Category Archive for ‘artwork’

Half a King UK Cover

Posted on March 21st, 2014 in announcements, artwork, news


Half a King Quotes Staggered

 Final hardcover will include all manner of wondrous textures, foils and finishes.  And now, of course, you are free to tell me just how much you love it

Should you desire to pre-order one, incidentally, you could do it via this page.  A considerable extract will be coming in the not too distant future…

Half a King Extract and US Cover

Posted on January 10th, 2014 in announcements, artwork, news

The US cover for Half a King has been revealed over at io9, along with the book’s first chapter, by all means check it out here…

It’s going to be out in the UK and US in July, you lucky people…

The Importance of Colour

Posted on June 21st, 2013 in artwork, Graphic Novel

Thought I’d show the development of another page from The First Law comic with a very different feel.  This time Jezal and Ardee out for a stroll around the Agriont, and encountering a statue of a certain Magus.  First pencils and inks from Andie Tong:

And finally some amazing work from Pete Pantazis on the colours:
FIRSTLAW_ISS02_PG19_jpegHow about that sky?  Those glorious pinks, golds and purples?  Totally different from the earthy tones of mud you get up in the wide and barren North.  You can see the finished, lettered page, right now over at, with new pages every Monday, Wednesday, Friday…

Lamb, Shy, and Essential Fantasy

Posted on June 10th, 2013 in artwork, reviews

Thought I’d post a few little things which came my way via twitter.  First off, a brilliant piece of what you might call done-for-the-joy-of-it Red Country art from British Comic Book Artist Gary Frank:

00017 copy

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted any reviews, as well, but there’s a particularly insightful (not to mention complimentary) one of The Heroes from the aptly titled Unclekins:

“All the key ingredients that made Abercrombie’s earlier books stand out – the very real feeling characters, the naturalistic dialogue, the genuinely sharp wit … are present and correct. But it’s the story it tells that makes The Heroes an audacious book.”

And finally a few of my favourite blogger/critic/genre-commentator type people have been simultaneously posting their lists of 50 Essential Epic Fantasy works, and what do you know, the works of Joe Abercrombie appear on three of the four.  Liz Bourke was the first to unleash her life-changing praise upon me:

“I read the first book. I didn’t really like it. But Abercrombie’s success – and, consequently, his influence on the features of epic fantasy – can’t be denied.”

My books are poor, but my success cannot be ignored!  Better than the other way around, I guess.  Justin Landon was more enthusiastic:

“George R.R. Martin started the modern grim fantasy, but Abercrombie perfected it. His work is biting, and harsh, and riddled with black humor. Essential.”

And Jared Shurin of Pornokitsch had a little more to say:

“Like any other trend, a couple people (Martin, Abercrombie) did something really, really interesting – they explored the idea that ‘actually a fantasy world would be really brutal/disease-ridden/awful on a day-by-day basis’. Their commercial success was immediately followed by dozens of pale imitations, all based on the false assumption that readers love them some diseased brutality. It is always easy to poach an aesthetic. The actual underlying insight? Harder to copy.”

I’m off up to London for more meetings tomorrow, and there may well be quite an exciting announcement coming soon, definitely for me, and possibly even for YOU.  Until then…

The Blade Itself in Taiwan

Posted on May 27th, 2013 in artwork, news

Fantasy Foundation Publications are putting out The First Law in Taiwan:

The First Law1_the blade itself_cover.jpg

Always fascinating how different publishers with different markets choose to present the same book.  I believe this is the 26th translation deal for The Blade Itself, if you can credit that.  It’s rather wonderful to think of such diverse people thrilling, thrilling I say, to stuff that I basically dreamed up in the middle of the night for my own amusement.  So my thanks to the wonderful editors and rights agents at Orion who’ve put all these deals together over the last seven or eight years, and my thanks to all the far-flung publishers who’ve taken a chance on the books.  I won’t thank the readers.  MY FANTASTIC WORK IS THANKS ENOUGH.

Thanks, readers.

Should you have considerably better command of traditional Chinese than I, you can order a copy at one of these online retailers.

And while we’re about it, here’s their forthcoming Before They are Hanged:

The First Law2_Before They Are Hanged_cover

From Script to Coloured Page 4

Posted on May 19th, 2013 in artwork, Graphic Novel

Andie Tong’s finished inks are coloured by Pete Pantazis and end up like this:


I guess before starting on this project I was vaguely aware that you usually had a guy who drew the pages and a guy who coloured them, but if I’d thought about it at all I’d supposed that colouring was a pretty mechanical process, yeah, you decide a jacket’s red and you make it red, APPLY.  Seeing what Pete does with Andie’s pages has been quite a revelation.  He gives every scene a very different treatment, he thinks a hell of a lot about the lighting, the weather, the time of day, the mood.  He gets great variety into each issue that sets a tone for each character.  The atmosphere he creates is astounding, and actually the much greater clarity he gives the action too.  So the time of day wasn’t entirely clear before, but here we have a fire lit, shadowy night.  The officers are ruddy in the glow of welcoming lamplight from inside the inn.  The Practicals are sinister in the long shadows.  Details like the candle glow around the doorframe in the first panel, or shining down the steps and across the cobbles, there are even stars in the night sky in the third panel, all add a sense of realism and atmosphere.

I’ll check over the coloured pages, usually in scene batches.  The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that on this first run, West’s hair is the wrong colour in panels three and four.  Lettering is usually done on the black and white pages first by unsung hero of the whole process Bill Tortolini, checked by me, amended, then married up with the coloured pages for a final result.  The final result for this page, you’ll be able to see at tomorrow (Monday 20th), with further pages posted free every monday, wednesday and friday.  Should you wish to get ahead, and read whole issues at a time, you can pay us actual cash money for the privilege over at ComiXology, for which you also receive guided view and some of the inks and pencils.  You can download their software for nothing and it’s a cool way to view this and a vast amount of other material (a fair bit of that free).  I recommend it…

From Script to Coloured Page 3

Posted on May 18th, 2013 in artwork, Graphic Novel

And now Page 5 inks:

FIRSTLAW_ISS02_PG05With the ink (digital ink, I would assume) comes texture, shadow, detail, realism and weight.  I usually don’t see the pencils, just comment on the inked pages, and more often than not I’ve got very little to say.  They then go straight on to Pete Pantazis for colouring…

From Script to Coloured Page 2

Posted on May 17th, 2013 in artwork, Graphic Novel

And now the pencilled page 5:


When I think about the amount of work that goes into each page, I get a bit scared.  There’s the design of the costumes, the characters, the architecture, a huge task which is akin to asking the artist to act as costume designer, set designer, and casting agent on a film rolled into one.  Then he or she has to turn director and decide exactly how to organise the panels specified in the script – here Andie’s chosen to make them a little jagged and off-kilter, suggesting Jezal’s drunkeness and the sudden explosion of action, the graphic novel equivalent of wobbly handheld camera work, maybe.  Then there’s choosing the exact angle to take on each panel, the positioning of the characters to most effectively communicate the action.  And that’s before he or she takes on the responsibility of all the actors and starts getting the expressions right, individuality into the faces, a sense of movement and emotion.

Those among you with some artistic talent are probably breaking it down into steps and thinking how you’d go about it.  To me it seems like magic.

Incidentally, the page previous to this is up at right now.  Tomorrow, we’ll be talking inks…

From Script to Coloured Page 1

Posted on May 16th, 2013 in artwork, Graphic Novel

Now that The First Law Graphic Novel is chugging away, I thought I might share some of the process, looking at the script, pencils, inks, and colours on a few pages from issue two I particularly like.  First up is the forthcoming page 5, which will be going up on the site this coming monday.  We start, of course, with script.  I’ve done a rough breakdown of the first book into 16 issue sized chunks, which ends up being around 20-35 pages of mass market book to each 22 page issue, which makes it a pretty comprehensive adaptation and means it hasn’t been necessary to cut whole threads or characters, or even individual scenes very often.  Veteran comics writer Chuck Dixon has then been adapting the text more or less as he sees fit, reducing the dialogue to the essentials, rendering the action into visual form, deciding what panels, what angles, what visual methods are going to best get across a sense of the text.  He comes up instantly with ways to organise a page that would never occur to me, and it’s amazing how much you can achieve in a single carefully constructed panel.  I’ve then been tinkering with his scripts where it seems necessary to retain a certain line, or emphasise something that will become important in the story, or add some context, or occasionally to remove something that didn’t seem needful and could allow the pictures to breathe a little more.  The whole thing’s been quite a fascinating process for me, actually, and certainly a steep learning curve…

Anyway, amended script for page 5 – in which the Union’s brave officers tumble drunk from an inn to find Practicals Frost and Severard in the midst of abducting Sepp dan Teufel – looks a little something like this, and I think is pretty much exactly what Chuck first came up with:



Jezal exits the tavern into the street. He’s stumbling. West and Jalenhorm exit behind him. It’s night. They are in a bar of light from the open door illuminating the dark street.





In the foreground we see Practicals Frost and Severard struggling to bind Sepp dan Teufel while slipping sack over his head. Both Practicals are masked. We see Jezal and his two pals turning to regard this scene from the front of the tavern in the background.






The three soldiers confront the Practicals. Jalenhorm and West have hands on the hilts of their swords. Frost struggles with dan Teufel while Severard holds up a hand to the soldiers.






West whips out his sword and Frost roars and flexes his muscles as he throws dan Teufel to the cobbles.





Tomorrow, you can see script make the leap to pencils…

Major West Needs YOU!

Posted on May 8th, 2013 in artwork, Graphic Novel, interviews

As of today, the whole 24 page first issue of The First Law Graphic Novel is up at  You can go check it out, entirely free of charge.  It is our GIFT to you ungrateful lot, and new pages will carry on being posted every monday, wednesday, and friday.

For those who’d rather not wait, though, all 22 pages of Issue 2 are also available as of now on ComiXology, and it’s a humdinger, with the appearance of the Union’s most self-obsessed young officer, Jezal dan Luthar, not to mention his reluctant fencing partner Collem West and the latter’s unconventional sister Ardee.  Meanwhile Logen wanders into the sort of trouble you can only get out of with a blade, and Inquisitor Glokta shows the results that can be achieved with a cleaver, a set of fingers, and the will.  The art and colours I feel just keep getting better.  Both I and Collem West urge you to contribute to this righteous cause.


Go on, he could do with cheering up, he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders.  As well as cinematic-style guided view, ComiXology will also provide you with a bonus package of inks and pencils. Incidentally, it looks as if a physical collection of the first four issues should be available around end of August, but more on that as I have it.  I’ll also be looking at the development of some of the pages from script, to pencils, to inks, to colours, over here as we go.

In the meantime, a few interviews about how this project came to be, how it’s got where it is, and where we hope it’s going:

With veteran comics writer Chuck Dixon, who’s adapting the books, plus a comment or two from me, over at Comic Book Resources.  You’ll also see a few panels from the second issue in that one.

With me at Graphic Novel Reporter.

With me and Rich Young, the editor and co-ordinator of the project, over at Pipedream Comics.

Then there’s a piece with the artist, Andie Tong, over here.

A quickie at Sword and Laser.

More in-depth at NerdSpan.