Category Archives: Comic

It’s a Win!

Two days on from the Australian Shadows Awards, I’m still riding the high of the win. Yep, that’s right, The Road to Golgotha, won the inaugural award for ‘written works in a graphic novel/comic’. Excuse me while I Snoopy dance. (Look away now if you’d like to keep your food down…)

The ‘Shadows’ are the premier horror awards put together by the Australian Horror Writers Association. Judged by those who know and are passionate about the genre makes a win even more sweet – getting the nod from those within the industry, within the genre you love, that your work is top notch.

The Road to Golgotha

The Road to Golgotha is two stories within the one tome: His Own Personal Golgotha penned by GN Braun, and my story The Road. So I get to share this win with my mate Geoff. Not only that, I had the pleasure of telling him we’d won (he was making coffee at the time; can’t fault him that), and then a good five minutes convincing him it was true.

This is my second Australian Shadows Award win, having won for the short story category in 2011. What makes this win so amazing is the amount of work and effort that went into writing the comic. It was a totally new medium for me and Geoff, a damn steep learning curve, and I’m not ashamed to say it almost broke me. But… challenge accepted. I was determined to write the best damn comic I could, to take the reader to a very dark place and stride along with Riley as she owned every decision she made for what she wanted. To be rewarded with the Shadows Award… yeah, that’s pretty damn sweet.

And the cherry on the icing of an amazingly cool cake was the words from the judges:

“The Road to Golgotha provides an immediate escape into visual horror with the first turn of the page. Like a modern-day Dante’s Inferno, here we have two tales of two very distinct, yet similarly tortured characters on quests through unknown regions of the human soul. Expertly illustrated by Monty Borror, The Road to Golgotha is a gorgeous comic that left the judges spellbound and wanting more.”

road page 28    Golgotha

And the judges were on-point giving Monty Borror the kudos he deserves. ‘Expertly illustrated’ is right – Monty brought Geoff and my visions of the comic to extraordinary life, often seeing more in our scripts than we did. I can’t thank him enough for making Riley and her road and monsters exquisitely horrifying. (I’ll be scattering pages from the comics through this post, beware!)

This was also the first win of the night for Cohesion Press, with The Road to Golgotha being the inaugural imprint of Cohesion Comics. There were more to come. Next up was Alan Baxter’s In Vaulted Halls Entombed, which won the Paul Haine’s Award for long fiction. Alan’s story appeared in SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest, put out through Cohesion. This is a brilliant story, and deserved of the win.

The last in Cohesion’s trifecta was in the edited works category, with Blurring the Line (edited by Marty Young), taking out the win. This anthology is a superb showcase of horror that blurs the lines between what’s real and what’s not. And in the words of the judges: “There are some exceptional tales in this collection, gripping, compelling and haunting stories, the kind that stay with you for a good while afterwards.”

The wonderful thing about Aussie (and Kiwi) horror is that you’re bound to know pretty much all those in the industry down under. So I was chuffed to pieces that the short story category win went to amazing writer and my mentor, Kaaron Warren. If you haven’t read her work, you should. You really should.

road page 25.jpg

The collected works category was taken out by one of my favourite people in the world, Robert Hood. His gargantuan tome, Peripheral Visions (an 800-page collection of ghost stories and amazing artwork), showcases not only his remarkable work over decades in the genre, but Australian horror at its best.

So two days on, I really am still riding the high of winning the award, and being among some of the best writers in horror today. Huzzah! So if you’re looking for a horror graphic novel that pushes you past the comfortable, and takes you on a wild ride of monsters and oh-so terrible places, then The Road to Golgotha is just what you’re looking for. Trust me, I know the writers.

road page 28

Check out the list of winners below, and if you haven’t read their work, get thee to a bookstore! Or e-store! Or library!

Best Written Works in a Comic/Graphic Novel: The Road to Golgotha – GN Braun & Amanda J Spedding (Cohesion Comics)

Best Edited Works: Blurring the Line – Marty Young, ed. (Cohesion Press)

Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction: In Vaulted Halls Entombed – Alan Baxter (SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest, Cohesion Press)

Best Collected Works: Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories – Robert Hood (IFWG Publishing)

Best Short Story: Mine Intercom – Kaaron Warren (Review of Australian Fiction)

Best Novel: The Catacombs – Jeremy Bates

Rocky Wood Award for Non-Fiction and Criticism: The Literary Gothic by Marija Elektra Ridriguez

Oh, and the trophy we’ll be getting? Yeah, it rocks!

AusShadows-trophy

All of the Yays!

Finalists for the Australian Shadows Awards for horror fiction were announced today, and I’m absolutely chuffed that the comic, The Road to Golgotha, has made the shortlist in the Comic/Graphic Novel category. Woo and hoo! Huzzah! Woot!

The Road to Golgotha

The brilliant thing about this nod is that as The Road to Golgotha is effectively two stories (His Own Personal Golgotha and The Road) within the one tome, I get to share this nomination with GN Braun, who was with me every step of the way as I strove to get the script just right. A huge shout-out has to go to our artist, Monty Borror, whose horrifically beautiful illustrations brought the comics to life.

road page 19 a    road page 28

 
The incarnation from published short story to comic, The Road was two years in the making, and this nod is the icing on a very cool cake that involved the launch at Melbourne ComicCon last year (you can read an awesome review of it here). As my first foray into comics, I can’t tell you how damn awesome the validation is – you always want your babies to do well. It kicks that writerimposteritis in the guts, too.

But it doesn’t stop there. On the editing side, Alan Baxter’s In Vaulted Halls Entombed, from SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest, is a finalist in the Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction category. From the moment I read this story, I loved it. So seeing it nominated as well, is a huge buzz.

There are so many amazing writers nominated this year, a lot of whom are close friends, so this has been an amazing day of congratulating peeps I couldn’t be happier for, and being super-chuffed to have the comic given the nod.

So, if you’re looking for some amazing Aussie writers to read, the finalists of the Australian Shadows Award is a great place to start.  Congratulations to all the finalists!

The Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction

In Vaulted Halls Entombed – Alan Baxter

The Haunting of Gillespie House – Darcy Coates

Night Shift – Dirk Flinthart

The Whimper – Robert Hood

Edited Works

Bloodlines – Amanda Pillar

Lighthouses – Cameron Trost

Midnight Echo 11 – Kaaron Warren

Blurring the Line – Marty Young

Collected Works

The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After – Shane Jiraiya Cummings

Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories – Robert Hood

Cherry Crow Children – Deborah Kalin

Short Fiction

The Bone Maiden – Greg Chapman

Eight Seconds – Pandora Hope

El Caballo Muerte – Martin Livings

Perfect Little Stitches – Deborah Sheldon

Mine Intercom – Kaaron Warren

Comics/Graphic Novels

The Road to Golgotha – GN Braun and Amanda J Spedding

Troll – Michael Michalandos

The Monster – Ben Rosenthal

Undad – Shane W Smith

The Rocky Wood Award for Non-fiction and Criticism

Winner to be announced

Novels

The Catacombs – Jeremy Bates

The Haunting of Blackwood House – Darcy Coates

The Transgressions Cycle: The Mothers – Mike Jones

The Transgressions Cycle: The Reparation – Mike Jones

The Big Smoke – Jason Nahrung

Riley

Watch this space…

Festivus Book Pimping – The Road to Golgotha

Well this is the last of the Festivus Book Pimping, and I didn’t get to anywhere near as many books and authors as I’d have liked, but that just means I’ll have to continue the book pimping sans Festivus. So, to finish this series, I’ll be pimping myself… well my comic, which means I’m also pimping GN Braun and Monty Borror. Pimpity-pimp-pimp-pimp!

In June of this year, The Road to Golgotha was launched at Melbourne ComicCon through Cohesion Comics – the inaugural comic for the press’ new imprint. Here you get two horror stories – that’s right TWO, within the one beautifully-designed, 78-page book.

The Road to Golgotha

The first, His Own Personal Golgotha, is penned by GN Braun; the second is mine – The Road. And it’s all magically brought to life on the pages by the uber-talented artist, Monty Borror – the man is a genius at interpretation; his art, magnificent.

I flew down to Melbourne for the launch with my daughter, and we had an absolute blast. Meeting with old friends and making many others, we were surrounded by the Geekdom that makes us all happy. To top it off, it was the launch of the comic. Something GN, Monty and I had put our hearts and souls into.

Here’s a little something about the stories within:

His Own Personal Golgotha by GN Braun follows the awakening of ‘the man’ into a nightmarish world of cemeteries and bones. To achieve anything, he must find out where and who he is.”

This is a search for redemption through horror-filled pages again brought to wicked life by Monty Borror. It’s a visually stunning piece that doesn’t pull any punches. It’s kick-arse. 

 Golgotha

“The Road by Amanda J Spedding shows us the changes wrought in Riley as she casts off her civilized veneer to allow the goddess within to emerge fully into her birthright.”

This is a story of gods and monsters, of self-discovery and a battle for identity for the heroine. It’s hard and it’s bloody and she unapologetically owns every bit of it.

road page 29

As you can see by the panels here, the art is superb, and Monty has captured the stories perfectly. The man also so very kindly sent over two original panels of artwork for me (the above is one), and they are just gorgeous! And look stunning on my wall.

So with that, it’s Festivus Bookus Pimpus Endus. Let it go, it’s after 1am here and I still haven’t packed for my trip away tomorrow…today…  later… sometime…

Anywho, if you’re looking for some rollickingly good horror, and some kick-arse art, the get onto The Road to Golgotha. Self-pimping aside, it’s a damn fine read.

Recommended for anyone who loves horror, and the art of the comic/graphic novel.

Note: this comic comes with a, ‘Explicit Content’ warning (which is cool in and of itself). So really not recommended for anyone under 18… or you’ll have some ‘splaining to do Lucy!

pg24 cut 3

Festivus Endus!

Festivus Book Pimping – Jason Franks

Ah, the decision to choose which book to pimp first for your festive-season consideration was far more difficult than I thought it would be. So many great books, and I’m the worst decision-maker when it comes to selecting which book to read next, let alone which book to pimp next. So, as an Aussie, I’m going to start with an Australian author. You really should be reading Aussie authors – we’re awesome.

So, today I’m going to reintroduce you to Melbourne-based author, Jason Franks. Jason is a novelist and comic book/graphic novel author and illustrator, and this year I read his novel Bloody Waters (reviewed here), and the first in the comic series, Left Hand Path (reviewed here).

Bloody Waters

Bloody Waters is an action-packed, supernatural black-comedy that follows the life and times of guitar virtuoso Clarice Marnier. Clarice is a singularly-focused, no-nonsense, quick-witted protagonist you can’t help but love – she does what needs to be done to achieve her goals. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and recommend it to anyone who has a bent for supernatural horror with more than a sprinkling of dark comedy, witty repartee, and a hell of a twist at the end. I read well into the wee-morning hours to finish this book.

Left Hand Path is also quite a dark comic – we’re talking horror here. I picked up my signed copy at Melbourne ComicCon this year, and this is one seriously cool comic, with fantastic (and explicit – yay!) artwork. In book one (the only issue out at the moment) we’re introduced to the Unconventional Incidents Unit (UIU), who are called to a bloody massacre perpetrated by a demon that’s now loose on the streets of Los Angeles. Very much looking forward to the next issue.

Left Hand Path

While those are the two books of Franks I’ve read, there’s so much more on offer at his website, including the comic series McBlack (think Noir) and The Sixsmiths ­– a family of suburban Satanists who’ve fallen prey to the recession.

What I’ve found with Franks’ work is a delightfully dark satire that makes him stand out from the wonderfully diverse range of books, comics and graphic novels on the market. If you haven’t given his stories a read, then it’s something you really must change. Go. Now. And fill a Christmas stocking with some deliciously dark work. Dare ya.

Recommended for horror lovers, comic connoisseurs, adult audience.

bloody bauble

The Long and Short Of It

I write. Have done for as long as I can remember, but this last year the second draft of my novel (or as it likes to taunt: double-dare you to finish me, mofo!), has monopolised my time. Novel writing has had a steep learning curve – sometimes I joyfully get it, other times I despair. Ah, the rollercoaster life of a writer – amazing highs and some really shit-house lows.

Of late, I’ve been in that dead zone between highs and lows: the ‘Meh’ State, as I like to call it. While I’m still running on the high of my comic release, a writer needs to keep moving forward, and… enter the Meh State.

Neh

It’s taken a while for me to figure out why there’s been an itch the novel couldn’t scratch, but after a week in the country at my dad’s farm, it became apparent – short stories. So focussed I’ve been on getting through this next draft of the novel that I’ve neglected one of my favourite writing mediums.

I returned to fiction writing (from journalism) about seven years ago, and it was with short stories I decided to lay my hat. There was method to my choice: mastering short-story writing would enable me to write a lot tighter, which in turn would assist with my ability to write a lot more story into a novel.

Writing long is a very different beast to writing short, but there’s intrinsic value in learning the art of short-story writing. Creating a complete story within a limited word count means every word has to fight for its right to be in the story – a skill that transfers extremely well to novel writing. It’s a skill I have; one of my shortest pieces (under 3,000 words) won the Australian Shadows Award in 2011. And I’ve been applying it to the novel… and here is also where I think I’m coming undone. It’s the focus on making every word count – especially in this second draft – that is taking me longer to get this draft done than I’d like. There’s a need to shift gears, to see the bigger picture.

Help me

But that’s not the only thing that’s pushed me into the Meh State. I’ve missed writing short stories. A lot. Honing in on a moment in time, a sliver of someone’s life, is a whole lot of fun (yes, horror is a helluva lot of fun to write – murder and mayhem and monsters, oh my!); there’s no need to create a world on the same scale as the novel, but more drip-feed the world/culture into the story – just enough for set the reader in that world.

And let’s not forget the gratification side of things. Writing a short is far quicker than writing a novel (duh), and there’s also a much quicker response time for a short story, be it accepted or rejected. You know what’s happening with it far sooner than you would with a novel. It’s that high of having a story out in the world, fighting for its right to be in an anthology that I’ve missed, the feeling of being actually working (regardless of how stupid that sounds).

Balance. That’s what I was missing. I’d forgone the love of writing in the short form to pursue the lure of writing in the long. As of today, I have two short stories out in the world at the moment, both written within the last few weeks, and I’m currently working on another for an anthology that deadlines at the end of this month. I’m pumped. Not just to finish this short, but to also get back to the novel. Going back to writing short stories has reignited my desire to finish the novel.

As with anything, having such a singular focus can drain the joy from things you love. That was my mistake.

And that’s the long and short of it.

 

Review: Left Hand Path by Jason Franks, Paul Abstruse & Eddy Swan

You bet I’m on a roll with posting, but as tomorrow I’m heading away to the country for a week, I thought I’d get this review done. That’s right; it’s review time again!  Today I’m looking at a one of the horror comics from the super-talented Jason FranksLeft Hand Path. I picked this copy up at ComicCon Melbourne – and the last copy at that! Both Jason and artist, Paul Abstruse happily signed it for me, and there really isn’t a lot better than having signed comics and books, I gotta say.

For those who have even a passing association with anything horror-related will have an understanding that the ‘left hand path’ refers to dark magic and Satanism – the path toward evil (yes, that’s a rather simplistic explanation, but I’m not writing a dissertation here). And from page one, we’re thrown right into the mix with a summoning of the Horned One himself.

Left Hand Path

As with any first book in a series, there’s a lot of setting up and introduction of characters (no introduction really needed for Satan, but I can see the same black humour and wit Franks used in his novel Bloody Waters, come through here), and the beginning of plots and sub-plots between said characters.

You can probably guess that Satan gets his kicks on right from the get-go, which pulls in other characters ­– cops Livia and Danik – who have a snarky, gritty dynamic that fits perfectly with the almost noir feel of this side of the comic.

Like I said, this is comic #1 in the series, so here we’re exploring the building of plot and characters, but Franks doesn’t over-dwell on backstory – you can’t with a comic; it has to come through via dialogue and captions, and Left Hand Path shows us Franks is a master at what he does. It’s little wonder this comic was an Aurealis Award finalist.

aurealis

Artwork… ah, artwork, how I love thee! Here, both Paul Abstruse (pencils & inks) and Eddy Swan (colours) really bring this comic to life. The illustrations are beautifully detailed from background to foreground, and Swan has used a perfect dichotomy between muted and vivid colour to really draw the eye. This is especially good when it comes to the gruesome scenes – very visceral in their display, which always makes me smile (hey, each to their own, right?).

Published by Winter City Productions, this is going to be a very cool series to get into, and I’m itching to see what Satan gets up now he’s been unleashed upon the unsuspecting citizens of the city. And more snark from the cops and intolerant (and totally cool) ‘specialist’ sent to stop the big guy tells me this is going to be a lot of fun!

I’ll also make a note here for language and gruesome horror – some of my favourite things, but for others… mebbe not. J

On a Goodreads scale (even though it’s not up on Goodreads – get on that Jason!), I’m giving it 4 stars.

4 stars

It’s live! Live, I tells ya!

The Road to Golgotha, the two-in-one graphic novel published through Cohesion Comics is now live! *does happy dance* … *apologises for happy dance* No one deserves to see that.

The Road to Golgotha

Now it is true that the launch was last weekend at ComicCon Melbourne (see my wrap-up here), but now the comic is unleashed upon the world. Mwhahahahahaha!

Ahem.

The Road to Golgotha consists of a story by GN Braun – His Own Personal Golgotha, and my supernatural horror story, The Road. (See how clever that combined title is? Yeah, I didn’t come up with it – all kudos to Geoff for that one). There’s a symmetry in the telling of both stories, a link of cause-and-effect that strikes deep at the main characters of each tale. This is also beautifully carried through by the illustrations of uber-talented artist, Monty Borror.

Golgotha

Here’s what it’s all about:

The Road to Golgotha holds two comics by Australian writers, set to the art of US illustrator Monty Borror. His Own Personal Golgotha by GN Braun follows the awakening of ‘the man’ into a nightmarish world of cemeteries and bones. To achieve anything, he must find out where and who he is. The Road by Amanda J Spedding shows us the changes wrought in Riley as she casts off her civilized veneer to allow the goddess within to emerge fully into her birthright. Redemption and personal growth are strong themes throughout both stories, and they each hold surprises as the protagonists struggle to come to terms with changes or growth they need to undertake. Travel with them as they go through their own personal golgotha along a road less-travelled.”

 Page17

The first-run, signed ComicCon editions of sleek black & white are available, but Cohesion is looking to have colour editions screaming their way into the world soon. And by colour I mean vivid splatters of red and wispy, fiery orange. I’m so incredibly in love with this graphic novel, and so incredibly proud to have it published and in readers’ hands.

This is the first graphic novel in the Cohesion Comics line, with some incredible storytellers lined up for the future. The Road to Golgotha is an amazing first edition to what will only be a kick-arse series from the Cohesion team. Go take a look. G’orn, you know you want to…