Just launched in time for the impending British comic convention season is Improper Books, a small collective of comic creators formed by writer Benjamin Read and artists Laura Trinder and Chris Wildgoose.
On offer at the Bristol Comic Expo will be limited run of black and white previews of their first comics, Butterfly Gate: Beginnings and Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale, both written and illustrated by Benjamin and Chris – and the art on both projects looks stunning.
Improper Books is a comic and graphic novel imprint focusing on creator owned stories that have a touch of the fairy tale, the Gothic or the macabre.
After first collaborating together on the set of UK independent feature Warhouse, the trio discovered a mutual love for comics, illustrated books, and the darker side of fairy tales and set about making their own.
From that, the idea of Improper Books came about; a collective of writers, artists and designers with the know-how to make comics, books and apps, all of which have a touch of the fairy tale, the Gothic or the macabre, and focused on a creator-owned model that is fair to all involved.
Since then, they’ve grown to include other creatives – artists, colourists, designers, editors, letterers and writers – and expand the projects we’re planning and developing.
The group now includes the talents of Jim Campbell (Letterer), Alice Duke (Artist), Matt Gibbs (Writer/Editor), Rose Hewlett (Production Director), Mark Kendrick (Digital Media Designer), André May (Colourist), and Bevis Musson (Artist).
|Panels from The Butterfly Gate. Art by Chris Wildgoose
Written by Benjamin Read and illustrated by Chris Wildgoose, Butterfly Gate follows the story of two siblings who, after throwing themselves headlong into another world, must face the brutal reality that lies beyond and find their place amidst an empire built after a revolution against the Gods.
An ongoing story, consisting of three arcs, Butterfly Gate is a silent comic, a SF odyssey for an adult audience, conveying the story purely through its imagery.
“This is both an artists dream and nightmare kind of story to draw,” reveals Chris Wildgoose. “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 episode 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.
Written by Benjamin Read, illustrated by Chris Wildgoose and lettered by Jim Campbell, Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale is set within a world that’s a magical echo of our own, and follows the story of a street urchin, known as Child, who leaves behind the cold streets of a snowy city when she climbs the high wall into the Porcelain Maker’s garden.
A lonely man, kept company by his amazing, alchemically-powered automata, the Porcelain Maker offers Child the chance to stay with him, and the unlikely pair come to an understanding.
Shut off from the world beyond the wall, Child wants or needs for nothing as the Porcelain Maker heaps affection and luxury upon her, indulging her like a daughter. In return, she can do as she pleases, except for one command, one rule that mustn’t be broken: she must never look behind the workshop door.
“I’m very lucky to be working on Porcelain,” says Chris Wildgoose. “I don’t think many artists can say that they’re working on a project that is exactly what they would love to draw. The story itself is beautiful on so many levels, but has this unnerving darkness that shadows that beauty and grounds it. That blend of beauty and darkness is something I’ve tried to emulate with the art and have had so much fun doing that. I think mine and Ben’s passion for this book shows.”
We think the selected panels shown below are certainly testament to that…
Over the next few months, Improper Books will be announcing more of the projects planned for this year and next. “We’ve got a variety of things in the works, from comics and books, both print and digital, to iPad and Kindle apps, and for all ages too,” says Matt Gibbs.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.