June 28th, 2011 | people I know, Work

I have written the foreword for Laurie Penny’s new book PENNY RED, which is out in October from Pluto Press.  Here’s the book’s page.  It’s pre-orderable in the usual places.

In the space of a year, Laurie Penny has become one of the most prominent voices of the new left. This book brings together her diverse writings, showing what it is to be young, angry and progressive in the face of an increasingly violent and oppressive UK government.

All kinds of good stuff in there, including her interview with China Mieville.


Laurie Penny is a journalist, feminist, and political activist from London. She is a regular writer for the New Statesman and the Guardian, and has also contributed to the Independent, Red Pepper and the Evening Standard. She is the author of Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism (2011). She has presented Channel 4′s Dispatches and been on the panel of the BBC’s Any Questions. Her blog, ‘Penny Red’, was shortlisted for the Orwell prize in 2010.

June 27th, 2011 | brainjuice

Why Britain is crap: one day, ONE DAY of 90-degree heat, and the railway system is MELTING.

A Collection Of Rambling On The Subject Of Digital Comics

June 27th, 2011 | comics talk

Some more disconnected rambling about digital comics:

The FREAKANGELS method did work for us. I don’t have numbers to hand, because I’m currently in the garden writing on my iPad and getting pissed on Bodiam Harvest organic white wine, but it goes something like this. Somewhere around 40K people read FREAKANGELS every week. 25% of those people buy each new collection within a few months of its release. So we break even and go into profit. And the collections keep selling. Simple as that.

I’m reading the first ARTESIA collection on the iPad via Graphicly. Or trying to. Graphicly doesn’t automatically remember where I stopped reading, so when I reopen the book I have to start from the beginning again. I’m assuming this is stupidity on my part, and there must be a bookmarking function I keep missing that I should apply manually. But the function of transparent user interfaces is in part to protect the idiot with the iPad from his own stupidity. So, while this annoyance is very probably on me, Graphicly might want to consider this for the future.

(I like Graphicly’s breadth of available work, but the app itself isn’t doing it for me yet. I had problems with it as notes earlier, and the “tiling” effect with each page turn — which I think is an aspect of their page commenting/”social reading” system — really isn’t as elegant as the page refreshes in other comics reading apps.)

I’m talking with various publishers about digital right now — mostly in a conversational, advisory way — and the one thing I’m trying to impress on everyone is that digital comics revenues are going to stay small for as long as everyone treats digital comics stores as back issue bins. While day-and-date digital releases of print comics is going to help with that, it won’t help enough on its own. It’s going to be the combination of day-and-date AND original digital material that drives the use of these services. (And remember that digital comics aren’t tablet-bound, all these services have web ends too.) And, further, original digital material should not and probably CANNOT be bound to the old model. Forget monthly release patterns. Original Digital Comics — Digital Original? — I need an acronym like my OGN, Original Graphic Novel — could drive people to these services fortnightly or even weekly. And they don’t have to be 22 pages or 20 pages or whatever the current print standard shakes out at. And the price, so far as I know, only has to end with a 9. I’m okay with, say, 10 or 11 pages a fortnight at USD 0.99. Or maybe even 8 pages a week at USD 0.79.

From which point, one might follow the FREAKANGELS model — serialise on digital, collect in print.

(Also, of course, subscription models will soon apply in digital — commit to a number of episodes, get a couple of points knocked off the price, get the comic automagically sideloaded to your bookshelf/app on release day.)

This all seems to surround my basic thinking on the mechanics of the thing. I’ll build on this at a later date.

sent from [device: spacebook]

Posted via email from warrenellis’s posterous

Vitamins – “The Disappearance of David Lee Powell”

June 25th, 2011 | music

Big slow guitars, soaring voice, windchime and thunder percussion. Delighted to find that the video was in fact made by a current musical favourite of mine, Motion Sickness Of Time Travel.

Vitamins – The Disappearance of David Lee Powell from Motion Sickness of Time Travel on Vimeo.

American Comics Reader Facing Criminal Charges In Canada

June 24th, 2011 | comics talk

CONTACT: Charles Brownstein

CBLDF Forms Coalition to Defend
American Comics Reader Facing Criminal Charges In Canada

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today announces that it is forming a coalition to support the legal defense of an American citizen who is facing criminal charges in Canada that could result in a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison for comics brought into the country on his laptop.  This incident is the most serious in a trend the CBLDF has been tracking involving the search and seizure of the print and electronic comic books carried by travelers crossing borders.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, "Although the CBLDF can’t protect comic fans everywhere in every situation, we want to join this effort to protect an American comic fan being prosecuted literally as he stood on the border of our country for behavior the First Amendment protects here, and its analogues in Canadian law should protect there."

The CBLDF has agreed to assist in the case by contributing funds towards the defense, which has been estimated to cost $150,000 CDN.  The CBLDF will also provide access to experts and assistance on legal strategy.  The CBLDF’s efforts are joined by the recently re-formed Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund, a Canadian organization that will contribute to the fundraising effort.  Please contribute to this endeavor by making a tax deductible contribution here.

The facts of the case involve an American citizen, computer programmer, and comic book enthusiast in his mid-twenties who was flying from his home in the United States to Canada to visit a friend.  Upon arrival at Canadian Customs a customs officer conducted a search of the American and his personal belongings, including his laptop, iPad, and iPhone. The customs officer discovered manga on the laptop and considered it to be child pornography.  The client’s name is being withheld on the request of counsel for reasons relating to legal strategy.

The images at issue are all comics in the manga style.  No photographic evidence of criminal behavior is at issue.  Nevertheless, a warrant was issued and the laptop was turned over to police.  Consequently, the American has been charged with both the possession of child pornography as well as its importation into Canada. As a result, if convicted at trial, the American faces a minimum of one year in prison. This case could have far reaching implications for comic books and manga in North America.

The CBLDF’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to aid the case by raising funds to contribute to the defense and to help the defense with strategy and expert resources.

Brownstein says, “This is an important case that impacts the rights of everyone who reads, publishes, and makes comics and manga in North America. It underscores the dangers facing everyone traveling with comics, and it can establish important precedents regarding travelers rights.  It also relates to the increasingly urgent issue of authorities prosecuting art as child pornography.  While this case won’t set a US precedent, it can inform whatever precedent is eventually set.  This case is also important with respect to artistic merit in the Canadian courts, and a good decision could bring Canadian law closer to US law in that respect.  With the help of our supporters, we hope to raise the funds to wage a fight that yields good decisions and to create tools to help prevent these sorts of cases from continuing to spread."

Find out more on the case here. To help support the case, you can make a monetary contribution here.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1986 as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of First Amendment rights for members of the comics community. They have defended dozens of Free Expression cases in courts across the United States, and led important education initiatives promoting comics literacy and free expression. For additional information, donations, and other inquiries call 800-99-CBLDF or visit them online at

The Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1987 to raise money for the defense of a Calgary, Alberta comic shop whose owners were charged with selling obscene materials. The CLLDF has since been maintained on an ad hoc basis to provide financial relief for Canadian comics retailers, publishers, professionals, or readers whose right to free speech has been infringed by civil authorities.  Largely dormant since the early 1990s, the CLLDF is reforming to provide support for this case, and reorganizing to ensure that help will be readily available for future cases involving Canadian citizens or authorities.  To help the CLLDF in this mission, please go to