Wednesday, 31 December 2014

That was a year

I wasn't intending to do an end-of-year post this year, but 2014 has turned out to be a little odd. It has been a year both life-affirming and heartbreaking, energizing and exhausting. I began the year optimistic that I would be able to achieve a few things, and it was a marvellous thing to be able to see two long-standing projects come to fruition at last.

The first was the release VHS ATE MY BRAIN back in March. The limited signed run sold out in six days, and the book has been selling in physical and digital form way beyond my expectations ever since.

I'd like to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to every single person who has checked it out. I genuinely had no idea that a print-on-demand book about such a niche interest would be picked up by so many people. Thank you so, so much.

The other was my debut full length novel, A STOLEN FATE. It's imperfect, but I'm extremely proud of how it turned out. I am certainly excited to be bringing you the first sequel, ROGUE SOUL, in April 2015. There will be various other releases from me throughout the year.

This year was defined mainly by the birth of my second son, who is a wonderful little person full of laughter and dribble. My first son continues to amaze me every day with his sense of humour and rapidly developing intellect, and my wife continues to be my best friend as well as my spouse.

The year draws to a close with some sad family news which came about this very morning, on the last day of the year.

Thus I find myself in a reflective mood as 2014 ends and I welcome 2015. What to I strive for in 2015? To be better. To do more of what makes me happy. To create more. To remember who I am a bit more often.

I wish you the very best of luck with your new year. Treasure its newness. Run with it.

Endings are beginnings.

Much love,
Andrew

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Review: IN FAITH - 'There's a Storm Coming'


IN FAITH 
“There's A Storm Coming” 
Genre: Melodic Rock 
Rocktopia Records 

After reading a number of reviews essentially deeming this to be the Second Coming, I figured I should really check it out for myself and see what the fuss was about. Was the hyperbole just that? Something had to be up. Surely nothing could legitimately get that many good reviews and such a wave of positivity, could it?

Actually it could.

The quality of the debut In Faith album is astounding. The songwriting, performances and production are all phenomenal. As soon as 'Radio' gallops out of the speakers sounding like the lovechild of UFO and Steelhouse Lane, you know you're in for a hell of a good time. This is melodic hard rock played with massive amounts of passion and truckloads of talent.

While the guitars of Tony Marshall and the drums of Pete Newdeck are both sensational, it's the truly stunning voice of frontman/bassist Pete Godfrey which sends the quality soaring ever higher. Songs like first single 'Does It Feel Like Love', 'Where I Wanna Be' and 'Addicted' are all prime quality rock anthems, but the golden pipes of Mr Godfrey turn them into instant classics.

Evoking bands like Tyketto, W.E.T., Eclipse and Kansas as well as the aforementioned UFO and Steelhouse Lane, the music of In Faith has the perfect blend of riffs and melodies. Tony Marshall is a brilliant guitarist who shines on every track, his solos having a superb balance of shred and structure, and his chunky rhythm playing is so satisfying it's basically like a big pie. A big guitar pie. Make what you will of that simile.

But great musicianship (and a powerful mix) are nothing without the songs to back them up, and thankfully that's what is at the heart of the In Faith sound; Great songs. 'All Or Nothing' and 'A Million Ways' are later standouts, while closing track 'Bitter End' leaves you with anything but a bitter musical aftertaste.

'There's a Storm Coming' is a somewhat misleading title. The storm has already arrived, and it's right here on this disc.

10/10




Sunday, 19 October 2014

Putting the novel out: What I've Learned


So, my debut full length novel came out on October the 6th. A Stolen Fate began life in 1998 as a screenplay outline and some storyboards, and then over the years it became something I would toy with here and there whenever I wasn't writing something else. In 2007 I went legit and became a writer for a national music magazine, which I'm still with to this day, but that (along with a lot of other writing gigs, day jobs and life stuff) meant I never got around to writing much of the novel.

That changed when I started taking part in NaNoWriMo, and suddenly I had 50,000 words of the novel done and ready to be completed. The other stuff continued to hod the novel back, but I did finally finish it a little while back and decided to publish it myself as an experiment. I'd already put seven books out, but never a novel. I wanted to see what the experience was like, and what I could learn from it.

I actually learned a fair few things, and I'd like to share some with you that might possibly help you with your own projects.

With A Stolen Fate, the story was part of my life for so long that a lot of it was set in stone, but I found that breaking out of that set concept now and again was very liberating and made for a better experience for both myself and the readers who have checked it out so far. I wrote a number of the scenes out of sequence, which helped me direct the flow of the action towards later scenes and also allow me to add some foreshadowing of events during the climax.

I wasn't sure if I would ever write another book (long story) and thus I also wanted to have this one be as complete as I could make it, but allowing for enough loose ends for there to be a sequel if the demand was there (right now it seems there is, but we shall have to wait a little longer for the final decision). Your novel, even if part of a series, still needs to be able to offer a complete and satisfying story to readers, as not all of them will pick up the other volumes which might follow.

The main thing I learned though, which I learned through my own mistakes, is to make the book as professional as you possibly can, and not just visually. The cover is a hugely important thing. If it looks amateurish and unable to stand next to professionally published books, then a lot of readers will just scroll past it. I tried to make A Stolen Fate look great, even though all of the tools I used (Pixabay, Pixlr and Cooltext) were all free.


However, the cover and blurb aren't the only thing to do to a high standard, which is where I made my mistake. Despite several passes through the book, hours upon hours of editing and reworking it, there seem to still be errors that I missed. I didn't get it checked over by a fresh set of eyes, and as such while the book looks brilliant, there are typos in it which I missed. I'm saddened by this and annoyed at myself, as I could have easily sorted those out. The book is getting a great response, but those typos are a downer for me.


Thats the thing though – the book really needed to be looked at by another reader. I am doing this now, and will put out a new edition of the book with corrections in the near future. If people are going to keep buying it, then they deserve the best version that it can possibly be. I've let myself down with this and will ensure it won't happen again. My wife (an incredible writer whose columns and fiction are far more widely appreciated than mine so far) is now proofing the book again so I can put things right. However, I really should have done that I the first place.

Also, make sure you read it in print as well as digitally, as you'll always spot things you need t change in a print copy that you may miss digitally.

Another thing I learned is that the book will take you to unexpected places that will dictate changes to your plans for the future. When I finished A Stolen Fate, I had already written 43,000 words of a possible sequel, but those 43,000 words are now being almost entirely scrapped. Why? Because once I'd completed the 83,000 words of the first book, a lot had changed with the characters and what they had to do. Still, it's a starting point.

So to recap, write well, write what the story needs you to write, and make sure you get it checked over before publishing it. Good luck with your own projects. I'll see you next month for this year's NaNoWriMo adventure, where I'll be starting the sequel from scratch.

Next time, I'll do things much better, for myself and my readers. Thanks for being there.

Monday, 6 October 2014

A STOLEN FATE – OUT NOW!


A STOLEN FATE, my debut full length novel, is available to order now! Paperback and Kindle editions are available from Amazon sites around the world.

It's been a long and strange journey completing this story and being the only person who has been around these characters until now, and it's a weird feeling finally sharing Louise, Mercy, Veil, Vincent, Brandon, Eve, Fate and the others with you now. It's a good feeling though.

A dark urban fantasy story with a UK edge, it follows the young lady called Louise and the strange world she uncovers when she wakes up after her own murder…

Check it out at the links below, or at the Amazon local to you. 



Dear retail stores: Feel free to stock the book! You can find it via Createspace's wholesale service. 

A Stolen Fate: The Soundtrack 

 Ok, so it's not an official soundtrack as such, but these are some of the songs which helped to me to finish the novel. The bias is towards alternative rock and gothic metal, which fits the book perfectly. You can purchase the MP3s from the widget below the playlist.



Sunday, 5 October 2014

A STOLEN FATE: As one journey ends, does another begin?

After seven books, seventy-or-so issues of a national magazine and a bunch of other stuff, the time felt right to get one of my most precious projects out there. All writers have those special save-it-for-the-right-time project, and this year it felt right that one of mine should come to fruition.

A Stolen Fate began life in 1998 under the title of THE SHADOW CHILDREN, as a screenplay and some storyboards, all stemming from a script cover image I made in a library, of a young Goth lady merging from a tunnel, the title below it and the slogan “Even hell has its angels” over the top. I've always liked to start a project with a visual reference, be it images I've found or something I've made. Once there is some kind of visual representation of a project it can start to develop for me. Yeah, that's not how a lot of people work but it's been a method which has often worked very well for me with other projects.

This one was inspired by the Goth subculture I was part of, X-men comics, films like Highlander and The Crow, novels like Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Clive Barker's Cabal (filmed as NIGHTBREED) and other such delights.

I wrote 43,000 words of the novel's first draft a few years ago, 2010 I believe, but it remained unfinished for years due to the growth and development of my career as a rock journalist, changing day jobs and in 2012 becoming a father. I always told myself I'd keep that project safe until the time was right to take it to someone, but then it dawned on me that I'd had some success with putting things out myself, such as with my previous book, VHS Ate My Brain.

This realization also brought to light a fear I'd had about the project since starting it. I'd never put out a full length novel before. This is uncharted territory. My other books have been short fiction, novellas and non-fiction.


This was a big step, and I realized I had been scared to cross it. I had to change that. I'd submitted early samples of it to publishers, but I didn't push it enough. Now the time had come to take a chance, to prove to myself I could complete a full length novel and get it out there. So I have, and I am doing so. I revised the original 43,000 words and wrote a further 40,000, revised the whole thing and trimmed it. More new scenes came, and more trimming. Suddenly it was finished, and I was uploading it to Createspace and KDP with covers I'd made online.

Why take this approach? Because I'm curious. I want to see what happens. I would love to develop my career further, but above all else I want this story out there and being read. It's lived in my head for long enough, and now it's time to share it. Where do I go from here? I don't actually now. Will this be a one-off? The figures between now and the end of the year will dictate that. There is already a sequel at 41,000 words, and other stuff too.

This is a new adventure for me. A new journey emerging from another which lasted 16 years. I know where the story of the novel will go next, but I have no idea where my own will go now. We shall see. What do I want from the release of A Stolen Fate? I want people to enjoy it. I want people to share the characters and story I've played over in my head for my entire adult life. I want to see what happens next.

Please do check out A Stolen Fate and let's find out together.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A STOLEN FATE - OUT ON MONDAY!

Hey all! Wow, I haven't posted here since August? Time flies when your life changes. My second son was born in late August, and thus with the day job, the freelancing, the novel and a very full family life, posts here became hard things to maintain.

However…

My debut full length novel, A STOLEN FATE, is coming out on Monday on Amazon sites worldwide! The pre-order for the Kindle edition is currently live at this link, and the paperback will be available to order on the day of release, Monday the 6th of October.

The Kindle version of the book will remain at that loooowww price until the end of the year.

I would be massively grateful to you if you'd be kind enough to check it out. If the book sells a certain secret number, then future stories in that universe, and indeed the rest of the things that make up my writing career, will be able to continue.

There's so much I want to tell you in future titles. I really look forward to you continuing to join me on this journey.

Thank you so much. For everything.

Monday, 18 August 2014

A STOLEN FATE - FINAL COVER AND PRERELEASE INFO - BOOK NEWS

A STOLEN FATE

My debut full length novel, A STOLEN FATE, will be released on the 6th of October in paperback and ebook. The novel will be available to pre-order on Amazon in both formats in mid September.

A unique dark urban fantasy story with elements of comics, horror movies, anime and more, the book has been a part of my life in one form or another since 1998, and now I am finally ready to get that story out there and into your eyes.

These are characters and events which have helped to shape me as a person and a writer, and after so many years I have finally been able to create the definitive version of the original story and I want to share it with you.

Writing this version of the book has been a fascinating, frustrating and humbling experience. I hope that you enjoy the story when it finally sees release. It's strange to think that the tale I've kept secret for my entire adult life will now start to be told properly.

BOOK NEWS

Once A STOLEN FATE is out, several of my previous books will see an overhaul and redesign, as well as a move to a new publishing platform for many of them.

Depending on the reception to A Stolen Fate, a number of other projects will be completed to follow it, the first being the third book in the OTHERSIDE trilogy of novellas, a new collection of short pieces and maybe even the sequel to A Stolen Fate, which is already 2/3 complete.

Beyond those, other non-fiction titles are being considered, continuing my journey through the worlds of pop culture which made me grow up with a head full of weird stuff, monsters spaceships and spandex.

These would include sequels to both BAGGED AND BOARDED: LIFE ON PLANET GEEK and my most recent (and surprisingly popular) VHS ATE MY BRAIN.

There are big life changes going on too, but I'm sure you'll hear about those soon as well.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: A GALAXY OF EXCITEMENT OPENS UP



Okay. So. Panels to Frames is back, for now at least. It may still be homeless (Lost In The Multiplex remains offline – I hope the place comes back someday, as it was a great place), but there's stuff I need to talk about. The column covered comic book movies and the related lifestyle, and right now seems like a damn good time to talk comics, film and comic based films once again. In fact, there's rarely been a better time to do it. Excitement for a comic book movie release hasn't been this high since the Avengers film arrived and blew a great many of the world's minds.

Basically, Guardians of the Galaxy has exploded across the world, and the cinematic Marvel Universe is opening a lot of minds to the prospect of more cosmic adventures, and that's an absolutely beautiful thing to see. An interest in far-flung adventures with ludicrous characters, comedy, action, pathos and the promise of a larger universe is a thrilling prospect, and one which I hope will help to fire up the imaginations of a new generation of young fans.

It may be the grumpy old geek in me speaking (it usually is), but having comic book movies continue to kick box office ass keeps positive role models in the public eye, and also helps young creators be inspired to bring their own characters to life in the future. The kids watching these films right now are the people who one day will be running the studios and publishers that will bring more heroes into the lives of yet more fans-in-waiting.


I am yet to see Guardians of the Galaxy (I'm finally getting the chance this coming Wednesday, and I'm taking my awesome mum along as it looks like the sort of film we would have watched together when I was a kid), but the massive amount of positivity surrounding the film is just intoxicating. I've seen so many reviews that say it harkens back to another era, a retro sci-fi comedy blockbuster with heart, a tongue-in-cheek adventure, a great big romp, that I can't help but get excited.

People are talking about it being a ton of fun, real fun, and it's bringing to mind the sort of uncomplicated, joyous adventure of Indiana Jones, Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, Romancing The Stone and suchlike. I love that. I love that something that people are picking up on is how the film is making them feel (especially with its upsetting opening scenes). That emotional investment in characters an what they get caught up in is something that has been missing from a lot of recent blockbusters outside of comic book films, and I'm proud to say I'm still a fan.

I've said it before but it remain true – it's a beautiful thing to finally be able to show the world that we were right all along and these stories and characters are genuinely wonderful. It's a wonderfully liberating feeling. All those years with comics being frowned upon as unimportant fluff are being made up for by comic book films breaking records while audiences flock to lap up more adventures with improbable people in improbable costumes doing improbable things.

Escapism is a wonderful thing, and in an increasingly tough world to live in, right now we could do with all of the escapism we can get. This should be easy to remedy, as the sequel to Guardians has now been confirmed. As soon as the credits roll (and you've watched both credits scenes), it's time to get excited again.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Book Review - Hatchet Job By Mark Kermode

Hatchet Job
By Mark Kermode


I wonder if I'd get on with Mark Kermode if I ever met him. I think I probably would, even though I often disagree with him. Disagreeing with a critic is something that keeps the film community's heart beating, and while this book talks a great deal about the changing times and the changing opinion of critics, it also makes a a good arguement for their continued existence. Expertise is a big factor in the usefulness of a film critic in this day and age where film companies are now using random tweets from dubious sources on their advertising.

With the rise of online critics, the professionals have had to deal with a lot of competition from idiots like myself (see my now-defunct film site, Diary Of A Genre Addict, for my own examples), and Hatchet Job takes a look at how this has changed the film industry a little, and how it has certainly changed the public view of dedicated critics.

While not as venomous as his previous book The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex or as funny as his near-legendary It's Only A Movie, Hatchet Job is nevertheless a thoroughly entertaining read for film lovers and popular culture historians.

Once again, the anecdotes are the most entertaining part (especially the "Well? Say it to my face!" conversation, which is a delight), but Kermode gets his point across well and with plenty of knowledge to back up his arguements. Do we still need professional critics? yes we do. The word 'professional' is the key.

While bog standard film nuts like me may well enjoy spouting off about films blindly into the ether, the pros have a more tangible audience, even now in the digital age. It would be a shame to see them vanish entirely. Especially as then there would be less books like this satisfying and well-written volume. With Hatchet Job, Mark Kermode reinforces his status as the UK's best film critic with a quiff.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

NEW NOVEL COMING IN OCTOBER


A project I have always wanted to share with you. 
A story that has lived with me for my entire adult life. 
A dark urban fantasy like no other. 
It's time to show the world what I'm really capable of.

October 2014.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

DELAIN - 'Stardust' music video

The new DELAIN album, 'The Human Contradiction', is getting some great reviews from around the world, and after a few listens I agree the praise is well deserved. The album isn't very immediate, instead improving with successive plays. 'Stardust' is one of the more versatile cuts from the disc, and proof that symphonic metal continues to evolve.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

METAL IS NOT TO BLAME


Following the tragic stabbing of the much loved teacher Anne Maguire at a Leeds high school, many media outlets are picking up on the fact that the boy responsible was both a metal fan and an avid gamer. Since the metal genre was born it has been blamed for all manner of ills in the world, murder, rape, crimes of every description, the warping of youth, the perversion of ideals and possibly even the downfall of civilisation itself. Well, what utter nonsense. You could just as well blame biscuits or flatulence for those same things.

Yes, metal often has a negative outlook, but it's more as social commentary and personal catharsis rather than a call to arms to slaughter people. If people are unhinged to start with, some loud music with confrontational or tasteless lyrics isn't going to tip them over the edge. The edge has already whizzed past them long ago.

The argument that metal causes crimes and mental disorders is as old as the music itself and remains unfounded. What about hip hop? Video games? Ultra-violent films? They don't create lunatics. None of these things do. The lunatics are already there, right around the world, and metal or any other media played no part in making them act a certain way. High profile court cases involving acts like Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne went nowhere in the 80s, and still the accusations come up whenever something terrible happens. The Columbine shootings come to mind as well, considering the media's association of the lunatics responsible with alternative culture.

It is all part of a pathetic need for sections of the media to find a reason, a scapegoat which can easily have the finger pointed at it in order to give a reason where there really isn't one. Society creates its own monsters. Be it a lack of medical and psychological understanding in our communities, a lack of compassion for people in need of serious help, or just plain old ignorance, the blame for these atrocities isn't to be squared at music or art or tomatoes or race or shoelaces or reality TV.

If people want to bring up the early 90s and the Black Metal controversy involving church burnings, murders, assault and the rest, then they're welcome to. The people involved in those occurrences were already psychologically troubled. Some issues with society can indeed be traced back to the media output that people consume, such as body image issues and unrealistic lifestyle aspirations through reality TV and fashion magazines, a skewed sense of monetary value, views on gender, orientation and suchlike are all being directly screwed up.

Niche genre music doesn't cause social ills. If anything it helps to prevent them. Metal is a genre which offers positivity through a negative release, catharsis instead of incitement. Exploration and entertainment rather than instruction. Art isn't a cause. It's an outlet. It's not a reason for terrible things happening, and yet once again it is being brought in as a scapegoat.

How can one of the most technical, intelligent and nuanced forms of musical expression be seen as an element in the cause of a terrible incident like this? You can bet a lot of our government doesn't like metal, and they go to war to murder thousands of people at a time. At home they ruin the lives of the country with misguided policies and well-documented corruption. Can we blame that on something too? Public school? An upper class out of touch with reality? Metal isn't to blame. Music never is.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

STREAM OF PASSION - "A War Of Our Own" video

Stream of Passion are an interesting band who stick out as one of the best of the whole female fronted symphonic/pseudo gothic metal genre. I've followed them since their first album and have always been impressed. This new material sounds like they have another winner on their hands.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: THE END


It is with a heavy heart that I must bring my comic book movie column, PANELS TO FRAMES, to an end for the foreseeable future. Created for the sight LOST IN THE MULTIPLEX, the column has been continuing here since LITM was taken offline for some important maintenance several months ago.

I feel that the column has run its course, especially with its true home out of action for so long. Plus, there are so many other people doing the same thing that I'm not contributing a great deal of use with the column right now.

I wish the LITM crew all the best of luck for when the site returns to active duty. And a big thanks to everyone who read PANELS TO FRAMES throughout its run. I'll see you at the cinema.

Monday, 17 March 2014

VHS ATE MY BRAIN - NOW AVAILABLE WORLDWIDE VIA AMAZON

Following on from the news of VHS ATE MY BRAIN's limited run of signed and numbered paperbacks selling out, I figured I should really post about the standard paperback being available to order NOW from whichever version of Amazon you use! Released through Amazon/Createspace, the 6x9 matte-cover paperback of VHS ATE MY BRAIN is just the thing to quench your thirst for retro/trash/horror video nostalgia. So please do check it out if you haven't already.

VHS ATE MY BRAIN on Amazon UK

VHS ATE MY BRAIN on Amazon US

Or just visit your Amazon of choice!

Many thanks from your humbled and slightly shocked geek,
Andrew

VHS ATE MY BRAIN – LIMITED EDITION SOLD OUT!

Hey all – big news! The limited edition first run of VHS ATE MY BRAIN has now sold out! All outstanding orders will complete shipping this week. Thank you so much for checking the book out! The experience of putting it together and getting it out there has been an incredible thing to do.

I had no idea that there would be so much interest in such a niche title, so from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU to every single one of you. I am humbled, a little shocked and very tired. As I funded, signed and mailed all of them myself on top of the rest of my freelancing and a full-time day job, it's been a challenging experience which I won't forget.

I genuinely appreciate your interest in my little niche interest book on trashy old video tapes. Thank you so much.

If you missed out on the limited edition, then fear not – the standard edition book is OUT NOW WORLDWIDE via your local version of Amazon and the Kindle edition will follow shortly.

Friday, 14 March 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: THE DC TV ONSLAUGHT BEGINS!


PANELS TO FRAMES: THE DC TV ONSLAUGHT BEGINS!

Now this is getting interesting. With official costume photos from WB's pilot for The Flash and NBC's pilot for Constantine surfacing alongside the official logo for the Gotham TV series, it seems that DC Comics (and of course, Vertigo too in the case of Constantine's Hellblazer roots) are finally getting their act together. In tandem with the ongoing popularity of Arrow, the DC screen universe is building nicely, which may well lead to aiding a full-blown DC cinematic universe a la Marvel's exemplary established mythos.

This is a really interesting development for comics properties, as the different approach (TV rather than films) may work even better in DC's favour. TV offers more content for viewers to latch on to, more screen time for comics properties that would need to build an audience in order to appeal to a moviegoing audience.

Plus, while Arrow takes some liberties with the Green Arrow characters and mythos (but nowhere near as many liberties as Smallville did), it seems that these three new additions to the line of DC related shows are moving closer to the source material which built the legends in the first place.

The suit for The Flash (played by Grant Gustin in a spin-off from Arrow) looks far closer to the real deal than I expected it to, and the buzz which is growing seems to be positive, so I hope the pilot capitalises on that positivity built up from his Arrow appearance and it goes further than just the pilot (remember the ill-fated contemporary Wonder Woman pilot?).

Gotham seems to be a bit of a no-brainer, but NBC's Constantine looks like a bit more of a gamble. The lousy Keanu Reeves headlined Constantine movie left a bad taste on our cinematic palate, and thus this TV version has its work cut out for it both in terms of winning people over and also bringing us something different, lest it turn out to just be another version of The Dresden Files.

The shot of Matt Ryan in Constantine's proper outfit (and trademark smirk) is a damn good start, though. Of course, Marvel are coming out with their own multi-series TV onslaught in the form of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and eventually The Defenders, but DC are beating them to it in terms of television heroes.

As much as I'm a Marvel guy through and through, I do have to concede that DC/WB are ahead in terms of quality TV material. I mean, I like some episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, but that show has been so inconsistent that I struggle to even look at it sometimes. These new DC TV properties look really promising, and hopefully bode well for more to come. Now if WB would just get on with it and tell us that the Man Of Steel sequel is actually a Justice League movie, then we can just get on with being ultra excited.

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Recent reading:

ROGUE TROOPER #1 – IDW PUBLISHING (8/10)
Fantastic new start for the classic 2000AD character. Back to basics!

TALES OF HONOR #1 – TOP COW (8/10)
David Weber's sic-fi heroine Honor Harrington arrives in comics. Brilliant, apart from the dialogue font...

THE WAKE #6 – VERTIGO (10/10)
The perfect jumping-on point. A fantastic concept and amazing execution.

X-MEN #11 – MARVEL (7/10)
A little slow, but the all-female X-men team still offer strong entertainment.

BLACK WIDOW #3 – MARVEL (7/10)
Great story, but I'm not convinced the art style works.

NEW WARRIORS #1 – MARVEL (2/10)
Five years since their last incarnation ended, here comes another comic which will be cancelled soon.

UNCANNY X-FORCE #17 – MARVEL (6/10)
Again, a fantastic script with inconsistent art. 

ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN VOL 3 – MARVEL (8/10)
My first taste of the stories featuring Miles Morales. A wonderful surprise.

X-FORCE – FINAL EXECUTION BOOK 1 - MARVEL (5/10)
Overly brutal nonsense. 

X-FORCE – FINAL EXECUTION BOOK 2 - MARVEL (6/10)
More brutal nonsense, but ended with some style.

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(Panels To Frames is my comic book movie column. Usually running over at Lost In The Multiplex, the column is currently running here while the LITM site is down for maintenance work)

Thursday, 6 March 2014

VHS ATE MY BRAIN – AVAILABLE TO ORDER NOW!

VHS ATE MY BRAIN, my 7th book, is finally available to order! It's taken longer to get this one out than my previous books due to some big life changes since the release of my last book, BAGGED AND BOARDED, but the wait is over and the book can finally be released.

Inspired by the HORROR VHS COLLECTORS UNITE Facebook group and collectors around the world, VHS ATE MY BRAIN is the chronicle of a life spent in front of too many bad movies on that much cherished and equally maligned dead format, along with a look a number of the films which shaped the era of cult video entertainment.

It's been a blast to write, and is a very personal book which devolves into my obsession with bad films and dusty old video tapes. It's my way of giving something back to a scene which has brought me so much pleasure in recent years.

The initial run of VHS ATE MY BRAIN is available as a limited edition signed and numbered 6x9 paperback, limited to just 100 copies. There are currently two ways you can get hold of them, with a third to follow very soon!


SIGNED AND NUMBERED PAPERBACK
Eighty copies of the signed and numbered paperback of VHS ATE MY BRAIN are available directly from the author – just visit the order page to get yours! The books are £6.99 plus postage in the UK and $10.99 plus postage for the rest of the world. Please allow 7 days for UK delivery and 14 days for overseas delivery (as the books are produced to order, shipped to the author and back out once signed). 

Visit the VHS ATE MY BRAIN order page!

BOOK/VHS/MAGAZINE BUNDLES 
Ten copies of VHS ATE MY BRAIN are available on eBay as bundles, each including a signed copy of the book along with a vintage VHS tape from the author's private archive and a rare VHS era cult film magazine. Each bundle auction starts at £9.99 plus postage. See the bundles on eBay UK!

DUAL-SIGNED PAPERBACK 
Ten copies of VHS ATE MY BRAIN will soon be available from the store of the US-based cover artist Josh Schafer (boss of the awesome LUNCHMEAT VHS FANZINE), signed by both author Andrew Hawnt (me!) and Josh! More news on this one very soon!

AND THEN…

The standard unsigned paperback and Kindle version of the book will be available via Amazon next month.

Note: All funds made from sales of VHS ATE MY BRAIN will go towards preparing for the arrival of my second child in August. Thanks so much for checking the book out. I hope you enjoy it.




Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Harold Ramis: Rest in peace, Egon


Harold Ramis was one of the architects of my childhood, one of the geniuses who co-wrote and starred in the perfection that was Ghostbusters. The humour and excitement of that film blew my mind as a kid and shaped my creativity in ways I didn't realise for many years.

As I grew up I discovered the other classics he was a part of, Stripes, Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Vacation, Groundhog Day and more. Whether behind the camera or in front of it, Ramis was a genius of timing and understated humour which never failed to entertain and inspire me.

News of him passing away due to a lengthy battle against a horrible illness came as a shock to a lot of people like me. I didn't even know about it. I guess that's a sign of the man he was – never someone who courted sensationalist attention.

The tributes are pouring in from across the world, many of them mentioning his Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day credits (which is understandable, especially in the case of the massively popular and influential Ghostbusters), but to remember him fully is also to remember he was a director, a talented actor, a father, a husband and a friend to many. Rest in peace, Mr. Ramis. Thank you for the gifts of entertainment you gave the world.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: SPIDEY TRAILER AND THREEQUEL, X-MEN CLIP, WINTER SOLDIER FALCON POSTER, DC TAKES OVER TV


PANELS TO FRAMES: SPIDEY TRAILER AND THREEQUEL, X-MEN CLIP, WINTER SOLDIER FALCON POSTER, DC TAKES OVER TV

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2: ACTUALLY LOOKING DECENT? 

I hated the look of the first Amazing Spider-man film and still to this day refuse to watch it. The Lizard shouldn't look like a Mario Bros Goombah. I just can't face watching that thing. However, as much as I ranted about this new entry, the new trailer (featuring the rise of Electro) is looking much better.

Sure, Rhino is a CG Transformer, the Green Goblin isn't very green or much like a Goblin (I hope he gets the hood at some point) and Electro still looks like a sex toy, but this trailer is showing glimpses of what appears to be a pretty strong superhero film with some genuinely decent Spidey character moments. Could I have been wrong? Possibly.

Mind you, the inevitable smackdown between Spidey, a dildo, a Dinobot and a Power Rangers villain is liable to bore me senseless/enrage me, but that's the old comics fart in me saying that. Get offa my yard, you young whippersnappers!


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 CONFIRMED – DATE AND DIRECTOR TOO! 

Marc Webb will once again be returning for the third Amazing Spider-man movie, which is set for a release date of Jun 10th 2016. Here's hoping he's learned from the mistakes made by the uneven and villain-heavy Spider-Man 3 from 2007. Then again, with the formation of The Sinister Six in the second movie, probably not.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST CLIP 

A very, very brief clip of new X-Men: Days Of Future Past footage has been released and is being seen by some as an attempt to get some coverage in the wake of the debut of the epic trailer for the new GODZILLA. I love how this X-men movie is shaping up, but I'm starting to get a little concerned that it's way too overcrowded for its own good and may not hold the attention of the moviegoing masses. 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER – FALCON POSTER

The Falcon is looking badass in this new poster from the hotly-anticipated Captain America sequel. Everything I'm seeing about this flick is getting me more excited for it.

I loved the first Cap flick, but I'd be the first to admit it had its faults. Now the origin stuff is out of the way, we can get on with some proper stories, and I for one am excited to see how much this one delivers. 


DC TAKES OVER TV

While Marvel continues to dominate the big screen in terms of comic book movie output (until the much-debated Batman/Superman movie arrives), it's DC which is winning on TV. Marvel's patchy Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is okay but really inconsistent, however Warner/DC's ARROW is going from strength to strength in terms of quality and audience numbers from what everyone is saying. I may even grudgingly have to check it out.

I never got on with Smallville as it just never seemed to gel properly somehow, but Arrow sounds far stronger in terms of narrative and overall quality. Add to this the forthcoming GOTHAM and THE FLASH and it seems that DC is taking a different approach in building an audience for their screen properties.

It's interesting to see how things have worked differently for the Big Two's properties. A lot of DC's output has the potential to work really well as ongoing Tv series, while Marvel seems more suited to cinemas. How all of these series will play a part in the developing cinematic DCU is anyone's guess. Probably nowhere, but if there was some crossover with the films, then that would be a stroke of genius in terms of world building.

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(Panels To Frames is my comic book movie column. Usually running over at Lost In The Multiplex, the column is currently running here while the LITM site is down for maintenance work)

Friday, 21 February 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: THE FANTASTIC… EH?


PANELS TO FRAMES: THE FANTASTIC… EH?

Fox have apparently cast their new version of The Fantastic Four, and as with any comic book movie casting news, the fans are polarized. Well, actually for the most part fans are outraged, but that's fans for you. We get outraged easily.

Not only is this new Fantastic Four very young, but Johnny Storm is now African-American and Ben Grimm/The Thing is... Billy Elliott. No, seriously. They've apparently cast Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm. It's okay, I don't really know how they thought of him either. Great actor, but for The Thing? nah. The rest of the cast consists of Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic, Kate Mara as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman and Michael B. Jordan as the aforementioned Johnny Storm/Human Torch.

The young cast suggests to me yet another origin story. Sigh. Sigh again. Why can't we just have a FF movie where they're already established as heroes and not have to go through the same old getting used to abilities/becoming a proper team routine? There was a chance to break the mould a bit with a new take on The Fantastic Four, but if it's yet another origin story then I have even less interest in it than when this supposed casting news broke.

The previous Fantastic Four films, starring Ioan Gruffudd as Reed, Jessica Alba as Sue, Chris Evans as Johnny and Michael Chiklis as Ben, weren't perfect by a long way, but they were true to the spirit of the characters and were decent fun. Especially the second movie, Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (aside from Galactus showing up as a giant space fart). Seriously, give that flick a second chance. Just hold some Kirby art over the screen when the big G shows up.

Anyway. This new one. As long as it still has a similar origin, Doctor Doom and suchlike then some semblance of the FF can be scavenged. If they go a completely different route to that which has been established and appreciated since the early 1960s, then audiences will wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place and shun the movie. Now if you'll excuse me I'll get back to reading flame wars about the cast.

Comic book resources have put up a poll about the casting (which has now apparently been confirmed). Cast your vote!


PANELS TO FRAMES is my comic movie column, which usually runs at Lost In The Multiplex. The column is running here right now as LITM is on hiatus due to much-needed maintenance.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: OKAY, I'M SOLD ON GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY


PANELS TO FRAMES: OKAY, I'M SOLD ON GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY


Okay, so my initial excitement following the 15 second teaser for the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY trailer may have seemed excessive to some, but hey, I'm a 35 year old bald guy who still proudly reads comics in public, so what do I really care about what people think of me? Some people get excited about reality shows, or football, or upgrading their bloody smartphone. Myself? I get excited about comic book movies and the comics which spawned them.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, that big fat gamble Marvel is taking by thrusting a big-budget, high-profile movie out of its awesome studios without the safety net of big name leads (aside from the fantastic Zoe Saldana) or indeed characters which are familiar to people outside of comics fandom.

I guess that lack of familiarity has allowed Marvel to have a bit more fun with what they bring to the screen this time out, and it certainly shows in the wonderfully unpredictable trailer. Of course, the big action scenes aren't glimpsed as effects work is still going on, but we get a sense of the fun atmosphere of the film as well a the look of it, which seems to be nestling somewhere between Farscape and Firefly. That's no bad thing.

Chris Pratt's Star Lord character seems like he's going to be something of a hit with those who check out the movie, coming across with a little bit of Han Solo and a little bit of everyone's favourite Browncoat, Mal. The other Guardians (Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket Raccoon) are going to get their fair share of attention too, but I'd say alongside Star Lord, it's going to be Rocket who steals the show. The glimpses of the film's design work feel like classic Star Wars – futuristic but battered, used and worn. That adds a little realism to the fantasy.


Naturally, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY will feature a ton of comic book style acton set pieces (hopefully plenty involving Karen Gillan's awesome-looking Nebula – aka the bald blue badass who claimed to be the granddaughter of Thanos himself), but as with the Avengers before them, it looks like the film will be mainly carried by the dynamic in the team of misfits that are given the task of guarding, erm, the galaxy.

Add some disco music and obscene hand gestures and you have a trailer which has piqued the interest of a lot of people. And hot on the heels of that trailer and five short character spots comes the beautifully simple first poster for the movie, as you can see with this post.

It's a pretty standard (but very cool) poster until you see the nice and cocky “You're Welcome” at the bottom of it, alluding to the anarchic ride to come and the ongoing indoctrination of the Marvel methodology and ideas into cinemas. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY looks set to surprise a lot of filmgoers with a comic book movie where the audience really doesn't know what to expect, and that sounds like a hell of a lot of fun to me.


(Note: PANELS TO FRAMES is my ongoing comic book movie column, usually to be found at LOST IN THE MULTIPLEX, currently running here while the site is on hiatus for maintenance)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY TEASER FOR THE TEASER


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY TEASER FOR THE TEASER


Gah! This is one problem with being in England. I miss the stuff from the night-tim US shows getting their premieres, such as tonight's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY teaser. Earlier today Marvel released a 15 second teaser for the teaser. Yeah, a teaser trailer for a teaser trailer. I know. Normally I would be annoyed by this micro-advertising gimmick, but tonight I don't care one jot, because those 15 seconds look AMAZING.

The full teaser trailer is showing tonight in the US on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show, and of course will arrive online at the same time. Right when I'm having feverish dreams about what it's like. Look, this stuff matters to idiots like me, ok?

The teaser-teaser shows the first proper footage from the movie, and it looks brilliant. The visual feel to even just those brief glimpses is wonderful, very sci-fi but still grounded in that strange sort-of-reality feel that the Marvel movies do so well.

The characters look superb and that tantalizing shot of former Doctor Who star Karen Gillan as intergalactic villainess Nebula is just awesome. Someone commented on the video that the footage looks like Farscape, and I'm not sure if they meant that as a positive comment, but HELL YES that makes it even better for me.

Even just from these fifteen seconds of footage, I think my interest in this film is growing along with the feeling that it's going to surprise a lot of people – not least of all me! I am edging towards the thought that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is going to be a gamble which does actually pay of for Marvel, and that bodes well for the future of the comic book movie genre and of course the further development of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Big sci-fi epics will pave the way for some of the more fantastical elements of the Marvel Universe to be explored. Doctor Strange. Galactus. Skrulls. Hell, even some more lesser known teams might arrive onscreen. How about The New Warriors? But first of all, there's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY to look forward to. Now hurry up and let me go to sleep so I can stop fidgeting so much waiting for the proper teaser.


(Note: PANELS TO FRAMES, my comic book movie column, continues to run here at my own site while its usual home, LOST IN THE MULTIPLEX, is on hiatus for maintenance)

Saturday, 8 February 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: VISION AND MS. MARVEL IN AGE OF ULTRON? GUARDIANS 2 IN 2016?

(Panels to Frames continues right here until Lost In The Multiplex returns from its maintenance-induced hiatus) 

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON CAST GROWS? 


The cast of characters that are to appear onscreen in the forthcoming AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON seems to be growing further still, with rumours circulating that The Vision (apparently to be played by Paul Bettany, the voice of JARVIS) and Ms. Marvel (rumoured to be played by Katee Sackhoff) are to join the current lineup of Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and newcomers Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.

 Would yet more heroes overcomplicate the film with a crowded roster, or do they add further to the story? Plus, I'd be interested to see how they're going to add The Vision if they indeed do so, considering his origins. Although, having said that, maybe the Vision would be part of the creation of Ultron, especially with Bettany voicing JARVIS and the rumours that Stark's AI actually becomes Ultron in the first place.

Overcrowding the Avengers would run the risk of an incoherent film with too much going on and nothing getting enough attention (see X-MEN: THE LAST STAND as an example). Alternatively, these new additions could just further enrich the Marvel movie universe. Either way, I still think it'll whup the backside of any DC movie coming out in the next few years.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 IN 2016? 


It's been said that Marvel's 2016 summer slot is to be taken up by a sequel to the forthcoming GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. This is interesting, considering the outcome of the gamble that is the first film is yet to be determined.

 This is one film in particular which Marvel are counting on to further expand their cinematic line, but with no popular characters in it and a tongue-in-cheek feel to the footage which has been screened, it's going to be one a lot of people will be checking the numbers for. 

With the big sci-fi scale of the movie, a lot of cash has been poured into it and I wonder if the sequel will be canned if this first one tanks. Mind you, it's a Marvel Studios movie and for the most part they have been delivering the goods in damn fine style.

What is especially interesting is the expansion of the Marvel movie universe with some bigger science fiction concepts. Following the lead of the THOR movies, expanding the MCU with these ideas is a great big step towards bringing some of the more fantastical classic stories to the big screen at last.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

VHS ATE MY BRAIN - RELEASE DATE AND FINAL COVER



ANNOUNCEMENT! My 7th book, VHS ATE MY BRAIN, will be available to order from FEBRUARY THE 10TH! 

The initial run is 100 signed and numbered paperbacks, followed by the release of the Ebook and standard paperback in early March. 

The book will be £6.99 plus £2.00 postage in the UK. Worldwide postage rates TBC. Also, a very limited quantity will be available from the US via Lunchmeat Vhs Fanzine, signed by both myself and cover artist Josh Schafer!

Monday, 13 January 2014

TATIANA MASLANY SHOULD WIN EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN

So the Golden Globes have been and gone in a flurry of expensive frocks, awkward speeches and the usual outrage, but the event could have been over a lot quicker if the panel had just awarded everything to Tatiana Maslany.

Best actor, best supporting role, best everything. Including sound design, score, special effects and probably the catering as well. The lead actor in Orphan Black, Tatiana plays about a million (okay, about half a dozen) different characters with very different voices, mannerisms, the full works.

Granted, there is a lot of camera trickery involved in bringing the elements of Orphan Black together, but it is the frankly astounding performance of Maslany which holds the whole thing together. You're left wondering how the hell the casting crew ever found this fountain of talent out there.

Maslany should, in fact, have her own award. The Tatiana Maslany Award For Kicking Everybody Else's Asses. I'd watch that ceremony.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: GUARDIANS PHOTO, DWAYNE JOHNSON DC ROLE, CAPTAIN AMERICA'S WINTER AWESOMENESS

Happy new year one and all! Well, almost all, anyway. PANELS TO FRAMES is my comic book movie column which usually runs at LOST IN THE MULTIPLEX, but the site is currently undergoing maintenance, so the column is running here for now. 




GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - FIRST OFFICIAL STILL RELEASED



The first official character still from Marvel's forthcoming sci-fi epic GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY has been released, and it's well, a bit underwhelming. Basically a retread of the production art released a while back, it shows the cast in full costume, or in the case of Rocket Raccoon and Groot, their CG forms.

Starring Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Lee Price, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Glenn Close and Benicio Del Toro with Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon and Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY looks like a bit of a risky film for Marvel, but it'll be very interesting to see how it pans out. I'm hoping it's brilliant.

DWAYNE JOHNSON DISCUSSING DC ROLE 

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson has apparently been having meetings with Warner execs about a possible future role in a DC property.

While I've never been a fan of wrestling, I do think Johnson has great presence in his movies, and definitely has the stature, voice and skills needed for a comic book movie.

But who could he be looking to play? I'm guessing it's not Catwoman or Harley Quinn. Maybe Big Barda. Heh.


CAPTAIN AMERICA - IS THE WINTER SOLDIER HERE YET? 


With stills arriving on a regular basis from the forthcoming CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER and that spectacular trailer still getting views galore, excitement is building for the First Avenger's return to the screen. I must say that it's looking fantastic so far. Chris Evans seems to be settling into the role very well, even with the terrible dye-job on his hair.

It does appear that it's a third film where Cap rarely has his full costume on, but it also looks like an absolutely wonderful comic book thriller packed with action and much-loved comic characters. The Marvel movie universe seems to be maintaining its strengths, and here's hoping it continues to do so for a long time yet.