Upcoming projects, and things by others I’m currently carousing with (eg. reading)

jhp55b8fc5a17393I have a few projects “in the wind” so to speak, which I usually prefer to avoid talking up โ€” I’m a bit of a cynic and fret they might gust away if I scale the soapbox and wax self-congratulatory, or whatever. I think you might know what I mean. Maybe it’s another form of superstitious hokum.

But I have a few things fluttering about in that breeze I mentioned, and I’m going to break with tradition to mention them here. First up because I’m pretty darned excited, and secondly as some kind of experiment to see if making an announcement does indeed create some kind of backfire. ๐Ÿ˜‰

OK, first up novels โ€” and the one that’s least likely to reverse course since it’s inked into my publisher’s schedule and already sitting rather pretty on Amazon UK and Amazon USA. This is #5, Small Change, which is slated to be released on December 11th via Roundfire Books in the UK. I just got interviewed all about it thanks to the fine people at Cultured Vultures.

I also just started novel #6 โ€” which meant I had to put put my other book-project, The Mercury Drinkers, on hold. First time that’s happened since 2011, and I am a little disappointed. However, there’s no saying I might not return to The Mercury Drinkers at some future stage, especially since I had 20,000 words finished.

Page_01Anyway, instead I’m bulldozing into a book with the acting title of Black Sails, Disco Infernal โ€” which I actually just started on October 1st after weeks of thinking about it. Truth to tell? It’s going to be a novelization of my comic book series Trista & Holt, which was in turn based on the medieval love story of Tristram and Isolde… yet set in the midst of a crime family gang war in the 1970s.

So think hardboiled noir and a shot of romance, infused with lovely elements of kitsch disco.

I’ve already done the first two chapters in three days, but they’re shortish. It’s been interesting to get my head around being descriptive again, after so much work with comic dialogue this year (where you have pictures to do that for you). And I’ve gone back to third-person narration as I think it works better with all the characters.

The challenge here is to make the story work off the comic book page โ€” but in another sense, the 15-issue series was like a draft-version for the novel.

Otherwise, I have a trio of comic book writing projects in the works, all three for Comicoz in Australia โ€” two destined for their flagship title, the newsagency-distributed magazine Oi Oi Oi!, and a third for a benefit anthology to aid beyondblue, a very worthy Australian organization that sets itself the challenge of “improving the lives of individuals, families and communities affected by depression, anxiety and suicide.”

Art by Chris Wahl, words by me.

Art by Chris Wahl, words by me.

All three are with seriously talented, experienced, and veteran Australian artists and I’m completely blown away; hats off to Comicoz head-honcho Nat Karmichael for organizing the collaborations.

First cab off the rank?

The special one for that beyondblue benefit anthology, and is already finished โ€” Chris Wahl turned around his sensational imagery to match my words in just under two weeks.

The other two are for ongoing “superhero”-related features for Oi Oi Oi!, and here I’ve been matched up with Michal Dutkiewicz โ€” who previously worked on Batman and Wolverine โ€” to do a strip we’re calling The Blow-In (it’s going to be very noir, heavily influenced by Will Eisner, Lee Falk, and Zorro), along with another Cape-related tale with Frantz Kantor.

Calamity Jane character sketch by Michal Dutkiewicz (The Blow-In)

Calamity Jane character sketch by Michal Dutkiewicz (The Blow-In)

More news as these babies (hopefully!) develop.

Meanwhile, over the past month I’ve been god-awfully lucky enough to get two of my writer/artist comics licensed for American release: Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat โ€” which I’m converting from the 2014 graphic novel, and updating/improving at the same time (I swear I’m not pulling a George Lucas!) โ€” and Trista & Holt โ€” which I’m adapting to a partially colour version โ€” have both been picked up by Project-Nerd Publishing in the U.S.

Big thanks to Galo Ramiro Gutierrez and Iggy Michiacki for organizing same, along with Claudia Everest โ€” who did the gorgeous variant cover character design for TSMG you see here.

Page_2And now on to other people’s (likely worthier!) stuff.

My own reading-wise lately, I’ve been all over the place โ€” from James Bradley’s Flyboys to Richard Adams’ The Girl in a Swing, while I just started on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. In between I squeezed the print version of my upcoming novel Small Change, which actually wasn’t bad, aside from a couple of typos we missed (shhh!).

American Gods, just a few pages in, is shaping up well. More news soon.

Flyboys recounts not only the fate of nine airmen shot down over Chichi Jimaย ็ˆถๅณถ in the Pacific War, but the steps leading up to conflict between Japan and the West over the preceding century from a surprisingly even-handed standpoint.

112709.mainAnd I’d read The Girl in a Swing before โ€” back when I was 19, when it was one of my favourite novels. I rediscovered it at Mum’s place in Melbourne in August. This time round? The first 200 pages nearly destroyed me. I found it out-fashioned, twee and irritating, with the sheer weight of priggy Englishness undermining the story. I mean, here we have a 32-year-old calling his mother “mummy” without the slightest hint of jest, an objectionable man who weighs judgmental on single motherhood. But then you realize that Adams has been setting us up for the fall. The wind-up to the story is mesmerizing, harrowing and downright depressing.

Comics wise, I’m still hugely into Ed Brubaker’s dual current titles Velvet (with artist Steve Epting and colourist Elizabeth Breitweiser) and The Fade Out (with artist Sean Phillips), as well as consistently rereading elements of his Captain America and Daredevil runs with Epting, Michael Lark, and Mike Perkins.

Yep, I’m a huge Brubaker fan.

STK658463But I also love Matt Fraction, and just finished off the two new trades of Hawkeye (‘Rio Bravo’, with David Aja and Francesco Francavilla in the artists’ chairs) and the collected ODY-C Vol. 1 with artist Christian Ward โ€” which was an absolutely awesome mind-trip. I’d read the individual issues of Hawkeye before, but it was great to kick back and enjoy them… well… back-to-back. I’m going to miss the series and their take on Clint Barton, one of my fave Marvel characters.

Finally, I picked up in Australia the first two volumes of Lazarus (issues 1-9) by writer Greg Rucka with artist Michael Lark and colourist Santi Arcas, and I’ve really enjoyed the run; therefore looking forward to Vol. 3 as soon as possible.

While back in Melbourne in August, I was lucky enough to launch Tales to Admonish Vol. 1 and Trista & Holt Vol. 1 at All Star Comics, alongside a swag of local luminaries โ€” whose books I subsequently absconded with, read, and loved. Hence respect here going out to Tom Tung (Mini Tom), Cristian Roux (Falling Star), Matt Kyme (That Bulletproof Kid) and Nath Stones (Hard Boiled).

Andrez HalloweenMatt actually just got a sensational write up on the first five issues of That Bulletproof Kid over at Comic Book Resources (check it out here) and the title’s not only my old buddy at IF? Commix, but my upcoming label-mate at Project-Nerd as well.

On ya, tiger!

As a footnote, my daughter Cocoa and I this week took a day off and hit up Tokyo Disneyland just for laughs, and it was as surreal and hilarious as ever. Gruffly-intoning, Japanese-speaking Caribbean pirates, anyone? And Cocoa, who’s turning into an avid photographer, took this happy-snap of me amid some Disney Hallowe’en props. Usually I can’t stand seeing pictures of myself, but this one ain’t half bad.

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