Lip Hook Completed! Much rejoicing! Cups runneth over!
Sooo… as of a week or so back, Lip Hook, my latest collaboration with David Hine, went off to the printers, it’ll see shelves in October. That’s after 14 months or so of frenzied work, and, especially in the last couple of months, serious doubts on my part that I’d make it over the finish line. It’s complete now, 161 story pages, hardcover. Much praise needed to Emma, Guillaume, Dan, Txabi and all at Self Made Hero who helped us get the thing done.
It will launch officially at The Lakes festival, Mr Hine and myself will be in attendance.
Here’s a page of bits that might have been on the back cover, the last one made it:
It’s an odd thing, but once you finish a book, you’re occasionally haunted by the ghosts of the book it might have been. David and myself have been knocking ideas for Lip Hook back and forth for years now, some went in, some didn’t, and many mutated alomg the way. It started with the case of Magdelana Solis, as read about by my teenage self in Colin Wilson’s Encyclopedia of Modern Murder. I’d long forgotten the exact details, but the idea of a two con-men, a pimp and a prostitute convincing half the population of a small, isolated Mexican village that they were, in fact, Incan Gods or thereabouts* stayed with me. What, we wondered aloud, some time after The Man Who Laughs had launched, if we took the basic set up of that case and relocated it to … somewhere in England? To go a bit folky and Olde and Weirde and Nigel Kneale with it, have a bit of a psychedelic religious apocalypse happening surrounded by hanging baskets and tutting old ladies?
What we’ve ended up with is, inevitably, different from where we started, the actual business of telling a story demands that some elements stay in and others fall away. Page space demanded that I could only render so much of the world that filled my head and my sketchbooks, whilst Mr Hine’s imagination meant that I created so much more. I bloody loved drawing these characters, and would have happily rendered another twenty, thirty, forty pages, but sanity and scheduling prevail. Lip Hook is what it is.
That said, here’s some bits of other Lip Hooks;
First up- two credit pages, unused, but originally planned as part of a kind of ‘title sequence’ that would lead into the story; one has been repurposed as the endpapers.
And here’s a couple of sketches of the church that is a major setting for the story, quite liked the idea of the reverend gloomily peering out at the village from the scaffolding that permanently surrounds its crumbling tower, patching trowel in hand…
Two views of the village, that’s the character that would become Cal, our teenage protagonist, in the Dennis jumper. Transport links from Lip Hook leave much to be desired…
More village scenes. The insectoid scuptures would turn out to be the work of Cal’s mother in the story. It’s not a David Hine tale unless those bugs worm their way in… My gig at the Cartoon Museum has played a massive role in the art produced for the book. A fair amount was actually drawn there, but above that my concentrated exposure over the years to the works of Searle and Giles and Pont and such really paid off. Comics culture in the UK tends to skew heavily towards American and Japanese influences, the Perishers and St Trinians and their like seem to be disappearing in the rear view mirror. part of that vanishing world of British cartooning that belonged in Punch, a magazine that I only encountered as a child in dentist’s waiting rooms… It’s a whole school I simultaneously cherish and despair of, and found myself channeling with every wobbly stroke of my dip pen.
Scenes in the Bug Factory, which became Huxley’s domain. The property of the lord of the manor. Sometime, early in the preparation of the book, I saw an extraordinary series of monochrome pictures showing the interior of an old Russian submarine that was just a mass of pipes and gauges.. I almost immediately lost them , and no amount of google searches has since turned them up. Still, they were in the back of my mind whenever we strayed inside Huxley’s gates…
I’ll show you more later.
That’s enough for now.
*rereading the entry to write this, I’m struck by how weird and sensational the facts of that case are. If it had happened in the US I have no doubt that it would have been filmed numerous times by now. But it happened in Mexico, and seems to have been lost amongst dozens of other spectacularly grisly crimes. Seriously, look it up. It has everything, drugs, religion, tragic absurdities aplenty, even a climactic shoot out/massacre. It was Manson before Manson, though thankfully without a tedious prick like Manson at it’s centre.