Kapow right in the kisser!

With Kapow Comic Convention fast approaching, I’ve decided to unearth my dusty comic book collection and amuse my self for hours with what I read, when and why.

Here is the list of landmark comics in my life.

As with everything we do (I do) the roots lie with the parents. My father is a solid person with a broad classic education. Widely read, with opinions on arias, operas, Kafka, geopolitical issues. Yet he will happily sit for hours reading comics giggling like any six-year old.He doesnt read many, but his favourite has always been Alan Ford. It’s a small square book about half a centimetre thick. Written by Luciano Secchi Roberto Raviola in print since 1969, its satire of secret agent group called TNT. It’s quite dark but also farcical and littered with slap stick.

It was my comic book initiation.

Once my appetite was wetted I moved onto things more my style. More blood , less farce bubbling with darkness.

Dylan Dog is a paranormal investigator with Groucho as a sidekick. He drives a beetle, women fall at his feet, and he when not playing the clarinet solves mysteries.

Both of these were too funny and too shifty for a girl who in her spare time wore a cape and pretended to be a hero (i kid you not). I had been brought up to see girls as powerful, resourceful and independent. So one day Amethyst Princess of Gemworld came into my life. She wore cute outfits, had great friends and kicked ass. Plus the way she lived in two different dimensions Gemworld and American suburbia mirrored my overactive imagination. I

Though Amethyst was amazing, being a teenager was hard on me and my moody hormones, dark moods and black outlook were not well supported by purple skirts and gems.

So from there it was a hop skip and a jump to the next obvious choice. Hellblazer. I came across it at the long gone comic shop at the top of Hamleys, Regents Street. What captured me was the beautiful gothic cover art and the flawed, broken anti-hero hooked me completely. I loved how he knew better, yet did so many stupid careless things anyway. And each time he was close to the edge he came up on top after all.

Hellblazer kicked off a whole train of other comics, most notable of them all was Sandman. That book deserves a whole post to itself so I will leave it out of this time warped list.

Strong women seeking their own path were really a strong theme for me. If to that you add beautiful delicate drawings you have David Mack’s Kabuki. I think you can probably see a pattern forming. A rhythmic fluctuation between the strong yet girly female and the dark brooding male. Having trained in two martial arts and being forever drawn to the East and all its mysteries I loved Kabuki and despite the tragedy, I wanted to be Kabuki.

Falling in love with the works of Neil Gaiman was very natural and this amour drove its own path in my comic book tastes as well as novel-reading. I think his style more than any other influences me as a writer. There is a twisted and lyrical quality to his work i adore. Though it began with Sandman and Neverwere it’s led me to some great places. 1602 was one of them.

My love of the impossible and the strange, plus the persistent feeling that there is more to life than the eye can see in turn led me to Fables, which I have loved from the first print to every one I’ve ever read.

I can’t wait for Kapow!

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Brand New Image

So tell me what you think? About the new image that is. It’s a combination of symbols and characters from my first novel (name tbd).

As it’s a work in progress the image certainly represents how I feel about the novel right now and the shape it’s currently in.

It’s hard to know what it will be in its final version when all the words are out of me and on the screen. I chip away at it day after day and week after week. Sometimes I wake in the night having realised through a dream why a character would do something, how they would react. In all honesty it does not feel like I invent and write, it feels like I discover and reveal things.

Here is a passage from the book that provides the best insight what it’s about. Do tell me what you think of the art and of the synopsis!

Under my grey fleece and winter coat, I’m shivering and I can feel the scratchiness of the fabric as my hairs stand all on end. The taste in the back of my throat is old and lingering adrenaline. I can’t recall when I last felt comfortable and relaxed. When did I last live without fear? The hungry rats crawling in my belly won’t lie still, because they know that the worst is yet to come and they scratch and wriggle trying to get away.

If they know, I should have bloody known. I should have known better, but I took it personally. I thought that losing my mum and dad in the way that I did was about us. About the Kin. That we were hated and we were hunted. Oh so naively I thought it was all about me me me. But the picture was much bigger than that and right now even though I can’t see its edges I at least realize my complete and utter insignificance.

If only i’d kept my head down. Maybe they would have let me live.

Art

Out of the frying pan straight into commissioning art!

I’ve decided that my next “first ” for this year will be some artistic dabbling.

These day’s I’m spending every hour I can (when not at my day job!) writing. It’s what I think of each minute and dream of at night. And it felt natural that I’d want to visualise what they, my beloved and hated characters are like.

Through a friend of a friend I have commissioned a graphic artist to create an image for my blog. I’m hoping that this will then evolve into more images and then one day a book cover.

Yipee!

Been there, listened to that, ate some cake.

The Leicester Alt fiction festival was great. I only attended the Saturday (due to horrid cold that sprang up Sat pm) but really loved it. I think I left Sheffield full of nerves, not knowing what to expect but found the festival informative and encouraging.

I was not the only person flying solo, plenty of people had turned up in cliques but there were those like me that had come with only their nerves, courage and enthusiasm.

What surprised me most (and this probably says a lot about me and how new I am to writing) was how relaxed and easy the atmosphere was. No one stood and shouted “Imposter!! Fraud!” when I walked in, and not only that – there were reassuring words – if you write then you are a writer whether you have published a novel or not.

For the first time I started to feel that maybe that’s what I was. What I am. It’s not something I will one day, maybe, if I work hard, if I’m very lucky…become.

It’s hard to explain lucidly and it’s a concept that I’ve only really analysed with people on my creative writing course. I feel self-conscious writing it.. but here goes… It’s the feeling that you can’t admit that you ‘write’, that you are a writer, to people not in a similar position, to non ‘writing’ civilians. Instead we say it’s a hobby; “something I like to mess around with”, casually. Something to not invoke their ridicule and not convince them that you have delusions of grandeur. You don’t want to be viewed as one of the X factor hopefuls whose family and friends have told them kindly that they have a lovely voice when in fact the truth is not so – they sound like a cat grated.

Being at the festival was quite liberating. No I’m not published but there is no shame in writing. And even if there was it’s not something i can help. I walk, skip and run through my life and everything i see makes me think “What if….”.What if there were dragons? What if I died but stayed around as a ghost able to see what happened next? What if my two best friends got back together against the odds? What if a modern-day Medusa infested a fitness centre? What if my neighbour was a serial killer?Everywhere there is a story. I write them for my self to just express what whirls through my mind. Most will not ever be seen by another but some may.

As well as the inspiration the festival had lots of practical advice on writing, researching and publishing work. It also had something I really valued – input from actual published novelists – the good stories and the hard to hear stories.

All in all so good its in my diary for next year already. In pen!

Blending In

Its a year of first for me. First published story, first blog entry, first tweet…And this weekend my first Writing and Book Festival.

This one is perhaps the most frightening as I cannot do it remotely. I can’t attend via my comfy chair. I going to have to get on the train to Leicester and will be there *gulp* in person and flying solo.

I’m quite a jittery and nervous person as it is, but unknown venues and strange people terrify me. Fleeting thoughts of beta blockers and chamomile tea come and go. Socially these daunting things can be tempered with alcohol but I’m not going there on a whim. Its research and deep interest that force my finger to click confirm on the payment for the weekend ticket and that pay the exorbitant train fare. Turning up boozy would not be how I want to come across.

I distract myself with the question of what does one wear to these events? If I can worry about the minutia it will stop me fretting about the social faux pas I will no doubt perpetrate – if the past is anything to go by.

I want to look nice but not threatening, professional yet not corporate, interesting but not kooky. I opt for black and lots of it but with little make up. I look in the mirror and I’m a middle aged version of Neil Gaiman’s Death. I look alike a beige Goth with dark curly hair. I change, add a bit of colour and having heard that turquoise is disarming in interviews I decide to risk it.

I still feel like a fraud… like an imposter. Sod it I think and I set off. No going back now.

Breaking the Cherry

The blog cherry that is. I must admit mine is hard to break. OK the hang up I have about blogs is hard to dispel.

When they first entered my little world around 2000 it was via friends blogs. I did give them a go at the time. I swear I did. Or at least I tried to. All my perceptions of blogs to date have been coloured with this first experience.

It wasn’t a good one. They were all really journal entries and not the entries of smart and sophisticated adults. They were insights into other people’s deepest inner worlds. Thus a view into their tiny paranoia their  over generous self-esteem and a tagged and classified display of their hang ups, the boulders not chips on their shoulders.

I didn’t then and don’t now want to know how a snub by the office flirt years ago reverberated through a mates inner world and caused permanent scaring that he shields behind a happy-go-lucky smile.

I had till then thought that being able to hear another persons – every persons – thoughts would be a boon but I know differently – if these teen angst prone blogs show any thing it’s that the deepest feelings are best left inside for us to deal with on our own or with professional help. I agree its therapeutic to write down the burden of the inner monologue. It’s just the publishing it to the Universe and its mother that I objected to. Yes write – please do but keep it to your selves.

Recently through new acquaintances and friends as well as my own searchings on the net I have found that blogs can be different. That they are purposeful and can show interesting opinions and beliefs. They can amuse, educate and enlighten and most of all they can entertain and make me laugh.

So where does that put me with the blog I will be attempting? In all honesty I’m not sure. To me this is an experiment. Can I be that amusing and entertaining person? I don’t aspire to write literature but I would love to put words on paper (or screen) that others will love, that will move them and crease their lips in a smile or tug gently at the heart-strings.

We’ll see.