New Cover for Small Shen

Hi folks! It’s been 3 months since I finished “Fabled Kingdom” v3, and I’ve spent the past 3 months getting it into print and going on a long-awaited trip to Japan. It’s been a relief to finishing the “Fabled Kingdom” series, and I realised that I was so exhausted that I’m still stuck in holiday mode. Still, I’ve got a few shorter projects lined up, and I’ve also finished my short horror story “Mother and Son“, so I’ll be working on those this year while I practice my colouring and plan my next graphic novel.

Fabled Kingdom News: You can now buy the series in print from my webstore, with FREE SHIPPING for Australia and the US (USD$10 for international), and also on Amazon (Book 1, Book 2, Book 3), where a random fan of “The Dreaming” left several 5-star reviews!

The other piece of good news is that the “Fabled Kingdom” series is selling quite well at cons. In a completely unexpected turn, I’ve been selling the series as a box set and seeing a lot of sales. It seems that people want to buy the full set, and I’ve been getting rave reviews about the strong ending to book 3 as well. It seems that a good story with a strong ending is always popular!

New Small Shen Cover: My collaboration with author Kylie Chan on her novel “Small Shen” came out in 2012, and is still selling 5 years later in 2017. For those who don’t know, “Small Shen” is a prequel to Kylie’s best-selling “White Tiger” series, a 9-book Chinese Fantasy series that finished last year. Kylie and I have always owned the international rights for “Small Shen“, and since the book has never been published in dead tree format in the international market, we’re re-releasing the book with a new cover in 2017. If negotiation for the Australian rights go well good, we should be able to sell it in Australia too.

Here’s the new front/back cover for the “Small Shen” book:

Comics-Prose – We Are The Pickwicks

Last week, House of Odd was #7 on the New York Times Bestseller List! Many thanks to Landry Walker (writer) and Dean Koontz (original creator)! I should also thank everyone who bought the book as well – I hope you all enjoyed it!

Other news this week will be my new 10-page short story, We Are The Pickwicks. This was done as part of a “Peter Pan”-themed anthology with the folks at BentoComics.com, and this time I chose to do things a little differently. I decided to mix comics and prose together, in a hybrid form I call Comics-Prose (I used to call this ‘Graphic-Prose’, but I realise ‘Comics-Prose’ is a more accurate description).

 
We Are The Pickwicks2

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We Are The Pickwicks3
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We Are The Pickwicks3
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We Are The Pickwicks3

Click here to read the next page –>

 

What is Comics-Prose?
It’s a story-telling medium that combines both prose and comics. This is not like a picture book, where there is usually a block of text, accompanied by illustrations that may or may not have anything to do with the text. Instead, this looks to integrate the comics into the prose, to make a single, coherent narrative. Reading both the comics and the prose is necessary.

Now, I’m not the first person to combine prose and comics, but the difference here is that most attempts of this kind I’ve seen have pages of comics, followed by pages of text. This can make for an unbalanced reading experience. In comparison, I did mine with comics and prose integrated on EACH page, which means there’s no prolonged chunks of prose or comics alone. I feel it makes a more immersive reading experience.

 

How Did This Come About?
In 2010, I was approached by author Kylie Chan, who showed me her (yet unpublished) book Small Shen. It was the prequel to her best-selling White Tiger Fantasy series, and she asked me do something “graphic novel-related” with it. I took this to mean some kind of adaptation. Now, anyone who has ever done an adaptation knows how hard they can be. Generally, it involves taking a hacksaw to the original script and eliminating entire side-plots, so the story can fit under a certain number of comic pages. This has to be done due to time and money constraints, and like film adaptations, there’s little that can help the chopping and cutting.

I’ve always wished things were different, so when I started adapting Small Shen, I tried to preserve Kylie’s “voice” as much as possible, while still bringing engaging art to the story. Prose authors who are unfamiliar with comics can often find adaptations of their work a brutal process – comics can give the impression that it’s 50% writing, and 50% art, but that’s not really true. The real split is closer to 30% writing and 70% art. The reason for this split is because even though you can have the world’s greatest script, an incompetent artist can ruin it with bad story-telling, inexpressive art and paneling that’s hard to follow. Conversely, if you have a good artist, you can elevate an average script into a good story. This difference is even more pronounced when it comes to adaptations – the original author often finds their “voice” reduced to just tinkering with the dialogue, while the artist gives shape and form to everything else. For prose authors, who are used to being masters of their own universes, it can be deeply unsettling.

Small Shen had a lot of un-cuttable conversations, so instead of pages of talking heads in comics, I decided to just leave it in prose. This then led to leaving entire paragraphs in prose, only adding panels and pages when called for, and when I was done adapting Small Shen to script form, I had something that I found quite special. This gave me the confidence to write a short story, entirely from scratch, in such a prose-comics hybrid form. That story was We are the Pickwicks.

 
Click here to read more of my thoughts on Comics-Prose –>
 

#1 New York Times bestseller!

A whole bunch of stuff to announce this month, thanks to Halloween. I’m currently working on “Odd Thomas” vol3, and at the end of this month, I’m heading off to Turkey for the Turkish International Book Fair, due to the Turkish version of “The Dreaming”. It’s going to be a fun trip and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the sights of Istanbul, as well as visiting some of the schools there for workshops and talks.

Then, onto the two Halloween-themed books I have that’s already out:

 

Odd Is On Our SideThe Dreaming - Omnibus

 

The first book is the next Odd Thomas book, “Odd Is On Our Side”, which came out the 5th October and is #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers list! Does that mean I can now use NYT #1 bestselling as a tagline? Fame by association. Conversely, when the first book “In Odd We Trust” came out, the NYT graphic novel list didn’t even yet exist.

 

#1 NYT Bestseller

 

Also, “The Dreaming: Perfect Collection”, which is all three volumes of “The Dreaming” series (plus a short story) combined into one big brick of a book. “The Dreaming” series was what got me the Odd Thomas job, so if you want to see what the fuss is about, then the “Perfect Collection” is a good investment.

 
 

More about “Odd Is On Our Side”
“Odd Thomas” is a series of books by the best-selling suspense author Dean Koontz, and centers around a psychic fry book who sees dead people. Odd is one of Dean’s most popular characters, thus prompting a few graphic novel prequels (with a few more in the works). The books are a mix of action, mystery and humour, and are suitable for all ages.

I’ve got to thank Dean Koontz for his wonderful characters, and Fred Van Lente for being such a fantastic script writer. This was my first time drawing to someone else’s script (second time was “Boy’s Book of Positive Quotations”), and you can’t ask for a better script than the one Fred penned. I also want to thank my toner Dee DuPuy, who is a way better toner than myself. And ofcourse my editor Betsy, agent Judy and Del Rey for making this book happen.

 

Panel from In Odd We Trust

From the first page of "Odd Is On Our Side", where Odd sits outside his house


 
 

More about “The Dreaming: Perfect Collection”
“The Dreaming” is a 3-volume horror-mystery series set in the Australian bush, about a series of student disappearances in a remote private boarding school. The series ran from 2004-2007, and this 2010 omnibus is a collection of all three volumes (plus a short story) into a single book. The series is suitable for teens aged 13 and up, and there’s no objectionable material in it (not even any gore).

You can read more about this series at my site. A movie’s in the works too.

 

Panel from "The Dreaming" Omnibus

From the short story, Millie's nephew.