Monday, 20 August 2012

GLoW 1: The Reviews Are In!

... and they all have something nice to say!

The fine people of Comics Anonymous were first, with their Craig Hastie awarding the book 7/10 and remarking:

"Having seen the quality of some of the members’ individual creations it was no surprise that a product with all of them involved would have the same high standard attached".

Niall Doonan at Comicbuzz gave it 7/10, and said:

"...a lot to enjoy; I laughed out loud and was genuinely surprised by some of the endings."

Over at the Forbidden Planet International blog, Richard had a few more criticisms, and had this to say:

"Glow #1 is good, solid stuff, but it just feels a touch uninspired to me now."

Thanks for all the feedback, guys! It bodes well for the upcoming digital release of GLoW 1 to the masses! If you're a comic blogger reviewer-type person who'd like a peak at a review copy, get in touch!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


++++++BREAKING NEWS+++++++


The first anthology from the Glasgow League of Writers was the runaway success story at this weekends Glasgow Comic Con with the first print run selling out in under 9 hours.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

GLoW triumph at the SICBA's

Woke up this morning to the amazing news that my Glasgow League of Writers buddies won big at the Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards last night.

Gordon McLean took the Best Comic Award for No More Heroes and John Lees took the Best Writer Award for his work on The Standard amongst others.

It rounded off what was a fantastic day for GLoW and what has been an amazing year. When I started the group and sat down at the very first meeting I didn’t know then that two of the faces staring back at me would go on to be award winning writers.

Gordon’s No More Heroes was one of the very first scripts we workshopped at GLoW and while we can’t take any credit for making it better (it already was great) it holds special memories for us all.

To see a comic go from script to concept art to roughs and on to finished art. To see the completed comic, read the reviews and then watch it become an award winner is very special indeed.

Gordon is a top bloke and too big a talent for comics to hold. Watch out for an amazing film project soon and some other projects.

John Lees took the award for best writer. Certainly, the best unsigned writer in the UK at the moment. If you don’t know his name or his work at the moment, then mark it well. You will soon enough.

John manages all of this by being a genuinely nice guy and has remained so for the time I’ve known him. You could trust him with your wife, your wallet, your kids and your dogs. Hell, you could even trust him with your comic collection!  No one deserves their award more than John.

I'm proud that both of them are members of GLoW and have both played a major part of it being what it is and I'm proud that my friends got the recognition they deserve. Well done guys,

GLoW 1 – our anthology was a resounding success at the Glasgow Comic Con and features the work of both award winners.

Gordon Robertson

Monday, 25 June 2012

How I Learned To Stop Putting Things Off And Love The Grind

I hate writing.


Not the fun part, of course. Everyone loves the plotting, the brainstorming, the throwing ideas against a wall to see if they stick. That part is capital-A Awesome, and is covered amazingly well by Garry McLaughlin over here. No, the part I hate is the actual physical act. Sitting down in front of a computer with a blank word document open, knowing that the next few hours of my life will be devoted to transferring the solid gold in my head on to the page in front of me, where it undergoes some reverse-Midas transmogrification into barely acceptable dialogue and clumsy panel descriptions.

It's not writing I hate, really, it's typing. It's order and formatting. When you're all plot-happy in your head everything is quite nebulous and free-flowing. Once you start typing you need to start applying rules and standardising everything. You need to watch your spelling and your grammar, and that's not half as fun as scripting your main character's oh-so-witty verbal tete-a-tete with the primary antagonist. The trouble is, the typing, the formatting, the standardisation, right down to the spelling and grammar - it's all just as important as the fun stuff, and might even get the fun stuff published somewhere. So here's my take on how to beat the overwhelming lethargy that comes as the price of productivity. Procrastination-busting 101 or How I Learned To Stop Putting Things Off And Love The Grind.

The first thing to remember is that you’ve done the lion’s share of the work already. You have the ideas, you know your story. All you need to do is get it out of your head and you’re home free. This is nothing but a sacrifice to the gods of productivity, and when you’re finished you’ll have written something. The typing might be arduous, but the satisfaction from having a complete piece of work ready to go is immense. So don’t go into your next typing stint with dread. Look at it as the last lap before the finish line. You’re about to be a writer.

If you use any of my personal methods, it may well be this next one, because it skirts dangerously close to procrastination. Here goes. If you know you’re going to write something soon, say, within a day, and you know the thought is awful, then you need to get inspired. For me, this consists of watching The West Wing or the Wire or reading anything by Grant Morrison. Expose yourself to the writing that made you want to write. Think about being that person, who wrote that thing. I’m a competitive sort, so I imagine being in competition with these guys. Sorkin, Morrison…they’re who I’m out to beat, and I’m WAY behind schedule. If you can avoid getting sucked in to your chosen inspiration, this one can work wonders.

For me, the biggest obstacle to writing is Time. Between working full time and having a general life that doesn’t involve a computer screen, the time to commit 24 pages of comic to screen is often in short supply, so the only real option is to exploit any time you have to write to its fullest. Spare hour? An hour is better than nothing. Train journey? Bust out the notepad. Even if you can only do a little here and there, all the littles add up to a lot and the long road is better than no road at all. Write what you can, when you can.

My last point is related to presentation, and I think it’s an important one. Any of us who aspire to be professional writers are going to have to submit work to an editor. We’ll be weighed, measured and often found wanting, so the most important thing is to show ourselves in the best possible light. That’s where the formatting and the standardising and the spelling and the grammar come in. Submitting work to an editor is like going for a job interview. The first thing an interviewer is going to know about you when you walk in that door is how you look, and they’ll draw inferences from that. Turn up unkempt and scruffy and you’ll just appear disinterested and unreliable. The same thing applies to your written work. Spelling mistakes, misuse of punctuation and a lack of consistent formatting are all going to make your work look messy, make you look uninterested in it. If YOU don’t care about you work, why should anyone else? So the next time you’re dreading sitting down at the computer to write your next script, think of it like you’re getting ready to interview for your dream job. Shine your shoes, iron your shirt and put your best foot forward. You know you can do this job, you don’t need the convincing. If you give yourself the best possible chance and present yourself as well as you can, no one else will need convincing either.

The typing isn’t a chore, really. It’s more of a distillation of all your ideas, creativity and potential, and if you throw yourself into that final process with as much enthusiasm as the brainstorming then the rewards can be huge.

Now go write!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Making Comics - Plotting is all in the mind

I've been thinking a lot about writing recently, mainly because I've been "doing" a lot of it. I've been thinking that the word "writer" is a kind of inadequate word sometimes, given that the actual act of writing is only a small part of creating a story.

I thought I'd offer up some of my thoughts regarding the art of plotting while I write the script for issue 3 of my forthcoming creator-owned work, Gonzo Cosmic. Once upon a time, the art of writing was really elusive to me. It was a world of esoteric meaning, full of pitfalls and traps, because I didn't understand the art form. I read 'how-to' books, and tried to shoehorn ideas into stories, mangling characterisation and over-using structure. That was, I think, because I didn't have a lot of confidence in my authenticity as a writer.

However, as I practised it, and made many mistakes along the way, I learned to trust myself more as a writer, and once I did, I realised I was actually physically writing a lot less.

See, the thing is, the main meat of writing comics is plotting, same as it is in film and drama. I think it's slightly less similar in novel-writing, but it's still an important part of the process. However, in comic booking, plotting is everything. Starting off with an idea - a good idea, hopefully, the one no one else is doing - you must daydream the story. If you've got a good story brewing, every spare second of your day where you can afford to daydream will be spent thinking about that next awkward action scene, or working out how to not break your own internal consistency.

If you try to struggle with this on paper, I believe, you'll find yourself regularly battering your head off a metaphorical wall. There's a sense of wanting to "get it right", and if you don't have the plot in your head first, that's going to mean a lot of scribbling, a lot of scrubbing out, a lot of crumpled sheets of paper. And all that gets you is demotivated...

If however you plot the story out in your head, it becomes much easier. I don't mean mapping out pages and panels here by the way: I mean working through the story from start to finish. Working out how one scene segues into another. Tackling the ideas you know you need to cover in the specific issue, dealing with the arcs your characters need to take. It's like watching a movie of your story, but it's also NOT a mental movie. The assets you're dealing with are elastic and pliable when you're working things out in your mind - nothing is fixed, and you can shift time and pace and place and people without redrafting or correcting anything.

It's your very own infinitely variable sandbox, and yet when we start out, we rarely use it the way we should. We think that to be a writer means we need to sit down and WRITE. That somehow putting pen to paper will make the ideas flow. Then we worry when they don't come - when we sit there with a blank page or worse, a page with a paragraph of gibberish on it, and we think we're not cut out for this.

But here's the thing, the important thing: more often than not, writing is about ideas, not technique. A poor writer can have incredible ideas, but fantastic writing with generic, banal concepts and nothing to say is hollow.

So here's my tip for anyone starting out writing comics: work on your ideas. Cook them up in your skull until they're sparkling like diamonds and hot like volcanoes, ready to burst out of you. You can work on your technique, you can get critique that helps you to organise your mind on the page. You can read scripts by your favourite writers, and crib some of their techniques, analysing how they do what they do, before you find the confidence to use your own voice and style.

But plot, plot, plot in your head. Work out that story so well that you know EXACTLY what's going to happen, even if the method of telling it changes slightly. I guarantee if you do this, when it comes to writing it down, it'll feel much easier.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

GLoW 1 Anthology to Debut at Glasgow Comic Con!

It's been a long time coming, but at last, the first anthology of the Glasgow League of Writers is ready to make its debut at Glasgow Comic Con! 

The anthology - titled simply, GLoW 1 - is based on a superhero theme.  Upcoming GLoW anthologies will shift to different genres, with the next one due for release being horror.  This particular anthology is very special to us, as it marks out first ever collaboration.  The idea was originated at one of our earliest meetings back in the summer of 2011, and the lineup of scripts are by the 7 founding members of the Glasgow League of Writers: Gordon Robertson (Arse Cancer), Luke Halsall (Hoodie), Gordon McLean (No More Heroes), John Lees (The Standard), Jane Sayer, James Fairlie and Ian Buchanan.  Since these short stories were completed, our membership as almost tripled and we have all evolved as creators, but this book stands a document of where we all were when we first came together, and holds a very special place in all our hearts. 

Here's the lineup of stories included in the anthology:

Writer: Gordon Robertson
Artist: Jason Mathis

Writer: Ian Buchanan
Artist: Thor Fjalarsson

Writer/Artist: Jane Sayer

Writer: Gordon McLean
Artist: Adam Balson

Writer: James Fairlie
Artists: Iain Laurie, Garry McLaughlin, Martin Newman, James Fairlie

Writer: John Lees
Artist: Garry McLaughlin
Letterer: Colin Bell

Writer: Luke Halsall
Artist: James Corcoran

Glasgow Comic Con runs on the weekend of Saturday 30th June to Sunday 1st July, and will be hosted at the Mackintosh Church Arts & Heritage Centre on Garscube Road, near Maryhill Road.  A limited amount of tickets will be available on the day, at the door, or you can buy tickets in advance at At Comics by Post, just off Duke Street, and City Centre Comics at Ruthven Lane, off Byres Road. 

You'll find copies of GLoW 1 sale at the tables of GLoW members at Queen's Cross Hall, including the table for The Standard and the table for No More Heroes and Villainous

And while you are at Glasgow Comic Con showing your support for the Glasgow League of Writers, why not vote in the SICBA awards, where GLoW members are nominated?  John Lees, Gordon McLean and Colin Bell are all nominated for Best Writer, while The Standard, No More Heroes and Jonbot VS Martha are all nominated for Best Comic. 

We hope to see you at Glasgow Comic Con.  It's sure to be a great day, and we're very excited about being able to share GLoW 1 with the world at last!

Monday, 4 June 2012

New Doris Cover

Luke James Halsall's ebook novella, Who Killed Doris Johnson? now has an exciting front cover and it is by one of our own, Garry Mclaughlin.

   Why not check out Who Killed Doris Johnson? here