The 13th Stone Redux

While a secret project works itself out, myself and Bryan Coyle have decided to make our folklore inspired horror one-shot The 13th Stone available again on a "pay what you want" basis until the end of February.

Yep, that's right, you can grab all 22 pages of it and pay us whatever you want!

Here's a little more to whet your appetite...


Taking a job in the small English village of Argleton, archaeologist Joy Lambton finds herself wiling away her spare time investigating the ancient stones that stand on the outskirts and trying to solve one particular mystery that surrounds them: why the few sources she can find claim there are only eleven stones, when there are clearly twelve.
But when she learns of a thirteenth stone, Joy begins to uncover the dark and terrifying connection they have to the village...

If that's got you intrigued, you can grab The 13th Stone from Gumroad here:


You can also grab the comic from Sellfy here:

And you can also get it from Payhip here:

We have plans to release this digitally in a new version at a fixed price later this year, so this may well be your final chance to grab it! So, what're you waiting for?

The Obligatory 2017 Round-up Blog Post!

Ugh...

OK, so... I missed this last year, due to an avalanche of shit that swamped me over the course of those twelve months (which I'm not getting into, because no), and, given the extra piles of shit that were thrown my way at the beginning of this year, I wasn't sure about doing this again, but things have - slowly - started to turn around over the last few months, so, I thought: why not tempt fate?

My reluctance to talk publicly about any of this does kind of mean that this is going to be a stupidly short post (and more work focused), compared the previous ones, but, hey.

Anyway, let's get this started.

In the beginning...

This hasn't exactly been a banner year writing wise, it has to be said. Over the last twelve months, I've managed to complete... *counts on fingers* six scripts (and some prose pieces, a load of story outlines and some proposals, too, I should add). At least one of those scripts won't be seen until the end of 2018 and there's a 50/50 chance another two won't see the light of day.

God, I'm just full of optimism.

And I still haven't seen the new Star Wars.

Words without pictures

I know there's the whole "write it and they will come" school of thought, but the next time I hear that, I'm going to point them to this:


And then point them to the sales of said story. Which - as of writing this sentence - total zero.

I'm strangely OK with that, though. Nursery Rhyme is a weird, personal  story that I've been struggling to write for a long time, but it was something I had to do. The more I got into it, the more it made me face up to a lot of things from my own life, and how I really need to move past them and look to the future. Basically, I'm saying it was a pretty cathartic experience writing it, and I'm pleased I did.

Anyway, if you, dear reader of this blog post, are interested in reading the story, it's available for 99p from:




Oh, yeah: I also snuck out a short story collection earlier this year:


It was more of an excuse to release some uber-short prose pieces, really, but there's also a brand new, longer piece in there, too, in the shape of Dead Drop.

You can grab a copy for the paltry sum of £1.99 from these fine online retailers:


I do love writing prose, and it's something I plan to do more of in 2018. I came closer than I've been in a while to actually writing a novel this year, and I kind of wonder if it's time to make a start on The Novel in the next twelve months...

"Comics will break your heart..."

Comics wise, I was pretty happy to land something in Aces Weekly earlier in the year, but I was more happy to be able to do something completely different, and write an unashamedly pulp adventure story.


I'm proud of The Devil's Breath, and I'm proud of the fact we - that is Bryan Coyle and I - came up with such a great character in Velicity Jones. The format of the anthology dictated a lot of story beats, but I think it worked in our favour when it came to the central character. She isn't your atypical female spy either: she isn't weighted down with guilt over her actions or by a murky past; she's young, she's progressive and she loves her job. And, y'know:


Fingers crossed, Agent Jones will return in 2018...

Last year, I did something I never thought I'd ever get the chance to do and wrote a script for Zarjaz featuring one of my favourite 2000AD characters, and this year I got the completed art (from Steven Denton). I don't want to say too much about it, but I'm stupidly giddy about the chance to do it.

Also on the Zarjaz front, I did some more "daily" strips, this time featuring Johnny Alpha:


And Mean Angel:

Both of them were fun to write, and both of them kinda made me want to do a "deep dive" on the process behind writing them (hopefully with Bolt-01 providing some insight, seeing as me and him kicked the whole thing off way back when).

Oh, and, I got the chance to revisit the ABC Warriors in The Ballad of Tubal Cain, with James Newell. Looking at it again, I wish I had more space to really stretch the story out and play on the characters some more, but, hey.


Zarjaz #28 - which features that very story - is available from the FutureQuake site, priced £3.00 (+ P&P).

In other comic news, there's also a big, secret comics project that kinda got derailed this year, but it's on track for a 2018 release, so watch this space...

"Inspection! Check one!"

On a personal level, this year has been...strange. I've been making a conscious effort to change and grow as a person, and it's led me down some interesting paths: I've reconnected with old friends, tried new things and places and actually managed to get to more gigs this year than I have in...a long time.

One personal highlight were getting to see The Cornshed Sisters play twice (including their album launch). I'm lucky enough to count one of them as a friend, and I was really made up for her that she, and the others, of course, got their second album, Honey & Tar out into the world.

Anyway, just because, here's the video to the first single from said album:


Another personal highlight of the year was getting to see Leftfield play live in Newcastle - after getting given a free ticket. The band were touring Leftism 22, so they stuck with the old stuff, but, man it was so, so good - and, of course, they played their best track last:


Yeah, clearly, Open Up is their best track. Followed by Swords. Fight me.

"I hoped there'd be stars..."

As I said at the top of this post, some things have slowly started to turn around for me over the last few months, and I'm going into 2018 with a tiny wee bit of optimism about the future.

I'm also going into 2018 with some trepidation, as this feels like a "make or break" year for me. I feel like I've come too far and sacrificed too much to give up without a fight, but at the same time, I'm really fucking tired of fighting.

So, I dunno. Maybe this will be it for me, or maybe I'll get through the next twelve months in one piece. What say we reconvene here next December and find out?

Zarjaz Presents... Judge Dredd: Mean Men


And we're back for a brand spanking new Zarjaz Daily!

This time, myself and Bolt-01 reunite for our traditional Christmas story, a twelve-parter called Mean Men!

As always, each episode of Mean Men will debut over at the FutureQuake Blog (and the 2000AD message boards), and the strip will be compiled on its own page, right here.

In the meantime, you can check out all the previous "Zarjaz Dailies" here.

And remember: if you want even more supplementary Thrill Power, several issues of Zarjaz are available to buy from The FutureQuake site now!

Halloween Reads

With Halloween quickly approaching, I thought I'd shamelessly plug a couple of spooky things I've had a hand in, to, hopefully, give you a little scare this October.

First up, we have...

The 13th Stone:




Taking a job in the small English village of Argleton, archaeologist Joy Lambton finds herself wiling away her spare time investigating the ancient stones that stand on the outskirts and trying to solve one particular mystery that surrounds them: why the few sources she can find claim there are only eleven stones, when there are clearly twelve.

But when she learns of a thirteenth stone, Joy begins to uncover the dark and terrifying connection they have to the village...

 
A self-contained 22 page comic, The 13th Stone is a modern take on British folk horror from myself and my regular parter in crimes against comics collaborator Bryan Coyle (and lettered by Bolt-01).

It's available from the links below, priced £1.99:








If you're after something a little more classic, however, there's also...

Melody




When his fiancée puts their engagement on hold, Paul Grant finds himself whisked off to the town of Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands for a short golfing holiday to try and get his mind off everything. But when he meets Melody, the wife of the hotel owner, Grant finds himself embarking on a strange and sinister affair...

A short prose story, Melody is available for your Kindle or as a PDF, priced just 99p.



And finally...

The Thing In The Window



A short - and free! - comic from myself and Bryan Coyle, The Thing In The Window pays homage to the works of M.R. James.

You can read it here - or just click the picture above.

Nursery Rhyme

It's that time again when I decide to dip my toe into the world of Kindle-based short fiction.

This time, it's something called Nursery Rhyme...


Returning home to Newcastle, journalist Andy Porter finds himself thrown headlong into a part of his past he'd rather forget. When he notices a series of mysterious symbols that have appeared all over the city, he soon realises they may be connected to the past he's trying to escape...

This is a story I really don't want to talk about too much for a variety of reasons, but it's also a thing I've struggled to get to grips with for a really long time (I mean, stupidly long), and I'm glad it's finally done and dusted. Was it worth it? Well, I think so, anyway, buy you can judge for yourself - and it'll only cost you a quid!

You can get Nursery Rhyme from Amazon UK:


The story is also available via Amazon US:


And, for all you non-Kindle owners, Nursery Rhyme is also available as a PDF via these fine online portals:

So, y'know, why not give it a try?

And, again, huge thanks to m'colleague Bryan Coyle for providing that lovely cover.

Zarjaz Presents... Strontium Dog: Fight Night


And we're back for yet another Zarjaz Daily...

This time, myself and Bolt-01 are joined by Robo-Monkey147 for a 15 part Strontium Dog story called Fight Night!

As always, each episode of Fight Night will debut over at the FutureQuake Blog (and the 2000AD message boards), and the strip will be compiled on its own page on this here blog, too.

In the meantime, you can check out all the previous "Zarjaz Dailies" here.

And remember: if you want even more supplementary Thrill Power, several issues of Zarjaz are available to buy from The FutureQuake site now!

Aces Weekly Presents... The Devil's Breath!

Time to let the cat out of the bag, then...

Me and my regular parter in crimes against comics Bryan Coyle (accompanied by letterer extraordinaire Bolt-01) are making our debut in Aces Weekly!


For those not in the know, Aces Weekly is the award winning digital anthology published by David Lloyd (of V For Vendetta fame) and features stories from some of the finest creators around the globe. And now, er, us.

Our story, The Devil's Breath, kicks off in Volume #29 - which begins July 31st - and is something of a departure for us: rather than the slow burning horror we've done in the past, this is a high-octane, globe-trotting 1960's set spy adventure...


When the blueprints for the doomsday weapon known as The Devil's Breath are to be sold to the highest bidder, SIU's top agent Velicity Jones has to make sure they don't fall into the wrong hands! But with the fate of the world on her shoulders, Velicity soon finds herself caught in a web of lies and deceit as she discovers there's no one she can trust...

Doing something that's unashamedly pure pulp was - I have to say - a ridiculous amount of fun, and I really hope it comes across in the story. I don't really want to say too much more about it, in case I give anything away, but working on this was a challenge - not just in terms of the actual story, but also the format and the narrative structure we had to adopt. It was - for me - a great chance to stretch myself a bit, and dive back into the heady waters of comicking after a wee break.

As for the art... Well, I've worked with Bryan for a long time now and I can honestly say he never ceases to amaze me with what he brings to the table - and The Devil's Breath is no exception. He brings some real emotional weight to the story, while ripping into the action sequences with aplomb - even now, I'm still completely blown away by his work in the first episode. It is, I think, one of the most bad-ass things I've ever had the good fortune to be involved in.


You can read that first episode of The Devil's Breath exclusively in Aces Weekly this coming Monday from July 31st, and each subsequent episode will arrive on the screen of your choosing every following Monday for the next seven weeks.

You can purchase an ongoing subscription here for £6.99 - which racks in at less than £1 an episode! - or you can buy previous volumes from here. Previous volumes are also available from Comixology.

And if that wasn't enough, we've also compiled an exclusive extra for that first episode: a behind the scenes look that takes you from from the original script all the way through each stage to the final, finished page!

Remember, you can find out more about Aces Weekly at their website.

And, hey, if you like The Devil's Breath, be sure and let Aces Weekly know!

Update: Huge thanks to John Freeman at Down The Tubes for his rather lovely little review of the strip! Read it here.

Station Ident


This is Imaginary Stories, the blog of a writer who's dusting off this old chestnut. Hi.

Been off the scene, as it were, for a wee while, but I've been busy beavering away at some new projects, believe it or not. More on those as and when I can. In the meantime, you can grab some short prose stories I've written or maybe even check out some freebies - and if you like them, feel free to buy me a coffee.

In the meantime, let me continually disappoint you on Twitter, or go and look at whatever random nonsense I choose to post on Tumblr. I think I may actually still have a Bebo page, too. Because I am forever on the bleeding edge of social media.

Art by Justin Wood. 

Out Now: Zarjaz #28

A little late to this, but the newest issue of Zarjaz - issue 28 to be exact - is out now - and features something from myself and James Newell in the form of The Ballad Of Tubal Cain...


Since his resurrection by Medusa, the living spirit of Mars, Happy Shrapnel has turned his back on his life of violence and adopted the name Tubal Cain. Now, he is the armourer for The ABC Warriors, providing weapons and repairs to aid their mission to increase the peace across the red planet. But when he agrees to repair another veteran, Tubal is forced to re-adopt his old ways...
I have to admit, I loved the idea of Tubal Cain ever since I read the Return To Mars storyline. Something about the character desiring a change, away from the endless combat of being an ABC Warrior spoke to me and added something fresh to the series. It also left me a little wary about tackling Tubal and his little corner of Mars, but I decided to take a few chances with the script, and I'm kinda pleased with the way it worked out.

And I'm even more pleased that James Newell agreed to join me on this. I've worked with James once before, back in Zarjaz #25 (still available from the FutureQuake Shop!), so I had an inkling of what to expect from the art, but when I saw his finished pages for The Ballad Of Tubal Cain, I was pretty much stopped dead in my tracks. Not only does he bring some Clint Langley-esque elements to the pages, he also captures the action sequences and quieter story beats with the skills of a master in the making.

James is most definitely a name to watch for in the future - which makes me even more grateful that we have a third strip in the pipeline for Zarjaz, hopefully due later in the year. In the meantime, be sure and check out James' blog to see what else he's up to.

Zarjaz #28 features this cover from Tiernen Trevallion:


Zarjaz #28 is available from the FutureQuake Shop, priced £3.00 (+ shipping). If you think you can handle the extra Thrill Power, you can also grab back issues from the FutureQuake Shop.

Remember: it ain't called Zarjaz for nothin'!

10 Miles: A Collection Of Short Stories

Over the last few months, I've been hammering away at a wee side project that I've been promising myself I'd do since about 2015: a collection of short prose stories.

It's been pretty daunting pulling this together, as what I laughingly call my prose skills are a little rusty, but I'm fairly happy with how the pieces have turned out, and now I'm putting it out there in the world to read. And maybe laugh at. Er...

Anyway, the collection, 10 Miles, features two previously published stories in the form of 8-Ball and the aforementioned 10 Miles, alongside four original shorts, and features a rather tasty cover from my regular parter in crimes against comics Bryan Coyle, which looks like this:


The six stories included are:

8-Ball: 

When a "Magic 8-Ball" computer program begins to make increasingly accurate predictions, Paul Johnson finds his life slowly being turned inside out...

Click:

One photograph reveals so much...

House:

When Ray disappears from his home, the neighbours become increasingly worried...

Dead Drop:

When her friend, Quinn, asks her for access to her buildings servers to check out an outdated flash drive, Zoe Webb finds herself caught between the most powerful corporate entity on the planet and an independent news agency determined to expose them.

10 Miles:

Rob Jackson has turned his life over to the whims of Fate, using the flip of a coin to make decisions. But, as he heads through the Nevada desert, he's discovering just what a strange and cruel mistress Fate can be...

The Phone:

Two friends embark on an increasingly dangerous night out as they try to forget the secrets a mobile phone contains...

10 Miles is available for the paltry sum of £1.99 from these fine retailers of digital products: