Friday, June 26, 2015

10 Years Old

Wizards Keep Anniversary Celebrations

Wow, yesterday we celebrated 10 years of incorporation here at Wizards Keep and to say we were a little excited is quite the understatement.

I paid a visit to the BBC Radio Lancashire studios in the afternoon (please click the link below) from 1:00pm GMT to the John "Gilly" Gillmore Show where I discussed the past ten years and also what lies ahead in the future for the company and its main franchise - Worlds End and more... He surprised me by putting me on the spot with a comic-based quiz, but I’ll have my revenge, mark my words. LOL.

There will be a permalink file uploaded onto the websites soon.

It seems like yesterday that, one Wednesday morning in March of 2005, I walked down the stairs to where my wife, Margaret was making breakfast and feeding our then relatively small menagerie of doggies and broke the news that I was thinking of starting a new company, Wizards Keep. I had coined the name back in school as a sixteen year old student, so it made sense to stick with the name.

She asked me if I thought I could make it work and I was honest and said I didn’t know for sure, but that I would give it my best shot. This mirrored my conversation with her way back in the early eighties when I was thinking of making a move to go Freelance into the Comic Business and, just like back then her answer was the same. Well if you think you could make it work, why not go ahead then.  

And, with those very words echoing in the back of my mind our fates were sealed.

It’s been a wonderful experience – not all good, as you can appreciate, but the bad bits are so few compared to the many great things that have happened that they pale into insignificance as the years have rolled on by.

There have been so many marvellous events along the way, so many opportunities to learn and to work with incredibly talented people. The support from certain individuals cannot ever be recompensed, but a few names will be mentioned in a roll call later on in this humble little Blog of mine.

I couldn’t have got this far without such support from those individuals alongside my wonderfully supportive and long suffering family and close friends and that of my peers too. All this alongside the many fans, customers and indeed the new members of the general public that have hitched on board the Wizards Keep Rollercoaster for the ride.

I always wanted to promote the company first, the book second and myself at the end of this. I was lucky, I already had a small existing fan-base – after all I had worked for some of the biggest comic and book publishers on the planet – Marvel, DC, 2000AD to name but a few. That said, however, I realised back even before the inception of the company that I would have to reinvent myself, because I had been out of the comic business for six years by then and what I was proposing doing no one, except close family and friends, had seen me produce before. I had left the worlds of comicdom back in late 1999, when I could no longer stomach the politics and shenanigans I faced on a daily basis back then, especially following the comics crash in the mid-nineties following on from my stint working in New York for Jim Shooter, which if I am honest was my best experience working in comics.

I spent three solid months, after learning all the ins and outs of managing a website, sourcing equipment, materials, suppliers, printers. I sourced my Wizards Keep website gurus by looking for someone to build a website that would open fast on my 64K PC – I realised not everyone had machines like the main one I was using back then – my SGI Z-10 and broadband was just surfacing and wasn’t cheap, so most folks were still relying on dialup. My, how things change.

With all my suppliers in place, my huge business plan in hand, my Wizards Keep e-commerce Website and NEW Workstations being built, software ordered, all the office equipment and paraphernalia ordered and a new business bank account opened, I proceeded to start what was to become a huge and ongoing investment. I put my foot out of the door and away I went and on June 24th 2005 with the help of my accountant, John the company was incorporated.

When I first went to get the bank account sorted I was directed by my business manager, as seemed to the case with all start-up companies at the time, to a small Help for Start-ups Company, called Bootstrap that helped to prepare such companies as I was proposing to get their first foothold on the ladder. There was at the time a very small grant available to start-ups too. It was only small, but free money is FREE, after all, and better than a kick in the proverbial. I walked into their offices, suited and booted, armed with my originals that were to become the Giclées, some original pages from Worlds End- Volume 1, which I had already begun to pencil, some of my incredibly detailed McFarlane toys and my, as I have already mentioned huge business plan.

I made a good impression, I was in a suit, I had examples of products and the toys I had with me represented the kind of figurines I was speaking to them about – it all made sense to them, because they could see stuff. So much so that I was asked to take it all to the board myself, rather than have Bootstrap represent my company – the only change that needed to be made was to pare down my business plan into their format. That itself was no hardship, it just needed to be put down to the bare essentials.

I remember being told that no one had ever gone into their offices with such a comprehensive business plan before and that alongside my presentation technique were the reason for asking me to represent myself in order to obtain the grant. The exception being our cash-flow projection, which my accountant John and I had created, based on out theories for the business model.

The weather that late spring/early summer was superb all throughout that period of setting the company up and it made a world of difference. As the studio was gutted and refurbished and decorated ready for the refit, etc I remember constantly listening to Green Day’s American Idiot album, especially their track, When September Comes, which I had playing on loop – so much so that my Daughter, Joanne, whose album it actually was can hardly bring herself to listen to the track any longer. But then Prog Rock returned and I was looking forward to seeing the new studio kitted out and live for the first time.

When I went along to the board a free weeks later I was expecting around six folks around the table – it’s a good job that these kind of things don’t faze me, because when I walked in I found myself in a boardroom with what must have been nearly, if not, twenty other people that I had to win over.

I did the same presentation as before, I was grilled by certain members of the group, in a nice way really, I suppose and I left. Later that day I was told I had won the grant and so arranged to go along once more to the bank at which point the huge investment was made and the course was set.

Back in the early days I remember being told on more than one occasion that if I could survive five years I stood a chance of the company being successful. What a scary thought that was at the time. The first products had to be quickly put together and they comprised of a series of, what would become successful, limited edition signed and numbered Giclée prints, a limited edition signed and numbered sketchbook, and a fantasy bookmark alongside original artwork from various stages of my comic book career for various publishers – not exactly a huge gamut of products, but it was a start.

Over the years I have created a much bigger Internet presence with the addition of the Worlds End Website and this Wizards Keep Blog to the Wizards Keep Website alongside many other networks, such as the currently three FaceBook pages, three Twitter pages, MySpace, About Me pages etc, etc. The product ranges too have grown to include Ashcans, Mouse Mats, Posters of all shapes and sizes, Greetings Cards, Mugs and of course the first Graphic Novel, with  the second now firmly taking shape amongst other things.

The Wizards Keep Website and Brand has also grown to include new products such as the bespoke wall covering service, Mural Artz, a Hall of Fame, where my influences are shown in all their magnificent glory, a guest artist page amongst many other aspects. Our custom built studio for all kinds of arts services, ranging from graphic design, all the way through, concept art storyboards and script writing to a huge gamut of other things for publishing, animation, feature films and TV, as well as theme parks, and theatre productions. There is even the occasional time to privately commission me, although those periods are still quite rare, due to the time constraints imposed with the day-to-day running of the business and trying to create new pages for the graphic novels as well as other art for the company.

I guess the one common denominator in answer to the array of questions I am always being asked is that I love being able to steer the ship, in the way I want to. Okay, if mistakes are made they are mine alone, but I like that aspect of what I am doing. Never have I felt so creatively at ease with myself – although that itself has its own burdens. One is always one’s worst critic. I feel as though for this past ten years I have finally come home again and this, all because of creative freedom. The freedom to create the stories in exactly the way I envision them, as both the writer and the artist. I can pace the stories exactly as I want to, I can layout the pages, exactly as I want them, and I can decide on the stock and format of each item we release. You simply cannot buy that kind of creative freedom.

I spoke a little yesterday to John in the BBC Radio Lancashire studios about the future of Wizards Keep, but there is a whole lot more I have in store for the company and those I am fortunate enough to have working alongside me.

And now, as promised, a few mentions:

  • My Mum, Grace and Dad, Harry – I wish Mum was here to hear this – without your support all throughout my life both during my education and ever since none of this would be happening.
  • My Wonderful and I am grateful to say, mad as a Hatter, Wife, Margaret – I’m not sure even I would have supported my seemingly hair-brained schemes, but I am so glad she has. Thanks for all your support.
  • My beautiful Daughter, Joanne, now married to Toby with a wonderful daughter of her own now, Phoebie – Thank you so much for all the support you give to your mad Dad.
  • My handsome Son, Simon, now along with his missus, Amy also with a beautiful baby daughter, Peyton. Like your sister – Thank you so much for all the support you give to your mad Dad.
  •  My Best Friend, Paul Roberts – You’ve been with me longer than most and still give your support, mate – you’re the best.
  • John McAvoy a silent, but vital Wizard with that little magik needed to run Wizards Keep – Thanks for everything John. Without your valuable help and advice things would be different.
  • Dean ‘Deano’ Jackson – Workstation and Software Wizard – Thanks for all your hard work keeping us up-to-date with our systems. You continue to save my bacon regularly.
  • Derek Roberts – Another unsung angel for us here at the Keep. Thanks for all your support and help, you truly are one of the nicest Wizards around.
  • John & Rita Ridgway – My best friend in comics and his wife who puts up with our constant long conversations. John, you are the nicest guy in comics, you are my friend and without you, things could have been so very different. Thanks for all your mentoring, your continued support, your wonderful introduction to the first graphic novel, as well as the wonderful illustration from the first Worlds End Ashcan, and most of all your friendship.
  • Gabriella ‘Gaby’ Golden – my new Colour Flats Wizard on Worlds End Volume 2 – Thanks for the great work and great laughs.
  • James Hill – Editor Wizard – Thanks for all your support and friendship, buddy.
  • Rob Sharp – Graphic Design Wizard – Thanks for all your hard work on Worlds End Volume 1
  • Yel Zamor – Colour Flats Wizard on Worlds End Volume 1 – Thanks for doing such a great and diligent job.
  • Richard Starkings – Font Wizard – Thanks for the use of all your Fonts, mate.
  • Albert Deschesne – Lettering Wizard – Thanks for doing such an incredible job on Worlds End Volume 1 and making it seamless with the storytelling.
  • Bryan Talbot – Foreword writer on Worlds End Volume 1 – Thanks for such lovely words and your support now and throughout my career.
  • Frank Zigarelli – Art Wizard – Thanks for the beautiful illustrations on the Worlds End Volume 1 Ashcan.
  • Sean Green – Sculpting Wizard – Thanks for doing such a beautiful job with Gweldar – You set the standard, by which everything else was measured.
  • Jeff Meckley – Sculpting Wizard – Thanks for breathing life into Ralf – A Truly Beautiful Figurine.
  • Choi Chow – Sculpting Wizard – Thanks for creating our first bad guy, Master Chl’Atheeir – A tremendously powerful piece in such a short space of time.
  • Paul Finch – Graphic Design Wizard – Thanks for the great motifs you provided on the Worlds End Volume 1 Ashcan, and which were also used on Worlds End Volume 1.

My Website Wizards

Vince and Mike at SurfOcracy For their fantastic work and patience with me on the Wizards Keep Website.
Chris Trickett at House of Trix for his wonderful and whimsical work on the Worlds End Website.

Truly you are all Wizards.

  • Mark Mugan & Joe Mugan
  • All my printers at Direct Ed and at Print Worthy
  • Mark Lomas and all at Lomas Office Supplies
  • John and Ann at Portfolio
  • Pat and the Gang at Granthams
  • Ivo Milićević
  • Gensen (China)

ALL the organisers at MaltaComicCon

  • Mike Quinton
  • Chris Le Galle
  • Christopher Muscat
  • Fabio Agius
  • Christian Stellini
  • Samantha Abela
  • Kenneth Micallef

And all the people of Malta that have welcomed me to your country and embraced me as one of your own. I am humbled by your warmth.

John ‘Gilly’ Gillmore and Garry Scott at BBC Radio Lancashire for your continued support and the fun interviews with you guys – it’s always FUN!!!

All the other convention organisers at:

  • Bristol International Comic Convention
  • Birmingham International Comic Convention
  • Thought Bubble International
  • The Lakes International Comic Art Festival
  • True Believers Comic Festival
  • Wonderlands UK Graphic Novel Expo

All the many schools, colleges and universities that have asked me along to perform one or more of my workshops, talks and courses.

All my past and present Fantasy Art Unlimited students – You have been a joy to teach.

All our ever growing legion of loyal fans – our ‘Wizardlings’ as we call them.

All our customers, without your support and purchases, there literally is no company.

And all the many creative people I have worked with since I embarked on my career all those many moons ago in 1980.

Barry Kitson for opening the door for me.

Jim Shooter for showing me proof that it could be done right.

Jack Kirby for inspiring me enough with his creations to want to do the same in my career.

And in memory of my wonderful Mum, Grace, my Grandparents on both sides of the family, and my Uncles, Bob and George as well as my good friend and fellow comic artist, Art Wetherell and Mike Wieringo, if only.

All of you have been my inspiration in one way or another and continue to be so.

I am one of the luckiest people on this planet and I think you all deserve credit for making that so.

As for the future, I’m currently working on the painting of Worlds End – Volume 2 – A Hard Reign’s Gonna Fall alongside Gaby, who is busy flatting the pages for me.

Plans are in the works for more products, some of which are as yet TOP SECRET others not so much. Our next publication will probably be a third Sketchbook – this next one is going to be all about fantasy, faeries, goblins, giants, orcs and all the many different variants therein.

Look out for the launching of a new series of A4 and A3 Prints too.

Now, whilst some of you grab your hankies, just a quick reminder – please don't forget our current Competition, which will end on July 31st 2015.

Every time we announce the winner of one of our competitions, the reaction from the winners is always the same I really didn’t expect to win – but as we always remind them – SOMEONE HAS TO WIN!!!

Get your entries in soon for your chance to be one of the THREE lucky WINNERS.

In the meantime, as we look forward to our weekend shenanigans at our special Exhibition and KARAOKE party, here's a new teaser - We may have a little special something COMING SOON - Stay Tuned, as they say!!!

My heartfelt thanks once again to all our supporters – words cannot express my sincere and eternal gratitude.

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
June 25th 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015


Design an Aoevill Spacecraft

As part of the on-going 10 Year Anniversary Celebrations I am proud to announce that…

Yes, folks, it’s COMPETITION time once again.

This time you are testing your design and art skills by designing an alien spacecraft.

What I am looking for is a great design for one of the alien invaders’ technologically advanced, sleek spacecraft. If you (shock horror) don’t have a copy of the book yet, there are examples of the existing craft on the Wizards Keep and here on the Worlds End Websites, Wizards Keep Blog, as well as all theFaceBookTwitter Pages and other Networks.

Being Aquatic and Semi-Aquatic creatures the spacecraft designs created by Tim for the Worlds End Graphic Novel series reflect their fish-like appearance.

All you need to do is create something that would look cool, sleek and really scary for the folks living on the planet of Gaeryth.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Scan your artwork or take a photo of the picture on your mobile/cell phone in the first instance and send it via email to – where your design will be judged by the Gang and I here at Wizards Keep Publishing.

Or send a printed copy of the design to the address below – (please don’t send originals as they can get lost in the post and we cannot be held responsible for any losses – sorry).

Wizards Keep Publishing
11 Walton Crescent
Whinney Heights
United Kingdom

NOW THEN WHAT IS THE PRIZE? – I hear you ask.

Well this time there are three prizes up for grabs.

FIRST PRIZE – is a unique one off large-format Worlds End Poster, which shows lots of the spacecraft in all their glory that have been seen thus far in Volume 1 and are in production in Volume 2. This unique large-format poster will be signed by me. The lucky winner will also become the proud owner of a special, 10 year anniversary, commemorative Worlds End themed Mug.

SECOND PRIZE – is a remarked edition of the first Volume of the Graphic Novel and a special, 10 year anniversary, commemorative Worlds End themed Mug.

THIRD PRIZE – is a special, 10 year anniversary, commemorative Worlds End themed Mug.

As always with our competitions I'll leave you with these three words…


Below is the artwork for the large-format Poster...

Don't forget to continue to check out the News Pages for more updates on events, appearances as part of this year's celebrations, as well as further information about Worlds End - Volume 2 - A Hard Reign's Gonna Fall.

And be sure to listen in to BBC Radio Lancashire on Wednesday 24th June to catch Part 2 of John "Gilly" Gilmore's live interview with me, when we'll be getting together once more in the BBC studios to discuss Wizards Keep, Worlds End, the 10 Year Anniversary for the Company and what the future may have in store.