As of today a new section to Beyond the Bunker is starting. While Moon, Fallen Heroes, Unseen Shadows and all other projects will continue unabated I am now going to try to get started as a freelance artist full time. Beyond the button above is the portfolio section of Beyond the Bunker with a list of all the projects I’ve been involved in recently and examples of my work. It still has a few updates needed which will be taking place over the next few weeks. If, say, you’d like a commission contact me at Steve.penfold.artist@gmail.com.

In the mean time – hope to see you at Comicon this weekend!!

Cheers!
Steve P

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New Unseen Shadows Project in the Works

Morning everyone,

Those of you who follow me on twitter will know that I’ve been having a bit of a moan lately about how as a writer you’re never allowed to talk about the stuff you’re working on. It’s a one of the drawbacks of being at the very start of what is always a very long creative process but there are very good reasons for it. Many projects that get started go nowhere and if I went around every script that I started work on then you’d come to believe that we have an upcoming catalogue comparable to Marvel. 90% the stuff I start writing goes in the bin or goes back into the closet to be brought out at a later date and until one of those ephemeral ideas begins to coalesce into something more substantial, I don’t see any benefit in talking about it publicly.

Which is all a rather round about way of saying that I probably have another new comic coming out later this year. Since Christmas I’ve been working on a new Unseen Shadows one shot for the follow up anthology to Tales of the Fallen (available from all good stockists and this one) and it looks like it’s far enough along that you can all know about it now. The script went off to Unseen Shadows editor, Barry Nugent, last week and, pending a few edits we should be looking for an art team in the near future.

The comic itself is not a direct follow up to last year’s Band of Butchers but rather will feature a tale about Unseen Shadows’ front man, Napoleon Stone chasing down his old mentor in a story of friendship, betrayal and big fights in exotic locations. It’s been a real thrill to get a crack at writing one of the Unseen Shadows A-listers and, as always, Barry has proven to be a very fine editor indeed. The man knows his universe but he’s not afraid to let others play in it, the perfect combination to my mind.

I’m now going to go back to doing that annoying “not talking about the project” thing as we need to secure the rest of the dream team that will bring this book together. As soon as I know more about stuff like release dates etc, I promise that I shall let you know. For now be content to know that if you dug Tales of the Fallen then you will be smiling even more by the end of 2012.

Take care,

D
x

(I’m also working on a film project right now…but I can’t talk about that.)

Geek Planet Online Reviews Tales of the Fallen

We’ve been pretty quiet on the Unseen Shadows front since the release of Tales of the Fallen last November. There’s still plenty going on at the publisher and we are most certainly involved in some of it, but it’s mostly stuff we’re not allowed to talk about just yet. Still, Tales of the Fallen is still out there and seems to be gradually winning more and more fans. Geek Planet Online ran an excellent review of the book this week and I thought I’d share a link to it here. If you’re thinking about picking up the book, this review gives you a nice overview of what to expect. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“The book as a whole achieves its mission of telling good stories for newcomers while offering background to long term fans. People going in cold should find enough to entice them to seek out Fallen Heroes. It will be interesting to see what else comes from the Unseen Shadows stable in the future.”

 

 

You can read the full review HERE and if it tickles your fancy you can pick up a copy of Tales of the Fallen (or digital copies of the work we contributed to it) from the BTB Store

Practitioners 47: Alan Moore (Part 4)

The turn of the Millennium was fast approaching – something that would perk up the most sallow mind – and Alan Moore’s is nothing if not finely attuned to the ebbs and flow of the world around him, though perhaps unconcerned with the date itself. His is a mind that, when presented with a milestone in time and history he looks backward for another, using the existing build to a momentous date to gain insight into a period in history similar to one he found himself in. But who to populate this book? For a literary man there could be a myriad of choices. From those choices was formed the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The story of the League sees H. Rider Haggard’s elderly and Heroin addled Allan Quartermain, H.G. Well’s malevolent and uncontrollable Invisible Man, an aggressive, xenophobic but ultimately honourable Captain Nemo of Jule’s Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the puny and bestial duality of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde brought together in the name of England by the haunted Wilhemina Murray now some years after her ordeal in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. All this at the behest of the porcine Government liaison ‘M’ (a certain Mycroft Holmes, survivor of his more famous brother). Together, drawn by the incomparable Kevin O’ Neill, the League dealt with threats as easily found in successful literature as themselves, though of course at all times unaware.

A satisfying, bounding, rambunctious rendition of old tales renewed called on almost all of Moore’s previous experience – drawing on his love of classic science fiction, withering horror, humour and unapologetic and resonant sexuality threaded seamlessly through the politics and society of the period. All presented with cartoonish glee reminiscent of Rupert Bear (who makes an appearance as a sexually aggressive experiment of Dr Moreau, who for the benefit of ease is now working out of the English Woodland) or Victorian funnies.

The first volume of the series pitted the League against Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes books; the second, against the Martians from The War of the Worlds. A third volume entitled The Black Dossier was set in the 1950s. The series was well received, and Moore was pleased that an American audience was enjoying something he considered “perversely English”, and that it was inspiring some readers to get interested in Victorian literature. Moore has always undervalued his influence. His writing has represented for a great many years a bridge across which readers of otherwise unassociated literature could cross to others.

Kim Jong Il might have declared himself Priminister of Sweden that year or Arnold Schwarzennegger a governor of California because somehow the most reknowned English comic book writer had just started a company named America’s Best Comics.

His relationship with Jim Lee had seen him agree to create an imprint within Lee’s Wildstorm company shortly before it was sold to DC. Lee and Editor Scott Dunbier flew to England specifically to reassure Moore that the sale to DC Moore had experienced before his pilgrimage into independent comics would not affect him and would not have to deal with DC directly. Moore, had already begun lining up a series of artists and writers to assist him in the venture, decided that there were too many people involved to back out now – and America’s Best Comics were born to two English creatives and a story about uniquely English characters at the height of the British Empire.

Other than League, titles such as Tom Strong, Top 10 and Promethea – all writen by Moore – covered the gamut of Moore’s interests and fascinations, supported by some of the finest artists in the business. Tom Strong, drawn by Chris Sprouse, is a post-modern superhero series, inspired by characters predating DC’s Superman was reminiscent of Moore’s work on Supreme but according to Lance Parkin was ‘more subtle’ and ABC’s most accessible comic,’ while his unnatural, drug induced longevity allowed Moore to enjoy enjoying commentary on the history of comics and pulp fiction.

Top 10, a cop procedural comedy, in a fantasy city named Neopolis in which all have super powers, costumes and secret identities was drawn by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon , spawning four spin-offs (partially written by both Cannon and Ha); including two sequel mini-series, Top 10: Beyond the Farthest Precinct, written by Paul Di Fillipo and drawn by industry legend Jerry Ordway.

Promethea allowed Moore to set the record straight, determined that his tale of a teenage girl, Sophie Bangs, who is possessed by an ancient pagan goddess, the titular Promethea, would not portray it’s central world of occultism ‘as a dark, scary place’ as that was not his experience of it. Drawn by the monumentally talented J.H.Williams, it has been described as ‘a personal statement’ from Moore, being one of his most personal works, and that it encompasses “a belief system, a personal cosmology.”

However, perhaps inevitably, despite the assurances that DC Comics would not interfere with Moore and his work, they subsequently did so, angering him. In League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #5, an authentic vintage advertisement for a “Marvel”-brand douche caused DC executive Paul Levitz to order the entire print run destroyed and reprinted with the advertisement amended to “Amaze”, to avoid friction with DC’s competitor Marvel Comics. A Cobweb story Moore wrote for Tomorrow Stories No. 8 (part of an Anthology featuring further characters Cobweb, First American, Grey Shirt,Jack B. Quick and Splash Brannigan) featuring references to L. Ron Hubbard, American occultist Jack Parsons, and the “Babalon Working”, was blocked by DC Comics due to the subject matter. Ironically, it was later revealed that they had already published a version of the same event in their Paradox Press volume The Big Book of Conspiracies.

DC had once again interfered in his work and Moore and with his runs on ABC titles coming to an end, he decided once again to step out of the industry, remarking to Bill Baker in 2005 “I love the comics medium. I pretty much detest the comics industry. Give it another 15 months, I’ll probably be pulling out of mainstream, commercial comics.”

Frank Quitely's portrait of Mr Alan Moore

A powerhouse and a much needed revolutionary and inspirational force was again lost to the mainstream. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen continues still now with Century, a three part saga, of which two are now available (one of which advertised in Fallen Heroes 1 which I was proud enough to be a part of).

In January 2011, the forth and final issue of Neonomicon was released by Avatar Press. Set in the H.P. Lovecraft universe it is, as it’s predecessor and prequel The Courtyard was, drawn by Jacen Burrows.

But in 2010, true to form, and after a lifetime of bucking the system and creating his own, he formed ‘the first 21st Century’s underground magazine’ titled Dodgem Logic, utilising Northampton based artists and authors, as well as original contributions from Moore.

Future projects are The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic, written with Steve Moore and earmarked for release with Top Shelf in ‘the future.’ Otherwise, the easily recognisable cultural figure of Alan Moore can be found at numerous musical events, including a forthcoming appearance with guitarist Stephen O’ Malley confirmed for the ATP ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ music festival in London. Alternatively, he can be found bare chested in the Simpsons episode from 2007 ‘Husband’s and Knives’ which was aired on his 59th Birthday.

While you can apply many titles to Moore his reason for everyone being aware of him is because he is a writer. His recognisable appearance would have gained him nothing if not for the attractiveness of his words. Familiar sounds applied to unfamiliar environments, Moore’s is a voice that spits gravel but reaches the reader as blossom. Moore understood the potential of any medium to portray palpable ideas and failed to recognise the limitations artificially applied by so many other writers in the business. Where the most successful commercial writers rise and fall with the last big ‘event’ nowadays, Moore will outlast them. Moore’s writing was never based on sensationalism or the direction of a company – no matter how well intentioned. Moore’s stories are built on ideas and those last forever – no matter how they are received or sent out to the public.

Moore’s increased distancing from film adaptations of his work bely one very clear principle. His were personal projects, created with one or two others at a time. No recreation worth millions of dollars will ever compare to the thrill of reading a Moore penned panel on a Moore planned page. It was in the man, in the moment of creation that what has inspired and intoxicated so many with ideas over the years was formed. With every passing day the sentiment that placed it on the page chills, such is the immediacy and personality of a Moore script. Had it been written a day after you sense it would have been written differently, the idea formed slightly differently by an absorbed piece of prose or a remembered or realised politic. When you read a Moore panel it is the thought of a great man, crystallised and still. All you get from it is a momentary glance at the whirring cogs in the great atomic clockwork mind of Moore and even in that momentary encounter with it – there is enough wonder and intrigue to fuel 100,000 more books.

If you doubt this you only need to look at Moore’s run on the Green Lantern Corps series, short storiesdetailing a corps made up of thousands of disparate and incredible beings from a thousand different worlds. But one Green Lantern, created by Moore, doesn’t socialise. In a short story named ‘Mogo Doesn’t Socialise’, a hardened bounty hunter arrives on a partially forested planet looking for the mighty Green Lantern Mogo. In true Future Shock style, he wanders about the planet for years, determinedly hunting for his quarry, mapping the banded tree line as he goes. It’s not until his search is almost complete that he realises his mistake. The Green Lantern he is looking for is not on this planet. The Green Lantern in question is the planet. Moore is Mogo, a constant presence drifting in the dark, his influence felt among every member of his fraternity.


Moon 2 colour tests

This week a look at the background work going on on Moon 2. There is a considerable amount of back and forth between the art department (read: Myself and Ivanna Matilla) about how to approach each scene with possible outcomes having to be balanced between what the story asks for, what we’re trying to achieve and bottom line; what looks cool. Continuing the palette from Moon 1 of course but the situation has worsened considerably for our adventurers. How do you colour that.

Iv is an incredibly reactive and quick colourist and rather than stooping to conquer, she stoops to colour and we’re eternally grateful for her input on this project. She certainly keeps me on my toes to the point where to question anything she does feels highly presumptive and frankly stepping above my station. Not because of her of course. She’s an upbeat delight. However, her sheer talent is enough to keep us on our toes.

The marking hasn’t gone on this one though. Any doubt is swiftly queried with the sure hand of a teacher (as you’d expect from Iv as an English teacher just outside Buenos Aires). On my Iphone, I keep the digital clocks for Buenos Aires and Cape Town (to keep track of things when I’m working with Fallen Heroes / Tales of the Fallen colourist Gat Melvyn) and although Buenos Aires is two hours behind, Ivanna Matilla is years ahead of the rest of us.

A genuine pleasure to work with.

Last Chance to Pre-Order Tales of the Fallen

Tomorrow morning Steve and I will be off to join several other members the Unseen Shadows team at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds. This means that you have just a day or so left to pre-order your copy of Tales of the Fallen.

 

Tales of the Fallen is a collection of 4 comics by some of the hottest creators in UK (and Irish and South African) comics. A tour de force of action adventure, it tells the stories of 4 characters from Barry Nugent’s hit novel/comic/audio-drama/web-series Unseen Shadows. It also features tonnes of bonus material, including an introduction by TV’s Jonathan Ross!

They are murderers, martyrs and mercenaries in the no-man’s-land between adventure and crusade – soldiers of fate and fierce honour, bound together in mystery, darkness and blood. Their enemies are shadows haunting the outermost borders of a darkening world, and as night approaches the shadows grow long.

They are the Fallen, and these are their stories.

The book will almost certainly sell out over the weekend (the level of interest already has been crazy) and so unless you want to wait for a second printing, you need to get over to the Unseen Shadows website and pre-order the copy right now! In return you will not only be one of the first to read the book but you will also get it for the special price of just £8.50 and you get a free digital version of the book thrown in too!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

If you’re going to Thought Bubble, be sure to check out the Unseen Shadows panel on Sunday for a behind the scenes look at how Tales of the Fallen came about and where it’s all going next.

See you at Thought Bubble!

D

x

Fallen Heroes 2 Ready to Go!

Fallen Heroes 2 has been completed is currently going to print. The hope is that it will be resting alongside the larger Unseen Shadows graphic novel at Thoughtbubble but we cannot confirm that at this stage as the book is so close to the date in question. We have no doubt that Stu at Ukomics is doing everything he can to make sure visitors at Leeds get to have a look at the new edition.

Featuring Ben ‘The Hand’ Ashodi and Stephanie Connisbee from the previous issue (and the Tales of the Fallen Graphic novel) as well as introducing some pivotal characters and developments to the FH canon, it’s been put together by Barry Nugent (writer of the original novel and general demagogue), Martin Conaghan (writer and calm voice of reason), Steve Penfold (me, on pencils and inks), Gat Melvyn (colours, seamlessly professional) and Paul Mclaren (lettering and diligent communicator).

Fallen Heroes Page 3 Preview

Work continues apace on the central title of the Unseen Shadows Universe, currently building to a massive crescendo thanks to the tireless promotion of Barry Nugent of Geek Syndicate who created the book itself. With the Tales of the Fallen, Moon and Fallen Heroes 2 coming out in the next two months its all hands to the pumps at Bunker towers but we’re confident all will be complete.

Reverend: Wrath of God page 2 Preview

Welcome folks. Please find attached one more art and colour sample of Cy Dethan’s version of Barry Nugent’s Unseen Shadows character, The Reverend which I’ve been working on for a few weeks now. Almost every page is finished now and on its way to be coloured by the irepresable Gat Melvyn of SA. The collected work of the five Fallen Heroes titles, Tales of the Fallen, will be available at Thought Bubble in Leeds in November.

Fallen Heroes 2, Page 2: Full Preview

Page 2 of the upcoming second issue of Fallen Heroes, due to be released at Thought Bubble in November. Work continues apace on the collected edition of Unseen Shadows, featuring 5 of its central characters (Ben Ashodi (The Hand), Clancy Wallencheck, Napoleon Stone, Stephanie Connisbee) in one shot stories in one tome. Featuring work from Dan Thompson, Pete Rogers, Richard Clements, Cy Dethan, Corey Brotherson, Roy Huteson Stewart, Rob Carey, Conor Boyle, Cormac Hughes, Gat Melvyn, Vicky Stonebridge, Paul Mclaren, Nic Wilkinson and myself (Steve Penfold).

Check out www.Unseenshadows.com for more deets.