One of the arts of surviving as a freelance is to make sure you've always got something new on the go. In the past, I've not always been in enough demand to manage that, but happily these days I seem to be doing quite well. Still, it's always a good idea to remember the wise words of the great Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt; "I have been poor, and now I am rich, and one day I will be poor again."
Finishing Stickleback: Mother London has left me with a much smaller pang of regret than finishing Scarlet Traces or Leviathan. This is mostly because those were situation-based, finite stories* - once they were done, they were pretty much done. Ian and I conceived Stickleback as a character-based, open-ended affair that could go to any number of series. So while I wouldn't jinx things by promising another series of Stickleback right now, let's just say it's not beyond the bounds of possibility...
So what now? Well, I've just finished a couple of little bits and pieces - colouring a cover for my old mate Shane Oakley (of Albion fame) and also a fun two-page strip for Fables #59 (see illo) - that's going to be an extra issue in March, an anthology of one and two page stories featuring contributions by lots of artists including Barry Kitson and Eric Shanower.
Working for Vertigo after a break of eight years was a real eye-opener; I'd forgotten that they're the most hands-on editors in the business, so dealing with them can feel a little like a ritual beating after the hands-off approach of Dave de Dark Horse and Tharg-in-residence Matt Smith. In absolute fairness, Shelley Bond gave detailed feedback regarding what she liked in the work, as well as what she wanted changed (something few editors would bother with). And I have to admit, the strip was better for the changes suggested, which, in the end, is the point...
Murders On The Rue Morgue for an anthology of Poe stories published by an outfit called Metromedia, who specialise in updated adaptations of literary works in comics format; they'll shortly be launching some Manga versions of Shakespeare tales.
Murders On The Rue Morgue is written by Ian Edginton, with other contributions in the book by Jamie Delano, Steve Pugh, John McCrea and Shane Oakley.
Working on this project inspired me to try reading Poe's Tales Of Mystery And Imagination, an amazing volume whose stories are foundation stones for the modern genres of horror, fantasy, SF and detective fiction. It's also fascinating to see the ones that didn't make it; if stories such as Domain of Arnheim had proved more popular, the 1930's might have been awash with magazines called Weird Landscape Gardening Tales.
Written in the 1820's and 30's, the stories sometimes seem a little clumsy exactly because Poe was inventing from scratch as he went along; genre conventions that seem to be missing from some of the stories were invented by later writers who refined his ideas. Nevertheless, he stands head and shoulders above his contemporaries for both imaginative power and readability; I mean, can you see Tinky Winky, Dipsy or La-La writing anything like The Fall Of The House Of Usher?
Beyond Murders On The Rue Morgue, I have a project lined up with Steve Murphy, who wrote the Tales Of The TMNT story I drew back in 1994 (published 1995?). Called Pale Witness, it's a 30-page one-shot about a female cosmonaut. More on that once I start on it...
*Though Scarlet Traces went to a prequel and a sequel, we didn't know that at the time of finishing the first one.
Bufkin the Monkey and The Magic Mirror are from Fables by Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham; © 2007/all rights reserved Bill Willingham/DC Comics Inc.