Rough Cut Comics celebrates its tenth birthday this month ... and we're elated with the public reception to the trade paperback edition of our debut title The Surgeon.
The book compiles the original two issue mini-series we launch at the Bristol Comic Festival back in 2001. We did a big launch and hired a small theatre at the WaterShed complex to introduce the writers and artists. Not many people in the audience would realise the title's penciller was Jaeson Finn, who would go on to be the renowned storyboard artist on features films such as the George Clooney production The Jacket, Neil Marshall's Doomsday and Centurian, and the recent comedy opus Your Highness.
But this wasn't just an ambitious comic-book idea. This was an adaptation of a full-fledged British feature film which had just lost a key co-producer at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. The horror thriller, about a time-travelling serial killer, had attracted the attention of Richard E Grant and Peter Capaldi in the lead roles; and Producer Alan Latham was going on to work on the Brighton-based thriller Circus, with Fred Ward, Famke Janssen and Eddie Izzard. Even before the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrel phenomenon of British cinema, The Surgeon was the talk of the town.
We took out advertising in Comics International, the industry bible on the day in the UK. We secured write-ups in Wizard and many of the indie publications and websites which promoted British product.
Our initial sales through Diamond were less than 1000 copies selling at $3.95 an issue and distributors taking 60 percent of each sales.
We were exactly breaking out the champagne for our first release. But over the next two years, The Surgeon had surpassed the 5000 sales mark and this figure increased by 2000 copies each year ... demanding two reprints and the production of a few more instalments to satisfy the demand of the fans.
Over the years, The Surgeon has built up many fans; including film director Sam Raimi and horror writer Ramsey Campbell, who provides the introduction to the trade paperback. Ramsey said: 'How could The Surgeon have been struck off our cinema screens? Could the combined imaginations of writers Tom Campbell and Craig Forrester have proved too strong for the British Film Industry's sensibilities ... at least those of the moneymen?"
I admit having now spent ten years in comics, I'm intrigued to see if the sensibilities have changed. The Surgeon would have been my debut feature as producer. Who knows, maybe it could have been me directing X Men: First Class for this summer's release schedule. Right now, I'm booking my place on a Captain Britain feature film.