Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A LOOK BACK (AND A LOOK FORWARD)…
I've been writing this blog for a whole year now and I've found it a great exercise for a writer and journalist. Having to come up with something to discuss in it makes you write regularly and helps you to crystalise your thoughts on a number of different subjects that interest you as a writer. 2006 has been a great year for me (and apologies if I'm telling you what you already know as regular visitors to Walls and Bridges but it seemed like a good time to take stock :)):

•I finished the book Studio Space, which became Creating Heroes

•I added lots of new cuttings to my portfolio (Another piece in The Times, a feature in Saga Magazine, something in Variety, Empire and two pieces in Time Magazine). When TRIPWIRE finished in 2003, things seemed really awful and I wouldn't have dreamt I could have got work published in such prestigious publications. Three years gives you perspective

•I improved my work as a photographer, which is still something I'd like to use in a professional capacity but haven't quite found the right place for it yet. However, Creating Heroes will feature a number of artists' photos that I shot (Frank Miller, George Pratt, Walt Simonson, Joe Kubert and Tommy Lee Edwards) so that's a step forward

•I got myself regular work, something that you dream of as a freelancer: my six month copy editing contract at Time Magazine

So now I'm thinking about what I want to do in 2007. The book will be out in October, so I'm already considering marketing and promotional ideas to tie in with it (including a book launch over here and hopefully some events featuring some of the artists here and in the States). But I've also decided to put my money where my mouth is and publish a TRIPWIRE Annual for this coming Summer. 120 pages, probably full colour with all new features, interviews and some artwork and it'll contain pieces on creators like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Jeph Loeb, Guillermo Del Toro, Mike Mignola and characters like Judge Dredd (who celebrates its 30th anniversary this year), Hellboy 2 and Sin City 2. Expect to see that out at the end of July 2007. I'm also considering a couple of other book projects, so watch this space. I also intend to get the proposal out for Hidden City, the supernatural comic series, drawn by Dave Morris.

With any luck, I'll still have your attention here in the New Year too. I'll continue to review new films and books that take my fancy.

Have a great New Year and I'll see you in 2007.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


PAN GLOBAL

As promised, here's a review of Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. The film's been out over here in the UK since November 24th but what with one thing and another, I just haven't had the chance to catch it. I went to see it at Swiss Cottage last Thursday afternoon and I have to say that I was blown away. Del Toro's tale of a little girl trying to make sense of her place in post-Civil War Spain by seemingly descending into fantasy to escape her savage and brutal soldier stepfather is a work of rare cinematic elegance. The world of the little girl, Ofelia, played brilliantly by Ivana Baquero, manages to be both beautiful and terrible at the same time and Del Toro weaves the unstable setting of Spain after its Civil War with the fabulous Labyrinth with a veteran's ease. Visually, Pan's Labyrinth is accomplished and exceptionally well-realised. Doug Jones as the Pan of the title comes across as more human and sympathetic than many of the real world characters here, acting as a likeable counterpoint to Capitan Vidal, played with an icy grip by the superb Sergi Lopez, as Ofelia's cruel, unfeeling stepfather. The mix of CG and physical effects never jars with the viewer either. It seems that as we come to the end of this year, Mexican directors in the shape of Del Toro, Cuaron and Innaritu have carved a unique niche for themselves as the unparalleled storytellers of the modern world, each offering something that their contemporaries in Hollywood are unable to provide. Pan's Labyrinth is a brilliant, touching and imaginative movie, ending 2006 on a very high note…


www.panslabyrinth.com

Monday, December 25, 2006


Merry Christmas/ Happy Hanukah or whatever religious/ non-religious holiday you celebrate…

Sunday, December 24, 2006


TOWERING BABEL
I went to see Babel this week, on Wednesday, at a press screening in Soho. Directed by Alejandro Inarritu (Amores Perros and 21 Grams), Babel is an intelligent and thoughtful film that shows how modern lives intersect, by having vignettes in Morocco, Tokyo and Mexico. Innaritu manages to get a sympathetic performance out of Brad Pitt (surely a feat in itself) and many of the cast, including Gael Garcia Bernal and Koji Yakusho, manage to convey a depth of human emotion without resorting to maudlin sentimentality. The pacing of the film is note perfect and allows the viewer to piece together the puzzle without spoon feeding them. Innaritu, with the help of his DOP Rodrigo Prieto and Production Designer Brigitte Brioch, creates a true sense of place with each of the settings and Morocco, Tokyo and Mexico all become characters in the film. Structurally it holds together well and it's already been collecting accolades at film festivals earlier in the year. Babel deserves to be seen by a wide audience, as it has many things to say about modern life and mores. When it comes out in the UK on 19th January, it's worth checking out at the cinema…

Saturday, December 23, 2006



Here are photos of Sean Phillips' studio and Jim Lee's studio, both for Creating Heroes
www.watsonguptill.com

Friday, December 22, 2006



AN EXPERIMENT

I'm going to try and post a new entry here for the next seven days in a row, just to see if I can find something to talk about every day. To kick things off, here are two photos of North London in the fog. Contrary to popular belief, London doesn't get fog (We haven't had thick fog since the 1950s and certainly not since I've been driving) so the freezing fog that hit not just London but the whole country this week has come as rather a shock to the system…

Thursday, December 21, 2006





PICTURE IMPERFECT…
Just a quick post with a few pictures I've taken this week. Look for reviews of Babel and Pan's Labyrinth over Christmas week…

Tuesday, December 12, 2006





HIT THE NORTH (OR THE MIDLANDS AT LEAST)

Last weekend I went to the Birmingham International Comic Show, held at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, just outside of the city centre. I went up with Andy Colman on the Saturday morning from Euston. Organised by inker and Brum resident James Hodgkins and Smallzone small press guy Shane Chebsey, it was a decent weekend. But it was hamstrung by the fact that there isn't the money here that there is in the States for comics and the industry is so much smaller. However it was entertaining to catch up with Duncan Fegredo and Sean Phillips, with whom I did a panel on their forthcoming sketchbook, Intersections, which is coming out next July from Image. I also caught up with David Baillie, Dave Morris, Andy Winter, Baz from Redeye, Dan Fish, Douglas Noble and Dave Morris's friend Pat from Northern Ireland. But the venue was a little depressing and the weather was horrendous.If they can bring the date forward next year and have it in another part of the city with more/ some amenities, then it could turn into a decent show. My hat's off to James and Shane though for giving it a stab…
One of the things that was the most interesting for me about the show was that several people mentioned that they had been reading this blog, which was very encouraging. It got me thinking as to whether there may be a gap in the current market for a TRIPWIRE Annual, around 160 pages with all new feature and a little bit of strip content, which we could bring out next summer. I'm still musing over that so I'll let you know what my conclusions are…
My Mervyn Peake piece ran in TIME last week too which was very exciting. For those people who didn't see it, here's a scan for you…
Also here's a couple more photos of people's studios from Creating Heroes: Duncan Fegredo and Howard Chaykin…

Sunday, December 03, 2006



GREENWICH MEAN TIME

I'm still over in the US but I've left New York and now I'm in Greenwich, Connecticut. Before I left New York, I went to the Jewish Museum's Masters of Comic Art exhibition which was pretty good. It featured Chris Ware, Jack Kirby, Harvey Hurtzman, Gary Panter and Robert Crumb.
Up in Greenwich, I got the chance to visit Robert Mcginnis (classic James Bond poster illustrator and mystery paperback cover artist extraordinaire) at his studio round the corner. Although small, it was fascinating to see where he works and I think the comic studio book has got me interested in artists' working places.
I didn't expect to post twice within a couple of days but there's not a lot to do here and I have a decent wireless connection. So here's a couple of photos from his studio. The town is very pretty too…

Friday, December 01, 2006




MANHATTAN

A short post this week from New York. The trip to hand in the book has gone really well. The current title of the book is Creating Heroes: Inside The Studios of the Masters of Comic Book Art and it'll be out in October 2007. It feels really strange that it's over after over a year of sweating over it. But it is a relief.
It's been a really odd trip for bumping into people too: Landing at JFK, I went to the baggage carousel, only to find Publisher's Weekly's Heidi MacDonald waiting for her luggage from her trip to London and Dublin. But that's not the only unexpected encounter: on Thursday, on the Upper East Side, near where I've been staying, I saw Dan Raspler, who used to be an editor at DC, on Lexington Avenue, and today after going to lunch at DC with Mark Chiarello, I saw Jim Ledbetter, who used to be my boss at Time in London who now works for cnnmoney.com. That's it for the namedropping;)

I also got some great shots when I went to photograph Frank Miller at his studio in New York (or not ;)). The strange thing is that Miller has two really cute kittens called Romulus and Remus with him at the studio. But he has a great studio. Here are a few photos from my visit to his studio…