Nearly two years ago my friend James Bacon phoned me up and asked me if I’d be on for designing the comic book programme at Worldcon in London (known as Loncon 3) in August 2014. I agreed readily enough as I was keen to raise the profile of comic books at the event. Comics are still a bit of a newcomer to Worldcon – the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story was only introduced in 2009.
I didn’t realise how much work was involved, which was probably lucky for James, as I might have turned him down if I truly understood.
I now have huge respect for the Worldcon programming team (especially the techs who have managed its database). They have achieved a gigantic task with professionalism and tact. The programme has gone online today, and I’m really pleased with the result.
Just to give you an idea of the logistic challenge involved: there are 9,000 members of Worldcon, and 1,000 of them volunteered for programming. There are 600+ cross media programme items happening over the five days of the convention. The volunteers listed their areas of interest in the programme, as well as indicating what times they didn’t want to be scheduled, or events they didn’t want to be panelled against.
Plus, many of the people I wanted to use on programming were in high demand in other areas. I had to try to assemble a diverse list of panellists, while avoiding clashes with other programme items. Sometimes I couldn’t squeeze people in because they were already heavily scheduled, and you have to try and be fair with allocation of panels. Other times people dropped off panels because of various reasons which caused difficulty in re-assigning a replacement because of the panel topic or time slot.
And always we were up against deadlines: finishing the draft programming, adjusting the programme after an onslaught of email, and finalising the programme on time for the publication deadline. Even now, I have some minor changes to make due to extremely late line-up changes.
It’s a very difficult job, and I was only in charge of one department. The people at the top level – James Bacon, Liz Batty, and Ian Stockdale – had to oversee everything. There are way too many other people to thank, but I also need to mention Emma England, Spike, Niall Harrison, Mark Slater, Alissa McKersie, and Esther MacCallum-Stewart who have been particularly helpful to me.
I have so much respect and admiration for the trojan work of all the staff of Worldcon, who have put so much effort into designing an event for the enjoyment of others – on their own time and for no payment.
Here’s the listing of all the events in my area. Several of them are cross-programme items, and here they are broken down by panels, talks, workshops, and screenings.
- 11am Underground Comics Go Mainstream: Has Digital Distribution Widened or Saturated the Audience?
- 12pm Tove Jansson’s Moomins: Their Legacy and Influence
- 11am British Comics: Influences and Influencers
- 12pm Manga Evolutions
- 12pm Diversity in Comics: The Good, The Bad, and the Missing
- 1.30pm Best 21st Century Comics: Predicting the New Classics
- 3pm What is Art in the 21st Century? (Cross-discipline panel)
- 3pm Digital Comics (Academic track)
- 7pm Comic Book Networking: It’s Not Just The Interwebs
- 8pm Kapow! Best Comic Book Cosplays (cross programme event with costume/cosplay)
- 11am Revealing the Real World Through Comics
- 12pm Fresh Perspectives: Comic Books for Young People
- 1.30pm Old New Classics: The Off-Beat and Indie Comics of Yore
- 3pm Setting Up Your Comic Book Press: New and Old Models Examined
- 6pm From Page to (Small) Screen (media programme)
- 7pm The New Supers: How Superheroes and Superheroines are Changing in Comics
- 10am Vox Populi: the new voice of comic book criticism?
- 11am Writing and Pitching Comics
- 12pm In Space No One Can Hear You Ink: The Best SF Comics
- 12pm Comics: The Global Arena
- 1.30pm How Digital Art Techniques Have Changed Comics
- 3pm: Experimenting with Comics by Karrie Fransman
- 9pm Drawing the [redacted]: comics and censorship by Jude Roberts
- 12pm Grandville and the Anthropomorphic Tradition by GoH Bryan Talbot
- 3pm Bryan Talbot:’How I make a Graphic Novel’
- 12pm Comics Jam Session with Sarah McIntyre! (An event for young people)
- 1.30pm How to Draw Manga with Inko (An event for young people)
- 2.30pm Moominland Tales: The Life Of Tove Jansson
- Graphic Novel Man: The Comics of Bryan Talbot
- 1.30pm What Do Artists Do All Day? – Frank Quitely
- 4.30pm Comics Britannia – Anarchy In The UK
I hope people enjoy the comic book events at Worldcon!
But, they’ll have plenty of competition from the tremendous variety of events in the other departments: science, literature, media, television, gaming, young adult, WOOFA, music, art, video games, academic, and costume/cosplay. It’s going to be hard to decide what to attend.
Oh, and do download the Grenadine Event Guide app from either the iTunes store or the Google Play store (it doesn’t even ask for any sneaky permissions). Once you download it, type in loncon, and it will download the programme directly to your device.
It will sync with the latest updates, and you should be able to create your own bespoke programme – very handy for those of you on panels.
Please have patience if you encounter any glitches, and report them. The techies will do their utmost to resolve anything within the realms of possibility.
Today issue 2 of Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland is out from Dark Horse Comics. You can buy it online, or in any good comic book shop.
This comic is part of a five-issue Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder story, which I have co-written with Kim Newman, with art by Tyler Crook, coloured by Dave Stewart, covers by Julian Totino Tedesco, lettered by Clem Robins, and edited by Scott Allie.
All set in the Hellboy universe created by Mike Mignola.
If you’re thinking of hopping onto the series, then here are reviews of issues so far:
I’ll add more reviews to this post as they come in.
ArcadeCon is taking place in the Ballsbridge Hotel this weekend, and I’ll be dropping by for a couple of panels and to chat to people.
I was a special guest at ArcadeCon last year, and it was one of the friendliest conventions I’ve ever attended in Ireland – chock-full of fantastic cosplayers and fans who are passionate about genre media.
Here are the two panels I’m on:
- 3pm on Saturday, Ballroom: Representing Geeks: Prejudice, Privilege, Power
- 4pm on Sunday, Ballroom: We Are Irish Comics
It should be a fun weekend!
This evening I’ll be ‘beaming in’ to the London meeting of Laydeez do Comics in Foyles bookshop, 107 Charing Cross Road.
Laydeez do Comics is celebrating its 5th year running, and to showcase its network around the world it has created a bumper meeting with presentations from various LdC organisers:
The event is taking place from 7pm – 9pm in the Auditorium at the new location of Foyles on Charing Cross Road
Tickets are free but you have to email firstname.lastname@example.org to register for a place.
I’m aiming to Skype in for the second part of meeting, but if technology breaks down there should be a presentation available that will represent my work, and the Laydeez do Comics – Dublin meetings I organise with Lynda E. Rucker.
Our artist on Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland, Tyler Crook, recently posted this image of the first 88 pages of Witchfinder artwork, with the caption, ‘22 pages left to go!’
It’s weird to see the combined work of 18 months condensed into a thick sheaf of pages. Kim and I finished writing the scripts over six months ago, but the project has been on-going because we’re involved in the proofing of covers, layouts, pencils, inks, and lettering. The job of the writer on comic books doesn’t end when the script is handed in.
Witchfinder is coming out on a monthly schedule, so the final comic book in this five-issue mini-series will be on the shelves in October. Which will make it exactly two years from when Kim and I had our first meeting about the project in his kitchen in London, and trashed out the core concept.
I’m off to Dublin today, and tomorrow I’ll be signing in Sub-City Comics at its new location at 62 Dame Street, Dublin, Ireland 2, from noon – 4pm.
Rob Curley, the owner of Sub-City Comics, informs me there will be Dark Horse goodie bags for the first 50 people at the signing… so buy the comic, get it signed, and snag some loot!
The reviews for issue 1 of Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland, have been rolling in and so far the team has been delighted with the response from the critics and the fans.
I’ll put up a blog post listing them all soon, rather than detailing every single review as it comes in. Although, I will note that the comic got a Pick of the Week from the DC Women Kicking Ass Tumblr, as that’s a site I’ve been following for years, and I’m thrilled our title earned a mention.
In the meantime, here’s an interview with me on ComicMonsters.com called Maura McHugh Discusses Witchfinder.
Finally, here’s a terrific drawing of a moody Sir Edward Grey, which Witchfinder artist Tyler Crook put on his Tumblr yesterday.
Today is the publication day of issue 1 of Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland! Hurray!
This is the start of a five-issue Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder story, with art byTyler Crook, coloured by Dave Stewart, covers by Julian Totino Tedesco, lettered by Clem Robins, and edited by Scott Allie.
All set in the Hellboy universe created by Mike Mignola, and published by Dark Horse Comics.
It should be available to buy today in all good local comic book stores, but if not you can buy it as a digital comic.
Tomorrow is publication day for issue 1 of Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland, and it seems almost unreal.
Publishing can be a strange business: you work on a project for a long time and well ahead of its release into the world, and occasionally it feels like a Sisyphean task.
Suddenly, it feels like someone is collapsing a telescope and publication day zooms in!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Sir Edward Grey, the protagonist of the Witchfinder series, here’s his entry in the Hellboy Wiki. For the Mignolaverse scholars among you, check out the incredibly detailed and comprehensive Hell Notes column that Mark Tweedale recently dedicated to his favourite supernatural investigator.
Also, David Ferguson at Irish Comic News was kind enough to interview me about my writing so far, and my work on Witchfinder with Kim Newman, Tyler Crook, and the team.
Finally, I was delighted to read the first review of the comic on All-Comic by Joey Caswell. He’s very pleased with the work we’ve done, which is immensely gratifying.
The first three pages of issue 1 of Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland have been posted online, and on the Tumblr of our artist Tyler Crook (follow him!).
What’s cool is that along with the finished coloured/lettered pages, you can also see the original black and white inks beside for comparison. I’m replicating them below.
Not only do you see how well Tyler is drawing the comic, this also clearly demonstrates what a brilliant job colourist Dave Stewart is doing, and how much his work adds to the general atmosphere of the piece. Plus, let’s not forget the contribution of our letterer Clem Robins! (Click to embiggen.)
The comic is released on Wednesday!
I’m reeling from the news this evening that I’ve been nominated for a British Fantasy Award in the Best Comic/Graphic Novel category for my writing on the Jennifer Wilde mini-series Unlikely Revolutionaries, along with artist Stephen Downey, and writer Karen Mahoney (who wrote the stand-alone JW story The Wilde Hunt). The comics were published by Atomic Diner Comics in Dublin.
I’m honoured to be nominated in such talented company. Here’s the entire short list:
Best Comic/Graphic Novel
- Demeter, Becky Cloonan (Becky Cloonan)
- Jennifer Wilde, Maura McHugh, Karen Mahoney and Stephen Downey (Atomic Diner Comics)
- Porcelain, Benjamin Read and Chris Wildgoose (Improper Books)
- Rachel Rising, Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
- Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
- The Unwritten, Mike Carey and Peter Gross (Vertigo)
The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at FantasyCon in York on 6 or 7 September 2014, depending on the convention’s scheduling.
My thanks to those who nominated Jennifer Wilde for this award!
And a huge thank you to Rob Curley at Atomic Diner Comics for asking me to write the mini-series.