Sunday, 30 December 2012


Hi there, well seems I've gotten the 'lazy blog' syndrome already (you were right Dave!) but that's not to say I haven't been busy with bits n bobs so we'll start a catch up with a belated look at the recent Kapow comic convention that Accent UK attended.

(The Kapow Hall)

Both Dave and Chris penned timely reports on the show so I'll just add that it was a real blast and lived up to expectations and despite the attendance apparently being down from 2011's inaugural show, we did great business with our best UK show since the lamented BICS last full 2 day show in 2010.

We didn't sell out like we'd done at February's new London Super convention (or more commonly referred to as The Stan Lee show!) but we had considerably more stock having 5 additional boxes delivered to the venue. The deliveries were one-way so the pressure was on to make sure we didn't have to lug them home on the last train to Crewe but somehow we managed so many, many thanks to all who popped by the table and gave our books a chance, really hope you enjoyed them.

(Tripwire's Joel Meadows makes the draw while Chris & Dave officiate!)

Among the top sellers were our newly released Zombies 2 and Westernoir titles where we had a successful raffle for artist Gary Crutchley's original pin up which was won by Dan Brown so congratulations to him and thanks to all who took part.

(UK Indie stalwarts Shane Chebsey and Dave Hitchcock were in attendance)
The show was good fun, well laid out and while as normal we saw nothing of the panels we saw a few celebs wandering around and got a flavour for some of the wrestling(!) and other madness. It seems to be a good time to be in comics just now with shows being more plentiful and professional and the public pretty receptive to the medium. Kapow was unashamedly a 'superhero' event but as with The Stan Lee show, we did very well despite not having any superhero titles! It just goes to show that (hopefully!) having a range of good quality books will attract new readers if they're given a chance to see the books and engage with the people behind them.

Well done to the Kapow! team and we plan to be back next year!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Kapow 2012 - Accent UK Assemble!

Just a brief note to confirm that the Accent UK crew will be assembling at this weekend's Kapow comic convention. Kapow enjoyed great write ups and success at its first show last year which we missed because of its clash with MoCCA 2011 so this year we've decided to give it a go.

There's a great guest list and events schedule at Kapow's site but chances are I won't attend any of them as these days I'm content to man our table and have a casual browse round other stalls - an hour or more away queueing for a sketch or attending a panel is unfortunately something of a luxury for an independent publisher.

The main excitement for us will be the UK launch of Westernoir with both writer Dave West and artist Gary Crutchley to be in attendance - Gary on the Saturday only - where a special edition of the book will be available with a, get this, original 2-tone 'tip in' sketch from Gary!

In fact Accent UK's chief designer Andy Bloor may also put in an appearance so you may get a rare chance of meeting the whole production team, including yours truly wearing 'ye editor' hat on this one.

In addition, everyone who buys a copy of Westernoir will be entered into a special prize draw to win a very fine original A3 pencil sketch from Gary!!

And if that's still not enough, Westernoir may not be the only new release from us at the show as the much anticipated Zombies 2 book should also be available, printing and schedules permitting!

But be warned this one has real bite!!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

For Liberty - An American Revolution

Being British I confess to only a basic knowledge of American history, I know that at one time America 'belonged' to us, then we 'gave' it back but have remained friends ever since enjoying a 'special' relationship or something like that?

I know that's more than a simplistic view but we weren't taught any American history at school so what I do know is self-taught or more accurately gleaned from movies, TV documentaries and of course comics. I'm pretty sure that the first reference anywhere to the American Revolution that I ever came across was in an issue of my beloved Captain America;

                                       (cover pic courtesy of the excellent marvel wiki site)

I don't think I picked up any 'real' history from that action packed Jack Kirby issue but I was certainly the only boy at school who knew what 'Bicentennial' meant and as a consequence had the date 1776 in my head!

I know that around the same time I was starting to collect the 'Blick Instant Picture Transfer Books' and picked up one on the American Revolution which helped fuel my interest but other than short references in general (British published) Historic encyclopedias, that would've been about my limit.

                                   (cover pic courtesy of the fascinating action transfers site)

The American Revolution therefore, like The American Civil War, while of interest, has largely remained outside my greater understanding and when visiting the US and seeing the rows upon rows of books on the subject, is pretty daunting and (like the 1776 British?) I make a speedy retreat.

That's where comics have helped to some degree to plug the gap, particularly in recent years when the medium has opened up allowing factual and historical fiction books to appear and the ones that I've managed to track down including Archaia Entertainments Revere and IDW Publishing's The Dreamer series, both of which have their merits but take quite a fantastical turn on historical events.

And this is where Timothy Decker's excellent For Liberty comes in. Its respectful, dramatic and stimulating telling of the simple actions which lead to such a pivotal point in America (and Britain's!) history, as neatly summed up in his introduction;

           On a cold, clear night in 1770, British soldiers and American colonists clashed in Boston. This was the brink of war. For fifteen minutes, fear and confusion reigned over the city.

This perfectly sets the scene as matters escalate and lead to tragedy in an event known as The Boston Massacre, which I was totally unfamiliar with - except for the final reference to John Adams which reminded me of the excellent HBO series which I'm sure detailed the resulting trial? 

In any case, I was comfortable both in reading the book and my conversations with Tim at the recent MoCCA festival that the tale was well researched and well intentioned in bringing the story to a wider audience.

The only drawbacks may be the books length which at 'only' 40 pages is not huge but in my view is sufficient to effectively tell the story it sets out to. The other 'drawback', (if it can be said to be a drawback) is the fact that For Liberty is really an illustrated book rather than a comic or graphic novel, which means that it could struggle to find its audience outside of bookstores or the education system? But who am I kidding, the bookstore & education market is considerably larger and mores respected than the comics market so its not a bad place to be and Tim is to be commended for seeking out new audiences by attending comic shows such as MoCCA!

I should also mention Tim's artwork which is rich and highly detailed pen work with lots of cross hatching. Its very absorbing and, especially on my second read, I found myself lingering on the pages, taking in all the detail.

Tim kindly dedicated my copy to be enjoyed for "years to come" which I certainly intend to do and thanks to him I now have a better understanding of this important period of history, I just have to somehow resist diving further into history before I fill another few bookshelves!!

Monday, 7 May 2012

MoCCA Moments 2012

Hi all and welcome to my first blogpost, inspired by the very fine moments enjoyed at this year's MoCCA comic festival in New York!

This was Dave West and I's second year exhibiting under our indie comic banner Accent UK accompanied by Scott my eldest and able assistant. Dave's already written a very fine report on the event at Accent UK's blog which you should check out so I'll just briefly highlight a few of my own personal moments.

We were again located next to our comics buddy Cliodhna Lyons who is great fun and seems to know everyone comics-wise in the US and UK!. It's really down to Cliodhna's enthusiasm for MoCCA that persuaded us to attend last year's show so it was great to catch up with her again and a bit strange being as we'd only chatted the week before in London at the Comica Comiket show! This year Cliodhna was joined by two US chums and talented artists Chris and Jazz who looked out for us, helping explain why I'd received a 'biscuit' with my chicken nugget takeaway and a few of life's other mystery's!

Joining us in our little 'UK Hub' was John-Paul Kamath and his fine London Horror Comic which was making its US debut and seemed to be well received.

The show did seem quieter than last year although we had a steady stream of visitors to our table where we had a fair few new books including the newly delivered Westernoir which has already received its first review!

There was more of an international feel to things with many of our good Danish friends returning alongside contingents of Swedish and Finnish comic artists and a fun bunch of Australian cartoonists under the caravan of comics banner who were also heading up to Toronto for the TCAF festival.

Many fine moments were shared with our international colleagues including a special treat for me meeting the Paris based Jose-Louis Bocquet and Catel Muller, the talented and personable team behind Kiki De Monparnasse. I'd brought a copy of their wonderful book all the way from the UK for them to sign which tickled them seeing how well travelled we had all been to meet in the US, (with apologies for the wee photo blur - hope yours came out better!).

I also had a lovely 'fanboy' moment with gracious Norwegian comics superstar Jason who had strong lines both day when signing at the Fantagraphics table. I've a fair few of his books, but not them all yet, but mindful of luggage restrictions opted for a softcover of his Last Musketeer which looks great.

Good to catch up again with the newly beardless Alec Longstreth a man of many talents including acting principal at Vermont's Centre for Cartoon Studies while James Strum enjoys a sabbatical. Accent UK have enjoyed good links with the CCS crew since bumping into Steve Bissette at one of the Copenhagen comic shows a few years back so it was good to hear what they're up to, although I foolishly forgot to pick up a copy of their acclaimed Cartoon Crier paper which thankfully is now available online.

Also chatted with CCS alumni (and Accent UK contributor) Morgan Pielli who has been pretty prolific it seems with a couple more issues in his interesting 'Indestructible Universe' book. Brooklyn based Morgan was able to pass on some useful info on other US indie shows that we may consider for next year. At the moment we're torn between becoming a MoCCA regular or perhaps attending another US indie show such as SPX, Stumptown etc to spread the Accent UK word in other US states. It's a tough choice though as the established shows are hard to get into and any new show is a gamble as to whether your books will find an audience and of course it's an expensive business flying across the Atlantic. Next year we should also have a return to Denmark to look forward to as well so it could be a busy time. New York though is pretty accessible from the UK and MoCCA is darn good fun so would be good to do them all!

Dave and I did have time though to join the energetic Charles D Chenet for a special Dare 2 Draw MoCCA session of life drawing which was terrific fun, harder than it looks but great to just sit there and draw with many other folks in a busy session.

NY based Simon Fraser is another stalwart supporter of the Dare2Draw events and hosted a special portfolio session at MoCCA. He mentioned that he's going to be a guest at this year's Thought Bubble show in Leeds which will be, I think, his first UK show since moving to the states some 5 years ago?

Shout outs too to talented Tom Gauld, who's originally from the same Aberdeenshire neck of the woods as me - well about 10 miles or so away - who seemed to be enjoying the first leg of his North American tour. Tom had also been at London's Comica Comiket show the previous week and was looking forward to the jaunt to Toronto and TCAF next. As we'd also met him at London, we reassured him that we weren't in fact stalking him and that he'd be quite safe in Toronto since we wouldn't be there!. Have to say though that we were quite envious of those staying on for the Toronto trip as it sounds a cracking show.

Picked up a fair few interesting books and things on my trip but, mindful of weight and economics, didn't go quite as mad as last year.  Looking forward to reading them all, especially my American Revoultion books Freedom picked up at Brooklyn's excellent Desert Island store and For Liberty from fellow MoCCA attendee Timothy Decker and his delightful wife Alison whom we exchanged supportive comments to during the shows quieter spells.

And that was that, it passed all too quickly, just the jet lag, photos and books to show for our efforts!

Colin M

P.S also picked up a strange little Ames guide from an art store - I haven't a clue what its for but got Dave excited about it so had to buy one!