Thursday, 29 September 2016

Escape to the Country

At the inauguration of the Land Escapes exhibition. Photo courtesy of the TCBF.
Treviso Comic Book Festival 22nd-25th September 2016, Treviso, Italy. I made my first official comic event appearance last weekend since Thought Bubble in late 2014, foregoing a few more days at the drawing board to accept the incredibly kind invitation from the Treviso Comic Book Festival - to not only attend their show as a guest but to participate in their Land Escapes exhibition.
Treviso is a walled city in northern Italy, apparently known as ‘Little Venice’ (although ‘little’ is wildly misleading) and claims to be the birthplace of prosecco and tiramisu. It can now also claim to be the home of one of the largest comics events in Italy, with numerous exhibitions spread out over the centre of the town, a vast comics retailers’ marquee, and the Mostra Mercato comics fair which housed signings, talks, small press and publisher tables. Many of the local retailers participated with window paintings and displays which gave it the feel of a summertime Angouleme festival (despite it being late September, I don’t think I saw a cloud during my three day visit).
My friday evening was mostly spent trying to reconcile the size of the measures of drink and the disproportionately low cost which became more difficult as the evening wore on for reasons which I can no longer remember. There appears to be some evidence that I met up with rising global superstar Tula Lotay and her hubby, as well as co-curator of the Land Escapes exhibition Paul Gravett and designer and director of Escape Books, Peter Stanbury.

Surprisingly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the following morning, I walked from the hotel into town with Tula to the inauguration of the exhibition at the prestigious Spazio Bomben Fondazione Benetton, a mere half an hour’s hike in blazing sunshine guided by Mr. Lotay, Google Maps and lagging geopositioning. But we three sweaty blobs arrived at our destination in good time, thanks to the Italian relaxed attitude towards timekeeping, to meet up with fellow British guests Dave McKean, Hunt Emerson and Chris Reynolds.

The exhibition was duly opened, featuring a diverse range of British talent including dozens of pages of original artwork by the invited guests as well as Hannah Berry, Brian Bolland, Kate Brown, Stephen Collins, Gemma Correll, Gary Erskine, Tom Gauld, David Lloyd, Sean Phillips, Posy Simmonds, Carol Swain, Bryan Talbot and Andi Watson. This included an impressive eleven pages of Strangehaven originals, guarded on each side by a lifesize Golden Knight cutout, and vast reproductions of artwork by Dave McKean and Tula Lotay with everything elegantly displayed in the sophisticated gallery space. We were each asked to say a few words, and Paul Gravett said many. All was translated by the multi-talented Alberto Corradi, co-curator of the exhibition and coordinator of the British contingent.
Photo courtesy of the TCBF.
I also managed to catch up with some dear Italian friends including my co-editor on the Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman book, smoky man, audio genius Boris Susanj who I hadn’t seen since the Bristol festival in 2007, and international comics editor Antonio Solinas who I’m sure I see at every event I ever travel to.

Next stop was the Mostra Mercato in the formerly abandoned and mysteriously named I.S.R.A.A. building, where there were gazebos set up for signings and talks, numerous publisher rooms offering hundreds of beautiful Italian graphic novels and a courtyard of small press tables boasting a range of high quality material.  I picked up a couple of books from the impressive Delebile artist’s collective and would have scooped up many more if I had travelled to Italy with more than just a carry-on bag. Hunt and I signed some books and did some sketching while simultaneously fighting off many persistent yet friendly tiny flies.
The official convention guest dinner took place at a traditional Venetian cicchetti restaurant (cicchetti being the Italian version of tapas as I understand it) where much meat was eaten much prosecco was drunk, and where I met for the first time artist extraordinaire Lee Bermejo and the impressively bearded writer Matteo Casali. These guys know how to party hard and we all ended up with the Lotays at some kind of rave at an old Army base in the early hours of sunday morning where I encountered my first glass of grappa (a bit like low grade petroleum, but less pleasant tasting).
Photo courtesy of the TCBF.
Surprisingly still alive, sunday's duties began with a panel discussion about the exhibition at the Benneton Foundation for press and public, with the full roster of British guests and the curators Alberto and Paul. Translation always slows these discussions down and can disrupt the momentum, but there were some interesting points made. Dave McKean managed to plug his gorgeous new book Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash, Chris Reynolds did his best to promote his home country of Wales, Hunt Emerson articulated his complete indifference towards 2000 AD, Tula Lotay resorted to blatant pandering by professing her love of Italy, Treviso and her fans, while Paul Gravett made some vague insinuations that I was involved in the death of fascist dictator Generalissimo Franco in 1975.

Part of going to these events means that you’re more likely to have to stop in the middle of the street en route to lunch to sign a book or do a quick sketch for a reader of your work, but I admit it’s less of a nuisance when she’s young, pretty and Italian. With my ego sated, next up was lunch in a genuine Italian pizzeria where it was my turn to fawn, finally getting to spend some time chatting to the living legend that is Dave McKean, hoping that I might absorb some of his talent via simple proximity and trying to gently rest my head on his shoulder without him noticing.
Photo by smoky man.
Then there was enough time to buy a cherry gelato and wander out of the city walls for a few minutes to soak up some Venetian sunshine before the final signing and sketching marathon alongside Tula, Chris and Hunt. After which it was on to a wine bar for a last glass of prosecco al fresco, and time for a small bowl of tuna pasta in a beautiful old restaurant before having to dash off to the airport.

Festival organiser Alberto Polita kindly collected me from the restaurant and combined performing this mundane duty with auditioning for Fast and the Furious 9. Suffice to say I arrived at the airport on time but unfortunately my flight was delayed by half an hour. After being funnelled into a standing-room-only concrete bunker amusingly described as a ‘departure lounge,’ I had the unexpected pleasure to find two other astonishingly talented British guests of the show, botanical artist Katie Scott and children’s book illustrator Emily Hughes, which helped pass the last hour or so in Italy.

Every time I’m invited as a guest to a European festival, it invariably provides me with many indelible memories and Treviso is no different. I didn’t even make the short train trip to Venice, but I am already plotting a trip to combine sightseeing with another festival visit within the next year or two.

There are more photos in my Treviso album on Facebook.

The Land Escapes exhibition runs until 9th October 2016.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Treviso, Land of Prosecco

Poster for Land Escapes exhibition, all images ©2016 copyright their respective creators.
In what will probably be my sole “official” appearance this year, I will be a guest at the Treviso comic festival this upcoming weekend 23-25 September. I don’t have any details of signings or talks to hand, but I suspect I’ll be doing a little of both.
I’ll be humbled in the company of my fellow guest Brits Hunt Emerson, Tula Lotay, Dave McKean and Chris Reynolds, masters of the sequential arts, all.

I’ll also have an unusually large number of pages of original artwork on display in the festival’s related exhibition, Land Escapes: Visions and escapes from the United Kingdom at the prestigious Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche.
The exhibition also features artwork from Hannah Berry, Brian Bolland, Kate Brown, Stephen Collins Illustration and Comics, Gemma Correll, Hunt Emerson, Gary Erskine, Tom Gauld, David Lloyd, Tula Lotay, Dave McKean, Sean Phillips, Chris Reynolds, Posy Simmonds, Carol Swain, Bryan Talbot and Andi Watson.

Not only will I be seeing some old Italian friends again, but I’ll also get to reestablish my relationship with former Black Velvet editor Alberto Corradi (who worked on the Italian language editions of Strangehaven) who’s one of the organisers of the festival and is also co-curating the exhibition with the UK’s own Paul Gravett. update (sort of)

Hardcore Strangehaven addicts will no doubt have been suffering withdrawal symptoms so far this year due to the lack of a new issue of the anthology Meanwhile... 
Last year four issues were published each containing a brand new full-colour episode of Strangehaven, but thus far issue five remains unpublished. The good news is that publisher Soaring Penguin Press posted this cryptic message on their twitter account:

“Meanwhile issue 5. Coming in January 2017. Watch for details”

Well, not so much cryptic as scant. And unfortunately I can’t flesh out those bare bones with any further information at present, so if you have any questions, it might be more fruitful to direct them towards Soaring Penguin rather than myself. Suffice to say that I do strongly suspect Strangehaven will form part of the aforementioned issue 5.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Pictures in an Exhibition

While the rest of the Internet was discussing the Eisner nominations last night I was at the private viewing of the new exhibition at London’s Cartoon Museum, The Great British Graphic Novel.

It has been meticulously planned and intelligently curated by Paul Williams and Anita O’Brien, ably assisted by the rest of the very talented gang at the Cartoon Museum, and not only tracks the development of the art form, it provides an overview of the diverse talent within the UK’s graphic novel community and also offers an insight into modern and traditional creative techniques.

It was great to hook up with so many of my gallery-featured peers including Bryan Talbot, Posy Simmonds, Oscar Zarate, Mark Buckingham, Meanwhile… stablemates David Hine and Mark Stafford, Hunt Emerson (who also drew the fold-out exhibition guide in the style of a tube map), Woodrow Phoenix, David Lloyd, Ilya, Steve Bell and John McCrea.

Also nice to bump fists with dedicated liggers Tony Bennett, Jessica Kemp, Arty Miss Jessica Martin, Mary Talbot, Jamie McKelvie, a certain Meanwhile... publisher John Anderson, his manager/wife Cheryl and podcast king Alex Fitch.

The exhibition also features original artwork by Dave Gibbons, Eddie Campbell, the Pleece Brothers, Carol SwainDarryl CunninghamNick Abadzis, Martin Rowson, and tracing the medium all the way back to William Hogarth.

My personal favourites were the spectacular multimedia work of Dave McKean and Mark Buckingham and terrific also to see two Exit pages from my old self-publishing colleague Nabiel Kanan.

 proud to say two pieces of mine are also on display, both pages from Strangehaven, and if for that reason and no other, I’d highly recommend visiting if you’re in London before the show ends on 24 July. Entry fee is £7.00 or £5.00 concessions.

And if you’re in the general Holborn area and like me you enjoy looking at various dissected human and animal body parts preserved in formaldehyde filled jars, I’d also suggest dropping into the Hunterian Museum (inside The Royal College of Surgeons)  which faces the splendidly tranquil Lincoln’s Inn Fields park, just ten minutes’ walk away from the Cartoon Museum.

More info here: The Hunterian Museum

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Invisible Girl

So no, I'm not part of DC's Rebirth, but I have sold my soul and become a corporate whore. I've contributed a variant cover for Titan's Heroes: Godsend #4 (out in June) which is listed in Diamond's April Previews catalogue (out today I believe), so if you want a copy you may need to preorder it from your comics retailer.

Here's the official blurb:
HEROES: GODSEND #4 (W) Joey Falco (A/CA) Roy Allan Martinez
Heroes: Godsend continues to explore the origins of Farah Nazan from the Heroes Reborn mini-series! Farah’s life becomes more complicated thanks to a huge hulk of an EVO named Mr Vance, a nasty young businesswoman called Philomena, and a bomb. Plus, could romance be in the air for Farah? (STL006050)
MARTINEZ COVER—32pgs, FC (4 of 5) $3.99
MILLIDGE COVER—32pgs, FC $3.99

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Is it that time already?


The fact that’s it’s almost just about very nearly a whole damn entire year since I posted anything on this blog probably only comes as a surprise to me, and me alone. And I’m shocked and embarrassed, but I suspect no one is losing sleep over that particular fact.

So, taking all that into account, here I am, with my now traditional Christmas and New Year greeting, an appropriate celebratory illustration or two to commemorate the festive season and an almost complete lack of news.

This lack of news of which I speak is probably mostly due to the amount of time I’ve spent actually working this year (as opposed to writing blog posts and curating my collection of paisley shirts) - not only drawing and colouring the new episodes of Strangehaven, but being rather unfortunately sidetracked in designing elaborate footwear catalogues and building outrageously ambitious websites for freelance clients in an attempt to pay off various bills that have somehow accrued ostensibly by the mere act of existing.

One heartwarming thought though is that I’ve produced more pages of Strangehaven in the past twelve months than I have done in all the years since 2005 laid end-to-end, so I’m counting that as a win. But I can do more.

Forthcoming in 2016 then, expect to see the fifth and further subsequent episodes of Strangehaven: Destiny within the pages of the marvellous British comics anthology that is Meanwhile… available from all excellent comic shops worldwide, from the Soaring Penguin Press website on your iPad from Sequential and available for your other digital devices from Comixology.

Other plans include some further activity on the digital front, with a scrubbed-up incarnation of my own website (possibly including a new item of merch or two if I can find time in between brush strokes) and perhaps some shiny new digital editions of some of my existing works.

To keep in touch with all this excitement, you are greatly encouraged to subscribe to my newsletter list by typing your email address in the little box to the right of the screen, while you will also find me most active on the social media networks known as Facebook and Twitter.

All that remains is for me to wish you all a very happy holiday season, wherever you are, and whatever you celebrate, and hope that the new year brings you peace, prosperity, good health and happiness.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

I Know When You’re Awake

This year’s traditional Christmas message from me is different this year in that a new episode of Strangehaven has been released into the wild during the year, for the first time since 2006. And yes, I’ve been feeling the love from readers both old and new, and I’m grateful to you all for that.

It’s not been an entirely smooth transition from years of freelance writing and design to full-time comics creator, but I am finally getting back into the old groove. 2015 looks like being one of the most prolific in my sporadic career; Strangehaven: Destiny episode 2 will be published in Meanwhile…#2 in mid-January in both print and digital forms, with Meanwhile…#1 finally making its way to US stores in February.

I am working away on episode 3 already, with announcements about new merchandise, a new website and a digital incarnation for existing Strangehaven stories in the pipeline.

If you want to help spread the word, you can place your standing order for Meanwhile…with your local comics retailer, follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, let interested parties know about my e-newsletter and my blog or of course partake of the usual ritual sacrifice by burning and then burying any single issue of Before Watchmen at precisely 23:23 by the light of a waxing moon on any Tuesday while repeating the chant ‘Cerebus, Hepcats, Indie comics forever’.

And on that seasonal note, I’ll wish you and those close to you a very merry festive season and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Peace and love,


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Meanwhile…in Previews this December

For my friends and readers in the US and the rest of the world, Meanwhile…#1 is at last available to order from your local comics retailer or mail order dealer. It’s listed in the current issue of Diamond Comics’ monthly catalogue Previews (December 2014) under Soaring Penguin Press.

If you want to support the Meanwhile…anthology and Strangehaven’s serialisation within, then please place an advance order (or standing order) with your comic shop. The direct comics market is largely dependent on the advance order system, and many retailers base their total order on the number of advance orders they receive.

So, to be sure of receiving issue 1, make sure you place a firm order with your comic shop by December 23 or as early as possible. Meanwhile…is listed on page 366 of Previews (Diamond Item Code: DEC141662 / Price £4.99 $7.95).

It’s also listed on Diamond’s Previews website here.

The Bleeding Cool website kindly offered up this piece of wisdom, and I thank them for their opinion: If You Only Order One Comic For February

You can also purchase the digital edition for iPad via the Sequential app here.

The comics community have really been positive about the new anthology, and early reviews have been great, so here are some links in case you’re still sitting on the fence:

Page 45
FA The Comiczine
Forbidden Planet Blog
Shelf Abuse
Bleeding Cool

I’ve also been doing a handful of interviews to promote the return of Strangehaven, and here are the best of them:

FA The Comiczine
The Sardinian Connection
Imagination is Spicy

In other news, Meanwhile…#2 will be going off to the printers shortly and we’re hoping subscriber issues will be going out shortly after the Christmas holidays.

Sunday, 23 November 2014


Well, this is interesting and unusual. Evidently I have been proposed as one of the possible topics for presentation at a one-day symposium at the University of Cambridge in March 2015, called The Alchemical Landscape. Other proposed topics include Alan Moore, Derek Jarman, Arthur Machen, Alan Garner, Children of the Stones and Quatermass and the Pit.

It’s certainly very nice to be included in a list like that however extensive it might be, and however unlikely it is that someone would want to stand up in front of a room full of academics and talk about me for twenty minutes.

I suspect the connection is that I was interviewed for a BBC radio show presented by Stewart Lee about the TV series Children of the Stones a couple of years ago (despite me not actually having ever seen it).

I did see the partly-animated adaptation of Allan Ginsberg’s Howl on TV recently however, and the poem is in some way (that I can’t quite fathom) connected to Stonehenge, folk horror, counterculture and, presumably, Strangehaven.

So I couldn’t resist sharing the link to the article about the symposium here because it makes me sound very important and worthy of academic study, which obviously, I am. Possibly.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

On the Floor Once More

So, I shall be at the fantastic Thought Bubble festival this time next week (14-15th November), and signing copies of Meanwhile...#1 (as well as my evergreen Strangehaven trade paperbacks and possibly some other bits and pieces) on the Soaring Penguin table throughout the weekend.

Soaring Penguin are exhibiting in the New Dock Hall area at table #120, convenient situated very close to the entrance. Here's a floor plan of the table layout.

This is the final of my three launch events for Meanwhile...#1, so I'll hope to see you there. I don't have any other appearances lined up as yet, so instead I prepare for hibernation and the release of Meanwhile...#2 next month.