Sunday, 28 May 2017

Tales of Bruce and Wallace: A Graphic Novel

We're currently at work on a new anthology graphic novel featuring stories from medieval Scotland. Centering on King Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, the book features two of our previously published stories plus a range of new short tales.

We're running a Kickstarter Campaign to fund the project, and the result will be a softcover, perfect-bound book around 80 pages in length.

Rewards for backers include copies of our previous comics, plus artwork by Scottish artist Paul Tonner (@HeavyVoodoo).
Work in progress - pin-ups of Bruce and Wallace.

RAF jets intercept intruders...

Monday, 15 May 2017

World War 2 project

It's been a bit of fun writing the Brexiteer comic strips lately, but aside from this political satire we've been doing some serious work too.

Recently I've been working on a series of images to depict an event from the start of World War 2. The illustrations will hopefully be used in a museum exhibition later in the year.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Brexiteer ICBM

Review: Levels Part 1

I picked up a copy of Levels Part 1 by Desert Whale Comics at Dunfermline Comic Con recently and am very happy that I did.

First off, the story follows window cleaner Frankie Barrett who discovers something odd is happening in the multi-story office block where he's currently working. Smashing through a window to help someone collapsed over their desk, he is assailed by a murderous secretary and is soon fighting for his life.

Unknown to Frankie a disgruntled former employee of the office has unleashed a mind-altering technology, turning the building's inhabitants into bloodthirsty killers. As Frankie battles his way through the offices and corridors the former employee gleefully watches via the building's security cameras. By the end of the book we discover that there may be another force at work that hasn't yet been revealed, and that leaves us hanging for part 2.

The artwork is very good for an indie title. The quality of linework is a step above many indie comics, and the story unfolds in glorious black and white, augmented by red flashes of blood and screams.

The story so far is fairly straightforward, but the cliffhanger ending suggests it may go deeper in future issues. Whilst displaying the characteristics of many zombie films, there's some witty dialogue that's reminiscent of Sean of the Dead, and scenes with improvised weapons that made me think of the video game Dead Rising. It's all told at a frantic pace as the main character deals with the situation in the only way he can and slowly comes to terms with the enormity of his problem.

Rating: 8/10

Desert Whale Comics on Facebook

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Super Cumbernauld

Scottish superhero fans are excited at the prospect of Avengers stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson arriving in Cumbernauld for filming of $400 million movie, Infinity War.
Filming will take place in the same studios used for blockbuster TV show Outlander. The film studio will be used for green-screen effects, but some of the filming is also believed to be taking place in Edinburgh.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Crime, Comics and Cosplay

The Big Comic Con is nearly here. The proofs are back from the printers and the book is looking good. Artist Michael Philp has excelled himself with a great cover that shows the planning of the comic heist and neatly includes the Captain Crosshair costume hanging in the background.

The new book will be launched on March 11th at Dunfermline Comic Con, and then will be available through our website at

An early review of the comic from Big Comic Page said of the comic:

"Packed with all manner of local references and comic culture in-jokes...the story is packed with twists and turns...Philp’s layouts flow smoothly and the character designs – particularly once the Con gets rolling – really help to capture the excitement and energy of the story"

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Behind the Scenes - The Big Comic Con

I thought I'd share some insights about the creation of our latest comic book; a behind the scenes look at how the book has been put together.

Our latest book is The Big Comic Con, a tale of crime, comics and cosplay. It is our first fiction story, and is launching on March 11th at Dunfermline Comic Con.

The idea for the story came to me around the time of the 2016 Dunfermline Comic Con. There had been an exhibition of vintage comic books at the event, some of which were very valuable. A while later I read a story about some rare comics being stolen in America, and the idea for The Big Comic Con was born.

The basic premise is as follows:

A group of youngsters, helping out their friend who has gotten into financial problems, decide to pull off a heist at their local comic con. Going after some valuable vintage comics, the group soon find themselves on the wrong side of the law and also at the mercy of some local gangsters.

From that initial idea I started to flesh out the story, whilst trying to answer many questions.

  • Who are the people planning the heist?
  • What motivates the characters to resort to crime?
  • What difficulties will the characters face?
  • What happens after the heist?
  • How does the story end, and how can all the threads of the story be wound up nicely?

From the outset I didn't want to make this an entirely serious story. I wanted to inject a little humour and keep it more of a 'crime caper' than a serious crime story. I took the initial idea and started to write an outline of the story, starting with the motivation for the characters. I then moved onto the events of the story, and this is when I ran into a problem faced by many writers - how to end the story.

I really had no idea how the story was going to end, but I knew that I wanted it to work out neatly and in a satisfying way. It took me a while to come up with the eventual ending, and it was one of those 'two o'clock in the morning inspirations' that came from nowhere. Of course, I'm not going to reveal the entire plot or the ending here, but what I will show you is the process I went through with the artist to make the comic a reality.

Having the story, I wrote it out in script form and started to think about the dialogue and interactions between the characters. As an artist myself, I see the script visually in my head, and I find it useful to sketch out panels and page layouts as I go. Most writers don't work this way. They usually write a script and let the artist do the visuals. Fortunately, the artist on The Big Comic Con, Michael Philp, was happy to work this way. During this part of the process I was very conscious of not revealing too much information on facing pages. If there was a 'reveal' occurring in the story, I tried to make it after a page turn, so that it came as a surprise to the reader. This wasn't always possible, without a major re-write, but it was certainly something I had in mind during the whole writing process.

So, my process was to write the script and sketch some roughs of the page layouts.

Script and rough layout

These were sent to Michael, who would then produce a rough layout based on my sketch. Sometimes Michael would have a much better sense of how a panel should be laid out, so I was happy for him to make alterations to my initial ideas. Michael also added a lot more movement and dynamism to the panels, which I was very pleased with. Compare my initial sketch with Michel's rough, below.

Sketch and Rough

From the rough Michael would develop it into a clean line drawing, which would be sent back to me for lettering and colouring.

Line drawing
I added the lettering first, sometimes adapting the script a little if I thought it looked wrong on the page, or if the dialogue was too stilted and hampered the reading flow. I ended up doing this quite a lot - adapting the script at this late stage. Perhaps that's just a sign of an inexperienced script writer!

The above image is a partially completed page. Colouring and shading has still to be completed, but it serves to demonstrate the stages of production.

So, that's a brief insight into the making of The Big Comic Con. If you're an aspiring writer, perhaps you'll find it useful, or at least mildly interesting!

Tickets for Dunfermline Comic Con 2017 are currently on sale, so if you'd like to get your hands on a  signed, first edition of The Big Comic Con, then please come along and meet us!