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Hello. I'm Antony Johnston, and I write comics, graphic novels, and videogames.
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Twenty years ago today, the Berlin Wall fell.

Those of us old enough to remember it, especially Europeans, will never forget that historic night. The Cold War had been going on for decades, since long before I was born, and the idea that it would ever end was almost inconceivable.

Even Gorbachev’s initiatives of glasnost and perestroika, while helping thaw East-West relations to a degree, never seemed likely to end the Cold War (much less bring about the end of communist Russia). By 1989, the Cold War had been underway for forty-four years.

Throughout that time, Berlin — and the Berlin Wall itself — grew in significance to become a symbol of the entire East-West geopolitical divide. Unlike the metaphorical Iron Curtain, the Berlin Wall was literally a wall, and thus an easy shorthand for political discussion of the times.

When the East Germans finally broke through and celebrated into the night, we all hoped it would usher in a new age of freedom and brotherhood. Sadly, we weren’t so successful at that. Nevertheless, the fall of the Berlin Wall will always be remembered as a testament to the power of public will, and a moment nobody who witnessed it will ever forget.

…All of which is preamble to say that today, I’m officially announcing THE COLDEST CITY, which I’ve so far only mentioned here in passing.

THE COLDEST CITY is a Cold War spy thriller, set in Berlin during the last days before the Wall came down. More John Le Carré than James Bond, it’s a down-to-earth espionage story that revels in the paranoia and mistrust boiling over at the epicentre of the Cold War. Here’s a synopsis:

November 1989. Communism is collapsing, and soon the Berlin Wall will be torn down by both the East and West.

But before that happens there is one last situation for MI6, Britain’s intelligence services, to resolve. Two weeks ago, an undercover MI6 officer was killed in Berlin. He was carrying information from a source in the East — a list that allegedly contains the name of every espionage agent working in Berlin, on all sides.

No list was found on his body.

MI6 sent in Lorraine Broughton, an experienced spy with no pre-existing ties to Berlin, to root out the list. But she walked into a powderkeg of social unrest, counter-espionage, defections gone bad and secret assassinations. Then, on the night the Wall came down, her superior — MI6’s chief officer in Berlin — was shot and killed in the street.

Now Lorraine has returned, to tell her story. And nothing is quite what it seems

Illustrated by Sam Hart (JUDGE DREDD, STARSHIP TROOPERS) and Published in 2010 by Oni Press, THE COLDEST CITY will be a digest-sized hardback that sits very comfortably next to your Le Carré and Deighton novels (insert winking smiley here).

There’ll be a full press release soon, but I wanted to get the news out on this momentous anniversary. So, all shilling aside, let’s take a moment to remember that even the most powerful government can’t deny the will of the people… providing that will is strong enough.

[Addendum: The full press release is now online.]



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