On the last update to the site, I talked about how The Standard #5 was due for release in September, with The Standard #6 – the final issue – set to hit soon afterwards.  Well, that plan has changed.  See, New York Comic Con is coming up in October, and my goal for the past year has been to have the complete series published and ready to sell for that big blowout show.  And under the current publishing cycle, that just wasn’t going to be possible.  All the more annoying since The Standard #6 has been complete for a while now.  So the folks at ComixTribe came up with a solution, and so issues #5 and #6 have now been combined into a single, double-sized finale, set for release on September 24th!

TheStandard6Cover

That’s right, now The Standard #5 will contain Chapters 5 AND 6 of the story, in a single, jampacked, 56-page mini-OGN of a volume… all for just $4.99!

Readers in Glasgow have already had the chance to see how the story ends thanks to the release of convention-exclusive editions of The Standard #5 and The Standard #6 at Glasgow Comic Con last month, with the consensus being that these two final chapters are the best of the series.  Now, readers worldwide will have the chance to read them in a single sitting.  It’s not too late to request your local comic shop order in some copies, the order code is:

JUL141052

So, it’s official.  In September, at last, I will be able to say that I have released a full comic series into the worldwide comic market.  And at last, after sticking with this story all this time, all of you will be able to find out how the adventure of Gilbert Graham comes to an end.  Thanks for your support… and see you in September!

It’s been a long wait in between issues, but The Standard is finally entering its endgame.  This September, The Standard #5 will be hitting comic shops worldwide.  Here is the cover, along with the solicit details:

Standard_issue5_cover

THE STANDARD #5

(W) John Lees (A) Jonathan Rector, Will Robson (CA) Jonathan Rector

ComixTribe’s acclaimed superhero drama returns! The horrifying truth behind Alex Thomas’ murder stands revealed. As The Standard is faced with defeat and despair, Zena Zarthos is haunted by the ghosts of her past and the difficult choices that lie in her future. Is this the beginning of the end?

 

The Standard #5 is now available to pre-order from Previews.  The order code is:

JUL141052

If you’ve been reading and supporting the series thus far, and have been awaiting its return, then the time is now.  Let your local comic shop know that the comic has returned, and that you’d like them to order it in.  And the best news is that The Standard #6 is complete, and will be following close behind!

If you want to catch up, The Standard #1-#4 can all be found on ComiXology.

 

Things have been quiet on this blog again, I know, but it was with good reason.  I’ve been staying true to my word of focusing on getting the work done before marketing it… potentially prematurely.  Well, I needn’t worry about that anymore, as over the weekend, I was able to finally draw a line under the project.  That’s right: all art, coloring and letters for The Standard #6 are finished, meaning that active production on this series is now complete!

I’m sure I’ll be writing up my concluding thoughts on this massive creative journey in more depth soon.  But for now, I want to look forward to Glasgow Comic Con.  This year’s con is being held from Saturday 5th July to Sunday 6th July, at the CCA.  Buy your tickets here!  As longtime Standard readers will know, I always like to offer something special to attendees of my hometown con.  And so, this year, those attending Glasgow Comic Con will be the first in the world to get the chance to read not just The Standard #5… but The Standard #6 too!  That’s right, Glasgow readers will get to see how the epic superhero saga ends months before everyone else in the world, with issue #5 not due for worldwide release until September, with issue #6 following in November!

And that’s not all!  Glasgow Comic Con attendees will also be able to get these two issues with convention-exclusive covers from Glasgow artist Chris Connelly!  Chris has form at Glasgow Comic Con, quickly selling out of his debut comic, Reality War, at the 2012 show.  We’re working together on the Scottish sci-fi series Bad Sun, the first issue of which debuted at last year’s show.  We’ll be tabling together this year, with Chris showcasing some new work of his own.  But he’ll also be on hand to sign these gorgeous covers he did for The Standard #5 and #6.  Here’s your exclusive first look!

The Standard #5:

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The Standard #6:

Standard6GCC

I hope to see you at Glasgow Comic Con!

Evan Henry of Broken Frontier wrote this thoughtful, flattering piece about The Standard as part of his “Why You Should Be Reading” series back in March:

Every once in a while, somewhere between the barrage of monthly Big Two titles that dominate the comics industry’s headlines and the periphery of the indie scene that often eschews superheroes, a book comes along that throws a wrench into the works.

The Standard is one of those books, and whether you love superheroes or love to hate them, it’s sure to have something for you, as it puts Gilbert Graham, the eponymous Standard, through the wringer, along with the very idea of heroism itself.

With Graham in retirement, Alex Thomas, the Standard’s former sidekick, formerly and lamentably known as Fabu-Lad, has taken up the hero’s mantle. For Gilbert, life takes on a welcome simplicity.

Now making a living as a high school chemistry teacher, he is able to fade into the background, leaving his status as the world’s first superhero behind, seemingly for good. But all that comes crashing down when Alex decides to unmask, revealing not only his own identity, but also that of his legal guardian, Gilbert Graham.

With Alex’s decision having blown both of their identities wide open, media inquiries and requests for interviews come flooding in. While Gilbert only retreats deeper into seclusion, Alex jumps at the opportunity, transforming The Standard into a multi-million-dollar brand.

The second Standard’s fame is short-lived, however: after a bloody night-time attack in his own home, Sky City’s greatest hero is dead at the hands of an unknown killer. Here is where the story of this book really kicks into high gear, and Gilbert Graham’s quest to find his protégé’s murderer begins.

Along the way, our past-his-prime hero finds himself pitted against enemies from his past, many of whom would be every bit at home in an episode of Adam West’s Batman. And with the art of Jonathan Rector, reminiscent of 1950s and ‘60s work when it needs to be, The Standard cultivates this mood perfectly, setting the present-day scenes of the book in stark contrast.

Writer John Lees has a great ear for dialogue, and he manages to split the difference between the “Silver Age” scenes and more modern events without either seeming out-of-place relative to the other.

In many ways, the success of The Standard lies in the tension between these two time frames, and between the two approaches to superheroics represented by our duo of heroes. The lighthearted Gilbert Graham is emblematic of a simpler time, calling to mind an era when simplistic, cut-and-dried morality tales dominated superhero comics.

All is not as it appears, though, and as we watch Lees and company peel back the four-color façade of Graham’s life, the tone shifts abruptly, to a dark, gritty, but not quite pessimistic take on heroes.

This divide has been explored before, of course, but The Standard tackles it in a way few other comics manage to do. Where writers like Alan Moore or J. Michael Straczynski may revel in pushing the envelope and driving ostensibly heroic characters fully over the edge into depravity, Lees treats his characters with a bit more tact. There are no Comedian-esque caricatures here – no one who exists solely as the foil to a more optimistic ideal. It’s not a better take, necessarily, but it is a unique one, in a subtle but significant way.

It’s easy to pick out similarities between The Standard and other books; at the more recent end of things, Straczynski’s Sidekick (with art by Tom Mandrake) especially comes to mind. The two books certainly share themes, and there are analogous characters, but don’t mistake this comic as derivative or a rip-off of previous ideas (it actually debuted about a year before Sidekick, and advance copies were making the rounds of review sites a year before that).

Alex Thomas and Gilbert Graham are portrayed in a remarkably realistic way, flaws and all, but this is no typical critique or examination of the superhero genre. At some point along the way, The Standard transcends that old saw of an idea, and the story is better for it.

In many ways, The Standard is a more level-headed take on “gritty” superheroes than any we’ve seen in quite a while, successfully avoiding the cynical indulgence that sometimes robs heroes of all their heroic qualities. Comix Tribe has successfully managed to put together a first-class creative team; if you’re limiting yourself to Big Two books, or even Big Four, this is the sort of comic that crops up occasionally to remind you how dumb that is.

Whether you like your superheroes gritty or bright and shiny, The Standard synthesizes old ideas into a fresh (and damn good) new story. In short, it’s one comic you definitely should be reading.

To see the article over on Broken Frontier, a great news and reviews resource for comics, click here.  Thanks for taking the time to write such an awesome article, Evan!

 

The Standard (John Lees & Jonathan Rector)

The big finale of The Standard is fast approaching!  Issue #5 has been solicited for a September release, but on the horizon shortly after that is the 6th and final issue of the Standard saga.  The artwork is almost completely finished for it, and then it’s just a matter of finishing touches before its ready to go to print.

Let me tell you, the whole creative team is firing on all cylinders for these last two issues, and issue #6 in particular is just devastating.  And now, to give you just a little taste, here’s the unveiling of Jonathan Rector’s amazing cover for the final issue:

TheStandard6Cover

Pretty incredible, eh?  I already want to have this put onto a print for New York Comic Con this October!  Speaking of which, how cool is it that visitors to NYCC this year will likely be able to get their hands on the whole series?

Anyone who follows me on social media will notice that a lot of my attention lately has been focused on And Then Emily Was Gone, my new comics project, drawn by Iain Laurie and published by ComixTribe. It’ll be getting distributed worldwide through Diamond, and will be releasing monthly starting in July. You can order the first issue in the May Previews: order code MAY141251 F. Make sure you check out the comic’s official blog: visitmerksay.wordpress.com. But amidst the whirlwind of promotion for my new, shiny comics endeavour, some people might be wondering what’s going on with my first comics project. Have I forgotten about The Standard?

TheStandard05_01pWell, first, let me explain why I could never forget about The Standard. I’ll have to go all the way back to 2008. I’d graduated from University with a Joint Honours degree in Film & TV and English Literature, and I had that cold terror in the pit of my stomach that my education was now over, I was an “adult,” and I needed to start figuring out what to do with my life. I wanted to write, I knew that much. That’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do. But I had no real inkling of where to channel that creativity. I was supposed to be making a short film, but that never really panned out the way I wanted to. The process of telling stories through film was an infuriating murk of cost and compromise, and trying to wade through it was leaving me feeling increasingly disillusioned about my ability or inclination to try and pursue my writing dream. But then I shifted mediums to comics – another lifelong love which for some reason I’d never really thought to pair with my love of writing – and everything clicked into place. And rather than dipping my toe in the water, I dove right in, and started with my dream project. I sat and thought, “If I only ever get to make comic, what would be my ultimate comic?” And that’s how The Standard came to be: it was the ultimate passion project for me at that point in my life. And that passion has saw me through a hell of a journey, spanning years now. Sobering thought: I’ve now been making The Standard for longer than I was at University, and come the end of this year I’ll have been making The Standard for longer than I was in high school. This comic has been a significant part of my life, and through The Standard I have found my vocation. How could I possibly forget about something so important to me?

TheStandard05_02p

With that established, let me explain why things have been so quiet on this blog since the announcement that Will Robson would be joining Jonathan Rector on the book as co-artist for the last two issues. I’ve been running this blog for years now, and I’ve learned a lot about marketing and promoting your work in that time. And one of the difficult lessons I’ve learned is to not make promises you can’t keep and talk the talk when you can’t walk the walk with comics content to back it up. So, rather than bleating on about hopeful ETAs and constant progress reports/apologies, I’ve waited. I’ve focused on getting this comic done. And now, it nearly is done. Issue #5? Completely finished, done, sitting ready to go to the printers. Issue #6? Not too far behind. The vast majority of the art is completed. Jonathan Rector just recently sent me the final page. Not his final page, he’s still got a couple more to draw. But the literal final chronological page, the end of the story. And I’ll tell you now, when I saw that, it hit me like a sledgehammer. With all that’s happened in my life and all the experiences I’ve had and changes I’ve gone through in the time since the first page of issue #1 arrived in my inbox and The Standard first began to transform from some words of script on a page into a bona-fide comic book, to finally, at last, see the final stop on that journey, our final goodbye to Gilbert Graham and his world… it felt incredible. In all my years of making comics, I’ve never got to see a story right through to its finale, outside of shorts. So to see a page that letterer Kel Nuttall will be writing THE END on is a phenomenal milestone.

TheStandard05_03pThat’s something that’s going to make 2014 huge for me. This year will see both And Then Emily Was Gone and The Standard published to completion, and before the year is out I will have not one, but two completed comic credits to my name. I won’t just be a writer who’s working on some comics, I’ll be a writer with a bibliography. Not that I’ll be resting on my laurels: in 2015 I’ll be chasing down some new milestones, namely putting together my first collected graphic novels of my work! But for now I’ve got this goal for 2014 obsessively in mind.

TheStandard05_04p

But I don’t want to reach this goal alone. I hope you’ll all come along for the ride. The Standard #5 is complete, The Standard #6 is nearly complete, but you’re not going to see them right away. We’re holding back on the release a little longer. It’s already been several months since The Standard #4 hit, so we feel a little longer won’t hurt. We’re wanting to hold back on releasing The Standard #5 until after the cluster of ComixTribe titles hitting shelves in the summer, so we can use those books to advertise The Standard and generate some interest again in case it’s cooled during the title’s months in hiatus. But when those last two chapters hit, it’ll be in relatively close succession. So, while it’s yet to be set in stone, expect to see The Standard #5 in September and The Standard #6 in November. Though attendees of Glasgow Comic Con, as ever, might be privy to seeing some stuff a little sooner! But the point I want to make is, to all of you out there who have read the book and supported it, I hope you will continue to do so as it comes to its conclusion. Jonathan Rector, Will Robson and colorist Mike Gagnon are absolutely killing it on the visuals, producing some of their most beautiful work yet, and from what I’ve seen, these two issues are going to be on a whole other level above what has come before. I assure you, it’s going to be worth the wait! I’ve not forgotten about The Standard, and I hope you won’t either.

So…fear not, bold reader. For when evil and injustice threaten the world once more… when the time is right… The Standard will return!

 

The Standard #1-#4 are currently available to buy from ComiXology.

Happy New Year, folks!

It’s around this time that everyone makes resolutions for the year ahead, and one of mine was to make sure that 2014 is the year that The Standard is completed and collected.  And to help me do that, I am bringing on a new artist onto the book.

Don’t worry!  The mighty Jonathan Rector is still very much part of the creative team, and will be with us through to the series finale.  But for issues #5 and #6, he will be splitting art duties with another artist, who it is my pleasure to introduce to you now.  Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Will Robson!

WillRobson1I first met Will back at New York Comic Con in 2012, and have been watching him grow as an artist ever since.  He’s very talented, and getting better all the time.  And as can be seen, his dynamic style is very much in keeping in the spirit of Jonathan Rector’s magnificent work on The Standard thus far.  Jon and I are both very excited to have him onboard as co-artist, and keen to see what he brings to the book.

This is not a decision I took lightly.  I wasn’t going to have anyone but Jonathan Rector draw The Standard unless I was certain it was someone who could do it justice.  And the most important thing to take from all this is that The Standard is in safe hands, and will come to an explosive conclusion within the next few months.  If you’ve enjoyed the series thus far, stay onboard… the last two issues are the most dramatic, devastating chapters of them all!

StandardWillRobson1If you still need to catch up on The Standard, the first 4 issues are all available to buy from ComiXology.

TheStandard04_00fcpLast week saw the debut of The Standard #3 on ComiXology – you can buy it here.  And for those of you who are all caught up on the series, the second half of the Standard saga begins with the release of The Standard #4 in select comic stores worldwide tomorrow!  If you are a terrible person and you forgot to pre-order this latest issue with your local comic shop, it’s not too late to give them this Diamond order code and ask them to get a copy in for you:

AUG131152

If you’re on the fence about picking up issue #4, here’s a little preview to whet your appetite…

TheStandard04_01p TheStandard04_02p TheStandard04_03p TheStandard04_04p TheStandard04_05p

WRITER: John Lees

ARTIST: Jonathan Rector

COLORIST: Mike Gagnon

LETTERER: Kel Nuttall

EDITOR: Steven Forbes

PUBLISHER: ComixTribe

COPYRIGHT INFO: © John Lees

PRICE: $3.99

RATING: Teen + Up

FORMAT: Single issue, 28 pages, color (4 of 6 miniseries)

The Standard is back, but not everyone is happy to see him return. And with a monstrous killer still on the loose and the body-count of headless victims continuing to pile up, Gilbert Graham’s heroic comeback might be fatally short-lived. Also: The Standard and The Corpse, face-to-face at last!

It’s been a little quiet on the Standard front lately, with some shipping delays holding back the Diamond release of The Standard #4.  But now I’m excited to share not one but two nifty news updates!

First, next Wednesday, 12/4, The Standard #3 debuts on ComiXology.  Thus far we’ve had a great deal of success with the first issues going live on ComiXology, with the comic reaching a whole new audience and becoming more widely available than ever before.  So I’m really keen for these new readers to check out the third issue, notable for being Mike Gagnon’s first outing as main colorist – he’s now the regular in the role! – and for giving us the first appearance of The Skunk!

standard_issue3_coverCOLOUR

And once those new readers are all caught up on the first half of the series, it’ll be just nice timing for the worldwide print release of The Standard #4.  One week after issue #3 hits ComiXology, on 12/13, The Standard #4 will be in select comic shops all over the globe.  I know it’s been a wait, but I for one am so eager for you all to check this one out.  I feel like this issue has turned out as the best of the series thus far, with everyone involved raising their game to new heights.  I’m really proud of this comic, and hope you all enjoy it!

Standard4Cover

 

New York Comic Con 2013 is mere days away, and it just occurred to me I haven’t made the formal announcement yet that I will indeed be returning for the third consecutive year to shill for The Standard at the ComixTribe table!  The Standard #1-#3, plus a highly limited supply of issue #4, will be on-sale at the ComixTribe table.  This year, we can be found at Booth 1172 on the show floor.

I’ll also have a limited supply of the first issue of And Then Emily Was Gone, my new horror/mystery series.  So, if you’ve already picked up The Standard from me at a previous con and you’re curious about trying something new from me, you should give this a shot!

It’s going to be a big show for ComixTribe this year.  We have more of a presence at the show than ever, and we have a slate of big announcements scheduled to be unveiled over the course of NYCC.  Pay close attention to http://www.comixtribe.com over the coming week for the inside scoop on some exciting new happenings with the publisher.

I’m all ready to set off for New York tomorrow.  If you plan on attending the show, I hope to see you there!

NewYorkComicConLogo

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