Thursday, November 17, 2011

All of the trading cards, revealed (spoiler ban lifted!)


Now that a fair few people have read Spandex 5 (in particular, most of the people I didn't want to see spoilers), here's a pic of ALL the trading cards available with issue 5! I think it's quite fun to read the issue and put names to faces (I didn't have room to name everyone in the issue!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spandex trading cards


In case you haven't seen 'em, here are the Spandex trading cards! I'm giving one away free with every copy of Spandex 5 - which is on sale on Saturday 29 Oct, launching at the MCM Expo! I'm also giving away a free J-Team mini-manga comic with the issue.
There are 64 trading cards in all, but I'm only showing 48 cards here, for spoilery reasons.

O Men piccie


Ooh, Stephen Newbold did this lovely O Men pic on his blog! Very cool!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Spandex 5 UPDATE!


Hey guess what guys – I’ve just sent Spandex 5 to the printers (for a proof copy, I’ll print a couple of weeks later).
Normally, I aim to get an issue done for the Thought Bubble convention in late November, so I’m dead early!! And thank god for that, because every issue seems to get delivered on the day I need to get my train to the con, and it’s always right down to the wire!
It’s so weird, maybe I’m getting quicker – I’ve actually been going out socialising more, so I’m surprised I got it done so quickly (especially as the issue features about 80 characters).
One thing that helped was making my own font. Normally I hand-letter, scan and then do major tidying-up, but it was proving time-consuming, so I tried a different method. The font took me a couple of months to make, and I’m under no illusion that it’s perfect – I think the jury will be out... But hopefully it just about does the job and I will be making tweaks on it for issue 6.
So anyway, issue 5 is all about Liberty and we get to learn her origin, and we follow her as she investigates what happened to her team-mates in issue 4. She ends up fighting just about every villain in the Spandex universe, plus gets a bit of help from some of the good guys too (that was so exciting to do). I think it’s a fun way of exploring the universe, and a slight homage (/piss-take?) of comic crossovers. Will Liberty find out where the team are... And will there be a shock ending...? My lips are sealed lol...
I think, after the shocks of issue 4, people will find this one a bit different. Generally it’s a bit lighter in tone, with a bit of a dark subtext, and the shocks are more story-related instead of issue 4’s out-and-out shockers. For me, though, it’s all about experimenting, and if you don’t like this issue, just stay tuned for issue 6, which will turn everything on its head (and it’s pretty much what the series has been leading up to).
I’m not going to do an official announcement of the issue just yet, as I’m still working on my little free ‘extras’ that come with the issue - I’m making a manga style J-Team mini-comic and 70+ mini-trading cards. The manga story, to be honest, is just me experimenting and having fun and seeing if I can do it (ie, tell a story in Japanese comic style, which is the reverse of how we do it), and hopefully the trading cards are just nice and attractive.
I've popped a rejected cover for this issue up above (it was based on a James Bond novel book, but I felt it was too much of a rip-off!)
Anyway, please stay tuned!
(Oh, and I’ve already started drawing issue 6 – I’ve made a start on about 10 pages woo hoo!)

Melancholia


I saw this movie on Sunday. I can’t believe Empire gave it 5 out of 5!!!
Maybe it’s just one of those movies you need to be in the right mood to watch.
I could sum the movie up fairly quickly – in fact I’ll do it now, obviously spoilers ahead:
Kirsten Dunst gets married but throws a wobbler and ruins it all, then a blue planet is heading towards Earth, but then it seems to go away again, but no then it comes back!, Charlotte Rampling throws a big wobbler and rides around on golf cart, then Kirsten Dunst gets naked, Kiefer Sutherland wimps out and kills himself in a horse stable, and well, I won’t spoil the ending, but the arty end-scenes they showed at the start of the movie were better.

Okay, no more spoilers from here.
I think what this movie was trying to do was quite clever – Kirsten’s character couldn’t handle her life, but then when the planet was heading towards catastrophe she was fine – unlike her more level-headed sister who lost the plot. But did it really need two hours to say this? Two very drawn-out hours?
And the science seemed really dodgy. There was a planet hiding behind the Sun? Really? Wouldn’t a planet heading towards Earth have more of an impact – wouldn’t the sea go crazy? Even I know that, and I’m not a scientist.

Still, it was very ‘brave’ of Kirsten to go naked, and she does have large bosoms. I was shocked to see her full-nude scene in the trailer... And I’m sure you ‘saw more’ in the actual film...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hello world!

Gosh I haven’t updated for a while! Been pretty busy!
Thought I’d do mini reviews of some movies I’ve seen!

Poetry
I saw the trailer for this a while ago and it was very emotional, all about a woman who gets Alzheimer’s.
I went to see the film with much trepidation, expecting a weep-fest – but no! So disappointing. Almost all of the Alzheimer’s stuff is in the trailer, it’s not really touched upon in the movie. Instead, it’s a rambling movie about a lady in her 60s who starts taking poetry classes and who has to deal with the fact that her schoolkid grandson has a link to the suicide of a schoolgirl (no not a spoiler, it happens at the start of the movie).
The movie just didn’t do it for me – didn’t grab me – and it was too wishy washy. And I hate to say it, but there’s a scene in it where the lady has sex with a disabled old man, and it’s just a bit too much... I’m sure the critics say that it is ‘brave’ but I could have done without seeing that... It just didn't work.
5 out of 10

Akunin (aka, Villain)
This was more like it. I went in, not knowing anything about it, and I was stunned. It’s about a young adult with behavioural problems who is seeing a young woman – and she is soon discovered murdered. Then the guy starts seeing another lady, and it’s all very fucked-up... And many confessions and decisions ensue...
The film might be a tad long, but at the heart of it is just pure epic romance. It really caught me unawares and made me cry a lot!!
Such a great Japanese movie.
9 out of 10.

Super 8
Urrgh hated this!! The creators are capable of so much better – I felt they sold out! That train explosion – so over the top! My friend liked it and said that I missed the point – that it is a pure homage to 80s movies. I dunno – I still feel like they should have offered something new or original in between all that. So the driver who rammed his car into the train survived – really? How? It was so obvious he was going to be suddenly come alive – is that a homage then? Zzzz! The kids really got on my nerves, especially the braces kid and the fat kid – and I don’t know why JJ Abrams likes that bland actor so much – the one who plays the main kid’s father. They seem to use him a lot.
2 out of 10

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Not a huge fan of the original (too slow and too many court scenes), but this was a nice surprise, pretty engaging.
8 out of 10

Love Exposure
This is a four hour Japanese movie that I had to watch over several days lol. I don’t know why it has to be 4 hours long, but it still works. It’s a rambling epic movie about a young directionless guy who gets in with a weird crowd, starts dressing up as a warrior woman and falls in love with his step-sister – and then it all goes tits up when a nasty young girl and a religious cult get involved.
This film is so much fun and so absorbing. There’s the nastiest scene ever, containing a horrible thing happening to an erect penis lol. And some of the acting is stunning.
I felt the denouement was a little weak, and the lady villain didn’t quite get the comeuppance she deserved, but the ultimate ending does pay off.
It's more of an experience than a film.
9 out of 10

Captain America
I don’t know what it is, but a lot of the Marvel movie – Hulk, Iron Man – have just washed over me. Maybe it’s cos I grew up as a Marvel Zombie, so I’m so close to the characters. Cap A pretty much did the same – I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really love it. Chris Evans did a decent enough job, but I felt the Red Skull’s mask didn’t quite work – you could tell it was a mask and you could even see the actor’s nose a bit!
I also wish it hadn’t been a total flashback movie, and maybe it could have just interspersed flashbacks in with modern day stuff. All in all – a bit meh...
6 out of 10

Monday, July 4, 2011

Good Article on Spandex Comic!

Enough about nose-picking colleagues, check THIS out! Spandex makes it to Bleeding Cool again, and it's a nice, in-depth feature woooo!
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/07/04/look-it-moves-105-by-adi-tantimedh-superheroes-

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spandex issue 5!


I haven’t posted much on here recently, so I thought I’d do a Spandex update!
Issue 5 is going well, I’ve been working hard on it and feel like I’m making good progress (check out a rough pencilled page above!). It’s going to be a lot of work, as always, but it should be ready for the Leeds Thought Bubble in November.
I will exclusively reveal that the issue is called ‘Big Secret Crisis’ and focuses on Liberty – but also features just about every superhero and villain in the Spandex universe! Liberty will be trying to find out what has happened to her team-mates, and we’ll also be finding out all about her origin.
If that isn’t exciting enough, the issue will come with a free trading card AND a free manga-style comic (ie, you read it back to front!) featuring my Japanese superteam, The J-Team! I’ll also be working on a set of postcards to be ready at Thought Bubble – I’m very excited about the designs! Plus, to celebrate the fact that Liberty is taking centre-stage, I will be launching LibARTy, featuring fun Liberty art from all sorts of contributors! (Please drop me a line at martrpeden@yahoo.co.uk if you'd like to take part!)
I’ve also been beavering away on creating my own font, which will hopefully knock weeks of work off. It’s really tricky, and I’m not entirely sure it’s working, but we’ll give it a go. I really need to sort out how I letter, because it’s too time-consuming at the moment (I letter, scan it, and then tidy up every single letter in Photoshop, and it takes bloody ages). I’m also beavering away on the cover – as usual, my first idea didn’t pan out, and then I tried a couple of other things which didn’t pan out either – but I think I’m onto a winner now.
So it’s all go at Spandex Towers!! Stay tuned to spandexcomic.com for more details!

Smallville!

I need to get this off my chest...
I’m really enjoying Smallville at the moment!
:-O
Yes it’s true! Smallville is a funny old show, isn’t it? I watched most of the first five seasons, and it was very by-the-numbers and pedestrian, not exactly brian-taxing. I actually edited the official magazine for it, but stopped watching it when I left the magazine. There was just so much other stuff to watch!
However, a friend told me that he was watching it last year, so I felt less embarrassed, and I started watching it, and it’s actually not bad.
And then, the final season started on E4, and I stored them on my BT box to watch...and I really couldn’t be bothered...But I started watching and now I’m hooked!!!
Yes, it’s still quite lame – the dialogue can be hammy and the music is so dour – but the effects are amazing, and there’s a real pace to it now – more of an ongoing storyline.
It’s actually a real shame that no one has been watching it, because the show features its own takes on characters such as Deadshot, Darkseid and Suicide Squad. And Supergirl just returned, but she sounded like she was from Canada more than from Krypton...
So yes, Smallville is a bit lame and rubbish – but I think once you’ve accepted that, it’s quite watchable. I’m hooked!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

X-Men Second Class


I saw X-Men First Class at a special preview the other week, and I - and pretty much the whole audience - seemed generally underwhelmed...
On the morning I was going to see it, my chum asked me if I was excited... To be honest, I wasn't! You see, I really hate the way they dick around with continuity in the X-Men movies. Yeah I know, it's a different set-up etc, but in my opinion, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And I wouldn't mind either, if some of the changes weren't so brainless and ill-considered (see below)
So now it's really surprising me that a lot of friends and people - and even comic fans - seem to be loving X-Men First Class... Really?? I think it's pretty insulting to comic fans, to be honest, the way they've pointlessly changed so many things.
Overall, I felt the movie dragged in places, felt like a Thunderbirds movie in other places, and in all the other places it was really uneven (c'mon, where did Emma go??). But this is supposed to be the start of a trilogy, so hopefully when its all found its feet, things will improve (let's face it, X-Men 1 was good but not amazing either. But I preferred that to this mess.)
Maybe the best way to look at it is to look at each character:
Prof X - stop putting your finger by the side of your head, it's really boring. And stop over-acting. I liked seeing how he lost the use of his legs - I wasn't expecting that - I was waiting for him to lose his hair!
Magneto - James Bond.
Mystique - She seemed to do a lot of screaming! What a wimp. C'mon, Raven's not a wimp! And why does she have to have those stupid scales?
Beast - very good, but a shame the transformation is spoiled by the trailer.
Darwin - was promising!
Angel - I quite liked her, altho her end fight got a bit monotonous. It'd be nice if the fact she's called Angel ties in with Warren Worthington.
Moira - A cool character... but aaargh! Why is she an American CIA agent? Why? She's a Scottish scientist in XMen 3. Och lordy! Moira will be spinning in her grave!
Emma - Oh January... You are very sexy, even if you don't have massive hooters, but put a little effort in hon! I mean in the comics, Emma is FIERCE, but here, she was just ...dull. And why confuse things with the diamond form thing? This could have been a true break-out role for some up-and-coming actress... And if this was Twilight, they'd probably change the actress for the next movie.
Shaw - Well yes, one of the best superhero movie villains ever, I reckon. However... Now don't all laugh at once... A) I didn't realise it was Kevin Bacon (there are so many lookalike actors these days and I feel a bit left behind!)... so B) I didn't realise Shaw was the Nazi guy... Yes, looking back there was that photo thing, but I guess I just zoned out... The whole moustache thing threw me... And at the end of the day, I wasn't particularly expecting Shaw (the guy I know from the comics) to have worked in a Nazi camp. I mean, why would he be?
Azazel - shit make-up, and over-use of the teleportation stuff. I mean, we wanted more of Nightcrawler's powers in X2, but I wanted less of Azazel.
Riptide - yes, that was Riptide! From the Marauders! But Mr Vaughn and Ms Goldman, how can you have a prominent character in a movie and not even say who he is, why he's there, and what he's doing? I gotta say, I think this movie's creators are over-rated. I sat twiddling my thumbs thru half of Kickass, but that just seems to be me.
Banshee - why can't he be Irish?
Havok - Please don't tell me he's gonna turn out to be Cyclops' FATHER...
The two special cameos - brilliant!
That's all I have to say...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spirit of Hope book


After the terrible events in Japan in March, the Comic Book Alliance started putting together the Spirit of Hope, a unique anthology of short stories from a massive selection of comic creators, dealing with the impact of disasters on people’s everyday lives.
A lot of people know about my love for Japan and all things Japanese, so you can only imagine how honoured and excited I was to be asked to contribute a story. I came up with a special stand-alone Spandex story, featuring Neon, Prowler and some little surprises.
The book is on sale very soon, and it can be pre-ordered for £14.99 + £3.00 p&p. Anyone ordering should state their preference of cover, both can be seen on the CBA website where you can also place your order online. (One is by Jimmy Broxton and the other by Michael Allred). The website is here: http://www.comicbookalliance.co.uk/
All proceeds go to charity.

I've seen a copy and it's breathtaking.

Full credits/contributor list:
Edited by Alan Cowsill and Tim Pilcher, Spirit of Hope is being offered in two alternate covers - one by Jimmy Broxton, the other by Mike Allred.
Creators involved include Natalie Abadzis, Nick Abadzis, Adrian Bamforth, Jasper Bark, Donna Barr, Jordie Bellaire, Paul H Birch, Bolt-01, Dan Boultwood, Mark Buckingham, Jim Campbell, Richmond Clements, Jason Cobley, Simon Coleby, Mike Collins, Martin Conaghan, Gary Crutchley, Glenn Dakin, Al Davison, Brandon DeStefano, Benjamin Dickson, Martin Eden, Mats Engesten, Gary Erskine, Al Ewing, Glenn B Flemming, Emma Flint, Henry Flint, Leigh Gallagher, Matt Gibbs, Gary Gilbert, Alan Grant, Jon Haward, Peter Hogan, Kev Hopgood, Graeme Howard, Inko, Rich Johnston, Ant Jones, GM Jordan, Jessica Kemp, David Leach, Tony Lee, Nigel Lowrey, Ciaran Lucas, Paul McLaren, Gary Spencer Millidge, Michiru Morikawa, Alex Moore, Leonie O’Moore, Michiru Morkawa, Eva Perkins, Grant Perkins, Martyn Pick, Maria Pickering, David Pugh, James Reekie, Regan, Neil Roberts, Darick Roberston, John Robbins, John Ross, Declan Shalvey, Liam Sharp, Akiko Shimojima, Si Spencer, Vicky Stonebridge, Lew Stringer, Steve Tanner, Archie Templar, S Thompson, Geoffrey D. Wessel, Chris Western, Andrew Wildman, WJC, Ant Williams, Rob Williams, Sean Michael Wilson and Yel Zamor.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My thoughts on Bristol 2011!


Well, after the dullsville that was Bristol 2010, Bristol 2011 was a lot better! I think a lot of it was down to a re-organisation of the halls, so it worked much better – hurrah! In fact, last year’s popular room (Hall 1, the first room you come to) this year apparently became known as ‘the Tumbleweed Room’ (I think because there were a few empty tables – people who dropped out at the last minute?).

I really enjoyed chatting to all my regular punters/friends, met some new punters/friends, and made a bit of money, but then blew it all on other comics anyway. I’m still feeling that my li’l A5 colour comic is sometimes ignored in favour of other US-sized comics, but there’s not much I can do about that, I ain’t made of money!
I also wonder if I could do better if I approached it differently – I really am not a born salesman, but I do my best. It’s hard to know whether to be ‘aggressive’ or just keep your head down and wait for people to come to you. Maybe I need Mary Portas to come in and advise me!

Thanks also to my good friend Daniel Clifford, who was my Table Buddy. We had a good laugh, helped each other out a lot, and it was so nice that he and his girlf Lily made sandwiches for me on both days. Daniel writes Sugar Glider and put Sugar Glider Stories together, and he is definitely a name to watch.

It was also so nice to get really quick feedback on my new issue, particularly from Selina Lock (who was a bit annoyed she has to wait 6 months to know what happens next) and my ex-penpal (!) Andrew Williams who is definitely on the same wavelength as my comic and picked up on the things I really wanted people to pick up on (like the silliness of Gayzilla etc).

The Ramada bar on Saturday seemed a bit quieter than usual, but I did have a nice few beers with the aforementioned Andrew and also Seb Antoniou, a very good rising star artist. It was also surreal to have the bizarre movie Black Sheep on the screens as we all slowly got more and more pissed...

Anyway, I thought I’d share some random thoughts:
- Prices! Blimey! You can go to Bristol with about 20 quid, and these days that’ll maybe get you 2 comics! Everyone seems to be doing colour graphic novels (which seem to be a lot more affordable these days), which look really professional... But I kinda missed seeing people’s actual mini-comics and regular comics.
I am a firm believer that you should make comics affordable. My old O Men comic used to be £1, and now I put out a 28 to 40 page Spandex comic, A5, full colour, at £3, and there were some similar black and white comics on sale for the same price or more! I mean, I guess now, some people try to make an income from all this, whereas ‘in my day’ it was more of a hobby. Is it really possible to make a living out of indie comics anyway? I don’t know.
Let’s look at it this way – one indie person sells their comic for £8. It’s black and white, around 30 pages, a very quick read, nice, glossy cover. Maybe they need to charge so much because of the Production costs – but maybe they could look at making it cheaper to produce, and thereby a bit fairer on their readers...
And there’s another problem...
- ...Production values might be very high, but there is still the same indie comic problem in some of the comics – really bad grammar and typos... I looked at a lot of stuff on my way home from Bristol and my heart sank at some of the errors and mistakes in about half of them. Since so many people have got their act together to produce some really impressive products, it really was a shock to see that this kind of sloppiness is still happening.

People, recommendations, and other stuff...
- I think some of my favourite people are fast becoming the Underfire Comics chaps. They are SO friendly and they produce some really excellent, solid comics. They come to each and every con, and I know some cons are a bit hit and miss, but they keep smiling through it. I think they’ve grasped the true spirit of indie comics, which others seem to have missed. Please do check them out.
- Also friendly are the Cinebook crew. They produce some really lush European graphic novels, and they do ‘deadly deals’ where you end up buying 10 for the price of 2 or something. Arrgh! They are so nice too! They have a very good sales method!!
- The Abnormals by my chum Grant Springford. He’s been off the ‘scene’ for a while, but he’s now put together a one-shot all-ages full colour comic, which is amaaazing! Every character has so much depth to them. Forget the X-Men, buy this!
- Chums round-up: Other friends that are doing some amazing comics things are Graham 'Mike Battle' Pearce, with another solid issue, Nich Angell, my friends at Ariel Press, and T’Sao Wei – who I may well be producing a new comic with next year! Also, Ben Womack, who keeps plugging away at every con, and he creates some really solid indie comics. Nice one, Ben, keep doing what you’re doing. John Short’s Armageddon Patrol is also an excellent, solid product. Also, John Riordan's Hitsville UK is finally out - I know how hard he's worked on it, and it's obviously a labour of love - quality pours out of every panel.
- I met this lovely chap for the first time. He produces his own LGBT webcomic and he knows what he’s doing! Nice.
And a smiliar webcomic is this one – she’s soooo lovely. I haven’t read it yet, but it seems to be about lesbian foxes!
- Matthew Craig: I’ve known about Matthew’s comics for ages, but never really read them. I was going to work with Matthew on Bostin Heroes, but I was doing Spandex at the same time and couldn’t do both so I had to pull out. Anyway, I grabbed some of his stuff off him, and also had a lovely chat to him. Really nice, genuine chap and sooo enthusiastic.
- Stephen Downey is definitely a rising star – his art is very solid! Check out Slaughterman’s Creed and Cancertown for now, and I think he will be going onto big things.
- Two other publishers worth a mention are Timebomb Comics, who produce an excellent range of titles. Their love of the medium is obvious, and the Timebomb boss always has his lovely wife with him – and their beautiful little daughter. And good old Shane Chebsey (I call him ‘Chebbo’, I don’t know if he knows that), who always has some great books on sale. He’s just reprinted Roger Mason’s excellent ‘Mice’! Nice one, Chebbo.
- I picked up a copy of The Pride preview – The Pride is about an all-gay superteam...! It seems, on the surface, to be doing similar things to Spandex, but I think The Pride is more all-ages (whereas Spandex most definitely is not!) The art in The Pride is lush and the story seems solid and kinda worthy. The main gay superhero guy needs to stop saying ‘sweetie’ and ‘darling’ so often, though.
- Two ladies who seem to be doing really impressive things are Kate Brown and Emma Viecili – both had some top quality books on sale. Emma’s (Dragon’s Heir) looks like a very solid read (although I’m 10 pages in and come across a few typos already... But what the hell, maybe I’m being unfair – none of us are big corporate businesses or anything – we’re just doing our best.)
Kate Brown has a really luscious art style and I think I would have enjoyed the book, but the final story (of 3) was really graphic and disturbing and made me feel a bit nauseous! (Let’s just say there is an unbelivable amount of female nudity and more than a little blood – and maggots.) I’m not sure how she got arts council funding for it considering how extreme it is, but still, the first two stories are great.
- Final thought of the day: Cosplayers should be banned!

One More Thing: Just to say, sorry if I forgot to mention someone. I’ll add you in if I remember!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spandex 4 cover(s)

I thought I'd do a little write-up about the new Spandex cover, as it's gone thru a lot of changes!
So issue 4 kicks off the big OMFG/Les Girlz storyline, and I had the idea for this cover (the one just below here) back at Bristol 2010. I was struggling a bit to shift Spandex 2 - a very pink cover - and I thought Spandex needed a sexy lady cover, so the image of what the cover should be popped into my head - full body shot of 'Pussy' with Spandex reflected in the glasses. But it wasn't working! You couldn't really see Spandex in the sunglasses and I was worried Pussy looked like a giant (lesbian).

So, fail! In fact, to be honest, the initial ideas for my covers often don't end up to be the final ones. I do find covers quite hard, but I enjoy the challenge and I always get there in the end.
Next, I thought let's do all of Les Girlz in a cool line-up with Spandex in the glasses again. Sadly, it just really wasn't working, so abandon tools on that one.

Then, the final idea popped into my head and I'm pleased with it. It's not booby, but it's still sexy I think. It evolved a lot over time, and I kept adding and adding things which really helped it, such as the shadow behind Pussy.
The biggest dilemma here was the cover background cover - pink, green or white. The green was pretty knock-out and I really struggled over it, but in the end, I wasn't confident that the green's brightness would translate in print - plus I thought the green took away a bit from Spandex in the glasses, so white it was. (And then a small dilemma over whether to make the speech balloon green or pink, but I got there in the end!).

So this is the one!

Monday, May 2, 2011

New cover

The new Spandex 4 cover had made its debut on the Forbidden Planet International blog!
Check it out here:
http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2011/hello-kitty-new-spandex/

Spandex 4 - almost ready!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spandex 4 progress


What a strange weekend - 4 days off work - it was so surreal! So nice lol...
And I've done soooo much on Spandex 4 - in fact, I probably should have taken more breaks. I'll probably regret that later.
So anyway, I'm almost there, I think. I need to send it to the printers a week before Bristol (mid May). The bulk of it is done, so I'm now just tidying up bits and pieces.
One thing I've learned - I'm going to create my own font for issue 4. The amount of time it's taken to letter all this has been crazy. I hand letter it, scan it, but I'm rarely happy with how it looks, so I go over every single letter in Photoshop, tidying it up. I reckon if I create my font I can cut off about 2 months of work! The hardest part is sorting out all the layers - sometimes, a page will have around 200 layers, so it's hard to keep track of what's what!
And naturally, I usually leave the hardest parts of the comic til last, and a lot of today has been taken up doing background scenes - but I've actually really really enjoyed it. I came up with some cool ideas today for most of the pages I wasn't looking forward to doing, and had a lot of fun drawing in different styles.
Anyway, I've attached here a little teaser of some of the fun background extras I've been working on. None of them are big story points, and almost all of them are probably unnoticeable in the issue, but I had a lot of fun doing them anyway.

More 4

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Something a bit different


I've been a busy beaver recently. I did a cover for a cool anthology comic! It's for the chaps who make the Do You Want To Kiss It Better comics, and this issue's theme and title is Play. All proceeds go to the War Child charity, check out more here!
http://dywtkib.blogspot.com/2011/04/its-comic.html
or here:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=136876383019891
I think it's only available in Canada at the moment tho, but contact them if you're interested!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New pic


This is one for the Matt Smith/Doctor Who fans, a piccie based on his new TV show, Christopher and His Kind
http://blog.zhooshbrighton.co.uk/files/2011/03/christoperandhiskind1.jpg

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Norwegian Woe


Watched Norwegian Wood today. Everything you've heard is true - it's very slow! And depressing - but then what else do you expect from a Murakami novel - jesus, they're novels for manic depressives! I really can't cope with them - I've never got thru a whole one. The author's insecurities seep out and I find it a bit overwhelming.
I think the movie just about works, because you don't feel like you're reading someone's tale-of-woe biography (kinda like one of those near-the-knuckle indie autobiography comics) - you're watching the movie star instead.
I kind of enjoyed it, mainly cos the main guy is cute (jeez, he's doing well for himself - Death Note, Gantz...), and I thought it was unfair of 'Little White Lies Mag's review to call him a 'dullard'. It looked nice too and I was quite surprised by some of the sex scenes.
But it really does get harrowing in points. Let's put it this way, there's one scene where things get way too much for the main guy, so he has to take himself off to a remote area where he spends his time (literally) wailing with his drool blowing in the wind. Good drool though!

Generation No Hope


I have been on a spending spree this week - I thought I'd treat myself as I rarely spend money! One of the minor purchases I bought was the new issue of Generation Hope, which has the creative team of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Now I don't know these guys personally, but I have seen them doing their bit on the small press scene over the years, so it's nice to see big things (really BIG THINGS!) happening for them.
But sadly the comic is soooo indicative of what is utterly wrong with comics at the moment. It's a good comic - the characterisation is spot-on, the art is lush but....NOTHING HAPPENS!!! Just like in FF 1. Grear art, great writing but...NOTHING HAPPENS!!!!!!
When are the comic companies gonna realise that we really do need value for money!

Amazon wishlist


I was about to embark on reading Naoki Urasawa's Monster. Initially Naoki's art style on 20th Century Boys put me off - but his Pluto converted me.
Buying manga is sometimes a big decision - it's a big investment, not just financially, but storage-wise too. That's why I like things like Death Note, which is only 13 parts.
But after hearing so many good things about Monster (just 18 volumes), I had to get it...
But what's this? When I'm about to buy Monster volume 3 on Amazon, it's 60 quid! Apparently it's completely out of print! It's impossible to get, and anywhere you see it, it costs loads! So then, what's the point of that? It kind of makes it pointless for any potential new collector to try that series...
(I've been checking out London bookshops in the hopes that they're not clued up and they've got vol 3, not realising how valuable it is - but no luck!)
Oh well, I hope I have better luck with Urasawa's next series, Billy Bat, when that comes out.
(Oh and of course, I can read all of Monster online if I want to, but i really wanted to own it, d'oh)

Indie Indigo


Here is a new pic of Indigo I did today (my birthday!). It's less 'polished' than normal and more indie/free!
I also did a Prowler/Neon drawing which Matt Smith fans should like (if there are any Matt Smith fans). I'll put it up tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My life in Ballet

Ha ha i'm kidding - i have no life in Ballet or association with ballet - except for watching the fairly pointless Black Swan - and now I've been watching BBC4's Agony & Ecstasy: A Year with English National Ballet.
It's a three-part documentary, and my god it's depressing. You'd think it would be interesting, insightful and inspirational? No. It focuses on the cost-cutting, the problems with being too old as a dancer, the upset and angst of the dancers... all accompanied with stark music and a grave voice-over.
Who decided to take this direction with the show?? Why couldn't it be a cool insight into the lives of ballerinas? What is wrong with the BBC?? Why is it all doom and gloom? Look at Eastenders - it's not drama, it's misery!
Alas, my poor license fee money...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WE DO NOT ACCEPT UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS!

I'm currently in the process of pitching Spandex to publishers. I worked on my pitch for about 3 months until I was happy with it, and now I'm just steadily sending it out to people. I'm just picking and choosing targets at the moment rather than trying a million publishers at once.
It's been an interesting process, and surprisingly a couple of companies have said they couldn't handle the gay angle...!
Some publishers' submission guidelines are quite shocking too. I won't name names, but at least a couple are quite dismissive, patronising and rude. Now I can kind of see where they're coming from. I did portfolio sessions for my day job at a con once, and a couple of the people I met thought it would be a great idea to phone me every day for 2 weeks afterwards to get work. No, it's not a good idea, whatsoever! So from that, I can see their frustation, and how they might be narked, but still, they should keep being professional.
But the one thing I really don't get is the companies who say WE DO NOT ACCEPT UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS. Really?? In this climate, you're that financially stable that you'd turn down a potentially good, money-making project (no I don't mean mine, I mean in general)? I find that a bit baffling, to be honest.

Reactions to the situation in Japan

Like most of you, I was horrified by recent events in Japan.
Japan has a strong place in my heart. I’ve always been attracted to Japanese culture and especially things like Manga. I decided to start learning the language 2 years ago, and I'm still learning (it's getting more difficult!).
I went to Japan last March (a year ago now), and had the best time of my life. The people are amazing, so friendly. If for one minute, me and Travel Buddy looked like we were lost, people would just run up to us and help.
I don’t actually know many people in Japan – I know a couple of people in Tokyo. The people I know are all fine, but they were very scared. They are now facing food shortages, afterquakes and just general uncertainty.
My heart also goes out to my Japanese friends in London. One of my friends didn’t hear from her family for 3 days after the quake. How awful must that be? And her brother lost his home – all his belongings – but he is okay, thank goodness.
I did a little drawing for the cause, directing people to the Red Cross appeal, and I’m contributing to a charity comic too. I donated to Red Cross but wish I could just go to Japan and take food to people.
I have been angered by a few things UK-related things though.
Firstly the news. Talk about scare-mongering. Yes, it is serious, but the emphasis is always on the worst case scenario, the shock and the negative. I watched events streaming for a day, and the bombardment of images was just too much. Explosions at the power plant over and over again. Psychologically, it’s too much – I can’t see what they are trying to achieve. It just makes my Japanese friends in London, worried about their families, even worse.
Secondly, is the reaction from some of my friends. One of my friends on Facebook did a running commentary on the day it all happened, treating it like a blockbuster movie. ‘Wow, this just happened’ etc. He was actually posting things on my Japanese friends’ pages, and he must have really upset them. 'Woah, this just blew up!' I think it got to the stage where he said ‘could be another big one soon, hold tight people’, that I deleted him off Facebook.
And now we have the ‘jokes’ emerging. One guy was telling jokes on Facebook last night about the whole situation, so I had to delete him. I already confronted him over something and he called me a 'baka gaijin' (stupid foreigner). Jesus, how would he feel if he was affected by this? If he lost his home and all his possessions? Was scared about radiation? Mind you, this is the same guy who has a ‘competition’ with another friend to rush to announce a death on Facebook, so I'm not surprised. What a scumball.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Eagle Award Irony!

Last year I was stunned to be nominated for an Eagle Award for Spandex for Best British Colour Comic!
The new nominations have just been announced, and sadly Spandex didn't get a nomination in that same category - but guess, what, I still got a nomination! Yes, one of the comics i do in my day job, Torchwood Comic, got a nomination in that same category...
It's a nice tribute to the hard work of some excellent artist, including UK talent Steve Yeowell, Stephen Downey and the Harker boys. Shame about Spandex though - maybe next year! Thanks to everyone who voted for Spandex, and also for the TW comic nominations.
Full nommos here:
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/03/14/eagle-awards-nominations-announced-2/

I'm not very familiar with the Futurequake comics, but it does seem a shame to have so many of their titles in the Best Brit B&W category - other great indie comics can't get a look-in. And Doctor Who Magazine as Best British Colour Comic? It's not a comic, it's a magazine. Doctor Who Adventures is more of a comic, but I'd still class it as a magazine.
Oh well, onwards and upwards.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sketches: Saga


This is a pencil sketch of Saga, a new member of Les Girlz (now that Chunk is dead). She pops up in Issue 4 and will have a huge impact in the 4-part 'OMFG' story arc!

Sketches: Salary Man


This is Salary Man from Spandex's J-Team - Japan's national superteam. I love those guys! They'll pop up in Spandex 5 and also appear in a special story free with issue 5. More details to come!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spandex update!


Thought I’d provide a Spandex UPDATE for anyone that is interested!
I’m hard at work on Spandex 4! Work has been slightly delayed by having to send my laptop to the ‘PC World Tech Guys’ (my ‘M’ button fell off about a week after I bought the thing) - let’s hope I get it back soon... It’s been nice to concentrate on illustrating the comic though, and lettering. If I had my laptop here, I’d be all in a frenzy and be scanning stuff before it was really ready. I get too excited and carried away, and start Photoshopping things before I really should do!
Anyway, issue 4 is going well, and proving a little bit easier than previous issues. For a start, it’s a bit shorter – I’ve deliberately kept it down to 23 pages of story (rather than spiralling towards 30, as usual). And there are no ‘daunting’ panels to draw (such as St Paul’s pics, huge celebrity gay zombie panels – even the page where Glitter goes home in issue 3 was a lot of work). Issue 4 is much more character driven, so there are some nice talking heads pages!
It’s actually the start of a 4-part arc called ‘OMFG’. Now, I pretty much kicked off The O Men with a 4-part arc and at the time I felt it was a bad idea (readers might lose patience at such an early stage of the series). However, it’s a strong story, and each issue of the arc is very different and compelling, so hopefully people won’t get too put off. I have to say, the cliffhangers for each issue are doozies.
So now I just need to work hard on Spandex 4 for a Bristol/May release – it should be okay. I’ve had a couple of other projects to work on (not paid projects of course – never paid projects!), but now they’re out of the way so I can focus on this.
I’ve storyboarded issues 5 and 7 too. Those are quite key issues, and I was anxious to make sure everything fit into them. Issue 6 is a big issue, and is something I can have fun with and be a bit ‘loose’ with. Maybe tie up all the story strands before issue 7 kicks off.
I love how writing all this comes together. Because it takes such a long time to draw each issue, ideas for future issues come into my head all the time. I now have a huge new plot twist for Pussy in issue 7 – it’s one of the biggest shockers of the series. And I’m also going to address her name and why she’s called it – because even I’m uncomfortable with it!
Finally, here is an early version of the cover for issue 4 (above). I thought this idea up at Bristol last year (when some of the straight punters didn't seem to want to buy a pink colour for some reason) - but it’s not quite working, so I’ve come up with a similar but re-worked idea.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dead Space 2 - more is sometimes less...


I loved Dead Space, the Xbox game. It’s just the perfect game. It’s all set on a big spaceship and you have to fight loads of Necromorphs (alien monsters made from dead bodies). Necromorphs are a supposedly different kind of enemy and you’re apparently meant to dismember them to kill them, shoot its limbs off one by one – but you can actually just shoot at it in a terrified frenzy (like I do) and it’s all good. DS1 is just such a neat little game (the only problem being that you can play it again, but you can’t change your difficulty level – d’oh – which is a bit of an oversight. So if you get tons of weapons and ammos and want to save them and try them out on a harder level, you can’t.) In Dead Space 1, you faff around doing all sorts of tasks and then you need to get to the ship’s tram, where you finish the level, and then you whiz about from place to place (different chapters) on the tram – cool.
I was very excited to get Dead Space 2 – I’m not a massive gamer and I rarely buy games when they first come out – just wait til the price goes down. I had to get this one though.
It’s a great game – very long and epic (in a way that Resident Evil 4 was long and epic and had many layers), and there are some interesting new monsters – the ‘Puker’ who pukes acid at you, Velociraptor-style aliens who corner you and run at you, and weird wall-hanging pus blob-monsters who spit acid-pus at you if you don’t see them. Worst of all, there are little demon kids who come at you in hordes and slash at you with nasty claws. Oh wait, actually there is something worse – the wailing necromorph babies, who pulsate and crawl at you and then explode…
Everyone seems to be saying that it is the perfect game and giving it rave reviews, but I have to say, I was a bit disappointed by it. I’ll tell you what happened – I saw a picture of it online – a pic of the main guy, Isaac, on a bright, neon-y train, and I thought ‘cool! So it’s gonna have a different setting – maybe a planet city or something’. But no! That photo was just a brief moment of the game, really unrepresentational – d’oh! DS2 pretty much has the same setting as the last game, hmmm.
So the settings are pretty samey – although there are some nice variations towards the end. There are so many cool different locations and set pieces in the first game – the medical bay, gardening area, etc – but most of the DS2 locations seem very similar thoughout. One level is set back on the ship from the first game. And this is one of the main problems of this game – you spend ages running around the Ishimura ship, just running down corridors – and nothing happens for ages! It’s very suspenseful when you first play it - anything could jump out at you - but on the 2nd time, you do twiddle your thumbs a bit – and that’s quite typical of DS2. You wonder if they could have been a bit more inventive with it.
Another thing I noticed is that the puzzles and set pieces are very disappointing. There really isn’t much to them – most of them just involve putting a fire extinguisher thing onto a surface and shooting it to gain access to somewhere. The games and set pieces of the first game seemed so much more fun and complex! Also, there’s a slightly annoying regular puzzle – you have to spin a wheel on a device and press down when it turns blue three times – it’s just not that difficult! Also the final challenge slightly fizzles out – it’s not that hard when you know what to do.
Another disappointment is the lack of tram from point to point – it’s not in this game! It was always really cute, plus the good thing was that it gave you a clear ‘break’ in the game. There aren’t really any breaks in DS2, it’s just one big rollercoaster.
Even the new outfits you can buy in the Shop aren’t that exciting…
It’s also interesting how they try to develop the main guy, Isaac, and the situation with Nicole, his dead girlfriend. It’s okay, I guess, but didn’t really blow me away. I like the new character Ellie, though, and hopefully she’ll be in the next game.
There are some cool new elements though. There’s a new detonator weapon, which is great fun – and very effective against the Velicoraptor style aliens. You can either plant a mine on the floor, or put a mine-line between walls, so a monster will explode when it runs at you. Or you can just fire it at an enemy and make it explode! Also great is the fact you can fly in zero gravity with thrusters – that is so cool! Some people say the Javelin Gun is good too – although I didn’t really use it.
There are a couple of nasty shocks too. The Regenerator monster from DS1 returns near the end – and that is just horrible! Seriously, I had to stop playing the game for a week, because I just couldn’t face it! And there’s a nasty surprise after you take an optional trip into one store-room – when you come out, one of the most HORRIBLE monsters from the first game comes at you… (he just comes at you non-stop, and when you kill him, these horrible skull creatures detach from him and attack you…) In fact, in general, there are tons and tons of monsters, and often they’ll attack you all in one go, relentlessly, one after another – making the game really hard. It’s intense and can be difficult – but I’m not sure it makes the game better than the creepy first version. DS2 is bigger and louder and nastier than the first game, but I don’t think that necessarily makes it better. DS1 was Alien, and DS2 is Aliens (and Alien is my favourite movie of all time!).
It sounds like I hated this game – I didn’t hate it, but I was definitely a bit disappointed by it (but not as disappointed as I was by Resident Evil 5). I hope they do a DS3 and I really hope they set it on a planet or colony or something. One thing the game did make me want to do, was play the first game again – shame I couldn’t find it, d’oh…
Oh one final thing – the start of this game is horrific! So unsettling, as you run thru the ship in a straightjacket – being chased by aliens – no weapons or anything – arrgh!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Confessions


Every so often you get a film that really clicks with you... You go and see it at the flicks and then you just have to go and see it again. I think it happened to a lot of people with Inception.
Last Saturday, on the back of some great reviews and my general love for all things Japanese (plus I enjoy my little weekend jaunts to the ICA), I popped along to watch the new Japanese movie Confessions. It is soooo good. Everything about it is amazing, from the structure to the casting down to the soundtrack, which I downloaded immediately. I just had to go and see it again last night, and I enjoyed it just as much – and I’d love to go and see it again, but I’m not rich lol.
I won’t spoil it, but basically it’s about a female teacher who discovers that 2 of her students are wrong ‘uns and they’ve done something pretty bad to her, and she decides to take revenge on them. The story then takes tons of twists and turns, weaves in and out of characters, and basically it’s all a bit of a mind-fuck. It’s a masterpiece of storytelling, with several things going on at the same time from different viewpoints, and new revelations being made every few minutes.
The style is stunning. The colours, the motion, and there are some really breathtaking shots and set pieces. It was like watching a two-hour Radiohead video (but not one of the ones with Thom Yorke dancing). Some scenes on the school roof and some of the climatic scenes with one of the Bad Students (it’s like something out of a Japanese sci-fi movie) will stay in my mind for a long time to come.
The darkness of the story is staggering, and all the actors are superb. It’s actually quite a brave movie, and yet it has moments of laugh-out loud humour too. You rarely see a movie where you think ‘these actors were born to play these roles’. Particularly good is the kid who plays the nastier of the Bad Students – yes he’s a wrong ‘un, but you also occasionally feel very sorry for him, and he plays the anguish perfectly. I think he is set for big things.
The only slight downside is that the film does stray into outrageousness sometimes – some of the plot twists go a bit too over the top, and some of it relies a bit too much on chance and coincidence. But it’s okay, you forgive it that, and it’s all part of the fun.
The soundtrack is stunning too, including some tracks by far-out J-rockers Boris, a new Radiohead track, some beautiful Japanese folk music, and my absolute favourite, Peculiarites by Curly Giraffe.
On the downside, I watched some of Memories of Matsuko by the same director – and thought it really sucked. It’s obviously massivly inspired by Amelie, but in all the wrong ways. I haven’t watched it all yet, but it just seems very silly - too much.
And such a shame that the trailer for Confessions is the typical piano-led montage, and not the cool cutting edge style we get in the movie. If you wanna see a good representation of it, try this - it's in Japanese but it really conveys the style of the movie - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfEhS7fCKYk

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Finder


I'm so excited!
Dark Horse are re-releasing 'Finder' by the amazing Carla Speed McNeil!
Finder was a fantastic indie book from the 90s/00s in the Golden Age of indie (you know, when Tomine, Abel, Clowes etc were releasing tons of stuff). I love Carla's art - it's my kinda stuff - very back to basics illustration - like Jill Thompson too. The story was very involved and I did get a bit lost as I didn't have all the issues - but I'm gonna give it another shot!
So today, Dark Horse release a new Finder book called Voice, and in March they release the first part of an ultimate Finder collection - 600 pages! Can't wait.
So off to FP tonight - actually excited for a change - and will hopefully get Bakuman 3 as well.
Incidentally, Carla has written the most amazing post about creating indie comics. It's on her blog and it's truly inspirational. It really rings true to me, about the amount of hard work it is, and having to get the balance right (which I never have been able to do, in all my 20 years of making comics!).
You can read it here, take a look:
http://www.findercomics.com/2011/02/09/try-this/

Monday, February 14, 2011

21st Century Boys!


I finished watching the 20th Century Boys trilogy of movies at the weekend.
I’d seen the first movie a couple of years ago, and was unimpressed (I don’t think my mind could cope with everything that was going on). I’d also bought the first manga volume and hadn’t been able to get into it, and wasn’t keen on the art.
Then, after reading Pluto, by the same author, which really impressed me, I decided to give it another chance, and I soon became addicted, as I mentioned in a previous post, and I read it all online (cos they've only released 12 volumes over here, and there are about 22!).
So this weekend I finished watching the trilogy of movies. I think I’ve mentioned before, that I wasn’t amazingly impressed by the first movie – it had a cheap feel to it, and I really didn’t like some of the acting, especially the guy who played Kenji. (Although I must say I thought all the kids were superb).
The second movie was a lot better, but still a little low budget. The third movie pretty much sucked, and the concert ending was pretty bad... And then the credits finished rolling and there’s a 10-minute-or-so epilogue which blew my little socks off. It’s beautifully done, very moody, very stylish – and explains so much. It pretty much makes the entire 6-hour trilogy worth watching.
And I was chatting to a clued-up workmate about it, and jeeez I had no idea there was an epilogue to the manga!!! I’d read all of 20th Century Boys, but I had no idea there was a 21st Century Boys epilogue – d’oh! Time to jump online I think...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eagle Awards fun

The Eagle Awards nominations are OPEN!
You can go here to vote. http://www.eagleawards.co.uk/nominations/
Last year I was stunned that my Spandex comic was nominated in the Best British Colour Comic category, but it eventually lost out to 2000AD.
There’s some funny stuff going on in these nominations. If you suggest your own nomination, it appears in the drop down menu... So I have been nominated as Best Editor lol – for my day job! Presumably it’s one of my freelancer chums who I worked with, but it’d be hilarious if it was just some random Torchwood Comic fan or something.
It’s so much fun to see all the random names in the nominations – including loads of my Titan colleagues! I voted for a couple in the Editor-type categories.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A li'l leaving pic I did for a friend


One of my bessie mates, Marcus, left work this week - we've worked together for over 10 years, so I'm very sad to see him leave. I did him this li'l pic of everyone - past and present - at Titan - although I did miss some people off by accident!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Haterz!

I generally get two kinds of 'comments' on my Spandex website - one type is from people who really like Spandex and the other is from people who hate it (and their comments always include the word 'offensive'). Have a look at this latest one:

…..are you SERIOUS!!
Dont get me wrong, im not homophobic, i am the least homophobic person you will ever meet. but SERIOUSLY!#
Seagull man? james bend, PUSSY????
these characters are so stereotypically gay this is almost offensive!!
having a superhero who is gay is one thing, but this is just one step too far. please dial it down a little

****
I mean, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but you have to bear in mind that this person probably hasn't read or seen the actual comic.
Then - Pussy - okay, it's a silly name, but it's fun and it plays with the word - and you know, Pussy Galore beat me to it 50 years ago!
But I do agree - Seagull Man is really homophobic isn't it. I don't know what I was thinking there...
And you can also guarantee, that if I tried to discuss this with the guy/gal, i wouldn't get a response! So best to just leave it.
I do have the option of whether to approve or trash these comments, but i generally approve them, just to show how worked up people can get - although I get a bit alarmed when my friends start to defend me and get into a bit of an e-fight!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Prophecy?


Check this out! I was googling the death of that FF character who died last week (because I couldn't find a copy of the issue anywhere), and I found this - drawn back in 2009!
It's like one of those prophecies you hear about!
I got it from here.
http://comicbooks.tumblr.com/post/272447448/death-the-human-torch-alicante-comic-con-08

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Discovering Skins


Do any of you watch Skins?
I had kind of avoided it, because I thought it was just an in-your-face yoof drama, and maybe I’m too old for that kind of thing now. Plus I generally avoid UK drama series, as they can be downbeat, dull, not as sophisticated and slick as US shows, and generally the actors in UK dramas are ugly!
However, I wish someone had told me how good Skins is.
I was intrigued by the trailer for series 5 – it is so cool – and I discovered that BT Vision were showing series 1 to 4, so I thought I’d check it out. I’m so glad I did. I’ve only watched series 3 and 4 so far (as they are going off BT soon) and I get the impression that series 1 and 2 are classics, so I’m looking forward to those too.
Series 3 introduces the ‘second generation’ of characters, a whole new cast, apart from Effy, the sister of Tony (Nicholas Holt) from series 1 and 2. I have to admit, series 3 is a bit of a scene-setter, where we just get to know the characters. There’s utter thug Cook, autistic JJ, young lesbians Naomi and Emily, Emily’s bitchy twin Katy and scatty, alluring Effy. The characters are introduced and we learn what makes them tick. It’s a little lightweight, and only really steps into gear towards the end, particularly in the slightly silly drug-fuelled camping trip episode and the finale, which completely shifts the setting and focuses on the love triangle between good-looking Freddie, and runaway lovers Cook and Effy.
Series 4 is another story, however. I wasn’t prepared for how EPIC it is. It starts off shockingly and gets heavier and heavier. The series opens with a teenage girl stumbling through a club (she bumps into each member of the cast on her way), and she climbs to the top of the club and leaps to her death. It turns out that some of the main cast are involved in supplying the drugs that led to her death, and the truth and consequences unfurl over the series.
Bitchy twin Katy gets her own stunning episode early on, where we learn that she is infertile (she’s had a premature menopause) and then we learn that her family is bankrupt and are evicted. It’s a stunning episode with great guest performances by Ronnie Ancona and John Bishop as Katie’s parents (in the series, actors like Harry Enfield, MacKenzie Crook and Jenny Éclair all have fun grown-up roles), and it delves into the hugely emotional family relationships (the family had disowned daughter Emily for being a lesbian – and they are forced to reunite with her). The moving ending had me in tears!
Things get even heavier from here on in, and we delve headfirst into the relationship between Effy and Freddie – and it soon becomes quite clear that Effy isn’t just an out-of-control teenager, she’s actually suffering from psychotic depression. The storylines all come to a head here, and we get a great character study of Freddie. Freddie’s mother suffered from depression, and the focus quickly turns on his desperate efforts to save his girlfriend from the same fate – and the harrowing realisation that he can’t.
Effy is sectioned and stays in a psychiatric institute for weeks – and when she leaves, the production of the episodes is utterly stunning. You can ‘feel’ her recovery in the episode, you get a true sense of it, you’re right there with the character – it’s extraordinary. You have to see it to believe it. It’s powerful acting and powerful writing. Wow.
A final shout-out to actress Lily Loveless, who plays ‘Naomi Campbell’. With a weaker connection between other characters, the character could have got lost in the storylines, and I think it’s the strength and vulnerability of Lily’s acting that really makes her shine, creating a compelling performance and turning her into my absolute favourite character. She’s in a new lesbian relationship with Emily, and it’s not without it’s huge ups and downs, but the writers make it clear that they love the character and the actress as much as we do. Check out this series – and Naomi’s stunning series finale speech – you won’t regret it.
Oh, and give me Skins over Glee any day.

Whatever happened to comics? Part 502


Just caught up on a couple of recent Uncanny X-Men issues. You know, on the surface, they’re okay. I think I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t have a problem with Greg Land’s art – it’s solid and slick. The stories are okay – nice characterisation, stuff happening, nothing ground-breaking…
But…the content is the problem. It’s just not satisfying. Sebastian Shaw goes to hit Emma at the end – you call that a cliffhanger? And in my day, you could fill about 3 pages of an issue with what happens in these two issues…
And pleeease – stop making Emma Frost a slut! She’s not a tart – she’s sexy and sophisticated. She is not a bimbo!!!
Oh, and while I’m at it, I also caught up with Uncanny X-Force 3 and 4. Well they’re not bad – the new Horsemen are a bit weird, but they’re quite inventive and different. I think the problem here is the art – yeah it’s nice and imaginative, but it’s also quite hard to tell what’s happening sometimes. The storytelling is a bit too ‘off’. I mean, I guess I’d rather have this artist than the dreaded Humberto Ramos, but still, it’s really unclear what’s happening sometimes…

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

GANTZ!!!!!


I was in FP on Saturday and picked up Shonen Jump (a Japanese manga title that I sometimes buy and never read lol). On the back page was an ad - for an live action movie of Gantz!!! Wow!!! I had no idea they were even making one!!! It's like they made it just for me! Cool!
Gantz is about a group of people who suddenly find themselves in a weird room, dressed in weird costumes, and they have to perform a series of missions - it's veeery gory. I hope they don't eff it up like they did 20th Century Boys (well I only saw the first one, but I didn't like the main actor guy), but the trailer looks beyond awesome.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvNmJp2BJ3o

Monday, January 17, 2011

A nice discovery

There's a really lovely bookshop in the little town I live in, Gipsy Hill - it's called the Bookseller Crow, and it's really cosy and they have a very nice range of books. The owner is obviously a comic fan as he sells a lot of graphic novels - mainly indie.
So last year, I popped in there and asked if he wanted to sell some Spandex Comics and he took some off me - and I also gave him a nice Attack of the 50 Foot Lesbian art card. However, I have this weird selective shyness, which makes me feel a bit embarrassed to go back into a shop where they sell Spandex Comic, as I feel bad if they haven't sold any (like I've wasted their time).
However, I popped in there on Saturday and got a lovely surprise - the owner had put my Attack of the 50 Foot Lesbian right by the door, so it's the first thing you see! It had obviously been there for ages as it had caught the sun.
How cool!
Check out the shop here:
http://www.booksellercrow.co.uk/

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My First 3d movie

As most of my friends know, I can’t see 3d movies. Barely anyone believes me, but it’s true. I can see just like everyone else, but because I have a weak right eye, I can’t see 3d (you need to use both eyes to see 3d). My colleagues made me sit through part of a 3d movie one lunchtime and they still didn’t believe me. I checked with my optician and it’s quite common, but still no one believes me. I can’t see the latest 3d movies with the colourless glasses either, and no one still believes me. I even checked it out in the Sony Building when I went to Tokyo – trying but failing to use the latest in 3d technology. You can't get much more high tech than that.
Today, I went to see Green Hornet at the Apollo Cinema in London. Green Hornet is being shown in 3 and 2d in cinemas, but this showing didn’t mention 3d. I asked if it was definitely in 2d and the ticket guy said yes. I chuckled and said, that’s good because I can’t see 3d (he ignored me).
So me and my mate settled down, and suddenly some signs came up saying ‘now put on your 3d glasses’… Surely not… Surely it’s just the trailers…? But no! After several 3d trailers, the screening turned out to be in 3d, and me and my mate seemed to be the only ones who didn’t know this and were not given glasses!
So we stormed out, ready for a showdown and to give up on seeing it (because there's no point if it's all blurry for me), but I said ‘hang on’, and grabbed a couple of glasses out of the recycled 3d glasses bin, and we went back in to see if I really couldn’t see it (self-doubt often creeps in). Well, I’m happy to report that I could actually see the movie with the glasses on (it’s a shame it wasn’t as colourful as it could have been) but no I couldn’t see the effects. My mate saw the effects and said it was one of those movies where the 3d is just tacked on at the end and it doesn’t really need it.
Incidentally, the film was really shit. (Reviewed below)

Full Dark No Stars Review


I’ve often admitted on this blog that Stephen King is the only modern author I really enjoy, and to be honest, the only one I can read these days! It surprises even me, to be honest. I mean, I read and enjoy James Patterson too, but most other modern authors’ books are left half-unread. I struggled through the Girl with Dragon Tattoo books (I tried so hard) for instance, and I actually find most modern books to be fairly plotless and unexciting and style over substance. (I know it's just me.)
Yes, I do think Stephen King has gone off the boil a bit. I think he’s still trying (needlessly) to be accepted, and he’s trying to be more ‘serious’, so some of his books have become a bit too abstract.
I’ve just finished ‘Full Dark, No Stars’, and he’s done it again. I devoured it in less than a week. Now that’s the sign of a good book. Absolutely stunning.
It’s a series of 4 short-ish stories, and it starts with ‘1922’. I couldn’t stop reading this story - just couldn't put the book down. (Please note, I won’t spoil things, but I will mention things that might sound like spoilers, but they happen really early on in each story, and I won’t spoil the really juicy stuff). 1922 is about a farmer who lives with his awful wife and his young son, and the farmer and the son commit a murder and try to live with that and get away with it. It’s absolutely delicious. It’s great to watch the farmer get into all sorts of scrapes and get questioned and see how he copes with it etc. And you just don’t know which direction the story is gonna go in. I was wrong in my guesses, but the events were no less nasty and horrific – in fact, there really is a lot of nastiness in this story and a lot of disturbing things going on. The best thing though, is that the main narrator, the farmer, is actually pretty stupid, and he doesn’t realise it. He does some very silly things, and makes some very wrong judgements, and he has some very wrong opinions – and he has no idea. It’s a fascinating character study.
Next up is ‘Big Driver’, possibly my favourite of the stories. It starts up about a middle-aged female, a gentle soul, who writes tame murder mysteries. You immediately get a sense that something nasty is going to happen, and you think ‘gosh, how can it happen to this woman?’. But happen it does, and wow, again, utterly impossible to put down. And I definitely don’t agree with some of the decisions the protagonist makes, and it’s actually a bit frustrating for that reason, too, but it’s another very juicy, shocking, meaty, satisfying story.
‘Fair Extension’ is the shortest of the stories, but doesn’t feel like it, as so much is packed in. It’s about a terminally ill guy who makes a deal to save himself – and it looks at the ramifications of that. It’s very nasty indeed, but it’s so much fun!!
Finally, there’s ‘A Good Marriage’, which, again, showcases a ‘nice’ middle-aged woman, who makes some shocking discoveries about her husband. Again, it’s another story where you just keep guessing where the hell it’s gonna go – and even when it doesn’t take the turns you expect it to, you still love King for the whole thing. And what I like about this one (and the others) is the humour – the silliness, the fun, the attention to detail which shouldn’t be funny but it is.
I love Stephen King. I actually think I want to marry him. He has a God-given gift. He’s a pure storyteller, and that is very rare in this day and age. To be able to get inside people’s heads, to create a psychology, to make you interested in the story, to be utterly gripped – that is so powerful. And the other amazing thing – these stories are so simple. They’re almost obvious. They make you think ‘why didn’t I come up with that?’.
Good old King.

The Green Hor-not

Saw Green Hornet today. I had wanted to see the King’s Speech but my friend didn't want to see it. My expectations were low – and I should have set them lower…
It’s Hollywood at its very worst. It’s awful – I mean, not awful in a ‘Spirit’ way – I have to admit that I wasn’t bored or anything – but it’s just illogical and it’s stupid and pointless.
Who financed this movie? Where the hell did they get all that money from? It allowed them to pay for Cameron Diaz to get involved, even though it’s a role far, far beneath her. Any up and coming dollybird could have done her role. There is pointless, expensive-looking destruction all the way through. Green Hornet takes a memory flash drive all the way to his big expensive office so he can download it (and so we can see the entire place being destroyed), but wouldn’t any old internet café have done the job?
And what are the Green Hornet’s motivations? He seems happy – very happy! – to murder people left right and centre, often in the goriest way possible! So he’s not a superhero then? He's happy to be branded a vicious killer? And where do the ‘powers’ come from? Yes, we can just about accept Kato’s ‘powers’, but when Green Hornet starts to do weird things….there is no explanation, no logic. It's shocking that so many people can be involved in making a movie and no one sat down and said 'this doesn't make sense' or 'this is rubbish'.
And poor Jay Chou as Kato… Now I have a bit of a soft spot for Asian guys, and yes, Jay is easy on the eye, but ….my god he’s bad!!! I mean, he is sweet and everything, and it’s a fun, unusual role in places, but you can barely hear a word he’s saying… His speaking role really should have been reduced…
The saddest thing about this movie, though, is that it could so easily have worked. If only they’d decided to make it more of a kids’ movie (one of those movies that throws a knowing wink to the parents from time to time). It could have been huge and I probably would have liked it. Kato would have been loveable, the kids would have loved Green Hornet… It could have been a heap of fun.
Instead it’s just yet another brainless Hollywood failure. Such a shame.
(And one more thing - you have an amazing theme song which you can use, but you don't use it??? Well except for a brief 10-second spurt. Gah.)

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Fantagraphic Books experience in full! (For Kelvin lol)

This is such a 'fascinating' story, that I thought i'd tell it all in one go, rather than it be in bits and pieces all over my blog - for my tale is now over.
I ordered 6 Love and Rockets comics off Fantagraphic Books back on 3rd October, to complete my collection. All good. Nice prices. Customer Services were a bit odd and stand-offish with a query I had, but never mind...
Then I got a round-robin email off them saying any comics ordered between the 8th and 20th of October would be delayed by a couple of weeks because of warehouse restructuring.
I thought well I'm fine then... But nothing came by the end of Oct so I contacted them and of course, they said my package was affected but it went out last week, so I should just keep an eye on the post.
Mid-November, nothing, emailed them again, response: we sent it last week, please keep an eye on the post. I emailed them to say 'so when did it go out then?' they said keep an eye on the post.
Mid-December comes and still nothing. My mates say I should give up on the package. I'm a bit upset, as it's pretty much ruined my reading experience.
Then i happen to be in a London comic shop, and they've got a load of Love and Rockets back issues just in - including several of the ones I ordered from FB. After a bit of oohing and ahing (during which a couple of issues got bought already) I decided to buy the issues I had ordered - a bird in the hand... Which just left me with 3 missing issues, so if the package did turn up, it wouldn't be a complete waste of time.
Three days later, a package turns up from Fantagraphics. Get this. It contains the three issues I bought at the comic shop but nothing else. They had sold out of the others. You'd think they could effing tell me by email or soemthing? So I was still missing three issues.
Plus I had to chase FB for a refund on the missing comics.
So anyway, I looked online for my missing issues, but could only see them in America. Trying to figure out what is in each L&R trade is very difficult, but i did it in the end, and bought the trades which had my missing issues (they contained new material too, so it wasn't a complete waste of money).
All in all, I kind of regretted my initial impulse online purchase buy (I didn't even consider shopping in town for them!) but I'm glad I got to read them, as it is a beyond-excellent series... But jeez, Fantagraphics, sort yourselves out.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Reviews!

I was pretty stunned to see this review of Spandex 3 on the Forbidden Planet International website today:
http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2011/a-technicolour-ray-of-light-in-the-grey-spandex-issue-3/
Wowsers.
I love the FPI Blog, it really fills a hole that Comics International and other UK comics mags left. Check it out!

Website Success...?

I had an email from the 'wordpress' people who host my Spandex website, and they had some interesting and somewhat strange stats for me.
First up, they said that the Spandex Comic website had 42,000 visitors in 2010! But then they said the maximum number of visitors I had in one day was 2. So how does that work out??
And then they said that the most frequent searches done which led to my site were 'Pussy', 'Spandex Pussy' and 'Pussy in Spandex'
:-o