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FROM FAMINE TO FEAST

The life of a freelancer is a strange one. You can go from scrabbling around for the odd crumb of work to having to really plan your time within a week. January was a terrible month for me: there was little work around and I was without my car for its entirety. Now into the second week of February, I have just landed a few days a week regular subbing/ production work that will see me into late May/ early June. On top of that, it looks like a TRIPWIRE 20th anniversary book looks like a real possibility for sometime around August. I also need to finish my spooky London photo book plus my comic creator portraits book, which ties in with the Gosh exhibition that kicks off on March 10th. I have also landed some more Judge Dredd Megazine and Big Issue in The North work and I am doing more for Comic Heroes, which means that I am off to Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle at the end of March. We have also booked tables at Bristol (as ever) but also at Kapow! in May. There’s also some other things bubbling under but if they happen, they would be amazing. So I am insanely busy from now until the beginning of the summer. But a week ago, I was still wondering how I was going to get by the next few months. I’ll be including ordering information on the two books (Faces and Spooked) as it gets closer but here’s a few images including covers to whet your appetite. I’ll be posting a blog entry on the Gosh exhibition nearer the time…

IT’S BEEN A WHILE
The new job has kept me busier than I thought it would, so I haven’t posted here in a bit. Assuming my regulars haven’t died of boredom, I’ll be putting some photo-related posts up between now and Sunday night. Might have good news on another book project which would see me and Gary revisit similar ground to Studio Space next year. This month also sees another Megazine feature out (American Vampire), a piece on Turf for The Word and two things in Sci Fi Now (Miyazaki Q&A and Turf news item). It’s gone from famine to feast…

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A LOOK BACK AND A LOOK FORWARD
As is traditional here, at the end of the year I talk about what I’ve done and what I hope to do. 2009 was a very strange year for me: work, especially subbing work was thin on the ground and while the writing was there, it wasn’t enough to replace the subbing that I had before. But some good things did happen:

•We got another two issues of TRIPWIRE out, the Superhero Special in February and the Annual 2009 at the very end of July. They are two issues that I am very proud of. It was disappointing that Diamond US chose not to carry the 2009 Annual but it’s a decision I couldn’t take personally as the business environment in 2009 was extremely tough and so they made choices that they wouldn’t have done in previous years

•I cemented my writing portfolio and my cuttings. In 2009 I got pieces published in Big Issue In The North, Sci Fi Now and did a load of work for the Judge Dredd Megazine, which will continue into 2010. I did some work for online genre publications, something I haven’t really pursued much. I got to interview Terry Gilliam and Genndy Tartakovsky, two people whose work I have admired for years. I also interviewed Guillermo Del Toro again when The Strain came out and was able to build up my relationship with him and Richard Taylor at Weta, a relationship that I intend to continue to build upon

•I finally came to the conclusion that the photos I take are just as valid as the photos that established photographers take. In fact, I now consider myself to be a photographer as I finally put my money where my mouth is and put out my first photography book, Town & Country (available now from Blurb.com). I have improved the shots I take and at the end of this year have taken some photos I am truly proud that I have taken

•I wrote and completed a prose short story, The Hanging Man, which is something I’ve not done since I was at university. I entered it into a competition and it was a great exercise for me as a writer

So looking back, it wasn’t a total washout as a year. Studio Space, which came out in 2008, didn’t do anything more and I came to realise that it served its purpose but if we wanted the book to make more of an impact, myself and Gary needed to do the promotion ourselves. I would still like to do a followup but I’ve put that to the back of my mind at present because I am going to devote time to book projects aimed at a more general readership. So here’s what I plan to do in 2010:

•Publish a photography book a month. Town & Country was the first but it will be followed by a new title every month. London Eye will be out in January, then we’ll have a book on London Cemeteries, London Pubs, Statues and much more. I aim to come to the end of 2010 with around a dozen photo books with my name on them. You will also be able to buy prints of my photos too. To that end, I’m going to be starting a new blog that will just talk about my photography sometime in January…

•Hopefully one of the book proposals I have in with traditional book publishers will happen. I don’t know which and I don’t want to jinx it, so I won’t mention the subject of any of them in case none of them happen…

•I shall write more fiction. I was very chuffed I managed to finish my short in 2009 and there’ll be lots more projects like that. We’ll have some Dee For Detective out in some shape or form in 2010 and I may even pursue some other comic writing opportunities…

•There will be more TRIPWIRE. Even though the market is bloody hard at the moment with shops closing and magazines teetering on the edge, the plan is to produce at least a TRIPWIRE Annual as a physical entity in 2010. It’s the 75 anniversary of DC as well as the 20th of The Simpsons, so we plan to be there in some shape and form to document what’s going on. We are also going to attempt to update the website far more regularly…

•I am also going to build up my writing portfolio and get into even more magazines, newspapers and publications that I’ve not been in before…

So 2009 was a pretty dodgy year but it had some highlights. I believe that 2010 will be a better year…

So to everyone who reads this blog, have a great New Year and I’ll see you on the other side…

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A PACKED WEEK
The last few months have been fairly quiet but things have started to pick up. Although subbing has been absolutely dead for me, I’ve started to make money from my photos and I’ve been doing a lot of features and writing. It’s very satisfying that the photography, something that I started doing just to get reference for a comic project, may well turn into something more substantial. It also looks like possibly one of my other book projects may become a reality and if it does, it will be an amazing book to work on. The past week has been a little bit crazy: on Monday, I went to the launch of London History Week at Kensington library, where I saw history writer Simon Sebag Montefiore talk about visiting archives in Russia to research his books on Stalin, which was fascinating. Before that, I went into town to interview director Jake West and writer/ comic artist Dan Schaffer at the Groucho Club in Soho about British horror comedy Doghouse.
On Tuesday I was lucky enough to go to the launch of the Viz 30th anniversary exhibition at the Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury (and for the Americans reading this, this is not the manga publisher but the very British humour comic that started life as a fanzine and at its peak sold over a million on the newsstand over here). I have written a piece on Viz‘s anniversary for Big Issue In The North, which is why I was invited. I got to get quotes from BBC’s Charlie Brooker (Screenwipe) and newspaper illustrator Martin Rowson and I also got to meet Simon Donald, Graham Thorp and Davey Jones, the past and present people behind Viz, which was very cool. On Wednesday, I got to see Up in 3-D at last, which was very enjoyable as it was a film with a heart.
Thursday I got to go up The Gherkin in the City of London for a meeting with the deputy head of PR for the City of London to talk about one of my book projects. The Gherkin, or 30 St Mary Axe as it is officially known, has amazing views across the whole of London and we were lucky enough to sit in the cafe at the top, on its 40th floor. It was days like this that made me realise how lucky I am doing what I do. Then, because we had time to kill and my friend Andy Colman had not been recently, we popped to Spitalfields, where they’ve done a great job of maintaining the feel of the market while modernising what is there and again because he had never visited, we ended the day at Borough Market and took a look inside Southwark Cathedral. The day was all about London because I spend my time travelling around the country and admiring churches in places like Bath and Wells but Southwark Cathedral is easily a match for the most exquisite churches anywhere else in the UK.
Then on Friday I did an interview with Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Dexter’s Laboratory), something I’ve been trying to set up for a few months. I have three or four features I’m currently working on, a couple of book projects, some fiction (something I’ve not tried in years) and a number of photo essays, so long may it continue…

BOOKING YOUR PLACE
I’ve been spending quite a lot of time over the last couple of weeks working up a number of different book proposals. What people may not realise is that it’s almost as much work to put a proposal together as it is to do the finished thing. You have to settle on what it is you want to do with the book, take photos (if necessary and it is in two of the books I’m working up) and then sit down and put it all together, making a convincing case to the publisher(s) you’re sending it to. With work on the TRIPWIRE Adventure Special and hustling for freelance work, I’m absolutely knackered. But hopefully it will pay off…