Thursday, December 18, 2014


I may not have mentioned it but I've been collaborating with an artist friend of mine based in Australia on a webcomic comic entitled "Chivalry". Previously it had been called "A last hurrah for chivalry"  but we discovered that it shared the name of a 1980 kung fu film directed by John Woo. Idea space is shared by more than one person it seems.

We decided it wanted to gear it towards teenagers, specifically from 12 years old and upwards as for the most part this ignored in favour of an aging 30+ fan audience by the intellectual property frams that are Marvel and DC entertainment. Children are one part, and an important part of the future of Western comics medium. 

So we put this book together and drew in elements of fantasy and science fiction making it a techno fantasy of sorts, all in and effort to keep the concept fresh and original. And what I hope we've come up with will gain a loyal following. It's been an experience for both me and my collaborator Steve Preston, me learning how to write comics and he, drawing things he's never had to draw before, and I've got to say I'm damn proud of every single page Steven's produced.

We recently finished the prelude to the story, a 12 pager available now on,  and in January we commence with the story proper.

I'm looking forward to what Steven pumps out. And I hope you are too.

Back to work.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Some things to get off my chest

Firstly, let me take this opportunity to apologise to everyone who read the first draft of my manuscript, i'm sorry.
I'm sorry for sending you a work reflective of enthusiasm, but not of professionalism. A work riddled with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. A work which would frustrate even the most diligent of reader and test the patience of anyone who read it.

I'm so very sorry. It demonstrated an attitude of casual amatureness and wilful inconsideration. It will not happen again. Indeed. I am not the person I was when I started writing my novel.

Anywoo, on to the finer things. The first half of the first draft has been completely edited. All 250 pages worth. There is not a single page that is not filled with red pen marks and corrections. It was very hard work, made harder by the afore mentioned grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and some really, really turgid, cliché writing, but you live and learn. No one is cooked fresh out of the box. Everyone need to do the work to become who they are. Doing the work and learning takes you closer to being you.

I've written several pages of notes on what needs to be fixed and how, which has given me a map of how more the first draft away for being a Frankensteins monsters and closer to being a the story i want it to be. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but if I plan carefully and set goals for myself, i should be able to finished the book with time to spare.

Also, as a matter of urgency, I need to get the second draft done before the beginning of the festive season so the my "faithful editors" they can spend a bit of time going over my draft before the holiday madness.  You need a second set of eyes to help you see the cracks you cant see.

I'm aiming to have the third and (hopefully) final draft finished by my birthday. Then I've got just over a month and a half to layout and design my book. Not to mention the illustrations that I've been working on undercover of darkness. Which reminds me, I have an email to send a certain working illustrator. Also need a fresh set of eyes for my book illustrations.

So, it's November 1st. 2011. Just under six months until the deadline I've set myself to have the book finished in its entirety. A month later it'll be eastercon. And nothing would give me greater pleasure that to put my novel in the hands of the writers who have influenced me. And who know what will happen then.

But before that come a lot of hard, hard work. Lets see if I cant nip this second draft in the bud my months end.

1500 words a day?

We'll see.

To work then.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tomorrow, when the war began

I just deleted/destroyed almost every single illustration I originally created for the 3rd year final major project-Frostfeld book. And truth be told a lot of it was bloody atrocious. Did I really believe I could blag my way into getting a degree? Did I genuinely believe I could create anything NEAR to what I was capable of without doing the work?

Everything I created for that final year demonstrated a complete inability to  recognise my shortcoming or work to overcome them. I genuinely believed that I could polish a turd and get away with it.

Where as, if I had actually done the work and created something smaller that I could actually complete instead to consistently creating ambitious projects that were WAY beyond my ability to complete.....well.....I would be in differently place now and I certainly wouldn't be writing this harsh critique of my shortcomings.

Every failure I have encountered has been due one of more of the following four factors:

1. Fear of failure/looking stupid

2. Not doing the heavy work nessecary to accomplish my goals.

3. Creating extremely ambitious goals for myself without realising that my ambition out strips my ability.

4. All of the above.

Not anymore. The 350+ page manuscript currently sitting in a brown envelope in my chest of drawers is proof positve of what happens when you sit your fucking ass down and DO THE THRICE DAMNED WORK

Whole new ballgame. Completely different approach. No blagging. No shortcuts. No easy routes. No lazyness. No excuses. Just HARD bloody GRAFT.

Watch this space. Wish me luck.

Tomorrow, the hardwork begins in earnest.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The first draft of my first novel is done

Finished. Completed. Done.

Just shy of 150 thousand words and 318 pages. The first draft of my first novel is complete. I cant help but feel a great sense of..emptiness. Something which had taken up my life entire has left a void. I remember when the first ideas for the novel came to me. Way back in 1996. They were random bits and pieces but had no cohesive center. Rubble and debris circling a star.
It wasn't until 2004 that elements of a story began to form. But I still had no protagonist. No structure. Just a series of uncollected islands in close proximity to each other.

One day in 2006 Marlyn Frostfeld popped into my head.

Followed in quick succession by her best friend: the pugnacious Ayami Kojima.

A story quickly began to take shape as well as a desire to tell it. I hadn't written in years at this point but the desire to craft a story became stronger everyday.

In 2007 I became serious about writing the novel.

In early 2009 I actually started writing the fucker.

Fast forward to today. 2011-09-21 and i have the fruit of my labors sitting in various media around my house and on the net (dropbox is your friend). I still find it difficult to accept what I've been able to accomplish. That there exists in the world a rough manuscript with characters and situations which do not exist before i breathed life into them.

I see them so clearly now. I hear their voices. But for now, they must remain silent. But only for a time. By the end of the week a printout of the manuscript will be in my hands. This will find its way into a secure folder and be put in a drawer. Where it will remain for six weeks.

At that time I will start work on proof reading and editing the work. Soon after that i will start work on the second draft.

Its fun. Its interesting. Its a learning experience. But it is work.

So, what do I plan to do over the next couple of weeks? Why, start work on the sequel and the illustrations for book one of course! I've got a plot outline to nail down!

It never ends my friends. Never.

Back to work.

Friday, June 03, 2011


"Every writer faces rejection and it's never easy—so go, drown in self-pity for while. But then get off your ass and WRITE. A fierce, unyielding passion for Story is the key to success."

-J.M. DeMatteis

Sunday, May 08, 2011

If anyone's interested, I've got a blog on which I've been documenting the progress and process of my novel. SHAZAM!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fortune Favours The Bold

I'm NOT going to do a master degree. I intend to forge forward a build a career in novel writing and illustration. I don't have the time or patience to sit in a class room and work toward "a piece of paper" or letters after name anymore.

Originally I planned to take a masters degree so that I'll be able to then to a Post Graduate Diploma in Education which would allow me to teach. But surely the best way to teach is to lead by example, right? A blog and books are far more far reaching than a classroom.

Come what may, I will succeed. Because I refuse to give up.

"Fortes fortuna adiuva"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Things i've come to accept recently

I can only do so much in a day.

I should never write when I'm tired.  I end up writing crap.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Good work takes time

"Ten years from now, no one is going to care how quickly the books came out. The only thing that will matter, the only thing anyone will remember, is how good they were. That's my main concern, and always will be."
-George R.R. Martin

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Self Publishing

It occurs to me that the only way that I can have complete control over my finished novel is to publish it myself. After a long hard think about the difficulties involved with self publishing, I've decided that it's the only avenue available to me.

The notion that will be able to have my well designed, and hopefully, well illustrated/written and designed novel be immediately snapped up by a publisher is a long shot at best and a fantasy at worst.

No, self publishing it is. Understand that this is not a decision I take lightly, as one need only type "self publishing" into their search engine to read about the difficulties involved in such an enterprise. But it has as many benefits as it has hardships.

Christ in heaven i really do enjoy making life difficult for myself don't I?

On another note, I've decided to return to university. What that you heard to cry? Wasn't i sworn off the whole UK art education experience after the debacle that was Southampton Solent university?

Well, just hold your horses for a second and I'll explain.

I'm planning to study for an MA (Master of Arts) degree in illustration. My reasons are both two fold

First, I've had always planned to teach illustration at some point in the future. I've always wanted to pass on my skills and experience to the next generation of British illustrators. To be one of the good guys who shepherd young student illustrator in the direction they want to go and help educated then about the history of their profession. Also I want to remind or rather educate students that working for free or being preyed upon my unscrupulous clients who believe they can with a wink and a smile trick students into believing that in an age of tlumbr, print on demand, blogs and facebook, that producing work for free equals publicity is bullshit of the highest order.

Yeeees sir, people will look at them images you've generated off your own back and have not been paid for and think "Hmm. What a nice image. I wonder what else he/shes has done?"

And how is that going to help you pay your rent? How is that going to help you put food on your table? The people who perpetuate that lie can afford to pay you and wouldn't do their job for free for even one second. Indeed, they would bitch about how much they get paid and want more.

You, a poor student, should a freebie for a major publisher/client who can afford to pay you?! FUCK NO!!

Jesus H fucking Christ, it makes me murderously angry that people still believe and perpetuate that crock of shit. Fuckers.

I'm ranting, aren't I? Moving on.....


Secondly, having a job will help feed me and keep a roof over my head whiles i work on my novel/graphic novels and self publish them. I believe Jeff Smith, Craig Thompson, Alison Bechdel amongst many others took this route. Not that teaching route, but doing freelance illustration to pay for their graphic novel projects.

Unfortunately, at least in the United Kingdom, in order to teach at university level, you have to hold a MA in your chose profession. So, in the next two years i have to save £4,500 in order to pay for my tuition fees. And i need to actively start building a portfolio of work. Something that should have slowly building over the second i set foot in Norwich. Le sigh.

As i said, I really enjoy creating work for myself.

More later.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

You will be tested ....

If you want to become something. If you want to do something with your life other than just exist. If you want to be creative. If you want to be successful. You will be tested.

G-d/the universe/fate/life will test you to see how determined you are to be want you want to be. Life will throw you curve balls to test you resolve. Obsticals will be put in your path to block your progress. Shit will happen.

All of these designed to test you. To make you into the person you want to become.

It has always been thus.

And it always will be.

And you have two simple choices:

Either suck it up, accept it and deal with it.

Or abandon your dreams.

The balls in your darling.

Everyone you admire and respect whose life and or work inspires you to better yourself, EVERY SINGLE ONE has been through what your going through.

The question is and always has been thus: How badly do you want it?

Good night my brothers and sisters. And spare a thought/prayer for our brothers and sisters in Egypt and everywhere in the middle east.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

RAW and learning on the job

Warren Ellis made a point yesterday about webcomics and the need to produce the work, if only to get the idea out of your head.  Here an excerpt:

"Look at the webcomics week thread on Whitechapel. Some of that stuff is raw as all hell, and some of the websites they sit on are frankly horrifying. But they’re doing it for the idea. So long as the idea gets out of their head and into the world, they’re winning. Not everything has to be smooth and shiny and run through user-experience wisdom. Sometimes, it just has to be done. "

He touches on something which I've be struggling with for years.  The fear of being wrong.  Of looking stupid.  It's stopped me from making hard but necessary decisions that could and would have gotten me where I am now in my mid 20's in stead of my early 30's but hey,  experience isn't waste if you don't give up right.

I've recently been forced to accept a painful and liberating fact.  That my life is the way it is because i refused to be an active participant in my own life.  Now that may seem damning, but actually its not.  The flip side is that I have the ability to do anything I want.
Hitting my word count for NaNoWriMo every day and the first draft of my novel have proved to me for the first time what happens when I shut the fuck up, sit my arse down and do the bloody work.
It's made me realise that you can't afford to be frightened, or scared.  That's death.  You remain stationary.  You create a void.  You do that often enough and nature/the universe/life will fill that void. Normally with something you don't like.

With comics and writing, you have to learn in public. You have to learn on the job.  You have to expose your work to people.  You can't sit your hobbit hole and beaver away until stupid o'clock the morning forever until you feel your ready, because how will you know your ready until you expose your work to people?

Warren's right. But his statement extends to writing as well.  So long as the idea get out of your head and into the world, you're winning.  Not everything has to be smooth and shiny and run through user-experience wisdom. Sometimes, it just has to be done.

Learn Work. Show. Learn. Work. Show. Learn. Rinse and repeat.

Back to work.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The difficulty of being original

This thing that I've working on. The project that's been floating round in the head in one shape or form since the mid nineties.

For the longest of times in was called Zaibatsu. But that really didn't click for me. Then it was Gods and Monsters. But there is a film with the same name. Recently I decided to call it The Shadow Of The Beast Chronicles. But after a looooong conversation last night with an wise artist friend of mine I decided it not worth my time incurring the wrath of Psygnosis/Reflections/Sonys legal department who could quite happily afford to buy my dead body 10 times whiles i'm still alive! So, I've actually had to sit back and think of something that speaks about the tale I'll be spinning. About the themes I'll playing with. It's almost as hard as writing the bloody story! It's so easy to lapse into cliché and avoid the pain of being original. Still. Originality has something going for it. A sense of danger and empowerment.

The search and the work, as always continues.

Edited to include: Sometimes its best to go with name of your protagonist. Which was the name I dismissed very early on as being "not iconic enough". Dumb.

Friday, January 02, 2009

End of year review: 2008 was the year that....

2008 was the year that I finally got over my hang ups and committed myself mind, body and soul to creating that which has given so much joy and inspiration throughout my life: a comic. Though it was ropey and badly drawing in places, it was a firm start.

A thing that existed in my head now existed on paper. A physical thing that other people could see and hold in their hands and criticise. This was the single most empowering thing that I've ever done in my life.

Much more next year.

2008 was the year that I could actually see improvement in my work. I could see who far I had come from that day waaaaaay back in summer 2002 at Warren Ellis signing at Forbidden Planet when I decided to start drawing again. It been a long long road., there are still miles to go.

2008 was the year that I accepted that it okay to draw completely differently to everyone else. That you don't have to conform to a certain art style. That as long as you have a firm understanding of the foundations, your work can be as unique and iconoclastic as you wish.

2008 was the year the Ashley Wood, Sean Phillips, Jae Lee, D'israeli, Alison Bechdel and Nihei Tsutomu had their hands firmly in my pocket. I think I've got more manga by Nihei Tsutomu than anyone else in the UK!!

2008 was the year I discovered Milton Caniff, Sergio Toppi amongst many, many others.

2008 was the year that I read my first Stephen King book and cursed myself for not have read any of his work before.

2008 was the year I realised that good art takes time. That something the process of discarding a finished drawing that doesn't work, although it looks nice and you like it get you closer to something that does work.

2008 was the year that I took my writing as seriously as my art.

2008 was the year I finally came out of the closet as a trekkie:)

2008 was the year that I was more strapped for cash than any other year previously: I REALLY, REALLY didn't like that.

2008 was the year that I saw the would change and history happen before my very eyes.

2008 was the year that I stopped attending comic conventions. No more conventions until I've got shit to show.

And that's that.

Good luck to us all in 2009. We're all going to need it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hello. I'm J.E. Cole and this my art blog, Stay tuned. The goods are coming.