Comics artist and co-founder of the digital publising house Madefire Liam Sharp has turned his hand to a new novella, recently released by PS Publishing that even his publisher, Peter Crowther, describes as “off the wall” and has had staff at the company divided.
Andrew Wilmingot’s Paradise Rex, Press Inc., which features cover design by Liam includes an afterword by China Miéville, is being pitched by the publisher as “a post-modern tour de force” a novella set in 1963.
“Terrifying, heart-breaking and honest, it charts the fortunes of Wilmingot’s alter-ego, Parliament Jones, as he faces his own sense of failure, attempts to understand his place in the Universe, and flees the ‘ab-life’ horror called the Oman, that may or may not be a manifestation of his failing sanity.
“Andrew Wilmingot’s Paradise Rex Press Inc. is the best bloody book about the Midlands mentality, enthuses Gerard Pointon, “born fully formed during the death-rattle of the industrial revolution, while we were still figuring out that art is for all of us Wilmingot shed his cap-doffing regional humility and kicked us where it hurt.”
Originally from Derby, Liam, who now lives in California, who describes the novella as his most personal work to date, has worked in films, comics (we worked on a number of projects together at Marvel UK), graphic novels, and as a pioneer of digital storytelling with his company Madefire.
“It’s ferociously honest, very much a soul-bearing,” says Liam of the book. “It’s angry, it’s odd, it’s highly experimental, and it’s verging on confessional. I have no doubt that some people will think it is pretentious, impenetrable crap – a one-trick pony. But I know it has also found its fans. China Miéville, for example, spent a long afternoon with me in London going through the whole manuscript with his wonderful writer’s eye. He wrote me an afterword because he fell in love with it. But he also had to go to bat for me to convince the publisher it was worth it. As Peter Crowther himself noted, it had polarised the staff at PS Publishing. I suspect it will do the same with the people that buy it.”
“It has not found unqualified favour with everyone scattered around PS Towers,” Peter acknowledges. “But, hey, that’s what happened with Tracy Knight’s brilliant The Astonished Eye which we published around 12 years ago or either of Sebastien Doubinsky’s two PS novels, most notably the masterly The Babylonian Trilogy which is considered in more enlightened areas as a classic in the field.”
“I am nervous,” says Liam. “Nervous about its reception – or lack of. Scared because I feel very naked indeed now it’s out – I believe all artists worth their weight feel this at some time or other. And also fearful that my literary intentions, the influence of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Dylan Thomas – amongst others – might seem lofty and preposterous. Hubris even. And the internal debate over what constitutes greatness might seem like I am actually gifting myself that, rather than questioning the nature of it. I’m fearful of sounding like an arrogant, self-indulgent wannabe.
“But I’ve braved these risks. I’ve put it out there. I’ve done it. The book was finished in 2008, at a time when I was fighting a lot of self-doubt and depression, but still reaching for the skies. For those interested in the agonies of the creative life it might prove revelatory.”
Signed Jacketed Hardcover limited to 100 copies – ISBN 978-1-848638-48-8