The Big Comic page was recently contacted by Luke Halsall, a member of the Glasgow League of Writers (GloW) who is currently in the process of releasing his first self-published comic, The Mind Palace, and wanted to see if we could take a look at it.
As we’re always looking to help promote the local Scottish comic book community – and given some of the top-quality talent to come through the GloW in recent times such as John Lees (The Standard) and Gordon McLean (No More Heroes) – we were more than happy to oblige.
To give you some background information; rather than a single story, The Mind Palace is a collection of four short stories written by Luke and illustrated by some up-and-coming comicbook artists. The stories are completely self-contained, and cover a wide range of genres from zombie-horror to thriller to sci-fi. The book itself (skilfully designed and laid out by Gary Chudleigh) takes the form of a trip to the theatre, instructing the reader to take their seats at the beginning and including an intermission and an encore to close. It’s an interesting formatting choice that helps, albeit in a small way, to tie the otherwise disparate stories together.
As for the stories themselves, they differ greatly in tone, style and execution and it’s extremely interesting to see how the different artists put their own individual stamp on Luke’s words. While the artists aren’t household names by any stretch, there’s some definite talent on display here, and I was particularly impressed with James Cocoran’s work on ‘2.8’, the zombie horror part of the collection, whose style is very reminiscent of the extremely talented Ian Culbard (The New Deadwardians).
In a book of this type, it’s a major challenge to make enough of impact with each story in such a limited amount of time, but once again, in spite of how undeniable ‘raw’ the book is, there are some real gems here. The almost poetic short story entitled ‘Tick Tock’, (beautifully illustrated by Sofi Hjalmarsson) probably does its best as a stand-alone visual display, while other stories such as ‘Defender’ are clearly designed to be the opening chapter of a far larger tale. In that respect, there are several stories included here that I’d really love to see expanded into a longer book, with ‘2.8’ being a definite highlight for me. ‘2.8’ also comes across as the most polished part of the collection, due in no small part to the impressive lettering of Gary Chudleigh.
However, for all the potential and talent on display here, there are some definite flaws along the way. While ‘Defender’ is an interesting enough story in itself, the lettering is of a far lower quality than the rest of the book and actually serves as quite a noticeable distraction from Rex Kennedy’s otherwise solid artwork.
Overall though, there’s some great talent on display here. The format chosen is almost like a ‘showcase’ of up and coming artists, and in that respect, it delivers by giving us a glimpse into the vast array of potential talent currently involved in the Scottish comic book scene. However, personally speaking, I would have far preferred to have been able to focus on one single story, an approach which I think would have allowed Halsall’s writing and the artist’s individual flair to come across more clearly. That said, there are some strong individual styles here, with Cocoran’s in particular being one I absolutely loved.
Halsall clearly has a real passion for storytelling, as can be evidenced from his other GloW-related projects and his self-published eBook entitled ‘Hoodie: Reality Killed the Vigilante’, currently available on Amazon, and while its difficult to tell to much about his writing abilities from the ‘snapshot’ style of this book, there’s certainly no shortage of creativity on display.
We at the Big Comic Page wish him all the luck in the future, as well as to the artists who contributed to this project. And, given the success the likes of Lees and McLean have achieved lately, the motivation for young up-and-coming Scottish writers and artists to follow their dreams has never been greater, and in this case – with a bit of refinement – I don’t see any reason why the contributors to this book couldn’t one day achieve that same level of success.
You can find Luke online at http://www.lukejameshalsall.wordpress.com
And on Twitter at @LJHalsall