Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christmas Massacre

Now the season of Seasonal Affective Disorder is well and truly upon us, leading Massacre for Boys artists have been marking the occasion for the 2000AD forum advent calendar.

David Frankum came up with this brilliant and brilliantly festive Zenith/Invasion pinup:

Earlier in that same thread, Steve and a host of collaborators paid tribute to mince pies and turkey, Dredd-style:

I've not actually done anything, but I do wish you a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Boys Are Back in Town

Massacre For Boys are new confirmed exhibitors at next year's Bristol Comic Expo:

(Expo image courtesy of D'Israeli)

We'll be launching the Massacre For Boys Action Special at this event (many more details to follow). It will be our first ever "weekender", giving you a choice of either Saturday May 12 or Sunday May 13 to rush down and buy stuff...

... but obviously, you should do both days in case you miss something awesome.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Bad Company

The new Zarjaz is out:

This issue features, amongst many other treats, a Bad Company strip called Fallen Empire by Steve (as writer) and Panos Kamoulakos.

Buy it now, or preferably sooner.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Strontium Summer

Steve's entry for the latest 2000AD forum art competition.

Summer seems a long way off now :(

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Top 10 Graphic Novels

I get pretty annoyed each time a broadsheet newspaper does a "Top 10 Graphic Novels" feature, mostly because what they really mean is "Top 10 Pretentious Graphic Novels".

As a comics reader that prefers to enjoy the experience, I thought I'd have a crack at a more representative (at least more representative of me) top 10. So, here they are, in reverse order:

10) Indigo Prime: Killing Time by John Smith and Chris Weston. A perfect graphic novella. Love the thing with bandages.

9) Marshal Law: Fear and Loathing by Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neil. Great indictment of superheroes.

8) Scarlet Traces: The Great Game by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli. A post War of the Worlds British Empire collapses. Possibly the greatest comic story about Britishness.

7) The Dark Night Returns by Frank Miller. Okay it's right-wing bollocks really, but very powerfully done.

6) Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others by Mike Mignola. A beautiful collection of short horror tales.

5) Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The seminal graphic novel. Any top 10 without this book isn't trying.

4) League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol. 2. Pretty much the conclusion of Moore's second great period of productivity (with ABC Comics), he's arguably better than ever here, and not yet heading back down the motorway to obscurity.

3) Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. Easy to overlook but a masterclass. Page 1 has 35 panels.

2) The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. This is a mainstream comic raised to perfection.

1) Zenith Phase I by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell. My favourite comic.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Mission Accomplished (in 2007)

It's good to remember sometimes that Massacre For Boys has already graced the pages of the Galaxy's Second Greatest Comic:

We were the featured Small Press strip in Meg 261.

I'm hoping that a re-lettered and coloured version of this story will appear in the Action Special. I still love it.

Saturday, 15 October 2011


I had the germ of an idea of a possible Zarjaz submission, a short sequel to Fiends of the Eastern Front, a few weeks back. I quickly got a brief outline down into OpenOffice. However, I wasn't totally comfortable going back to WW2 again and when Steve told me he's now working as the artist on a separate Fiends strip, also for Zarjaz, I decided to give up on the idea.

This is the rough outline:

Fiends of the Eastern Front: Downfall

Berlin, 1945.

Hitler discusses his escape plans with Captain Gruber, head of his special guard. The he retires for the night with Eva Braun.

Later, Gruber loses contacts with his men guarding the Hitler's quarters.

He finds them dead, drained of blood. Hitler is locked in.

Hitler wakes up to find Eva Braun standing over him, She leans forward, baring fangs. Hitler runs her though with the spear of destiny, which he keeps in a box near his bed.

A bat flies in, Hitler takes cover.

The bat turns into Captain Costanza.

Costanza: “The war ends tonight.”

Hitler throws the spear.

Hitler: “It has only just begun!”

Costanza is hit by the spear, but pulls it out.

Costanza: ouch. Is this the spear of destiny? A worthless trinket.

Hitler produces a machine gun.

Hitler: Let's try something a bit more scientific then.

Hitler blasts Costanza. Who vanishes into a fog.

The fog coalesces behind Hitler into a figure, who then bites Hitler's neck.

Hitler: Aaaargh – eh?

Costanza:By the Gods, your blood is stagnant with evil.

Hitler: Ha, Vampire idiot. You have no idea what I am capable of.

Costanza: You may be right.

Costanza shoot him in the forehead.

Costanza: Better if we never know.

The door to the quarters clicks open. Costanza emerges and gives his gun to Gruber.

Costanza: The Fuhrer tried to kill a vampire with a machine gun. A clear case of suicide.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Dept. of Monsterology

Regular readers of this blog will recall Steve was the announced colourist on a graphic novel called Monsterology with script by Gordon Rennie, art by PJ Holden and Letters by Jim Campbell.

No longer.

Now Steve is the announced colourist on a limited run comic called Dept. of Monsterology with script by Gordon Rennie, art by PJ Holden and Letters by Jim Campbell.

For more info you can like the facebook page.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Writing On The Wall

I'm increasingly convinced that comics are primarily an artists' medium.

Almost anyone can write, schools are pretty hot on that. Yet virtually no one can draw. This creates a disparity, at least on the indy/small press side of things, where writers are not much valued but artists are highly prized. In many ways this is only natural. Illustrating a comic strip takes a damn sight more time and effort than writing one, so even if there were just as many artists as writers - which there aren't - the artists would still be making by far the greater commitment in taking a job on.

My principal outlet for writing over the last few years has been Massacre For Boys, and when I've strayed outside of it I haven't had very much success. I've had ideas rejected, accepted but not published and various other mishaps. Even when something has appeared and been relatively well received, it hasn't led to anything else. I could of course put this down to being shit, but I more think it's because no one really needs comic writers. Indeed, if you look at the Futurequake and Something Wicked anthology titles, two of the jewels in the British comics crown, they've been closed to new scripts since the start of the year.

In my role as an editor I am equally guilty of this. I've pursued artists with some vigour, but never sought any help with the writing. Mea Culpa.

Progress on Massacre For Boys is pretty slow at the moment, mainly due to Steve's many other commitments (pro colouring work, lots of other indy strips to illustrate, full-time job and, selfishly I feel, a personal life). It's not that I write fast, or write much, but it's so much quicker to write than draw. I'm quite far ahead of the curve at the moment, so don't need to do any more on this front. Which is probably just as well.

This year, as may be apparent from the above, I've become pretty disillusioned with comic writing, and indeed would consider retiring completely except that would imply I'd ever done it professionally - which I haven't - and also would be nothing but a futile gesture. The reality is I haven't written anything for ages, and I suspect I won't write anything for a while , but I'm pretty sure I'll find some enthusiasm from somewhere and pick up the pen again at some point.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sold Out

Following on from Forbidden Planet's amazing review of Zarjaz #12 we sold our last copies of two of the Massacre For Boys back catalogue:

Massacre For Boys in Colour was our first attempt at an anthology and also our first attempt to go full colour. It was made up of some uncollected material prepared for the UK Thing anthology and the MFB website, but then heavily fortified with new stuff including a beautifully illustrated Walking Wounded "Zombies on a Plane" 6-pager and my own favourite, The Crusader: Honey Trap. I'd like to get this back into print with a second edition but that will have to wait because the follow-up, Back In Action (or possibly All Action) is taking priority.

I loved Walking Wounded #2. It was our first comic with proper lettering (thanks to Bolt-01) and it features to my mind Steve and I's best collaboration to date - The Glasshouse. This was printed at a larger format then we're using now, and sadly will probably stay out of print. Never fear though because I put the whole thing online already and there will be a re-mastered US-format version in the trade collection, if not sooner.

You can read WW#2 and indeed buy WW#1 (Nazi zombies vs British soldiers) and WW#3 (Nazi soldiers vs British monkeys) on our never yet-revamped website. Get them whilst they're hot.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Positive Podcast

A very nice audio review of the latest Zarjaz and Dogbreath issues has just appeared on Everything Comes Back to 2000AD.

The reviewers go into great detail for each story and they have some interesting observations. It's lovely that they both enjoyed Zenith/Invasion! and you can hear their thoughts on our strip about three-quarters of the way in.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Blackshirts of Exmoor

Meanwhile, somewhat west of the western front...

Page 1 by Steve.

Blackshirts of Exmoor tells us something about Brace. It will be lettered, coloured and included in Massacre For Boys: Back In Action.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Doesn't Really Go Anywhere

There have been some interesting reactions to Zenith/Invasion! since it was released last week.

There was a *SPOILER HEAVY* positive review from the perspective of someone who knows Invasion! but hasn't much memory of Zenith. The Maximan stuff was inevitably lost on them but they still seemed to enjoy the strip, which was very pleasing.

However not everybody has been complimentary. This negative review features a phrase now burned into my memory, "doesn't really go anywhere." Although I think that's basically unfair - the strip fairly obviously does go somewhere - there's no point in arguing with someone if they didn't like it. That's their perogative. The reviewer does also praise the initial concept, which ties in with my feeling that maybe I came up with a really big, attention grabbing idea but then didn't make the script accessible enough to live up to the expectations generated.

I still love it, though!

Some people have asked if we're intending to do a follow up and the answer is, as of now: "Nope". If I were to do a sequel it would be somewhat longer and begin in the present day with Zenith and his girlfriend, Patsy Kensit, attending a Zenith tribute act gig in a pub. They would then be attacked by an unspecified superhuman foe. There would be no Volgans. I would refer back to the first story, but only slightly. *CAUTION, OBLIQUE SPOILER* The character I ressurected would definitely feature again. Possibly more than one of them.

However, I agree with the Zarjaz editorial policy of no continuing stories, and I also suspect that reader interest would diminish the further a series divurged from what had appeared in 2000AD. This is why I have to admire Constable Dredd, a really fantastic strip by Rich McAuliffe and Mark Chilcott that also appears in Zarjaz 12. The concept is a winner - Dredd as a Victorian Bobby - and the execution is dazzling. It's so self-contained that you wouldn't necessarily want a sequel, and that's probably the best way to do a Zarjaz strip. There's some great unlettered pages of Constable Dredd on Mark's blog if you want to see more. However, you should just buy Zarjaz 12, obviously.

For me a good fanzine strip (or at least, a fanzine strip I would particularly enjoy) should not be just a pastiche of the original but instead try do something the original would not do. For this reason I also very much admired my brother's collaboration with Chris Askham on the Friday strip from Zarjaz 08 because that came up with a new concept for an unloved character and made it work.

Oh and speaking of Steve, he has a new strip in the current issue of Futurequake. I've not seen it yet but I know he worked long and hard on this one so it should be worth picking up.

Sunday, 17 July 2011


The latest issue of Zarjaz! is out now and features Zenith/Invasion! by David Frankum and I. This is what to look for in all good comic shops:

The strip is my debut in Zarjaz! which is the leading 2000AD fanzine and hails from the formidable Futurequake stable. The idea for Zenith/Invasion! really stemmed from my love of Zenith by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell, the first run of which emerged at the height of my love of 2000AD in the late 80s and which was, and remains, my favourite ever 2000AD strip.

I re-read the whole series recently and it was as good as ever. Indeed, it seemed to me that there's quite a lot more potential in the characters and situations that was left untapped over the four "phases" of the original run. My mind turned to speculating on what a Phase V would look like and Zenith/Invasion! basically represents my idea for a prologue to Phase V. Well, sort of. This being intended for publication in a fanzine rather than 2000AD itself I didn't have to introduce the setup from scratch and I could go to town with what I believe in Doctor Who circles is called "fan wank" (eg. references to obscure characters and/or peripheral events). Therefore, for example, when reading Zenith/Invasion! it's probably handy to know that in this universe the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Berlin in 1944 whilst a punch-up between British superhero Maxi-Man and Nazi supervillain Masterman was under way.

So, what of Invasion! then? Well, that strip was from the 70s, which was slightly before my time. Although I was aware of it and loved the concept, it was only relatively recently that I read the whole thing (there's a great Rebellion trade). So when I was developing my Zenith story and I realised I needed an adversary who were like the Invasion-era Volgans and I needed them to be active at more or less the turn of the millenium it didn't take me long to decide I would actually use the Volgans, circa 1999. After that I brought myself up to date with the alternative history that Pat Mills created as backstory to Savage and fortunately this segued really nicely with what we know about Zenith's version of Britain. Also, Zenith is set in a multi-verse (something else I loved) featuring reimagined versions of many classic British comic characters (most notably Robot Archie) so an alternative version of the Volgan invasion of Britain does not seem at all out of place.

Once I had all the ideas in place the script was pretty easy to write and I was delighted when Zarjaz editors Bolt-01 and Richmond Clements accepted it. They then asked David Frankum to take on art duties. I wasn't aware of David's work at the time but when I checked out his online portfolio I could see he was a great choice. I'm a massive fan of Steve Yeowell's clear, crisp style and you could see immediately that David would be able to capture this feeling, whilst at the same time retaining his own unique and supremely engaging style. Sure enough, David has done a wonderful job and I am totally delighted with the way the strip has turned out!

For David's own view of the genesis of Zenith/Invasion! please click here.

To see what the Forbidden Planet blog has to say about it, take a look at this.

Most importantly, to buy Zarjaz #12 you need to visit the Futurequake shop. Do it Now!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Lovecraft Anthology

This was my main purchase at the recent Bristol Comic Expo:

I am a massive Lovecraft fan and really enjoyed the Self Made Hero adaption of Mountains of Madness, so expectations were high. In a spirit of extreme modernity I tweeted my thoughts on each story. In a spirit of recycling those tweets into a review, here they are again...

1 Call of Cthulu. Slightly disappointing. Reads like an illustrated abridged short story not a comic strip. Guess this was hard to adapt. I feel I should add that I am a massive fan of Edginton and D'Israeli, The Great Game in particular was a masterpiece. I think, though, they tried to do Call a bit too literally, and it doesn't really work.

2 Haunter of the Dark. Pretty good. Feels like a proper comic. Lovely evocative art by Shane Oakley. Possibly a bit under coloured.

3 The Dunwich Horror. Pure genius. Didn't think Rob Davis liked Lovecraft but his script is near perfect. Ian Culbard art out of this world.

4 Colour Out of Space. Nicely done. Not one of my favourite HPL stories but I enjoyed this version of it.

5 Shadow Over Innsmouth. Decent adaption by Moore & Reppion with stand out art by Leigh Gallagher, channeling John Ridgeway I feel.

6 The Rats in the Walls. Enjoyable if slight. Not sure it quite captures the spirit of the original. Shocking ending though.

7 Dagon. Nice vignette to end on. Story harks back to the Call of Cthulu but totally different art style gives it distinctiveness.

Conclusion: Has its ups and downs like any anthology, but overall it's a great collection. Recommended.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Introducing... Walking Wounded: Eastern Front

So, we're back in action on the Back In Action front.

This is the first page of Pagan Blood, the debut story for Walking Wounded: Eastern Front with script by myself and art, colours and (unseen here) letters by David Frankum:

Looks great doesn't it? Well, as Bachman-Turner Overdrive so rightly teach us, you aint seen nothing yet!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Judge Dredd Tour of Duty: The Backlash Review

This weighty collection follows on the heels of Dredd's brief re-acquaintance with his clone-father, Fargo, at the conclusion of the “mega-epic” Origins. Now doubting the role of the Judges for the first time, the legendary lawman turns to politics to force through a liberalisation of Mega City One's tough anti-mutant laws. The only problem is pretty much everyone in the City disagrees with him and that leads to some fairly dire consequences.

Despite the title, this graphic novel features precisely zero pages of Tour of Duty as seen in “The Galaxy's Greatest Comic” but instead includes all the 2000AD strips that depict the events leading up to the story actually called Tour of Duty. This makes for a fascinatingly eclectic collection, with the odd weaker story to be sure but also some bona fide classics such as ...Regrets and Emphatically Evil.

John Wagner has been working on the character since the 70s and he's still doing an amazing job here, complemented by an array of talented artists led by evergreens Colin MacNeil and Kev Walker. With all due respect to other Dredd scribes, Wagner is pretty much the only writer who's ever captured the man's contradictory core of fascist decency, and here he pushes the instability of such an outlook to breaking point as the man is driven by his more noble feelings to imperil not only his own position but that of his allies such as Chief Judge Hershey. Adding the entertainingly bloodthirsty serial killer turned Mayor P J Maybe to the mix makes for an impressive cast.

The real star of The Backlash however is the city itself, which has been created over a span of decades and is now an extraordinarily complex and well drawn backdrop that ties all the stories in this volume tightly together. It's a classic Dystopia, riddled with misery and hate. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the attitude of virtually all the “normal” citizens to their mutant cousins which is one of unbridled murderous rage. This makes Dredd's downfall inevitable, and yet it's done so well you can't help but look forward eagerly to the next volume.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Futurequake 17

I find it almost impossible to walk past a comic shop and so, after a nice lunch in Covent Garden I recently found myself in Orbital Comics. It was heartening to see they stocked a healthy selection of small press offerings, including both Zarjaz! and Futurequake. Always keen to support my fellows - and always keener to have something to read on the train home - I purchased this:

It's a great cover by Richard Smith and leads straight into the first strip, Regrets, Rules and Jellied Eeels, scripted by Neil Merrett. The art is crisp and clear, Smith's background in computer games is evident and that's no bad thing at all. I really enjoyed the story too, the twist is pretty funny.

The highlight of this issue for me is Ex Libris by Eoghan Ahern and David Frankum. Regular readers of this blog will know I've worked with David on a forthcoming Zarjaz! strip and that I'm working with him again on a Massacre For Boys piece at the moment. Therefore I guess I am not entirely neutral when I say that I think David is extremely talented and that his work here is little short of genius. Some of the panel compositions are really powerful and you can see that technically he pretty much has everything. It's no surprise to me that one of the "Big Two" comics publishers have expressed an interest in his work. Ahern's sharp post-modern writing gives David the platform he needs to flourish.

The other strips in this issue all have something to recommend them. I particularly liked the last couple actually - the atmospheric Robo Sapiens by Mark Smith & Steve Howard and then the short and spikey Rugged Romper by Michael Deshane and BMB. Still, I have by no means mentioned everything in the comic that's worth reading.

The quality does vary, as you would expect from an anthology title, but the overall level has definitely improved markedly from a couple of years ago. I think this is down in part to the editorial prowess of Dave Evans and Richmond Clements, but also to the vast number of submissions they now receive. There's some fine art in this issue but I perhaps naturally like to focus on the writing, which can often be pretty bad even in quite high profile professional comics let alone the small press. However, in FQ 17 there's maybe one story that's difficult to follow and overall the standard is as good as I have seen outside the very highest echelons of the medium.

On this form, Futurequake is clearly an important breeding ground for UK comic talent and long may it continue.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Sisters of Grud 2

Unlike the first Ezquerra tribute strip which I basically scribbled on the back of an envelope (and Steve rightly ignored my panel layouts for), I approached Sisters of Grud using my usual writing method. I had the idea for a Necropolis mini-sequel which I plotted, then wrote breakdowns for before doing the full script. It seems to work well as a pastiche of 90s Wagner but I know it's not really Dredd. He's a character only Wagner can write.

The art is lovely reflecting the respect Steve has for Carlos, but also his potential to step up to 2000AD duties himself. The letters are by Nikki Foxrobot, the first time she's worked on one of my scripts and I very much hope not the last!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Sisters of Grud 1

Here's two pages of lovely Judge Dredd artwork by Steve:

The script was by me and we originally intended it for inclusion in the second Carlos Ezquerra tribute comic (now apparently delayed or cancelled). I'll post the lettered version next week unless anyone tells me not to in the meantime.

Oh, and whilst we're on the subject of the Galaxy's Greatest Comic, I've contributed a script to the fan offshoot Zarjaz! which is due to appear in the July issue. It's been illustrated by the highly talented David Frankum and the collaboration went so well we've already embarked on a second project together!

Check out David's website for further info and a teaser image.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Night of the Eagle Award Nominations

You know you want to nominate Walking Wounded for Favourite British Comic - Black and White in this year's Eagles:

Well unless you want to back Zarjaz!, Something Wicked or FutureQuake obviously, which, come to think of it, I love too.

Tricky decision.

But remember kids it's very important to exercise your democratic rights, whomever you suppport.

Unless you support Hitler, obviously.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Massacre For Boys 2011

It's been a while since I had any concrete MFB news to post and we are not really ready to break that run yet :(

Our next comic is still going to be Massacre For Boys Back in Action, an anthology title to follow up 2009's Massacre For Boys in Colour. It's been delayed due to Steve's success as a colourist but definitely will happen and will certainly feature a brand new Walking Wounded story called Blackshirts of Exmoor and a brand new Crusader tale called Spoonful of Honey. Also confirmed is another outing for Bosher's Goals, but we'll probably put that online first because the format works so well for a web strip. Steve's written a second episode of Badland Rules and I would also expect that to make it in.

I can't currently comment on whether Jimmy Baker Animal Hatmaker will feature, but it's certainly possible, and we do have at least one other strip provisionally planned to go in about which I can say almost nothing.

Peering further into the future, the next full issue of Walking Wounded is still going to be Reach For The Sky and it's highly likely to appear in 2012, even allowing for Olympic fever.

Outside the confines of MFB both Steve and I continue to be active on other comics. I'm currently working with David Frankum on a very exciting strip and Steve is bang in the middle of illustrating another script for our friends at Futurequake Press. He's also working on some very exciting projects, one or more of which will hopefully make it a year to remember...