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#125: Man of Action [Figure]
Plus; new signing, bookplate, TBT process...
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Hello again, hope everyone is well. All is good here on the banks of the River Fergus. After jumping back into the frying pan after my Málaga trip, last week I fiiiiinaly finished OLD DOG’s sixth issue. More on that below.
-I really wanted a break when I finished the issue but my sleep schedule was messed up from doing an all-nighter to get the last coloured pages to Clayton, then I had to get the PROJECT FEAR script in, and 2 covers [RIBBON QUEEN and an un-announced Marvel cover]in by the end of the week. Oof. I got to bunk off last weekend though, catch up with friends in Dublin. Back to work this week but fave finally switched to a lower, more relaxed gear. It’s nice.
-I have another signing coming up! VERY soon, in fact. I’m off to sign at Forbidden Planet London on the 7th of July, just a couple of weeks away! We’ve been talking about doing one for years, we actually had locked one in for the release of PUNISHER but then a little thing called Covid popped up and …you know the rest. So, I’m glad we’re finally doing this.
-PROJECT FEAR, a short story for a Marvel anthology has been handed in. They’ve assigned a great artist, can’t wait to see what he does with it.
-Last week I got offered four Marvel covers in one day! That; is a first. With OLD DOG and TIME BEFORE TIME mainly off my plate for now, I took them all because I like drawing and I like money.
-With those BIG projects mainly wrapped [still a little work to do on both] ALIEN is my ‘main’ gig at the moment. I’ve work to do on various bits and bobs, but I think I’ll try write ahead on ALIEN for the next month, to give myself some breathing room.
-My latest cover for RIBBON QUEEN was solicited [Issue 3, above]. I just handed in my cover for Issue 5. Those covers have been an interesting change of pace …been a good side project,very cool to work with Garth Ennis’ cover prompts. Still a few more to go before I’m done.
-Next, I have PROJECT MINER to draw, about 20 pages worth of material, not all written yet, what is written is not yet approved. In the meantime I want to spend a bit of time developing a work for hire pitch I’ve been itching to do for a while. Don’t know if I’ll end up actually doing, but it’s been on my mind for ages so I just want to get it out of my head over the next few weeks while MINER and covers keep the bills paid.
-Have a lot of planning for an OLD DOG/Art Deco project to do. Going to concentrate on this more now as it’s been on the backburner for a while.
-Also have design work to do for the OLD DOG [REDACT] ONE trade, must start assembling that asap, not to mention getting promo material together to push the trade. While we’re on the subject…
[REDACT] ONE IS DONE!
Oh man, it’s taken a while to get here, but I’m so happy to have this first big chapter of OLD DOG locked in. It’s taken me longer than I’d planned but I’m really happy with the end result, to have developed a whole chunk of story on my own, from start to finish. There’s times where I’ve seen projects get launched by publishers and I think to myself “Man, I wish I’d been offered that” but I can honestly say I’m glad this is the project I’ve dedicated myself to for the past year or so.
Got a great reaction to Issue Five by the way, which was a huge relief. If you’ve read it, you’ll probably guess why as it took a weird turn, but it seemed like most were really into it. Very rewarding feeling.
Here’s the first page of Issue 6, where OLD DOG goes to lick his wounds in Ireland.
OLD DOG [REDACT] ONE will be out SEPTEMBER 20th. It will contain #1-6 [and hopefully the #0 preview story too but that’ll add to the page count, so need to run that by Image]. It’s retailing at $9.99 for the first printing only, so if you’re interested, order it now as the second printing will be more expensive. Here’s the Lunar solicit…
Please buy the motherloving hell out of my book so I can keep doing it. Preorders really, really do help.
I’ll be harping on about this more over the next couple of months but here’s some info that you can use to preorder from your local retailer, book shop, online store, etc.
Diamond Code JUL230447
[I’ll see about tracking down a ComicHub link, couldn’t find one in time for this post, will get my hands on the Lunar code soon too. Watch this space]
Got a pleasant surprise last week, a character I co-created for Marvel is getting made into an action figure! MANIA, [Andi Benton] was created as part of my run on VENOM with Cullen Bunn. She’s being released as a 2-pack with Robbie Thompson and Valerio Schiti’s VENOM SPACE KNGHT design.
The figure looks pretty cool. They got a lot of it right, I wicsh the spider icon went up to her shoulders as that was the main hook of my design, I felt. Accentuated her femininity hy highlighting her shoulders over her bust, but hey, I’m sure these things are hard to make.
The Marvel Legends Series Venom Space Knight/Marvel's Mania two-pack will be priced at $55.99 USD and available October 2023. The items are now available for pre-order, I believe.
MANIA is not the first character design of mine to be immortalised in plastic [though the first I’ve co-created]. My BOOMERANG design is still being used in the comics, and was made into a figure a few years ago. Same with my take on TOXIN [which has since been replaced]. My MOON KNIGHT battle armour design still lives on in the comics and as an action figure and of course MR KNIGHT came out a few months ago [though it’s based on the movie interpretation but hell, I’m including it].
Now gimme my OLD DOG action figure, someone!
Issue Three is out this week [man, I’ve had a new issue on the stands three weeks in a row this month]! Things really heat up, both figuratively and literally] in this issue with some wonderful work by Andrea Broccardo and Triona Farrell. Preview pages below…
This issue also features an eerie variant cover by Sunghan Yune…
And I see a chilling variant for #4 has been revealed by Francesco Manna.
You may have noticed that there’s no issue of ALIEN solicited for September. Keep your eyes peeled, there’s more coming, I assure you.
TIME BEFORE TIME
Issue 24 was out last week and BOY, what an issue it was! Thought ye might like to see a little peek behind the curtain for this one.
Spoiler warning, for those who haven’t read it yet.
The writing process with this series is mainly led by Rory McConville; after we chat over ideas and stories, Rory takes the helm with the outline, I give notes, I write some pages but Rory writes the bulk of the issue, he stitches them together smoothly and I’ll give notes on his draft, arriving on the final.
This one was a little different, more like the process of Issue 6, where I pitched the idea, and Rory gave notes on the outline as I wrote. Below is the original outline from me.
TIME BEFORE TIME #24
Written by Declan Shalvey and Rory McConville
Art by Will Morris
2038 We are introduced to Vern, a pod engineer for The Syndicate. As she works on the pods, she overhears various comings and goings from characters like Marv, Helgi, Oscar and even a young Tatsuo. She seems pretty disconnected to it all.
While having a meal on her day off she talks to an older man who is unwell. He laments about the family he has lost and how precious his remaining daughter is to him (yes, this is Nadia’s dad). She tells him she had a daughter too, who died. He reminds her that family is everything and that one day he’ll be reunited with the rest of his family. She believes the same.
At the Syndicate base, we see her observing the pod schedule. Merv engages her a bit, looking to get to know her a bit better. She tells him that there’s a problem with a certain pod, that they’ll have to take it off the schedule for a week. He’s frustrated but it’s not the first time this has happened. He’s going to be busy working out the schedule, she says she’ll fix it asap.
But she’s lying. She’s taking a pod off the schedule so that she can use it on the sly.
After a day or two, Merv notices that there’s been energy spikes late at night. He stays back one night and sees Vern get in the ‘broken’ pod and disappear. When she returns, he checks the data to see where she’s been.
The next night, she gets in the pod again and travels to 2034 only to find Merv waiting for her. We discover that he’s spent the last week in this period (jumped back a bit earlier than her first jump), tracking her movements. He still can’t figure out what she’s up to, though she’s definitely up to something. We learn that she had a daughter that died in a tragic accident two years ago. No drugs or treatment could have saved her, but she is going to save her. She’s been travelling back to work out the best way to do it.
Merv tells her she can’t change the past, but she’s not convinced. She thinks she’s figured out a way to make it work. He tries to convince her but she won’t have it. In the end, she does something to save her daughter that will change time but just before she can do it…
In a gruesomely violet display, her body rips apart from the inside, her organs turning, her bones ripping through her insides, she is torn from the timeline in the most horrific way possible.
We discover that ‘you can’t change the past’ isn’t some kind of upheld moral. Time will not let you.
So, you can see that the general idea is the same, but there was a lot of changes too. Rory felt that it would be better for Vern [now Verna, note from Heather] to be a civilian, which I think was a good note as the one-shots tend to be about people outside the Syndicate organisation. So, a lot of that was moved around, resulting in other changes for the rest of the script. Rory definitely pushed back in ways that made me hammer the story into a stronger shape. The main elements of the story remain though, and I think pushed me into leaning into the tradgedy of the story some more.
I did a couple more outline drafts with notes back from Rory. I then wrote the script, with Rory doing a pass where he sharpened some stuff up and then our editor Heather Antos giving us notes, getting us to the final draft.
By the time I was writing, I knew Will Morris would be drawing it, we’d talked about the possibility of Will drawing an arc of the book, but couldn’t work it out, schedule wise. Was able to work it out for this one shot though, thankfully. I had high expectations as a fan of his stuff but he surpassed even those. Here’s his design for Verna, later in the story.
And here’s the roughs for his variant cover. I preferred the first one personally, I liked all they dynamic lines and the pose, but was outvoted by the rest of the team. It is the more emotive idea, which is more appropriate for the story, I guess. Still …that first one is class.
This issue seemed to get more reviews than any previous issues in a while, all of them really complimentary, which is great. I normally don’t care about reviews but this TBT issue and OLD DOG 5 have been a but more resonant for me for some reason. The point of the one-shots was to have a new entry point outside of the ever-expanding main story. Didn’t necessarily work out that way, but it’s ben nice to see the last one-shot turn a few heads. Will’s GOSPEL collection was out the same day, I hope this issue helped his sales in some small way! We certainly owe him, for such stunning work.
Next; our final arc with Geoffo!
ALIEN #3 [W]
TIME BEFORE TIME #25 [W/C]
OLD DOG #6 [W/A/Col/C]
THE RIBBON QUEEN #1 [C]