It's a little known fact that the Northern part of London has a fairly solid reputation for it's many varied delicacies. For example: You can buy a pretty decent Kebab a stone's throw away from 'Edmonton Green' train station. Plus you can also find many different races, colors, and creeds, arguing about the price of Humus, a chicken's throw away from 'Finsbury Park' underground. Yeah! Honestly. My creative mate, Ash Pure, told this to me just the other day, whilst discussing his animal-based digital publication. Here. Check it out.

New logo with all kinds of size

1) What are your own origins, Ash? Plus what path did you take in life to get to where you are today?   Ashram J. Pure’s origin story is shrouded in mystery. However, I can tell you about a young boy called James Harrup, who, whilst growing up in North London, one day spent his pocket money on a copy of Marvel Tales (reprinting the classic Amazing Spider-Man 39) and never looked back.

He constantly made comics as a child and a teen. Then, an art foundation course in graphic design, honed his raw skills and became the place where 'The Lion & The Unicorn' was born.

A career as a freelance designer and illustrator for print and web produced the skills needed to make the physical and digital comics you see before you today.

2000AD - Judge Dredd
2) What inspired you to create your digi-graphic-novel, ‘The Lion and The Unicorn’?   The love of large format U.K. Comics (The Eagle, 2000AD, and Deadline), science fiction cinema (Forbidden Planet, Star Wars, and Blade Runner), 60's TV adventure shows (The Avengers, The Prisoner, and The Persuaders), plus an irrepressible urge to create something both timeless and classic, as well as new and exciting in words and pictures.

3) In your own words how would you describe this story?   The series focuses on the adventures of The Lion: an embittered war hero from a Kingdom’s ‘glorious’ past; and The Unicorn: a talented and gifted but naïve, female psychic agent.

Set in an alternate-present, the story begins in Thamesis, capital of The Kingdom of Albion (analogous to London and England respectively). In this world the elusive ‘magic’ of telepathic and telekinetic power are undisputed fact.

Here, if you're career minded, what they used to call ‘an upwardly mobile sort', then you might be tempted to subscribe to the 'britomart conglomerate' (imagine if Apple and Google ran the country) and get access to their patented psychic technology. Small circuit laced patches, known as brands, when applied to the skin give their user both enhanced physical and mental abilities (An OS for mind, body and soul), as well as providing access to a global information and media network.

Not That Kind Of Unicorn
Just make sure you read the small print before you click ‘accept’.

If you were a bit more 'Anti establishment', you might be interested in getting hold of a pirate patch. Cracked and boosted 'britomart technology' capable of creating hard-light graffiti, known as sigils, used to glitch the 'britomart knetwork'. If you pay a bit more you could buy the power to invade another’s mind, levitate, or deliver a lethal blow of telekinetic force. The downside? It might kill you too.

The new, young mixed race monarch -- Jonathan of the Rose -- has instated 'The Lion and The Unicorn', as Defenders of The Realm Keepers of the King’s Peace, to form the last line of defense against these super powered criminals and terrorists, too dangerous for the regular authorities to handle.

In doing so they slowly overcome their differences to work together and discover revolutionary traitors, psychic knights, and immortal nobility all embroiled in an insidious plot to enslave the Whole Earth.

4) If ‘TLATU’ was a song, what song would it be and why?   It would be a duet between Kate Bush and Roots Manuva, produced by Aphex Twin for the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

5) If you could get a celebrity – either living or dead – to promote your novel, what person would you get, and why would you want to choose this particular person?   It would have to be dear old grumpy uncle Alan Moore. He is the god father of modern comics, and any words of praise from him would make my geeky heart sing. However, as he doesn't really promote his own books, it’s quite unlikely he would someone else's.

Failing that, I’d have to go for Jonathan Ross. He’s a massive comics fan and has the biggest chat show on television. C’mon Wossy.

6) If your story omitted a smell, what odor do you think it would be?   It would be the smell of a cracked iPad being booted up in an ancient, crumbling castle, which has been the venue for a massive rave-festival the night before.

7) If you could cast a movie based on your creation, who would you cast, and again, why?   Oh! That’s a tough one. Believe it or not, I haven’t given it any thought. I like comics to be comics, rather than a ‘content farm’ for Hollywood. That being said, I would love to see 'The Lion and The Unicorn' as a super slick animation (Think more Animatrix than that creepy Tin Tin style Mocap). So let’s do the voices:
  • The Lion : Garry Oldman -- How can I put this? I can’t! He’s the best.
  • The Unicorn: Karen Gillan -- Geek factor 5
  • King Jonathan of The Rose -- Is Lewis Hamilton looking to go into acting? Okay then, let’s have Noel Clarke doing a posh voice.
  • The K.i.D. John Boyega -- The depth of his performance really made Attack The Block.
  • Kendrick Garvey -- Idris Elba. Dark gravitas.
  • Malkolm of The Raven -- Richard E Grant, I reckon we could get him for cheap.

The Lion And The Unicorn
8) How did you manage to fund this project? And were their any obstacles you had overcome during development?   This latest iteration has been completely self-funded, although it uses some of the visual assets created between 2006 - 2007, when I was lucky enough (with a little help from my friends) to secure funding from 'Flemming Media' to set up a small studio. We produced a run of 6 digi-comics, which were unfortunately / fortunately a little ahead of their time.

Now with my story fully back in my hands, working completely solo, there has been no struggling over story and plot points, over the spelling of character names or any of the other things that can come with being beholden to a funding body. It’s all mine again, and, while this freedom is a blessing (especially for a creative control freak like myself) it makes for a long, lonely, and laborious process.

I guess that’s why they call it a labor of love.

9) During your time as a creator, what is the one thing that has kept you in good stead?   Bacon butties.That and the constant support of family, friends, and colleagues.

Although, what can sometimes be even better than all these things, is when you get praise from a complete stranger -- someone who is under absolutely no obligation to be nice to you.

When someone gets it and loves it, that’s the best.

That’s why I've really enjoyed doing the few comic shows I've done. Meeting the fans is great, and so is meeting the other creators on the UK independent scene. There’s so many great people doing so much great stuff. Plus they’re often game for a bit of ‘swapsies’ at the end of the day. And there’s nothing more inspiring than new comics.

Oh! Lovely stuff, Ash. Just lovely. So what are you waiting for, dear reader? Check out The Lion and The Unicorn Facebook Page today! Plus don't forget Ash's BritomartThamesis, and Albion, sections, as well as his Twitter Feed too. Go on. It'll be like eating bacon butties in the mid-morning sun. Yummmmm!