Sunday, 6 July 2014

Creators Wanted

Work is currently underway on Massacre For Boys Picture Library #2 and opportunities exist for artists, colourists and letterers to contribute to this landmark issue (landmark for top-secret reasons currently only known to confirmed contributors)!

There's no money involved (MFB is produced for the love of it and operates and at a financial loss) but there is considerable creative freedom and creator ownership of all work contributed. So, if you feel like joining a team that includes 2000AD's newest droid (contributing editor Steven Denton who works professionally as a colourist on Voodoo Planet in 2000AD, Dept of Monsterology and Keeper, to name but 3) as well as the cream of comics talent from the UK and further afield, then please get in touch!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Thirty Kroner Who?

I contributed several scripts to Picture Library #1, but the one that took by the far the longest to write was Thirty Kroner Kincaid. This strip started out with a throwaway comment by David Frankum that he wanted to do something in the style of the "based on a true story" tales of wartime heroism that were a regular staple of The Victor.

Always eager to have David on board, I immediately set to work. As may be apparent, the main influences on Massacre For Boys are those old IPC comics from the 70s and 80s (Battle, 2000AD, Eagle, Scream! and so on). However Steve and I have always enjoyed the DC Thompson stuff as well, especially The Victor, but also Warlord, Hotspur and, of course, Commando. Indeed, we pastiched the Commando-style in an early Walking Wounded strip (see MFB In Colour).

David sent me a scan of one example of the genre (which I loved), but finding that I had no Victor material in the house, I bought myself the recent "Best Of" the annuals material. I devoured it avidly, and indeed added the "Best Of" for the regular comic to my collection as well. One approach I could have taken was a straight parody, and just made up a totally unlikely series of events, then presented them as if they had really happened. Sort of like a Quentin Tarantino war film. However, I decided what I really wanted to do was tell an actual true story. As a nice counterpoint to Walking Wounded (which is pretty unrealistic, sadly) I decided to research the real Commandos and see if there was anything I could work with.

My first idea was to use Mad Jack Churchill, one of the most inspiring maniacs whom ever lived. However, I couldn't really find a way in to start telling his story, which in any case probably requires a great deal more than three pages. Then I found out about the Lofoten Islands raid, which seemed so different to any kind of battle accounts I'd come across before, and potentially funny, so I decided I had to do it. I did consider having an extra page, with Jack Churchill leading a beach landing, unopposed much to his annoyance, but decided this would just distract from Kincaid's adventures, and so, regretfully, reduced him to a one-panel cameo.

The character of Kincaid I made up, but there was a real individual who "misplaced" thirty kroner during the raid, and whom was not named in historical records to save embarrassment. The exact manner in which the money was lost I also invented, based on inferences taken from the description of what really happened. I'm quite proud that everything in the script is either fact, or else invention that does not contradict any known facts.

One of the things I like about the finished script is it almost entirely succeeds in hiding how much effort has gone into it. Reading the story through, it's so briskly written, with a what I hope is a light-touch, you might think I knocked up in an afternoon. Ha, I wish. Thankfully, when I finally presented the script to David he was kind enough to accept it, and furthermore, do his usual phenomenal job on the art. I particularly loved the naval battle sequence, and then the expressions on the faces of all the characters. He also came up with the idea of a restricting the colour to red shading only, just like DC Thompson used to do, which was a masterstroke. All three pages are a joy to look at. Nikki Foxrobot then did her usual, incredible job on the lettering, the tasty icing on a delicious cake.

You can read page one on David's blog here, and all three pages if you buy the comic, obviously.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

MFB PL #1 Running Order

Cover by David Frankum, lettering and MFB logo by Nikki Foxrobot.

Walking Wounded Emu War: The Bug Guns - script by Chris Denton, art by Bhuna, letters by Bolt-01.

The Crusader: Spoonful of Jam - script by Chris Denton, art & letters by Bolt-01, colours by Nathan Webb.

The Zen Fusilier: Hue and Cry - script by Greg Meldrum, art & letters by John Caliber.

Bosher's Goals: Bosher for England - script by Chris Denton, art by Steven Denton, letters by Nikki Foxrobot.

Thirty Kroner Kincaid - script by Chris Denton, art by David Frankum, letters by Nikki Foxrobot.

Mars - script by Chris Denton, art by Steven Denton.

The Boys From Bashley - script by Tim West, art by David Herstal, colours by John Caliber, letters by Bolt-01.

Jimmy Baker Animal Hatmaker: The Crossover - script by Chris Denton, art by Owen Watts, letters by Bolt-01.

Mustard by Chris Denton, illustration by Steven Denton, layout by Nikki Foxrobot.

Back cover by Steven Denton.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The David Frankum Experience

Artistic genius David Frankum will be lending the Massacre For Boys table at London Super Comic Con some much needed star quality.

David is one of the greats of the British independent comics scene, and we're very fortunate that he's made some fantastic contributions to Massacre For Boys, including both the cover AND a brand new strip for Picture Library #1. He'll be signing, sketching, selling prints, and basically having a good time all weekend. Don't miss this opportunity to come and say hi!

More details over on David's own blog, here.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

MFB PL #1 Finished Cover

Art by David Frankum, Lettering and Logo by Nikki Foxrobot.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Moment Is Coming

Massacre For Boys Picture Library launches at London Super Comic Con March 15/16 2014.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Savage Zenith

I am delighted to announce that Savage Zenith by Chris Denton (yours truly) and David Frankum is out now.

Indeed, Savage Zenith is the cover strip of Drokk, a new publication of "out there" 2000AD fan strips from the house of Zarjaz. And what a cover! David has really excelled himself this time:

Savage Zenith is a follow-up to Zenith Invasion, which David and I did for Zarjaz a couple of years back. The reaction to the earlier strip was pretty good. In particular, one influential critic was very kind about it, but at the time I was pretty firm in my mind that I wouldn't do a sequel. Not only was I profoundly disinterested in writing a direct continuation - for example, with Maximan sinking the Volgan navy - but I was pretty sure the merging of two profoundly different 2000AD strips would collapse under the weight of further expansion.

However, I really, really love Zenith, and I found it a joy to be writing for that universe. In my head a Zenith-only story was beginning to form. I called it "Tribute Act" and was to feature Zenith and his girlfriend (Patsy Kensit, for some reason) going along to see a Zenith tribute singer, only to be faced with the sudden appearance of a nemesis from his past. The twist would have been that the Zenith tribute singer was actually him from an alternative universe, and that he was able to bail his elder duplicate out of trouble.

For various reasons I wasn't quite satisfied with this outline, and had not written it up, let alone submitted it to anyone. It probably would have stayed in the back of my head quite harmlessly, for ever more. Then I saw this:

A truly fantastic pin-up of Zenith and Bill Savage, created by David for the 2000AD forum advent calendar. Despite the title, Zenith Invasion only features cameo appearances from each of them, and they don't meet, but when I saw that picture I could see immediately what a great pairing it would be. My issues with Tribute Act fell away when I replaced alt-Zenith with Bill in the mix. Indeed I became almost insanely excited when I realised just how well the story could work (most of my ideas are not nearly so good, as anyone who has had to deal with them would testify!)

Naturally, I wasn't prepared to go forward without David back on board, but luckily he liked the script and agreed to return. The Zarjaz editors, Richmond and Dave, then gave us the thumbs up and so David proceeded to create the artwork. This is where things got really good. Now, David had done a fantastic job on Zenith Invasion, but he keeps getting better and better and when the pages started coming in on Savage Zenith my jaw practically dislocated, it dropped so far so fast. He was always professional quality anyway, but this stuff... wow!

Once work was completed, there was something of a delay whilst Dave and Richmond were deciding how to use it. David and I moved on to other projects, including another collaboration, this one for Massacre For Boys (it's a Victor-style true war story with a modern twist, you'll love it!) Then we found out about Drokk, and that Savage Zenith was intended as the cover strip. And what a cover! Oh wait, I said that already. Well, it's worth repeating. There's more info about the cover, including a logo-free version, on David's blog.

So now it's out. I really hope people like it. One thing I noticed in the feedback to the original is that very few Zarjaz readers were intimately familiar with both Invasion and Zenith. I guess this is because they're very different strips from different eras of 2000AD history. Also, of course, Zenith had been hard to get hold of for a while (but thankfully this time around due to the new hardback edition it's more likely people will have read it). I've tried to address this by ensuring that a detailed knowledge of both characters' publication histories is not really required, let alone any familiarity with Zenith Invasion (there are links, but I tried to be subtle about them). With Savage Zenith I focused very particularly on Zenith and on that part of 2000AD's long lifetime. This Bill Savage never went through the Invasion, nor any of the events of Savage, so whilst I have tried to stay true to his character, there's a lot more leeway in his case.

I would like to thank Richmond Clements and Dave Evans for publishing these strips, and for doing such an amazing job on their incredible roster of comics, the jewels of the British independent scene. I also want to thank my friend Alex Finch who helped me out no end with his incredible research skills. Most of all, I would like to thank David Frankum, who takes my dodgy scripts and turns them into amazing-looking comics!

A final thought. Last time I ruled out a sequel, and then back-tracked. This time I will say that here are no concrete plans for any further instalments. I do have an ambition to write for Peter St John and Ruby Fox and the germ of an idea of how to do this is currently floating around inside my head. I want to largely drop the Savage/Invasion factor but instead introduce another crossover element that if I told you about it, would make your eyes water. I'm not at all sure this will ever happen, but never say never.