May 16, 2013
Hooray, the 150th post on the blog! Last week, I did an interview with Chris Bennett of the Big Comic Page for their podcast, the Big Comicast. I talked about writing, Glasgow Comic Con, and various upcoming projects, as well as discussing The Standard at length.
April 9, 2013
Tomorrow’s an exciting day for comics isn’t it? Batman #19 AND Saga #12, as a reader, I know I’m eagerly anticipating what lies in store. As a writer, however, I’m interested in another little book you may find on the shelves of your comic shop: The Standard #2!
Yes, after the sell-out success of the first issue, The Standard #2 is now on-sale in select comic stores around the world. Make sure to get your copy fast, as if it’s anything like the previous issue, copies won’t sit on shelves for long! To whet your appetite, here’s a preview of what’s in store for Gilbert Graham and friends. Remember kids, don’t go into creepy dark alleys…
THE STANDARD #2
Written by JOHN LEES
Art by JONATHAN RECTOR
Colors by GULLIVER VIANEI and MIKE GAGNON
Letters by KEL NUTTALL
Edited by STEVEN FORBES
Published by COMIXTRIBE
On sale APRIL 10 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
The critically-acclaimed, award-winning series continues! Once, Gilbert Graham was The Standard, the world’s first and greatest superhero. Now an old man and long retired from crime-fighting, he lives a quiet life as a high school chemistry teacher. But in the wake of the first issue’s shocking conclusion, Gilbert is haunted by old memories – and faced with a serious decision.
February 7, 2013
We’re less than a week away now from the release of The Standard #1 now, and publicity is starting to ramp up. Part of that process has been doing interviews to promote the book. First up is an interview I did with Richard Vasseur of Jazma Online, which can be found here:
Rich: How did you first become involved in writing comics?
John: For the longest time, I’ve loved writing, and I’ve loved comics, but it never occurred to me to put the two together. I finally got into it back in late 2008. I’d graduated from University, and a short film I’d written and had been planning to film had just fallen through, so I was looking for a new creative project to get involved in. At that point, an artist friend of mine approached me about writing a comic for him to draw. He was expecting a gritty noir-type story, and I ended up writing the first issue of The Standard instead! That particular collaboration never happened, but my interest in writing comics remained.
Rich: Why do you think “The Standard” will be a success?
John: I think that ultimately, people are interested in good stories, and I believe The Standard is a good story. But what really helps to set The Standard apart is how good it looks. Each member of the creative team has done a stellar job in ensuring that this is a comic that can proudly stand on the shelves right alongside any Marvel/DC title. I never wanted a comic that looked “good for an indie comic”, I wanted it to look good, full stop.
Rich: How did this comic go from digital to printed form?
John: The lion’s share of the credit for this has to go to Tyler James and the dedicated folks at ComixTribe, who have been hard at work promoting their publishing brand. It began with launching a successful micro-distribution network across America, and from there they managed to get Diamond’s interest. Beginning with Scam #1, ComixTribe managed to jump the hurdle of getting into Previews, and with it open itself up to potential worldwide distribution of its comics. Which feels like a big deal!
Rich: Who is the artist on “The Standard” and what do you think of their art?
John: The artist of The Standard is Jonathan Rector, and I think his art stinks! Haha, no, of course Jonathan Rector is brilliant. He’s the star of the book, in my opinion. It’s funny how often I’ve shown people copies of The Standard, and they get all excited: “Oh, are you the artist?” And you should see how their faces fall when I tell them I’m just the writer! Jon really is an ideal match for this book, and I was so lucky to have found him and brought him onboard this project. Not just because he’s an incredibly gifted artist who makes each page look spectacular, but because he’s just a fantastic, down-to-earth human being as well.
Rich: Can you describe the two men featured as the Standard?
John: Gilbert Graham is the original Standard, a classic, Golden/Silver Age style superhero from a bygone era. In the world of The Standard, Gilbert was the world’s first “real” superhero, complete with an old-school “meteorite/science lab explosion” origin. He was not a grim, tortured soul with a tragic backstory: he was just an inherently good man who became a superhero because he thought it was the right thing to do. The adventures he had in his heyday were light-hearted romps battling mad scientists, giant robots and colourful costumed baddies, apparently a product of a more innocent time.
Alex Thomas is Gilbert’s successor, the Standard of the modern age. Originally The Standard’s sidekick, Fabu-Lad, Alex took on the mantle of The Standard once Gilbert got too old for the gig and retired. But Alex is a very different kind of person than Gilbert. Soon afer becoming The Standard, Alex decided to publicly unmask and revamp his persona from masked vigilante to celebrity, trademarking the Standard brand and making a fortune from merchandise, sponsorship and TV deals. But behind all the fame and glory, Alex is haunted by the fear that he has lost sight of what being a hero truly is.
Rich: Who is the Corpse, what part does he play in “The Standard”?
John: I can’t reveal too much about The Corpse, as he’s something of a mystery man for the first half of the series. But I will say that The Corpse stands as a symbol of the darker, more morally murky world we live in today, where even the heroes are fearsome, shadowy figures. If The Standard is a hero that looks back with nostalgia of how our superheroes once were, The Corpse casts an ominous glance into the future and where our heroes may be headed.
Rich: Are there any moral lessons to be learned from “The Standard”?
John: Respect your elders!!!! But seriously, I don’t know if it’s a moral lesson as such, but I’ve long said that I see The Standard as a counterpoint to the idea that the superhero genre is some juvenile weak link holding the comic medium back, that it’s something we need to “fix”. Maybe it’s us that need “fixing”, if we’ve become so jaded and cynical that we can’t be inspired by heroism on a grand scale anymore. That’s what I want to do with The Standard: remind people how inherently AMAZING the idea of superheroes is, at its core. People who are super not just in their powers, but in their heart, who have an unerring GOODNESS that endures in the face of all hardship and doubt. My goal is to move people and to open their eyes to how special a superhero story can be.
Rich: How did you join Comixtribe?
John: That’s thanks largely to Steven Forbes, the editor of The Standard and my comics mentor. Once I’d finished scripting the final issue of the series, he put me in touch with Tyler James, who was co-founding ComixTribe with Steven. and recommended the comic as one of the upstart publisher’s starting lineup of comics. I was in a position where I could have embarked on the long, disheartening journey of trying to get a publisher interested in the book, or I could jump in at the ground floor with this emerging publisher filled to the brim with talented, passionate creators where I felt I had something to meaningfully contribute. Going for the latter option was an easy decision!
Rich: What will you be working on next?
John: The next project on the horizon for me is Black Leaf, a horror graphic novel drawn by the infinitely versatile Scottish artist Garry McLaughlin. It’s about a young boy from Glasgow who travels up to the Scottish Highlands to care for his ailing grandfather, only to discover these ancient supernatural forces in the woods that, as he soon learns, are not to be trifled with! I’m really excited about this project. Garry’s drawn a big chunk of it, and the pages he’s done look lovely. It’s a very different beast from The Standard, and it was an interesting challenge flexing different creative muscles. Looking further ahead, I have comics collaborations with a couple of other Scottish artists: talented newcomer Chris Connelly and Iain Laurie, one of my comic art heroes.
Rich: Who is Captain Clyde?
John: Captain Clyde is Glasgow’s greatest superhero, which probably makes him the world’s 537th greatest superhero.
Rich: What would you do if you had the Standard’s powers?
John: As much as I’d like to say I’d be a fearless, heroic do-gooder like Gilbert Graham, I imagine I’d end up being more like Alex Thomas. I’m sure if I woke up with amazing powers one day I’d rush to get myself a fabulous spandex costume and proclaim myself a “superhero”, but I’d probably still be too much of a wuss to get myself in real danger!
Rich: What other comics besides “The Standard” would you recommend?
John: I’d recommend Scam and The Red Ten, the other excellent comic titles from ComixTribe, as well as the publisher’s upcoming hardcover graphic novel, The Oxymoron . I’d also recommend No More Heroes, another ace superhero series by a Scottish writer, in this case Gordon McLean. Iain Laurie’s Horror Mountain is one of the best comics of 2012 – strange, horrifying and hilarious – and it’s a crime that more people haven’t read it and appreciated it. Orc Girl and Clockwork by Paul Allor are both stellar, as is Fall by Fabian Rangel Jr and Juan Romera. There are so many comics I could mention!
Rich: How can someone contact you?
John: The best way to reach me is probably via Twitter. My username is @johnlees927.
Rich: Any words for readers of “The Standard”?
John: Thanks for your patience! And thank you so much for your support and encouragement. It means so much to me and everyone else on Team Standard that this comic is being read and enjoyed, and that people want to know what happens next!
Next up is a slightly shorter, but no less enjoyable interview conducted by Chris Bennett of the Big Glasgow Comic Page, which can be found here:
Name: John Lees
Occupation: Comic book writer (“But I prefer the term, ‘dream-weaver’”)
Worst job you had before breaking into Comics: Grave-robber.
Main Influences: The scripts of murdered writers that I plagarise. Also: Grant Morrison, Jason Aaron, Scott Snyder, Vince Gilligan, David Lynch.
What have you been involved in? Several incidents of indecent exposure, and a fledgling crystal meth empire. Oh, you mean in terms of comics? I’m probably best known for “The Standard”, my debut comic series, which won the Scottish Independent Comic Book Award for Best Writer at last year’s Glasgow Comic Con. It’s a superhero drama about a superhero mantle carried on through two generations, with us jumping back and forth in time to see how the world has changed around this icon, and how that icon has changed with it. I’ve also got a story in “The Oxymoron”, a brilliant anthology hardcover telling tales of the diabolical villain from cult indy hit “The Red Ten”.
Top 5 heroes:
2. Swamp Thing
4. Iron Man
5. Commissioner Gordon
Top 5 villains:
1. The Joker
2. Lex Luthor
5. Doctor Octopus
What got you into Comics: As a reader, oh, I’ve been into comics forever. If I were to think back to my youngest years, though, I’d say my earliest love was Batman. The movies, the old TV show, the toys, the classic Animated Series… all of those fed into me moving onto Batman comics, and that opened me up to reading other comics, and the rest, as they say, is history. As a writer? I’d always loved comics, and I’d always loved writing, but never really thought to combine the two until late 2008. I’d not long graduated from University, and a short film project had fallen through, leaving me looking around for what to do with myself next. An artist friend of mine suggested I write a comic script for him to draw, and though that project never materialised, it got me fascinated in comics as a creative medium. And the rest, as they once again say, is history!
Favourite Comic Moment: Oh man, so so SO hard to choose just one. “He isn’t Alec Holland. He never will be Alec Holland. He never was Alec Holland” from “The Anatomy Lesson” in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing springs immediately to mind. Or the heartbreaking moment with Death of the Endless and the baby in “The Sound of Her Wings” (“Is that it? Is that all I get?”) in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Or the whole Joker/Batman funhouse showdown in “The Killing Joke”: my two favourite comic book characters at their most toweringly iconic!
Where can we see you next? Crimewatch? Barring that, “The Standard” gets its big Diamond release on 6th February, so if you haven’t jumped onboard for that yet, now’s your chance. The first 3 issues have already been released in Glasgow, and issue #4 will be on the way soon: Glasgow readers will be getting it before the rest of the world, that’s how much I love you guys! Further down the line, I’m working on “Black Leaf”, a horror graphic novel with Garry McLaughlin, which is written and currently being drawn up, with some publishers interested. I also have “Bad Sun” – a sci-fi thriller set in Glasgow, drawn by “Reality Wars” creator Chris Connelly – in development. And then there’s a project I’m collaborating on with Iain Laurie, one of my comic art heroes, which I’m very excited about. I’m hoping that at least some of these will be ready to share with you all at this summer’s Glasgow Comic Con!
November 12, 2012
With all the excitement around The Standard #1 being released worldwide in January, and the promotional overdrive mode I’ve kicked into for that, I almost forgot to make one other little announcement. On the weekend of Saturday 17th October-Sunday 18th October, I’ll be attending Thought Bubble 2012 in Leeds!
I’m really excited about this con, actually. I’ve never even got to attend as a fan, but from what I’ve heard from people who have been, it could very well be the UK’s best comic con. The guest list is incredible, and there promises to be a large number of comic fans in attendance.
I’ll be selling copies of The Standard, Volume 1, the graphic novel collecting the first 3 issues of the series. I’ll also have additional goodies such as prints and T-shirts available – limited supply of those, though, so hurry while stocks last! I’ll be at table 72 in Armouries Hall, sharing wth Glasgow League of Writers compatriot Gary Chudleigh and artist Graeme Kennedy of Obscure Reference Comics, who will be debuting the 3rd and final issue of their ace thriller series Villainous at the con.
But that’s not all! Thought Bubble will also mark the worldwide debut of GLoW 2, the second anthology from the Glasgow League of Writers. The theme this time round is horror, and I have a couple of gruesome tales in the collection. Stop by the table to pick up a copy!
This is my last con of 2012, and I plan on ending the year on a high. If you’re attending Thought Bubble, stop by the table, say hello, and check out The Standard if you haven’t already. I hope to see you there!
October 19, 2012
Hello everyone! Team ComixTribe is coming out of a highly successful New York Comic Con, where I at last got to meet my artistic collaborator on The Standard, Jonathan Rector. What an awesome guy!
But now that I’m home, it’s time to confirm some big news I’ve been sitting on for a while. As you may know, after the massive success of its micro-distribution program, Comix Tribe made connections with Diamond, and with it gained access to a much larger distribution network. A couple of months back, Scam #1 was the first ComixTribe title to launch worldwide, with issue #2 on the way in October and #3 in December. The Red Ten is already set to be the second ComixTribe property to launch through Diamond, with issue #1 set for December.
Then, in January 2013, it’s time for The Standard.
We’ll be relaunching with issue #1 in January, and from there adopting a bi-monthly schedule that will see #2 come out in March, #3 in May, etc. I’m incredibly excited about this. Every step I’ve taken with The Standard over the past couple of years, from digital distribution to making the book available through local comic shops, to selling at conventions, has all been building up to this: getting a comic in Diamond’s Previews catalogue, and from there potentially opening my book up to a global network of comic stores. For many creators, it’s when your comic gets into Diamond that it all becomes real.
But this is just the beginning. The hard work starts in November. That’s when The Standard #1 will be solicited in Previews. That’s when retailers have to order the book. And that’s when I’ll need your help.
To all of my friends, and to everyone who’s supported The Standard from all over the world, this is your chance to get involved. I want you all to go to your local comic book store, and ask them to order The Standard #1 this coming November. This is the order code they will need:
NOV121047 F STANDARD #1
Note that down, burn it into your memories, whatever. If you want to get your hands on a copy of The Standard #1 in your comic shop, that’s the code you need to pass on to your LCS manager. Whether you’re in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, anything you can do to help widen our comics network will be infinitely appreciated. Mobilise, troops!
2013 is going to be a big year for The Standard. I’m excited. Are you?
September 25, 2012
This past weekend, I was interviewed by Luke Halsall of Geek Syndicate about The Standard, as part of the site’s “Autumn of Indie” series on up-and-coming comic creators. Here’s what I had to say:
What a year it has been for John Lees!
He has released 3 of the 6 issues of his debut comic The Standard, which has received incredible critical acclaim. After being nominated for a SICBA (Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards) last year, he was nominated again this year and won Best Writer. He is a key member of GLoW (Glasgow League of Writers), where he was a part of their first anthology and is also a part of the second. He is also a part of The Oxymoron graphic novel that soared to success through Kickstarter.
GS: Hi John! You have had incredible success with your debut book The Standard, a critical hit that you won a SICBA for, winning Best Writer. Where did the idea come from?
JL: The story of The Standard began back in late 2008, when an artist friend of mine approached me about making a comic with him. The original plan had been to do a crime-noir detective story, but in the midst of thinking about that I came up with something completely different, about an elderly superhero from a more innocent age coming out of retirement in today’s grim-and-gritty world. And while the original collaboration with my friend didn’t materialize, this idea for a superhero, who by this point was called The Standard, stuck around with me. I’ve always loved superheroes, and so I think this is my love letter of sorts to the genre, my attempt to put everything I love about superheroes into a story of my own.
GS: What first inspired you to write comics?
JL: It was a bit of a “Eureka!” revelation for me. I’ve always loved comics, and I’ve always loved writing, but never really put the two together in my mind. I had studied screenwriting as part of my Film & Television Studies course at University, and after graduating I’d had ideas of pursuing that further, but didn’t have a concrete plan in mind. But in shifting mediums to comics, my mind became full of possibilities. It seems, especially when you’re starting out, that writing for film or TV is as much about what you CAN’T do as anything else, but with comics there’s no budget, no restrictions save for what you and your creative team are capable of putting onto paper. I read a brilliant series of columns by editor Steven Forbes called Bolts & Nuts (currently available for reading on www.comixtribe.com) that took this lofty dream of making comics, and set it out as a tangible goal to strive towards, not just in terms of the technical aspects of formatting a comic script, but the practical issues of getting your script made into a comic, published, etc. So, Steven Forbes is someone I definitely have to mention when talking about what inspired me to write comics.
GS: What type of storytelling do you like?
JL: It might seem like a facetious answer, but “good storytelling”. I can enjoy stories in a diverse range of genres and styles, so long as they’re executed well. To narrow it down more, I’d say that ultimately I’m someone who prefers heart over head. Stories of admirable technical invention that are emotionally cold don’t resonate with me so much as stories that, at their core, are about characters.
GS:The Standard is planned to have a diamond release next year in America. Can you tell us more about how this came about?
JL: It’s come about through my relationship with ComixTribe. Steven Forbes is the editor of The Standard, and so when he paired up with Tyler James to form ComixTribe, Tyler offered me a spot on the upstart publisher’s launch line of titles. I was at the ComixTribe booth at New York Comic Con last year, and that was a great experience. In the year since, I’ve seen the company make leaps and bounds. Tyler piloted a micro-distribution scheme across a network of retailers in the US that proved to be such a big success that it put us on Diamond’s radar, and so just recently ComixTribe had its first worldwide release with Scam #1 through Diamond. The Red Ten debuts through Diamond in December, then it’s The Standard in January. I’m very excited (and nervous!) about that, as of course while The Standard has done very well on its more small-scale release around Glasgow and in digital markets, it’s when you’re in Diamond and available to comic shops all around the world that it really feels real.
GS: How does the comixtribe experience work?
JL: ComixTribe are still an upstart publisher, and so they’re not actively seeking new titles to publish at the moment. But what they’ve done that I think is very smart is focus on establishing their brand. With titles like Scam and The Red Ten, the unifying factor is quality, and so hopefully ComixTribe are starting to mark themselves out as a publisher of quality titles. I think what also sets ComixTribe apart is that they’re not just a comics publisher, they’re an online resource. Go to www.comixtribe.com and you’ll find columns about improving your writing, improving your art, and the practicalities of life as a comics professional, as well as reviews of creator-owned comics by yours truly. And so in everything ComixTribe does, there’s just a real passion for comics that I think is infectious.
GS: Can you tell us how you went by getting issue 1 of The Standard made?
JL: I’m not sure how long you want this answer to be! It was a long, sometimes agonizing process, but a real learning curve too. The Standard #1 was the first comic script I had ever written, and so getting the script hammered out was just the beginning. The next step, before art or anything, was editing. Steven Forbes – who I’ve mentioned a couple of times already in this interview – first helped me plot out a rough overview of the story as a whole, shaping it into a 6-part miniseries. Then the script for the first issue went through a few drafts to refine it and iron out the various rookie mistakes.
Next up was hiring an artist. I went to Digital Webbing for that, and put up an ad that got me about 100 responses. I replied to them all, mostly to simply pass on their art. But I picked out a shortlist of possible contenders, and from there narrowed it down to my top choice. That started off great. I got a really cool sample page from this artist, and he had just started sending in character designs when he suddenly became very hard to get a hold of. I’d go weeks with no reply, followed by an apology and a promise to get right back into the swing of things, followed by more weeks of nothing. Eventually, after several months had passed with not a page of art received, I dropped them from the project, and turned to my second choice on the shortlist. This guy provided a sample page that was even better than the first guy’s, and so I hired him as the replacement artist. I promptly got in character designs, and he’d just started working on thumbnails when he informed me that the project he was working on, that he’d been expecting to be finishing up on, had suddenly got a lot bigger, so he gave me the option of either waiting several months for him or moving on, no hard feelings. I took the latter option, but by this point I was feeling pretty disenfranchised with the whole process, and concerned that I’d never find an artist. But Steven Forbes came through trumps, putting me in touch with an artist called Jonathan Rector whose website he’d found via a link on Digital Webbing. I looked at his pages, and I was just floored. As good as the previous artists had been, Jonathan’s art was on a whole other level. And I instantly knew he had to be the artist for The Standard. Steven put the two of us in touch, Jon seemed to be really into the script, and so he agreed to come onboard the project. And the rest is history!
When Jon’s pages started coming in, it was just amazing. There’s nothing quite like getting an email in your inbox, and opening it up to see an idea from your head that you’d written down brought to life with stunning art. I can’t imagine anyone else drawing this book now, and it’s unbelievable that it was almost somebody else drawing it. Everything worked out for the best on that front! Once all the pencils and inks were done, we brought onboard Kel Nuttall as the letterer, and put together a black-and-white edition of The Standard #1, which I shopped around to a few people at San Diego Comic Con 2010. The colour came later, after we linked up with ComixTribe and Tyler James emphasized its importance. That led to Ray Dillon doing the colouring for the first issue, though we’ve subsequently had Gulliver Vianei replace him for issue #2, and currently have the talented Mike Gagnon in the role.
With a completely drawn, coloured and lettered comic, I initially had the book published via print-in-demand at Ka-Blam, which made up the product I originally distributed to stores in Glasgow. But then my association with ComixTribe hooked me up with ICG Publishing, who published a more polished product that I’ve been selling at conventions. And in January 2013, 4 years after starting work on issue #1, it’ll be getting a Diamond release, with a new cover and some additional backmatter. 4 years later and I’m still going about getting The Standard #1 made!
GS: You and Jonathan Rector have produced some stunning work on The Standard. What is it like working with him and how is it working with a man who lives in Canada when you live in Scotland?
JL: Jonathan Rector is great. I’ve said before that he’s my secret weapon on this book, as his stunning artwork is what brings eyes to the comic. I see people’s eyes light up when I tell them I made the comic, but then I think they’re usually disappointed when I tell them I didn’t draw it! It was important to me that I made a book that could be happily sat on the shelf next to a Marvel or DC book and not look out-of-place, and thanks to Jon I succeeded in that goal. And he’s getting better all the time! It also helps that he’s an absolutely great guy, with seemingly boundless enthusiasm.
As for what it’s like working with someone who lives in Canada while I’m stuck in sunny Scotland, it’s an interesting experience. We live in an incredible age, where communicating with a creative team located on the other side of the world can be done instantaneously. The internet has really opened the network of collaboration for creators all over the globe. It’s funny that we’ve been working together so closely all this time, and become friends in the process, but after all this time we’ve never actually met. I’ll be meeting him for the first time at New York Comic Con, which I’m greatly looking forward to!
GS: We are half way through The Standard and we can see that things are starting to tease out where it could go. Will we see a Standard 2 at any point? Or a spin-off with one of the support characters?
JL: I don’t really want to give anything away, but I will say that I do feel there is scope to tell further stories set in this world, in one form or another.
GS: To any aspiring creator out there, what would you say is the best piece of advice?
JL: The best possible advice I can give is to create! If you want to write comics, go out there and get your own comic made! It doesn’t matter if you don’t quite know what you’re doing yet, there’s no better way to learn than by doing it. Scripts are one thing, but they’ll never be a match for having a completed, printed comic with your name on it. Sell that comic at local marts, see if your local store will stock it, just do what you can to get it out there. Then you’re not an aspiring creator. You’re a creator.
GS: Where you would like to be in 10 years time?
JL: It would be easy to say something like “writing Batman” here. But I think more importantly, in 10 years time I want to still be writing comics. I want it to be my career, how I make my living, and I want to be making a healthy living from doing that. And I’d like to still have the same passion for the medium that I do now, and still be telling stories that excite me and keep me awake at night, my mind buzzing with characters and plot beats. Though if that happens to involve writing Batman, I wouldn’t object!
You can read the interview at its original source over on Geek Syndicate. And be sure to check the site for interviews with more exciting indy creators, as well as an inerview with me and Garry McLaughlin about our upcoming collaboration, Black Leaf.
September 11, 2012
After the resounding success of last year, I am pleased to report that I’ll be once again making the Trans-Atlantic trip to the US for New York Comic Con on 11th-14th October, representing The Standard at the ComixTribe table.
This year, after the success and growth of the past 12 months, ComixTribe’s presence at the con will be bigger and better. We’ll have more books on sale, including the debut of Kickstarter success story The Oxymoron, and a wider range of merchandise. As far as the presence of The Standard is concerned, we’ll be bringing the first 3 issues of the series with us, along with The Standard, Volume 1, a lovely graphic novel collecting those first three issues in a single edition. We’ll also have Standard T-shirts on sale, and a couple of exclusive prints.
But that’s not the best part. The news that has me really excited is that, for the first time, artist extraordinaire Jonathan Rector will be making his way to New York Comic Con. That’s right: the writer/artist creative team of The Standard will both be on hand! I’m personally over the moon that I’ll finally be able to meet my longtime collaborator in person for the first time, and any con attendees should jump at the chance to grab a sketch or an Artist Edition of The Standard #1 with a hand-drawn cover by the man himself!
I’ll be posting up more updates – including our table number/location and any other relevant news nuggets you should know – once more information becomes available. Watch this space…. and, hopefully, I’ll see some of you in October!
July 3, 2012
I’ve talked before about how much I was looking forward to Glasgow Comic Con this year, about how I attended last year as a fan, and returning as a pro this year felt like a homecoming. Certainly, Glasgow Comic Con was an event I was eagerly anticipating. But even I had no idea just how great a con it was going to be.
One of the criticisms of last year’s con that, with everything crammed into a single venue at the Mackintosh Church, things got pretty cramped. With all the retailers and small press professionals all exhibiting together, and signings in the same area, there was very little space to move around in the dealer’s hall, or indeed to linger at any tables that caught your interest. That shortcoming was addressed this year with the addition of another venue, Queen’s Cross Hall, situated across the street from the main building. The hall was bright, spacious and airy, and I have to say opening it up for use was a great move. This is where I was located, and I loved it. In fact, I ended up spending most of the weekend there and very little time in the Mackintosh Church itself. As a result, I can comment very little on the pros and cons of the convention as a whole. For a great, comprehensive overview of the event, check out the report from Comics Anonymous. All I can say is that, from the perspective of a professional selling my wares, and from talking to other professionals, Glasgow Comic Con was a massive success.
Things started off a bit slow on the Saturday morning. Nobody was coming into the hall, and I was momentarily panicked that perhaps the seperate venue meant there would be no passing trade. I needn’t have worried, however. It turned out that most people were attending the opening panel for the first hour or so of the show, and with that over people began filtering into Queen’s Cross Hall. I was pleased with the layout of our tables, with me sharing my Standard table with the Glasgow League of Writers’ GLoW 1 anthology, Colin Bell and Neil Slorance’s Jonbot VS Martha and Neil Slorance’s Nine Lines of Metro, and the table next to us shared by Gary Chudleigh and Graeme Kennedy with Villainous and Gordon McLean with No More Heroes, so it was like our whole side of the hall was “the GLoW wing.” The real hot seller for the first half of the day was GLoW 1, which made me happy as we were initially worried about whether the demand for the book would be enough to justify the price we were selling it at. Major credit must go to Luke Halsall, who was a selling machine all weekend, shifting anthologies like no one’s business. But as the day went on, sales for The Standard, Volume 1 – the graphic novel collecting issues 1-3 – began to really pick up steam. By the afternoon, Queen’s Cross Hall was jumping with people, and our table was so busy that I had the unusual experience of signing sold copies of The Standard while pitching the book to more interested con-goers, and simultaneously signing copies of GLoW 1 being handed to me. I just have to give major kudos to the Glasgow comic reader community. They arrived at the con with an active interest in finding new comics to try, keen and receptive to good pitches, and eager to support local talent. Some sales were as simple as, “Can I interest you in my comic, The Standard?”/”Sure, how much?”
With things going so well, I was riding on too much of a wave of adrenaline to leave my table much. But I did get away on a couple of occasions. Once for a Frank Quitely signing, where I got my copy of Absolute All Star Superman (previously signed by Morrison) signed by the acclaimed artist. And later in the day, I attended the Grant Morrison signing, which seemed to take quite a while longer as the legendary writer seemed to enjoy having lengthy wee chats with most of the folks in the queue. I got my Deluxe Edition of We3 (previously signed by Quitely) signed, and the always-engaging Morrison was keen to chat for a wee bit and pose for a photo.
But as enjoyable as my encounters with the world-renowned superstars of the comic industry were, the real pleasure was getting to meet and hang out with my friends on the independent comics scene. As previously mentioned, I was sharing a pair of table with Gordon McLean, Graeme Kennedy, Gary Chudleigh, Colin Bell, Neil Slorance and Luke Halsall, and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer bunch of folks to spend the con with. Special thanks also go to GLoW compatriots Sam Read, Jane Sayer and Iain McGarry for taking shifts at the table assisting us in selling our wares, and Fraser Craig and Stuart Ritchie for frequently stopping by to check in. I got to spend a little time chatting to some of my artistic collabotors. Garry McLaughlin – who I worked with on GLoW 1 short The Awesome Doggy Boy and will be drawing Black Leaf, the upcoming horror graphic novel I’m writing – stopped by for a while, and the legendary Iain Laurie stopped by to give me a copy of his brilliant Horror Mountain and discuss possible future projects. I spent quite a bit of time chatting and hanging out with Chris Connelly, who wrote and drew the SICBA-nominated Reality War, which I fortunately bought a copy of before it sold out. And in the Grant Morrison queue I got to spend some time talking to Ross Leonard, writer of another SICBA-nominee, Maximum Alan, which I also picked up later in the show. It really feels great to be part of such a vibrant, passionate creative community as the Glasgow comic scene, full of incredibly talented, and more importantly, incredibly nice people.
By the end of day 1, I had sold through almost all of the stock of The Standard, Volume 1 I’d brought with me. In one day at Glasgow Comic Con, I had made more from sales than I did over the whole weekend at Kapow Con in London. I was amazed at how successful a day it had been. But things were set to get even better.
As a nominee, I was invited to the SICBA awards party at the Citizen M Hotel. The swanky city centre venue was a major shift upwards from the previous year, where the event was simply held in the dealer’s hall. This year felt more like an official awards ceremony, and as we got clearer to the time for the winners to be announced I was surprised to find myself getting nervous! We began with the Outstanding Contribution to Comics award, presented by last year’s winner Alan Grant. This went to Dave Alexander, someone who has been working hard in the British comics scene for some 30 years and perhaps never quite got the widespread recognition he deserved. He seemed genuinely surprised and humbled by the award, and I was happy to see him get it. Next up was the award for Best Cover, which went to well-deserved winner James Devlin for his fantastic cover to School of the Damned #1. And then the nerves really set in, as it came to the first category I was nominated for: Best Writer. The tension was ramped up even more by a comically overlong process of announcing the nominees, with some confusion about who the runners-up were. But finally, it was time to announce the winner…. and it was me!
Walking up to claim my award and give an acceptance speech was an incredibly surreal experience. And having Jim Starlin sitting a couple of feet away from me didn’t make it any easier! I stumbled through a speech – opening with a clunker of a joke that no one laughed at and saying “Umm” too much – but everyone was very polite and clapped at the end, and when I returned to my table on a total high. I was over the moon, and so happy and proud.
Up next was the Best Artist award, which once again went to James Devlin for School of the Damned. I did record the announcement and James’ gracious acceptance speech (the plan was to record all the speeches that night) but with apologies to Mr. Devlin, I must admit I accidentally deleted it. The final award of the night was Best Comic Book/Graphic Novel, the second category The Standard was nominated in. During the applause for the nominees, the vibrations shook my award off the table, and the base broke off! But a couple of days later, some superglue seems to have fixed it up adequately. But back to the awards… taking home two awards would have been incredible. But in the end, we got perhaps an even better result: No More Heroes won. And so we had two different members of the Glasgow League of Writers sharing in the glory at this year’s Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards.
Between the massive sales and the SICBA triumph, Saturday was absolutely amazing. I knew going in that Sunday was never going to quite match it. Still, the second day of the con still went rather well. I had to bring in my remaining stock of graphic novels with me, the stock I’d been planning on keeping aside for Thought Bubble in November, in order to replenish the depleted stock after Saturday. Sunday began with a pre-con breakfast with a few of my GLoW cohorts – including Gordon Robertson, who made a welcome appearance after being unable to attend on the Saturday – before we headed over to Queen’s Cross Hall to get back into selling mode. The big story of the day was GLoW 1 completely selling out within the first couple of hours. Things got off to a slower start for The Standard, Volume 1, but as the day went on I steadily picked up steam and I made a decent number of sales, and by the end of the day I only had a handful left. Perhaps my proudest achievement of the day was being able to sell a copy to Batman, who had to remove his gloves and retrieve some money from his utility belt to buy the book.
By the time we finally closed up shop at 5pm, I had made even more from The Standard in 2 days at Glasgow Comic Con than I’d made over the whole four days of New York Comic Con last year, which is far more than I dreamed of being able to sell. A few members of the Glasgow League of Writers wrapped up the weekend with a post-con dinner at Lucky 7 and a trip to the Insane Championship Wrestling show at The Garage, but to be honest, I went through it all in a daze. I was exhausted, the adrenaline high that carried me through finally wearing off, but I was totally content and happy with my amazing weekend.
What I loved about Glasgow Comic Con this year was that it really felt like a celebration of Scottish creators. Even amongst the big-name guests, for most there was a Scottish connection there. And it seems many of the big success stories of the show in terms of sales were independent, creator-owned comics from local creators. Rather than trying to be a mini-version of a huge American con, Glasgow Comic Con was quite proudly the GLASGOW Comic Con, and the attendees seemed to respond to that. As a creator with a table, I didn’t just feel like one of a sea of exhibitors, but rather I felt like part of a community. A great vibe, that I hope can be replicated for years to come. A big thank you must go out to con organisers John Farman and Sha Nazir, who helped me have my most successful con ever. And thanks must go to everybody who came along and supported The Standard and other local comics. Looking forward to seeing you at Glasgow Comic Con 2013!
July 2, 2012
Saturday 30th June was a great day for The Standard. The Standard, Volume 1, the graphic novel collection of the first 3 issues of the series, made its worldwide debut at Glasgow Comic Con during the day and sold very well. Then, at the SICBA awards party, The Standard was nominated in two categories: Best Comic Book/Graphic Novel, and Best Writer. I’m pleased to report that we were the winners in the latter category!
I was proud to accept the Best Writer award at this year’s SICBAs, and really, it’s an award shared by the whole creative team. From artist Jonathan Rector, to the various colorists and flatters who have worked on the series (including current colorist Mike Gagnon), to letterer Kel Nuttall, to editor Steven Forbes, everyone has played a part in ensuring that my script has evolved into a beautiful finished comic. At this time last year, the first issue had just been finished, and was a dark horse nominee on the SICBA shortlist that nobody had really heard of before the voting opened up. So to then come back this year and win an award means so much. This is something I’ll always treasure. And it’s absolutely fantastic that I can now call The Standard an award-winning comic! Thanks to everyone who voted, and everybody else who has read the book and showed your support.
June 25, 2012
This weekend, on Saturday 30th June and Sunday 1st July, Glasgow Comic Con 2012 will be taking place at the Mackintosh Church Arts & Heritage Centre, at Garscube Road, just off Maryhill Road. Following on from the success of last year’s inaugural event in the same venue, this year’s Glasgow Comic Con returns bigger and better, expanded to 2 days, spread out across multiple halls, and with more A-list guests including comics legends Grant Morrison and Jim Starlin. And in amidst the festivities, I’ll be bringing (2-time SICBA nominee!) The Standard along for the ride!
This feels like a major homecoming from me. At this time last year, I was just a bewildered fan with a comic I’d made, too new to the comics scene to know anybody or even have a table at the con to sell my wares. Having The Standard nominated at the Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards last year was my first “professional” experience in the comics world, my first peek at the other side of the curtain as I got to attend the awards party with all these creators whose work I admired and respected. I felt a bit like a gatecrasher or a blag artist even being there! Now, one year later, I get to return to Glasgow Comic Con, this time with my own table, selling The Standard.
Not just selling The Standard, either. No, I’m selling the world-premiere graphic novel The Standard, Volume 1, which collects the first 3 issues of my 6-issue miniseries. Comic fans in Glasgow will be able to get this book before anyone else in the world, and in my opinion that’s the least I could do. The Glasgow comic community has been so great in its support of this book, after all. I have a table at the Queen’s Cross Hall, where you’ll also be able to buy copies of GLoW 1, the first anthology of the Glasgow League of Writers.
If that’s not reason enough to attend Glasgow Comic Con, consider this: this year, attending the con on Saturday is the only way to vote in the SICBAs. I would really love your support, guys, so please, come to Glasgow Comic Con, and cast your vote. I’m nominated for Best Writer, and The Standard is nominated for Best Comic, with The Standard #3 as the submitted issue. There are plenty of other worthy nominees, so it might turn out you want to vote for one of their wonderful books, but either way you should attend and cast a vote if you can!
Now, the big question: how do you get tickets for Glasgow Comic Con? There will be a limited number of tickets on sale at the door, depending on availability. But if you want to ensure your place at the con, tickets are now available from these four shops in Glasgow:
- Comics by Post
- City Centre Comics
- Plan B Books
- The Shop of Interest
Here’s all the ticket info:
For more info on Glasgow Comic Con, including a full guest list, a schedule of events for the day, and directions on how to get to the venue, visit the official site.
I’m really excited about this coming weekend. I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely great, and it would be even better if I could see some of you guys there. Come along, have a great geeky day out, pick up your world-exclusive copy of The Standard, Volume 1 and vote in the Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards. Show your love for The Standard, and for Scottish comics!