Monday, 24 December 2012
He's also been holding back a couple of Amazon KDP Promotion freebies, and is now offering the Sword and the Ring Kindle book alongside the whole new, revamped and illustrated edition of the first part of the Wish and the Will: Sundancer's Regret. It seemed that readers enjoyed the first episode but the idea of an ongoing serial, in classic Victorian/Dickensian style, was one that few readers bought into. Well, it was an experiment, and you never know how these things will go until you try. So rather than releasing 'Sundancer's Regret' piecemeal over 4-5 individual episodes, we thought we'd try it in just two parts (since it is rather a mammoth tome - and the latter half of the book is still in production, but ought to see daylight in the first half of next year).
This edition also features new design and illustration work from Mr. Frang McHardy, which was originally commissioned for the possible full-colour print edition:
In any case, 'Sundancer's Regret' and 'Sword and the Ring' will be available free from the 25th - 27th December, all inclusive.
Have a good one!
Thursday, 20 December 2012
We'd been wondering whether or not to run with a sequel given the very open-ended conclusion of the first book. But such encouragement is almost impossible to ignore, so once we've gathered together all the sketchy notes and ideas that are floating around, we'll see what we can do get another title in the supernatural series out there.
Short novels and even short stories of under 10,000 words seem fairly common on Smashwords (not so sure about Amazon KDP, since they don't usually bother to provide word or page counts) and we already have another short-ish piece in production - more details on that later. It'll be interesting to find out if there is a future in quick, decent little stories. Malaria 9 has already proved that a decent full-length novel need not take years, and so the FWB catalogue may be set to expand considerably in the near future.
The other advantage is that should a book fail to take off with readers, then it hasn't required a colossal investment in time and effort, with correspondingly big disappointment at the end of it all. So far, the expansion on to the Smashwords platform is looking like a good move.
Monday, 17 December 2012
In a word, yes.
As hinted at in an earlier post, Smashwords not only care about the quality of the formatted material they allow users to submit, they also provide their own guidelines and help documents, with unambiguous information and helpful tips to correct editing which actually work. My guess is that once you've been through the SW grinder a couple of times and finally gotten a book approved for their .epub distribution, you'll know pretty much every possible formatting and layout mistake that you could ever make, and how to fix it, in the unlikely event you ever make it again in future. It's a learning curve, this digital formatting business, but one that's definitely well worth pursuing (at least until these platforms are able to provide full PDF document support, which may never come). SW's user stats and tools are infinitely superior to KDP's basic weekly and monthly reports, with daily graphs and all the cool, helpful info you could ever want.
In any case, Maranatha has now joined Malaria 9 in our growing SW catalogue, under its original ebook ISBN which was assigned to it under Amazon's KDP but which Amazon never seemed bothered about listing.
In other news, I'm not sure if it's simply due to the 'adult content' filter being turned on under our profile (so that we can actually view our own books, which, while hardly being 'over the top', were never designed to be kiddie-friendly), but there seems to be a heck of a lot of seriously gross-out porn freely available on SW. Perhaps it's just because there's an awful lot of it, but it's a slightly disturbing trend nonetheless, and not something I particularly like my own material to be associated with (although there's no accounting for potential buyers' browsing habits). I'm no prude and am pretty open-minded when it comes to adult material, but some of the titles alone in the viewers' and purchasers' lists makes me want to squirm. Well, as I always say: if you don't like it, don't look at it. I don't, so I won't, and that's all we have to say about that.
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Last week, I found my list of old ISBNs from back in the Lulu.com days, when printing on nasty old-fashioned paper still seemed the way to go, so thought I might as well use one in this little experiment (as ISBNs are required for entry in the SW Premium catalogue). A new platform to explore, one (I hope) without the hang-ups of Amazon KDP. So as it turned out, the huge Smashwords style guide wasn't such a nightmare, after all. Much of it is just common sense that any fule kno. The rest is simply fine-tuning for the SW platform.
Which is something that got me thinking the other night: namely, that Smashwords really give a damn about the content that is put out on their servers by writers. And Amazon don't. The question is, should Amazon care, or just leave it up to readers to write lousy reviews of works that haven't smelled a spellchecker or even know what 'formatting' means? Since I've seen wholly negative reviews posted that focused purely on such matters, many writers are doing themselves a great disservice by publishing such technically inferior works. It surely can't be doing the KDP platform much good either in the long term. But Amazon could also do their bit to address some of the negative publicity that so often sticks to self-pubbers and indie writers, and perhaps rescue some of their sinking reputation at this troubled time.
In any case, it'll be quite exciting to have a new book out in the global catalogues again - it's been almost exactly four years to the day since A Surfeit of Mandrake was published. How time flies...I guess that means we've been having fun!
Monday, 3 December 2012
After Sandra took the time to comment on our latest blog post on this subject, I checked out the link in her post for more details. A storm is brewing heavily, it seems, in the indie/SP community - a storm of which I've been completely unaware until now.
And all this so hot on the heels of an earlier post here singing the praises of the KDP platform and its ease of use. No, I've not done a complete U-turn, and I'm not going to dump Amazon, write them nasty steaming hatemail and ask them if they know where Dick M. Nixon kept his smoking gun.
Glitches and technical problems happen to the biggest and the best. I've worked in business tech support for ten years and read the global IT news daily, and it's true: things can fall over, blow up, fail, fall apart. Unfortunately this also means it's easier than ever for dodgy dealings to be passed off as being the fault of a wayward stream of electrons or a flaky web server, rather than a deliberate or underhand attempt at obfuscation or deceit. So I'm not going to say too much on the matter of what Amazon may or may not be doing behind the scenes, although I do agree that their copy-and-paste responses reek of corporate "tell the customer this..." BS. I should know, I've written plenty of it over the years, and copied and pasted enough of it too. In the corporate world, half-truths are stock in trade. And then there's lies, damn lies, and statistics. And as far as the statistics go that Amazon KDP have offered us, I've always taken them with a pinch of salt since Day One anyway.
The problem is, since Nixon redefined the word 'gate' as a perjorative suffix dripping with high-level conspiracy and cover-up, nobody can ever really be truly shocked or surprised about anything anymore. So I'll be watching that KDP space very closely indeed. I do hope it's not as bad as it could turn out to be - an awful lot of people's livelihoods and incomes are at stake if such is the case, people who have far more invested in words than I do - and with any luck, the truth will out sooner, rather than later.
Friday, 30 November 2012
A friend recently dropped me this small bombshell of a link to another writer's blog post: http://www.derekhaines.ch/vandal/2012/11/self-published-authors-get-ready-youre-being-dumped/
As much as I love the ease and simplicity of the Kindle upload and KDP programs, I'm not blinded to the fact that Amazon is becoming Godzilla. And you don't get to grow that big without stomping on an awful lot of stuff along the way (whether you intend to, or not).
The upside of coming across this blogger's post was twofold: first, it reminded us that there's no such thing as a free lunch unless your host wants something out of you in return (and I've been guilty of eating a great deal of lotus lately); and secondly, that putting all of one's eggs in one basket is never a good idea. I can say that a certain air of complacency has probably crept in since we started to see some success with Kindle (actual sales, a clutch of reviews - even if one or two seem to be hilariously misguided) - all within the last few months, and due entirely to the KDP promotional tools. The fierce self-promotional zest has faded but that's been due to heavy client artwork commitments lately, as well as the act of writing and publishing three new books this year alone. Promotion should never come that far down the priority list, of course, but Amazon's KDP system has served to isolate us in a little self-contained world where free promo offers yield distribution, which leads to real sales and reviews - which again, help the promotional cycle to continue.
A change in our outlook and long-term investment has been needed for a while, it just took somebody else's observations to point the fact out to us.
As a result, I tried an experiment in uploading our new cyberpunk thriller, Malaria 9, to Smashwords, just to see how difficult it was to fulfill SW's rather hefty and off-putting formatting and style criteria. I downloaded the thing last summer, took one look at it and thought "Urgh! Later."
'Later' never happened, until now.
With a tiny bit of tweaking, the MS was ready and without too much wailing and gnashing of teeth, made live on the site. No ISBN was assigned (though I still do have a bunch of those, somewhere) - I could aim for the hip vote and say this was me keepin' it real and refusing to sell out to The Men at Apple and Sony (ISBNs are required for their retail and seemingly universal EPUB format), but it was also part of the experiment to see how far something that wasn't available on those platforms could be pushed. If it dies its death, then fine - I'll know better next time, and 'M-9' is still available on Kindle and selling copies on a regular basis. The 'Trinity Chronicles' books will be ISBN'd when they go live on SW later as they are still in effect the flagship titles for FWB, even if the third and final book in the trilogy is still a long way off (all those other pesky ideas kept getting in the way).
So the honeymoon with Amazon may be over, but it just means that we're becoming polygamous now. It'll probably be happier that way.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
All of which makes me ponder now the possibility of a developing market in the European territories. For sure, we appreciate that some readers and Kindle users will grab anything that's free simply because it's free, but I'm unwilling to attribute this kind of habit to all of our foreign uptake to date. Our presence on the .de site has been completely neglected until now, to the point of even leaving all our books untagged as I felt it slightly arrogant to use English language tags on a German shopping site. Perhaps a few minutes with my Collins German dictionary might help change all of that.
Another interesting point to note was how the recent free promo has straightaway managed to raise a few actual sales - showing that Amazon's "Readers who liked this also liked..." and "Suggested/similar offerings" adverts do seem to help raise awareness of the existence of books that are otherwise not very well publicised. As an Amazon promotional tool, the Kindle Select free promo option is the best I've come across yet.
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
The e-book giveway starts Thursday 22nd November and runs 'til Monday 26th, inclusive.
US readers can get it here.
UK readers cab grab it here.
Sunday, 18 November 2012
The book's now fully available for fans of the cyberpunk, horror and paranormal genres, right here.
The cover art also went through several complete transitions and these alternative illustrations are provided as extra illustrations in the text.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Well, we're chuffed* with that, anyway. It's always great to see readers being entertained by our works...after all, that's the main reason why we do what we do.
*A peculiarly British word roughly equivalent to satisfied, pleased, etc.
Friday, 9 November 2012
Here's the full review.
We were very unsure how a book intended for kids, and which relied heavily upon its interior illustrations, would fare on the Kindle platform. If this is anything to go by then we ought not to have worried unduly, although it has now got Chaz thinking about whether he should expand the text for future edition in order to embellish the story...
Saturday, 3 November 2012
The original illustrations by Frang were all produced in colour for what was to be a large format kids' board book, and if the Kindle edition does okay then the print version may well still appear in future.
The obligatory free promo has been running since the 31st October and closes at midnight (~ish) on November 4th, PST, so if you're very quick you might just be able to grab another freebie.
US Readers get it here
UK Readers can get it here
Friday, 12 October 2012
The free offer runs from Saturday Oct 13, 2012 to Sunday Oct 14, 2012, all inclusive.
Thursday, 11 October 2012
A few months after we first started these promos, we'd like to offer readers another chance to snap up a free copy of the very first FWB title, 'Maranatha'. The promo starts on the 12th October and runs for 5 days inclusive thereafter.
As ever, you can get the 'Trinity Chronicles' freebie via the following links:
for Amazon US readers
for UK Kindle fans
Monday, 8 October 2012
"I met Chaz Wood quite awhile ago, via email since we're countries apart, and he mentioned writing an article on what it is like to be an online cartoonist, or rather what my experience has been, to post on his site. This week I read on another cartoonist's Facebook page that yet another well known editorial cartoon series was being dropped from a major publication (both online and in print) and it reminded me that maybe I should actually type something up on how hard it is to be a cartoonist. Not to complain per se, but maybe just to explore the topic.
Certainly, it is not hard to be a cartoonist if you're doing it more as a hobby. I'd like to say I'm treating it that way now as I no longer do it full time but I find that any spare time I have I'm either drawing or writing down ideas. In other words, I'm obsessed with the medium regardless if I make money or not. All I ever wanted growing up was to draw a comic strip like the ones in my local newspapers, the newspapers that have now all gone online and seem to have left the funny pages behind.
You probably have not heard of "Jeff Swenson" the cartoonist much like you have not heard of numerous other online cartoonists who I'm geeky enough to be aware of. There is, however, a good chance you have stumbled across one of my cartoons. I have several "one hit wonders" floating out there that get passed from webmaster to webmaster to social networking sites and even printed out for someone's office bulletin board.
Comic strips and one panel gag cartoons often have a life of their own once they're born. I'm betting even after I die many of my cartoons will continue to travel across multiple sites or enter the public domain and pop up in cheap Ebook collections. I'm not offended by any of this at all. It's rather amusing to find a social networking site that has grabbed a comic strip from 8 years ago and once posted there a hundreds of comments about it as if it were new. I'm also no longer surprised that credit is usually not given or the URL has been removed from the strip. Like I said, the comic strip has taken off on it's own like a rebellious teenager giving the finger to his father. It's not exactly fair to an artist, but this is how it is for a lot of cartoonists--their work can be seen by millions over time because of the Internet and yet they don't see a dime from it.
That's not to say there aren't successful online cartoonists, there are. They've created a business model around their artwork and with enough traffic they can ditch their day job...but that's actually a rare event. It used to be that all a traditional print cartoonist did was write and draw ideas--hell, they didn't even do their own coloring. Now online cartoonists literally have to know how to build a website, build traffic, set up advertising arrangements and create merchandise AND keep it all going day by day without any fatal mishaps. I applaud these people to mask my bitter jealousy (kidding) and I'm only aware of a few online cartoonists who have been successful enough at this business model to ditch their day jobs.
To have the chance to be paid to draw a daily comic strip is essentially the same as a musician getting a record contract--one shot in a million, now more than ever in a crowded market of web comics. To sustain that comic strip for a lifetime so that it pays out dividends (licensing deals) is even harder. It helps if you're good at what you do, but a lot of it has to do with timing and representation. Have you ever gone back and read the dailies of famous comic strips? A large percentage of them, while drawn well, have pretty horrible or just boring ideas. The gags are hit and miss and groaners abound (which I'm guilty of too). What keeps an audience returning is likable characters--they're willing to forgive cliches or even a lazy idea due to a deadline.
So to be be paid to do a syndicated daily comic strip is usually out of reach for most cartoonists. I spent seven years cartooning full time by freelancing for various clients and squeezing in several of my own features for a bit of ad revenue or licensing arrangement fees. Sometimes I was paid well and sometimes I was paid crap--and you'll accept crap when a bill is due! The stress of it finally got to me and I started realizing that I was drawing less of what I wanted to--it was what everyone else wanted. What's the fun in that?
When you come to that point you see that taking a steady job may make sense even though you feel like you're giving in to "adult life." After witnessing other artists around me go bankrupt or still living in their parents' basement, well, the reality is you have to find some sort of balance to being paid enough and having time to draw what you want. If I was single without a mortgage? Yeah, I might be the guy renting the run-down apartment next to the beach wearing shorts in winter and continuing to draw full time on a minimal budget. That sounds like heaven on earth to me, as twisted as it sounds to some readers I'm sure--as I said, cartooning is an obsession.
This next year I'm minimizing any freelancing opportunities and I'm moving forward with collecting my past cartoons into Ebooks and then all I want to do is write and draw new material for more Ebooks (I love doing collections and comic strip stories). I'll have to suffer for my paycheck, but on my own time I'm free to pursue the lovely art of lowbrow."
You can catch loads of Jeff's stuff online at: http://www.Swensonfunnies.com and at Freethunk. Chaz also recommends checking out some of Jeff's Kindle books, like this nifty collection of Halloween funnies on Amazon.
Monday, 24 September 2012
UK readers can download it here.
US readers can find it here.
Oh, and the book will be available free to all between the dates of 25th - 29th September.
Please note: this one's definitely not for kids, even while some of the original content has been toned down for a general audience. At its heart, though, it remains an earthy parable of redemption and the will of the individual, and is not intended as a serious philosophical statement on the nature of divinity, or morality!
Friday, 10 August 2012
Art and writing work on the Book 2 of this series is going well, although Book 1 will no doubt continue to be tweaked and revised as we gather more feedback. A review with Readers Favorite had been scheduled, then postponed, as I pondered whether to tone down some of the more mature content. That's still on the cards for sometime soon, though.
Morgen Bailey ran this interview with me last year, but she's now re-publishing all her author Q&As on a new blog to raise a little more awareness for folks. Be sure to check out her new pages and give her some support, won't you!
Saturday, 4 August 2012
Fenriswulf are proud to present the first book in the re-telling and re-imagining of the epic 'Ring of the Nibelung' saga, Of Gods and Gold, which has just been launched for the Kindle platform (Book 2, Of Valkyries and Vengeance, is now in the pipeline).
Due to the limitations of the Kindle format, this version isn't nearly as fancy or detailed as the print offering available via this very website (which integrates text and pictures in our very own 'graphic fiction' stylee), but all the artwork remains intact, as far as the previews suggest anyway, and this does rather open up interesting new possibilities for illustrated works. (Once Chaz has finished writing it, the Angel of Vengeance cycle will likely be next.)
As a special launch treat we'll also be offering it for free, from August 5th - 7th.
UK readers can get it here.
US readers can pick it up here.
Sunday, 22 July 2012
You can read the whole Question & Answer feature here.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Maranatha and Venus in Saturn.
In the meantime, thanks to everyone who's helped support us this far!
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Boy, were we overwhelmed! - shifting over 700 copies in only a few days, and also securing our first ever 'sales' in foreign territories. In fact, we reached out to all of the Amazon European sister sites: .de, .es, .it and even .fr all accounted for a significant number, though it's fair to say that they were mostly our comic books, rather than the prose works - graphic works will always cross cultural boundaries better than the purely written word, although quite what they may make of the peculiarly British humour of Arf and Mo is anyone's guess...
It's been an interesting time, in which we saw our books briefly chart very high on the Amazon Free Kindle lists, with our comic books both reaching the top spots in all their categories. Seeing our books at the No. 1 ranking was quite a buzz. And as a 'loss leader', our free offer for Maranatha has already sparked some interest in the pay-for prequel, Venus in Saturn. It's also made Chaz think about the idea of producing something to be offered permanently for free on the Kindle store - perhaps a collection of shorter works, or a novella of some sort (he does, after all, have a good many ideas of all sorts floating around the place).
In short, it's been a fascinating experiment, and opens up a very interesting future for FWB and its products. You may recall a post on this very blog not all that long ago where Chaz basically discounted the whole idea of the Kindle book reader as having any real impact on the publishing world any time soon - well, he's more than happy to revise that view now, seeing how times have well and truly changed!
No doubt we'll continue to pick up the long-term effects of this promotional period for some time to come. Interesting times, as they say.
Sunday, 8 July 2012
As part of the current Fenriswulf Books 'summer of Freebies' (i.e, testing the waters with Amazon's new promotional services), we're giving away - for nothing - the first issue of Arf and Mo in Kindle format. The promo lasts throughout 8th July and ends on the 10th at midnight Pacific Standard Time.
US readers can grab their copy right here.
You can also pick up, for a limited time only (throughout the 8th and 9th July), The Black Flag graphic novel for exactly £0.00! Don't delay - snatch one up today!
Over the last week or so we've given away hundreds of copies of 'Maranatha' and Episode 1 of 'Sundancer's Regret' - even managing to shift our very first foreign copies on Amazon.de! - so it's been a rather interesting exercise in getting our material out there.
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
UK readers can grab their copy right here.
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
In fact, it seemed to attract so much attention that we're planning to do it all over again with one of the books from the 'Trinity Chronicles' series - either Maranatha or Venus in Saturn. Currently Amazon seem to be having some serious problems with the KDP portal, or we would have launched the new promo already by now. Watch this space, as they say...
Friday, 29 June 2012
Sunday, 24 June 2012
The first volume, 'Of Gods and Gold', is roughly equivalent to the 'Rheingold' prelude to Wagner's Ring Cycle - a short-ish overture to the epic drama which will follow. Characters of my own creation rub shoulders with gods and heroes of legend, while the familiar core plotline remains recognisable and intact. Darkly humorous, and maintaining the usual FWB sense of quirkiness, a Kindle edition may follow if I can figure out how to keep the rather intricate formatting.
"Since the dawn of the Nine Worlds, the gods of Asgard, led by all-wise Wotan, have enjoyed prosperity and power. Wotan's noble house of Aesir rules the heavens and all Middengaard, the realm of men and monsters; yet on this peaceful stage will be wrought curses, war, treachery and ultimately, disaster. The two-faced trickster Loki, once a blood-brother of Wotan, seeks to spawn an unholy dynasty to rival the Aesir, while gold stolen from the River Rhein sets in motion a tide of torment that will drown all who come into contact with it. Sensing doom, one-eyed Wotan broods and begins to gather warriors of Middengaard to serve as his private army, while struggling to repair the growing cracks in his marriage to Fricke, and his relationship with his thirteen unruly daughters, the Valkyren..."
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
I also decided to colour it myself, for the first time ever.
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
"Episode 2 of 3 - the dark tale continues. Expelled from heaven for the sin of lechery, onetime angel Aldaraia finds herself alone in modern-day Hamburg, where she makes the acquaintance of an exiled demon named Bosch. Having rescued the bewildered fallen angel from a psychotic would-be rapist, Bosch's first mission is to find his new companion some suitable clothes. To this end they break into Max Overdrive's Leather Store on the Reeperbahn, only to run into the henchmen of Mr. Skinn - a being of diabolical evil, vomited from the foulest depths of Hell - who has his own abominable plans for Aldaraia. And they do not concern trendy motorcycle clothing, either. Can Bosch, against all the odds, hope to rescue his damsel in distress from Skinn's sick clutches? Graphic adult fantasy with a dark and twisted edge. Note: Strictly mature readers only (18+). Illustrated with over a dozen b/w drawings."
Episode 2 can be downloaded here.
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
The prose of Issue 1 of Chaz's dark and adult graphic adventure series recently got some remarkably good feedback at www.authonomy.com, despite it being only the first part of the story, and without any of the integral artwork and design. The text was included in an online anthology entitled 'Read With Mother' (Part 2). Chaz has since departed that site, having not enough time, sadly, to do justice to his fellow writers' works, but came away with some great comments for the first part of Bosch and Aldaraia's twisted adventures:
"Angel of Vengeance - loved it. Though I can't see how it will translate into a graphic novel - will you leave out the descriptions? I'd give this 5 stars for the wing removal scene alone. That really got to me, having been an angel in the school nativity play age 5 and being unaware of anything - the audience, the other actors, the story - because of the intoxicating rustling of my enormous wings. Cool stuff, Chaz!"
Iso Nuys said:
"I can easily see an audience for this kind of novel, Chaz. The very beginning feels a bit of a trek at times. I like the informal interjections, but at the same time they do take you out of the moment. I think it probably gives you a bit of leeway to streamline some of these (the more biblical) first passages and get things moving a little quicker. There’s no doubt it’s nicely written, but the formal tone can feel leaden.
The wry humour works. The introduction of Bosch is wonderfully played out. I would give some consideration to what he is able to narrate and what he clearly can’t have witnessed first-hand. ‘This is where I come in,’ comes after a passage of description, and so the reader thinks, well, how does he know what just happened then? This is a very promising and fun read."
"This read like a cross between Danielle Trussoni's "Angelology" - and Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman's "Good Omens" - but darker. A combination of graphic yet lyrical description, comedy and sex. I'd like to see where you are going to take this... "
JS Watts said:
"I like the shift from epic, biblical language into chatty everyday demon.. Although written as a graphic story, it worked well as just pure, un-illustrated, and very smooth prose. The story had my attention and the characterization of Bosch worked well and was amusing. Not surprisingly, it is a very visual piece of writing.
Apart from a few nits note below, my only gripe is that it is clearly an extract. I like my short stories to have a beginning, a middle and an end. This has a beginning and a middle but no proper ending. I was left wanting more, which is a good thing, but I missed the satisfaction of a good conclusion. It isn’t really a story in its own right, but it is good writing."
The 'RWM' discussion forum, for those curious enough, is here. You can also sign up to the site for free - Chaz thoroughly recommends the site for those who enjoy reading and critiquing others works, many of which are of an astoundingly high standard. (Be wary of the 'popularity contest' culture therein, however.)
Issue 1 is still avilable for download as a full PDF file right here.
Thursday, 29 March 2012
Things have been quiet on the Fenriswulf publishing front lately but for all lovers of lowbrow, underground COMIX, Chaz 'n Frang's dubious animal duo, Arf 'N Mo, have now just made it across to the popular e-book platform.
Here's the link for UK readers:
and for our US-based cousins:
"From the broken pen of Frang McHardy and the even more broken imagination of writer Chaz Wood, meet Arf and Mo, British underground comics' best-kept secret of the last ten years...
Follow the adventures of a bloated German Shepherd mutt and a psychotic white lab rat as they belch, break wind and bludgeon each other across an increasingly surreal landscape of early 21st Century British culture.
GASP! as anarchic Arf becomes a police dog, but ends up as Inspector Gadgie's lapdog!
SQUEAL!! as Mo explores the infinite wonders of sexual sado-masochistic vivisection!!
CHOKE!!! as our duo find work in a call centre...but will their peculiar brand of customer service satisfy their demanding manager???
PASS OUT!!!! as everyone else concerned drinks more beer than has ever been consumed in an Amazon Kindle funny-animal comic book before!!!!
All this and much, much more lies within this first sizzling satirical slice of sleazy surreal salami... "
This is Issue 1, a compilation of some of the best strips from over the past 10 years. Not all the best though, as there will be a second issue out sometime in the future...
Monday, 26 March 2012
Chaz may not have posted much here on the FWB blog lately but that doesn't mean he's been slacking. Quite the opposite. Not just being kept busy with ongoing client commissions, he's still been working away in his spare time on his new radical retelling of the epic Ring cycle. A recent rib injury his stifled output in the past week or so but he still managed to pull together some digital colouring over the weekend, using a mouse rather than his usual pen tablet.
So here's a rough colour mock-up of the proposed cover for the first book in the 'Ring' series of graphic fiction. The title is rubbish, as this work doesn't even have a proper title yet, but it gives a great idea of how the finished thing should look. This series will be seeing print as wellm as digital release, as all the interior artwork is in stark black and white only, so ought not to cost too much (even at Lulu.com's prices).
Sunday, 4 March 2012
Recently, as part of work I'm doing on my epic Old Norse graphic novel/fantasy cycle, I came up with the following illustration - the goddess Hel and her two brothers, the serpent Jormungand and of course, Fenris (here depicted as a goofy cub who still has a lot of growing up left to do).
I thought about perhaps adapting the portrait of Fen here as a new look corporate ID. What do you folks think?
-Posted by Chaz
Sunday, 19 February 2012
Teenage boys aren't known for sharing their fears and emotions, so if you're the father or sister of one, how do you know how he’s coping with his mum's death?
Fifteen year old Hunter isn't entirely sure himself, and even if he could put any of it into words, he no longer knows who to say it to.
"Boys Don't Cry" is the debut 80-page graphic novel from Ostragoth Publishing: Jacqueline Saville, Mark Pexton, Andrew Woods. Jacqueline is a sensitive writer, and Chaz has long been admirer of Mark Pexton's dark and beautifully detailed artworks on the Deviantart.com website. Andrew Woods is responsible for everything else, including layout and design, and has helped to bring together two fine creative talents in this (and other) projects. "Boys Don't Cry" is a well known song by the English goth/rock band The Cure, and the music of that band would make a fitting soundtrack.
Proof, if ever any was needed now, that 'comics', 'graphic novels' and 'illustrated fiction' are no longer the clearly defined genres that many believe them to be, "Boys Don't Cry" is something of a unique and beautifully emotive experience, laced with Mark's delicate yet incredibly naturalistic pencil lineart, and complimented by an exquisitely-wrought text. This is a low-key and intelligent work of art which is as unrelated to the worlds of vapid superheroes and other traditional comic-book trappings as is possible to find, and Chaz thoroughly recommends it to anyone who appreciates good art and writing. Even people who hate comic books.
"Boys Don't Cry" can be downloaded for free here - available under the Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND, where the print version is also available for £6.99. Their latest comic, 'Moon of Endine', can also be purchased from that page.
The free download is also available free from the Ostragoth Wordpress site, right here.
There's also an author's blog post about the book, right here.
Monday, 6 February 2012
It's a strange piece of work, something I've deliberately abandoned at various times in the past until I felt I was more mature to be able to handle the material the way I wanted it, and illustrate it the way I felt it ought to be. I would regularly get so far and then decide that I didn't have the talent to pull it all together. First it swung one way, from heroic tragedy to more whimsical traditional fantasy, and back again. Now the pendulum's swung all the way around and the work has evolved into what I reckon will be its final stage, fused from the salient points of all the previous incarnations and the multiple revisions and dramatic evolutions. The writing of it has been an epic drama in itself. By turns frustrating, exhilerating, time-consuming and demanding, it's something that's always been a part of me, and probably always will. This I now attribute to the very powerful symbolic themes and motifs which inspired it, and which I've always regarded in the very highest esteem.
And what has actually helped to pull it all together has not been new writing, but new illustration works, which have taken on a somewhat industrial - even science fantasy - edge, to create something that is new and yet true to its origins, like a post-modern staging of the 'Ring' Cycle itself that delves into the deeper symbolism and meaning with radical set design and costuming, my re-imagining of familiar characters and scenes is throwing up brainstorms of creativity right now. I know this is working well, because it was the exact same process which kicked off my work 'The Wish and the Will' recently, and led to a similar flurry of action (producing three full episodes and dozens of full-colour illustrations in less than six months).
In all the time I've worked on this (still untitled) series I reckon I've barely pulled together half a dozen chapters of finished work that is actually worthy of the name, yet I've filled hundreds of pages and written hundreds of thousands of words, produced dozens of sketches and a stack of finished illustration works since 1989, of varying quality. In this 25th anniversary year (I did say in an earlier post that I'm a sucker for this kind of thing...), to the very month when I began this thing on a cold winter's evening while enjoying a break from school due to the severe weather, I took the executive decision to finally make it happen. Yes, I'm in the middle of half a dozen other writing projects, and have recently just started taking on new illustration commissions again. Yet lately I've been buzzing with a nervous, excitable creative energy whereby I simply want more - more things to do, and the ideas have been surging around with the power of a storm. It's a long time since I've felt this wired creatively, if indeed I ever have at all, even during my blast-through of 'TWatW' this time last year.
And in the meantime, I present one of those new works of visual art which is helping me to focus so clearly on the biggest, sprawling, most chaotic mess of a book I've ever conceived!
Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Saturday, 21 January 2012
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Saturday, 7 January 2012
I'm a sucker for anniversaries, even if they mean nothing in themselves - but it is exactly six years since I started writing in earnest what would later become my first (self-)published novel, 'Maranatha', and lead to the foundation of Fenriswulf Books and this very blog.
Inspired by a Discovery Channel documentary on the Holy Spear of Jesus (of which I'm watching an old video recording at this very moment), I could never have known just how serious that work would become. Nor quite how heavily that documentary would inspire the book and the rest of the series - from the metallurgical examination work undertaken by Dr Robert Feather (that which is attributed to the brilliant but erratic young scientist, Vanessa Descartes, in 'Maranatha'), the mythical origins of the spear and its history, and the subplot of the heroic Roman legionary commander, St. Maurice. The Hitler connection wasn't ignored either but, knowing it was rather suspect and slightly cornball, I played down that aspect as much as I could while keeping the concept of a dreaded 'Fourth Reich' as a publicity tagline.
That hour-long TV programme sent me scurrying to my vast collection of books on King Arthur, the Grail, the Templars, unorthodox Christianity, alchemy, and medieval European history, but even they weren't enough to provide me with the deeply-layered and complex treasure hunt of a plot that I sought - well over a hundred internet webpages also contributed to the conspiracy which pulled Professor Tomas de Carranza, Dr. Emanuel Khalamanga and Vanessa Descartes together. The developing plot convulsed more than a dying serpent possessed by the Devil, but that was part of the fun - for there were times I had no more idea of what was going on, or why, than any of my characters did. It's not a method of plotting that I can recommend to anyone, but it works for me and from my recent correspondences with other writes, I know I'm not unique in this habit.
So, six years on and 'Maranatha' still hasn't made my fortune or my name as a writer, but it continues to sell, and despite a couple of less than ecstatic reviews, nobody has, as yet, actually disliked the book, and the intended entertainment value remains undiminished, it seems.
And as I write this, I consider the future of de Carranza and Khalamanga, and the others. I have dozens of pages of notes for the sequel, 'The Keys of Heaven', and I expect I shall, sooner or later, find myself drawn back to that world of dark religious conspiracy, personal faith, history, myth and science. In any case, I'm sure there will be plenty of exciting twists and turns to come.
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