Saturday, May 31, 2008



ANOTHER TRIP THROUGH THE WIRES
I am just over halfway through finishing the Annual pages, so I thought I'd share another couple of spreads with you all: Heroes first spread and Michael Moorcock feature. Please note: the picture caption on the Moorcock is dummy text and these are uncorrected, so yes there will be mistakes. But I am very chuffed with how it's all looking. It's even stronger than last year, and don't forget you can still order it from Diamond Previews Vol. XVIII, #5, on page 397 , item number MAY08 4264…

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

ASSESSING THE STUDIO
So there are three reviews out there of the book Studio Space, which is out in the US today (Thursday) and in the UK on Friday, and they are a little bit mixed but you have to get used to criticism if you're putting stuff out in the public arena. It would also be a bit rich if I was to complain about people's reviews considering what I've been doing with my life since 1992! So check them out here: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=user_review&id=137
here: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=16575
and finally here: http://www.eyeoncomics.com/?p=286

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


POACHER-TURNED-GAMEKEEPER REVISITED
There are two interviews with me out there at the moment, discussing Studio Space and TRIPWIRE: one is online at http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/?p=7617
and the other is in print in Judge Dredd Megazine 272, cover dated 24 June 2008. The latter sees me talk about the history of TRIPWIRE and how I got started in the first place with this writing business.
By the way, a little bit of extra news about the TRIPWIRE Annual: It will feature exclusive Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull concept art, seen nowhere else…

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Monday, May 26, 2008






















GO WEST YOUNG MAN 2008 PART FOUR
Okay, so Bristol was over two weeks' ago now but it's been a crazy month what with the Studio Space book, trying to polish off the Annual and keeping up with my regular film-related writing (like the Indy review last week) so I've let this last part of my Bristol online diary slip. So the show went very well and on Monday morning, I crammed Louise and Walter Simonson into my Nissan Micra and we left the Ramada. I say crammed because my car had rather a lot of boxes in it from the weekend plus my bags and I had suggested they could grab a lift back with me to London because they were going back that way and so was I, so I thought it might have been fun. So we left Redcliffe in Bristol with Louise crushed in the back and Walter sitting with two boxes in the front and headed for Clifton, because I promised I would show them the suspension bridge, which I have only ever seen once and it was in Winter. The weather was perfect (crisp blue sky with sunshine) and so it seemed to be the ideal opportunity. We got to Clifton, met my brother briefly, who lives in Clifton and walked across the bridge and even went up to the Observatory and got a great view of the gorge.
I had planned to go to Salisbury because I had never seen Stonehenge or the Cathedral there but I decided instead to take Walt and Weezie to Bradford-on-Avon, where my friend Jaspre and his partner Ronnie and their two daughters live. Bradford is a great place and people don't seem to know about it, unlike Bath, so it's pretty quiet. So I made our way to Bradford, getting slightly lost and driving through Bath but we made it just after lunch and met Jaspre, who took us on a walking tour of the place, up through an area called the Tory, which is located above Bradford-on-Avon, past a Saxon church, a tithe barn and to lunch by the canalside. I have visited Bradford a couple of times before but hadn't seen this bit so that was a lot of fun. Jaspre, Walt and Weezie also seemed to hit it off, which was good. Then, leaving Bradford at 5.15pm, we headed towards Avebury, and the way there I pointed out the White Horse at Cherhill to the Simonsons. So we stopped at Avebury where the weather had gotten a little cloudy but we still had a bit of a wander around the standing stones as Walter remembered the place fondly from when he was last over here. The rape seed fields look like they have been added in in Photoshop and it is a really fantastic place. No wonder Julian Cope likes it. So we left Avebury and ended up in Marlborough in Wiltshire for dinner, which we left after eating and continued the circuitous route back to London. I had to drop them off at Egham, a place I am not familiar with, so we got lost and their friend Richard Burton had to come and find us. So I eventually left the Simonsons at Richard's house at about 11.45pm and then didn't get home until 1am because I got lost in Egham trying to find the motorway again. So that is the end of my epic Monday after Bristol but I really enjoyed the day as Walt and Weezie are great company and I enjoyed showing them places they didn't know and wouldn't have gone to otherwise. Here is a selection of photos from that day including lots of Clifton, Bradford-on-Avon and one of Avebury…

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TRIPWIRE ANNUAL LATEST
I haven't posted anything from the Annual in a while so I thought I'd rectify that. It goes to the printers in about three weeks but you're still able to put your orders in in Previews Vol. XVIII, #5, on page 397 , item number MAY08 4264. It's such a fantastic lineup this time around:

•With the British sci-fi renaissance in full swing on TV, we look at the history of Doctor Who, providing an invaluable primer for those viewers who have come in late, and cover his history in comics as well as examining series like Life on Mars and Primeval. The Annual will have a brand new painted Tommy Lee Edwards Doctor Who image;
•Michael Moorcock talks about Elric, with a film in the imminent future, and Walt Simonson, Michael Whelan and P. Craig Russell discuss translating Moorcock’s vision to the comics page;
•Matt Groening, David Cohen and Bill Morrison discuss the return of the fan favourite animated series Futurama;
•A look at Pinewood Studios’ new plans, ILM’s company structure and a feature about the career of James Bond storyboard artist Martin Asbury;
•Bryan Fuller spills the beans on Emmy award-nominated hit TV show Pushing Daisies;
•Tim Kring and Jeph Loeb reveals the future of Heroes after the conclusion of the writer’s strike;
•Graphic novelist Posy Simmonds, a regular fixture in The Guardian and always on the bestseller list thanks to books like Tamara Drewe and Gemma Bovary, talks about illustration and her career;
•Marjane Satrapi discusses translating Persepolis from graphic novel to animated film;
•We celebrate two significant anniversaries for 2008: the 70th birthday of the comic industry’s most famous superhero Superman and it’s been 40 years since Marvel’s 1968 revolution;
•A look at Manga Entertainment’s successful UK division

Here are a few pages of design, including the cover again, the first two spreads of the Futurama feature, which is brilliant because Groening and Cohen have fantastic chemistry, the first two pages of our Superman feature and Jeff Carlisle's pencils for his Doctor Who illo, which also looks amazing. It's going to top last year's edition, no question…

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Sunday, May 25, 2008







A COMMANDING PRESENCE
On Saturday, I went to the London Expo at Excel in London's Docklands. It's a show that has a number of TV and Film guests and a big focus on Manga. But I went there to see if I could get an interview with Battlestar Galactica's Edward James Olmos. I waited all day and thought that I was out of luck but at the end of the afternoon, the press woman at the show called me and we were on. So here are a few photos from my roundtable interview with him. He came across as an intelligent and very likable man indeed. I'm not sure where the interview will see the light of day as the Annual is full to bursting now but perhaps on the TRIPWIRE website…

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Thursday, May 22, 2008


SMART AS A WHIP
I have been deliberately waiting until today to post this review of Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull. I went to see it at a press screening at Odeon West End on Tuesday night but didn't want to put a review up in case I put some spoilers in. So since it opens everywhere (including Venus and Mars:) I thought it would be safe to do this now. Apologies if this review isn't as succinct and to the point as other film reviews I have put up but this film has a lot more resonance than anything I've seen in the last few years. I loved Indiana Jones as a kid: I remember being 8 years old and going to see Raiders of The Lost Ark at the cinema. Temple of Doom was a little disappointing but The Last Crusade was a fantastic romp and Connery had great chemistry with Ford. So the character was left with only the Young Indiana Jones TV series (which was also a lot of fun) and the occasional rather dull comic series. Spielberg, Lucas and Ford had discussed returning to the character for years and they brought in screenwriters like Frank Darabont and M. Night Shymalan but they just couldn't agree. In the meantime, Lucas brought out his rather misconceived Star Wars prequels and Spielberg went in a different direction, proving he could tackle serious filmmaking with projects like Munich and Schindler's List. But about two years ago, the trio announced that it was definitely on. So I watched and waited, trying not to get my hopes up too much because 19 years is a hell of a long time between films and there's no guarantee that the chemistry/ synchronicity would still be there. Just look at Godfather Part III if you don't believe me. Anyway, I read some of the features about the film that have run in the last year but they didn't reveal a great deal about it. Then last week I got wind of a press screening happening on Tuesday so I asked and was lucky enough to get tickets.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is set in 1957, 19 years after The Last Crusade. I admit that, even at the opening credits, I did feel a slight tinge of excitement. The film opens with a great set piece: a group of 1950s teenagers race a US army vehicle on its way to a secure government facility out in the desert but all is not what it seems. Crystal Skull is set 19 years after The Last Crusade and a lot has changed in that time: Jones is still teaching archeology but he has lost his friend Marcus Brody and father Henry Jones (Sean Connery) and he now lives in a world very different to the one we have seen before. Jones is now a more world-weary older man and we discover that he has been in the US forces, has a partner in his endeavours, Mac, a Brit played by Ray Winstone, and his main adversaries here are not the Nazis but the Russians, headed up by a sinister Cate Blanchett. So Jones gets embroiled in a quest to find a lost city in Peru and return the Crystal Skull of the title to its rightful home, accompanied by his former squeeze, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen from Raiders of The Lost Ark), a boy, Mutt Williams, who may or may not be his son, Winstone and John Hurt as barmy academic Professor Oxley. There was a lot of speculation before this came out that Ford was too old and that cinema has changed so much that there's no room for films like Indiana Jones these days. I can say that, although Ford is obviously considerably older, he still has that likeable, honest charm that made the other three films such a joy to watch and there is real chemistry between him and Shia LaBoeuf, who plays young kid Mutt. This nuclear family with a twist works well on screen. Blanchett chews the scenery with style and Spielberg has remained true to his word, giving the film that pre-digital feel on screen and visually it is incredible. There are also enough moments that make you smile in the Crystal Skull like Indy hiding it in a fridge to save himself from a mushroom cloud or a sword fight across two speeding vehicles. Spielberg uses Ford's age to good effect, with a number of good one-liners, and he has shifted the mood from 1930s movie serial to paranoid 1950s sci-fi with consummate ease. John Williams' music sounds as classic and timeless as it did the first time you heard it and the sound here is exceptional. The mcguffin, that aliens landed in South America and when the Crystal Skull of the title is returned, the aliens will leave Earth, is a little thin but let's be honest: the fun of the other movies was the journey rather than the arrival and this one is no different. Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull is a great deal of fun, holds your attention from start to finish and deserves to be the huge summer hit it probably is by the time you read this. Indiana Jones is back and I for one am glad that we got one more chance to see him on screen in a new adventure. Spielberg, Lucas and Ford should be very proud as this film sits well with the other three movies…

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008











GO WEST YOUNG MAN 2008 PART THREE
Sunday at Bristol was a great day for us as we had Dave Gibbons, Walter Simonson and Dave Taylor all signed on the table so we had a fantastic turnout and sold lots of the book. Dave Taylor is an exceptionally nice bloke and he has a very cute daughter (whose name I don't remember). Before the show, me and Gary took a wander by the canal at Bristol and I took some great shots. The day passed quickly and we packed up the table, having had a great weekend and Gary headed back to Winchester. In the evening, I went for dinner with Dave Morris, his friend Pat, Misako Rocks and Sean Wilson's friend Akiko and we went to the Spyglass, the restaurant on the boat in Bristol. It was a very relaxing end to the weekend. So here are a few photos of the canalside at Bristol including some nice crane shots, photos from the Sunday including Walter and Dave Gibbons signing, Dave Taylor signing (apologies for getting the side of Dave) and the Bristol canalside at night. Part Four (where I recount our mammoth trip back to London with Walter and Louise Simonson squeezed into my tiny car) will be up over the weekend but first my Indiana Jones review up on Thursday…

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Saturday, May 17, 2008


A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW?
I'm interrupting my posts on Bristol to talk about the excitement at seeing the Studio Space hardcovers, which turned up on Thursday at me. I've never seen my stuff in hardcover before so it's very exciting indeed. And we've already had a significant set of reorders for both formats of the book, before it's even on the shelves, which is very gratifying. If you haven't grabbed one, then you can still order it from your local comic shop…

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Thursday, May 15, 2008











GO WEST YOUNG MAN 2008 PART TWO
So Saturday was a great day at the show. We rolled up at our table at the Commonwealth Museum and waited for the hordes to descend. After a slow start, the hall began filling up pretty rapidly and we made lots of sales on the first day. I had to leave the table to do two panels on Saturday, the first was with Dave Taylor and Walter Simonson and that was the Studio Space panel and the second was with Walter again but wife Louise was there too. I interviewed Walter and Weezie about their career(s) and we discussed Weezie's time at Warren, their work on X-Factor and a few other things. The weather was still very very hot so we were like ants under a magnifying glass in the hall so it was nice to get out of there and go to the Ramada, where the talks took place, because it was air-conditioned. So Saturday night we skipped the Eagles and went to an Indian restaurant called Old India with my brother, Gary, Andy Colman, Dave Baillie, Chris Weston and a friend of his called Rich. It was pretty good but the service was very slow. We then walked back to the Ramada but didn't have a late night as we were working at the show and it's pretty exhausting behind a table. So here are some more photos for you: St Mary Redcliffe at night, by the canalside in Bristol, by Baldwin Bridge in Bristol, St Mary Redcliffe in the piercing blue sky and the fluffy clouds and the sculpture in front (I got a little obsessed with it as we stayed right next to it), Gary at the table, the turn-out for the Studio Space panel and Paul Rainey and friend…

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