Monthly Archives: January 2016

Okay, so its a little late… but here’s my (Gareth’s) Thought Bubble, Nov’ 2015, roundup…

Straight to the point, I loved it

YAWYE (SMEAT) - Horrere - You Are What You Eat - Page 003 (flat)-1

But I’ve loved it every year I’ve attended/exhibited… that includes that year Sarah, Andrew and I just came as punters.

I’ve attended an number of con’s over the years here in the UK as a visitor, mostly in tow with friends Andrew, Damian and Simon, but TB is easily my favourite experience.

It feels cohesive, like the whole show has been designed (some others have felt more like a big enthusiastic jumble sale). And as much as I really hope I can get out to more cons in 2016, TB will always be the culmination and high point of my comics oriented year.

So to echo many of the post-con online voices (to which I’m quite a late addition)… Well done to all those involved in making it work, from Tullalotay and Martha, to the team of enthusiastic and really helpful redshirts that made things run smoother on the floor.

As for us, we turned up on the Friday and after meeting up with friends at Leeds station (Andrew, Amara and Gene et al) we headed off to find food and booze.

Pizza Game

…taking in the curious marvel that is Leeds Trinity food court on the way then heading off to Whitelocks.

Meanwhile, messages where flying around on our (Madius, Little O/Horrere) collab FB messenger feed, letting me know how my Horrere brothers were doing regarding their travels and arrivals,…

[It’s weird that for the past two years we had found ourselves in the Ibis, with The Palace just over the road… this year, now we weren’t anywhere near there, that would of course be the place to meet, laughs]

…and so eventually got the call to head over and meet those that had made it to The Palace… and though I didn’t stay for long, it was great shooting the breeze on a whole bunch of things creative with AlisdairNeil and the excellently ebullient Mr Bob Turner amongst others. Then it was back to Whitelocks and off to our digs.

There was without doubt a strangeness to the Saturday morning which might have been the weather (the rain wasn’t the type you could laugh off), plus there was the terrible news from Paris (where I was to be flying straight out to on the Monday), but what ever it was, as the first morning progressed, all concerned seemed to get into their comic-loving stride and when the announcement came that the hall was opening I was excited for what the day would bring.

Though short of some of the other IronShod creators (Andrew Segal was in attendance at the show, if not with us behind the table), we did have a three strong team this year of Sarah and myself and young Kate (her first Comic con, which she seemed to love).

00 001 Thought Bubble

It was also fantastic this year to have the magnanimous pantheon of Though Bubble gods look upon our enterprise with favour and place us right next to our new collaborators Madius Comics… Whether this was in fact by design or just a happy chance I have no idea, but it was a fun weekend with those guys by our side. It was also our first time in New Dock Hall, which though now replaced by the TBMarquee as artists alley still had a massive buzz to it.

The last few years have been interesting, getting to know some of the other attendees, and more recently, getting to work with them on some great projects.

Kings Leap - Postcard 003

Projects like The King’s Leap (which Rob Jones and I debuted at #TBF15) which have now taken on a life of their own; we have ideas up to issue three now, not bad considering it was supposed to be a one of 24 pager, and before that a 6 page short in an anthology. Plus the call to participate in the excellent (Tragic Tales of) Horrere with a great bunch of artists and writers (yes, those Madius boys again).

YAWYE (SMEAT) - Horrere - Postcard 001

Watching Horrere garner a whole bunch of great reviews on the lead up to, and following TB was amazing, and sitting there last night with a copy of Starburst in my hands and seeing our names in print in the comics reviewed section was knockout.

On top of that I’d hoped to get another book out from my Cthulhiad cycle of comics… but with the other non-IronShodApe books and moving house, teaching and a series of research trips to Europe, it started to seem less and less likely.

Then in the early part of October, strangely (as I was back into the new semester at work) things eased off a little, my evenings freed up and I started to doodle…

The Lance - Thumbnails - 002

The second book of The Lance cycle began to take shape and I thought, “what the Hell” let’s get this done.

I used a ink brush pen for the art this time, and really enjoyed the results, learning a lot about spot-black placement while I was working on it.

xx The Lance - Page 006

It turned out to be a pretty fast way of working, and one I’ll gladly try again.

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To speed my process further I tried out a new (to me) technique for toning the book, scanning some Letratone, laying it over the whole page of art in Photoshop to create a medium tone and developing highlights with the eraser tool.

Process of Work

I got deeper tones by lassoing sections of the Letratone layer and pasting them over again with a slight nudge to the left and down to create lines from the halftone dots. It ended up with a strange retro look that I liked… and again, so very quick, which I needed it to be.

Four weeks later I took Drakon (pt 2 or The Lance, Ashkelon) to the printers and there it was a third debuting book on our table.

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  • Nice to be able to do the cover of the book above in collaboration with my long-time creative buddy Dave Eccles too (there’ll be more of that if I’ve got any say in it).

Working the table was fun… and we got to meet a whole bunch of lovely people as always.

Whilst unknown to me Sarah was making deals and sorting out a great gift for me in the form of an amazing Hellboy print and sketch from Duncan Fegredo (a genuinely nice bloke).

So… Onto this (last) year’s TBF15 Haul, and a bit about the things I’ve missed…

00 002 ThoughtBubble

Things I missed or put to one side in favour of other harder to find stuff… Rob Davis’ Motherless Oven (which I eventually picked up just before the end of 2015); the rest of the Chris Wildgoose/Improper books/Porcelain-bone-china stuff (still to pick up); and The Goddamnned, Jason Aaron and R. M. Guera’s pre-cataclysm old testament skirting tale of Cain’s wanderings out of Eden (I now have the first two issues)… and the intriguing title from Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham; Nameless (which again I’ve still to pick up).

Oh, and I left my second copy of the sign language episode of Hawkeye at home (also tried to find a copy of it at the much diminished stands of back-issue retailers at TB, but no luck)… I had hoped to get it signed to the Hull Deaf Centre* and get it framed to go in the hall there… (*Sarah is now manager there).

The books I did pick up you can see above… a few of which I’ve even gone as far as to review (I intend to try and review all the books I picked up).

The Old Dark House & Shore Leave by WJC.

WesterNoir (issue 3) by Dave West and Gary Crutchley.

Papercuts & Inkstains (1,2,3a & 3b) by the guys at Madius Comics.


DTHRTL by Bob Turner.

I’ll add my other TBF15 reviews – inc Vincent Hunt’s Red Mask of Mars, Line & Wash by Duncan Fegredo, BPRD Covers (sketchbook) by Lawrence Campbell, Farel Dalrymple‘s It Will All Hurt, and Dan Berry‘s Hourly Comic 2105,  – here as I get them done…

So… that’s really that.

I’m already looking for ward to working on this years comics, and I’ve made a start…

x Ymir and the Fisherman's Daughter

Oh… and a few days after Thought Bubble the guys from Intercomics Podcast got in touch and asked if I would answer a few questions about the work I had at the show… The interview can be found >HERE< on their site :

I’m also already looking forward to this years Thought Bubble #TBF16… with the hope we can fit at least one other con in beforehand.


And as I always say… if you’ve read one of our books or maybe more than one of them, let us know what you think… send us a message @hesir on Twitter.

It really helps us to know what you thought.

Cheers, g.




The Old Dark House (Inktober 2015)

B/w, 28 pages.


Shore Leave – Views from Quinthaven

Colour, b/w & monochromatic, 42 pages.

Both created by WJC (Warwick Johnson-Cadwell)

Reviewed by Gareth Sleightholme

After following his output on twitter @WarwickJC, and picking up WJC’s fantastic Tom Hand – A Tale of Stories and beautiful fold out Quinthaven (some of which is reproduced here) the year before last at TBF14, I wasn’t going to miss the chance to pick up more of Warwick’s great artwork. So I snuck away from the IronShodApe table again and drifted past his table and grabbed these beauties (Shore Leave with a great bespoke tentacle tattoo on the arm of the character on the front page).

I’m not sure when I cottoned to the fact I loved this style of image making.

I know a younger me that bought so heavily into the works of Giraud, Hughes and Frazetta would perhaps have avoided, even derided it… I found it strange that I liked it. But I did.

Kind of like the moment you realise you love Tom Waits’ voice and all those box-kicking, guitar twanging, pot’n’pan-banging beautiful melodies about black wings and murders in the barn.

I can’t tell if it’s because his art is maybe (just to me probably) somehow reminiscent of a blend of the quirkiest of Ted McKeever (Plastic Forks), Bill Sienkiewicz (Stray Toasters), and Dean Ormston (Lucifer), or if it puts me in mind of an elaborated, sophisticated jazz riff on Edward Gorey or Tom Gauld (Goliath)’s character work… or all or none of that.

The visual language here is certainly off-kilter, all Cabinet of Dr. Caligari angles and shadows, figures with elongated, stunted or stretched geometric anatomies, like pages from a German-expressionist Giles, Feiffer, or Oscar F. Howard cartoon.

Ultimately what I’m trying to say is… it’s wonderful.

The Old Dark House is a re/interpretation of the 1932 James Whale film* starring Boris Karloff about a unlikely group thrown together in the foreboding manor house of the eldritch Femm family… done as part of the Inktober art celebration, strewn with glorious scratchy figures with baleful eyes and malevolent intentions.

While Shore Leave adds more lyrical mythology, characters, geography and shanty/fiddle ballad fodder to WJC’s port of Quinthaven, a dark, lyric soaked, labyrinthine town of old soaks, pirates, merfolk and tattooed exotics.

What else can I tell you? Just pick up everything if you can, but particularly these great little books he brings to Thought Bubble, then go home and read them whilst listening to Tom Waits or Jolie Holland.

Go check out their blog: and their Twitter feed: @warwickjc

*based upon the novel Benighted (1927),by  J B Preistley.

DTHRTL – Book 1 of 3

Created by Bob Turner

Full Colour, 20 pages.


Reviewed by Gareth Sleightholme

Bob Turner’s wordless comic (even the cover appears* wordless) plays with varied rigid-format panel layouts and a graphic character and environment aesthetic, reminiscent of both side-scrolling platform games and the clean lines of Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan books, all to tell the tale of a Hokusai admiring recluse and reluctant hero who within the first two pages of this fast paced book challenges Death itself, then heads off on an adventure with nothing but their wits and a rucksack stocked with a handful of important items (including what I can only assume is special forest-dwelling monster-gang distracting bacon**). Our protagonist’s journey is filled with perils natural and unnatural, curious landscapes, and monsters…

Yet, you can’t help feeling that under the Herriman-surreal landscapes and the seemingly simple narrative there is something rooted in classical antiquity happening here. Scenes have a archetypal, monumental familiarity, like an echo of something half remembered from a folk tale or myth.

I am, without doubt, intrigued…

It’s lovely stuff, each panel beautifully graphically balanced, with each page equally balanced. To the point where every character design, panel, page layout and double page spread could be a winning Threadless T-design. But here we have a whole book.

For me, picking up DTHRTL II will definitely be in order. I’m looking forward to it.

Find out more at:

NB. I was fortunate enough to get time to chat to both Bob and his TBF table-mate Alan Henderson (Penned Guins) both at the show (briefly) and down the pub, so that was great. You should follow them on twitter, @castlerockcomic and @Shadow1972.

The weirdest part of all this was getting DTHRTL home and realising there was a great parallel between DTHRTL and one of the books I put out this year, Drakon… especially in that last scene. Weird.

*beyond the graphical, hexagram-like two-tier stack of DTHRTL type tucked behind that beautiful cover illustration.

**to be fair, that’s probably just one of the powers of regular bacon (bacon, the unsung superfood).

Papercuts & Inkstains – Issues 1, 2, 3a & 3b

Published by Madius Comics

Various Creators.


Review by Gareth Sleightholme.

“Papercuts…” is a four (or more correctly, three and a bit) issue, b/w horror/SF anthology comic series, at this point amassing a total of 108 pages. Scripts come from staple Madius storytellers, Rob Jones and Mike Sambrook, with art by Brian Burke (Incandescent Memories), Dan Butcher (Vanguard), Rory Donald, Nick Gonzo (50 Signal), Jim Lavery (Zarjaz, Detective Werewolf), Paul Moore, Rosie Packwood, Kevin Pospisil, Mike Smith, Angela Sprecher ( and Stephen Weafer. A title in which the narrative confidence, design and overall quality has improved with each subsequent issue.

Jones and Sambrook’s narratives cover subjects from the hygiene issues of time-travel; married life and zombie death; Poe-esque, raven haunted, existential angst; loopy blue collar occultists; nefarious cosmic corporate-military shenanigans; werewolves; demon-brides; rootin’- tootin’ wild-west gamblin’; vampires; horror hotels; post-modern pop-culture vigilantism; toasted cyclists a T-Rex and… well, you get the picture… all the food groups, with stories veering from humorous to poignant, sinister to action-packed and all paces and atmospheres in between.

Four “Papercuts…” books in and Jones and Sambrook show no signs of slowing either. The enthusiasm for the medium (from all concerned) that rushes out of the pages of the Papercuts & Inkstains anthologies is palpable. At times it feels like being caught by that guy down the pub, the one who tells his stories at a thousand miles an hour, gesticulates wildly without spilling his drink or dropping ash; charismatic and more than a little mad, but somehow compelling. Elsewhere it feels like they’ve tapped into the vibe of those anthology comics you picked up at your first cons, or that strange underground comic that somehow came into your possession as a kid, from who knows where, that left you hanging for more, but kept dragging you back to pour over the panels.

At the book’s heart is the ongoing tale of those urban, ne’er-do-well, would-be acolytes of the dark gods. Smith, Jones & Sambrook’s Profits of Doom, a group of housing estate, hooded high-priests attempting to juggle the seriousness of their occult calling with the vicissitudes of everyday living in a northern town; the madcap humour of this central story, snappy dialogue and the great art a welcome recurrence with each issue.

Other stand out moments for me include Jim Lavery’s sophisticated art style on Together Forever (issue 2), Paul Moore’s dynamic action-packed art on Vampire Wonderland, and the euro-indie stylings of Angela Sprecher on A Roll Of The Dice (issue 3a). But there’s plenty for everyone here.

I’m yet to dig into the rest of the Madius offerings (they’ve published/co-published over a dozen titles in their first year alone), but if P&I is any indicator there is going to be a wealth of great stuff to choose from, their books already having had a run of great reviews from podcasters and other comics creatives…

Now, what’s this about a Funk Soul Samurai?

Follow these loons on twitter: @MadiusComics, @RobJonesWrites, @Rapiaghi, @Nick_Gonzo, @DeadCertMike, @pocketmouse, @imnotdaredevil4, @ARiseToDarkness, @VanguardComic, @sprech4, @karl-ellie, @Burky126, @Jimlavery1, @PMoore121

WesterNoir – Book Three – Siren Song of the Mississippi Mermaids

Published by Accent UK

Dave West (writer) & Gary Crutchley (writer/artist)

Supernatural/Western Genre – b/w, 36 pages.


Reviewed by Gareth Sleightholme

I picked this book up at Thought Bubble (TBF15). They had issues 1 to 4 on the table, but for a first time buy I thought I’d just try the one (though I’m regretting not picking all four up now). I went for issue 3 mostly due to the beautiful mermaid cover featuring Crutchley’s linework along with some equally excellent subtle colours by Matt Soffe.

I’m a sucker for mermaid/sea creature stories*, plus I was raised on westerns by my father so this combination seemed too good to pass up; and it didn’t disappoint. It also turned out I didn’t need to have read the other books to enjoy this issue, it being pretty much a self-contained tale.

The basic premise sees our dour but noble anti-hero protagonist Josiah Black moving through a frontier America, part Silverado, part Maverick. Black seems exhausted, a man who has perhaps seen and done too many bad things, and he appears to be looking for rest or redemption. Following a chance encounter with the beautiful owner of a riverboat casino, the victim in a crime thwarted by our hero, it seems that Black might just have found a place to rest his head. There are twists aplenty however, and soon this redemption story took a darker turn straight into the transformation folk tale territory I love.

Westernoir is definitely a series I’d be willing to read more of, Black’s character seems fully formed in the creator’s imagination and as such, has depths and subtle nuances that make the reader want to know more… the same goes for some of the other obviously recurring characters.

There is some genuine pathos here provided by West’s pacing and dialogue, whilst Crutchley’s art (black & white with some tonal greys) conveys the tale without fuss or confusing over-embellishment, though I’d love to see a whole story given Soffe’s colour treatment.

Check out more from the creators behind Westernoir at:,, @mygrimmbrother and @AccentUK.

*Hence, Severed Head Cult

The books below are those that have been (or in some cases eventually will be) seen gracing our Iron Shod Ape tables at Comic Cons.

If you have seen, picked up, or read any of the books on the list below, please help us out by writing something about it, you can copy us into your reviews via Gareth’s Twitter feed @hesir (we’ll gladly retweet them) or if 140 characters is too little, send your reviews, suggestions or even corrections (laughs) to Thank you, every review helps us.

Beached Rockets – SF anthology, originally published, November 2012

The Beached Rockets 000


Writing & art by Andrew Segal and Damian Street.

The Beached Rockets 001


With stories about Alien Contact, Spaceport Etiquette and Robots amongst other subjects.

The Beached Rockets 002

Issue 1, 24 pages, b/w with one story (8 pages) in full colour.

The Boatman – A gentle ghost story set at sea, originally published, November 2013.

The boatman 000


Written by Alex Weinle with beautiful b/w vector art by Damian Street.

The boatman 002

Find out more here –

The boatman 001

The Cthulhiad…

With writing and art by Gareth Sleightholme (you can read an interview over on InterComics Podcast with Gareth >HERE<), The Cthulhiad is an ongoing series of interwoven existential horror comics that flash backwards to the ancient world, and forwards again to the present day, stopping off at several time periods between… all following the hand-to-hand journeys of a number of occult artefacts and the people that come into contact with them, or are actively seeking them out.

The Cthulhiad also has it’s own blog  that has additional art and writing, expanding upon this universe a little more (it also includes “background/making of/notes” that hopefully add a little more to the experience of reading the physical comics)

The ongoing print based books include (so far):

The Indian Fighter – Originally published November 2012. A violent western (with tentacles), set in the year 1884.

The Indian Fighter Art 000


A nameless soldier of few redeeming qualities and violent predisposition detaches from his unit with a band of like tempered mercenaries on a secret mission to hunt down a gang of thieves who have ransacked a church.

The Indian Fighter Art 001

But what have the thieves taken? And what will be the cost of retrieving it?

The Indian Fighter Art 002

One by one our gang of cut-throats begin to realise, perhaps they aren’t the scariest things in the wilderness.

The Indian Fighter Art 003

48pages, b/w, Currently out of print – An online colour version is in the works…

Vanitas – existential horror… Originally published November 2014.

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48pages, b/w

Severed Head Cult – concerning the hunting of creatures in Copenhagen amongst other things… Originally published November 2014.

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Scan 50

48pages, b/w

The White ShipDrakonTheogeny – The Lance, Ashkelon Trilogy.

Book Drakon –Originally published November 2015. (page preview below) follows on from The White Ship (Video Trailer above)…

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An old man tells his protege’s the secret history that inspired the organisation they all work for. The real story of Georgios of Lod and his battle against a giant serpent in a far flung temple in Roman North Africa.

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Along the way we come across a variety of curious human and seemingly mythological characters and places. With many of them perhaps being not quite what they first seem to be.

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Three books, each 48 pages, b/w.

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The final instalment of this retelling of the story of St George and the Dragon, Theogeny, will debut this year.


The Adventures of The Red Corsair.

xx Scan 91

Currently a work in progress… Following the adventures of a team of artefact hunters working in secret as part of a effort to remove from harm potentially dangerous artefacts and items of occult power during the 1930’s leading up to WWII.

xx Scan 98

The first story sees our hero sneak in and then fight their way out of a secret Nazi stronghold in the eastern Baltic… 

and should I ever get time…

Toxic Shopping – currently under reconstruction as a webcomic.

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some of which first manifested in this…

Dog Food Island – a one shot ashcan mini-comic containing some old Toxic Shopping tales amongst other strips.






If you like these you may also be interested in Horrere and The King’s Leap.

Work in progress on one of at least five new comics projects due this year…

You might remember our hero Ake, from the panel at the top of page 2 of Rob Jones and my (Gareth here) collaboration from last year, The King’s Leap. Here he is as I refine his facial features, along with other viking and giant types.

x Ake's Head

…and in typical hero pose.

x Ake

x Fighting Giants 002

The giants are going to be fun…

x Fighting Giants 001

x Ymir and the Fisherman's Daughter

x Fighting Giants 003

And here some of the other travellers and ambassadors that appear at the great thing-meet…

Thing Meet Characters

Where Ake’s Trial takes a turn for the worse…

x The Cages and Viking Types

There should be some more fixed panelled pages beginning to appear very soon.

There are various reviews of last year’s book knocking around on the internet, but THIS is one of my favourites… 😉

Oh and if you want to find out more about Rob, Mike and our other brothers over at Madius check them out in full flow on THIS podcast from the guys at Games & Graphics.