Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 – Worlds End

A look to the future

Hi Everyone,

Well lots of folks have been asking since the launches last year of Worlds End – Volume 1 what would be the next stage of the plans for Wizards Keep, so I thought I would address those matters here for all of you that have been wondering.
The main order of the day for me is to ensure I hit the second volume in the series running and that is just what I am currently doing.

The final draft of the script was written a few weeks ago and I am presently working on the pencils for Worlds End – Volume 2. The scripts for all the various bits and pieces in the second book are all written now too. I decided that the book would be better served by working in this way with the rest of the books so that all the textual pieces are finished before the drawing starts.

It may have seemed a little slow news wise this last couple of months, but here at the Keep it has been anything but quiet. There are all sorts of things to check out and there will be some other things to look out for in the not too distant future.

Wizards Keep Website
Regarding the Wizards Keep Website, you will find a new link for the Worlds End Website on the Side bar under the Shop section. Coming very soon will be a revamp of the front Homepage area, as we try to make it more creative looking until we change the site completely at some stage.

When you click onto the Wizards Keep website at present you see a central column that at the moment has a lot of textual content. This will soon be changing to one which will have hyper-linked banners and buttons to re-direct everyone to different areas of the website and to other associated networks and the Worlds End website from the moment you land on the Wizards keep Homepage.

What we are trying to do is keep it simple, but pleasantly artistic to look at.

Also on the Wizards Keep and Worlds End websites coming over the next few months will be new products in the Shop section – they include:

Worlds End – Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Portfolios.
Each one comes in an illustrated envelope and contains six prints.

Worlds End – T-Shirts
Several Different Designs

Worlds End – Collectable Convention Posters – MaltaComicCon 2010
Limited supplies

Worlds End – Collectable Convention Posters – MaltaComicCon 2011
Limited supplies

Coming some time in the near future will be the much-awaited Worlds End Colouring Book where all you budding artists and colourists can test your colouring skills.

Worlds End Website
Over on the Worlds End Website you can check out the latest additions, which are:

Fan Art
If you fancy seeing your Worlds End Fan Art on the website feel free to send it off to:
Gweldar via his email address at
Full details on what files sizes and formats to send your artwork and how to send them are available at

This is where you can read the latest reviews of Worlds End – Volume 1 – The Riders on the Storm

This is where you can read the latest interviews with me

This is where you can check out the latest Worlds End short stories and the latest artwork from:
Worlds End – Volume 2 – A Hard Reigns Gonna Fall

Fantasy Art Unlimited
For all you budding comics creators and artists in general out there, my art course continues to inspire folks to new heights.
The highly successful art course is now in its 8th year and the course restarts again for 30 weeks on May 30th 2012.

For full details click here: Fantasy Art Unlimited Course Details

Details to follow - Check back soon for updates

Worlds End – Creating a New Mythology
Billed as an evening with comic book author and artist Tim Perkins
You can come along to listen and have a chat afterwards. I will be signing copies of my graphic novel at all the forthcoming events.
Check back for new dates and venues soon

In the meantime we will try to keep you up to date with all things happening here at the Keep and at Worlds End over the next few months.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
April 30th 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

2011 – Worlds End

A retrospective look at events from last year.

Hi Everyone,

As I look back at all the many events that were the sum of 2011 it now seems pretty much all of a blur and yet I can see at the same time all the minutiae detail as if it was happening at this very moment. The start of the year saw me promise myself working solely on Worlds End. By February I had accepted a commercial commission, much against my better judgement, but they came very highly recommended to me.
Unfortunately the job, albeit a very enjoyable if somewhat tight on deadline one proved to be anything but once the matter of payment reared its ugly head. This kind of practise will be looked at in an upcoming Blog over the next few weeks, or so.

My terms and conditions have since changed with outside commercial commissions for the studio as a result of this – so some good as come out of the bad.

Anyhow, from that moment on it was all hands to the deck, as I pressed forward and by the start of March the lettering was being handed over to Richard Starkings’ Comicraft Company and the more than capable hands of letterer Albert Deschesne.

A student from Blackpool College spent late spring/early summer here at the studio on a work placement. One of my ex-college lecturers, John Gibson had previously set this up with me. Tom wants to work in comics so it was great to have the chance to help in some small way, as he got to see the day-to-day running of the business four days a week for a number of weeks.

During that same period I spent time writing the remaining text for the front and end sections of the graphic novel. These hadn’t been looked at other than notes and hand written pieces, which needed stitching together and editing into a cohesive whole. Once that was done I had to then create all the pencil art, logos and other art needed to complete the book. By the time it was all painted I had something like two months to finish the main strip portion of the book.

It was going to be tight and I knew I needed help. I had already arranged with James Hill to edit the book with me and he was already in possession of the script for the main story. Now I let him have the book end pages. He was amazed at how much extra stuff  was in it. He had thought initially that it would mainly comprise of sketchbook pages of art with maybe a little additional accompanying text, but that wasn’t the case.

I asked if he knew any designers that could come onboard to help me get the book ready for print as things were going to be tight. Rob Sharp was, as luck would have it, available, He was between freelance jobs and had a window, which I then offered to close for him, so to speak.

My team was complete, all I needed to do now was finish the painted artwork.

By the end of June the “other” pages were all ready with just the cover to paint as well as the main sequential story pages. By the end of July the cover was done and so too were many of the pages of the strip, but there was still a way to go.

Those two months are a complete blur to me now and the days just blended into one another, as I worked my way through all the painted pages, trying desperately to finish them so we could go to print in time for the books to shipped here ready for the launches. James had finished editing the scripts and we arranged for a day to get he Rob and I together to finish everything off together.

About three weeks before the deadline Rob would spend two or three days each week here at the Keep, in the studio, working closely with me to keep my vision of the final look of the book intact. He preferred to work in the studio here rather than work from his own studio like he would normally whilst freelancing. It meant some travelling every day, but it would save time on the book in the long run and I agreed.

By the time of the third week he was here every day and long days they were too. It was proving to be a bigger undertaking than any of the three of us had realised. This was a huge project and there was still a lot to do. With Rob working on the most powerful of the workstations (something I too was having to do with the nature of the digital painting process) it meant that between nine, or ten in the morning until about five, or six in the evening Rob and I were using it to put all the artwork down as a design in InDesign and I worked as many hours as I could manage between six and eight in the morning, painting the remaining unfinished pages. So, yes, you are correct in the assumption that it was hard work. For the entirety of 2011 up until the morning after the UK launch of the books working twenty and twenty-two hour days, for me, were the order of the day. 

I had several pages that had small parts to finish off the day before deadline and by midmorning they were all finished. That left me two pages that had quite a bit to do on them. I looked at my computer screen and felt drained. There was nothing left inside of me at that moment and I felt like I couldn’t go on. I knew there wasn’t much to do, but I had not slept properly for months and the last three weeks had been killers with a few all-nighters thrown in for good measure to compensate for the work I was doing during the hours of daylight with Rob on the design aspects of the book.

Luckily for me Margaret, knowing I was shattered and in need of sustenance, brought me in the ten thousandth coffee of the morning. Now, I usually drink tea and it was still relatively early in the day, but I had become a “chain coffee drinker” over the last few days. Now as Margaret came in with my umpteenth fix of caffeine for the day listening to my explaining that I just needed to go to bed and finally get some sleep, she simply handed me the drink and said, “You can’t do that. Too many people are waiting for this book. They are relying on you delivering the goods. Besides tomorrow when the last page is finished you will look back on this and realise you are glad you have finished. In fact by tonight you will feel like that.”

She was right and had said just the right thing to me. It wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things but it was just enough – just enough to keep me going – just enough to make me have a finished book at just gone lunchtime.

With moments to spare I finished the last page. Rob was coming in later that day to give me time to catch up and finish, so by the time I had he was there. We worked on design until about seven o’clock that evening. I pulled another all-nighter, tweaking the art and the design – until I was convinced there was nothing else I could do, certainly until the other guys were here too. I sat in one of the studio chairs and closed my eyes for a while and then had a shower to try and wake myself up a little more.

That morning on the day of the deadline, showered and wide awake all things considered; I went to pick up James, having had about half an hour’s sleep that night, from his home in nearby Rochdale. Not a long trip by any stretch of the imagination, but one which saw me with the windows down, coffee enough to sink a ship inside of me and music coming from the radio to keep me company until I arrived at his place. Never having been there before made me all the more awake under the circumstances too.

Luckily it was a lovely, sunny, early morning and travelling along the pixie path that lead to his home I arrived on time giving me about an hour before Rob was due to arrive here at the Keep. I was given a guided tour of Chateau Hill, James’ countryside retreat built on the sides of a fantasy mountain. I would describe his home more akin to a grotto, or shrine as it was decorated for Halloween at the time. He assured me it would be changed to Christmas the moment Halloween was over and it would take several weeks to complete.

I was shown into his comic rooms his figurine rooms and it was only the fact we had a book to get out inside a few hours that I managed to escape when I did.

We arrived back at the Keep just before Rob, who arrived about five, or ten minutes later. The next twenty, or so hours would prove to be totally manic here with James in a room quietly editing at the back of the keep, normally a storage room for spare on-site products, whilst Rob and I fed him print outs of the pages as we made his amendments. I fitted him out with a nice comfy leather reclining chair.

James has the eyes of an Eagle and that was what I wanted. When we had first talked about his role in this clearly driven vision of mine he was worried he would feel like he was treading on my toes. I told him I wanted him to pick up anything I had missed, keep the characters speaking “in character,” and look for anywhere that he thought the script could be improved. If I didn’t agree, after all, it wouldn’t get changed. I knew that would never happen, which is one reason I think he is the best editor I have ever worked with. He has an insatiable appetite for detail that equals his OCD approach to that same detail with his eyes as he pours over a project. In other words with those credentials he was the only person that would ever get on my list for editing this book.

Luckily the day before the deadline I knew we would find ourselves in need of constant sugar rushes and extra energy, so I asked Margaret to pick us up a few goodies. She came back with enough stuff to feed an army – Six, litre bottles of coke and various other soft drinks, 48 bags of crisps, a family size box of biscuits, three family-size trays of chocolate biscuits and all sorts of other none healthy things that a child could overdose on. But then we had a deadline to meet and Margaret had been here many times before with me.

Just as we had started to confer with each other on the plan of action for the day I received a phone call from Ivo Milicevic, my Bosnian printer, wishing me well with the completing of the book. We chatted for a short while about the deadline, shipping a few other related things and then after saying our goodbyes, James, Rob and I were off and running. The plan was to finish sometime around six to ten o’clock that evening.

The pages continued going to and fro all morning. Morning turned to lunchtime and Margaret made us all sandwiches and a side salad. Lunchtime was overtaken by afternoon, afternoon by early evening and then we needed more sustenance. I decided to order in. James wanted a Chinese, so I quickly ordered his meal and one for Margaret and Rob and I fancied Indian food so I ordered for us too. Now bear in mind all the other stuff we were eating all day too (as shown above) and you will see how much nervous energy there was emanating from within the Keep that day.

Within seconds of each other both sets of meals arrived and we ate as we worked with trays of food resting on the workstation tables and James with his on his knee on his comfy chair – I think he feared he may lose it to one of us if he left it for too long.

Once the food was consumed it was all hands on deck once more and we turned to the matter of the unfinished book. It continued much in the vein of the rest of the day, but by now, with the best will in the world, I was really starting to flag. The guys decided they were fine and I should try to get some sleep, if I could and they would give me a shout when they were finished enough to show me how far they had gotten with it.

I did just that – it was music to my ears, if I am honest, as I could barely keep my eyes open at all by this time and when I did they were sore, blurry and watering. I hadn’t expected to, or indeed wanted to, actually fall asleep. I just needed to close my eyes and lie down for a while. It was about eight thirty at night.

The next thing I remember was James waking me. It was now about one thirty in the morning.

They were now ready for me to go over the book with them for the last few times to check it was all completely right.

Some final edits and several visual sweeps later and we found ourselves with a finished graphic novel.

We began to save the files in .pdf  format and then the guys and I went downstairs. Denise had come to pick up James, knowing I was in no fit condition to drive at that moment in time. There were a few weary man-hugs and then Rob set off for home, closely followed by James and Denise.

It was now 4:30 a.m.

We had overshot the anticipated 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. finish and the guys had gone far beyond the call of duty. I couldn’t have done it without them. The day had been saved.

I went back into the studio and loaded the .pdfs into my SendSpace upload software and promptly sent them off to the printers. The deadline had been met, or so I thought.

With all the files gone I retired to bed for some much needed sleep. When I arose a few hours later I found I had received an email from Ivo – only some of the files had arrived. I looked at the software and found it looked fine – the files had all left us at the Keep. I rebooted the routers, the server and the workstations and then I resent the files. I also sent him an email.

I received no reply. There was still nothing arriving at the other end.

I checked with my service provider BT Business and then found there was a major problem with the broadband line, but was assured it was in my area and almost fixed. I rang Ivo and brought him up to speed with the situation assuring him that they would be resent and in his possession soon. I contacted BT once more and was assured all the problems had been sorted.

I did just that, but again upon speaking with Ivo on the telephone found they had disappeared into the aether once more. I rebooted everything again and tried yet again – still nothing arrived at Ivo’s end and then I received a phone call off a colleague in another part of the UK having the same problem and asking me what I thought of the countrywide problem?

I spoke to BT once more and was again assured that things had returned to normal and so rang my colleague back who told me his line was working fine once more.

I tried email again still nothing. I went though the reboot scenario twice again, but there was still nothing happening with the line. It was like the trouble that had been caused with our line several times in the past following a problem with the line. I could not allow it to stop the files getting to Bosnia.

And so it continued all throughout Saturday and Sunday. This fiasco had cost me a couple of days. It was fast becoming a never-ending nightmare.

I asked another nearby colleague if his Internet was working. It was and so arranged to take the files over on a stick and send them from there the next day.

It was now Monday afternoon and I spoke to Ivo and told him of my plan to send the files the next day from another computer. Then, just before I was due to take the files, I chanced sending a test email again and this time it came through. So I sent one to Ivo and it arrived too.

I re-sent all the outstanding .pdf files and they got through – panic over.

Now all that remained was to get the books here at the Keep ready for the initial launches in Malta followed by the UK equivalent here.

Well as you guys know by now the books needed to be split into different consignments, as Ivo couldn’t get the books out of Bosnia on time. The books safely arrived in Malta first and then at the studio shortly after I had left for the airport.

All went well with the launches, but the next consignment of books hadn’t arrived by the due date.

With the books late and showing little sign of arriving in my mind before the New Year, although I continued to press for it, I decided to take a much needed break and spend some quality time with my family – It was the right thing to do and the best decision I could have made. It meant that for the first time in a few years there was an actual run up to Christmas, one which I could spend with those I love.

By the time 2012 came around I felt refreshed and ready to Rock n’ Roll again. I wanted to produce volume two in a much more timely fashion – giving myself around eighteen to twenty-four months to complete it. But that can wait until the next Blog.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
April 28th 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Worlds End – UK Launch – December 1st 2011

UK launch copies sell out

Hi Everyone,

Today I thought I would follow the MaltaComicCon Blogs, which showcased my world launch of the Worlds End graphic novel with the UK launch a few days later.
No sooner had my feet touched the ground at Manchester airport than my good friend Derek was whisking me back home in his car. It was all exciting news to report as I regaled him with a shortened version of the previous four Blogs – thank heavens I hear some of you cry. Well it is only about a forty-minute drive, or so – so I had to keep it confined to that amount of time.

Once home I took my travel stuff out of the boot of Derek’s car and was greeted by my wife, Margaret, who was pleased as punch to learn that all had gone so well in Malta with the books. One cup of tea and a chat later and Derek left for home whilst I sat with Margaret making some final plans for the morning’s exploits in preparation for the planned UK launch at the new state-of-the-art academy, a few miles away from where we live.

The next day saw me speaking to the guys at the venue, Darwen Aldridge Community Academy, checking that the refreshments were ordered, that the video was up and running and posters in place. Everything was a-okay and going exactly to plan – I had nothing to worry about, although I still did a little. I knew they would be, but have always worked on the assumption if you try to pre-empt things that could go wrong, you have a chance of avoiding them in the first place.

I made lots of phone calls ensuring everything was going to be as perfect as the launch in Malta had been the previous weekend.

I checked out the advance copies of the books and got all my things in order for the launch. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the next day and hoping that folks would turn up as they had at the convention.

The rest of that day is a blur as I made myself busy with all manner of things – organising myself for the post launch period when the rest of the books, already late in arriving were due to find their way to the Keep.

Friday arrived and I went over things once again, checking I had everything in place. Things were once again manic. Around mid-day I picked up Jon Haward from the train station. I was running a little late, but was managing to fit everything in. I took Jon to the local Premier Inn and he booked in. The advert on TV says that everything is premier, except the price – they should be done for false marketing.

Next I needed to set up at the venue, so I made my way along there. Then after going along to the venue and setting up the signing area with books and everything else that was needed, erecting the banners and posters, checking out the video on the huge screen and the refreshments area it was back home to get ready myself.

Moments after I arrived back at the house there was a knock at the door. So with the shower running I answered the door – everyone else was out. It was Worlds End editor, James Hill and his partner Denise. I left them the sky remote and continued to get ready. Shortly after this I could hear James letting in my Mum and Dad and then Margaret arrived back too.

No sooner was I ready than the minibus arrived to take my Mum and Dad, my neighbour Graham, his son, Jack, James, Denise and I to the venue, picking up Jon on the way. My wife Margaret was going along separately with my daughter, Joanne, her husband Toby and my son, Simon.

We arrived around 5:45 p.m. and everyone looked around the amazing atrium, especially the huge Pegasus sculpture made out of horseshoes – it has to be seen to be believed. It really is a great building. They looked at the books for the first time and I was so pleased with the reactions.

Local businessman, Mike Murray was there early due to a prior engagement with his daughter. He bought the first copy of the book of the evening, before many had arrived. He had been in touch since the inception of Wizards Keep and was indeed partly responsible for a small start up grant new businesses were entitled to back then. He was impressed and he admitted he was proud of my efforts in getting the book to print and the success of the launch in Malta, which pleased me no end.s

With about five to ten minutes left before the opening there were about six people there, other then the above members of my family and a few close friends. In the background the video played in a loop and seemed to impress folks, as there was always quite a crowd around it. My daughter Joanne sat beside me taking the payments and my neighbour’s son acted as my assistant handing me the accompanying limited edition prints, which I gave away with the initial books. It was amazing to see so many people there and I was glad I had dressed for the occasion in a suit.

Comic Legend John Ridgway arrived with his wife, Rita. My neighbour and good friend Chris arrived with his wife, Susan with all his camera equipment – he was the event photographer for the evening. Worlds End production designer, Rob and his partner, Carol arrived and came over to congratulate me – Rob was eager to check out the finished book.

Local art store owners, John and Ann arrived next and then it was like someone had opened the flood gates as the atrium seemed to fill up almost immediately and it is a very big area to fill. By the time it was 6:30 p.m. on the dot the place was heaving – I couldn’t believe it. The launch was scheduled from six thirty until nine p.m. and it was none stop throughout. I managed one trip to the refreshment area, really to say thanks and to speak to a few folks and the rest of the time saw me at the tables signing and discussing the books with the people there.

During the evening I was joined by my best friend, Paul and his partner, Cyn as well as more members of my family. There were far more people there though over the night that I didn’t know, which was great – the interest from the local Radio and Internet coverage along with the reportage given by the library and venue itself through the video-link set up had worked a treat.

Chris Trickett, responsible for the Worlds End Video Trailer and Website was also there with his wife, Megan and he was getting lots of praise on the standard of his trailer from lots of folks.

On the night several hundred people turned up to the event, which was far better than I ever expected and I ran out of books too – I could have done with lots more. The self-proclaimed number one fan of Worlds End graced me with his presence too; young Joshua Waite – looking very smart for the occasion. He turned up in person along with his Grandma, as he said he would do via email, to pick up his own copy of the book. It was such a nice thing to experience for me and made all my promotion of the book as an all-ages saga worth while as not just adults, men and women alike, bought the books, so too did children; both boys and girls.

I was so pleased for my parents, Grace and Harry finally seeing their son realise his dream of creating books for a company of his making. I could tell they were really proud. Things had come a long way from the days as a child when I drew on anything I could get hold of and when I wrote stories in the same manner – all of which they kept, unbeknownst to me until a couple of years ago when they had their attic converted. They are in the first of the photos.

I was also so happy for my wife, Margaret and children Joanne and Simon that they could finally see the fruits of not just my labours, but the fruit of their support. They had lived with the roller coaster ride that has been my career in comics down the years and nowadays my new ventures with Wizards Keep. With Worlds End finally existing it suddenly all made sense to folks now, as the graphic novel had become a reality.

It was like being in Malta when I first opened the books over there and I re-quoted, from my favourite quotation in James Joyce’s book The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, once more that – “I had flown by those nets.”

The reaction from my peers in the comic book business on the night must have helped my family to realise how much their sacrifices and support had helped to make this happen, at least I hope so.

For most of the evening I had spent time speaking to lots of folks, apologising mostly towards the end of the night for the lack of books which were still due to arrive from Bosnia – sadly something that was not going to happen until the middle of January, although at the time I didn’t know that.

Around eight thirty it was time to pack up for the evening and make our way over to the nearby Italian restaurant, Mangiamo’s. almost forty of us were going to end the launch in party fashion with a meal at the best Italian around these parts.

No one was disappointed as the meal as always was gorgeous and it was amazing to see how quickly all the guests were served. It’s always a fun atmosphere there and it really did add the icing to an already wonderful cake.

I had Spicy Chicken Livers to start, Spaghetti Bolognese and Meatballs for my main course and a wonderful sweet, whose name escapes me at the moment. It was gorgeous and if you are ever in the area drop by this place – you will love its great food and atmosphere.

A lot of the folks there had never met directly but all thought they knew each other, because of the amount of times over the years that I had mentioned each to the other. John Ridgway was sat with Rita across from my Mum and Dad during the meal and had never met before that night; although they had heard such a lot about each other from me already it was like they had.

It never ceases to amaze me that events such as these remind me so much of other similar events in one’s life such as marriages and births and Christmas, which are a long while in the making and preparations, but go by so quickly.

It had been a little over a week, since I had flown out to Malta, but it had all gone by so fast and now the UK launch too had been and gone. But what a way to do so, as both saw me sell out of the graphic novels, something I had hoped for but wasn’t sure could happen.

With Christmas and my first Grandchild on the way the future was looking great for us here at the Keep. The New Year would see me working on the second volume and I was truly looking forward to it, especially with all the support from the fans the new work was gaining.

Below are some photos of the event towards the end of the evening, as we were almost sold out of books.


I would just like to take time before I leave you to wish everyone that turned up for either event, or that has offered their support and custom and then perhaps even taken the time to write, or call me to let me know what you think of the book my heartfelt gratitude.

Without you guys I couldn’t continue to create these books.

I look forward to sharing Worlds End – Volume 2 – A Hard Reign’s Gonna Fall with you all very soon.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
April 26th 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Malta Comic Con 2011

Part 4 – Day Trips, Torrential Rain and Promenades or, There and Back Again

Hi Everyone,

Monday morning and it was again a beautifully sunny start to the day. Fully refreshed by now, I went down to the hotel dining room once more for breakfast and ate a very hearty repast fit for a king, or should that be a giant? Anyhow it was, as always at the Hotel Santana, very enjoyable. All the other guests were there too and they were excitedly looking forward to the by-now-legendary convention tours.
With breakfast finished we all met up outside the hotel at the minibuses, which were to take us on our little post-convention adventures. We were due to go along to the War Museum – Malta for its size has a very war-oriented history, due to it being a very strategic point in the Mediterranean Sea. There we would meet up with some of the organisers who would be accompanying us for the day.

The trip along the coastal road is always a pleasant one and as folks chatted away we soon found ourselves outside the War Museum. It wasn’t long before we were joined outside the museum by the organisers, Mike Quinton, Fabio Agius, Chris Le Galle, Chris Muscat, and Joseph Bugeja. Shortly after we arrived I started to feel a headache coming on again, whilst we waited.

Inside the war museum the artefacts and the descriptions brought home the horrors of war. Whereas the year before we had visited the Armouries and seen all manner of intricately detailed, death dealing weaponry, this particular tour had a much more profound effect on some of the group, especially seeing the wartime poster of the two children in gas masks.

 The pieces of torn metal, the bullet riddled pieces of equipment, the death certificates, the sheer size of the bombs and shells had an air of morbidity about them. Jon Haward found it especially depressing, probably due to the closeness of the years between the two world wars and the present. I have to admit my headache was getting worse and I followed Jon and the guys from CyprusChristopher Malapitan and Marios Constantinides out of the end of the museum, having seen all the displays so I could sit down for a while.

Outside the sun shone in an almost cloudless sky, so I shut my eyes hiding them behind my sunglasses. We sat outside in the shade for a while and then moved across the road to what would once have been a defence wall beyond which lay an inlet from the sea. On either side of this was the new and old architecture of Valletta. 

It wasn’t too long before we were joined by the other members of the group; at which point we walked up the hill to where we came to a nice gardened area with sculptures, a water feature and the famous landmark, the Siege Bell War Memorial, which when it went off was LOUD! The bell was contained in a really magnificent Greek/Romanesque type structure and showed just how much heritage and beauty the UK has lost and continues to loose as the architect’s choose steel and glass and prefabrication over more organic looking buildings that are wonderful to look at.

Below us was the sea and a seaplane could almost be touched as it came in to land when we first arrived there. It was a lovely place, ideal for sitting for a while and just enjoying the sea air and great weather. A couple of the things I have always liked about my trips to Malta are both the historical references all over the island and the organisers knowledge of that history. They always explain all about it – keeping the trips relevant and interesting. They do an excellent job of promoting the islands.

We had some fun taking photographs of the place and each other in a variety of “normal” poses and others in heroic “comic book” styled poses and I feel I have to add here for posterity purposes that both Kate Brown and Emma Vieceli took rather a few photos of the posterior of one of the Greek-god-type sculptures. You can check out the evidence in the photos below. I think they said they wanted to get to the bottom of the artist’s integrity… or something along those lines. LOL.

My headache was getting worse and I mentioned this to Mike and arranged to get some tablets as we made our way from Valletta to our next port of call, The Inquisitor’s Palace sited in the heart of Vittoriosa. We made our way back to the minibuses passing as we did some really excellent architecture and some little fishing boats. As we began the walk down the hill to the minibuses Emma, finding out I had a headache gave me two tablets, which were a godsend, as shortly afterwards my headache was gone and we arrived in Birgu. 

The bus rides are always full of chatting and laughter, especially during the tours and this was no exception. Folks were busy snapping photos of the surrounding countryside and buildings and we were all looking forward to something to eat.

First stop though was the Inquisitor’s Palace. Like most buildings in Malta it was very old and contained some fantastic artefacts. First of all we went up a beautiful stone staircase to where we were shown a room full of the paintings, portraits and crests of all the Inquisitors of the period. The ceiling was lined with painted crests and looked magnificent. We were shown around other rooms like the library, and bedrooms and then we were taken to where all the information was gained through ill gained deeds.

Yes, it was the torture chamber – dimly lit. Inside you could make out some of the instruments of torture that were used to get confessions and information on others. There a rack and some instrument for hanging the prisoners so they were suspended from the ceiling and there was even an Iron Maiden for good measure. I say that because although this was supposed to show an horrific method of getting prisoners to admit guilt, etc the tour guide was speaking about the whole affair as if nothing really happened in there, at least nothing bad.

He told us that it was not like the rest of the Spanish Inquisition and was, in his words, relatively cordial in its approach. No one was really tortured there the mere sight of the instruments of torture and death were most often enough to solve any further hassles with getting the said information.

He was actually smiling and quite excited about the whole thing as he guided us around the palace and even the organisers picked up this point and mentioned it to us all when we left. He was a very happy, jolly sort of chap and maybe that was what needed to be shown around, for what could have been a terribly depressing place to visit, given the circumstances in which the building was used.

We were allowed to take photographs and the sounds of digital cameras permeated the air as folks busily snapped away at the many things on display and then we passed through the little gift shop – it is always surprising that these kinds of places have gift shops – I wonder what those with real experience of the true use of the place would actually think of this fact?

Then we found ourselves once more in the street and eager for sustenance. Again walking through the streets to the waterside in Birgu we were surrounded by some wonderful old architecture. The sun was hidden at times behind some hazy clouds, but these were few and far between and it was quite hot still – or at least for a northern barbarian like myself that was indeed the case.

Eventually, having circumnavigated its winding streets, we found ourselves on the waterfront and our restaurant, which I think was called the Sottovento Ristoante, which is actually situated in the former Treasury of the Knights of St John in Vittoriosa. The actual building dates back to the 16th century and has recently been developed to become one of Malta's fast growing popular Marinas. . You could eat in, or outdoors and as it was quite late in the afternoon (around 2:30 p.m. or so) we decided on a couple of tables at the front wall of the restaurant itself next to the main doors.

Eagerly, everyone checked out the menus and what a great choice there was too. The food came and everyone tucked in, chatted and was happy. I had a great discussion along with Jon with one of the organisers, Tamara Fenech, who is also an art student. It proved to be informative for me, as to how the higher education system seems to work over there. It was also very informative for Tamara, who has since used quite a bit of what was said over the meal and used the experience to her advantage in her work – which is wonderful to hear.

The afternoon although, as I have said, was quite late in the day seemed to last longer than the rest of the day up to that point put together and it was a really enjoyable chilled out time that we spent together.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, however, it soon became time for us to make tracks and head back to the minibuses once more – because the main meal was yet to come and what a meal it would be too, but then I had already experienced this wonderful event already on the two previous years.

Jon, having some medical conditions, which make it hard for him to stand for long was feeling tired after being on his feet for so long, so Mike, Chris, Jon and myself strolled leisurely back to our ride to the hotel. The trip back was the usual one filled with lots of happy folks, who were just beginning to realise it was almost time to eat – again!

Back at the hotel I showered and changed and then headed back to the foyer to meet up with everyone else. Sean and I were busily promoting Chris Stellini’s wonderful cooking and everyone listening was licking his or her lips in anticipation of the coming feast.

The air of anticipation for the coming banquet par excellence could have been cut with a knife I tell you and yet, for all the promoting of the meal that Sean Azzopardi and I had done, we had could not really do Chris’ food the justice it really deserved.

We arrived in due course at the restaurant, Peperoncino’s. 2010 had been a wonderful evening and this year’s was no exception. It really is a magnificent way to end the convention on a high note, although that high note starts from the moment you land at Malta airport, prior to the start of the convention.

Now, usually I attend the meal in a shirt and jeans, but this year I opted for a black vest with a manga design on the front, whereas Mark Ellul who usually chooses a vest decided on the shirt option. It was the talking point at the start of the conversation with some of the organisers who had also noticed this.

We all found a place to sit, ordered our drinks and then the proceedings began.

My meal consisted of the complimentary Soup of the Day, which was lovely, a starter of Pasta with Lamb Ragout, which was beautiful, a main course of Veal Scallops with Marasala Sauce, which was gorgeous and a sweet of indescribable wonder. All of which was accompanied by wine, Cisk and then followed at the end of the meal with a coffee. MAGNIFICENT!!! I must give my kudos once more to Chris and his fellow chefs on their fantastic meals.

Most of the people speaking to me where complimenting the Worlds End graphic novel, which was wonderful for me. I would have loved to launch it at one of the previous conventions, but it just wasn’t to be. This year though was perfect – it had been a lot of work all throughout 2011, but it was worth it in the end to see the book finally in my hands and more importantly in the hands of fans and to hear their thoughts on it too.

The service at the restaurant was again fantastic and I have to add that you are made to feel part of a fun-filled family when you are there. It is certainly all smiles and laughs from all the staff.

Everyone enjoyed the meal, bar none and Chris received a great hail of well-deserved cheering as he re-entered the restaurant at the end of the meal.

He room was alive with an electric buzz both during and also after the meal and then we heard a sound, at first it was faint and then we realised it was a bell – Santa’s bell. It was so close to Christmas that Santa himself, hearing what a show the guys put on and how the meal at the end was superb, had managed to drop by and see what it was like for himself. He asked if I had been a good boy and I said I had tried my best. He must have thought so too, as I was pleased with my presents at Christmas.

I had meant to do something about thanking the guys in a more public way on both previous events, but once inside the restaurant I decided that I was determined this year with the successful and heart warming launch at their convention to show my thanks and appreciation and to thank them all on behalf of the other guests too.

I waited for a slight lull in proceedings and then stood at the back of the restaurant, so everyone could see and hear me. I then, off the top of my head, thanked them and went through the list of folks I had to thank, but unfortunately I missed out Tamara and one of my best mates there, Mark Ellul, until prompted, whereupon I rectified the situation, but my words had managed to touch on what is special about these guys as I saw a few teary eyes, something which probably lead to my missing the two folks there out in the first place. Anyhow, once again Tamara and Mark, sorry for that slight oversight you guys are the best!

A short time later a much better prepared Mike Quinton with speech in hand delivered his, starting with saying he had written a little speech, but didn’t know really how he could follow mine, which was obviously heartfelt (and yes, Mike it was, mate) which was a tremendous compliment for me.

After Mike had said his thanks I gave the organisers and guests their by-now customary Worlds End posters (created especially to commemorate the convention) and amidst a host of photo taking it was soon that time of evening once again. After three years the feeling has not changed, nor diminished. It is a nice warm feeling but one tinged with a little sadness, as we all say our goodbyes. Then once again it was time for the renowned last group photo of everyone there and that’s always a lot of fun, especially as we all know folks are trying to put on a brave face and hide a few tears maybe.

There was just time for a few more hugs and promises to stay in touch and then once more it was time to get aboard the minibuses for the last time and our trip back to the hotel. Folks were shouting to each other from inside and outside the buses and waving until we could no longer see each other and then we all sat back full of food and some great treasured memories. 

We arrived back at the hotel and I agreed to meet up with Jon in the morning. I returned to my room, packed my stuff for the journey home the next evening, lay on the bed and promptly fell asleep.

Well, the morning came round, thankfully, and I joined Jon downstairs for breakfast. The sky outside was blue with a few wispy white clouds and some bigger ones far out to sea. After breakfast we placed our travel luggage into storage at the hotel and then we took a stroll down to the promenade once more, reprising our first morning in Malta.

Once again it was a lovely pleasant piece of time spent idly chatting about things. Jon was still speaking to me about how much Worlds End had impressed him and how he really admired what I had manage to achieve with such a book. He was continually singing the praises of the convention and its organisers throughout the time we spent in Malta and today was no exception, as once more he said just what a great time he had been made to have there.

He had now seen first hand just what a magnificent job the guys do of running the con. In his words he had just spent one of the best weeks of his life in Malta – a great accolade for the amount of time and Herculean effort they put into it.

We walked for about a mile and decided, after Jon had picked up a few bits and pieces to take home to family and friends, to buy an ice cream again and sit in the morning sun overlooking the sea.

By the time we had sat for what seemed like an age and discussed just about everything there was to discuss, some grey clouds had started to move in overhead. Ill prepared for the change in weather, dressed as we were in T-shirts, we set off back to the hotel. Our pace back was a little more brisk than we had used when going in the opposite direction I can tell you.

The rain was only very light, however, and by the time we were ready to walk up the street to the hotel from the promenade road it had stopped and the sun was once more showing itself to the world below. By the time we had walked about a hundred yards, or so there was hardly a sign that it had rained – not like back home in Cimmeria Lancashire… LOL.

 Arriving back at the hotel we decided to have a drink of Cisk and sit in the comfort of the foyer area on the soft leather sofas. Thomas Gosselin joined us and again we chatted away whiling away the afternoon, which was getting darker and darker as the storm clouds moved in. The heavens opened and I mean opened. The rain was torrential and the thunder and lightning very bright and very loud. The downpour bounced off the foyer’s skylight windows and from the door you see it hitting everywhere and bouncing back like ping-pong balls.

Jon took a photo of me holding my copy of Worlds End underneath the hotel Christmas tree and it felt right now with the change in the weather… it was certainly more reminiscent of being back in the UK. More guests joined us and soon Emma, Kate, Sonia, Sean, Steve and his wife and baby, Gary and Mhairi were all there. It was a last chance to do a bit of phone number and email address swapping with promises to keep in touch amongst all the new folks there.

Mike Quinton arrived and I received a text message – it was the most wonderful news and it felt fantastic, even better than the feelings I had had when I saw the books for the first time a few days earlier. It was from my daughter Joanne and I sent her a return text message and asked if I could share the information with the group. The message came back it was fine to do so, but I had to swear them all to secrecy – she asked me to ask the guys to not mention anything on FaceBook, etc about what they were about to hear.

I was near the reception desk and I asked the gang there to accompany me down to the others in the main area of the foyer. As we all stood underneath the Christmas tree I showed them the image I had just been sent – it was scan of my granddaughter to be – Phoebie. Huge cheers raised the roof, even above all the thunderous noise of the storm outside and I have to admit now to fighting back a few tears as I shared the news with all my comic friends.

After hugs, kisses and lots of congratulatory words it was time for Jon and I to leave with Mike for the airport. Due to the weather it was deemed better to all make our way together, rather than risk my being stuck because of the storm – as my flight was about three hours, or so later than Jon’s.

So our last farewells given and a final wave from folks the three of us braved the rain outside, which thankfully had turned to a soft drizzle and placed our luggage in Mike’s car. No sooner had we done so and got in ourselves than the heavens opened up once more leaving it to the top speed of the wipers to clear the way for Mike’s visibility to drive.

It may not rain too often in Malta, but when it does, boy is it frenzied!

It was a slow journey to the airport as the rain made it difficult to see out of the windscreen and the amount of it started to cause floods in places. Jon was beginning to think it may mean staying longer as the flights may not take off.

Once we arrived there I bought us all teas, coffees and cakes and then we proceeded to wait for Jon’s flight to be called. In no time at all Jon placed his bags through the check in desk and then a few hugs later we arranged to see each other in a couple of days time at my UK launch event back in the UK. A last wave off and then Mike and I returned to the airport cafĂ© for more tea and coffee.

Mike brought me a whopping great sandwich back too, which was very kind of him and we sat together until my flight too was called reflecting all the while about MaltaComicCon 2011 and my plans for the books, including creating Worlds End Volume 2 - A Hard Reign's Gonna Fall. It was very kind of Mike to stay with me until it was time for me to go to the departure lounge, especially in view of the weather outside, but that’s just the kind of guys they are.

The time passed quickly, however and then it was time for more hugs and well wishing and a final wave and then I was on my way back home once more. I was only in the departure lounge for around half an hour at the most and I spent that time speaking to my lift back from the airport, Derek and contemplating what had just transpired in Malta. 2011 had been a whirlwind of an affair and now, just this side of Christmas I had launched my first ever graphic novel.

As I sat there waiting for the plane and having told Margaret I was about to leave for home I planned my next step, the UK launch. On board the Thomson jet I met a lovely couple and showed them my copy of the book when they asked what I had been doing in Malta. The journey always goes quickly when time is spent speaking with other passengers and this trip was no exception, although the week’s event had, by this time, started to catch up with me and I slept for about an hour of it.

I met Derek at the airport arrivals area, just after midnight and once in the car he and I and his dog, Sasha, who had come along for the ride, made our way back to my home. The trip back saw me repeating, as I would for several days, if not weeks all that had happened on my very successful and enjoyable trip.

In no time at all we arrived at my house and I was greeted by Margaret with a kiss and Bentley Bogtrotter with a woof and then, yes you guessed it I saw myself repeating it all again. I made some cups of tea and coffee and Derek spent about half an hour with us before he too decided it was time to call it a day. I thanked him once again as he was leaving and waved him off. His trips to the airport with me had book ended the trip wonderfully for me.

After he had gone I unpacked and then took a shower to refresh after the trip. Then after a little light supper and another cup of tea it was time for bed.

The next morning would see me very busy indeed prior to my UK launch in two days time. There was a still lot to do – last minute plans and things to check, people to speak to. And then I was asleep. Well, after all, it was about three in the morning by this time.  

People are often asking me about the kind of and the amount of superlatives I use when writing these MaltaComicCon Blogs. Well, in answer to everyone’s enquiries, there simply aren’t enough of them that are descriptively sufficient to give a true perspective picture of the events in my humble opinion.

So, with that in mind, if you are lucky enough to be invited along there at some point – please snatch off their hands with the invitation attached, you will be so glad you did. And if you aren’t one of the lucky ones, but would love to go along and maybe attach it to a part holiday – again, please do so. You too will be in for such a pleasant surprise.

I know the guys are planning another convention as you read this little Blog, because I have heard that Joseph Bugeja is presently working on this year’s metallic mascot for the logo and some of the other guys are in planning sessions, so stay tuned and I will be plugging the Mighty Marching MaltaComicCon as soon I am given the go ahead.

Coming up here on the Blog will be a quick look back at 2011, a look forward for what’s in store for the rest of 2012, a review, or two and all the latest updates on Worlds End – Volume 2 - A Hard Reign’s Gonna Fall plus a few unexpected goodies. 

And now, without further ado, the last of the photos of MaltaComicCon3: 

The look on Jon's face on the second photo sums up the feel of the conventions - contentment.

I would just like to add is my heartfelt thanks to all of the organisers, Mike, Chris and his wife Joanna, Fabio, Mark and Elaine, Chris Muscat ( for making sure my books got there), Joseph, Samantha, Tamara, Chris S (the worlds greatest chef) Susan, Gorg, Laurence, Jeanelle, Bernard, Dean, Daniela, Inez, Maria, Frank, Brian, my number one Maltese fan - Kimberley and all my other Maltese friends - too many to mention - a fact of which I am proud to say!

I would also like to say thanks to Jon for sharing both the Malta launch and the UK one too (more in my next Blog) and all the other guests, including, David, Sean, Thomas, Emma, Kate, Sonia, Gary, Mhairi, Renee and Mike G, Chris de, Chris, Aurelio, Chris T, Taylor, Marco, Lucio and his wife and anyone else I may have neglected to add here, sorry.

I would also like to thank all the pupils and staff of the Maltese schools I was lucky enough to share my worlds and art with, all the staff at the Hotel Santana, the staff of the St. James Cavalier, the staff at Peperoncino's and all the other lovely restaurant's, take aways and bars who served us, along with Topsy and the guys that ferried us around the beautiful island.

Last, but not least, I would like to say thanks to my chauffeur, Derek for getting me to and from the airport on time and more and my wife, Margaret whose support means I can continue to create. And Congratulations to Joanne and Toby on their wonderful news about their baby-in-waiting, Phoebie.

You all helped to make this not just a wonderful convention experience, but also a very memorable launch for the first of my graphic novels - memories, which will stay with me forever - thanks to you all!

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…

April 23rd 2012