Friday, 9 October 2015

FEMFORCE 173 - Back Where I Always Wanted To Be!

So. Femforce 173 from AC Comics is set to feature an original SHE-CAT story that I scripted. This issue is due to land at the end of November.

Writing comic book stories is SO MUCH FUN IT'S RIDICULOUS.

There's another thing that just happened which will be out in March next year, and before that something very cool starting this December, but more on those later. Still lots to come from me in the remainder of 2015!


Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Writing Life Is A Busy Life

Wow, this month is disappearing so fast. Hell, the whole YEAR is. Busy times abound lately, with the day job, family and home stuff going on, the magazine, comics and more. It's been hard finding the time for the book projects lately, but I'm trying to get a few words in here and there wherever I can. After all, you're not really a writer unless you do the writing.

There's a lot going on in my head as well as outside of it, which is bringing up some interesting dilemmas. My non-fiction projects are way more popular than my fiction at present, so the idea that I should focus on that more instead of the stories is nagging at me somewhat.

The thing is, my dream has always been to write fiction. Thus the dilemma of selling books Vs writing what means the most to me.

Having said that, I don't mean the non-fiction/pop culture titles don't mean just as much to me, but fiction was always the main thing I wanted to do. That's the thing which makes my imagination explode.

Changes to my home and work routines have also meant that I've had to try and rework any form of writing schedule I previously had, which has resulted in me having a temporary backlog of Other Stuff I Need To Finish. The sites I write for haven't had much content from me of late, which I'll be rectifying shortly, and the books I have on the go at present aren't getting much closer to completion.

It's been said to me on many occasions that I take too much work on. This usually comes from the same people who don't understand why I write some material which I know I won't get pid for. I can't refuse to write something because it doesn't pay. If I think a gig will be fun to do, then I'll do it for the enjoyment and experience more than thoughts of financial gain.

Maybe that's what I should remind myself with the fiction, actually. Maybe I should focus a bit more on that again and get some more out there. Thus far in 2015 I've had numerous magazine pieces and interviews out alongside some online content and two comic book stories being picked up, but no book releases yet.

One book is ready to go, a novella is 2/3 done and my next full-length novel is also around the 2/3 mark. I may out all three of these out simultaneously. There's something I haven't done before. That could be fun.

I mean, if it's not fun, if it doesn't bring satisfaction or some form of enlightenment, then what would the point be?

Time to go tell myself some stories. And then you.

Catch you soon. - Andy

Thursday, 6 August 2015

What Do Music Journalists Listen To?

As a music journalist, I do seem to get asked quite often exactly what I listen to. I always struggle with that question, as the answer changes so often. I usually answer with something like “Stuff” or “Anything that appeals.” I would wager that music journalists who say they only listen to the most underground stuff and nothing else are absolute liars. If we only ever listened to one type of music, we wouldn't be able to be objective about any of it when we write about it.

Music isn't one thing. Genres are good things to have when trying to describe what we listen to or what category a band is when reviewing their work, but beyond that, music should just be music. As a guitarist for the past 25 years, I am primarily drawn to guitar based music, and in that arena my particular poison is hard rock and old-school heavy metal. Those are my roots. The thing to remember is that roots grow, and once they have grown tall they will bear fruit.

Crap analogies aside, you should always respect your musical roots, but never be afraid to build on those foundations and develop your tastes. Writing for Powerplay Rock and Metal Magazine, I'm known primarily as a rocker and metalhead, and that's fine. That's my meat and potatoes. That's the lifeblood for me. However, that's not the be all and end all of my music library. Not by a long way. I believe you can't appreciate music properly unless your aural diet is well-balanced.

The blues were a big part of my musical youth, and my love for the blues continues to this day. Then there's classical music and film scores. Rockabilly and 50s pop music. Industrial and old-school EBM. Trippy electronica. Contemporary pop music. Nerdcore. A lot of 80s chart stuff. A few country songs. Some hip-hop. A lot of soundtracks. The list goes on.

At the other end of it there's the extreme metal, the black and death and thrash and grindcore. That's offset by my deep and abiding love for AOR and symphonic metal. Then there are the thousands of individual songs I own from different artists which I bought just because I liked those songs even if I wasn't that keen on exploring those artists further.

As I write about music, I get sent a lot of it from bands and record companies and PR companies, but
I still buy music. I prefer physical copies, but I'm not averse to purchasing downloads. I just like to have something I can look at, read the liner notes to while listening. That's not to say physical media is a better thing. I just grew up with physical media, so that's what brings me reassurance alongside the tunes. Music isn't a throwaway thing. Music is the soundtrack to lives, and in many of those lives it becomes an integral part of every day.

Music should be delved into, lest the good stuff be lost amidst the massive amount of other material out there. The influences of your influences should be given a chance. After all, the musicians you loved adored them for a reason. On another track, it's very easy to dismiss things as being crap, but at least listen to them before making that decision. Give things a chance.

Music for every mood is an essential in my life, as well. Music has the capacity to sooth and inspire as well as energise. Building a music library which offers me something for every quirk of my fluctuating emotional state has been a beautiful experience throughout my life, and long may it be thus. Music has been there for me in my darkest times as well as my very best times.

It has seen me through nights I never thought would end, heartache, elation, worry and joy. For almost eight years now, music has been a part of my professional life and continues to do everything that it always did. Music has always been there for me, and I couldn't cope without it. What do music journalists listen to?

Music. We listen to music.

Saturday, 11 July 2015


Secret Wars #4 
Marvel Comics 
Writer: Jonathan Hickman 
Art: Esad Ribic

I'm really not a big fan of massive event stories like Secret Wars, Convergence and the like, as I feel they sometimes take the focus away from great stories and instead overloads the reader with continuity, not to mention very quickly draining the wallet of the reader very quickly.

That said, there have been some very strong comics coming out of Marvel's current Secret Wars event, such as A-Force, X-Men 92 and the main title itself.

I've started checking Secret Wars out at the recommendation of a good friend and I haven't been disappointed. The idea of a patchwork world ruled by an omnipotent Doom is intriguing, and the main title is being handled well.

This issue deals mainly with the relationship between Doom and Strange, with another very familiar face arriving in the latter half of the book. This is a good approach for this stage of the story, as it stops things becoming overly confusing with the countless realities mashed together into one world.

The script and art are solid, and while it's part of an event story which rebuilds a universe from chunks of other realities, it's surprisingly low-key. Now at the halfway point, it'll be interesting to see how this epic story is brought to a suitable close. A good issue, but not one which rocked my world.


Friday, 10 July 2015


Harley Quinn & Power Girl #1 
DC Comics 
Writers: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray 
Art: Stephane Roux 

According to DC, this miniseries tells the story of what happened between two panels in HARLEY QUINN #12, and why not? This is a ton of fun from writers Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, who specialise in this kind of screwball but affectionate romp, and they're on good form here.

Harley Quinn and Power Girl find themselves flung through a teleportation portal and into a bizarre landscape of small creatures and giant monsters, which provides both a lot of comedy and a fair bit of action for the price of admission.

The story is a little bit silly in places, but that works well with the characters. The interplay between the hyperactive Harley and the superhero bluster of Power Girl is a delight throughout, and lifts what could have been a muddle of an issue right up.

Ending with nice cliffhanger for the next issue, it's an entertaining sci-fi yarn with lashings of the comedy we've come to expect from the characters and the creators. The script is tight and paced well, and the art of Stephane Roux is exquisite. There's so much going on in the facial expressions that the characters really come to life on the page. A raucous and fun read.


BLOODSTRIKE #1 - Image Comics

Image Comics 
Story and art: Rob Liefeld 
Colours: Jeremy Colwell 

I picked this up mainly due to nostalgia. I'd read bunch of BLOODSTRIKE comics in their original 1990s guise, and figured it would be fun to revisit those overly muscular purveyors of violence and one-liners again. Written and drawn by the much maligned yet actually pretty solid Rob Liefeld, this is an M rated version of Bloodstrike rather than the initial version I remember.

Thus there's a hell of a lot of gratuitous gore (including Cabbot chewing his own arm off in an early scene), nudity and swearing, which took me right out of the issue and ultimately soured the title for me. The art is exactly how it was in the nineties, which was cool to see and my favourite thing about the issue.

The story is decent, as are the panels of stylised action, but the giant penises and severed heads on display weren't really what I wanted to lay money down for. I still have a lot of love for Liefeld (he drew a ton of the comics which grabbed my attention back in the day), but I won't be following this series further. Sorry fella!


STARFIRE #2 - DC Comics

Starfire issue 2
DC Comics 
Script: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Pencils: Emanuela Lupacchino
Inks: Ray McCarthy

I'd heard good things about this title on the iFanboy podcast, that it was quirky and good natured and fun. They weren't wrong. This is a really nice, fun comic title with a pleasingly straightforward story which isn't bogged down with continuity or forced involvement in a crossover or anything.

Starfire is drawn in a typically sexy superheroine manner, but it's never gratuitous, instead having an edge of Cheesecake. The story of the issue is essentially Starfire rescuing people from a storm, but there are some sweet little character moments which give the action some depth.

The human characters are well realised and add some grounding to the tale. I would expect nothing less from Conner and Palmiotti. Lupacchino's pencils are kinetic and stylish, refined further by McCarthy's inks. A proper comic book. Marvellous.


Service is resumed

Hey all. I haven't been having a great time lately with one thing and another, hence the lack of regular posts. I've had some health issues and other stuff to deal with, and while those are ongoing, I want to get back in action. So here I am. There'll be some reviews and some pieces on the writing life to come. I love you all. Even you.