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February 2013
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April 2013

The Girl in the Iron Mask by Peter O'Donnell and Enric Badia Romero

So there I was - I'd wrapped up my read of all the Modesty Blaise books, sniffled my way through Cobra Trap, browsed all the websites... even watched the terrifyingly surreal movie. What's next? Fortunately, Titan Books pointed out the blatantly obvious - Blaise started as a daily comic. And however much I'd achieved in plowing through the spin-off formats, there were still (at last count) 8 quadrillion strips to read.

Modesty Blaise - Girl in the Iron MaskThank god.

The Girl in the Iron Mask (2013) is the latest of Titan's collection editions - there are, if I counted correctly, 23 of them to date. As a Blaise fan, I was pretty comfortable jumping right in. And, daily comics being the savvy institutions they are, each of the story-lines starts with a solid explanation of Modesty and her background. So, don't worry - you don't need to start at the beginning (The Gabriel Set-up, if you're interested.)

The Girl in the Iron Mask has three stories - Fiona, Walkabout and Mask. These ran, somewhat shockingly, between 1990 and 1991, but we'll get to that shortly. Each of the stories is introduced by Lawrence Blackmore, who does a good job putting them in context with the rest of the Blaise mythos and, despite being a Blaise expert, is clearly not blinded by the series' weaknesses.

Fiona is about as close as Blaise ever gets to slapstick. Modesty flies out to India to visit one of the old Network members - this time it is Sumi, a former nurse in the organisation's private hospital. Sumi and her husband, David, (who is insufferably dense) have a tiny clinic in the Chittigong Hills. They're doing good work, but Sumi is nervous. David is getting their supplies from a group of (obvious) criminals. Mr. Wu Smith (one of the series' few recurring villains) is essentially buying David's silence - and David's just too dumb to realise it.

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'Covers shouldn't scare people off' - Vincent Sammy and Something Wicked Volume 2

With Something Wicked Volume 2, the South African speculative fiction title has successfully completed its transformation from a magazine to an annual series (the new co-publication deal with eKhaya helps too). 

SWVol2---WebInternationalTradeCoverAnd what a series it is... while Volume 1 was an astounding "best of", Volume 2 features 25 completely new stories of "post-apocalyptic dystopias, alternate realities, far-future science fiction and good old-fashioned blood-chilling horror".

The anthology features South African writers Abi Godsell, Cat Hellisen, Martin Stokes and Nick Wood and twenty other writers from all over the world including Peter Damien, C.S. Fuqua, Nick Scorza, Thomas Sweterlitsch and Genevieve Taylor.

It will be available digitially via eKhaya from all the major global platforms from late April. Print-on-demand copies will also be available from Inkless Media. 

Something Wicked are also running a pre-order special on IndieGoGo until 25 March, where you can pick up both volumes and some interesting rarities - including the extremely limited hardcover edition. The bundle packs (including the complete run of the magazine) are particularly enticing...

Perhaps best of all, editors Joe Vaz and Vianne Venter have tapped one of their stalwart artists, the amazing Vincent Sammy, for this year's cover (shown right: trade above, eBook below). Vincent is one of our favourites as well (and, judging by his recent showing in the This is Horror awards, other folks like him too...)

We got in touch with Vincent and asked him to share what went into the cover-creating experience.

Continue reading "'Covers shouldn't scare people off' - Vincent Sammy and Something Wicked Volume 2 " »