A Comic Book Review: ‘The Night After: A 24-Hour Comic’ by Andy Williams

‘The Night After: A 24-Hour Comic’ is a small press title written and illustrated by artist and graphic design wizard Andy Williams. The book is prefaced by an introduction from Williams himself, in which he explains his creative process behind the project as well as outlining exactly what a 24-Hour comic is. A 24-Hour Comic is a storytelling technique first devised by graphic novelist and imaginative maestro Scott McCloud when he challenged a friend and fellow comic creator to write and draw a complete comic book within 24 hours that contained a page for every hour in the day to help them overcome a stubborn bout of artistic block. Williams then goes on to tell the reader why he chose to undertake his own 24-Hour comic 20-something years ago and how he has decided to revisit the story two decades on, giving it an exciting new lease of life and print run to match.

From the first page of ‘The Night After’ the reader can tell that this is a tale crafted from the heart, in the opening panels we are introduced to the protagonist, a grief-stricken young woman who takes us with her on a gradual and painful journey of introspection. The solid black and white colour palette Williams uses throughout is exquisitely evocative and perfectly conveys the main character’s inner darkness. He deftly plays with light and shade, highlighting the visual nuances on each page that give the art its profound depth. He manages to fill every panel with a multitude of delicately drawn details from the filter on the protagonist’s last cigarette to the lifelike texture of her eyelashes in all of the close-up shots. These kinds of illustrative subtleties could easily appear mundane if done by a lesser artist but when rendered with Williams’ level of skill and precision they are incredibly striking.

Williams’ writing is minimalistic yet powerful, the naturally worded monologue of a woman desperately trying to come to terms with a life-changing bereavement. The sentences within each caption are imbued with touchingly realistic heartache that anyone who has lost someone close to them will definitely relate to. Much like the artwork in this book the literary narrative is multi-layered, for beneath the sadness Williams plants a series of intriguingly ambiguous hints concerning a deeper subplot.

When I take into consideration that this entire book has been conceived, written, drawn and lettered by just one artist, there is little I can do as a reviewer but doff my hat.

‘The Night After’ is an extremely well executed comic with raw emotion on every page. A tale of love, loss, despair and most importantly hope that will stay with you for much longer than 24 hours.





A Chat with… Jason Cobley

In this instalment of A Chat with… I talk to award-winning graphic novelist, writer, blogger and teacher Jason Cobley.


Hello Jason, thanks for taking the time to have a chat with me today. You’re a writer who has honed your craft across a wide range of mediums, producing an impressive body of work over the years. So where did it all begin for you, when did you start writing?


Hi George. Well, that’s very generous. You’re probably giving me too much credit there. It all started when I was a teenager. Back in the 80s, Marvel UK published quite a few weeklies and monthlies and, in one of them, a chap called Rob Kirby was advertising in the classifieds section for contributions to a new magazine he was starting, called ‘Amalgam’. This was long before we’d even really coined the term ‘small press’ – ‘fanzine’ was the word – and I had been drawing in my bedroom like many kids, so I cobbled a strip together and sent it in. Over the next few years, my ‘Bulldog’ strip was a mainstay of the magazine. When I went to university, a friend and I published a magazine called ‘Blackout!’ which optimistically catered for what we thought was a big crossover audience between music and comics. We actually did really well and made good connections. We got to interview people such as Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy, Grant Morrison, Karen Berger (via phone to America!), and bands such as Thunder, Anthrax, Marillion, Heart and I even bumped into Kirk Hammett from Metallica outside Nostalgia & Comics once and gave him a copy. He was buying a carton of Ribena. That was the hell-raising 90s for you. Anyway, after that I developed Bulldog further and it became something of a small press sensation, lasting 28 issues. I’ve sporadically revisited those characters, but it was really on the back of that that I got offered the chance to write for Classical Comics, then The DFC, and now I do a mix of self-published comics and professional work.


Who would you say are your biggest creative inspirations?


I’ve got the usual list I suppose – the 1970s and 1980s were really my formative years for comics: 2000AD and Warrior in particular. So, Alan Moore of course, but probably John Wagner more than anyone. I never forgot how gracious he was in doing an interview with me for ‘Blackout!’ and I was really happy to tell him so when I met him recently. Although I’m no great shakes as an artist, there are some artists who have inspired me in terms of how to put a comic page together. I won’t list them because quite a few are friends now and I’d hate to accidentally leave someone out! If you write comics, though, I think it’s important to read widely beyond the form too, so Iain Banks, Magnus Mills, Kurt Vonnegut and Cormac McCarthy are just some novelists that come to mind as creative inspirations. Music also helps generate ideas more than TV or film does, for me, and I’m a sucker for prog rock.


Let’s talk about your eagerly anticipated new graphic novel ‘Amnesia Agents,’ illustrated by James Gray. What can you tell the reader about this memory-boggling new project?


It’s been a long time coming. It kind of coalesced from some leftover ideas from a couple of projects that never quite happened (I’ve got more things that were nearly produced than actually ever saw the light of day!). Some of it stemmed from a story my Dad told about his earliest memory, of being on a farm in the cold as a child and placing a rake in the driveway to stop the taxi taking his sisters to school. It was something that formed some sense of who he felt he was, and I unashamedly nicked it as a focal point in the story. I was fascinated by the idea that we create our own sense of identity from our memories of who we are and our perceptions of what has happened to us. If somehow that’s taken away from you, who are you? I also wanted to create some sort of adventure grounded in the ‘real’ world, a sort of ‘X Files’ setup, except we’re dealing with memories rather than aliens.

Our premise is that there’s a physical place that memories go to, and there are forces at work that will steal memories. When the memory of a person is taken, the whole world forgets they ever exist. Except, sometimes, that goes wrong – and that’s when the Amnesia Agents step in.


‘Amnesia Agents’ was adapted from your prose novel, ‘Amnesia Agents: The Forgotten Child’ which garnered an outstanding reception in its own right. What was the process behind tailoring the book to a new medium and how joyous and/or agonising did you find adapting your own work?  


I’ve always found it relatively easy to write comics. I’ve written some short stories that have worked OK too, but I wanted to tell this story as a novel. The result was mixed. My prose, even if I do say so myself, is good, but structuring a novel is hard. It really is! I learned a lot from the process. After a while, I looked at it again and, slightly emboldened by the success of others launching comics on Kickstarter, I thought I’d give it a go. I was really lucky to get such a brilliant artist as James Gray on board to commit to the project.

The process of adaptation was straight forward I suppose. I’d previously adapted the dense prose of Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker into comics, so making edits and visualising the thing wasn’t too difficult. I had to strip out a few characters and eliminate a whole sub-plot that overcomplicated things. I may well use that in some form if we do a sequel. Creating the script was a complete joy, as James’ was completely in tune with what I was trying to achieve – every page he delivered was better than the last.


Whilst we’re on the subject of comic book adaptions, you have also used your extensive creative skillset and knowledge of the medium to transform numerous classic works of literature and theatre into graphic novels. Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein,’ Charles Dickens’ ‘The Signalman’ and J.B. Priestley’s  ‘An Inspector Calls’ to name but a few. What inspired you to rework these iconic creations?


Ha! Well, I’d say my “creative skillset” is fairly limited rather than extensive! Back in the mid 2000s, the wonderful Karen Wenborn, who was at Classical Comics at the time, liked ‘Bulldog Empire’ and some other scripts that didn’t get published, and invited me to do one of the first of their novel adaptations. I got given ‘Frankenstein’ to do, and I loved doing it. It helped that I knew the book quite well. I was soon offered ‘Dracula’ and ‘An Inspector Calls’. As well as being great graphic novels in their own right, they were being promoted as teaching aids in schools, and as I had form in that area, it was a good fit. After Classical Comics had done most of the Shakespeare plays, they decided to stop commissioning new books, which was a pity, but the books still sell really well I believe. We’d talked in general terms about doing some others – the legendary John Burns was up for doing ‘Treasure Island’ with me and I really wanted to do ‘The Time Machine’ but alas, ‘twas not to be.

‘The Signal Man’ came about as an idea I’d floated to Classical and, once I got David Hitchcock on board as artist, we pitched to a few publishers. They all said no. It’s a classic ghost story and used in schools quite a lot, so I could see it working. We started it, then Dave had other projects and life took precedent and it sat on the shelf for a couple of years. Dave decided to have another go, and we think we produced something really effective. We even got a brilliant review from Steve Ditko! Dave is one of the best artists working in British comics today and it’s criminal really that he’s not doing major work with big publishers. I’m really proud of that book. What inspired me about the story in particular is that it’s centred around a man who is really haunted by his own fears in a way, in some ways a metaphor for depression and anxiety – and some of that has found its way into Amnesia Agents too.


One of your best-known creator-owned comic books is ‘The Adventures of Captain Winston Bulldog,’ a delightfully surreal and quintessentially British series that has seen you collaborate with some of the biggest names on the UK comics scene from PJ Holden to Neil Cameron. Can you tell the reader a little more about this title and its creative evolution?    


Well, as I said, it started in ‘Amalgam’ in the 80s and eventually became ‘Bulldog Adventure Magazine’ aka ‘BAM!’ throughout the 90s and more or less up to today. The most recent episodes were serialised in Davey Candlish’s ‘Paragon’ and I collected them in ‘Bulldog & Panda 2018’. Winston Bulldog is an airship captain and war hero in an alternative world where you’ve got intelligent animals (mammalians) and intelligent vegetables (arboreans) living alongside humans, and rarely harmoniously. The Vegenation are the bad guys, supposedly, but as well as it being a comedic sci-fi action-adventure, I use it to do a bit of light political satire. Bulldog looks like an icon of the right wing, but he’s a socialist and goes up against his own leaders as much as he does against the evil veggies. I tried to get all kinds of publishers interested in the strip over the years, but none would go for it, hence it basically being a huge part of the small press scene in the UK for many years. Neill Cameron started drawing for BAM! when he was still in the sixth form and dipped in and out over the years, until we did what’s basically the ‘movie’, the 64-page ‘Bulldog: Empire’. That was picked by Constable & Robinson for ‘The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga’ volume 1, sporting Bulldog’s ally Samurai Commander Keiko Panda on the cover. One of these days, I’ll get a Kickstarter going for a Keiko Panda graphic novel. Artists apply here!


As anyone who follows you on social media will have noticed, you are a passionate music fan with a diverse and ever-growing record collection. I myself have had a lifelong love of music that spans many genres; so I ask you, as tough as it may be to narrow it down, what are your top three albums of all-time?


Now I know you’re stalking me, George! Ha! Yeah, I am quite fond of posting my current listening on Facebook! Top three is very hard but let’s try. One of the top 3 would have to be an album by Marillion, probably ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ but ask me tomorrow and I’ll pick a different one. Their latest album ‘FEAR’ is one of their best. I’m told it’s ‘Dad music’, which is fair enough I suppose. I’m a fairly recent convert to jazz, but I’d pick ‘A Kind of Blue’ by Miles Davis as the second one. The third? Today I’d say ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ for the greatest drumming in rock on ‘Rock and Roll’ and ‘When the Levee Breaks’ but ask me tomorrow and I might mention anyone from The Beatles to Public Sector Broadcasting.


You’ve recently started writing for ‘Commando,’ one of the last remaining good old-fashioned British weeklies to be published by D.C. Thompson. How did you begin working for this action-packed anthology comic? 


The short answer is that they put out an open call for submissions and I pitched an idea. The long answer is that the publishers specifically wanted some stories featuring Australian or New Zealand soldiers. I knew of one particular thing in World War One that fitted the brief because I’d been doing some research in that area, which brings us nicely on to your next question…


The first of your strips to be featured in ‘Commando’ was a story set during the Battle of Arras in World War I. I know that you have a strong connection to the Battle of Arras and you are currently writing a novel inspired by your relative’s experiences in said conflict? Can you let the reader know any details about this poignant and heartfelt work in progress?   


I can. I found out on the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme that I had a relative that died in World War One, in a by-the-way remark from an elderly aunt to my father. We hadn’t known before. His name was Robert Gooding Henson, and the only details I had was that and the date of his death. Long story short, shortly afterwards I ended up with a lot of time on my hands as I was off work recovering from back surgery. My Dad died about the same time, so it set me off researching the family tree. I traced the family back to the 18thcentury. We were illiterate farmers until the middle of the 20thcentury, and Robert’s parents met as servants on a farm. There was a large age gap between them and Robert was their only son. He was in the Somerset Light Infantry and died at the Battle of Arras, wounded on 9thApril 1917 but died on 22nd. He was defending a farm, seemingly separated from his infantry. We don’t know why. In fact, that’s all there is. Records for many soldiers then were lost. I know the movements of the SLI and enough to build a story around it, so that’s what I’ve done. It’s a fictionalised account of the battle and what might have happened to Robert. I hope to finish it this summer, then decide what publishing avenues to pursue.


Alongside being a multi-disciplined author you are also a passionate and enthusiastic teacher who has written several graphic novels that can be used as educational supplements. This is something I find incredibly cool because comic books have played a huge part in my academic and everyday life. I was born with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and one of the numerous affects of my condition means that I’m a painfully slow reader. Then I discovered graphic novels and realised the spacing between image and text within a comic page-layout allowed me to visually digest them much quicker than hefty prose tomes. Just like that, new literary doors opened and the rest is history.     

You and I evidently appreciate how valuable comics can be academically, but to many others the place of graphic novels in the classroom is still a contentious topic. So with that in mind, do you think comic books will ever get the credit they deserve as an educational tool?   


Yes and no. To be honest, their educational use only goes so far. Comics are a wonderful form to get reluctant readers into reading, and to help those for whom the traditional reading experience is a challenge, but in some ways it’s been superseded by other technologies now. I use comic book versions of some texts to help students engage and understand, and the visuals certainly help. But, at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to enable kids to be active readers of all kinds of writing. Comics are only one possible tool in the box. Not all teachers understand the form, and not all know how to use it either, but I think in some areas they are used quite well – the success of Classical Comics is a case in point, as they still sell well.


Thanks again for your time Jason, it’s been a pleasure to talk to you. Before I let you get back to your word-weaving and record-relishing, is there anything else you have coming up that you’d like to tell the reader about?


My main focus over the next few months is hawking ‘Amnesia Agents’ around various cons: I’m doing Birmingham ICE in September, Nottingham in October and True Believers next February at the moment. There may be more. My next issue of Commando, called ‘The June Winter’, comes out in December.










A Book Review: A Midsummer’s Bottom by Darren Dash

I recently had the pleasure of receiving an advanced copy of Darren Dash’s new novel to review here on Books, Films and Random Lunacy. These are my thoughts on the author’s latest release…

A Midsummer’s Bottom is the fourth novel by Darren Dash, the alliterative nom deplume under which the bestselling YA author Darren Shan pens his tales for adults. His latest offering is a light-hearted comedic book that tells the story of The Midsummer Players, a Limerick-based troupe of am-dram hams who stage their own butchered production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream every year on Midsummer’s Eve.

Each year without fail they perform their version of the iconic play to a lukewarm response then go back to their daily lives for the intervening 11 months before doing it all over again. ‘But that’s all well and good,’ I hear you cry, ‘Apart from the poor unsuspecting theatregoers of Limerick who have to suffer this tawdry torment.’ But alas all is not that simple. In actuality all of the fairies who feature in the Bard’s original work of whimsy are real. Centuries earlier the fairies of Feyland met with a young William Shakespeare and agreed to imbue the ambitious scribe’s quill with their magic so as he could write a play about them. He did just that and his new mystical pals were so pleased with the end result, they promised to attend every single production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for as long as it endured.

 The book opens with King Oberon and Queen Titania at their wits end, The Midsummer Player’s 20th anniversary performance is just around the corner and the thought of sitting through yet another of their dreadful interpretations has become too much for the royal pair to stomach. Exasperated they summon fairy mischief-maker extraordinaire Puck to enlist the help of a human agent of chaos who can infiltrate the Midsummer Players ranks and tear them apart at the seams.

The perfect human meddler presents himself in the form of Del Chapman a freethinking anarchist who lives a life unencumbered by the constraints of modern society.  We first meet Del just after he’s grown board of the only nine to five he’s ever had and decided to bid it an irreverent adieu. Later that night Del has an unexpected encounter with Puck and after a bit of persuasion and a lot of rhyming couplets Del agrees to help the Fey folk in their mission to disband the tiresome thespians.

Over the next few chapters we are introduced to the Midsummer Players and learn all their unique traits and quirks

The first name on Dash’s bill of eclectic amateurs is the ensemble’s director Terrence Devlin, a conceited middle-aged lothario who thinks he’s Limerick’s answer to Lord Olivier. Then we meet Anna, Terrence’s long-suffering wife, a devoted mother and reluctant actress whose self-confidence and patience with her egotistical husband is wearing thin.

Next is Kate Pummel an ambitious young actress who is longing for the right break and will do anything she can to climb the showbiz ladder.

Then we meet Ingmar and Don a bickering gay couple who’ve performed with the troop for several seasons. Don is a monogamous doting partner who is fiercely jealous of his younger lover who happens to be a flirtatious German DJ who thumbs his nose at conventional relationships.

Followed by Diarmid Garrigan a socially awkward IT bod who first came into contact with the players as an audience member at one of their early outings. He was so impressed by their work that he came back repeatedly until Terrence made him a permanent member of the cast. But after working with the hapless band of lovies for years Diarmid’s enthusiasm is beginning to ebb.

The last two players whose acquaintances we make are Felix and his wife Nuala. Felix is an unassuming individual who is happily henpecked by his Amazonian cougar of a missus Nuala is a writer by trade who has found mild success releasing a long list of romance novels under numerous pseudonyms.

Everything is seemingly on-track for their first rehearsal of the year, but when they all arrive to find a certain Mr Chapman filling in for one of their regulars the whole thing unravels as quickly and amusingly as a ball of yarn in a kitten’s paws.

A Midsummer’s Bottom is a swiftly paced tongue-in-cheek romp packed with bawdy humour and fantastical charm that manages to simultaneously embrace and send-up Shakespearian tropes. Dash’s choice to construct the book’s narrative in acts and scenes as opposed to parts and chapters is fittingly clever and the fact that all the sequences set in Feyland are written as if they were extracts from a play, only enhances it’s theatrical flair. The characters with all their neurotic flamboyance wouldn’t look out of place in a Richard Curtis comedy and the ever-present thread of joyous eccentricity weaved throughout the plot would make Woody Allan proud. Dash has filled this tale with all the belly laughs and bust-ups you would expect from a comical summer read whilst still pulling off the kind of big reveals and surprising plot twists that have made him famous.

This is definitely not the sort of book readers would expect from the author under either of his pen names, and some of Dash/Shan’s diehard fans may be left discombobulated by the shift in tone, but in my personal view it was the unexpected nature of the novel that made it so enjoyable. A good many wordsmiths of Dash’s calibre wouldn’t be brave enough to risk experimenting in different genres and forever remain in the same lucrative literary sphere. But Dash’s refusal to play to the gallery and instead follow his imagination into fairyland proves the true extent of his creative range.                              


My Wonderful Aunt Shirl: A Tribute

Greetings dear reader, it is I, your humble hat-sporting blog-keeper, back at long last. Now you’re probably wondering why I’ve not posted anything on these virtual pages in over six months, and I don’t blame you for that. In truth 2018 has been a heartbreaking year for me because it is the year in which I lost my Great Aunt Shirley. My wonderful Aunt Shirl was a constant presence in my life and the fact that she’s no longer on this Earth still rocks me to my very core. She was a remarkable human being whose courage and strength never ceased to inspire me, especially in her long, brave fight against dementia which sadly took her from us. As easy as it would be for me to sit here and type at length about the colossal grief  my family and I feel following Aunt Shirl’s passing, the lady herself had little time for laments and she would much prefer me to focus on the good times and the immensely positive impact she made during her lifetime. So in celebration of my wonderful Aunt Shirl and everything she meant to me, here is the tribute I wrote for her funeral…  

My Great Aunt Shirley was one of a kind, an extraordinary lady who lived an extraordinary life, full of adversity and adventure, tragedy and triumph, love and laughter.

She was highly intelligent, outspoken, free-spirited witty and just a tad eccentric. A rosy-cheeked, bespectacled dynamo who cut a striking figure in her floral blouses, colourful cardies and iconic socks and sandals combo. Aunt Shirl may only have stood at a modest four-feet-ten and a half, but she was truly larger than life.

Aunt Shirl was a gloriously unique individual who made an impression on each and every person she met. I’m sure everyone here today has their own special memories of her… I know I certainly do.

Whenever I think of my wonderful Aunt Shirl a multitude of memories spring to mind, There were all the fun-filled Christmases she spent with the family on this side of the pond; laughing, joking, nattering and often singing as we pulled crackers and opened our pressies. Then there were the Sunday afternoons that we’d spend together. Every week without fail, Aunt Shirl would drive to our house straight from chapel to enjoy one of her beloved niece Julie dear’s famous roast dinners and cause some mischief with her Great Nephew.

Myself and Aunt Shirl were incredibly close and we shared a genuine bond for as long as I can remember. To say she was just my Great Aunt would be doing her an injustice; she was that and so much more.

She was a worldly-wise Auntie who would always be there for me, ready to dish out advice or tell me a story from her years of globetrotting.

She was a grandmother-figure who would play games and build jigsaws with me when she wasn’t cooking us her trademark Rogan Josh curry and other homemade treats.

She was a best mate who I could laugh with and chat to for hours on end.  Aunt Shirl and I both shared a caustic wit and the ability to talk the back legs off a donkey. Whether we were putting the world to rights over a cup of tea or watching our favourite sitcoms, I can guarantee we would be chuckling like drunken hyenas.

She was also a teacher who taught me everything she could about almost everything she knew. From the rich details of her cherished Christian Faith to the best and worst of world history, she filled my head with knowledge.

My wonderful Aunt Shirl passed a vast amount of her wisdom and interests onto me as I grew up, including her love of the written word.

Aunt Shirl was an avid reader and could often be found writing essays and short stories in her spare time, she’d taken a number of creative writing courses and would regularly come round to see me with a huge smile on her face and tell me yet another of her essays had been published in her favourite patriotic periodical ‘This England Magazine.’

I was always thrilled for Aunt Shirl whenever her musings saw print but I had no clue I’d inherited her creativity until I was 12.

It was during one of our long tea-fuelled conversations when I mentioned to Aunt Shirl that I’d had an idea for a story, but I could never write it down because of my then poor fine-motor skills. Aunt Shirl’s eyes lit up and she spoke a sentence that changed my life…

“That doesn’t matter George, dear. I’ll take it down in shorthand for you. I was a legal secretory, you know” She then pulled a notepad and pencil out of her handbag and my first short story was written within a couple of hours.

From that day on, writing became our thing. Aunt Shirl would come and sit with me every Friday afternoon, I would speak an entire story aloud and Aunt Shirl would write every word out in shorthand at lightening quick speed, before going home to type it up on her antique Amstrad word-processor

Over the next few years Aunt Shirl worked with me, week in and week out, teaching me the intricacies of English grammar, the complexities of language and the joy of storytelling, all whilst we had a great laugh.

My wonderful Aunt Shirl helped make me the writer I am today, but more than that she helped make me the man I am today.

Her teachings fuelled my brain; her wit influenced my sense of humour, her bravery bolstered my spirit, her encouragement and support empowered my heart, and her resilience taught me to never give up.

And for all that I will be eternally grateful.

Thank you for everything Aunt Shirley, my angel.

Lots of love,



A Chat with… Freddie E Williams II

In this instalment of A Chat with… I’m joined at Books, Films and Random Lunacy H.Q. by Eisner Award winning comic book artist Freddie E Williams II for a “Turtle-y Awesome” interview.

 GB: Hey Freddie, thanks for taking the time to have a chat with me today.

With the eagerly anticipated second volume just around the corner, what better place to start than with ‘Batman/TMNT’?

How cool is it to be teaming up with writer James Tynion IV again and heading back to Gotham City via NYC?

 FEWII: Super cool! I wish we could do this book forever! Both James and I are very excited to be able to return with volume 2, we had so much in mind from the last series, and it is great to explore several themes we couldn’t fit in the first time around! We’re both really excited and feel lucky we’re getting to do this sequel, and I hope there are 4 more sequels after this!

GB: Just between you, me and the Internet, are there any cool pizza-flavoured tid-bits you can share from ‘Batman/TMNT volume 2’?

 FEWII: There are fewer than the first volume, less pizza eating in this go around- if you go back in the Batman / TMNT volume 1, and pay attention to the Pizza “brands” I created, they are named after people working on the project with me:

TeeTee’s Pizza = My wife Kiki (who is my full time art assistant and business partner)

Pizza Wick = My awesome Editor Jim Chadwick, who hired me for the Batman / TMNT series

Pina’s Pizza= (at the time) the Associate Editor for Batman/TMNT

Pizza The Fourth = Series writer and awesome guy James Tynion

(In Volume 2, check out issue 3 for a pizza reference for Liz Erickson, the new Associate Editor for Batman / TMNT)

GB: Let’s wind the clock back to late 2015 when ‘Batman/TMNT volume 1’ was released. I, like countless other fanboys and fangirls across the globe was fit to burst with geeky glee when I read the heroes in a half shell would be teaming up with the caped crusader. I was expecting something nostalgic and pulpy, a shell-raising thrill-ride through Gotham City in the Batmobile. But the mini-series was so much more than that. As well as those fun, light-hearted elements, the story had a harder, gritty edge to it and a cinematic layout that made for a stunning visual narrative. 

Was it always your intention to give the book such atmospheric depth or was that something that happened organically as the book took shape?

 FEWII: First off, thank you, I appreciate that – my goal was to do the best I could do – to pour ALL I am artistically into Batman/TMNT. It was to connect with how much I love those original Eastman / Laird Turtles issues, and the grittiness of Gotham City, and the heavy atmospheres of Batman and his rogue’s gallery.

This was the first series I’ve illustrated in the laborious Ink Wash style, and it was a challenge to keep up that level of detail, especially compared to my previous much less detailed rendering styles, on books like Robin and the Flash but my love and passion for the characters kept me going, into the late morning deadlines. I just wanted it to be the best thing I’ve ever drawn.


GB: Another mini-series you’ve recently Illustrated is ‘He-Man/ThunderCats’. Could you tell us how that action-packed and unapologetically 80s crossover came about?

FEWII:  About the time I was wrapping up issue 5 of Batman/TMNT volume 1, I sent an email to my DC Editor’s asking if they had another project in the works with me in mind, then listed a few IP’s that I would love to work on. In that email I mentioned, if they were looking to do reboot of ThunderCats, or especially a crossover with He-Man and the ThunderCats, that I’d be VERY excited to be apart of it! I had no idea, but around that same time, DC was in talks with Mattel, about a possible crossover, and then it all clicked together – it’s hard for me to believe my luck – wow!


GB: With the huge popularity of ‘He-Man/ThunderCats’ and ‘Batman/TMNT’, you could easily be crowned the King of Crossovers at the moment. What in your opinion is the key to creating a good crossover title?   

FEWII: Am I the king of Crossovers? I’d love to be thought of with that title, that’d be awesome!

On the visual side, I think it’s being really passionate about the characters, treat them with respect and think back to what you would have wanted to see when you were a kid, try to tap into that, and it’s a great guide for what may be cool! 🙂

Something to note here is that I usually pride myself on keeping characters “on model” and checking reference to be sure costume details are correct. I’m usually successful at that, but a HUGE exception, where I screwed up, is at the end of ‘HeMan/ThunderCats’, issue 1, on the final page, I referenced the WRONG version of the Ancient Spirits of Evil, drawing the 2011 versions, instead of the classic cartoon Ancient Spirits of Evil! Do’h, totally my mistake! We fixed it in the second printing of issue1, and for the collected trade paperback, but I feel like a dork for messing that up!

GB: No worries dude, I’m sure everyone’s forgiven you. 🙂


 GB: Another comic book you’ve worked on recently was ‘Jonas Quantum,’ a series written by Marc Guggenheim who also has a not-so-secret identity as a TV producer/screenwriter It’s documented that the character of Jonas was Marc’s brainchild, but how much input did you have on the book in regard to world building and plot.

FEWII:  Jonas Quantum is the only creator owned book I’ve worked on in more than 10 years, and collaborating with Marc is fantastic, he’s got high concepts flying around all over the place and very open to suggestions / input! My main contributions are visual, which was a lot of fun Kirby kind of gadgets, big fight scenes, and trying to visualize the abstract and fantastic ideas Marc would come up with.

Unfortunately Jonas Quantum got completely overshadowed by the announcement of Batman/TMNT, so not many people have gotten a chance to read it, but I had a great time working with Marc, and would love to do so again!


GB: Let’s talk about your How-To book, ‘The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics,’ could you tell us how that project was conceived and your writing process for it?

FEWII: Before I even broke in at DC Comics (which was late 2005) I was putting together the pitch / how to project, that would later become “The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics”. Originally I was going to pitch the book to publishers (along with Adobe) myself, just to gauge interest. Then in mid 2006, when DC Comics offered me an exclusive contract, it prompted me to ask about the how to pitch. I was asking if I would be free to publish that work with another publisher – or if that would somehow be blocked by the exclusive. They are different kinds of work, drawing comics vs writing a how to book, but there would be comic book art in the how to book, which is an uncomfortable overlap, and I didn’t want there to be a conflict.

When I brought this up, the legal guy at DC, said “why don’t we publish it here?” And that hadn’t even occurred to me! Of course I had several of their how to books already, and they are great, so I was happy for mine to be apart of that family of books!

I showed them the pitch, and travelled to New York (where DC Comics was located at the time) to give them a demonstration. All of that went well, and the book got a green light.

I was really lucky to have John Morgan as my editor on The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics, he was a HUGE help focusing the book, and giving it a more ordered formatting. We’re still friends all these years later!


GB: People can quite often accuse artists like yourself who mainly draw digitally of cheating, just because they don’t create all their work with pen and paper, but nobody ever seems to accuse authors of the same when they write their novels using computers instead of quill and ink. What are your thoughts on this debate?

FEWII: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I’m cool with people thinking what they think.


GB: One of your first big breaks in mainstream comics came in 2005, when you began illustrating ‘Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle’ written by Grant Morrison. Were you nervous about working with such an iconic writer so early in your career with DC or could you not wait to sink your teeth into the opportunity?

FEWII: Whoooo boy, was I ever nervous! Everything about it made me nervous, my first work at DC Comics, the tight deadline: I had 3 weeks to draw 30 pages (6 pages in issue 2, 24 pages of issue 3), though in a much simpler style… I was working at Hallmark Cards full time, it was during the holidays, and I was working from a script by the legendary Grant Morrison, I was a wreck! I’m glad I was working with the amazing colorist Dave McCaig, he really saved me on those pages!


GB: You’ve worked for both Marvel and DC on many projects over the years, are there any major differences between how the two comics leviathans operate creatively?

FEWII: The vast majority of the working relationship comes down to how the Editor operates, no matter the company. I’ve been really lucky to work with amazing Editors, Peter Tomasi (before he became a writing juggernaut), Mike Carlin, Joan Hilty, Mike Marts, Jim Chadwick, just to name a few. All create unique work environments, I owe my career to all of them.

Because I’ve always been very deadline focused and I stay in contact with the team frequently, and I understand the chain of command, where I will give input and try for what I think is the best creative choice, but I understand they have ultimate say in all matters, my Editorial experiences are healthy and friendly.


GB: You’re an award-winning artist, an adept world-builder and we know from your How-To book that you’re also a skilled author. Do you have any plans to start scripting comics in the future?

FEWII: I’ve written a couple short stories, but I don’t know if I have the chops to script a full series or an on-going – I bury myself in the construction of the motivations of the characters, and make things to big for myself… I think I’m pretty good at co-plotting with other writers, and good at picking things apart and contributing to pacing, and I enjoy those things, so I think I’ll stick with that for now.


GB: Do you have any other creative ambitions that you are yet to explore either inside or outside of the comics industry?

FEWII: All I’ve ever wanted to do is draw comic books. Occasionally it’s fun to see my work on a shirt, or a Blu Ray cover, or on a poster or something like that – but I just want to draw comics for the rest of my life. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.


Batman/TMNT 2 issue #1 is out on 6 December and issue #2 is released two weeks later on 20 December.

 Follow Freddie on social media…

 Twitter: @Freddieart

Instagram: Freddieart

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FreddieArt


A Comic Book Review: Future Echoes Omnibus by Al Davison & Yen Quach

*Contains mild spoilers*

Future Echoes is the new 3 issue mini series by Al Davison and Yen Quach that tells the story of a sceptical professor who is left questioning his beliefs, his senses and the boundaries of reality itself when he enters a suspected haunted house.

The first issue of Future Echoes introduces the reader to Harlan Woodbine, a straight-talking pragmatic professor who happens to use a wheelchair. We first meet Harlan when the contractors renovating an old mansion that once belonged to renowned artist Mortimer-Samson Vine suddenly down tools and report paranormal goings-on. Harlan and his high-tech team of scientists are urgently called upon and head to Paris to investigate.

Harlan is a fiercely logical and highly educated man who has no time for tales of things that go bump in the night and is determined to find a rational explanation for the claims.

So with the use of sophisticated technology and some mobility-aiding mod cons, Harlan moves in to the archaic building overnight to conduct numerous tests and analyses. But when a brutal thunderstorm throws his world into turmoil and a pretty young lady appears before his eyes, Harlan realises this case may not be as clear-cut as he once thought.

In the opening panels of issue two the reader sees a flabbergasted Harlan get to know his fiery new housemate; a beautiful, paralysed redhead named Amelia Stone. Harlan is forced to re-assess everything he believes, as Amelia states she is being held prisoner within the walls of the mansion in the year of our Lord 1895. The pages turn and the pair of confused companions debate each others existences, their sanities and the very nature of time as untold revelations come to the fore.

The third and final chapter of the tale is an enthralling roller-coaster ride that sees backstories filled in, plotlines tied up and dimensions hopped before culminating in a twist that would leave even the most deductive reader’s mouth agape.

Al Davison and Yen Quach’s mini series is a tale overflowing with creative innovation from its composition to its narrative structure and is nigh impossible to fault.

The inspired decision for Davison to draw the male characters and Quach to illustrate the female characters gives these comics a truly unique look. The varied and contrasting styles the two creators utilise across the 3 issues somehow never seem to clash and achieve many nuanced page layouts.

Their choice to share the writing duties was equally effective and gave the dialogue an organic flow.

However, the true innovation of this story is most apparent in its protagonists. Two characters with disabilities who haven’t simply been added to the plot for a bit of token diversity or tear-jerking tragedy, they are three-dimensional creations upon whom the entire story pivots. It is a perfect example of the kind of inclusive, multifaceted work that needs to be seen across other mediums and the powers-that-be within those mediums should wake up and take note.

Future Echoes is a time-twisting, genre-bending tale of limit-defying romance that is like nothing else found in comics today.





As Cool as ICE: My Thoughts on The International Comic Expo 2017

Ever since I first opened the pages of Moore and Gibbons’ classic Watchmen and fell headfirst into the intoxicatingly creative anarchically unique world of comic books I’ve been fortunate enough to attend countless cons. But for some reason known only to the pop-cultural gods, I’d never made it to the gloriously geeky extravaganza known as the International Comic Expo. However that all changed on Saturday 9th September when I made my way into Birmingham for ICE 2017.

I rolled into the convention rooms with a smile on my face and my big hat atop my head; wasting no time I zoomed down the isles to where the rows upon rows of indie creators were sitting behind tables selling their passionately crafted wares. The first talented individual whose work caught my eye was Dublin-based writer and artist Anthea West. I picked up a copy of her spine-chilling and perfectly paced horror anthology Sleep Tight, as well as a beautifully rendered print. Take it from me, if Anthea’s creations are anything to go by, Ireland’s independent comics scene is strong indeed.

I then turned the corner and had the pleasure of meeting Steve Poulacheris, co-creator of the wonderfully psychedelic Vanilla Magazine. I was drawn over to the table by the magazine’s main feature, an interview with iconic writer and Northampton’s foremost magician Alan Moore. But after a quick glance through it’s pages, I realised that was just one of the many jewels to be found in Vanilla.

 I snatched up my copy and spent the following afternoon relishing every page. It was bursting at the margins with exquisitely crafted comic strips, articles, interviews and artwork; all of which was produced by Steve, his co-creator Andy Williams (who I met and chatted with later that day) and their talented band of counter-cultural cohorts. A great mag that would leave anyone with a penchant for psychedelia hungry for more.


From there I made my way over to the signing table of Freddie E Williams II, the internationally acclaimed comic artist who has illustrated such titles as He-Man/Thundercats, Legendary Star-Lord and my personal favourite miniseries of 2016, Batman/TMNT.

Meeting Freddie was a true thrill, above the hubbub of the con we talked about the Turtles and some of their best incarnations as he signed my copies of Batman/TMNT. I tried not to geek-out too badly whilst telling him how much his work inspires me and he was even kind enough to give me an incredible print of Leo, Raph, Mikey and Donnie fending off the Foot Clan.

Oh yeah, and we also discussed another outlandishly cool thing that I look forward to telling you all more about in the very near future.


Another highlight of the event was checking out The Geek Syndicate’s panel featuring the co-creator of The Walking Dead and current Comic Book Laureate Charlie Adlard, co-founder of Time Bomb Comics and veteran writer Steve Tanner, emerging indie talent Jane Straw and author and artist of Elsie Harris Picture Palace, Jessica Martin. Barry and Dave filled the room with their trademark blend of nerdy knowledge and unbridled hilarity as they and their guests presented a S.W.O.T (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) Analysis of the British comic book scene.

They covered countless topics over the course of their talk, from the ghettoisation of comic shops and the lack of mainstream advertising, to the reasons why the UK is yet to embrace this particular art form in the same way that Europe has. They then asked why the powers-that-be in comic publishing and retail don’t stock titles by genre and how much easier life would be if they did. But the funniest moment of the talk came when Charlie Adlard went into a rib-tickling rant about Hollywood stripping our favourite superheroes of all their tongue-in-cheek charm and turning them into stone-faced sticks-in-the-mud.

This marvellous convention also gave me the chance to catch up with and meet some mates including artist, writer and renowned hat-grabber Al ‘The Astral Gypsy’ Davison who made my mom’s day with a fantastical watercolour. I finally got the chance to meet The PxD himself, Pete Davis and chat about his amazing artwork on The Axeman Cometh. I also swung by my ol’ pal Stu Perrins’ table to see what was new in his extraordinary imagination,  and of course, I couldn’t help but check in with the ever-energetic reporter Olly MacNamee. After Olly and I refuelled with some snacks, he introduced me to Joel Meadows of Tripwire Magazine. I’ve admired Tripwire’s array of creative content for years and it was great to meet and glean some inspiration from one of the brains behind the remarkable mag.

I could write all day about the fun I had that fine Saturday in Birmingham, but I’ll sum it up with a simple statement…

There ain’t many comic cons as cool as ICE.