Velicity Jones Returns in... The Godcutter Affair!

You read that right: Britain's greatest secret agent returns to the pages of Aces Weekly starting next week!

Myself, Bryan Coyle and letterer extraordinaire Bolt-01 are taking Velicity on another globe spanning adventure - with the fate of the entire world hanging in the balance!

Following the events of The Devil's Breath, international arms dealer Mael Riqueti has come into possession of the mythical weapon known as The Godcutter. With it, he's set to take the reigns of the secret society known as The Brotherhood Of The Blade, an ancient organisation that counts some of the richest and most powerful people from around the globe amongst its numbers. Anyone who controls The Brotherhood controls the world... 
With the clock ticking, SIU's top operative Velicity Jones is dispatched to stop Riqueti's ascension - unaware that The Brotherhood has acolytes in almost every intelligence agency on Earth keeping tabs on her...

If you enjoyed the previous Velicity Jones adventure, The Devil's Breath (available in Aces Weekly issue 29 - priced £6.99), then, hopefully, you'll enjoy this one, too, as we delve back into some more high octane pulp spy adventure.

It's also worth pointing out that, even though this does pick up a dangling plot thread from the previous story, you don't need to read that to understand what's happening in The Godcutter Affair (although, if you do want to read the previous story, then, hey, go for it).

I do actually want to do a deep dive into the creative process behind this, and talk about the creative decisions that went into the storytelling and script, but I think that's going to have to wait for another day.

What I will say, though, is that writing something as shamelessly pulpy as this is a ton of fun, and I'm grateful that Aces Weekly let us come back to do it again, and that my regular partner in crimes against comics, Bryan Coyle, wanted to jump back onboard for another adventure - especially seeing the pages as they came in. I think it's fair to say Bryan's levelled up on this one, and I can't wait for the entire thing to be available for you all to read.

You can read that first episode of The Godcutter Affair exclusively in Aces Weekly this coming Monday, and each subsequent episode will arrive on the screen of your choosing every following Monday for the next seven weeks - which will take you right through Christmas and into the New Year!

So, what're you waiting for?

And, of course, Velicity Jones will return...

Melody Calls...

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, I thought it would be a good time to offer up something for the holidays, in the shape of:

Melody is an M.R. James inspired short story, that tells of the strange affair between Paul Grant and the mysterious woman known as Melody during his visit to the Scottish Highlands. It's a strange and spooky tale, that'll hopefully bring a few chills this season.

I'm exceedingly proud of this story, and I really want to share it with a wider audience than it's ever had before, so throughout December, I'm going to be making it available as a downloadable PDF on a "pay what you want" basis via Gumroad, Payhip and Sellfy.

So, if you fancy it, dive in at the links below...

If you want to read Melody on an e-reader of your choice, though, it is available at the fixed price of 99p from Amazon and Smashwords:

Out Now: Zarjaz #32!

Another day, another issue of The Galaxy's Greatest Fanzine hitting the streets... Featuring something written by, er, me!

Alex Paterson, Bolt-01 and me join forces for a one off, never before told tale of the cream of the X-Terminators crop, Joe Pinapples!

It's a simple, routine assassination, the type that the X-Terminators top operative Joe Pineapples could do without ruffling the feathers on his boa. More importantly, it'll be his thirty-seventh consecutive hit - an unheard of record in the history of his unit. If everything goes right, that is...

This is my second run around with Joe Pineapples (the first was way back in Zarjaz #11, sadly out of print), and one I'm actually pretty proud of. I wanted to try something different with the story this time out, so I stripped everything back and tried to make it a pure, over the top action story - something that was helped immensely by Alex Paterson's art.

I've been an admirer of Alex's for a while, and I jumped at the chance to work with him on this; I knew he'd do something special with the story, but I wasn't quite prepared for what. He brings a truly jaw dropping sense of dynamism to the pages and flawlessly captures the action as if it were something from a Jason Statham movies (and, seriously, I defy anyone to read this and not think of Joe being played Statham). It is something truly amazing to read - and I'm not just saying that because I wrote it!

 Zarjaz #32 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 shop.

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

Dare YOU enter the... Mansion Of Madness...?

I've been beavering away at this for a while now, but it gives me great pleasure to finally announce that Mallet Productions is making a triumphant return with a brand new edition of Mansion Of Madness!

Those of you who are of a certain age will no doubt remember Mallet Studios for their classic movies, the cult television show Mansion Of Madness, and, of course, it's short lived - but influential - comic series.

An original Mansion Of Madness promotional poster for the TV series, faithfully restored by Andi Ewington.

Founded in 1935 by Jonathan Williams, Mallet Studios (originally Mallet Productions) was a small British film studio based in London that grew significantly over the next four decades to become home to some of the most critically acclaimed films to ever come out of the United Kingdom.

Initially concentrating on challenging social dramas, Mallet began to reshape their output in the wake of 1941's The Girl In The Room, and tapped into a rich vein of psychological horror. Building on the critical and financial success of such classics as 23 Holborn Terrace (1951) and The Picture Of Al McEwan (1953), Mallet eventually began to turn their attention to more mainstream horror and, before long, science fiction. With classics such as The Horror Of Ward 13 (1953) and The Silent Planet (1955), Mallet’s position in the cinematic landscape of the UK became assured.

Producing a steady stream of features, Mallet's seemingly unstoppable reign finally ground a halt in the 1970's as they turned to more mainstream - and some would say blander - monster fare. Although they still produced such classics as 1971's The Nine Brides Of Satan, a series of lukewarm receptions at the box office saw the studio left on precarious financial footing, until the ill-fated production The Mummy Takes Manhattan and its numerous problems forced Mallet to close its doors for good.

During their 70's heyday, however, came the cult television series Mansion Of Madness, an anthology show that's fondly remembered by many. Although only five of the six episodes were ever aired (ITV refused to show the final episode after a record number of complaints from upset viewers over the infamous The Devil's Run), the series did give way to a short lived horror comic of the same name.

Only three issues ever saw print, but their impact on a generation of up and coming creators was profound, with many crediting it as a major influence on their decision to pursue a career in making comics.

Now, Mansion Of Madness is set to spearhead a new revival of Mallet Productions, with this, updated edition featuring six stories by some of the finest creators working in - and out - of comics today that are the perfect scary read as the end of the year creeps even closer.

Ultimately, myself and Dan Hill have curated this collection with one thing in mind: to have a new generation of readers experience the same thrills and chills the original fans did.

Dan himself - teamed with Alfie Gallagher - brings you a slice of terror that's very now, in Traffic Stop...

Andi Ewington and Maan House spin a macabre tale of professional jealousy in Ghost Writer...

Jasper Bark and Paul Moore join forces to weave a strange and chilling yarn of revenge in The Whispers of The Stones...

Maura McHugh and Alex Paterson delve into the history of Mallet's publishing wing for the weird and sinister Words Are Not Real...

Clay McLeod Chapman and Adam Kindred bring you an unnerving story of dreams unfulfilled in A Nest Of Plaques And Tangles...

Making her comics debut, fantasy author Ruth Frances Long teams up with Bryan Coyle for a terrifying tale of alien invaders and urban legends in Black Dog...

All stories are lettered by Bolt-01.

Rounding out the collection is an exclusive extract from the soon to be released book about the history of Mallet's ill-fated soujourn into publishing, Waiting For The Resurrection by noted comics scholar Colin Smith.

And if that wasn't enough, it's all capped off with this front cover by Matthew Soffe:

Andi Ewington was kind enough to restore one of the original promo posters for the Mansion Of Madness TV show (see the image at the top of the post) and we were lucky enough to get some of the original Malllet movie posters from the estate of the late Carlo Ferigno, which haven't been seen by the public in over forty years!

Mansion Of Madness is available from Comixology now, priced a mere $3.99.

So, dear reader, dare you enter the Mansion Of Madness...?

Zarjaz Presents... Anderson, Psi Division: Bring Me A Dream

So, yeah, I'm back at the helm of another Zarjaz Daily!

This time, myself and Bolt-01 are joined by Chris Askham for a 15 part serial starring everyone's favourite Psi!

As always, each episode of Bring Me A Dream 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!

Out Now: Zarjaz #31

Summer, here in merry old Blighty, sees a new issue of Zarjaz hitting the streets, featuring something pretty exciting for me...

So, yeah, as that cover kinda tells you... Steven Denton, Bolt-01 and me join forces for a very special, one off tale of The Grand Master of Termight himself, Tomas de Torquemada!

Before he became a phantom in a transporter accident, Tomas de Torquemada ruled Termight with an iron fist. However, not everyone was happy with this arrangement...

This is a bit a of a dream come true for me. I've wanted to do something with Torquemada since I got involved with Zarjaz, but wasn't able to until fairly recently, when the guys over at The Galaxy's Greatest Fanzine got permission from Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill to use Nemesis and his world. I was hoping to land the first Nemesis story in Zarjaz, but I was beaten to it (that was in the 2016 Summer Special, which is, unfortunately, sold out). Still, I can take some solace in the fact that this is the first Torquemada solo story.

For this little jaunt to Termight, I'm joined by Steven Denton - who captures the mood and anarchy of the world of Termight brilliantly, it must be said. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but I will say the finished pages left me with a huge smile on my face.

Be sure to check out Steven's work over on his blog.

Heads You Lose wasn't always planned to be a one off, though: the original idea was to go big and have two Torquemada stories, set in different periods of his life, with Heads You Lose being set before he became a phantom, and the second one - Fear & Loathing - set before the events of Deathbringer, where Torquemada is in an alternative 1980's Britain. The two Torquemada's were to meet at some point, but - try as I might - I just couldn't make it work, so I decided to scrap the second story and keep this one as a self-contained tale.

But I digress...

Zarjaz #31 - with that rather glorious Steven Austin cover - 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 same shop.

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

Station Ident

This is Imaginary Stories, the blog of a writer who would prefer it if you didn't refer to it as a "come back."

Been away from the world dealing with some life changing personal stuff, but I'm slowly getting back into the swing of it all, so bear with me. For now, you can grab some short prose stories I've written for less than a quid or maybe even check out some free comics - and if you like them, feel free to buy me a coffee.

In the meantime, watch as I continue my experiment of "being silent" on Twitter, check out whatever random nonsense I choose to post on Tumblr or marvel at my musical tastes over on Alternatively, investigate my other life as a retailer of previously owned books over at WYSIWYG Books. Whatever profits I make from there will be split between the Wansbeck Palliative Care Unit in Ashington and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Art by Alfie Gallagher. 

Out Now: Journey Planet #39

Well, this came as a pleasant surprise, it must be said...

The online zine Journey Planet hits #39 with a special Judge Dredd themed issue, helmed by Dredd scribe Michael Owen Carroll - and featuring an old Zarjaz strip by me, Kev Levell and Bolt-01!

The story - The Taking Of Mopad 456 - first appeared waaaay back in Zarjaz 15, and was the first Dredd story I ever wrote for the fanzine (but not the first one published). It was also the only time I ever got to work with Kevin Levell, an artist who was destined to draw Dredd for Tharg if there ever was one - I mean, look at this:

The story was a shamelessly old-school Dredd tale that was an attempt to invoke the classic, early era of the series - so much so, I was adamant that it had to have been done before, and it would be knocked back. To my eternal surprise, though, it hadn't been done and Bolt-01 said he could imagine it was something drawn by Ron Smith - which is still one of the nicest compliments I've had about anything I've written.

Anyway. The strip is available - for free - in Journey Planet #39, or it's available in Zarjaz #15, copies of which are still available from FutureQuake. Zarjaz #15 also includes another Dredd tale by me, Big JIMPin' with David Broughton - so that's two lots of Dredd for your buck! And it has this amazing Edmund Bagwell cover:

Journey Planet #39 is packed to the gills with Dredd-related goodness, including interviews with John Wagner and the lads at Zarjaz, character sketches from the collection of James Bacon, a history of Dredd, extracts from Pat Mills' Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!: 2000AD & Judge Dredd: The Secret History and much, much more that should keep any Dredd-head happy.

The zine is a free to download PDF, available directly from the Journey Planet website.

Also, huge, huge thanks to Michael Carroll for featuring The Taking Of Mopad 456 in the issue!

And just because, here's an old Dredd sketch from Kev himself:


Over on the ol' Kickstarter, mate and - dare I say it? - one of my favourite collaborators in the comics game, Alfie Gallagher is running a campaign for a collection of short stories, all drawn by him, called Debris.

Alfie bullied sweet talked me - and a bunch of others, including Ryan K. Lindsay, Martin Hayes and Fraser Campbell - into writing something for the collection.

Even though I'll pretty much step into the breach any time Alfie asks me to come and work with him, this time, I was a little reluctant. Without getting into too much detail, I was going through a bit of a rough time personally when Alfie approached me, and doing anything creative felt like a slog that I could've done without. I managed to write The Devil's Breath for Aces Weekly, which was a big step in getting back into the writing saddle after what felt like a long time away, but doing the story for Debris was what helped me rediscover the simple joy I take in writing.

Other than a page count, Alfie pretty much gave me free reign to do pitch him whatever I wanted for the collection, and after a couple of false starts, I finally nailed it - and wrote one of my favourite pieces in the process.

The strip, "How Long...?", is only four pages long, and is a kinda/sorta a companion piece to a prose story I wrote ages ago, 10 Miles.

I'm a bit of a fan of 70's road movies, I have to confess. The imagery they use to tell their stories is just endlessly beautiful to me, and the idea of just taking off and driving through the deserts in America has long been a dream of mine - the sheer freedom of being able to just take off, to head along those long highways and see where they'll take you without any kind of plan or inkling of where you might end up is something I've been fascinated with ever since seeing Vanishing Point when I was younger.

10 Miles and "How Long...?" are the only times - so far - I've tried to capture that idea and put it on the page. With the former, it's all about the internal landscape of the narrator, but with "How Long...?" it's all about the visuals.

My gut instinct was to try and come up with a story that would play to Alfie's strengths as an artist. Anyone that's familiar with his work knows he kind of leans toward the psychedelic, for want of a better word - the trippier the imagery the better. So, I pitched him a couple of ideas that would - hopefully - pop visually, but they didn't connect with him.

So, I tried again.

As I said, I was going through a rough time, and I was having thoughts about just...taking off. Going somewhere and starting life over. The idea - the romantic idea of it - kinda stuck and I couldn't shake it, but it collided with the whole thing about trying to put a story together for Alfie and formed a basis for what I eventually pitched.

I realised it wouldn't have the visuals of the other things I'd sent, so I was surprised when Alfie said yes to it.

I only had four pages to play with, and I was never sure if the story would work. On top of that, I had to keep in mind that this was a showcase for Alfie's work, not mine, so I decided to strip everything back and keep it as tight and lean as I could, and let the visuals speak.

I have to come clean here and admit that I've only seen little snippets of the other stories from Debris, but - and, yeah, I'm biased, obviously - but Alfie really does something special with "How Long...?". The art captures the feel I was trying to convey in the script - cinematic in scope that also gives you a creeping sense of loneliness being out on the road - but also brings a sense of realism to it; you feel as if you can reach into the pages and touch the old, dilapidated buildings.

But, I think, it's the colouring that really sets the story apart.

Alfie - colouring this one himself - utilises a palette that matches that of a road movie, capturing the faded look of a time gone by. The washed out feeling of the environment, the tired and scruffy look of the characters is nailed beautifully.

The Kickstarter is over half-way funded as I type this, and I'd dearly love to see it printed. You can, if you so wish, back the project from as little as £1. I'm really proud of this little story, and I'd love to see it out in the world.

And if that wasn't enough incentive for you, all backers will be receiving a free PDF of Future Tense, a mini collection, featuring two of my previous collaborations with Alfie!

So, get on it, people!

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?