Saturday, 29 May 2010

Jonathan Ross: I'm on your Turf

Yesterday I picked up the second printing of Turf issue 1, the new comic series written by telly star Jonathan Ross. I'd missed the first print run, but went and sought this 2nd printing out after reading an interview with Wossy in a daily that reminded me just how much he loves the ol' four colour delights of the comic book.

I would liken this comic experience to that of Simon Pegg getting to play Scotty or David Tennant playing the Doctor. I mean in the sense of a huge fan of something getting to take part in something important to them. It's easy to see that Ross took a great deal of pleasure in writing the project, and his blatant love for the medium shines through in every densely worded panel. But, is it actually any good? Yes. It's great.

The genre mash-up is fun, the characters are well defined and the art of Tommy Lee Edwards is superb, reminding me of the sort of edgy art that you'd generally see in 2000ad or maybe Heavy Metal or the recent bag of awesome that is DEMO. If you love comics or even just have a passing interest, then check this out and see how it grabs you. I'm certainly going to check out issue 2. Good stuff, fella.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Adrian Edmondson: My Life As Your Clone

Yes, I know that I look like Adrian Edmondson when people stick their glasses on me. This is something I have learned to deal with over a period of many years. The reason that it is so easy to deal with is that Adrian Edmondson is one of my heroes, and it's flattering to be compared to a hero. Granted, I'll only ever resemble him in the sense that I'm bald and I say 'Bollocks' too often, and will probably never do anything quite as wonderful as Bottom or the Bad Shepherds, but still, it's something. There have been more people suggest I dress up as Eddie from Bottom than Ade has had comedy punch-ups, but I can't really complain. I mean, it could be worse. I could look like Rik Mayall instead.... (That's a joke Rik, I swear. I worship you too sir, your highness, your greatness).

I fully intend to say hello to the marvellous Mr Edmondson when I finally get to see the Bad Shepherds play live, as there have been requests from my friends to see the two of us in the same place and see if the universe collapses. One of the most delightful things about Ade is the fact that he seems so very easy to talk to, and I look forward to finding out. He has the perpetual look of someone who wandered onto a set or a stage by accident, and is most perturbed by all the people watching and laughing. That is very endearing indeed. Like an old dog that smells a bit funny but is relentlessly loving. I'm not saying Ade smells funny though. I'm sure he is most fragrant.

When I was a teenager and still had hair, the most common lookalike I was accused of was Suggs from madness, however this was largely down to the fact I had some similar sunglasses. The Ade comparison is a much more comfortable thing, as not only do I get to amuse a few people with it, but it gives me an excuse to don a pair of glasses, grin and yell "You do talk an incredible amount of bollocks!"

Life is full of these small pleasures.

Mind you, nobody is getting my emergency Bitter, even if I *do* get stuck at the top of a ferris wheel.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040

The purists may have hated it and the anime community may see it as old hat, but I still adore this cool update of the classic Bubblegum Crisis concept. I'm a sucker for suits of powered armour, insane cyborgs (Boomers!) and ass-kicking characters like Priss. I just wish this series got a bit more love from the main bulk of anime fans. It was fun, loud and it did the Bubblegum Crisis name proud.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Back In The Frame: Rediscoverng Comics Again

I've found myself rediscovering my love for comics again, and this is bringing me a great deal of pleasure in both an entertainment sense and also a creative sense. I've had a bit of a creative drought recently, in which I've written a ton of non-fiction but very little in the way of new material of a fictional nature. Taking stacks of comics out of storage and returning them to pride of place on one of the many bookcases that fills my home has got me flicking through pages that delighted me for so long. They still have that power to amuse and thrill me, and have really helped get me back into a good routine with fiction.

How? because they're punchy, fat-free and get to the point quickly without losing the ability to be subtle. Nuance, light and shade are very much a part of comic book storytelling as well as the graphic aspect of the medium. Together, the whole package still excites me on a creative level. Comics are one medium where literally anything is possible.

I've got into some more recent titles too of late, including things like the marvellous Planetary, written by Warren Ellis, the indie joys of Box Office Poison and Too Cool To Be Forgotten by Alex Robinson, the Kevin Smith Green Hornet miniseries, the new comic series based on the web series The Guild and a load of others besides. Going back to the old titles, the X-Men and Spider-man titles and so on, has also helped me gain more appreciation for those old issues, and helped me get my mind back into characters and action rather than facts and opinions.

My own graphic novel continues at a slow pace due to other commitments, but there's something new on the horizon too as I've come up with some awesome new characters that I want to put into a comic. Character sketches are being passed to an artist friend to see if he has any interest in joining in for it, and I'll keep you posted if anything develops. The thing is, reading and enjoying comics actively once again instead of being the occasional reader I had lapsed into, is a huge amount of fun and great practice.

I want to write a comic. I want to enjoy the practice of drawing, if only to do the layouts, and I want to be able to tell some stories that are fantastical yet grounded in reality. The comic book is one of the finest places for that to be done right, and I am so very pleased that I've opened my eyes to these things again. If you were a comics fan and have lapsed, crack out those classic issues and enjoy them again. If you don't have them any more, track down the trade paperbacks and dive in. Get that imagination fired up. There's energy in those panels, just waiting to be tapped.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Ronnie James Dio Passes Away

Ronnie James Dio has lost his battle against cancer. He was 67. A rumour had circulated that he had died in the early hours of today, which Wendy Dio had gone online to rebuke, but a few hours later he did finally lose his fight, dying at 7.45am US time. His struggle against stomach cancer had been well documented online and in the press, and for a while it looked as though he would pull through. His spirit and determination was astounding, but sadly it wasn't to be.

This is a sad day for rock and metal fans the world over. Ronnie was and is a true legend of the music we love. In fact, if it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have a great deal of this music in the first place. Whether it was his early days in Elf, his legendary time with the Dio band, or his dalliances with Black Sabbath/Heaven And Hell, he displayed one of the most unique and powerful voices in music, let alone heavy rock. He leaves behind a huge legacy, and will be remembered by millions for a long time to come.

The passing of Ronnie James Dio is something that will undoubtedly hit a great many people on a personal level. First and foremost there is his family and friends, coping with their terrible loss. Next up there will be the massive array of musicians he worked with during his long career. Beyond that there will be the countless legions of fans, including myself, all of whom have their own personal memories of Ronnie and what his work meant and means to them.

For me, Ronnie was an idol. A Dio song was one of the first tunes that got me into this scene in the first place, so in a way Dio and his music helped me on the road to becoming the published music journalist that I am today. Whatever reminds you of Ronnie, whichever song from whichever band, crank it up high, throw those horns and remember a metal god that may have been small in stature, but was gargantuan in talent.

Monday, 10 May 2010

R.I.P. Frank Frazetta: The Passing Of A Legend

Iconic fantasy artist Frank Frazetta has passed away at the age of 82. A giant in the world of fantastical imagery, Mr Frazetta's work has appeared in countless times across countless media, and he is widely regarded as one of the all time greats of the industry. If you have ever had an interest in fantasy books, RPGs, movies or pretty much anything else, you will have seen some of Frazetta's work.

It's that massive body of work that will serve as a very fitting legacy to a man whose name is synonymous with striking visuals of heroes, beasts and adventures. His style remains one of the most instantly recognizable of anyone, and is sure to live on in the hearts, minds and colelctions of fans around the world.

The cause of Mr Frazetta's passing, according to reports online, was a stroke. He died in a hospital near to his home, which has now been confirmed by his agent according to this post on Comics Beat. I for one will always appreciate the art he created, which spawned a number of childhood fantasies of my own. Respect and admiration to Frank. My thoughts (and those of many others around the world) are with his friends and family.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Mur Lafferty Takes Over As Editor Of Escape Pod

Oh cool! There's been a bit of a quiet period online for mighty Mur Lafferty of late, and now the reason for that quiet period is out. Mur is taking over the editor post for Escape Pod, the hugely popular science fiction podcast magazine. Mur will be taking over from founder and original host Steve Eley when the show reaches its fifth anniversary episode.

This is some very cool news. It's been an odd time for SF and fantasy friendly podcasts in recent months, and this is certainly a step in the right direction for the continued growth of the medium. Mur has to be one of the most enthusiastic and hard working podcasters out there, with her extremely well-received podcast I Should Be Writing, as well as the huge amount of free fiction she has given away. Projects have included Playing For Keeps (also released as a novel by Swarm Press), the Heaven series and more, as well as voice work for other shows. She certainly knows her stuff, and as a fan of both her and Escape Pod, I'm really pleased with this news :)

(You can read the full post about Mur taking over at Escape Pod over at The Murverse).

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Election 2010: Dear England, Don't Vote Tory

Dear England,

I was one of the people responsible for voting in the Labour government back in 1997 (sorry about that...). That was the first time I was legally able to vote, and at the time it was the best possible thing for the country in the eyes of many. While there have been innumerable problems and failings in that Labour government since then, it still served a positive purpose in that it removed the Conservatives from power. This was necessary, after so many years of the country being run into the ground by them.

Now it's time for another change, but that's not to say the tories should be brought back to Number 10 now. Their policies serve the few rather than the many, which is no way to run a country. It's time for something different. I am not saying that you should vote for the Liberal Democrats (I shall be, but that's my own choice following lots of thought and consideration). What I'm asking is that you think hard before choosing the box you put your X in. Make it count for something.

Don't vote Tory.

Yours sincerely,


(PS: Don't vote for the BNP either. That'd do us all even less favours)

Monday, 3 May 2010

MARVEL MOVIES TO COME? I'm happy to have a go...

Hey Marvel Productions folks, I hear you're going to be making a range of lower budget flicks based on lesser known characters. As a massive fan of Marvel's titles and a working writer (okay, only as a music journalist and pop culture blogger, but there's more too), I'd love to have a go at scripting any project whatsoevver, no matter the character. If you're having trouble sourcing a writer for DAZZLER or anything at all, drop me a line. Samples available to the mighty Marvel.

Do I think anyone will actually respond to this? Nah. Just wanted to put it out there, and it's quicker than diving into a slush pile. Hell, it's worth a try, and while it's a long shot, it's late and I'm tired and my judgement is slightly skewed.

So, how about it Marvel?

Saturday, 1 May 2010

That THOR movie photo

One of the most checked-out things in pop culture online this past couple of days has been the first real photo from the THOR movie, which is currently underway with Kenneth Branagh at the helm (that's still kind of a WOW thing for me- I'm really curious to see what he does with a comic book movie).

There's been a bunch of naysayers on this image of Chris Hemsworth as The Mighty Thor himself. Personally I love the pic, although I can completely understand the gripe of many fans, namely the rubber armour.

Sure it looks like rubber, but this is just a still, and in a pretty untouched state, too. Plus, this may be taken from a moment prior to some major asskickery, and also it may be just one costume that our Asgardian friend wears in the flick. That said, from what we can see of the costume it does look both kinda faithful to the comic costume and also in keeping with the Marvel movies aesthetic. Can't wait to see some actual footage from this!