Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas telly ramblings

OH well, that's another Christmas done and dusted. The kids certainly enjoyed themselves (Robosapien, Scalextric and computer games console for Dylan; Iggle Piggle, remote control racing car and, erm, toy kitchen for Connor), but I find it harder and harder to work up any enthusiasm for it these days. I think it's a combination of my age and the fact I only got five days off work for the festive season (in my magazine days I could count on 10 or 12). Still, I got a nice new jumper and Doctor Who series three on DVD out of it so I shouldn't complain too much.

On the subject of Who, Voyage Of The Damned washed over me a bit. Having only seen it once I'm not sure whether that was the fault of the show itself or the fact I had to watch it through a barrage of kid noise. I'll probably give it another look over the weekend to see if it deserved that incredible audience of 12.2 million (the show's highest since 1979, I understand).

The only show watched more than Doctor Who on Christmas Day was EastEnders which surprises me a bit as it's so profoundly bleak and, as The Guardian's reviewer remarked, "misanthropic". Its also horribly ham-fisted with the settings marked "shouting" and "crying" turned up to 11 at all times. EastEnders doesn't do subtlety and you get the impression its producers wouldn't know where to start if some BBC bigwig suggested that they should.

One of the two Christmas Day episodes ended up with Tanya Branning falling down the stairs and cracking her head open after finding out about her husband's affair with his daughter-in-law. You half expected someone to pop in and shoot her in the face at the end just to add even more melodrama and misery to proceedings.

My favourite EastEnders Christmas Day episode ending was a good few years back and featured Arthur Fowler (pictured above) sobbing his heart out on the floor of his prison cell (he'd been banged up for stealing some cash). It was genuinely quite upsetting and about as Christmassy as a dog shit sandwich.

I thought this year's Christmas Day Coronation Street was far and away the best of the big two soaps - full of humour, storylines that didn't stretch credulity too far and even an uplifting ending. Of course, it got utterly walloped in the ratings. It seems our festive goodwill doesn't extend to soap characters - we want them to suffer and, if they don't, we switch off.

* THIS will probably be my last post until 2008 so, to everyone, HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kurse at Christmas

IN the last week or so, I've been able to get back to some serious writing. I gave up on the two short stories I was trying to finish off (sometimes you just have to take it on the chin and admit that half decent ideas don't always translate into fully realised stories) and got down to my next one-shot title - Kurse.

I'm about eight pages into the first draft and am really enjoying it. As ever, it's interesting to see how what actually ends up on the page differs to what you've been carrying around in your head. This caused problems early on as I realised I'd rather underestimated the number of pages I'd need to move the book's main character (the Kurse of our title) from his initial predicament and into the actual guts of the story. After a bit of rejigging, I managed to do it in eight which isn't as few as I'd have liked but certainly makes for an all-action introduction to the character and his world(s).

I'll probably post a couple of pages of script here at some point soon.

* MICK Trimble's been in touch this week to tell me that he's now 25pages into drawing Septic Isle and is aiming to have it all finished by the end of January. Chuck in a couple of weeks for me to letter it and it should be winging its way to Diamond for the end of February. If they opt to solicit it, I probably won't get order numbers until late May meaning it won't be printed in time for the Bristol Expo. As a result, I'll probably have to have some kind of limited edition of 100 knocked out to sell there.

At the moment I'm leaning towards doing a hardback version of the book but that could easily change when I find out how much it's likely to cost (I suspect its extortionate)...

* MIKEY B and I's story for the Accent UK Robots anthology – The Saboteur – missed the deadline so it won't be appearing now. It's entirely my fault as it took me an age to get the script written and then, when I did, Mikey was snowed under with paying work. Not to worry, we're still going to get it finished and will either submit it to another anthology title or give it pride of place on the Moonface Press website. Actually, the latter is quite an appealing idea as I've wanted to do some web-exclusive stuff for quite a while.

* THIS will probably be my final post before the 25th, so to the half-dozen people who take the time to read my aimless witterings, have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Top 10 Comics 2007

10. 2000AD (Rebellion)
It's been a good year for Judge Dredd and Bob Byrne's Twisted Tales have been a breath of fresh air.

9. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 (Dark Horse)
Buffy the TV series really lost its way towards the end but this comicbook continuation of the Slayer's story has freshened up the concept very nicely.

8. Wisdom (Marvel MAX)
Witty, imaginative and enormously fun mini-series from Doctor Who scribe Paul Cornell about a British team of super-powered paranormal investigators. Look out for that suprisingly bleak finale though.

7. Girls (Image)
A visceral, twisted and highly original alien invasion story by the Luna Brothers.

6. Thunderbolts (Marvel)
Warren Ellis is a real conundrum - on the one hand he says he hates superheroes/villains, on the other he writes them better than anybody currently working in the comics industry. Go figure.

5. Fables (Vertigo)
Bill Willingham's ongoing series about fairy tale characters living in the real world is never anything less than inventive and engaging.

4. Army @ Love (Vertigo)
Rick Veitch's ballsy, laugh out loud satire centring on American soldiers fighting in "Afbagistan".

3. Captain America (Marvel)
Writer Ed Brubaker brought back naff sidekick Bucky and killed off the title character. Somehow he pulled it all off brilliantly with a new Cap set to debut early in 2008.

2. DMZ (Vertigo)
Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli's hard-hitting tale of a second American Civil War set in a bombed out, beaten down Manhattan. A future dystopia as vividly realised as anything in Children Of Men.

1. The Punisher (Marvel MAX)
Grim, gritty, brutal, bleak and utterly captivating, The Punisher is easily writer Garth Ennis' best work since Preacher. A pity he's set to leave the book in the new year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Carry On Shrieking...

Reviewer Glenn Carter says some very nice things about Shriek! over at this week. He gives it 9.5 out of 10 and sums up by saying: "I recommend and recommend very highly."

I'm particularly pleased with the review as, out of all the comics I've written and published, I often feel Shriek! is the one that has been least successful. A four-story anthology, Shriek! made its debut at the ill-fated Brighton Comic Expo at the tail end of 2005 along with the original versions of Blood Psi and Hero Killers. The printing on all three books was truly terrible with the art on at least two of the stories in Shriek! being pretty much ruined as a result.

When it became obvious the quality of printing was harming sales, I took the decision to swallow the financial loss and have both Blood Psi and Hero Killers reprinted by a far superior printer (this one: to the one I'd been using. It worked out pretty well with the shiny new versions of both books being picked up by Diamond and, apparently, one of them even won an award of some kind!

I didn't go down the same route with Shriek! as, by that stage, I'd decided that not all of the material in the comic was good enough to merit it. As a result, it remains largely unknown and unloved. Until now...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Doctor Gloom

I'VE had a very unproductive couple of weeks and, to be honest, have spent quite a bit of that time thoroughly fed-up about one thing or another. I'm sure it's a case of the winter blues and nothing more, but I really hope it clears up fast as my writing is being adversely affected (it also got me into a spot of bother over the weekend but I'm not going into that here).

On a more positive note, I've just started a couple of weeks holiday from the day job so at least that won't add to my stress and general shitty demeanour. Today I'm finally going to take a look at the two short stories I started ages ago but never finished. They're both sound ideas and don't need a lot of work to finish them off.

Next week, I'm going to make a belated start on my next one-shot project. It's called Kurse and it's something I'll be working on with artist Duncan Nimmo. In theory, it shouldn't take me long to write as the whole thing is fully plotted out (unlike, say, Tim Skinner and Septic Isle, which were only loosely plotted when I started writing them).

Hopefully, by the time I update again, the black cloud hovering over my head will have gone and I'll be feeling a little more "sunshiney". Feel free to send jokes to cheer me up. Or porn.