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Extremely thrilled about this:

My second prose publication after 'God Killers' is finally available - and with an afterword by the great China Miéville!

I'll be honest - I'm really nervous about it, now it's actually out! It's ferociously honest, very much a soul-bearing.

It's angry, it's odd, it's highly experimental, and it's verging on confessional - which perhaps is no surprise to anybody who reads my journals!

I have no doubt that some people will think it is pretentious, impenetrable crap - a one-trick pony.

But - I know it has also found its fans. China Mieville, for example, spent a long afternoon with me in London going through the whole manuscript with his wonderful writers eye. He wrote the afterword for me because he fell in love with it. Though he also had to go to bat for me to convince the publisher it was worth it. As Peter Crowther himself noted, it had polarised the staff at PS Publishing. I suspect it will do the same with the people that buy it.

So yes, I'm nervous.

Nervous about its reception - or lack of.

Scared because I feel very naked indeed now it's out - I believe all artists worth their weight feel this at some time or other.

And also fearful that my literary intentions - the influence of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Dylan Thomas, amongst others - might seem lofty and preposterous. Hubris even.

And the internal debate over what constitutes greatness might seem like I am actually gifting myself that, rather than questioning the nature of it.

I'm fearful of sounding like an arrogant, self-indulgent wannabe.

But I've braved these risks! I've put it out there. I've done it.

The book was finished in 2008, at a time when I was fighting a lot of self-doubt and depression, but still reaching for the skies.

For those interested in the agonies of the creative life it might prove revelatory.

More info here:…

What ARE we to do?

I write to this miniscule bubble of mostly like-minded liberal friends - as like attracts like, and we've all learned the hard way in recent times that we are NOT the consensus.

As we slip into another inevitable age, who survives?

Because we will not change our ways - don't want to, or deny the proof of it - what then?

Do we take up the arms of those we have battled? Do we harden ourselves, cast aside our compassion for all human kind, and look no further than our defensible perimeter?

Do we prepare for the inevitable losses, and stop wasting our time with futile battles against elite institutions so powerful that none of us register to them on any human level?

Because when I look forward now I see a crumbling world economic structure built on imperfect foundations around a barter system that never existed. Bullion - for what it was worth - has been largely sold in the west, and currency is already a virtual concept. And we don't know how we can protect ourselves, while others are already planning how to make fortunes out of global collapse.

I see fast change in weather patterns, and we had better hope that the worst of these predictions is not correct otherwise we are already certainly doomed.

I see anger, poverty, racial tension, paranoia, resentment, inequality, hatred and - worst of all - apathy.

I see a growing anti-science movement. This bullshit that says scientific theory is 'just a theory', while we ride around in cars and planes, our semi-cyborg lives permanently plugged into the inter-web. All running because science IS real, and DOES do what we predict it will do. And when we are wrong, we learn, and we try again until we DO get it right.

I see our collective consciousness steered towards squabbles, and the mean and low-down street battles that are our jobs, our lives, our consumer 'needs' and basic rights. Our lust for money, at any cost. Our new-found ability to bully and hate from the obscure haven of a keyboard. We don't set our aim at the real enemy that orchestrates all this.

I see, in all of it, collapse.

I feel the world creaking under the strain of us.

I see war, and I see terror, and I see death.

And I see and hear those that would embrace it - many of whom call a loving, kindly god who turned his cheek and hated killing and the wealthy, their own. I see those who long for a world where the only thing that matters is might and power. I'll take care of my own, and damn the rest of you.

Because who is REALLY prepared to change?

I see two vast walls facing each other, dark and unmoving. The lines are drawn. The world IS already divided. Our intolerance grows, as does our hatred.

Would you change?

And so I ask again - what do we do?

In the world I see ahead of us I had best be everything I have spent a lifetime opposing, as peaceably as I can, and as rationally.

I had better arm myself. (Remember - a good drone with a gun can protect you from the bad drones.)

I had better stop loving you, my gentle, compassionate friends.

I had better start recruiting 'friends' that are not afraid of what promises to come.

I had better arm, and harden my children. If they are to take a life they had better do it unflinchingly, and ruthlessly. They had better not ever imagine that their assailants are as human as they are.

I had better get a bigger vehicle that can handle rugged terrain for when the roads become unsafe.

I had better start learning to hunt and kill animals, and stockpiling food.

I had better start turning away from the fragile and needy and mentally unstable that mill like Morlocks in our city centers - useless pointless human wastrels that they are.

I had better become the creature I have ironically portrayed in my art for decades - barbarian. Cruel. Fearless. Ruthless. And very very dangerous.

Then I have a chance, while the world broils, at maybe a few more generations of life.

Utopia is foolish.

Idealism is dead.

'The better angels of our nature' are no longer welcome.

I had hoped for better from humanity, but I'm losing faith in our ability to love. To be kind. To listen. To care.

Bring on the fire, and bring on the fury, and good riddance to humankind. We deserve what we get.

Meanwhile - it's almost beer o' clock. Cheers!

NOTE: Dear friends, of COURSE I'm not going to change, but sometimes I need a really good rant!!! :-)

Time, as we often muse, is a fickle friend and deceiver - but also a healer, and a gentle deliverer.
I'm in the last few days of a three week trip to the UK and Ireland. I've not been home for two years, and it was becoming increasingly important - urgent even - that I do so, because I'm blessed. Incredibly blessed. I have a close and loving extensive family on both sides, and an extensive and equally loving circle of friends that stretch the length of the nation.
Last Saturday my sister, Kerry, brought a great number of them together for a surprise party for my wife, Christina's, Birthday. The weather held, everybody who possibly could turned up. They camped, they crashed, they secured hotel rooms - whatever it took. They trained it, drove, cycled or walked. But they came.
One of the best nights of recent years was had. And, as I said, it was brought home to us - again - how blessed we are, and what wonderful friends and family we have.
If this sounds too saccharine for your sweetness-tolerance levels I make no apology. It's a rugged enough weave we wend, and this world is wrought in fear and loathing. I need the unfiltered embrace of honest love to keep me upright and moving steadily forward.
Of America - I will say going back this time will be perhaps the hardest ever. I had thought I wanted to stay there forever, that this many-pronged and tiny island had nothing to offer me. I had grown angry at her for not readily supporting the hopes and grander dreams of myself and my hard-working artistic brethren. I had become disillusioned and somewhat bitter.
But a dear friend said on Saturday that myself and my family were a nexus of a wider community across the country around which so much circled. That we touched and touch many lives - and that is hard to ignore, much as it is humbling and hard to grant credibility. It is also, I realize, a responsibility, and one I should not shirk.
I don't think I'm any kind of nexus in the U.S., not really. I'm a face in a huge creative community, but I'm not any kind of linchpin. In the UK I've always been somewhat at the heart of something, if not directly it's progenitor - though sometimes that too. And I am a gregarious and people-loving man.
So, in summary - I'm going to miss everybody terribly, and there are many of you I did not get to see. It will give me much pause for thought, but it will also give me strength - the same strength I needed when we first took the big step to move West. You see, we were not, ever, running away. We were just in need of adventure.
Big love all. X
This is just such a brilliant example of what completely independent creators are doing with the Madefire tool (below). An amazing parallax cover with animated elements, and a space scene that uses the panorama tool in a completely unique way. I LOVE finding work like this out of the blue when I'm browsing deviantART. It's so exciting to see people having so much fun with the medium, and being able to publish it whenever they want. Take a moment to check it out. Really fun! Lovely stuff Fusciart!

Please take a moment to check out this fantastic project, illustrated by my daughter, :iconmatyldamai96: with singer/songwriter/artist :iconclairitymusic:


Naturally I'm a very proud dad. :-)

This post is an important one. Please give it a minute.

I'm shortly going to stop banging on about Cap Stone. There are two more issues to come out, and only one more digital episode, but my work is done on book 1. The future of the title is now in the lap of the gods, and there may well never be any more, much as I would love to do more. It has to prove itself.

Madefire, as a company, has been an amazing success. It continues to be the case. You may not know it but we are no.1 in the books section on the iOS App Store, and we have been since July last year - ahead of Marvel and DC in the category. The app continues to ingest incredible unique independent voices, and almost all the major publishers have their catalogs on there. We're on iOS, Android, Windows, Google TV and the web via deviantART. We're going strong!

Cap Stone has had SOME love. The digital version was voted best digital comic of the year a while back, even if the print reviews have been poor. The warmth I've enjoyed for the art I've shared this year has been heartening beyond words. I'm very proud of it! But it cannot sustain itself without an audience.

Nobody - me included - likes being sold to. But when something is free then it's not really selling! You can read all the Cap issues free on deviantART, right in your browser. (Or you can pay $0.99 an episode on the app, or go and buy the comic from your local comic store.)

If you have an innate prejudice against digital with motion and sound, I urge you - give this a go. It's not what you imagine it to be! It's another medium - a NEW medium. It's pretty amazing, very fluid, and immersive. It's not the same as motion comics - and why treat the digital space the same as you would a piece of paper?

Please go read the latest episode by clicking the thumb directly below this. You won't regret it.

I'd like Cap to be one of the books that survives, that has staying power. I believe in it.

Give it a chance. It has mighty chops! And then - please - spread the word. Help more people find Captain Stone!

Cheers all,


Captain Stone Is Missing... - Episode 9: Katrinka by MadefireStudios

Some people might think I say too much online...

That I reveal what many might characterize as weakness.
I express empathy.
I am ready to embrace change - not just in physical circumstances, but in what I know (or think I know) about everything.
I admit to flaws, worries, and concerns.
I will say when I am hurt.
I will express it when I am frustrated, sad or a little lost.

To me it's about authenticity - and right now I feel we need this more than ever, not just across all media, but in how we interact with each other.

Division is everywhere, and this is what keeps us mindlessly busy - the pointless minutia of day to day life and living.

I will not be changing any time soon.

I will keep on saying it as I see it, with eyes and ears open.
I will keep on trying to understand what it is about guns and faith that so captivates so many people - there are just as many good people who do not need either in their lives, so it is a question worth asking (and it doesn't need an angry answer here, from either side of the debate!)
I will keep on trying to understand racism, or what motivates hatred towards women or LGBT individuals.
I will keep on supporting creators, and encouraging open-minded thinking.
I will continue to love science, and to try to understand all I can about this universe we live in, and the nature of time, and the anthropological roots of humanity.

And I will continue to try and be the very best 'me' I can be.
To be ethical, generous, and above all - kind.

I will try to be all these things, and I will at times fail and try again.

But most of all - this year I will try and do some art just for myself.
I will try and find some time to reconnect with the painter in me - it's been over three years since I painted! I will try to rekindle that.
Time is making it hard to connect with the need, and I am loosing confidence.
I need to make time to be inspired.
I also need to make sure I am armed with paints and canvases so that I can grab those brief moments if, as and when they arise - they are too fleeting, and hard to fit around my commitments.

This is my resolution for 2015, and I've already made a start with my Minotaur and Cernnunos paintings (already in my gallery!)

Big love all! And remember - be authentic! :-)

Minotaur by LiamSharp

Colour me naive.
Colour me an idealist pinko liberal.
Colour me a romantic arty-farty fantasist.
Colour me a hippy pacifist fence-sitter.

Most of my friends are heading for, or past, the big five O.
There's increasingly less time for bullshit.

To my eyes, my mind, my experience
- as an intermittently successful artist and writer, boutique publisher, digital pioneer for storytellers, dreamer (in the most iconoclast way), pessimistic optimist, father of three, husband, failure and champion -
it's all bullshit.

Nothing matters, beyond those we love and who love us
- at least not in any personally meaningful way.

The nature of civilization is to be in perpetual crisis
- and I fear we're in the thick of a bigger existential crisis than we, as a species, are prepared to acknowledge.
We feed on fear and triviality, and are in thrall of our baser instincts
- to duck, to hide, to run.
It's left to those without empathy to guide us.
Those without fear.
Those that will stand on the backs of all humanity to survey their temporary kingdoms, as if it had any worth.

No matter your belief, or lack of;
no matter your own particular chosen apocalypse,
the point is
- we all have one.

There's something very telling in that!

Even if your particular 'end' is some vapid white subjugated eternity of imagined peace,
or a bevy of (presumably willing) virgins
- though the misogynistic fantasy of that seems like a hell of some kind for at least some of the participants -
or oblivion...
Whatever your view, the point is:

it all ends.

We avoid that thought.

It ends, and the world
- this planet -

We either do it ourselves,
or nature,
or if you really insist,
God ends this planet one day soon,
or not so soon.
It really doesn't matter which.

The point is there's no escaping it,
any more than the fact of our own deaths.

We are all people.
Children of this universe, products of this tiny, fragile earth.

What kind of monsters are we?

I will howl this to my dying days!

We are ALL responsible for human life.
We are all part of the quandary.
We can decide,
as a species,
that the lessons of history are valid.

But we won't.

Over 2000 years ago we knew that history repeated itself,
and we wrote it down so we might learn from that.
But we did not, nor will ever, listen.

I'm perpetually angry at our near-sightedness.
Our consumerist, selfish, Money-grubbing bullshit nothing lives.

Love becomes a luxury.
Charity is for sale.

We cannot see far enough.

Our pseudo-empathy extends to a witheringly fragile community of like-minded sailors adrift in a sea of information and misdirection.
There are no stark realities, it's all true and all lies.

If we just let it happen
- because, y' know, there's fuck-all we can really do -
then we deserve our inevitable hellish oblivion, whatever form it takes.

The crush of time will obliterate us regardless.
We don't have to work at it.
Hate or No hate, it will all end.

So WHY the FUCK are we still brutalizing each other?
Why are we so full of enmity?
We are one race on a beautiful spectrum.
We are one species.

We are living on one thinly-crusted ball of magma hurtling through space.

We have only one home.
We have this one shot at life, as a people.

When we are all gone there will be nobody to remember us.

So yes - colour me whatever you like, but I will never understand our inability to see beyond the want/need, petty, selfish and ultimately destructive nature of these cultures we enable to thrive, and to 'lead' us.

I fear for my children.
I fear for humanity.

We should be better than this.

We should be wiser.

Other than that - life is pretty good.

It's funny -

I would have thought that there was an implicit difference between ideals, ethos, the things we reach and hope for, and what we actually expect out of life.
I notice that there's often a derisive snort when I simplify my own leanings - as though my views are considered quaint, idealistic and entirely delusional.

For me, reaching for something means you have to set an impossible goal.
You know it will never be reached, and you know that there are many shades of grey, but still - it's about the best of you, the best of humanity, that utopian ideal that itself is a flawed model.

A gun-free America will never happen, and I'm perfectly well aware there are circumstances in which I would be advised to own one - though I hope those circumstances never arise!
(In my 46 years on Earth they haven't so far.)

Regardless, I think it's a good ideal, to dream of a country - or world - in which guns are for hunting for food only, and people don't feel they are necessary for personal protection.

I know that the mind doesn't always follow the heart.
That money drives the world more profoundly than charity and ideology.
I know this.
But I think that the balance is needed to keep us on track, if we are to have a future at all.

I have friends with profoundly differing views to my own, but somewhere in the middle we connect.

I do not scoff at more conservative views than my own, because I understand them.
I get how people arrive there.
But I do believe we should not cast ourselves in stone, and we should always remain open-minded.

Just my views - you are not obliged to share them! :-)
Pretty full-on few weeks!

New York comic con...

San Diego Comic Festival...

Then early start last Saturday am when I flew to LA to attend Stan Lee's Comikaze event...

On the flight the guy sitting in the isle seat next to Ben started reading Previews.
When we asked him if he was going to Comikaze (he wasn't) we said who we were and he turned out to be a fan of mine - his face was an absolute picture.

Meeting with Stan Lee in the green room for lunchtime photo opp to accompany the news that we're doing some work with the living legend was fantastic!

Later that day I was on 'the Death of Superman Lives' panel - which I did some concept art for - with Jon Schnepp and Holly Payne, introduced by Kevin Smith in a packed hall. Excellent fun!

The whole show was memorable for me in that it seemed like there was more people than usual - by quite an amount - who knew me, and my work.
Very humbling, and always unexpected.

Monday brought more big news, with Madefire going on the google TV.
Then I was in the deviantART offices for a meeting - Clive Barker's Books of Blood, illustrated by Sam Shearon, had hit 52,000 views, and going strong!

Yesterday morning I heard Madefire was been featured in a Windows TV ad.
Then, more deviantART goodness, and home.

So much to do, and never enough time!

Hoping I can find a moment for some more informative journals very soon!


Timing is everything they say.

One thing particularly central to effective horror is precisely that – timing. And at this time of the year it’s a fitting subject!

The greatest bonus to classic sequential storytelling in the digital realm is that you can really play with this to great effect – and I think we’re only scratching the surface!
The other great bonus is the potential for ambience and sound.

Both of these aspects have been used to great effect in the series ‘Houses of the Holy’ by Mike Carey and Dave Kendall.
This issue is one of the most chilling I’ve ever read:

Houses of the Holy - Episode 3 by MadefireStudios

On Tuesday another fantastically realized, utterly chilling book was released – ‘Books of Blood’ #1 by the visionary Clive Barker, as illustrated by the brilliant Sam Shearon.
The atmospherics here are astonishing, and the torments suffered by the protagonist are both epic and intimate – just as Barker wrote it.

Barker himself said of the motion book format “What we have done with the ‘Books of Blood’ is, I assure you, nothing short of astonishing. Prepare yourselves for an experience the likes of which you've never seen."

Check out the amazing preview here:

Happy Halloween all!

Do me a favor:

Get out your Android, iPad, iPhone, or mobile platform of choice, and open the Madefire app. There's a bunch of new things I'd like you to check out.

The sections work like this:

Print Books

This is 'classic' comic material. No bells, no whistles, just no bullshit, honest comics. (Indie creators and publishers should know we can put their material up within a couple of weeks of sending us a PDF. If your book isn't here you should ask yourself why not?)

Motion Books

This is where we continue to push the medium with a wide variety of cutting edge digital storytelling unique to each book. We also have books from top publishers - those that have had vision and were willing to push the envelope. You can get sucked in for hours.

We also have a deviantART section that features two categories:

Sketch Books

The catch-all for pretty much everything anybody publishes on dA using the motion book tool. This ranges from single image parallax pages, to print and motion books. They can be whatever you like. I have two art books published in there. So can you. 

Hot Books

These are curated books picked out of the sketch book section - in this instant myself, but in future by other known creators.

Once you have done that I have two questions for you:

What are we missing? 
Why isn't your creator-owned book on the app?

If a thing is to succeed it needs love.

Love first from it's author, the instrument of creation.

Love second - and most importantly - from it's audience.

I wanted to thank you for support of the Captain - my Captain - Captain Stone. It's our second most popular title after Dave Gibbon's Treatment, and that's saying something! (If I can't concede the top slot to the mighty Dave Gibbons who can I concede to?)

It was not an easy start for the book I co-created with my wife, Christina. It's taken time to find its feet, and a place in the pantheon. It was, after all, created in a completely new medium. And it wasn't strictly a comic at all, but something else that used the tropes of comics - words and pictures, but with added sound and motion. These have long been troublesome additions to the purist reader!

It has been created in multiple styles, and it is a VERY slow burn.

It features a retro hero in a pink costume - who is missing. This was not hip!

It utilizes captions to a degree unheard of since the late 80s, and generally not advised.

And it had to contend with fear - that digital would kill print. In fact the opposite has happened. And I'm VERY excited to be able to say that the print version hits comic stores in December, via Titan and Diamond.

So again - thank you for reading our book. It matters. It is appreciated. It validates everything I have been trying to do for the last five or six years. Your feedback at the New York Comic Con, here, and in the number of reads the book has had has been a massive validation for me. I can't stress enough what that means.

Best always - and onwards!…

Once the cons were like stepping-stones. They were the firm-footing that anchored me to my medium, which otherwise flowed in blurs of time, year to year, in the changing space that lay behind my drawing board; the monitor of my computer.

Cons are different now. Back then we fancied ourselves street poets, fashionistas, gypsies and rockstars. We drank, smoked and caroused. We had dreams of artistry and decadence. We were newly minted in the afterglow of revolution, certain that at last our stories mattered. We were the shocking new, the foot soldiers of consequence that would scrawl indelible legacies in paint and ink – great works, monumental works, works that could change everything.

It mattered. We mattered.

First nervous meetings with legends that would eventually mellow into old friendships, swell, dreamlike, in memories festooned with wreaths of smoke and distorted through a wash of alcoholic amber lenses.

Falling and failing words that nevertheless flow endlessly, because there is never enough time – it will all soon be over, and there is so much to say...

I loved the cons back then. They were messy and rude, and we were an ill-disciplined rabble, but they were effervescent with nascent excitement. Great icons of the industry traversed the vast Atlantic ocean from another world – a bigger, more heroic place that only existed for us Brits on the TV – and deigned to give us a few spare moments of their precious time.

Eisner came, like a statesman.

Michael Kaluta regaled us with tales of New York and The Studio.

The unimpressive green room at UKCAC was none-the-less a hub of clamoring, half-voiced dreams when Karen Berger came to London for the first time. We knew well enough, us beginners, who had her eye. We knew our place behind those whose names were household – the true veterans of 2000ad, that great shop-window for talent, the test-bed of almost everything important that was to come, or had already come, from our little, influential island.

We drank till the morning light briefly turned the dusty grey London concrete to gold. We slept fitfully in the packed all-night film show theatre.

I brought Alan Moore a pint of Guinness, and Glenn Fabry a pint of white wine. I bummed smokes off Jamie Hewlett, and found myself wandering the empty early-morning streets with David Lloyd and Barry Kitson in search of more beer.

The wake of such cons was bleak and depressing. Week-long hangovers, topped up with half-hearted semi-reprisals in dim London pubs, dulled the will to create. Life was never quite as good, day to day, as it was at those shows. We would return to the normalcy of our unremarkable existences, that other place where nobody knew or cared who we were or what we did. The z-list fame of the youthful creator. We imagined heroic lives on other continents, and dreamed of what our own great books might be, planned our heirs to The Watchmen, The Dark Knight, Electra Assassin, and all that was good and proper and radical and brilliant in comics.

Social media has changed many things, some good and some bad. For me, though, knowing too much of my peers lives online has taken away much of that familial excitement - the genuine joy I felt on seeing a fellow creator I had not seen for a year, or not since that show in Spain two years earlier, or in Belgium the summer before. We don’t trip over a torrent of words as we strive to catch up, fill in gaps and share work stories. We are all older, more jaded. Somewhat battle-worn.

But we are the survivors, hidden amongst all the new faces. We’re still here, plying our trade. Some of us still reach for greatness, dream of producing that masterwork that never quite materialized, and remained just out of sight – but only a step away.

The cons are no longer stepping-stones, they are the great metronomes of the industry, marking time and driving us forward. They are the heartbeat, the strong and telling rhythm of it. To paraphrase Carl Sagan, they are the industry observing itself.

See you in New York!

Dear all,

Apologies for my lack of an update on the Cap Stone fan art competition - unfortunately life got in the way!

I was delighted by the quality of the entries. Such a broad set of styles and approaches!
It was not an easy choice, and we pondered all the entries for some time.


However, I can now announce your winner!

Drum-roll please...

The winner is...Winner 

CapStone-FamilyPortrait by uwedewitt

by uwedewitt !!!

These three images, we felt, really captured the characters and the feel of the book. Great design, great stylistic flourishes. Wonderful work!

The two runners up were likewise a tough call, and we opted not to have a 2nd and 3rd place.

So, in no particular order...

we have...

The Pet - Fan Art by Kqbuckley

By Kqbuckley

I loved this. So much flair and energy!


cap stone contest by esculiereric

By esculiereric

We loved the weathering, the design and over-all feel. Great work!

Honorable mentions must go to Jason Kimble, who sent me this via FaceBook:

10688051 869456439731780 8857020454729616369 O by LiamSharp

And this fantastic piece also on FaceBook -…

The truth is there was something to love in all the entries, and it was a lot of fun seeing all this wonderful work come in.

I'll be in touch with the winners via their inboxes on dA after the New York Comic Con, which is next week!

Congrats, and thanks again!


I just don’t understand. I really don’t.

There seems to be a growing tribalism in what, for now, we’re often labeling ‘Geekdom’ - or some other reclaimed formerly derogatory term.

A few examples:

There’s a healthy debate about sexism in comic, and the edges of what is an ingrained misogynistic streak that goes back decades.
There’s also a number of very buxom and proud of it cosplayers creating incredible, intentionally sexy costumes for comic conventions.

(Re. the points above: The debate gets hazy in the area that sexy and sexist butt-up against each other – no pun intended. What is cheesecake? What is pin-up? What is erotica? What is porn? What is artistic nude? You can’t simply say I know it when I see it. To some the statue of David is offensive! Either way, the debate rages while pin-up art vies with big-name superhero imagery as the easiest to sell. I can’t budge any pages that don’t feature either, or, or both of the above.)

Then there’s:

Camp I hate superhero films.
Camp I hate mainstream comics.
Camp I hate DC.
Camp I hate Marvel.
Camp I hate all modern comics.
Camp I hate fangirls (Really?!!? WTF?!!?)
Camp I hate cosplayers.

Off the back of the last San Diego con my overwhelming experience was of roughly 150,000 people rubbing shoulders with each other, having fun, being loud, getting drunk – but getting along! That’s a big swathe of humanity, right there!

So here’s the thing, I’m not going to go through the whole list, but—

To you people who hate modern superhero movies and won’t bother going to see them.


We’re in a renaissance of incredible extravaganzas where we can, at last, see a character like Thor and teams like The Guardians of the Galaxy actually WORK on screen. Big-budget (and you NEED a big budget, therefor a big studio) fantasy and sci-fi movies have never enjoyed so much play. We can’t expect them to resemble the comics of our youth, and neither should we. But can’t we just enjoy what is happening right now? Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes, all the superhero movies… even Lars Von Trier has made a scifi movie!

What do you want?
What are you looking for?
What is so terribly upsetting?

Sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own tribe. I’m not saying ALL these films are great, but point-blank deciding that ALL the superhero movies are bound to be shit is, to my eyes, cutting off your nose to spite your face. It’s just bloody-mindedness. “It won't be how I saw it, so therefore it’s shit.”

Please – don’t be this way!

To you people who hate cosplay – here’s a little anecdote:

My great friend, the brilliant editor and our editorial director at Madefire, Ben Abernathy, asked a female cosplayer visiting our booth – out of pure curiosity it should be noted! This was not a loaded question! – why do you do it? What is the attraction? The answer was this:

“I’m not an artist. I’m not a writer. I can’t sing, and I don’t play any instruments. This is how I express myself creatively.”

Would you REALLY want to stop somebody doing that?

Personally? I love the cosplayers. They bring colour, fun, entertainment, and good cheer. They get to play dress-up for a day without a care in the world, it really doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. They are expressing something of themselves that only a few decades ago would have been considered extremely odd.

A bit like comic fans.

A bit like us.

We should be careful not to place ourselves too high in the imaginary geek pecking order. It’s a bit embarrassing. Diversity is something to be celebrated. Let’s not make targets out of our brethren. Let’s not build yet more tribes, and cultivate little creeping memes of dislike. We’re better than that.
It's almost easy to see why people stop caring about anybody else and just start to look after número uno.

The world fosters it.
The media fosters it.
Consumerism fosters it.

And sometimes giving a shit just doesn't seem to pay dividends - it isn't the yin yang we hope for in our hippy days.

Good people can live miserable, forgotten lives.
Bastards can live and die like kings.

The universe doesn't care. 

I remember hearing once that we are communists in our youth, socialists, then eventually conservatives in our selfish old age.
Nobody cares about the old, so speak your mind and take what you can get, that message suggests. 
Your every thought of freedom was folly.
Every aspiration towards a better, more caring world was pointless.
Lock the doors.
Don't trust the strangers.
Arm yourself.
If you don't you're a damn fool.

Looking at groups like ISIS it's hard to argue an alternative point sometimes.

Where are we going so wrong?

But I flew into LA a couple of days ago and it stuck me, looking down, how wrong that picture might actually be - how distorted.
Because when you see a big city from the air you see a vast swarm of humanity shoulder to shoulder.
Living together.
You do not see a battlefield.

We are far more successful as neighbours and strangers than we tend to give ourselves credit for.

There is, of course, violence going on in sad places, broken homes, within the desperate trajectories of myriad disfunctional lives.
But that is not the majority.
That is not the overwhelming experience - at least not in most major cities where there is no warfare.
Even in poverty people find humanity.

I falter sometimes.
I think I should keep my mouth shut, my head down.
That I should give up on humanity - this desperate, pointless strain of mammalian life currently dominating the globe.
That there is no rhyme nor reason, and I'd best just take care of me and my own in a narrow, selfish sense.
After all, that's what this world seems to tell us we should do.

But then I hear somebody laugh.
I see something beautiful.
I witness an act of kindness,
share an intimate evening with loved ones.
Meet yet another wonderful, sensitive, caring individual.
Feel the love of my children. 

It's NOT all cut and dried! 

It's NOT so simple!

We have an exceptional capacity for empathy, and it's there because it's a natural part of humanity.
It's real.
It's chemical.
It is a part of our evolutionary process - informing the angels of our better nature.

We should not ignore it, bury it and bully it into submission.

We should listen to the sweeter inclinations that whisper to us in moments of introspection,
and maybe - just maybe, y' know, once in a while - we should act on them. 

This is not a world of individuals.
Everything we have made we made as a collective. 
We need each other.
So I'm not battening down the hatches just yet.

I'm not a religious man, but I'm going to retain a little faith in humankind.
I'm going to choose to think there might be a better future possible, if we just listen.
If we don't give up, turn away, and stop giving a shit. 

Call me deluded, call me a fool, but I think you seem like good folk on the whole.
There must be more like you out there... :-) 
Before I get started, don't miss this fan art competition!

Fan Art Contest!Right - here's a bit of fun as an interlude to the revolution that's starting here (oh, you missed that?!!? :-))
I want to see some Cap Stone fan art or fan lit!
It can be any of the three main characters - Cap Stone, The Pet or The Craven Panther.
This is open to anybody, and in any medium. Use your imagination!
Keep any written entries less than 500 words please!
I'll post a journal featuring all the art, short stories, etc. and the winner will get a signed original piece of Cap Stone art from the series (Valued about $600.00)
The first two runners up will each get a head sketch of Cap Stone.
Here is the story so far, which you can read for free by clicking the thumbnails!

Please post thumbs/links of your art/s

So then - what's been happening in the world of digital storytelling and Motion Books here on dA?

As it happens, rather a lot! My favourite work of the last month or so has to be the motion poems by Igor Goldkind beautifully built by EvanLimberger.

The one above is stunningly illustrated by Wendy Farrow. I was very happy to be asked to contribute, along with the peerless Bill Sienkiewicz and others.

Here are a couple of my favourites, and I think they demonstrate the incredible bredth of what is possible using a medium like this:

I'd also like to give a shout-out to QueenDomina for the book below, which shows great imagination and innovation! The key is to have fun and see what is possible, and this definitely demonstrates that. :-)

#2 Bridget the Bot Girl - Running Away From Home by QueenDomina

As does the book below by Ghost-Notes which is pure text, but shows that there's room for prose-writers in the digital space. A real innovation in how a text story can be told:

The Great Escape - A Motion Story by Ghost-Notes

Lastly - I have to plug the final part of my Sherlock Holmes story, and the excellent second episode of MONO: Pacific!

Sherlock Holmes: The Greek Interpreter - Episode 3 by MadefireStudios MONO: Pacific - Episode 2 by MadefireStudios

You can go here for all Madefire related info, including tutorials etc - Have fun!


Who are YOUR favourite dA artists?
Right - here's a bit of fun as an interlude to the revolution that's starting here (oh, you missed that?!!? :-))

I want to see some Cap Stone fan art or fan lit!

It can be any of the three main characters - Cap Stone, The Pet or The Craven Panther.

This is open to anybody, and in any medium. Use your imagination!

Keep any written entries less than 500 words please!

I'll post a journal featuring all the art, short stories, etc. and the winner will get a signed original piece of Cap Stone art from the series (Valued about $600.00)

The first two runners up will each get a head sketch of Cap Stone.

Here is the story so far, which you can read for free by clicking the thumbnails!

Captain Stone is Missing... - Episode 1: Chess by MadefireStudios Captain Stone is Missing... - Episode 2: Ada by MadefireStudios
Captain Stone is Missing... - Episode 3: Charlie by MadefireStudios Captain Stone is Missing... - Ep. 4: Captain Stone by MadefireStudios
Captain Stone is Missing... E5: The Craven Panther by MadefireStudios Captain Stone Is Missing... - Episode 6: The Pet by MadefireStudios
Captain Stone Is Missing - Episode 7: Brother Sun  by MadefireStudios Captain Stone Confidential - Episode 1 by MadefireStudios

Please post thumbs/links of your art/stories in the comments below!
(Please don't pm me. I'll send you a pm if you win!)

You have one more week! :D


I promised, a while ago, that I would write a journal that addressed the writing
and creative process as much as anything else - how I start, and even why.

What makes a memorable character?
What are the themes?
How much do you care about popularity - ie. is it a project you're doing for
yourself, or because you hope it will generate a huge, mainstream audience?
What age-range is it?
And as mentioned earlier - why is it important you do it?

But let's start with...

Where do you get you ideas?

Great ideas do not come fully-formed out of the ether. Even the ideas I've
had that were born of dreams, and dragged screaming from my subconscious
before I forgot them, were an accumulation of living experiences. In Metawhal
Alpha the setting is somewhere I lived as a boy. I know every inch of the
Clock Warehouse, the noises and smells of the place, as well as the referenced
folklore. The Pub in Death and the Myrmidon was indeed a local, and it does
have a well covered in glass that you can imagine some ancient, slime-slick
creature inhabiting...

Metawhal Alpha by MadefireStudios Death and The Myrmidon by MadefireStudios

The point here is that it pays to write about what you know.

I've broken that down more specifically into three areas to write about:

1. What you live
2. What you love
3. What you learn

What you live is your first-hand experience - your direct knowledge
of interfacing with the world. That is your feelings, your emotions, what
scares you, excites you, angers you or gives you peace. This includes the
people you know - which will become important for how you build your
cast of characters. You know from living how people interact, how they
respond to things. You know from living how everybody responds to
the same stimulus in unique and individual ways. You know from
living how things smell, how they feel, how they look. And you can
extrapolate whole imagined worlds from this knowledge. Use it!

My life in Shardlow informed Metawhal Alpha and my upcoming
novella 'Paradise Rex Press, Inc.' My life in London informed
'January Man'. My life in the UK and the US, as well as what I
have witnessed historically and culturally, has informed 'Captain

Mature Content

January Man by LiamSharp
Captain Stone is Missing... - Episode 1: Chess by MadefireStudios

What you love is part of what defines you, and you will almost
certainly be an expert in these areas! It will help you chose the kind
of characters that populate your world, the genre, the period, the
the smells, sights and sounds. Your love will give your project one
of the most essential ingredients - authenticity. This is crucial to
any fiction if it is to be believed, no matter how outlandish!

I'll comeback to this in the next section!

What you learn is where your world gets its depth. In most great
stories you learn something from the author, and quite often it is
something the author learned that triggered an idea in the first place.

Over the years I've gone from blindly believing in God, for instance,
because my teachers told me I should, to discovering evolution at
a young age, to realizing that there are many compelling points of
view around just about everything. There is no one answer. Over
time my views have radically changed, but my trajectory took me
from blind faith, to science, to a wider look at all religions, to finding
a deep love of anthropology, to new age hippy spirituality, to a
fascination with particle physics and astrophysics, to agnosticism,
to pretty much atheism, and still onwards. My point isn't to say my
path is the RIGHT and only path, it's just to say that my questing
and inquisitive mind led me to a wide and wonderful variety of
subject matter - material that has informed ALL my writing over the
last couple of decades, and the net result is richness and balance.
'The more you know the less you know' is a cliché, and therefore a
truism. It's is also the best way to generate story ideas. Learning
and research will form the bedrock of your story. You need to
know the answers to any questions that may be asked of you. 

What makes a memorable character?

The best characters feel real, and that is generally because they
are based on somebody the author knows, or a fusion of two or
three people. Giving your character the voice of a friend - or
enemy - gives them an immediate cadence. You can imagine
precisely what they sound like, their use of language, their
mannerisms, etc. The way they look can also play a big part.
A friend of mine very precisely matches a character I drew in
'Spawn: the Dark Ages', and he later became Tunny MalTuboly
in my novel 'God Killers'.

You may also be inspired by historical figures, or aspects of
yourself. You may find that a character represents all the aspects
of yourself that are suppressed. He or she may be the calmer,
spiritual aspect of yourself, or the fearless, uncaring beast.
There's fun to be had with wish-fulfillment, setting yourself on
a journey within these stories, this world you are building -
though you should be wary of creating a perfect protagonist
who wins at absolutely everything.

When it comes to imaginative characters you can go way
more exotic. Here your knowledge - what you have learned,
your research - will really help. You might have discovered
the incredible clothing styles of the Inca's, for example (maybe
you watched Apocolypto!) and think, hey - this flying reptile
would look amazing covered in dried white chalky mud, and
festooned with Indigo gemstones!

Alway go a step further than you think you need to. The
added layers of thought will bring your character more life.
He/she/it will seem to have lived more years, and have a
mind unique to them. Remember, your characters have
generally lived a long time. With that comes nuance.

While I was writing 'God Killers' almost out of the blue
it struck me that my character Cherry Longorn could get
really ill at some point. She developed psoriasis, which almost
killed her, and directly informed how she looked and acted
in the wake of such an experience. In fact if she hadn't had
this (unnamed, undiagnosed) condition in the book much
of her resulting experiences would have seemed, well, lame!

Here's a character I am currently developing. I know he
needs to be powerful, and ancient. He needs to have horns,
but I want to somehow not be overboard with that. I'm
fixed on the beard, but should it be white or brown?

New character concept 3 by LiamSharp

A little detail is the tattoo on his face, which represents his
familiar - a horned snake.

New character concept 1 by LiamSharp

And with the musculature - because he's so far beyond human
concepts of strength and power is it OK to go really over-the-
top with him? Or should I reign myself in?

New character concept 5 by LiamSharp

Do I show his face, or does he wear a mask?
Is his face always in the shadows?
How do I make him more alien and other?

When you create your characters you need to know what
part they play in the grand scheme. Are they pivotal? Do
we need to care about them? Even love them? What is their
most prominent quality? Their kindness, or the fear they
instil? Or does the way they look not conform in any way
with the way they actually are?

Regardless of all the above - nothing will ring as true unless
YOU fall in love with your characters and believe in them.

Next up:

What are the themes?
How much do you care about popularity - ie. is it a project you're doing for
yourself, or because you hope it will generate a huge, mainstream audience?
What age-range is it?


Which fictional characters have you most identified with over the years?