No. Really. He did. He said this – “This is simply a wonderful thing: a marvellous idea, executed with great charm and style.” This pleased us greatly because his first response to something of ours was…considerably less flattering and contained (you will all be shocked to hear) a word beginning with “F”. We don’t hold this against him, naturally. (especially now)
It occurs to me, that you will probably have no idea what I am talking about. Let me just back up a bit…
Back when I was still living in the US, Nimue (my now wife and partner in all things unspeakable) sent me a link to a video. It was, in fact, this video. It was a performance by Professor Elemental, entitled Cup of Brown Joy. Nimue was enchanted and greatly enthused, and I was an instant fan. Nimue confessed a desire to work with him one day. (In no way expecting that it would come to pass)
Some time later, I was invited to be a guest at the Steampunk World’s Fair. I was still living in the US and Nimue and I were in constant communication via the interwebs. (as constant as we could manage, at least) I discovered, before the event, that the Good Professor was to be a guest also! Nimue made me promise to talk with him during the event, and I agreed to do so. The fact is though, that it is much easier to promise a thing like that than to perform it. I was nervous and I procrastinated. Finally, in the final hours, I spotted him in the lobby by himself (this last bit was a rarity. Not the lobby bit. The other bit) I walked up to him and stammered something and handed him one of the bookmarks I had made up for the event. As I recall, It was an Image of Annamarie from Hopeless, Maine, and there was a link to the webcomic at the bottom. Paul (this is Professor Elemental’s name in real life, such as it is) made appreciative noises made me to know that he was a great fan of comics, and that we should stay in touch. (If you have not had the pleasure of actually meeting Paul, he is one of the loveliest people in the whole world. To see him perform live, is a thing you will never forget, in a good way) I shambled away, probably blushing and mumbling.
Then…I moved to the UK, married Nimue and lots of other things happened. (One of those things was that we bought a narrowboat and lived on it for two years. But that’s another story) When I had caught my breath a bit, I sent Paul a Book by Nimue. (It was a prose book connected to Hopeless, Maine. It is sadly, not yet published) He (unsurprisingly) loved it. I gave Paul Nimue’s email address, and stood back. Then a lot of other things happened. Some of those things involved us getting involved in the Professor Elemental Comic, but the thing that I am talking about here, is a book. This book happened. It is one of the funniest books I have ever read and it is fiendishly clever. Nimue and Paul wrote it together, passing letters back and forth (Paul, as his Prof. Elemental persona, and Nimue as a number of people she is not, including mice) I did twenty drawings for the inside (including exploding dolls heads. Which I greatly enjoyed) Also the cover art (That image at the top there)
So, we had this great book. It occurred to us that we would probably want some sort of publisher. I was in contact with author Cavan Scott (he deserves a blog post all to himself, and one day he will have it!) and Snowbooks came up in conversation. We sent a query letter to Emma Barnes at Snowbooks and she was so enthusiastic, she pretty much lobbed a contract at us on the spot. (It should always be this easy! I assure you, it is not. I have my suspicions that Emma might just be a Professor Elemental fan.) We will usually say, in public that we really like whatever publisher we are working with because… it’s what you do. We will say, in public, in private or anywhere else, with great enthusiasm, that we REALLY like Snowbooks. (a lot!)
So, back to this book. It’s out now. It is called Letters Between Gentlemen, and you can have one, if you want. Warren Ellis liked it.