Absolutely delighted that I’m currently working on a project for the new Black Crown creator-owned comic imprint from US publishing company IDW, curated by Shelly Bond.
Anyone familiar with comics over the past quarter of a century will know Bond’s name — she was the head of DC Comics’ mature-readers Vertigo imprint and responsible for some of the biggest and most well-loved titles released under that banner.
Late last year I met Shelly at the Thought Bubble comics convention in Leeds and I contacted her a week or so later for some advice on a couple of comics ideas I had. Shelly had left DC/Vertigo in the Spring of 2016, and I didn’t know it at the time but she was in negotiations with IDW about setting up her own imprint. We exchanged emails, had a phone conversation, I showed her some scripts and ideas… and suddenly I was working up a proposal for a series called PUNKS NOT DEAD.
Earlier this year the new IDW imprint curated by Shelly, called Black Crown, was announced, and by San Diego Comic Con the first-wave titles were unveiled: BLACK CROWN QUARTERLY, an anthology title; ASSASSINISTAS, by Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez; KID LOBOTOMY by Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler; and PUNKS NOT DEAD by me and Martin Simmonds.
When Shelly and I first started with PUNKS NOT DEAD, she told me she’d get a two or three artists to do some concept and character illustrations. The first one was Martin Simmonds. I told her to stop; we’d found our artist. Martin is phenomenal; you can see some samples from the first couple of issues on this page. He’s best known for DEATH SENTENCE, for Titan Comics, and has recently done a JESSICA JONES variant cover for Marvel. Martin Simmonds is an actual genius. How good is he? Jesus, look at this from PND issue 2:
Working with Martin is an absolute dream, and Shelly is so much more than an editor — she’s pushed both of us into reaching for the very highest quality in scripting and art, and she’s taught me so much about how comics are made.
So, PUNKS NOT DEAD. No apostrophe in PUNKS, for good reason. One, that’s the title of the song by The Exploited. Two, it’s about a punk rocker who should be dead, but isn’t quite. And he’s not the only not-quite dead punk who’s going to be showing up in this title, hence PUNKS, plural.
So who’s our debut punk? His name’s Sid. His ghost has been trapped at Heathrow airport for 40 years, after his mum dropped his ashes there back in 1979 after bringing his cremated remains back from New York. But when Sid meets lonely, bullied, outsider teen Feargal “Fergie” Ferguson at the airport, suddenly he’s not stuck at Heathrow any longer… he’s stuck to Fergie.
Cue much hilarity, as Fergie tries to navigate life back in his hometown of Preston, Lancashire, with a dead punk only he can see or hear in tow. But there’s trouble afoot… Sid and Fergie aren’t stuck together by accident, and the Department for Extra-Usual Affairs, a quirky (to say the least) British secret service department headed by irascible Dorothy Culpepper and new recruit Asif Baig are taking an interest, then there’s Fergie’s burgeoning mysterious powers, and the vexed question of who his absent father really is… and what Sid really is, which isn’t strictly what he appears to be.
PUNKS NOT DEAD debuts with a February 2018 cover date, and is an ongoing title. I hope those of you into comics pick it up, those of you into music pick it up, those of you into fine writing and fantastic art pick it up, and those of you into foul-mouthed, reactionary old women running covert MI5 departments pick it up. Which, basically, covers all bases, right?
More news on PUNKS NOT DEAD as it happens, but in the meantime check out the Twitter feed at @blackcrownhq for latest updates.