Wednesday, 23 October 2013

DROONTOON & DANTE IN DUNDEE!

I'm not only going to be a guest at the Dundee Literary Festival on the 26th & 27th of October, but they've even put my face on the cover of the official programme , alongside some very esteemed company such as William McIlvanney. 

I'm obviously there to represent the Comics Day section of the Festival. Either that, or they think I'm in some way comical looking...

This year's Comics Day is subtitled Starblazers! Creators of British Science Fiction Comics and features a host of guests, including my partner-in-crime on Nikolai Dante Simon Fraser, Simon Furman, Ian Kennedy, Kev Hopgood, Sydney Jordan, Annie Parkhouse and Steve Parkhouse, amongst others. 



Simon Fraser and I are onstage at 1.30pm on the 27th, at the D'Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre and Baxter Suite, Tower Building, University of Dundee, although the event begins at 10am. We'll mainly be discussing our 15-year collaboration on the adventures of Nikolai Dante, serialised in the iconic UK SF comic 2000AD from 1997-2012 and collected into 11 Graphic Novels - but will also touch on other projects, such as - you guessed it - Drowntown.





Thursday, 10 October 2013

DROWNTOWN AT THE LAKES!

The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival is shaping up to be one of the most exciting events on the convention circuit. The town of Kendal will play host to a grand celebration of the comics medium, modelled on the famous Angouleme Festival in France, but with a uniquely British flavour. 

And if the thought of all the breathtaking artwork that will be on display - including exhibitions devoted to both Bryan Talbot and Sean Philips - isn't enough to have you booking your tickets, Kendal is located on the edge of the Lake District, which has more than a few breathtaking sights of its own.

On Sunday 20th October, at 14.00, I'll be one of the Cape Crusaders, in a panel focusing on and celebrating the eclectic and critically acclaimed range of Graphic Novels published by Jonathan Cape, one of which just happens to be...


The panel is chaired by leading comics scholar Dr. Mel Gibson, and guests include Cape Publisher Dan Franklin, Katie Green, Isabel Greenberg and that dynamic duo Gary and Warren Pleece.

The previous night, Saturday 19th October, 20.30, I'll be appearing at 2000AD: An On-Earth Odyssey, which the Festival Organsers have promised will be a panel 'with a difference'. Naive optimist that I am, I asked if this meant we'd be plied with champagne beforehand and escorted onstage by Las Vegas showgirls...

A star-studded line-up (in the comics world at least) includes former Thargs David Bishop and Andy Diggle, artists Gary Erskine and Dave Taylor (both of whom I recently worked with on Judge Dredd), Simon Fraser, my artistic partner-in-crime for 15 years on the swashbuckling adventures of Nikolai Dante, and the legendary creators of Judge Dredd, John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra.


A cornucopia of comics talent surrounded by spectacular landscapes? If you ask me, you've only got one choice. Be there or be square.

Friday, 30 August 2013

DROWNTOWN - EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL

The 2013 Edinburgh International Book Festival not only celebrated it's 40th anniversary in fine style, but also saw record sales in both tickets and booksEven the sight of this reprobate hanging around the Authors' Yurt and helping himself to copious amounts of complimentary Isle of Jura whisky couldn't scare people away...



I'd like to think that the Festival organizers' bold move to devote an entire strand of programming to comics and Graphic Novels contributed in no small part to the boost. Stripped certainly appeared to be a huge success from where I was standing. Roll on 2014!

The Drowntown - or Droontoon, as it was known during the Festival - event drew a good crowd and took place in the ScottishPower Theatre in Charlotte Square Gardens on Saturday 24th August. Jim, who had flown in from Seattle the day before, and I were lightly grilled by David Bishop, who we were used to cracking the whip at us from his days as Tharg, alien Editor of 2000AD.

We chatted about the concept of the book, how we developed the story and characters that feature in it, and about our careers in general. Check out some of our earlier blog entries for a flavour of what we were blabbing on about...

Jim and Robbie, on-stage.
Photo: D. Tate.
The audience was also wowed by a sneak preview of Jim's art from Book 2. I hadn't seen the new pages either, and my neck is still stiff from craning to look up at them as they appeared giant-sized on the screen behind the stage. I suppose it would be unfair not to treat those of you who couldn't make it a wee peek as well...

Afterwards, we shifted to the Festival Bookshop and had a great time chatting to the audience and signing copies of the book for over an hour. A number of people 'confessed' that Drowntown was the first Graphic Novel they'd ever bought. Further evidence that comics and Graphic Novels are finally being accepted as a legitimate and exciting medium for telling stories? I'd like to think so.

Jim signing/sketching, Robbie posing.
Photo: G. Gray.
On Sunday, Jim and I took part in Stripped's 2000AD event, a celebration of the iconic UK SF comic, alongside artist Warren Pleece and writer Dan Abnett. The talk was extremely well-attended and chaired once again by David Bish-Op. The signing afterwards was busy, though most people seemed to want Drowntown signed more than anything else. 


L - R: Dan Abnett, Warren Pleece, Robbie & Jim.
Photo: D. Tate
Other than those on the panels with us, it was great to catch up with some old friends and colleagues, including Bryan Talbot, Grant Morrison, John Higgins, Glyn Dillon, Rob Davis, Paul Cornell and John McShane.
 
Robbie and Bryan Talbot.
Photo: D. Tate

We also enjoyed meeting and chatting to Hannah Berry, Ian Rankin and Neil Gaiman, who, like some magical character in one of his stories, appeared to be here, there and everywhere at the Festival.

Robbie & fiancee, Deb.
Photo: Gary Gray.
Robbie & his Dad.
Photo: D. Tate
Robbie: 'How come I always work with tall artists?'
Photo: D. Tate

Now, I'm sure I've forgotten something. What was it? Och, aye, here's a wee blast of Drowntown Book 2: Execution Dock...


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

'DROONTOON' - BEHIND THE SCENES...

In Drowntown, modified rats - originally escapees from genetics labs - have combined enhanced intelligence with natural scavenging instincts to become a major force in the London underworld, operating as spies, pickpockets and fences for stolen property.

As the story unfolds, Leo Noiret - whose definition of a bad day at work is a lot worse than the rest of us - decides to recruit them to help in his investigation, completely forgetting that there's a little bad blood between him and the rodents.

Here's a script excerpt from the sequence - adapted slightly to fit the blog format - followed by Jim's beautifully expressive art for the same page. I've left out the speech balloons to show the artwork in all it’s fully painted glory:

PAGE 27

1. Big Pic, if possible: Slightly High Angle Shot, Noiret, stripped down to some extremely unflattering underwear, is stretched out in King Reggie's lair like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput, rats scampering over him, his body daubed with red paint to indicate where the prime cuts of meat are. His earlier assessment of the situation was obviously a little optimistic... 

King Reggie, a Fagin-like figure with delusions of grandeur, who dresses in the manner of a miniature Dickensian gentleman, stands on Noiret’s big belly, lecturing his subjects like a cordon-bleu chef & pointing out the tastiest parts of Noiret’s anatomy with a cane. 

The King’s lair is a large sewer cavern, lit by futuristic lamps & decorated with stolen paintings & missing museum pieces, some of them recogniseable works of art from old masters.

KING REGGIE: LECTURE TIME, LADS, SO KEEP THOSE EARS PEELED.

KING REGGIE: IF WE WANT TO CLIMB THE EVOLUTIONARY LADDER AND STOP SLOSHING AROUND THE SEWERS, WE NEED TO GET OURSELVES A LITTLE MORE SOPHISTICATION.

KING REGGIE: IT’S HIGH TIME WE STOPPED SNIFFING AROUND THE BINS AND EATING HUMANITY’S SCRAPS. WE DESERVE THE FULL, THREE-COURSE, CORDON-BLEU MEAL, SO I’VE GOT US A NICE BIG HUNK OF MEAT TO PRACTICE SOME RECIPES ON.

KING REGGIE: WE’LL SLICE HIM INTO A SUCCULENT SELECTION OF CUTS AND SERVE HIM UP WITH FRESH VEG AND A VARIETY OF FRAGRANT SAUCES.

2. King Reggie turns to face Noiret, who stares at him in exasperation, thinking hard. 
The rodent removes his hat in a mocking sign of respects & shrugs apologetically, as if he has no choice in the matter.    

KING REGGIE: HOPE YOU DON'T MIND, LEO. WE MIGHT BE SCAVENGERS, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE CAN'T ASPIRE TO CULINARY EXCELLENCE.

NOIRET: LISTEN, EATING ME WOULD BE A BIG MISTAKE...

3. King Reggie prods Noiret’s hairy flesh with his cane, as if confirming the poor quality of the produce. 

KING REGGIE: GRANTED YOU MIGHT NOT BE THE FRESHEST SPECIMEN ON THE PLANET, BUT I RECKON ALL THAT ALCOHOL YOU’VE SOAKED UP OVER THE YEARS WILL ACT AS A TASTY MARINADE.





Friday, 9 August 2013

'DROONTOON!'


Jim Murray and I will be talking about Drowntown in particular and our careers in general as part of Stripped at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival

Jim's travelling all the way from Seattle - where he also works as a concept designer for Valve - and it's probably the only UK festival appearance he'll be able to make this year, so if you want to learn more about how he creates his stunning artwork, book your tickets now. 

We're at the Scottish Power Studio Theatre on Saturday August 24th, 5-6pm. For a wee bit more info and to book tickets, click right here

The event will be chaired by David Bishop, who in his former life as Tharg, Editor of 2000AD, first commissioned both me and Jim. 

And, on Sunday August 25th, we're taking part in 2000AD: Back to the Future, a celebration of the iconic UK science-fiction comic in which we started our careers. We're at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre, 3-4pm, and will be joined by writers and artists such as Dan Abnett and Warren Pleece. Again, click the link for further details.   

Finally, in honour of the Festival, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, Drowntown will be officially renamed Droontoon from now until the end of August (which, to be honest, is how I usually say it anyway).  

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

SCRIPT TO ART: PAGE 1

For those who are interested in behind-the-scenes stuff and working methods, here's Page 1 of Drowntown - adapted slightly to fit the blog format - followed by Jim's groovy art for the same page:

PAGE 1

1. Close, Leo Noiret, battered and bruised, stares straight at us, raising an eyebrow with weary, seen-and-done-it-all-before nonchalance. Despite his downbeat, down-at-heel appearance and hangdog expression, he still exhibits the cool charm and poise of a Jean Reno or Robert Mitchum.

A half-smoked cigarette droops disdainfully from the corner of his mouth. The last cigarette of a condemned man...

The London skyline is visible in the distant background, though we don't see anything too futuristic for the moment, leaving the full sprawling splendour of the sunken city for the following pages.

TITLES: CHAPTER 1: HARD-LUCK HERO

TIMELINE: LONDON: NOW

BOX: Some people have a face that you'd die for.

BOX: Other people have the kind of face that you'd kill for.

BOX: Me? 

BOX: I've got the kind of face that gets you killed.

2. Slightly High Angle Medium Shot, Noiret, staring up at us, shrugs nonchalantly, the cigarette still drooping from his mouth. He is sinking rapidly into thick, quicksand-like sludge, the surface of which is littered with typical UK debris - discarded fish suppers, a copy of The Sun newspaper, a crushed can of lager, etc.

Up to his hips already, Noiret shows little sign of fear, as if this sort of thing happens to him all the time.

BOX: That's why I'm such a realist and always try to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground, which isn't as easy as it sounds in this city.

NOIRET: GUESS THIS MEANS IT'S TOO LATE TO KISS AND MAKE UP...

3. Low Angle Shot, Noiret, back to us, sinking deeper, stares towards a metallic maintenance pier that rises out of the sludge ahead of him.

Grace Carter, an attractive, but hard-faced & ruthless-looking woman, gazes down at him contemptuously from the pier. Benny and Ray, two big, bulky enforcers with the look of prize-fighters running to fat, flank her protectively.

BOX: Grace Carter was a detective in the Serious Crime Squad that I used to get drunk with in the Stag's Head every now and again.

GRACE: KISS AND MAKE UP? WHAT DO YOU MEAN? DID WE...?

4. Close, Grace, Noiret's POV, outraged and exasperated, aghast at the thought he's just slipped into her head.

BOX: I used to console her about the pointlessness and futility of the job, until she stopped caring and started working both sides.

GRACE: YUCK! THAT JUST MAKES ME WANT TO KILL YOU EVEN MORE!


I can't help grinning every time I see the opening panel. As the writer, it captures Leo Noiret brilliantly. Everything you need to know about his personality - which will be fleshed out over the course of the book - can nevertheless be deduced from that one image. Just one of the benefits of working with a great artist...

Friday, 19 July 2013

DEVELOPMENT SKETCHES

Even when you're creating a fantastic, over-the-top location such as the flooded futuristic London of Drowntown, you still have to make sure it's believable and feels 'real'. 

Here're some of what I think are Jim's earliest development sketches for the hydro-bikes that feature in the book:



 I'd love to own one, though have a sinking feeling that my pilot skills would send me crashing into the side of an aqua-bus.

A FEW REVIEWS...

Drowntown has been out for about 3 weeks now and has (he typed with a sigh of relief) had some pretty good reviews, a few excerpts of which are listed below:

"Morrison quickly fleshes out characters and plot with aplomb while Murray’s gorgeous art ensures this is a thrilling no-holds barred adventure from start to finish…" Down the Tubes, John Freeman. 

"A super read … Drowntown reaches high and achieves much of it, comedy, adventure, intrigue, entertainment and sumptuous art – I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything else quite like it for a while." Forbidden Planet Blog, Zainab Akhtar. 

"Flooded civilisations have long been a staple of post-apocalyptic fiction. Few have executed their dystopian vision with quite as much panache as Robbie Morrison and Jim Murray do here." - SFX Magazine, Stephen Jewel.

"It’s not the first time noir has been merged with science fiction, but the execution is absolutely first class. Murray’s illustration is simply stunning … [Morrison’s] script is razor-sharp ... Together, Morrison and Murray have created a wonderful piece of cross-genre fiction, an homage to both noir and sci-fi, honing it down to a gritty but beautiful piece of work" - Grovel, Andy Shaw. 

"...breathtakingly illustrated neo-noir ... riffing on Chinatown and a hundred classic noir stories. This is a book to rival the best stories published by 2000AD, the kind of book that comes along once in a generation, often imitated but rarely matched. Buy it." - Starburst Magazine, PM Buchan.

"Jim Murray's gorgeous art is reminiscent in style of a toned-down Simon Bisley, and his attention to detail really brings this grimy, waterlogged world to life." - Henry Northmore The List.

"It is not often during the year that you read a graphic novel that you know will hit the “best of the year” lists in December. Drowntown is one such book – buy it now so you will understand just what they will all be raving about." - Down the Tubes, Jeremy Briggs.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

THE DROWNTOWN LAUNCH PARTY!

The Drowntown Launch Party took place on Friday 21st June at GOSH! Comics, Berwick Street, London. Thankfully the evening didn't end up like this . . . 


In fact, as I'm sure you can tell from this normally dour Scotsman's sunny expression, the party went very well indeed. A big thank you to Josh, Andrew, Tom, Steve, Julia & the rest of the GOSH! team for all their hospitality.


(Photo: Steve Cook)
A number of comics luminaries turned up, including: Jonathan Cape publisher Dan Franklin, David Lloyd (V For Vendetta artist, founder of Aces Weekly), John Higgins (Watchmen colourist, RazorJack creator), Rian Hughes (Dan Dare, Yesterday's Tomorrows designer/artist), Dave Hine (Storm Dogs and The Man Who Laughed writer), Steve Cook (photographer and former Doctor Who and 2000AD designer), Geoff Senior and Simon Furman (Transformers comic artist and writer respectively)Laurence Campbell (PunisherWolverine artist), Deborah Tate (former Marvel UK'er and Sonic the Comic editor), Martin Griffiths (Thundercats & Ghostbusters artist), Giulia Brusco (Scalped and Saucer County colourist), Sally Hurst (colourist), and Julie Tait from the Lakes Comic Art Festival (www.comicartfestival.com). Also, thanks to Kevin Barnes and Ronnie Taylor for their support and for representing London's taxi drivers for the evening.

David Lloyd, John Higgins, Sally Hurst & David Hine.
(Photo: D Tate)
With Deborah Tate & John Higgins.
(Photo: Sally Hurst)
Rian Hughes & Wolverhampton Steve from The Cartoon Gallery.
(Photo: D Tate)
London Taxi Driver, Mr Barnes reveals his secret identity.
Laurence Campbell heads for the exit on hearing it's his round next.
(Photo: D Tate)
Same book, different party: Legendary artist Cam Kennedy
compliments Jim's art at the Derry 2D Festival earlier this month.
(Photo: D Tate)


Customers hailed from Croatia, France, Ireland, Italy and Spain, as well as the UK. A number of people commented that the style and format of Drowntown reminded them of Bande Dessine, the hardback albums that are prominent on the continent, and were definitely an influence when we were developing the book. 
Jim and I may have our names on the cover, but a number of individuals behind-the-scenes deserve a tip of our respective hats for the parts they played in helping to bring the book to life.

Firstly, thanks to Jonathan Cape Publisher Dan Franklin for taking Drowntown on, and to him and his dedicated team for putting together such a stylish book.

Thanks also to our smooth-talking agent Rob, for his hard work, support and truly indefatigueable enthusiasm.

I'd like to thank my fiancee for coming up with the title (Deb normally has a song in her head, and this time she pulled out Petula Clark's Downtown). Jim and I had trawled through dozens of dodgy potential titles prior to that, and the reject list probably deserves a blog entry of its own.

Last but not least, I'd like to thank artist extraordinaire Jim Murray, who unfortunately couldn't attend his own launch party. He's a good friend and one of the best artists I've ever worked with. Collaborating with Jim on Drowntown has been a fantastic experience and has resulted in what are certainly some of my favourite characters to write, and a brilliantly realised world that I think offers almost limitless scope for future stories. 

After GOSH! a fair few folk carried on the celebrations in the Blue Post pub, Soho. 


Transformers comic dynamic duo Geoff Senior & Simon Furman.
(Photo: D Tate)

Walking Dead fan Jackie Barnes, artist Vikki Hine & Deborah Tate
Robbie & Robo (-Cook, that is).
Photo: D Tate
Some shameless freeloader, a gruesome gatecrasher by the name of Leo Noiret, turned up to say a slightly slurred, but heartfelt 'Cheers!' to everybody who came along to lend their support and pick up a copy of the book.

'Cheers!'
Some characters will do anything for a free drink!    

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

PAGES 1 - 4: SOME GUYS HAVE ALL THE (BAD) LUCK!


The opening pages of Drowntown exploded onto the Jonathan Cape Tumblr on Friday night - http://capegraphicnovels.tumblr.com/ - so it's only fair that they make a splash here as well.


Didn't I say things could only get worse for Leo Noiret? When in Drowntown, don't leave home without your snorkel...

Thursday, 30 May 2013

DROWNTOWN PAGE 1: THAT SINKING FEELING...

Page 1 of Drowntown has just been posted (accompanied by a short interview) on the Jonathan Cape Tumblr - http://capegraphicnovels.tumblr.com/ - so I figured it was only fair to put it up on the blog as well. 

Meet Leo Noiret, the undisputed King of Bad Luck in futuristic London town. From here on in, things only get worse for him...



Apologies to the great Bill Forsyth for borrowing the title of his first film for this post.  

DROWNTOWN IN DERRY

This weekend, I'm appearing at one of the most enjoyable and hospitable events on the UK convention circuit - the 2D Festival in Derry.

2D, the Northern Ireland Comics Festival is an annual event that celebrates comic book culture and works to promote and support sequential art and storytelling. The festival is organised and supported by the Verbal Arts Centre, a unique and celebrated educational charity founded to promote the spoken and written word in Ireland. It's been going from strength to strength since 2007, and due to record attendances has this year expanded into a two-day event.

I'll be there on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd of June, and, as a sort of 'convention exclusive', will have a small number of advance copies of Drowntown with me. The book isn't officially released until June 20th, so come along for a sneak peek and let me know what you think.




Wednesday, 29 May 2013

SFX INTERVIEW SNIPPET

A brief excerpt from an interview journalist Stephen Jewell recently conducted for the excellent SFX Magazine, out today:

Q: How did you and Jim come to do Drowntown for Jonathan Cape

A: Cape have been producing an excellent line of graphic novels for some years now, championing the medium before it became 'trendy'. At first, we thought Drowntown might be too much of a departure for them in that it's a more commercial, genre-oriented project - mixing elements of science-fiction and crime fiction - than they're known for. If you look at their list, though, which is impressively eclectic, it's obvious that they just want to publish the best books possible.

We figured who dares wins and submitted the script and the first few pages of artwork for what became Book 1 to them via our agent. Cape Publisher Dan Franklin loved what he saw and wanted to take the book on.  

Also, as anyone familiar with the medium knows, it can take years to produce the artwork for a graphic novel, often resulting in a frustratingly long wait between books. To counter this, Cape had been considering the idea of releasing graphic novels in serialized volumes, similar to the European album format. The thriller aspects of Drowntown seemed to make it perfect for this approach and obviously Jim and I have a certain background in serial storytelling from our 2000AD days. 

And a wee bit more, as I just can't resist plugging the story:

Q: Tell us about the other characters and situations we can expect to see?

A: I don't want to drown anyone in a sea of spoilers, so won't say too much about the plot, beyond that it involves: The flooded city of London, or Drowntown as the locals know it; a young aqua-courier who learns young love can be a deadly game; a ruthless criminal haunted by the past and driven by revenge; a pair of genetically-engineered anthropomorphic assassins; an all-powerful corporation which manipulates the environment and aims to control human evolution; and, of course, Leo Noiret, who only hopes he has time for one last pint before one or all of the above gets him killed.


SFX Magazine #236 is out today. Stephen is also covering Drowntown in a longer article for the June issue of Comic Heroes. 

Drowntown Book 1 is out in the UK on June 20th. Pre-order your copy at your local book or comic shop, or at Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

DROWNTOWN AT OK COMICS!

While Amazon and other online retailers undoubtedly offer a great service, there's nothing like the personal touch of your local independent book or comic shop, who share the same passion for the medium as readers and creators.

The award-winning OK Comics in Leeds is offering an exclusive Limited Edition Drowntown Print, signed by Jim and me, to customers who buy or order a copy of the book from them.



The image shows Leo Noiret, one of the lead characters, enjoying a quiet pint in the Stag's Head sub-pub, with the sunken streets of London visible through the window behind him. 

If you're lucky enough to get your hands on one of the prints, you'll see from the gun he's holding under the table that Leo isn't fully relaxed. Drowning isn't the only way you can die in Drowntown...

Personally, I think they're being modest by calling their shop OK Comics. FAB Comics is more like it if you ask me.

LONDON'S FLOODING...

As research for Drowntown, I've been trying to keep my eye on the latest developments and thoughts about climate change, global warming, rising sea levels and extreme weather. An article in Saturday's Guardian (18/05/13), focusing on the more immediate future of the flood threat to London, makes for interesting reading, to me at least. 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/17/flooding-threat-london-property

A couple of choice quotes from the article seem to point to the usual government incompetence and lack of prescience:

'Government scientists acknowledge that the risk of flooding is rising every year due to climate change, and 2012 was the wettest year on record across England, with insurers reporting £1.2bn of damage from almost half a million claims. But coalition ministers oversaw a 26% year-on-year drop in investment in flood defences after entering office in 2010.'

And:

'In 2009-10 in London alone, over £34m was spent on flood defence projects but this fell to less than £17m by 2012-13. Some boroughs were particularly hard hit, with funding in Hammersmith and Fulham falling 99%. In Richmond upon Thames, the borough with the most homes in the highest-risk category, funding has fallen from £1.5m in 2009-10 to zero in 2013-14.'

Ironically, for the next few weeks, I'm currently staying near Richmond. Serves me right for writing a story about a flooded city, I guess!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

GOSH! IT'S THE DROWNTOWN LAUNCH PARTY!

The groovy folks at GOSH! are hosting a launch party for Drowntown on June 21st at their brilliant shop in the heart of Soho. Be there or be square.


Gosh! is quite possibly the classiest place in London to buy a graphic novel, and has been for the last 25 years or so. They've gone from strength to strength since moving from their first shop across from the British Musuem, and stock a  range of graphic novels that is second to none, from translated European albums to mainstream superhero antics; vintage children’s books to contemporary graphic fiction; compulsively readable manga to cutting edge small press.

For more info about the Drowntown launch - as well as numerous other events - please check out http://www.goshlondon.com/

Of course, in Drowntown, Berwick Street is bang (or splash) in the middle of the flood-zone that futuristic London has become, submerged deep underwater. Will the distinctive GOSH! sign still be visible above the waves? 

Keep your eyes peeled for Drowntown Books 2 and 3. You never know what you mind see in the background of some panels... 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

MEET THE CAST...

Part of the idea behind Drowntown was to produce a story with an almost Dickensian-sized cast, featuring characters from every strata of society, top to bottom. Over-ambitious as usual, we're nowhere near that so far, though it is only Book 1. 

Here's an introduction to some of our main players, tweaked slightly from the original outline we put together. Some of them would be fun to go for a beer with, others you'd be worried about making it home alive: 

Alexandra Bastet: The Empress of the Underworld, frighteningly intelligent and utterly ruthless. A master of Machiavellian manipulation, always at least one step ahead of her enemies. A beautiful, but terrifying angel of vengeance, on a relentless quest for retribution.


Alexandra Bastet: Deadlier Than The Male 
Leo Noiret: A downbeat, down-at-heel, down-at-everything Minder and hard-luck hero, who - no matter how much he tries to ignore it - remains plagued by the small diamond of conscience that stubbornly exists within him. Survival in Drowntown would be a hell of a lot easier without a conscience.


Leo Noiret: Hard-Luck Hero
Gina Cassell: A tough, sexy, cocky, reckless, irreverently humoured young adventurer - streetwise but with a touch of innocence - who uses her breathtaking skills with the hydro-bike and intimate knowledge of the flooded London streets to earn a precarious living as a courier/smuggler.


Gina Cassell: Hydro-Biker Courier
Vincent Drakenberg: The heir apparent to the Drakenberg Corporation, the world leader in both genetic engineering and environmental technology. A handsome playboy whose own romantic streak is under threat from the blunt pragmatism instilled in him by his father, an advocate of ‘kill or be killed’.


Vincent Drakenberg: Cool As They Come
Jeremy Twisden: A corrupt, but undoubtedly charismatic – albeit in a ‘man you love to hate’ vein – politician. A bloated, blustering, but genuinely cunning schemer – Boris Johnson rolled into Michael Winner with maybe a touch of Brian Cox (actor, not scientist) hamming it up villainously.

The Right (Dis)Honourable Jeremy Twisden

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

DT B/G

Here are a few Background Notes about the 'world' of Drowntown that we put together for the initial outline of the book, although we had a slightly less snappy working title at that point. 

Not all the elements mentioned below have actually made it into the final story, but - never throw away an idea - may well appear in Books 2 or 3, or in other stories after that. Anyway, here we go: 

War and climatic upheaval have changed the world forever. Europe and the United States have been ravaged by rising sea levels and bio-warfare. 

London is a flooded metropolis, controlled by corporate, military and political interests. City life has adapted to the rising waters. 



The tube, the infamous underground rail network, is now a giant, eel-like submersible that navigates the flooded streets and tunnels. 

Water-taxis modeled on the old black cabs, sleek speedboats and submersible hydro-bikes are the preferred form of transport. 

Lush vegetation grows upon centuries-old buildings, making many areas seem like lost cities in an equatorial rainforest. 


The clientele of sub-pubs (submerged pubs) peer out into the sunken streets as if they are in an aquarium.

The wealthiest citizens are genetically altered, allowing them to breathe underwater and swim with superhuman skill. 

The majority of the population is trapped in the Depths, floating slum communities, some of which are even submerged, colonizing abandoned underground stations. Others live nomadic existences traveling the city in scavenger ships.

The Thames Barrier has become the Britannia Barrier, holding back destructive tides that could destroy the country. Gigantic aero-generators along the barrier generate power for the city. 

Corporations virtually rule the world, manipulating governments, and maintaining their own private armies and intelligence services. Subterfuge, sabotage and assassination are de rigueur. 

Genetic engineering practices, such as those pioneered by the Drakenberg Corporation, have manipulated evolution and transformed the nature of life as we know it today. 

Many species of animal have been given ‘human’ intelligence and assimilated into regular society as a hybrid underclass.

Adventurers and opportunists abound, determined to rise out of the Depths and earn themselves a better life, or die trying.

They live an outlaw existence, and are often hired by the corporations for missions or operations that require plausible deniability. Leo Noiret and Gina Cassel are two of these adventurers…


BESIDE THE S-S-SEASIDE, BESIDE THE S-S-SEA...


A glance at the flooded city of London in Drowntown makes it pretty apparent that the story we're telling draws to some degree on environmental issues and concerns such as climate change and rising sea levels, all of which seem to become increasingly topical with each passing year. 

We're obviously extrapolating these elements to a fairly fantastic degree to produce what is hopefully an entertaining SF adventure. In the name of accuracy and diligent research, however, I felt I had no choice but to investigate further over the Easter weekend, exposing myself to the dangers of ferocious seas and whipping winds... 


Photo: Deborah Tate


Photo: Deborah Tate
...and the dubious temptations of a UK seaside resort in the dead of what feels like winter, but is technically supposed to be the start of summer. 

The crashing surf at Robin Hood's Bay was much more spectacular than it's come out in that first photo. Honest. I've got wet trainers to prove it.