Tag Archive: creative writing


Or, if you prefer, we’ve now got the graphic novel (Boys Don’t Cry) in Forbidden Planet in Leeds. OneMonkey quietly goes about his organisational business and then announces these things. Oh, and Travelling Man should have more stock by Friday morning.

Phew! In between all of this, and my ridiculous blogging challenge over at my writing blog (a post a day for a month, how hard can that possibly be? Very, would be my current answer. And it’s only the 9th), I do have a finished first draft of the main follow-up to BDC (which might follow an in-between, lighter comic which is half-written). OneMonkey’s legendary editing skills will come into play just as soon as he’s emerged from the Jeff VanderMeer book I got out of the library.

Ideas are also starting to crystallise for the comic script I’m hoping to write during ScriptFrenzy in April. Watch this space.

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Sold out in Leeds

Well, actually, only in Travelling Man. Yes, today brings the exciting news that our graphic novel Boys Don’t Cry is (temporarily, i.e. until OneMonkey takes more copies along) out of stock at Travelling Man in Leeds. Still (as far as I know) available at OK Comics though (and of course via our website). Quite a thrilling feeling.

While I’m being so parochial, I’ll mention that there’s another Alternative Comics Fair at the pub (bar?) Nation of Shopkeepers (Great George Street) in Leeds on March 19th from 12-6pm. Free entry, and I assume the usual suspects will be in attendance (I confess I haven’t had time to check it out – just been given a flyer by OneMonkey who picked it up in town). We may well wander along if we’re not otherwise engaged (she says, as if there’s some kind of Ostragoth social life).

Now back to finishing off the first draft of the comic script I promised I’d deliver to Mark about 6 weeks ago. I’m on a roll now, or I was this lunchtime, so fingers crossed.

Pre-Christmas promises

It would be a great shame to waste the long break from work (2 weeks of mince pies and lie-ins) so I foolishly promised Mark yesterday that during this holiday I’d finish writing the story for our next ‘proper’ (serious) comic as long as he did all the art for the fun in-betweener comic we’re hoping to put out in the Spring. A tall order perhaps but aided by stollen, tea, marzipan, tea, amaretto, and tea I might manage. Or possibly just be sick.

Lettering can be fun

OneMonkey is now finishing up the lettering and (fingers crossed) we’re nearly done. A few tweaks to layout etc when we get together later in the week, a couple of pages of credits and other mundanities to set out, approval of the back-cover blurb (I think I might have nailed it now) from Mark, and we can get a proof printed. And then notice a dozen changes we need to make, and start the ‘finishing’ process again (I’ve done this kind of thing before, though never with anything as exciting as a graphic novel). Definitely looking less like a dream and more like reality. Fingers crossed.

How do you write a synopsis? A catchy couple of sentences to whet the appetite of a potential reader/purchaser – how hard can that be? The answer, as I’m fast discovering, is ‘very’.

With a thin comic the title and the overall look of the thing have to do the work, but when you’ve got something that’s quite thick and bound like a book, it makes sense to have some enticing words on the back. I’m the sort of person that picks up a book and goes straight to the back cover – if it doesn’t tell me what it’s about (instead throwing quotes from reviews at me, which sometimes turn out to have been taken out of context, or taken from a review of a previous novel) I put it down again.

I’ve read plenty of back-cover synopses on novels that are misleading, and a few that are factually inaccurate (Who writes them? Have they read the book first? Why not?) so I know what I’m trying to avoid. However, being so close to Boys Don’t Cry I’m almost guaranteed to emphasise aspects of the story that other people wouldn’t see as so important, and words and phrases that I choose will probably conjure up different ideas for different readers.

So, I have to write a brief, memorable (for us to quote at anyone who asks what it’s about, to save being tongue-tied and waffly), enticing, accurate summary of the plot/theme/atmosphere/style of Boys Don’t Cry, which will mean similar things to most people who read it. Simple, I don’t know why I haven’t done it already.

The Ostragoth table at Thoughtbubble is booked and confirmed. Lettering styles have been discussed and a draft of the Boys Don’t Cry cover is under consideration. It’s exciting, but at the same time a lot of this graphic novel business is just that – business. A trio of socially inept thirty-somethings with physics degrees now has to confront the alien concepts of marketing and presentation. Not to mention decision-making (certainly not one of my strong points). We have an Ostragoth logo courtesy of OneMonkey, but we need an image for the Thoughtbubble website, a final cover design, and a shortlist of Mark’s paintings to get as prints. It’s exhausting! All this and I’m expected to find time to write the follow-up?

Back in the summer of 2004, minding my own business on an Edinburgh street and open to story ideas floating in from the ether as usual, I saw a group of teenage goths. One lad was walking slightly behind the rest, maybe the pavement just wasn’t wide enough, but whatever the reason it sparked a story which wasn’t completed for nearly two years. In the meantime I met Mark Pexton, already an impressive artist with sequential art ambitions. We spent the next couple of years getting better at our respective crafts (and in Mark’s case finding an international audience with book covers, comics, story illustrations and more) and Mark started talking about adapting ‘the goth lad story’ (we still tend to refer to it as gothlad) as a comic when he had the time. It’s now grown into a ‘graphic novella’ called Boys Don’t Cry which we’re preparing for printing.

So what’s this gothlad story all about? It’s dreamy and atmospheric, it’s set in Edinburgh and St Andrews, it has nightmare sequences, grief, loss, and horses. And a teenage goth, naturally. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I can honestly say that if I hadn’t written it I’d want to buy it, and that’s a good start.

The countdown begins

Anyone who’s been following the intermittent updates at the tip-tap of monkey keyboards will have heard that the artist Mark Pexton (contributor to Interzone, among other places) and the writer JY Saville (sadly not a contributor to Interzone yet) have been working on a graphic novel. It’s been a long time coming, but the almost-final draft is done, the technicalities of printing are under discussion. Ladies and gentlemen, please join us on the road to Boys Don’t Cry.