A Pandemic Blockage…

Don’t know where to start, but the past 13 months have been a whirlwind of activity. Book launches, new projects, losing friends to cancer, and then the pandemic, which is where I will pick up the story.

We should be celebrating a milestone in the Clockwork Watch story with a live event to mark Sins of my Father #2, which will eventually be the tenth book in the series, but the world yanked its handbrake, and we were all told to “wash our hands”, or was it “eat out to stay out”, no! it was “stay alert!”

Anyhow, I fell ill in March, and spent weeks quarantined at home and I’m just emerging from my self-imposed isolation with a load of things to tell you about.

The first being… Clockwork Watch and the anti-colonialism charity pin badge Doctor Geof and I have created.

Steampunk, Victoriana, retro-futurism, or whatever else you may call it, has firm roots in the colonial era, and this was one of the aspects that attracted me to it many moons ago.

What puzzled me at the time was why people of colour weren’t attracted by the role play / dress-up scene, then I dug deeper and realised many saw Steampunk as celebrating colonialism.

This project will support the Il’laramatak Community Concerns, a Kenyan charity protecting underaged  girls from being married off and subjected to FGM.

We have manufactured just 100 of these. If there is a demand for more we will do a second batch.

They are available via Doctor Geof’s new online shop which opens later this week.

If you would like to know more about my journey, I’ll be publishing an article on  Medium explaining why we are launching this charity fundraiser.

A Year Of Doing Things Differently

It was another great year at SDCC, where I not only met Bootsy Collins – one of my all time favourite musicians, but launched our new book – Clockwork Watch: Evolution Two, alongside Corey Brotherson, and Megan Bradbury.

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San Diego was hot as hell again, but thanks to careful planning and a lot of Uber rides, I was able to sidestep the annual heatstroke dilemma that has plagued many of my trips to the West Coast.

We’d booked a two bedroom apartment on the outskirts of the Gaslamp District, which was within a 20 min walk from the convention Centre, and perfectly quiet. Corey, Mon and Claire raided the local Costco and packed the fridge full of goodies, but as usual we all ate out every night. It’s hard to cook when you’ve been standing on your feet in the conference hall, trying to get the attention of people walking past your booth for almost 11 hours. We sold well, but as usual, it was hard.

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Halfway into the convention I shot off to Las Vegas to DJ at a corporate event, which meant leaving Corey to manage the table, but I was back in San Diego for a conference call at 8am the following morning. This was a year where I juggled four projects, while on location in the US with jet-lag.

One of the best things about the event is cosplay – the amazing costumes created by people, many based on characters from film, TV and comic. Here are a few from SDCC 2018, for more head over to the Clockwork Watch production blog.

Evolution Two was well received, books were sold, Megan had her very first comic published – which was quite emotional – as you can see in the little video posted online, and the team has been invited to help produce an immersive theatre piece for a new comic arts festival in Huntington Beach outside Los Angeles.

Here’s to a year of doing things differently.

A Sneaky Way To Read A Comic…

This is the best way to read a comic – the #script to one side, and art on the other, but without the speech / thought bubbles. Welcome to Clockwork Watch: Evolution Part II (@clockworkwatch). Great work by Megan Bradbury (@BusyMatches) and awesome editing by Corey Brotherson (@CoreyBrotherson). We are creating a proper #Steampunk for #London. Some of this narrative is based on live events hosted at Weekend at the Asylum (Lincoln), and the Make Believe Festival (London).

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Kendal Calling – Lakes International Comic Art Festival

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Our annual trip to the Lake District was a rollercoaster, promising to be even bigger in 2018.

This was the 4th time the Clockwork Watch team (Corey and I) were at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (#LICAF), an event that boasts an amazing contingent of creators, makers, authors, and illustrators.

The organisers have been super supportive of our project, with the team making all the respective hurdles a breeze, and we can’t thank them enough. Huge props to Carole, Julie, Jonathan (all the way from Canada), Chris and all the volunteers that make the weekend a family affair.

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We actually sold out of a Clockwork Watch title for the first time at a convention, making the Lakes 2017 a major milestone in the history of this project. It goes to show that promoting a Steampunk title in a town like Kendal works. People loved the story, in fact many came back after buying one of the books last year. It was great to hear their feedback, chat about plot points, and tease the future storyline.

LICAF covers all spectrums of the self-published comic sector more than any other convention that we’ve attended in the UK.  It is an event for creators, makers, and grassroots comics, making it a must for anyone interested in comic book art or writing.

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This year was a blast, as we forged closer links with some of the country’s top comic stores, artists, and a great contingent of creators from Australia, and Holland. One of the special treats was having time to chat, and plot 2018 with Stephen of Page 45, and the legendary Bryan and Mary Talbot, who signed copies of the final Grandville graphic novel at our table on Sunday.

We’d like to thank John Freeman and the ‘Down The Tubes’ blog for interviewing us, and express our gratitude to the town of Kendal. We love you and promise to be back.

Here’s How It Started by Corey Brotherson

Seems like a “When harry Met Sally” situation, but having editor Corey Brotherson at the helm of Clockwork Watch has changed lives. Here is his annual round up of how we started the project.

“Rounding off a busy year was the launch of Clockwork Watch: The Arrival (Clockwork Watch Films, 2012), which was my biggest project since I started fiction. Former BBC gent, filmmaker and Drum and Bass pioneer Yomi Ayeni came a-knocking after I was recommended by our mutual friend Matt Gibbs (now games/comics writer and Improper Books editor). He needed a comics writer to help adapt Clockwork Watch – a more inclusive, less colonial based Steampunk universe – across comics, live events, participatory articles and more. Read more

Please, Don’t Take My Baby…

How would you feel if someone took your newborn baby away from you? In Evolution – Tale of the Alchemist, we follow Saccadius Cartwright’s fictional life from birth…

Being born out of wedlock in the Victorian age was seen as a shameful thing. This stigma meant many children were taken into social care and adopted, irrespective of the circumstances that led to the pregnancy.

A rich man’s mistress might not have the respect of everyone, but with the right resources – money from a lover – she could live quite well and be accepted in a certain segment of society. On the other hand, a single woman with a child had little opportunity to earn her own way, and if there was no one to help she could soon be lost to poverty or prostitution, which could lead to more illegitimate children.

And then there was the issue of title or inheritance, which is something we take seriously here in the UK. An illegitimate child was not entitled to the family name or to inheritance – even sons of royalty were often granted titles, but they were not entitled to inherit the title from their father – essentially Jon Snow in Game of Thrones.

During the Industrial Revolution, women migrated to cities for work and many lost family support. Some weren’t particularly streetwise – which led to a rise in illegitimacies. Some were desperate enough to abandon newborn babies, leaving them to die, others were dumped in the doorways of the local church or a foundling home.

When local villages couldn’t afford to subsidise living at home for the poor, the ‘workhouse’ came into being. All types of poor, including women with children, were put in such institutions. Many turned to prostitution to support themselves and their children.

“In earlier times, a girl had little opportunity to run away to hide her shame and start a new life. A single, pregnant girl would be hustled out of town quickly so the child wasn’t born in the parish and thus a local responsibility.”

“When cities became larger and more anonymous and the middle class had more money, another option became available. A woman might go away for an extended visit to a relative in a distant location. She might return a few months later as a ‘widow’, having supposedly met and married a husband who met an untimely end, leaving her with a small child. Or, she might take an extended trip and give up the child for adoption before returning home.” – www.geneaology.com

Evolution – Tale of the Alchemist, will be on sale at San Diego Comic Con, and other conventions including the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, later this year. The whole Clockwork Watch series is available through our online shop.

Follow updates on Facebook, and Twitter.

Tick Tock IPA #3 ~ Is Almost Here.

I am super excited with the progress of Clockwork Watch: Tick Tock IPA #3. It’s touching to see my words illustrated with such precision.

This book is a journey of discovery for our wayward Clockwork, Ervin, especially when he arrives at the “Point Of No Return” in Badagry (NIgeria), which was the last place slaves were held before being sold, during the dark days of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

More to come.