In the mid-1990’s I was in my mid-20’s. Young, passionate, deeply committed to making art, and yet to experience any collisions with that Brian Eno described as “the taxi cabs of absolute reality.” I had developed a working relationship with the writer and small-press publisher Noel K. Hannan. A fellow Northerner, we spent a lot of time traversing the Pennines to and from our respective homes, working on a series of projects, including a 3-book comic series for Fantaco, based on the Night Of The Living Dead “franchise.” As I came to the end of an intense year spent working on that project, we started developing a new book that we were adamant we would publish ourselves. That book was Streetmeat. Set in Seattle, in the then unfathomably-distant year of 2021, it was a neo-noir cyberpunk explosion of mayhem that would allow both of us to indulge all the things we were into, and back then – even pre-internet – we were spoilt for choice. Put it down to the pre-millenial imperative, but it seemed like the culture was racing towards some as-yet-unseen event horizon, doing anything and everything before it was too late. I’ll list just a few of the things that were feeding into my head at that time: William Gibson, Frank Miller, Stray Toasters, Andrew Vacchs, Robocop, Ministry, Eightball, Geof Darrow, Giant Skull on Wheels, John Woo, Night Rhythms, Merzbow, Hate, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The Dark Knight Returns, Re:Search, Strange Days, Nine Inch Nails, Survival Research Laboratories, Masonna, Bad Wisdom, John Waters, Rapid Eye, The Mothman Prophecies, Pussy Galore, Answer Me!, Lard, Watchmen, The Church of the Sub Genius, Cosmic Trigger, Naked City, Leon, The Crow, Charles Bukowski, Elektra: Assassin, Hard Boiled, Iggy Pop, Judgement on Gotham, Henry Rollins, Apocalypse Culture, Robert Crumb, A.B.C. Warriors, Paul Calf, Pulp Fiction… and I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Everything I’ve just listed went into this book, which was over 80 pages of fully pencilled and inked artwork, plus a slew of covers and illustrations, all made in the space of about 18 months, on top of a full-time day job. Many’s the night I would work until 1-2am, and then be up the next day for a 2-bus commute to and from the office. From the vantage point of my mid-50’s I can only marvel at the levels of energy I was able to sustain, but I think I was just high on the rush every single day. I don’t remember ever being bored, not for a second. There was just so much to do, and I really wanted to make my mark in the comics medium that I desperately wanted to be part of.

The first book was published in time for the UK Comic Art Convention in 1995, with book two released the following year at the same event. We were at our peak then, with our small press table attracting many eager punters who bought books and the original art I was selling, and seemed genuinely enthusiastic about what we were doing. By then we were invited as guests, got to attend the late night parties with established professionals, and felt on the brink of some kind of breakthrough. In 1997 we published Solo, a follow-up collection of short strips and fiction, all set in the world of Streetmeat, and there were similar new titles planned, together with a full sequel to Streetmeat – Meateater – but by 1998 the comics industry had crashed and it was hard to see what the future might be. We had also both hit our thirties and life was changing. The following year I moved to the South West of England and we drifted apart. Around the mid-2010’s Noel got back in touch, with a proposition. By then I had been painting for several years, working with subject matter that could not have been more different to my past work, and he was doubtful I would go for it, but when he suggested the idea of a 20th Anniversary Edition of Streetmeat I surprised myself by agreeing. The way things had petered out in the late 90’s had left me feeling that this was unfinished business and here was a chance to address that. I started working on putting the book together, rescanning all the original artwork which had by that stage begun to degrade, with the once crisp blacks now a washed out grey, requiring a lot of “digital remastering.” I also started work on what would be a USP for the book, a section of entirely new work detailing what the sequel could have looked like. As ever, “reality” got in the way, and what would have been a 20th Anniversary Edition became a 25th Anniversary Edition, but that extra time allowed me to make the book as good as I could possibly make it. As a frustrated artist, frustrated writer, and frustrated graphic designer, this was my chance to prove – if only to myself – that I could make something that would not look out of place alongside other titles in Forbidden Planet. And even if I say so myself, I think I pulled it off. The book looks great, from the front to back cover, with the original comics pages cleaned up, and even a few panels replaced to better suit the narrative. The new material includes mocked-up pages, illustrations, cover designs, and script excerpts, and only hint at the levels of insanity and mayhem that, in my mind, could have been one of the great comics series of all time.

Streetmeat 25th Anniversary Edition. 160 pages. Full colour cover, B&W interior.

Order your copy HERE

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