Lost for Words: new titles from Improper Books set to stun

Butterfly Gate Volume 1 Cover

Limited UK independent editions of Improper Books stunning wordless graphic story Butterfly Gate by Benjamin Read and Chris Wildgoose, and children-friendly, highly enjoyable Knight & Dragon by Matt Gibbs and Bevis Musson, will be available from Wednesday 20th November from supporting UK comic shops.

Thanks to the support of retailers, such as Page 45 (Nottingham), Travelling Man (Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and York), Gosh! (London), Orbital Comics (London), Chaos City Comics (St. Albans), Destination Venus (Harrogate), Paradox Comics (Poole), and OK Comics (Leeds), both titles are now available to pre-order – and as with their first incredible title, Porcelain (reviewed here), you should definitely check both books out.

Both books will also be debuting at Thought Bubble in Leeds on November 23rd/24th 2013. Benjamin, Bevis, Chris, and Matt will be attending and both Chris and Bevis will be sketching at the Improper Books table in New Dock Hall – and Improper Books will also be running a Knight & Dragon art and colouring table thanks to the support of Lisa and the other Thought Bubble organisers. Details of this and all the other great events can be found in the Thought Bubble Festival 2013 programme.

Written by Benjamin Read, illustrated by Chris Wildgoose and coloured by Derek Dow, Butterfly Gate follows the story of two siblings who, after throwing themselves headlong into another world (and not, it must be said, in a rather grisly way), and must face the brutal reality that lies beyond and find their place amidst an empire built after a revolution against the Gods.

Butterfly Gate Page 2Butterfly Gate Page 6

An ongoing, episodic, SF odyssey, Butterfly Gate is also a silent comic, conveying the story purely through its imagery – and what stunning imagery it is, as the samples featured here reveal.

“This is both an artist’s dream and nightmare kind of story to draw,” says Chris of working on Butterfly Gate in the book’s introduction. “It’s completely silent, which gives me a lot of freedom and expression, but also a lot of responsibility.

“I think once people start following these children through the Gate and beyond they’re going to have their minds blown. The first chapter is a tiny scratch on where we’re going, you’re going to see these kids travel through space and time and take on armies, nations and Gods.”

The art is top notch and the wordless nature of the tale, while a challenge for the creators, offers a beguiling use of the comic medium to tell this story.

• Download a PDF version of the Butterfly Gate preview here

Knight & Dragon Cover

Knight & Dragon by Matt Gibbs & Bevis Musson is a different tale altogether. Aimed squarely at both small kids (and big kids who remember Warlock of Firetop Mountain with some fondness, no doubt), with gorgeous art, it playfully subverts the story of a heroic Knight defeating a ferocious Dragon to rescue the fair Maiden, by offering variant paths and multiple outcomes to the classic fairy tale adventure.

Follow the Knight, Dragon and Maiden, as well as the Horse, Farmhand and Village Chief, along different paths through the unfolding narratives before reaching different endings.

Knight & Dragon Page 1 Knight & Dragon Page 2

Each narrative begins the same, with a beleaguered Knight riding his Horse into a seemingly deserted village where the majority of the Villagers mistake him for a heroic warrior. Distracted by the beauty of the Maiden, before he really knows what he’s doing, the Knight agrees to fight a Dragon and, much to the Maiden’s evident dismay, the Village Chief offers the Knight her hand in marriage should he succeed.

Learning too late from the Villagers that the Dragon is both huge and ferocious, the despondent Knight heads out to meet his fate, and at this point the stories begin to diverge. From here, the Knight, Dragon and Maiden, along with the Horse, Farmhand and Village Chief, provide different paths through the unfolding narratives before reaching different endings.

Knight & Dragon began as an idea to create a comic that allowed changes in the sequence and resolution of its scenes, enabling different stories to be told,’ says Matt. ‘This lends itself seamlessly to digital comics, but in a similar fashion to gamebooks, a print version is just as possible with a bit of additional heavy lifting, or page turning, on the part of the reader.

“It has also allowed Bevis and I to explore our mutual love of fairy tales, and I’m delighted that the branching script didn’t put him off. I’m a big fan of his work, especially the excellent Dead Queen Detectives, and it has been brilliant seeing each page come to life in his style.”

This is tremendous fun – not only offering several variant tales which kids (big and small) will enjoy but also, hopefully, if might spark reader to imagine new stories featuring the characters.

• You can  download a PDF version of the Knight & Dragon preview  – The Knight’s Tale. Please note, this preview represents one of six possible stories in Knight & Dragon and does not reflect the mechanics of the book used to guide readers through the various paths.)

• Improper Books is at www.improperbooks.com

• Thought Bubble Workshop / Improper Books: Knight & Dragon art table
Sat 23 & Sun 24, New Dock Hall, Improper Books table. Free for under 12s, but an accompanying ticket-holding adult must be present, all ages.
Become a comic book colourist and help colour black and white versions of Knight & Dragon, by Matt Gibbs and Bevis Musson, and learn tips for creating your very own fairy tale and medieval characters.

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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