Friday, 18 November 2016

Little Girl Black - review

Writer James McCulloch is probably best known for his horror series City of Lost Souls, but his latest book, soon to be published in graphic novel format, dives into a much more realistic and darker corner of the horror genre.

In Little Girl Black we learn about the professional life of businessman Jonathan Watkins and also learn about the dark secrets he harbours in his basement. Here he keeps a group of women and girls imprisoned and under his control; something we learn has been ongoing for many years. When he kills one of the girls for minor accident, he sets out to replace her with a new victim, setting about a chain of events that will challenge both him and his prisoners.

The realistic nature of the story, and it's parallels with real life stories, makes it a much more disturbing tale than James' previous work. This is no fun horror tale with goofy monsters and sparky kids to save the day, this is a grim insight into the most depraved corners of human nature. The dialogue and artwork are no-holds-barred, and artist Pedro Mendes does a great job in illustrating the emotionally charged scenes and graphic violence. The story moves at a pace that compels the reader to keep turning the page, constantly wondering how the story will develop, and whether the ending will be as desolate as the plight of the imprisoned girls.

This will not be a book that everyone will want to read, but if you're comfortable with the likes of American Psycho or the TV drama Thirteen, then this should probably be on your reading list.

The first two issues of the series are available now, with the full 76-page Graphic Novel following soon.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Batman and Robert the Bruce

September 17th 2016 is Batman Day, a celebration of DC Comics most popular character. Across the world comic shops will be celebrating with cosplayers and special events. The event was first introduced three years ago to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman in a comic book.

To celebrate I thought I'd investigate the links between two of my favourite heroes, Batman and Robert the Bruce.

What links could possibly exist between a fictional superhero and a Scottish monarch? Well, Batman co-creator Bill Finger revealed the name of Batman's secret identity, Bruce Wayne, as having been inspired by two historical characters, Robert the Bruce and 'Mad' Anthony Wayne. Indeed, the Wayne family home, Wayne Manor is supposed to have been owned by Bruce Wayne's ancestor Anthony Wayne, who was a real-life hero of the American Revolution.

Similarly Robert the Bruce fought for freedom in Scotland's war of independence in the middle ages.
The similarities between Robert the Bruce and Batman don't stop there. One of the most famous stories of Robert the Bruce has him hiding from his enemies in a cave, and which comic book character has a liking for hanging around in caves?

Beyond the predilection for caves, both Bruces were inspired by animals to take up the fight against their enemies. Bruce Wayne was inspired to dress as a bat when said creature flew into his home (or through the bat cave depending on which origin story you read). Similarly, Robert the Bruce, whilst in hiding and considering giving up the fight for his country, was inspired by a tiny spider building its web.

Batman is also well known for having a faithful sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder. The orphaned Dick Grayson would be taken under the wing of Bruce Wayne and trained to become the masked crimefighter, Robin. Incidentally Robin's costume is inspired by Robin Hood, who in turn may have been inspired by Scotland's own William Wallace. Robert the Bruce also had his faithful sidekick, Sir James Douglas. Douglas had been sent to France for schooling and for his own safety, when Scotland's king had been deposed by the English King Edward. Douglas' father, who had fought in the rebellion alongside William Wallace, was eventually captured and died in an English prison. Thus the young James Douglas had been orphaned, and on his return to Scotland he was taken under the protection of King Robert the Bruce. Douglas remained a loyal follower of the King and became a renowned guerrilla fighter, using stealth tactics to attack the enemies of the King.

It seems likely that Bill Finger may have been inspired not only to name his character after historical characters, but also to base some of their personality and background on them too. I'm sure none of this supposition could be proved, but it's certainly a nice story for Batman Day.

The story of King Robert the Bruce and the Battle of Bannockburn is retold in the comic book King Robert the Bruce and the Wars of Independence, available from Maximized Comics.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Captain Crosshair - Episode 1.

Here's the complete first episode of Captain Crosshair. We're taking a break from him for a few weeks and introducing another character in two weeks time. Let us know what you think of the Captain so far.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

Next week is the last in this first episode of Captain Crosshair, then we'll have a break for a week and then be back with an introduction to a new character!

Monday, 13 June 2016

Captain Crosshair Episode 1-3

Captain Crosshair tests military equipment in the field for Sharpe Advanced Weaponry. His helmet, suit and rifle are all S.A.W. prototypes. More will be revealed in future episodes.
Previous parts: Part One | Part Two

Sunday, 12 June 2016

DAGON - coming soon.

We are publishing a new comic book adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft story very soon.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Captain Crosshair Episode 1-2

Welcome to Episode 1-2 of Captain Crosshair. Catch last week's opening episode and keep up with the action every Monday for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

World Outlander Day

We're Celebrating World Outlander Day and 25 years since the publication of the first Outlander novel. Outlander shares much of the elements of our comic books - romance, intrigue, battles, heroes and villains.

Please feel free to share this page and the images with your friends (there are social media sharing buttons at the bottom of the page).

We are fortunate to be based close to many of the Scottish locations where the Outlander TV series is filmed. Here are some postcards we created from photographs of locations used in the TV series. We were even able to visit Dysart when filming was taking place. It was used as the French port of Le Havre in a recent episode, although a lot of special effects were used to make it look like it did on TV!

Our comic books are historical stories of famous characters such as Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. They retell the stories of their struggle for freedom a whole four centuries before Claire and Jamie's struggles in Outlander, Our comics are available from our website,, and we can mail them anywhere in the world.

Some of our forthcoming comic books are set in the times of Jamie and Claire, and the battle of Culloden. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up to date with the new releases.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Captain Crosshair Episode 1-1

This is the start of our new web comic featuring Captain Crosshair. More will be revealed about this character as the series progresses.


Saturday, 9 April 2016

Monty Nero at Little Shop of Heroes

Comic book writer Monty Nero visited Little Shop of Heroes in Dunfermline to talk about writing and publishing comics, and to sign copies of his new book Death Sentence London.

Monty and I chatting at the event.

Monty shared his comic writing process and some of the trials involved in publishing comic books. Here are some of my take-aways from the event.

Monty suggested several book to read about writing, including Syd Field's Screenwriters Workbook and Stephen King on Writing.

He offered some suggestions for those that have ideas for stories - concentrate on subtext, twist and pace, and try to surprise people with something new, be inventive.

When writing you should be thinking 'what have I not seen before?', and 'how can I take things that happen every day and make it original?'.

He shared the story of making Death Sentence, which includes the theme of time running out, and how he felt inspired by the imminent birth of his own child, that his own time was running out and that he'd never have the time to undertake a creative project in the future. Happily, he concluded that this turned out NOT to be the case, and he's found that having children has actually opened up creative opportunities that never existed for him before.

Monty explained a process he uses in creating a story. He writes down every idea, works out a 'hook' for the story and expands it into a paragraph, then into sentences and scenes. Eventually he writes all the scenes onto about 50 cards and places them out on the floor, carefully rearranging and discarding scenes until they make sense, and any problems have been ironed out.

He then moves onto character design, writing lots of dialogue for the character and then trimming it down to fit the scenes, often discarding 50% of the dialogue.

The dialogue is then split into chunks of 10 to 20 words, suitable for dialogue balloons, and then these are split into panels for the comic layout.

Monty explained that at first he did lots of research, but found it was just a type of procrastination. He now just writes and then comes back later to research any points that need to be made more credible, such as scientific plot points.

Marketing your comics is one of the biggest issues raised by Monty. He explained that getting publicity is very difficult and he emails, phones and speaks to everyone who might be interested in his new books. He reckons up to 90% of this is fruitless, but nevertheless important. His top tip was to produce a 10 page preview comic and give it away to as many people as possible, with the knowledge that most of the copies will end up in the bin!

Monty's new book Death Sentence London, published by Titan Books is out now and available at all good comic stores, including Little Shop of Heroes.