Saturday, March 25, 2006

Biggest and best news on this blog EVER!

And now it can be told. My big secret project is a collaboration with my wife. Yes, Rebecca is pregnant. Cheesy grins have been the order of the day for the last few weeks. Expect regular updates.
It’s still early days really (the baby is due on November the 9th), but no morning sickness only occassional queesiness. The ‘hormones’ excuse has been used frequently though - although mainly by me everytime I want to annoy Bec.

Friday, March 24, 2006


There’s am advert for IBM that uses a Kink’s song, during the making of this did anyone think to question the concept of having loads of different people all singing ‘I’m not like everybody else’? Idiots.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My nonexistent website

I found a sketchbook under a pile of comics, magazines and envelopes and found the rough layouts I did for my website. Somewhere I've got the finished artwork I did, but until I actually learn how to program you'll have to wait for those, in the meantime here's the scribbled versions
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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Less than seven degrees

How weird, I look at a friends blog, look at a blog link, look at another and then see the name of a blog I already check out, sadly they didn't know Kevin Bacon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What's it all about

At the moment I’m thinking about a career change, maybe, sort of. It’s at least time I started expanding my options. Doing a night class in something (I’m thinking classroom assistant at the moment) seems like the best way to go. It’s a bit difficult because I’m not sure if I should change the job I’m already doing. You could say I’m a bit confused, I want some changes but I’m not sure how to make them happen or if it’s even possible.
Apologies for the vagueness, it’s just because I’m not sure what I’m thinking myself!

No more, honest

Last word on V For Vendetta by me now. Actualy it’s not mine and it’s not just for the V thing. Here’s a couple links for the man him self. Um, Alan Moore that is, not V.
On the Moore kick this is worth a look, Moore’s clearly a fan of The Bonzo’s. My copy came with an issue of Critters but the original record of this had a fantastic Kevin 0’Neill cover which is well worth searching for. Oh, yes, that is Moore singing.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Had a rubbish weekend end (even though I was off!) which lead to some tedious blog posting as I obsessively trawled the net for pointless diverting nonsense (which does seem to be the reason it exists after all) Apologies for that, but it wasn’t my fault, it was my wife’s fault, she had a cold so we couldn’t really do anything.
Obviously I can’t promise that my post will stop being so tedious, but hopefully the tedious ones won’t quite be so frequent.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Possible V For Vendetta spoilers

Because I like to think I can listen to others I decided to check wiki for a synopsis and whatnot about the V For Vendetta adaptation. I’m glad I did as it’s confirmed my desire to not watch the film. Plotwise it’s incredibly disappointing to see what’s been taken out - such as inspector Finch’s attempt to ‘become’ V, which means he doesn’t get to have the same finale with V. The manner in which Evey and V part company (does that mean no ‘Land of do as you please’?), how she spends her time away from V and more importantly the way in which she is originally captured - not to mention the changes to her introduction; all different, all worse. The subplot about the wife of one of V’s victims appears to have been left out, which provided a great deal of depth to the story as well as some incredibly powerful scenes. Finch’s younger partner is eather gone or his role is greatly reduced which means that the parallels with V and Evey’s initial meeting are lost at the end. And V’s speech when he captures the TV station is criminally gone! No doubt Americans wouldn’t have liked the religious content.
Making it explicit that V is the man in room 5 eliminates the possibility that V could be Valerie (at least thatValerie was left in, I can only hope it’s as emotionally draining as the original - do we still see V watching her films and his reaction I wonder) - also the notion that V is scarred by burns from his escape undermines the reasons for wearing a mask.
Reducing Fate’s role in the story means we don’t get the reveal of how V is so able to plan as well as he does, which means Susan/Suter doesn’t get to react to it which dramatically reduces his character - I’m guessing he doesn’t go through the same drastic but inevitable character change he did in the comic.
All plot changes are for the worse and are designed to ‘streamline’ but what’s intended as streamlining comes across as pat and weak, and the cutting out of characters and subplots leads to disjointed storytelling which comes across even in the synopsis - it’s also telling that the things considered unimportant enough to edit out are things that gave V For Vendetta emotional depth and texture.
It’s easy to complain and list all these changes but the big horrible change seems to be in the philosophy of the story, V is no longer such a proponent of anarchy (so I suppose the brilliant scene of V’s conversation with Lady Justice is gone) out to wreck the forces of fascism, he’s now a sort of liberal freedom fighter. Yeah, it keeps a lot of the themes but in typical Hollywood style reduces and simplifies them, which for me takes it even further away from what made the comic so special.
It’s also pretty sad that V For Vendetta looks just like any big film, the comic had such a unique look, couldn’t a bit more thought have been put into the visual stylings.
Maybe if I had never read the comic, maybe if I hadn’t read it at such an impressionable age, maybe if it hadn’t been so brilliant, maybe then I would’ve been able to enjoy the film, but that might have been all I’d done, enjoy it , and that’s the problem, the film of V will be forgotten by many, that seems to be the fate of many big films nowadays, but V the comic is one of the most memorable ever written.
One bizarre postscript that I’ve not seen much about is regarding the novelisation of the film. The V book is written by none other than Steve (no relation) Moore, long time friend of Alan Moore. Considering Alan Moore’s opinion of the V film this seems more than a little odd, is the book an attempt by a friend to readdress the damage the film has done, has Hollywood tried to get one Moore and settled for another, or worse are they unaware of the difference? Weird.

Here comes the fuzz

Interest level is probably not high, but it’s my blog so I’m telling you all my beard’s a bit shorter okay! Only a little bit though. All I trimmed was the neck and side bit’s, which are now about an inch long. This took will power as I’ve become pretty attached to my facial hair, but as the sides looked like way longer than the rest it was probably a wise move to make some concessions to taming it.
Next post will probably be about the length of my fingernails or bellybutton fluff or something.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Doing my homework

Looking at the websites of various publishers is a little deflating. Most publishers only look at manuscripts through agents or already published authors. I’ve been lucky to have a contact who can pass stuff direct to a publisher and I may be able to do it again but it’s probably best not to totally rely on that. My only attempt at interesting agents was a bit miserable. A few years ago I did a picture book proposal and phoned several agencies to see if they would look at it, most wouldn’t look at unestablished creators (there’s a pattern forming here!) and the few that did sent the work straight back saying they weren’t interested in taking on unpublished creators (a bit irritating considering I’d already contacted them to establish that they would look!) and one sent me a polite form letter rejecting the proposal with a little bit of supporting wording.
For someone with a shaky grip on confidence like myself it was a bit disheartening. Getting an agent is possible, as Garen can attest, but you need to have work as good as Garen’s!
Fortunately the encouraging letter from Orion is still working it’s magic on me so the plan is to tweak and improve Simian and work on other projects so I can follow up with proposals if I’m lucky enough to get a similar response to the one I got from Orion. It’s a nerve wracking but exciting time!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Not see V

My sister tells me the V For Vendetta film is very good. I’m still not going to see it though. The reviews, good and bad, don’t bode well, the changes to the story make me cringe, Alan Moore’s treatment is deplorable and V is one of the few comics that I genuinely care about because Alan Moore is more than just one of my favourite authors, because of how old I was when he started I feel that he’s helped shape me - if that sounds lame or melodramatic then you’re either not a writer or shouldn’t be!
So many bad films have been mad from good source material, but worse so many forgettable films have been made from good source material. That’s the thing though, ‘source material’, the film industry is a money making machine that sees anything as grist for the mill, remakes, adaptations, sequels and films that are supposed to be new but seem suspiciously like a film you saw last week but forgot about because it was, you know, okay an’ stuff and had thingy in.
Actually comics aren’t much cop either are they? DC and Marvel choking the shelves with as much product they couldn’t care less about as possible just so there isn’t any room for competition.
That’s is, I’m officially a miserable old duffer.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

This is where all my money goes

Not long before publishers First Second start releasing their books and there's not one title on their list that I'm not getting. A lot of publishers have tried to tap into comics over the years but First Second looks like it could join Pantheon in being one of the few to release strong titles and carry on releasing them. Of course any line up that includes Lewis Trondheim, Joann Sfar, Eddie Campbell and Greg Cook was bound to get my cash, but the list is bigger than that with some names that may be new to me now but look like they could become good friends. The same publisher is part of another imprint that publishes children's books and there seems to be an overlap in style if the upcoming Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller's anything to go by... it's on my shopping list too.

Saga of Simian

My Simian Smith manuscript arrived in the post today, which is a sure sign that it was rejected, however it was a hell of a nice rejection. The reason given was the old chestnut of not being for them, but when it's accompanied with phrases such as ‘I enjoyed it very much.... fast and funny.... terrifically clever use of repition and catch-phrases that establishes the character well.’ I can take it on the chin.
The letter also contained a few pointers and an invite to talk a little if I would find that helpful.
All in all I’m very heartened by this, I was expecting a form rejection. I’ll tinker a bit with the manuscript and try and address some of the issues mentioned and then send it on somewhere else.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

What Happen's Now by Jeremy Dyson

I’d been waiting for this for a while being a League Of Gentleman fan, but also because Dyson’s collection of short stories was fantastic. The pained expression I wore whilst reading it was not because it was bad, it was a sign of it's brilliance.
What Happens Now is the story of two sensitive emotionally unstable people and what happened to them to make them that way. Some books you can’t put down even when you know they’re going somewhere you don’t want to be, What Happens Now is one of those, it's painful reading, but so beautifully written that you have to keep going. Alistair Black is a fantastically realised character, nervous, shy with a imagination that opens him up to occassional brilliance but his naivety is a flaw that will have grave consequences for himself and Alice Zealand.
I can't recommend this book highly enough, every one should wear the frown I had to wear when reading it!


Heavy snow fall and blustery winds, it looks ace outside! I gotta go to work but I'll be treking through the snow wrapped up warm with snow sticking to my beard fulfilling my Grizzly Adams fantasy, well, without bears and such.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Utter utter genius.

I just caught the end of Star in Their Eyes Kids which means that if I die tomorrow I will die happy. A 7 year old kid dressed up as Noddy Holder at his peak, and I mean really dressed up, mutton chops and everything. I'm going to try and find a pic online.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Silent Executioner (a Fantomas story) by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre

It's hard to explain this book, and I don't think it would make any difference anyway. Certainly the plot is the reason for a lot of the book's charm, and it has loads, but it's not because of what happens. I can't really tell you much about Fantomas either, at least no more than the back of the book would tell you. Fantomas is an arch villain and master of disguise, he likes money and enjoys setting elaborate traps the kill in fairly gruesome ways, but really I think he just enjoys spreading terror.. Uh, that's it for Fantomas, I mean he doesn't even appear in the book until at least half way, they really go to town with the whole disguise thing, we don't even get to know who he's pretending to be and it's not exactly obvious, well, it might be if it wasn't for the fact that it could 'obviously' be a few people. Apparently later in the series it's entirely possible that Juve, the smart, but not smart enough, police detective trying to bring him to justice, is Fantomas.
If you're getting the impression that the authors were just making it up as they went along you'd be amazed how right you are. To get the Fantomas stories out regular and often enough Allain and Souvestre worked out a basic plot and then went off and wrote a alternate chapters with very little contact. This is probably the reason for the strange dreamlike atmosphere that makes Fantomas so enjoyable not just to the general public loved the stories but to the surrealists of the time.
It's easy to see why the Fantomas series became such a cult hit, I loved it, I just couldn't honestly tell you why!

New and notions

Wow, post 250, doesn’t time fly.
Just recieved Flight vol.2 through the post today and a quick scan through out tells me 2 things, it’s beautiful, and my comic ideas are on the right track.
There’ll probably be nothing to show for a while yet but my plan is pretty simple, I’m going to do more than one comic strip, I’ll be doing 2 with various possible one-offs. The reason for this improbably sounding workload is that I like to many different things and trying to squeeze all those things into one story is either too hard, impossible or morelikely it just makes for a not so good story.
So far my ideas about content are pretty vague but there are two vague things that’ll make up the more regular of the strips, both will be fairly silly, but one will be more on the macabre side of my likes and the other on the whimsical (I’m not adverse to letting one like mess with the other here either) I’ll keep y’all posted and will probably, finally, get round to setting up a website to put these strips on.
As well as the writing which I plan to get back to now there’s also a fairly big secret project in the works, I can’t say much about it at the moment, but as soon as I can I will.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Big grin

Got word back about my comic (it's called 'Bad Advice' BTW), it made it in time and the revisions seem to have passed, so it's well and truly done. That and other things make me think I might have never been happier than now.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Finished!..... again

It’s tempting fate considering last time, but I’ve finally finished my comic strip. All the revisions have been done and I’m happier with the end results. More time would’ve allowed me to try some alternatives to panels I felt were weak in concept but I’m much happier with execution of them.
It’s been an eye opener doing this. Way back nearly 10 years ago I did a small press comic, but after struggling for a couple of years I pretty much gave up, coming back only occasionally and leaving again. It was too hard, the end results were never satisfactory and truthfully I had some issues with ‘the scene’. Usually I think I made the right choice, now I’m not sure sure. All that I just said is true, but now I’m thinking that it was my attitude that was wrong. I wish I’d stuck with it, and although I won’t be able to go back and change things, I can do things differently from now on.

Monday, March 06, 2006

ZombieWorld Champion of the Worms by Mike Mignola & Pat McEown

So, zombies, I love ‘em, and the last couple of years proves I’m not alone, not even part of a small select audience, I’m actually part of a huge flesh eating hoard. Cool. The zombie craze hadn’t boomed when COTW came out but now it’s back to take advantage and I’m very happy it has, I never got round to replacing my original issues and I much prefer collections - especially when they have lovely sketchbook sections at the back. I don’t think ZombieWorld quite took off when it first came out, Mignola and McEown set up this environment with COTW for other creators to follow and play in. The trouble is it was a hard act to follow and more importantly the COTW felt like a personal vision, the others were just stories (interestingly Bob Fingerman who did the excellent ‘Beg The Question’ wrote a ZombieWorld story, it was really good but it just didn’t quite have the same spark as COTW. Fingerman’s just finishing his own zombie story, nothing to do with ZombieWorld, and it looks fantastic - ‘Recess Pieces’ (a pun Americans will get easier than most Brits I guess) has a space on my bookshelf all lined up ready).
Anyway, on with the review.
Lovecraftian monsters, mummies, zombies, museums, a solid quirky story and absolutely beautiful artwork. It’s the artwork that really sold me (although Mignola’s story is great, especially as it manages to be a little different to the usual zombie tale - don’t get me wrong, I like the usual zombie tale, but it’s nice to have a change), McEown’s previous work (on Grendel was great, but Zombie World was something else, Basil Wolverton meets Yves Chaland on a particularly strong Herge kick, just jaw droppingly beautiful stuff. Sadly McEown seemed to disappear from comics (into animation I belive) with only a few stories left behind (one of which was a serious inspiration for my own Simian Smith as it happens), I’m hoping his recent reappearence in Dark Horse’s Book of the Dead bodes means he wants to do more comics, I’ll be keeping an eye out.
COTW's demands you read it and it's pretty cheap (insert your own 'arm and a leg/zombie' gag here!) so you've got no reason not to give it a go. NOW!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Squash tomatoes in stew

My good lady wife is now a year older, the ripe old age of 32 in fact. Had a nice night out last night, lot’s of good food and a couple of drinks in a pub where a bunch of folk pulled out some banjo’s and stuff and started playing Irish songs - Lancaster’s that kind of place. Big cooked breakfast late in the morning. Lounging around and watching telly through the afternoon, and reality tomorrow. But not too much reality, cos I’ve still got one more day off. life is sweet.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I Drink Your Blood

Despite it’s lurid title ‘I Drink Your Blood’ is a surprisingly sensitive film chronicling the plight of a young boy stuck in dying town. Okay, that’s a lie, ‘IDYB’ is as lurid and as fun as it’s title suggests and any review of it is pointless as it’s the kind of film you’ll either love or don’t care about. I loved it. Great drive in fodder with a strong emphasis on gore. What is surprising about ‘IDYB’ is how cool the gore is, there’s some really choice moments which although not what you’d call convincing are effective.
Like ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’ ‘IDYB’ avoids the typical pitfall of this kind of film, ie dumb kids played by bad actors mill around doing nothing we care about until near the end when the director can finally spend the tiny budget on the effects. A bit of wit, something for the dumb kids to do and a lot of verve give ‘IDYB’ a solid pace, and they don’t wait until the end for cheap thrills either.
So, if you want a film with a plot that involves satanic hippies, LSD spiked old geezers, rabid dog infected meat pies and people running around attacking each other all to the strains of a very funky cheesy sound track I can give no higher recommendation than ‘IDYB’.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Back home

All change at the moment. Looks like I’ll be getting a new boss, and about time! It’s a pain going back to my old wage, but we shouldn’t feel the pinch from the drop in pay. New person should be starting soon which means someone new and better equipped (little things like training and experience, stuff I wasn’t given the chance to acquire) will be running the show and I won’t have to! Hurrah! The place where I work is bit on the odd side and it needs a bit more than me keeping things ticking over, I don’t mind working hard on it, but I don’t like bringing it home with me and carrying it around in my head. Now I don’t have to.
Got word back about my comic today too. It’s mixed news, but not bad. Basically the editor’s happy with the story and the story telling, but has a few issues with the degree of polish. It’s a fair cop, as I said on here already, I was a bit unhappy with some of it myself and it was all down to rushing it at the end. Fortunately I’ve been given a list of the bit’s that require some work (I agree with them all, which is interesting) and a little bit of extra time to fix them. There’s not that much time so it’s still going to be a bit of hard work getting it all done which is why I feel mixed about it. On the one hand it’s great to have the chance to sort stuff out I’m not happy with, but on the other I had hoped that it was all done with and I could get on with other stuff after a bit of a lazy week. But the end result’s the important thing, and I’d like to be as proud of it as possible.
Anyway, Windermere was lovely, I feel a hell of lot more relaxed already and I do feel ready to start some new stuff (I’ve got a zombie puppet I want to make) as well as getting back to some unfinished work. I’d also like to get involved in comics again. After doing this latest one I’ve decided that I’d like to do some more. The plan, such as it is, is to pretty much please myself. The comics I’ve done up to now have always been subservient to someone else, either to another writer or just to an imagined audience and I think that’s contributed to the final work not always being true to me. I think the closest I got was with my attempt to do Simian Smith as a comic, but it doesn’t tap into enough of my interests (not much opportunity for blood for a start!), and artwise it’s still not ‘personal’ enough.
Okay, better get some drawing done!