Thursday, 28 June 2012


For the next two week wunderkind Tim Hart takes the controls of the blog and tells us how his epic steampunk tale Victoriana came about.


Names are important. A name can tell you much about a person. “Mourndak the Destroyer” is unlikely to be a primary school teaching assistant.

So when it came to naming the Bast siblings I had to have a bit of fun. For years the industry has played with alliterative names like “Peter Parker” or “Mickey Mouse” but I wanted something that sounded more striking. Originally they were going to be the “Isis” children, and someone or other (more likely Vicky) pointed out the Egyptian Goddess of Cats was Bast. So one name change later I knew I had the best choice of name.

So to the siblings:

Maggs: (Magdalene) This was a clear reference to the Biblical figure in the New Testament. Mary Magdalene was an early follower of Christ. This element would foreshadow her later nature and position within the group as the element of Soul. Inevitably her name being slightly complicated to pronounce it would be shortened at the orphanage for ease and thus an instant personality was born. I did consider “Maggie” but dismissed it early on.

Harmony was an ironic name choice, given the force of her nature. “Harm” would be her nickname from the Mortal Accademy. I didn’t need too much else, she personifies Body

Julius is an amalgam of people I have met during my life that I didn’t like. This sounds harsh but I wanted to make Julius unlikeable. Knowing my luck, he’ll be the favourite of all the ladies who read Victoriana. To a degree he channels Julius Ceaser, the Roman emperor. Also it’s my nod to the great comedian Groucho Marx, as Julius is his real name. Also “Jules” would be his nickname from his childhood that he hates for its familiarity. Julius personifies the darkside that is hidden in each of us.

Now Alice, you see, was the tricky one. I had thought of many different names but none seemed to fit until I hit upon Alice, which is a good, solid name that is unlikely to be shortened or abbreviated. She is the personification of Mind – and what a mind she has! She also appears to be the most popular character at the moment.
Clothes make a man, or cat-person in the case here.

The designs for the Bast sibling’s clothes were based on rough ideas of mine and then visualised by Saskia. The only one who has gone through any kind of major modification was Maggs, she was first in the designs that Saskia sent me. Her look was to be between a Nuns' habit and a Governesses dress. This would convey a divine and caring personality. The George version only needed some redone sleeves and she was ready to go, the avatar of clerical efficiency. 

Harmony was practically all Saskia's work, my only specifications were 'hair in three braids' and 'armoured Corset' (the main stay of Steampunk culture next to goggles). Harm in my head had a piratical flair about her. The armoured corset was a subtle hint to her nature with a large dose of glamour. Beyond that it was all Saskia. In the transition to George style the only modification of was the 'Skort' that was introduced. This fitted in perfectly with the eccentric nature of the Steampunk Genre. At any given meeting of the genre, there will always be very different dress styles but easily designated as 'Steampunk'. The goggles are a big giveaway you see.

Alice was the easiest to do, Victorian scientist, but the actual uniform is quite mannish as this is the era where women aren't so equal. So Alice is the Tomboy of the group and her eccentric nature is shown through her constant wearing of mismatched boots and the glasses. (Actually clear lensed, she has no myopia).

Julius (not yet seen) prompted a question from George, 'What kind of Ninja? Naruto? or proper ones'? They are proper ones so you shall fear not! Some days Anime has a lot to answer for. I look forward to seeing Asian Steampunk element in the comic. Many years ago at primary school I saw a play where the main focus was a mechanical nightingale. If that isn't Steampunk, I don't know what is. Julius dresses like a classic ninja. Nuff said.

Thursday, 21 June 2012


This week there is more of the Gazetteer I produced for the CO2 preview. Over the coming months there will be more background material in the build up to the first novel being released next March, it will be premiered at the Cardiff  Comic Expo-but more of that in the future. Over the summer, if you can call the torrential downpour we are having in the south-west of the UK a summer, I shall be previewing background material for Victoriana as well, but more of that later...


Iroquois League
Originally known as the Five Nations by Europeans, the Iroquois refer to themselves as the Haudenosaunee. The formation of the League dates back to the 1450’s and was until the advent of the Europeans an aggressive, expansionist culture. Decimated by disease after contact with Europeans, the League was the first indigenous group to seek nation status within the Church.
Since this time the League have prospered and is believed to have reach similar population size as pre-European contact. Excellent agriculturists the League is an important food producer for the continent.
The League is also famous for its medical skills and has been a leader in fighting the pestilences that have scoured the globe in the last hundred and fifty years.

Mohawk Nation
Famous for their building skills, Mohawk technicians worked with Adaptor Gaudi in the development of the adapted coral (see entry). The Mohawk Nation has produced many fine technicians who have been instrumental in the adaption of flora and fauna to aid the Church’s vision.
Like the Iroquois, the Mohawk have prospered and it is estimated that their population may be in excess of pre-European contact.

Maori Confederacy
Describing themselves as the Tangata Whenua, the peoples of the Maori Confederacy arrived in their present home the islands of the Southern Ocean around 1250. They soon developed a distinctive and robust culture.
European contact in 1740 was limited until the Church wrested control of Southern Oceania from the Dutch in the 1830. There has been much debate as to whether or not the Maori should be removed from their island chain as they are recent arrivals and the islands Balanced, as the larger Great Southern Island has been. There has been a reluctance to this and with the Dragon Wars consuming much of the Church’s resources the Maori have been left in relative isolation.
Since their arrival in the Southern Island Chain the Maori population has increased at a steady rate. There have been requests by the Maori for permission to colonise the Great Southern Island but this has been denied leading to tension between the Church and the Confederacy.  

New Mexico
Popularly referred to as The Sealed Lands, New Mexico has been in self instigated quarantine since the first pestilence (see Coughing Red Bloom entry). Like the rest of those peoples downpressed by the cruel Castilian dictatorship, the Mexica (pronounced Mesheeca), commonly referred to as Aztecs or Neo-Aztecs within the Church lands, have blossomed under the Church’s benign patronage.
No outsider has set foot into New Mexico since 1851. The Mexica were hard hit by the Coughing Red Blossom and took the drastic measure of quarantining their whole country. The Church is still able to monitor their adherence to the Balance thanks to the invention of the airship(see entry).
The Mexica are skilled craftsmen and their feather work, cloaks, murals, and clothing are highly prized, as are the few sculptures that have been presented to various Church officials and individuals. As the Mexica are importers rather than exporters of technology the exact level of the sciences is difficult to determine.
Statistics of the Mexica are impossible to obtain. It is thought that the population at least rivals that of the time of European contact.

Always a friend of the Church, the Shogunate of Nippon has been held by members of the Tokugawa family since the 1600’s. Given the isolationist policies of the Shogunate and its proximity to the Dragon Empire, it was understandable that Nippon would become the second client state of the Church.
The Shogunate supported The Church in its wars against the Dragon Empire (see entry-The Dragon Wars) to the extent that an elite cadre of samurai took part in the storming of the Dragon Palace.
Nippon is said to have developed the best information machines outside of the Church, improving and developing the standard designs. Nippon has recently been allowed to move into land that was once part of the Dragon Empire as a eward for their loyalty.

Tierra del Fuego
Reduced, after first contact with Europeans, to a mere 600 souls, the Yamana and Akaluf peoples of Tierra del Fuego have made an astonishing recovery since gaining the support of the Church. Such disastrous contact was not unusual amongst indigenous peoples when the first Europeans they met were Castilians, as in the case of Terra del Fuego.
Tierra del Fuego provides the Church with skilled technicians to support the work of the Adaptors. Indeed Darwin’s first technician, Simon, was from Tierra del Fuego (see entry). The country has a high standard of living and is technically sophisticated, while maintaining an adherence to the principles of the church.

The Shona peoples of Zimbabwe have had a chequered relationship with the Church, the origins of this date from the fact that the eastern seaboard of the African continent was within the Dragon Empire sphere of influence until 1810. A land of small farms the Shona have criticised the Church claiming that there has been a policy of withholding technology from them.
Zimbabwe exports food and has been petitioning the Church for a greater degree of autonomy and the right to develop limited industrialisation. This has not be forthcoming from the Church.

Next week there will be more information about Victoriana. Tim Hart will be spilling the beans on behind the scenes!

Thursday, 14 June 2012


I thought this week I would return to the world of CO2 and share some of the background material about the world. The following was originally written for the Preview book but due to space constraints it was not possible to include it.
The information takes the form of a gazetteer of the world and is the sort of book that every school child would have had, every school child under the benevolent rule of The Church of the Holy Footprint that is.
This is the most Holy Land on the planet. Jesus visited before beginning his blessed ministry, he travelled here with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea, who was a trader in tin. Jesus undertook a pilgrimage to Glastonbury and after negotiating the maze preached to the wild heathens on the top of the Tor.
For many years Albion was ruled by the corrupt and unholy cabal of self interest that we know as The Tory Misrule. Thankfully the good people of Albion rose up and threw off the yoke of downpression, casting the foul Tories out of power and showing them true compassion that they had denied to all their victims when in power. Only the degenerate Arthur Wellesley, the last Tory despot was hung. The rest of the miserable, Godless, Tory rabble was relocated to the first re-education camp in Catford, where they were assisted to reflect on their crimes against humanity and God.  
The Isles of Albion were named after the William Blake poem, the Isles of Albion has had many names over the years, including, England, the United Kingdom and Britannia. It is now the headquarters of the Church, with Glastonbury as its spiritual axis.
Since 1873 the public has been forbidden access to the Holy Tor but a facsimile was opened in 1876 in Essex. This has become the biggest religious attraction in the world.  
A small island that is a neutral state linked to the Church by treaty (see Bowring Treaty). Sonar is the major port in the region and the people of Bali are loyal supporters of the work of the Church against the Jihadists. Many Balinese work for the Church.
Bali is famous for its cloth and carvings. It is the home of gamelan (see entry), a popular form of music across the Church lands. Master gamelan musicians regularly tour the world.
Catalan Confederacy
Originally founded by the Romans, Barcelona was the capital of the Catalan Confederacy. Long time allies of Albion, the Confederacy was amicably absorbed into the body of the Church in 1899. One of the chief manufacturing centres of the Church, Barcelona is a thriving city of approximately one million souls. It is also the transport hub for the Mediterranean canton. It is reputed that Barcelona is the most beautiful city in the world.
Like the rest of the Iberian Peninsula Catalonia was overrun by the armies of treacherous Kings of Castile (see entry). This downpression lasted for 250 years, during which the Catalan people refused to be absorbed into the Castilian Kingdom and retained their individual identity, in the face of considerable hardship and persecution.
Aided by one of the last corrupt Tory governments the people of Catalonia overthrew the Castilian dictatorship, marching into Madrid on the 9th September 1743. Bloody Isabella, the last Castilian tyrant died in the fire that burned the Royal palace to the ground, this appears to have been started by the defenders themselves and has long been held up as defining example of Castilian arrogance, in that they would rather perish in flames before reaching a compromise. Madrid was subsequently abandoned and the whole plateau Balanced.
Having liberated the whole of the Castilian dictatorship, the victorious Catalan forces, aided by English advisors, then liberated the Catalan speaking peoples of France, at that time in the chaos of a revolution, eventually the Catalan Confederacy covered three quarters of France as well as all of the Iberian Peninsula, save for the Portuguese Protectorate.
Barcelona and the surrounding area is one of the workshops of the world and Catalan scientists have long contributed to the effectiveness of the Church. By the end of the nineteenth century it was amicably absorbed into the Church.
Catalonia is famous for its airship building skills, and it was Catalan scientists who responded to the challenge of the bioethanol engines and the one man fliers of the Dragon Empire, adapting the basic design to the needs of the church.
Indian Sub-Continent
Such the time of the John Company (see entry) the collection of diverse states and kingdoms that make up the subcontinent have been allies of first the English and since the Glorious Revolution of 1807 the Church. Naturally industrious and good organisers many Indians have become administrators across the globe and they are universally regarded as great traders.
The population of the subcontinent has doubled in the last hundred years but this has been ameliorated by emigration.
The Inuit peoples of the far frozen north lands are a loose collection of culturally similar peoples. They have been under the guardianship of the Church since its formation. Prior to this they were exploited by the French (see entry) during which time their number fell, since then, however the population has increased to what it is thought to have been before European first contact.

That will have to do for this week. There will be more next week. Write and tell me what you think of the world of CO2, would you like to live there?

Thursday, 7 June 2012


Patrick is an unsung hero here at Corvus. He is the man who quietly gets on with it and is at every show, selling and sketching, in short, in the hideous language of advertising; Patrick is our unique selling point. Patrick has been around since Corvus began and has been an essential asset from day one.
You may know him from his involvement in The Baker Street Irregulars, Patrick has helped to shape the concept in to what it is today. A shy man I caught up with hi recently to ask him those six questions.

How did you get started in this business?

I have always had a love of comics from as long as I can remember. I used to draw my own strips as a child trying to emulate the great artists. I really enjoyed the adventure stories in the Hornet or the Hotspur and the Commando books. From that I attended a few of the conventions in England and made contact with other like-minded people, I concentrated more on inking after meeting a professional at a convention and suggested I work in this area. I was able to strike up a conversation with another great professional artist Anthony Williams and he gave me advice and guidance on how to improve, he also gave me artwork both original and photocopies to practice with. From that help I got a try-out with Marvel but unfortunately I rushed it because I was moving house at the time and didn’t get picked up. I worked briefly with Paul J Holden who now is a very successful artist.  By this time I had met David Morris and we had started collaborating on bits and pieces.  We had always wanted to get our own stuff out there. David was already published with Force 10 and we collaborated with other creators with varying degrees of success. With the introduction of digital printing we could move forward with our own ideas. We started this with Baker Street Irregulars and with your good self and Tim now involved our range of titles has grown with more in the wings. We are now looking for more artists. It’s a great position to be in but a frustrating one because we want them all out. We agreed from the start that we want a very high standard in all of our books, quality in both the script art and overall presentation was imperative. Independent comic’s standards have grown over the years and the market is very competitive. I believe we have achieved this with the titles we have now out. We want to be different from other peer titles, great stories and great visuals.

Who are your influences?

Artists wise it would have to be Alan Davis, John Byrne, the Buscemas , the Romitas, Steve Dillon the list would be endless, Frank Hampton from even earlier great art and craft and of course David. Inking wise it would be Mark Farmer, Andy Lanning, Scott Hanna, Art Thilbert and again many more. I love all their attention to detail and always wish I could have half of their talent. I like mainstream creators just as much as indie. In recent years I have been reading French books from Cinebooks which have great stories and art and are influencing our approach to our titles.

What are you working on at the moment?

Currently both David and I are working on getting BSI 2 out over the next few months. I am trying to also polish up on my pencilling and will maybe take a stab at something in the future. David is the busiest man working  on your very own baby CO2 towards publishing the first issue next year and the first issue of Dee for Detective later next year both 48 pages apiece.  

What’s coming up?

For me I have written a BSI story arc and have a new character I have written which will hopefully see the light of day sometime next year, I have been also inking BSI 2 and hopefully Dee for Detective in the coming months.

Character or plot, which comes first?

It can vary, the new character I have been fleshing out I came up with the character and the plot simultaneously. But usually for me it is character first and then find an environment in which to place the character and mess up their lives. I like the idea of having the characters and fleshing them out through the story line rather than having the character fully formed before the story.

In the film of your life who would play you?

Richard Dreyfuss, my favourite actor. He is far better looking however he now has my hair colouring and hairline. That’s the sum total of our similarities.

Thanks Pat, as you say BSI 2 is coming our way soon and I for one can’t wait to read it. I know it’s going to be a great read.