I’ve been so remiss in blogging about this, and for that i apologise, but i am delighted to announce that my new book Kochi Wanaba is available to buy! Either direct from the publisher Blank Slate, your usual online retailer, or i am hearing reports of it appearing in comic stores and book shops up and down the land too.
Those who have known me for a while will know Kochi is the longest of all my projects, about eight years in the making. It is a pencil-drawn graphic novel about a group of kids who hang out, being rude to each other, swearing and bitching about things. Of all the kids, quietest is Kochi, who is very introverted and prefers to spend his time with his head in a sketchbook. His unofficial girlfriend, Lhys, is quite the opposite. Loud, excitable, and willing to take all the boys on in a fight.
Their group simmers with tension and resentments until one day, the Bee Festival comes to their village. What should be a happy day causes brutal fractures in the children’s friendships, and events spiral horrifically out of control.
To say any more would spoil it, but its been a real labour of love, and i’m incredibly grateful to Kenny, Woodrow, and all at Blank Slate for helping this book become a reality. It’s not intended for children (swearing and violence), but it is hopefully funny, disturbing, provoking, and sweet, all at once.
Here are a few of my favourite comments from serialising it online (thank you to the commenters):
“I’ll be honest … I loved this from page one to the… end. The art style is flawless as well as beautiful. Perhaps one of the best web comics I’ve read in quite sometime! Maybe you’ll decide to further this masterpiece or leave it as it is, either way I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, thank you!” – Osozaki
“If that was truly the ending (which i hope it weren’t) you have just kicked something beautiful full on in the nuts and left it in a gutter to die.” – Jim
“This is one of the best blends of bleakness, beauty, humor, nostalgia, panic (both social and mortal), and super-squeezable nightmarishly-proficient artwork. Everything about it was unexpected. I love it, dude.” – Jimmy G
I really love and appreciate that people got so invested in the characters. Thank you to everyone who enjoyed it and commented! And if you have read it online, I’d urge you to check out the book too. Not only is it beautifully printed (the colours feel a lot more subtle), there’s also a small essay about Kochi and its creation, and a bundle of sketchbook pages and never before seen artwork. Like this, the very first sketch i did for the book.
So there you go. Maybe a very last minute Christmas present, either for someone else or just for you because HEY you’ve worked HARD this year, and you DESERVE IT.
Man. I am so chuffed this book exists for realsies now.
Quite often you work on things not even thinking about what the end result will be, or what you’re going to do with it. Kochi Wanaba was one such thing for me, a real labour of love but with no clear end product planned, I just knew I wanted to do it. Once finished, I toyed with the idea of self-publishing but quality control put paid to that, so instead I decided to put the whole thing online. And I’m very glad I did, I was touched by how wrapped up in it people became, and there were a lot of calls to release the material as a book.
In my mind, the idea of it being a book was always a bit of a lost opportunity. I can’t say why, in case you haven’t read it yet and it spoils anything for you, but it would make sense. So I’m very pleased to say that Blank Slate will be publishing Kochi Wanaba. Blank Slate are really rising through the ranks as one of the best UK publishers, (check out some of their titles and artists here ), worth noting that their book Psychiatric Tales by Darryl Cunningham just hit number one in the amazon graphic novels list! Congrats!
So finally, yes, we’re making it a book. For release when, not quite sure. It’d be optimistic to say this year perhaps, but as soon as possible. Thing I learned with Kochi is it was rather tricky to print, and print well, while retaining the pencils properly, so there needs to be a bit of working out as to how best to do this. What I can say is for me, publishing Kochi as a book is a great opportunity to show all the work that didn’t make it online. There are a ton of pages and sketches which didn’t fit in, and I’d like to explain a few things in there too. We’ll make sure it’s a beautiful thing.
In the meantime, if you haven’t read Kochi yet, YOU CAN READ IT NOW(contains swearing and violence) or just wait for the book.
Phew, two book announcements in two days! Mental innit. One last mention, i’ll be at MCM Expo in London tomorrow (saturday), signing between 11 and 1. So do come along. Follow me on twitter and i’ll try and say where in the comics village it’ll be (as soon as i know), in case you want to be one of the first five to bring a copy of Find Chaffy and win a Chaffy toy!
So this afternoon, a comment came in for the final page of Kochi.
“wait! wut?! Ok I need a better explanation then what ever just occurred…
If that was truly the ending (which i hope it weren’t) you have just kicked something beautiful full on in the nuts and left it in a gutter to die.” – Jim
Actually a few people have been a little incredulous with how Kochi ends, so I wanted to reply. In fact, I’ll give you three (possible) replies.
1) Hey, you got a whole book to read for free. It can end how it wants.
This is, of course, utter bullshit. The fact that anyone is angry about the ending of Kochi means that they care, and they care because they’ve gotten involved in the story. So If you’ve been angry about the ending, I take that as a huge compliment about the book as a whole. However, you may need more than that…
2) The ending of Kochi is right and fits the book’s underlying message.
I have said Kochi is to be interpreted by the reader. That then leaves the ending to be interpreted in a number of different ways, depending on how you’ve read the book and what you think it means, so if it’s left you cold perhaps it requires some thinking. I don’t want to spell it out, so I’m not going to detail it. I will, one day, write out some of the ideas I was trying to weave underneath Kochi. But I’m not going to spoon feed you what it all means, never.
3) It’s not the end anyway, it’s the prologue.
Is this the end of the Kochi story? No. It was never intended to be. This book was meant to stand alone as a tale in itself, with its own message and subtexts, and I’m proud that it does. It is self-contained. But when I was writing this first book, I was also planning out the rest of the story, it continues where it left off and gets a lot more mental than this.
Whether I’ll ever get the time or opportunity to do it justice, I don’t know.
ALL comments are really appreciated, the feedback has been really humbling. Thank you!
Kochi recently made it onto the comics list at Reddit, which brought us a bundle of new readers (hello!). These are my favourite two reddit comments..
comment 1 – “After reading all 93 pages I can testify how charming, well drawn and just thought provoking it can be.”
comment 2 – “WHAT THE F*** DID I JUST READ?”
so if you’re just about to read Kochi, take these both as recommendation ^_^
And with that, we’re done.
I’d been planning what to write here for ages, years, now Kochi has finally been shown in it’s complete form. But now it’s actually finished, my brain’s gone blank. This started out as such an ambitious project, took so long to eventually make flesh, and is such a personal favourite of all the things I’ve worked on, anything I say will just be pointless frilly decoration around it.
So instead I’d like to invite you who have read it to offer any thoughts. Did everything make sense, or was it pleasingly ambiguous? And i’d LOVE to hear any theories on what you think Kochi is about. I sweated over the ending a lot, trying to work out the best way to conclude it and yet still leave it open, so I’m hoping it paid off. Early next year I’ll post up an essay I wrote on what Kochi is actually about, for me anyway, but I don’t want to toy with anyone’s personal interpretations of it so I’ll keep that quiet for now.
And if you have any questions, please do ask! If you don’t understand bits of it, if you want to know ANYTHING about Kochi (including where it would go from here), I welcome any discussion. Either comment here, or you know where to find me on email, twitter etc.
Lastly, thank you SO much for the support. It seems like people have really enjoyed the ride, and that’s very gratifying. All the comments and nice words were very appreciated. Now it’s complete, if you want to tell others about Kochi, please please do. Anything to help spread the word, anyone wanna do a feature on it, any publishers wanna consider taking it on, or even just telling a friend ‘hey you like comics, read diss’, it all really helps in getting work like this out of its niche-like bubble.
So happy christmas! Thanks for joining the ride!
As Christmas is rolling up, I saw fit to suggest a few THINGS WHAT I DONE, WHAT YOU CAN BUY should you want to pick up some boggly-eyed face-slappy presents, including the beautiful Koch prints! So please have a look at the little blog post at fumboo (is here) for details on where you can get…
– T-shirts featuring Whubble, Angry Little Robot, Looshkin and loads more!
– Bear plush toys and books!
– Kochi Wanaba prints!
– Find Chaffy and all the other books what I’ve done!
Thank you for looking 🙂
This Friday, the sixth and final chapter of Kochi Wanaba begins. As events are beginning to spiral towards their catastrophic close, it seemed only fitting that we should up the pace a bit, so Kochi will now go daily, with a new page every day, seven days a week, up until the book ends just before christmas.
I hope you’ve been enjoying Kochi, I really appreciate the feedback and am looking forward to showing you where it all ends. But I should warn you, it might not give you the answers you’re looking for.
Thank you to those who asked questions about Kochi some time ago, here are a bundle of answers (including whether Kochi will ever be a book!)
What was the thinking behind drawing Kochi in pencil?
It was an idea that came about when I started it six years ago, I’d been drawing comics solely in black ink, thick lines, all confined in panels. I wanted to try playing around and doing something different, to do a comic which wasn’t constricted by panels, rather the action spilled out all over the page. Doing it in pencils, I felt, would show a side to my drawing that people hadn’t otherwise seen, since I’d always loved using pencils but never really employed it in my comics before.
Around that time I’d also been reading comics like Herobear and Serenity Rose, which had such great fluid textures to them, and I was keen to add my own contribution. They showed me you could make coherent, beautiful things while trying something outside of your comfort zone. Drawing in pencils takes a lot longer to do, but the end result it far more organic than ink I think.
Is the story for Kochi autobiographical in any way?
It kind of is, but in ways I can’t really talk about until the book has finished, for fear it’d ruin the ending (and consequently, what the whole book is about). There are themes in Kochi I wanted to explore, these, and my reasons for doing so, will hopefully become clear at the end.
As for the characters, I’d identify most with Kochi of course, but none of the events here ever happened to me. The setting for this whole comic is a place I used to live called Edenbridge, which was a cute little village. I went back there to take a whole load of photos when I started this comic, I wanted to capture something about it. Particularly the field the friends are sitting in when they’re avoiding the Bee Festival, that’s the cricket field across from my old house, which used to get the most beautiful displays of evening sun coming through the trees. So every scene I drew for Kochi, although I don’t often show the backgrounds, were very much set in specific places I knew.
Is there going to be a Kochi book?
Simple answer, I don’t know. Kochi was always intended to be a book, of course, but in my mind I had viewed it as a self-publishing experiment, maybe printing a very limited run of 50 hardback copies, all signed. Fill them with extra material and make them kinda special.
I can’t tell you how much trouble I’ve had trying to get this sorted. I’ve been through every print-on-demand place, a number of small-run printers, with all of them making test copies and ordering samples, usually having to completely reformat the book for each specific printer’s requirements (a time-consuming task). And the end result? Every time, it prints poorly, way below my expectations. And the price I’d have to sell it at (about £30) wouldn’t justify the print quality I’m getting.
So yes, I have Kochi books lying around, but they’re just not good enough. And I don’t see any better way of doing it, that is affordable. If a publisher would like to take Kochi on, and make it into a book, then by all means I’d be keen to discuss it. Seeing Kochi as it was intended, a good-quality, nicely-bound book would be wonderful, and the culmination of all this work.
So hey, if you know anyone who would like to publish this, point them towards it! :p
Any more questions, about what I’ve said here, the plot, the characters, etc etc, leave it as a comment and I’ll try to reply likewise!
Hey guys! Just a quick note to say when you come to Kochiwanaba.com now, you will always be greeted by the front cover rather than the latest page. This is so new readers won’t get any spoilers when they visit for the first time, now the story’s starting to pick up i wouldn’t want anyone to have it ruined before they’ve started! Especially since I know some people are waiting till it’s all online before they read through it.
Remember you can always jump to the latest page by clicking the ‘latest page’ link down the right hand side ^_^
First off, I’d just like to say thank you so much for all the lovely support for Kochi, it’s been very appreciated! Now the story is starting to turn a little darker, i’m psyched to show you where it’s going to end up. Kochi’s a story I’ve been trying to tell for a long time, so now it’s slowly unfolding I’m enjoying it as much as anyone.
I wanted to start answering some questions about Kochi. If we get a few i’ll turn it into a FAQ blog post in the near future, answering whatever questions you might have about it. Whether it be about the making of Kochi, about the story or characters, future plans for Kochi, ANYTHING you wanna know i’ll be more than happy to answer (spoiler-free, of course).
So if there’s anything you want to know about Kochi, please leave your question as a comment under this blog post. I’ll then bundle them together and answer them soon!