBA 2014 Nominees, Featuring John Lees Comics

A couple of days ago, the shortlist for this year’s Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance awards were announced.  And I’m pleased to report that my comics are nominated in three of the four categories.

The Standard was nominated for Best Comic or Graphic Novel, while I was nominated for Best Writer for my work on that series.  Iain Laurie, meanwhile, was nominated for best artist for his work on And Then Emily Was Gone.  Here’s the full shortlist of nominees:

Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel (supported by CCA: Glasgow)
Beginners Guide to Being Outside (published by Avery Hill Publishing Ltd.)
Crawl Hole (published by Craig Collins)
Crossing Borders (published by Rocket Puppy Press)
Dungeon Fun: Book One (published by Dogooder Comics)
The Standard #5 (published by ComixTribe)

Best Artist (supported by Homecoming Scotland)
Iain Laurie – And Then Emily Was Gone #3
Morag Kewell – Crossing Borders
Neil Slorance – Dungeon Fun: Book One

Best Writer (supported by Black Hearted Press)
Gill Hatcher – Beginners Guide to Being Outside
Colin Bell – Dungeon Fun: Book One
John Lees – The Standard #5

Best Cover (supported by Williams Bros. Brewing Co.)
Craig Collins, Iain Laurie and Derek Dow – Crawl Hole
Neil Slorance – Dungeon Fun: Book One
Jimmy Devlin – Saltire: Invasion

Voting is open throughout the first day of Glasgow Comic Con, on Saturday 5th July, at Glasgow’s CCA on Sauchiehall Street.  You can still buy tickets for the show over at the official website.  Congratulations and good luck to all my fellow nominees!

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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:

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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!

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.
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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!

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A Prelude To BAD SUN…

If you’ve been following the promotional blitz I’ve been running from my blog and social media, you’ll be aware that I am holding a book launch on Tuesday 9th July at Geek Retreat, and that I’ll be attending the Glasgow Comic Con on 13th-14th July.  You’ll also know that, among other books, I’ll be debuting the first issue of Bad Sun, a new sci-fi miniseries written by me, with art by Chris Connelly.

As a final teaser before the comic’s iminent release, I’m excited to present a prologue, drawn by Jason Mathis of School of the Damned fame.  This will be included in that first issue as a backup to Chris’ 24-page main story, but it was just too good to keep as a surprise.  I think it works so well to set the scene for the main narrative of Bad Sun, and hopefullly whet your appetite for picking the book up next week.  Enjoy… and welcome to the Glasgow of the future!

Mathis1 Mathis2 Mathis3 Mathis4 Mathis5Bad Sun launches on Tuesday 9th July, at Geek Retreat in Glasgow.  More details here.

AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE Nominated for 4 SICBA Awards!

On Friday, the official shortlist of nominees for Glasgow’s SICBA awards was announced, and I’m hugely excited to report that And Then Emily Was Gone – my upcoming project with artist Iain Laurie and letterer Colin Bell that’s set to debut at July’s Glasgow Comic Con – has swept the board, earning a nomination in every category.  Here is the shortlist in full:

Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel
Supported by CCA: Centre for Contemporary Arts
(5 Nominees)

And Then Emily Was Gone #1
Anthology Three
Big in Japan
Dark Ascension
The Amateur Astronomer’s Journal

Best Writer
Supported by Mlitt in Comic Studies, University of Dundee
(3 Nominees)

John Lees for And Then Emily Was Gone #1
James Devlin for Dark Ascension
Neil Slorance for The Amateur Astronomer’s Journal

Best Artist
Supported by DJCAD, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design
(3 Nominees)

Iain Laurie for And Then Emily Was Gone #1
James Devlin for Dark Ascension
Neil Slorance for The Amateur Astronomer’s Journal

Best Cover
Supported by Commando Comics
(3 Nominees)

Iain Laurie for And Then Emily Was Gone #1
Morag Kewell for Big in Japan
Dave Alexander for Collected McBams

It’s an honour just to be nominated, and I’m in some prestigious company here.  But who I’m really rooting for is the immensely talented Iain Laurie in his categories, as he’s a fantastic artist hugely deserving of every bit of recognition he gets.

You can check out And Then Emily Was Gone and all the other nominated comics at Plan B Books in Parnie Street, Glasgow now, where they have a little SICBA viewing area set up.  But you’ll only be able to vote on Saturday 13th July at Glasgow Comic Con, in the CCA on Sauchiehall Street.  So buy your tickets, come along for a great comic-filled weekend, and VOTE!  You don’t have to vote for me… but you DO have to buy my comics!  BWAHAHAHAHA!

For more information, check out http://www.glasgowcomiccon.com.

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