Cy Dethan Finishes Script for ‘Whatever the Cost’

I’m pleased to announce that Cy Dethan, who has already penned four comic scripts for Unseen Shadows, has not only agreed to tackle a fifth but the script is already complete.

‘Whatever the Cost’ is a story centred around Luther Washington, who is an agent of T.O.R.C.H. Luther will be no stranger to those who have read the novel as he is one of the major players in the story. In Cy’s script we see Luther on a mission which goes somewhat awry and forces him to take a long hard look at the choices he has made.

Nic Wilkinson, Cy’s partner in crime will be handling the lettering duties and Sara Westrop will be over seeing the project as its editor. We are however still looking for an artist and colourist for the project. If you’re interested in getting involved then please check the submission pages for further details.

 

 

Behind the Shadows: The Crusader and the Soldier

So here we are again with another peek behind the shadowy curtain of the our little transmedia project. This week Richmond Clements, writer of the Unseen Shadows comics Historia and Operation Solomon talks about the two lead characters from those stories – Steph Connisbee and Kathryn Monroe.

Over to you Richmond.

As I have written for both Steph Connisbee and Kathryn Monroe (with a little Victoria Sullivan thrown in), Barry has asked me to write a bit about them.

When I first came on board and was reading the novel and looking for a character to pitch for Kathryn and Steph were two who stood out for me. .

The Crusader

kathryn

Kathryn Monroe

Kathryn’s nightmares were inspired by the real terrors of her former work; murder, rape, mutilation, they were not just headlines in the morning paper. Each headline brought with it past images that were burned into her subconscious.  The faces of those she could not save.  Kathryn saw them all, felt their pain, their frustration. Why? Why them? Each time the answer was different. A different craving that could only be satisfied with blood.  – Fallen Heroes

I loved Kathryn’s entire attitude to life. The constant, vague level of disappointment she feels about humanity is something I can appreciate. But she also has a streak of hope in there that we can do better.  And her willingness to do what is right, and not just what the law demands is something a writer can enjoy playing with.

Kathryn  works as an investigator for a special section of the United Nations called T.O.R.C.H (Tactical, Operational Response and Control Headquarters ).  Her greatest tools are her intelligence and her imagination. The way she sees a crime scene is something her colleagues cannot fully comprehend but neither can they argue with the results from her work.  Kathryn has a quick mind, and a barbed tongue to match, and god help anyone who gets on the wrong side of either of them.

Whenever I went to the pub with my old karate teacher he would always sit so he could see all the exits, never allowed friends or students to come up behind him. In any given situation he was the most prepared and most dangerous person in the room (even though he never looked it) and that is how I see Kathryn. I think readers of Fallen Heroes saw about twenty percent of what Kathryn is capable of  but in the next novel you will see just how dangerous she really is. – Barry Nugent

historiap.6

The Soldier

stephbm1

Steph Connisbee

“I’m still not happy about this.”

Ben remembered the last time he had seen Steph unhappy. It was six months ago. She had broken her ex-boyfriend’s arm in three places after he had made the mistake of stealing from her. – Fallen Heroes

On my first read of Fallen Heroes, it was Steph who really made an impact. Strong physically and mentally and also very funny, brave, loyal and capable. And apart from that, she had a big hole in her back story that I was able to exploit for Operation Solomon! When we first meet her in the book, Steph is working as a criminal, but her life before (and indeed, what comes next) is equally exciting.

Steph used to be a pilot in the US Navy. She flew her helicopter on deadly night missions in some of the deadliest warzones in the world. She has coaxed it into manoeuvres that almost defy physics, and are well beyond courageous. She is not just a good pilot, she is a great one. Her skill and innate, instinctive ability are without question.

Steph is my Chewbecca…loyal to a fault but will rip your arms out of your sockets if you cross her. She is one of the most moral of all the characters in the book, despite her criminal profession. Hopefully readers who enjoyed her in Fallen heroes will enjoy her even more in Forgotten Warriors as she very much takes the centre stage when it comes to the plot. – Barry Nugent

OSpreview

You’ll notice when I listed the strengths/ character traits of both Kathryn and Steph ‘female’ is not among them. While it is very important  that they are both highly capable female characters who work in the male dominated areas of law enforcement and the military, being female is not their character. It does not define them.

Barry knew this – he wrote people, not just men and women. It seems like a simple and obvious thing to say, but it really isn’t. Far too many writers seem to think being male or female is a character trait (Gone Girl, I’m looking at you). But people are first and foremost just people.

And Kathryn and Steph are two of the coolest people I know.

 

 

Behind the Shadows: The Colour of Vengeance

reverend

Dean opened the paper and began reading the contents aloud.  “Despair for I walk among you, and I am the right hand of vengeance.”

“I don’t buy it, one man couldn’t do all this,” said Dean.

Beauford looked around as the crime scene investigators began the grisly work of processing the scene. “If you want my advice, start stocking up on empty body bags and making space in the morgue, I get the feeling this guy is just getting started.” – Fallen Heroes

In this week’s Behind the Shadows we hand the reigns over to Gat Melvin, the colourist on Wrath of God. In the development of the project Gat’s use of colour was instrumental in telling the blood soaked tale of The Reverend. So without further ado…over to Gat.

Greetings, Shadow-Reader.

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve come out the other side of the psychedelic-violence and tortured roller-coaster, that is the Wrath of God.

The decision to use colour, as a visual narrator was an idea to help break up the separate timelines and eras in the Reverend’s life, dreams of a troubled childhood, hallucinations violent actions, the simplicity and truth of happiness and the concept of, ‘Reverend Vision’

There are four timelines portrayed in the story, which are:
1 – The present day

2 – The Reverend’s training

3 –  The Reverend as a boy

4 – ‘The Maria Chronicle’

wrath page 10

The bright, white-washed dream effect for The Reverend as a boy. Childhood is suppose to be a time of happiness and innocence, but for the Reverend, life has dealt him a very different hand of cards. With the change of his face,The Reverend leaves his past life to his dreams and begins to see the world as ‘the monster’.

wrath page 04

This is where the idea of ‘Reverend vision’ was born.  Remembering the film, Predator and how the alien saw in an infrared spectrum, I wanted to do something similar with the Reverend.  While he sees the
sky as blue and the grass as green, violence – death, brings life to him.

When we first meet the Reverend, he’s a man in his 50’s so his ‘Reverend Vision’ is strong, highly-saturated colours and strange mixes of tones, so it became a good tie-in.

wrath page 2

However when we go back into his past and most importantly his  training, the tones are much less saturated and obscure, that he is still learning this way of violence, still learning the ‘way of the dark side’.

wrath page 08

Why then, is his time with Maria in a mono-chrome you ask?

The Reverend knows violence, utter, bloody violence.  And what does one who knows only hate and brings destruction hope for?  My opinion…love. A simple word, a simple desire, the simplicity of black and white.

‘If a bird lives its whole life in a cage and all it knows, is the cage, does the bird even know the cage exists?’

His time with Maria are the best times of his life, he doesn’t need anything else, life is simple and shown through the monochromatic feel of this time.

wrath page 14

I hope you guys have really enjoyed the story and that I’ve given you more insight into everything that is Wrath of God.

wrath page panel 15

Now, ‘Go get your orange on’
– Gat Melvyn

Wrath of God is available now on Comixology

Behind the Shadows – Crossing Continents With Transmedia

Fallen Heroes coverfh1cover smallfh cover aTOTF2cover

The first time someone mentioned the term Transmedia to me I was already collaborating with four project teams. We were working to produce a comic anthology centered on my urban fantasy novel Fallen Heroes. I was also co-writing the first episode of an audio drama spin off. The name I gave to this transmedia project was Unseen Shadows, which referred to the trilogy I was working on, of which Fallen Heroes was the first.

Barry-Nugent-Fallen-Heroes-300x224

My goal in using transmedia was to create stories in other mediums that could be enjoyed as stand alone adventures. However, when those stories were combined with the novel they would expand the world established within its pages. This meant that a single line of prose within the novel could be transformed into a 22 page comic or a supporting character could take the lead in a five part audio drama.

“I thought so,” said Napoleon, walking to the jeep, and without looking back, he climbed in. Vincent was already there, starting the engine.

Kelsey started crawling towards the jeep.  “Please,” he pleaded.  “Don’t leave me like this, you must help me.”

After a few moments, a revolver flew back over the jeep, landing next to Bob.  The next he knew, he was bursting into a fit of coughing, his lungs full of a combination of carbon monoxide, gravel and sand.  The tears came easily as he watched  the jeep pull away from him, leaving him alone with the revolver. 

The above few lines of prose from the novel spawned a spin off comic one shot centered around the character Bob Kelsey who was was a minor character in the novel.

BobKelseypage04

An Unseen Shadows project begins when someone, usually a writer, reads the novel and wants to become involved. I start by asking them what character they want to work on rather than choose one for them. This has led to some interesting choices, including both main and very minor characters being given the transmedia treatment.

The next stage is for the writer to give me a brief overview of their idea. Once I’m on board they will work up a full pitch, including any suggestions I may have made, before moving onto the scripting stage. At the same time the artist begins work on the main character sketches.

steph sketch new

Steph Connisbee from the upcoming graphic novel ‘The Chimera Factor’

In my goal to create stand-alone routes into the novel I am involved in every stage of the process. I approve each story pitch, comic or audio script, character design and every line of dialogue spoken by a voice actor.

There are currently around forty writers, artists, letterers, colourists, graphic designers and voice actors working within the Unseen Shadows team. Their talent and experience are as diverse as their backgrounds and locale. Members can be found in the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa and the US.

Overseeing a team spread across the world is definitely a challenge. I quickly found that email, cloud storage and social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype were the greatest weapons in my communication arsenal.

All the past and future Unseen Shadows projects are stored using cloud storage. The projects are divided into folders with each one containing scripts, artwork, sound files and more, with access provided for relevant team members. This helps avoid any time zone issues as folders can be accessed 24/7.

dropbox

I created an Unseen Shadows Facebook group where team members could share developments, discuss ideas, welcome new members and anything else they wanted to use it for. I also use the group to feedback on the progress of future novels or anything else of importance.

One of the main issues a writer working in collaborative fiction must face is the time demands. Projects have to be managed, timescales set and monitored. In some cases I have been the main reason that progress on a project has stalled. This can be because a team is waiting for me to read a script, approve a character or respond to an urgent email before they can continue.

A significant amount of my own writing time is spent overseeing the transmedia and collaborative elements of Unseen Shadows and that can be hard. However knowing the huge amount of work the team members are putting into their projects and seeing the end results spurs me on to manage my time better, which can only be a good thing for my writing in the long run.

kathrynm

Kathryn Monroe in ‘The Heart Which Makes Us’

Working within these different mediums has meant that to effectively manage the teams I had to develop, at least, a basic understanding of the terminology within each medium be it comics, audio or more recently film. It also pays to know some of the advantages and disadvantages of working within in each one. I have been lucky to find a lot of people along the way willing to offer me help and advice on that front.

The positives with working on collaborative fiction are many but overall it is the feeling of never being alone. In the dark days when the fear of a blank screen comes calling, a piece of art, a new script or question is not far behind. The light never goes off in the world of Unseen Shadows and knowing there is always someone at work is a great motivator.

NS-armyofset

A look at ‘Napoleon’ Stone and the Army of Set’ A choose your own adventure story which is currently in development.

These extremely talented people work on these projects not for the money, as all profits go back into the development of new projects, but because they love the source material. They constantly challenge me with their ideas, questions and suggestions for new ways to expand this world they have had a hand in developing.

I have found over the years that these new stories and characters have influenced me in unexpected ways. I have already referenced several of the events and characters created in the comics and audio drama in the second novel. An example of this is the character Victoria Sullivan, who was created for the audio drama and as such was never in the novel. I loved Fiona Paul’s portrayal of Victoria so much in the audio drama that not only is character in ‘Forgotten Warriors’ the sequel to ‘Fallen Heroes’ but she is also in a six page comic (Fight or Flight) and an upcoming graphic novel (The Chimera Factor).

Victoria Sullivan in Fight or Flight

Working with the teams has taught me how to express to a writer why a particular line of dialogue does not work or to an artist why a character sketch does not feel right. This has helped me with my own self editing when I write.

The last two years has been a great training ground for learning when to step in and when to step back and trust these talented people with my world. The collaboration aspects of the various projects have given me a deeper understanding of my own characters as I watch them written, drawn and spoken by others.

10 tips for collaborative fiction

  • Your story may be at the heart of everything but in the realm of collaborative fiction you need the creative lifeblood of your team to keep that heart beating. Respect them and their opinions.
  • Ensure your team has a clear idea of what you expect of them before they join the project. I have a statement of intent document, which every member of the team receives, which must be read and its terms agreed to before they can join the project.
  • Never dismiss ideas out of hand.
  • Used wisely, social media can be a great aid to team communication. Used poorly it can a massive time drain.
  • No one knows your world better than you but always be prepared to back up your decisions with reasons that don’t start with ‘It’s my book so…’
  • Never be scared to get your hands dirty in another medium yourself. (I had never seen an audio script before Unseen Shadows much less co-written one.)
  • Try to gain an understanding of the terminology used within the mediums you will be working in.
  • Collaborative fiction can be a huge time commitment. Keep that in mind when deciding which projects to undertake.
  • Keep yourself included in every stage of the project.
  • Communication is the key. Keep your teams up to date and ensure they do the same. So many problems can be avoided with regular communication.

Barry Nugent, Author of Fallen Heroes and founder of Unseen Shadows.

Article first published on the Writing Platform

Bob Kelsey Investigates – ‘The Return’ to Launch Next Week

Last year we launched the first story in the Unseen Shadows webcomic entitled ‘Bob Kelsey Investigates’ featuring our cynical reporter Bob Kelsey and his mis-adventures through the shadowy world of the occult and the supernatural. The first story entitled Neck on the Line is still available to read online here. Soon after ‘Neck on the Line’ story went live another two scripts went into development the first of which will be hitting the website next week.

‘The Return’ is written by Dan Thompson with art and lettering by Jake Rowlingson. In this one page story we see Bob Kelsey, who has faced all manner of dangers both human and otherwise, now facing possibly his greatest adversary to date.

BobKelsey-TheReturn

You will be able to check out the story here for free next week. If, in the mean time, you would check out Bob’s other adventures you can of course read ‘Neck on the Line’ or The Immaculate Abortion of Dina Leigh which you can  pick up on it’s own from Comicsy (Digital Download) and Amazon (Kindle) or as part of the Tales of the Forgotten Anthology also available from Comicsy and Amazon.

bobkelseyposter

To read Bob’s very first appearance there is of course the novel Fallen Heroes, where it all started.