KICKSTARTER ANNOUNCEMENT

TOMORROW, which in this timeless digital world accounts to 28/05/19, at 15:00 GMT the Funk Soul Samurai kickstarter will go live around the world. This campaign is not just to put to print the new issue of Funk Soul Samurai, but also to get a shiny new special edition put together that features parts 1 and 2 in a perfect bound A4 book. So let me tell you a little bit about why I think it’d be great for you to contribute some money to the project, and what it means to me.

Funk Soul Samurai 1 came out a few years back. I was putting it together at the same time as 50Signal 2, as an exercise in getting some stuff out of my system. 50Signal allows for some great stuff, but its character is basically a slovenly potato being, they don’t do much physically beyond walk around and fly a space ship. But part of me constantly wants to do the book where everyone does back flips, gets into wicked mad sword fights and stuff explodes. Funk Soul Samurai was born from my want to create something where exactly that happens. Nothing really explodes in issue 1 so I have made up for it in the second story.

The main character, the titular Samurai, is heavily based on the design ideals of Jet Set Radio Future, a game I played on the Xbox was a youngster that featured amazingly designed characters skating about future Tokyo resisting tyrannical police rule. I drew the character for the first time whilst very drunk watching Glastonbury on TV. I can’t find the drawing as its been lost to the annals of time, but I remember drawing this hoodie wearing guy with a huge nose (not unlike the space-guy from 50Signal’s) poking over the top of this stripy scarf, equipped with a sword and a wallet chain hanging loft his belt. It’s not a great drawing, but the idea of sealing down the pizazz and kinetic energy of Jet Set Radio into a comic book would be beautiful. When I needed something to doodle to keep my head from melting, I turned to a revamped version of this character and put him out there fighting mutants.

The title Funk Soul Samurai is a butchering of the song title Sweet Soul Brother from Jet Set Radio’s Soundtrack.

I made the comic up as I went along, and just worked out what should happen next on a moment by moment basis. I didn’t know there’d be a giant squid monster in it until the moment I needed it to turn up. I approach every page with an idea of my end goal, but how I get to that I formulate on the fly. It’s an antidote to the heavily scripted stuff I do elsewhere. Funk Soul Samurai’s new edition is no different. I wanted to respond to the criticism that FSS1 lacked plot, as its effectively one long fight sequence, by having FSS2 have more of a drive. A reason why the violence is taking place. So I knew exactly what should happen in FSS2 but I left it open to how its going to happen. Moments of inspiration just came to me as I went through, ideas pieced together over time rather than in the writing process, so I can do something like last minute decide to add a GIANT MISFIRING LASER into the mix and just draw it happening.

I am hesitant to call the latest issue Funk Soul Samurai 2 because its not really a sequel. I mean it is, because the prize milkshake from issue 1 turns up in issue 2, but if you’ve not read the original, you will still have everything you need to enjoy the new one. It’s just a simple tale of a Samurai with a skateboard freeing a town from the grip of a totalitarian military force.

With giant robots.

And a Giant Laser.

And a Fist fight in a jazz bar.

And a nuclear Air Strike.

And a Chainsaw fight.

I wanted to up the ante on this and really deliver an action spectacular. For the Kickstarter I made up names for the issues rather than number them, so issue 1 is FUNK SOUL SAMURAI: RAMPAGE OF THE UNCHAINED APPETITE, and issue 2 is FUNK SOUL SAMURAI: EMERGENCE OF THE CONTINUING PUNCH or something to that effect. I think that is right. If it isn’t Bash is going to slap me about. EMERGENCE OF THE CONTINUING PUNCH is a wild ride, and features art I am really proud of, and nunchaku.

Partial inspiration there from Ninja Gaiden, and also Brandon Graham’s King City.

For me, Funk Soul Samurai is a celebration of all the stuff I enjoy about animated violence and Saturday Morning cartoons. Things like SWAT CATS that I loved as a kid, but also things like (believe it or not) Blade of the Immortals. I described it to someone as John Wick if it was a Dreamcast game, because to me that’s what it is, and the fact that people dig this strangely drawn, rough and ready bout of self expression is endlessly encouraging to me. It’s a hard sell to tell a weird story in a weird way, and people backing are taking a risk on me to deliver something mental.

Someone once told me that in my comics work I want to be both in front of and behind the waterfall, and if I try that I’ll just stay under it getting crushed; as in I want to both be a Grant Morrison style thought provoking philosophy wizard, and also a cartoonish nut bag, and trying to be both things will lead to my destruction. To that I say:

Diogenes once said “there is only a fingers difference between a wiseman and a fool”

*fart noise*

*Slide Whistle*

So, the kickstarter will carry some prints from great artists whom we will reveal in time. There will be commissions from myself, and stickers. But to me the big draw in the comic itself, which will be either a 32 page A5 booklet, or a 52 page A4 special edition. The Special edition is my hot tip for you. It allows the artwork to be show at a larger size which gives it room to be absorbed, but also, has a special cover yet to be revealed.

At the end of the day this project rests on your pledge, and without it it doesn’t exist. Simple as that, if we don’t hit the goal this never happens. So please, I beseech you, pledge something, anything to this labour of love. Let me show you what I can do, and for your money you’ll get a cool thing and I’ll get to make more of this crazy stuff. The more we get in our first few hours, the more attention we will get, and the more people will see the project, and hopefully it will snowball into something huge and amazing, and have stretch goals and stuff.

If I get enough money I’ll try and make it a hardback book.

Even my Metaphors are Suspicious

So here’s a fun thing:


I found a website that extracts your most listened to songs from Spotify, and, as far as I can tell, the “Long Term” option means most listened to since you got Spotify. Its more likely that it means Spotify in it’s current form, because I’ve had it since it was in Beta and Spotify Premium meant that you could listen to the Tron: Legacy Soundtrack. Paper Planes by M.I.A. was very big back then.

I promise this is not going to be an “old man on the internet” post.

Any-who, if you wanted a proper look at a list of music I listen to, without my trying to impress you or stun you with something that you probably wouldn’t have heard of, well its up there.

The only acceptable violence against pigs

Its been a long long time since I wrote one of these. At least it feels like it. Remember the vampire-Keanu-Reeves-exploding-bus-2019-analogy that I did last time. Its only feeling more and more on the nose. Since I wrote my last blog post I completed my Wah-Wah Records zine, attended MCM Birmingham and Swansea Comic and Gaming Con, and have almost completed the inks for Funk Soul Samurai 2. The Wah-Wah zine was something I proposed to Alan Nutton, who runs the store, because he wanted to do something special for the 5th Birthday. Working on a project for someone who is passionate about what they do is infectious. I was proud of the end result, and the 100 copies are all gone now. Its the quickest I have ever had anything sell out. In 48 hours they were all gone. People kept posting pictures of theirs next to their record collections on Alan’s Facebook so I might have to harvest some and make a gallery.

The DREAM TEAM

Comic Cons are strange things. You can go to a 100 different ones, and they will all be different. Birmingham was very quiet considering the huge number of people who were attending. The Comic Village was tucked off in a corner and it was so light on the ground there were a few quiet hours where I wished I brought a book. I met a few people that were very passionate about comics, and I am thankful to everyone who stopped by and said “Hi”. I did manage to make a Funk Soul Samurai fan of Geof Darrow, who has been a hero of mine since I read Hard Boiled at TOO YOUNG TO READ THAT THING. He gave me a pull quote for issue 2, and is excited to get his copy in the mail.

Swansea on the other hand did not have the millions of fans queuing for years to get in, but it did have an endless volume of people who were really into comics. Everyone who stopped by was engaged and proud to be a massive geek, and it was one of the best conventions I have ever been to. If every comic con could have the same sort of focus and atmosphere as Swansea Comic and Gaming Con then the industry would be a much better place.

I am sad to say that at time of writing I am unlikely to be attending Thought Bubble 2019. Whilst I was very excited to be a part of it at its new home in Harrogate, I didn’t make it through the curation process and am on a wait list for a table. Considering the volume of people who applied and the sheer volume of amazing talent in the British comic community, I’m probably going to be absent this year.

When you are rejected from something, or get that email telling you that the writer has gone with another artist, or that you’re screenplay for Sharknado 12: Shark Pope has not been optioned by Syfy, its hard not to take it personally. I have to say that getting the news that I’m not going to be a part of my favorite convention hit me pretty hard. I questioned whether I was any good at comics, because I processed it as a judgement of me as an individual, as a creator. Which of course it isn’t. I know my output hasn’t been that huge recently, and I haven’t put out a new title in an age. I have plans for them, but a plan is just a plan until you make it. The advice I have is to fail upwards. To use rejection as a springboard for further success. I didn’t get in this year, however I am going to give it my all to make sure that I will do next year. I’m going to keep on making stuff as best I can because that is what I do.

The best punch

With that in mind, I am 5 pages away from finishing Funk Soul Samurai’s inks, if it doesn’t need anything additional. Writing Funk Soul Samurai is very different to traditional scripting, as I have an idea for what it is that needs to happen, and then I make it up as I draw it. The layouts and the action sequences happen as they need to in the environment that the story unfolds in. For example, in one scene the Samurai is surrounded by blokes who want to kill them. Originally I thought they would be armed with guns, and the Samurai would use the giant ray-gun I’ve been teasing since page 5 to obliterate them. But I had no idea how they would use the ray-gun. So the guns because electric staff thingies, and then a Rube Goldberg plot device came into play and everything is exploding. I make it up as I go along so I can keep it expressive. For example, here is a page of my thumb nails that is the closest I will ever get to a script:


I will go through a page or two at a time and work out the movement of it, where the panels go, where the sound effects sit and what needs to happen to facilitate the next big fight scene, and then I will go panel to panel and draw it in more detail, and then ink it. Then it gets scanned in, uploaded to the iPad, and finally coloured in. There will be more blog posts about it in the future, as we are going to Kickstart this baby in the coming weeks.

That’s me for now. MCM London is in a few weeks, but I’m going to be playing it cool for the majority of May before the ONSLAUGHT BEGINS. Check out my Events page for details.