Monday, 5 June 2017

Precious Life

Since I last updated, there's been a further terrorist attack here in the UK. The latest took place on Saturday night, on the road where I work (the London Bridge/Southwark area of London). It was horrific and my heart goes out to all the victims, and their loved ones.

But life doesn't (and shouldn't) stop because of these acts of stupidity.

***

This last week has been particularly crazy, with the rest of my department at work all off sick or on holiday. So then, I took on the role of 4 people... and wrestled a number of newsletters, product loads, updates and lots more besides. But I got through it, and it was fun, so I can't really complain.

We're nearing the end of the general election campaign here in the UK, and it's a battle between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May. God... please let Corbyn win. I realise the chances of that happening are remote at the moment, with many polls predicting him to be somewhat behind the Tories' lead - but man, I want him to win so much. Corbyn strikes me as a man of conviction, who generally wants to help everybody. His opponents, the Conservatives, are the nasty party (no matter what they say opposing this view). They'll continue to cut public spending, and generally not care about anybody at the very top of society. I hate that they've lead us for 7 years now - and the idea that they will continue to do so for 5 more years is unthinkable. Urgh.

So, if you're reading this prior to Thursday's vote... think about what every candidate stands for, and then vote responsibly!!

***

I've slowed down on my writing somewhat, and really need to catch up. Last month I wrote Beautiful Ones: Achoo! and Darkened Avenue 038. I need to head straight home tonight, and crack on with lots more. I do feel like I'm letting myself down when I don't write - as if it's a waste of a day, and so a waste of precious life.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Manchester Terrorist Attack

Last night a terrorist struck my home city of Manchester, blowing up the foyer of Manchester Arena and taking lots of lives, injuring many more.

Waking up to the news was genuinely shocking, and made me very sad. I'm terribly proud of my city and its people, and to see such trauma on its streets is horrid. It's sickening to think that somebody could strike innocent lives like this, especially so when you consider how young many of the people maimed actually were.

Lots of messages of social media are demonstrating solidarity for the city, which is lovely to see. Manchester is resilient. I've no doubt the people that are today soldiering on, detirmined not to have the actions of one selfish man last night stand in the way of living their lives the way they want. That's the Manchester way.

Being so far away right now feels like a punishment. If I could be, I would be there to support my family and community. I can be thankful that all my friends and family are safe, but I know others from my home town Bury (and nearby Radcliffe) are not. My thoughts are with all affected, their families and friends.

I feel too numb to say any more about it right now.

Monday, 22 May 2017

My Comic Week

Oh - the past 7 days have been great to me!

The week started with me concluding the first draft of a brand spanking new comic book - Beautiful Ones: Achoo! (It's the story of a man who sneezes, and takes offence to a woman who says "bless you" on his behalf). Though it doesn't quite work just yet, I'm thinking long and hard about the next edit - and it's slowly getting there.

At the same time, various pieces of artwork have started to drop. First up, my dear friend Svetlana is working long and hard on a previous Beautiful Ones tale, and has now pencilled all four pages, and inked three of them. It's looking very good! I think her artwork marries the story very well, and I'm proud of her for the work she's done on this, her very first comic!

My friend Jordan lives in Manchester, and he's more of a seasoned pro. He's been working on another of my strips - called Pfft... Queues! - for a awhile now. This week he sent across a whole host of character designs for me to look at, comment on, and approve. They all look great; not at all what I had in mind when writing the story, but that doesn't matter - as these drawings push the story in an entirely new direction and - gasp - actually improve on my script!

The final artwork came through from Ray Friesen, who is an artist I met at a Forbidden Planet book signing last year. He's drawing a comedy story I wrote called Dead Stock; and delivered page 2 of the strip this week. I forwarded onto him a few notes I had about the new page, with the biggest being that the design of the main character appears inconsistent across the two pages sent thus far. Ray responded by redoing some of the artwork, and making that consistency happen.

Then this weekend I finished off issue 038 of my Darkened Avenue comic, and made the first few steps working on another - the first Darkened Avenue Annual, which is long overdue (I completed the synopsis back in January 2006... then didn't ever get around to writing it, despite it being set inbetween issues 023 and 024!). It'll be nice to have it completed at last!!

So there we are. Lots going on. It's always fun to see new artwork come in, and to be working on new scripts. This is exactly the sort of life I want to be living.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Spot the Time Lord...

Being a proper fan, I'm terribly excited as Doctor Who is back this Easter weekend! I love the series, and it's referenced in my work quite a bit. Why? Well, why not? It's fun and a bit cheeky - and highlights one of my favourite shows of all time!

To celebrate its imminent return here's every occurrence in my films, comics and prose!

(I'll try and update this in the days/weeks/months to come when I produce something new... but advanced apologises if I forget!)

April 3rd


Reference: A bit tenuous this one, but I attempt to mimic the accent of the Ninth Doctor (played by Salford lad Christoper Eccleston) at this point (3m05s in).

Self


Reference: The narrator - Horatio Maguire - talks about his childhood, and dreaming about defiant heroes... like the Doctor (David Tennant's version this time), taking down monsters like... the Daleks and Cybermen! I even found time to include a 'dashing sidekick' - Captain Jack Harkness, whom I was writing about in my TORCHWOOD.tv blog at the time!





Eyes Down

Nothing 'Who related in this one, but then again it's a documentary about my Dad and his drinking habits. Not the easiest subject matter to shoe-horn in something related to my favourite Time Lord!

Semblance Of Norm


Reference: The crazy hand gesture beginning at 2m05s is a callback to a Sylvester McCoy adventure, "The Greatest Show In The Galaxy" (where the Chief Clown does the exact same movement).



Also, although I don't think it's ever visible on screen, one of the newspaper clippings hanging on the background wall reads "Doctor who something something".

That Resolute Desk


Reference: Oh this one is littered with them.


First of all, there's prominent posters on the wall. The first is the poster for the 1996 Paul McGann TV Movie, which has had a permanent place on all my bedroom walls since then. The other is a tribute to companions the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen).

The character's Doctor Who DVD collection can also be seen.


Then, on my desk there are plenty of Doctor Who action figures - including the TARDIS, Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor, River Song and villains the Ice Warriors! Various other toys crop up, in different combinations and poses, throughout.


There's a copy of April 2012's Doctor Who Magazine (announcing the arrival of Jenna Coleman's Clara) sitting on the character's desk, too - and at one point he drinks from a mug that is decorated with the 1980's neon style series logo.

That Resolute Desk: Seas Will Rise



Reference: Similar to That Resolute Desk, only now a sketched portrait of Matt Smith has been added to the wall, too. Plus on the bookshelf top left you can see a line-up of the first 11 Doctors in action figure form!

A Bedtime Story


Reference: Aside from what's seen in the background of my room (see That Resolute Desk) the story's villain is named Peledarna, in tribute to the planet Peledon from the 1970's Jon Pertwee era!

Plus I dress up in various Doctor Who costumes. The best example is when I take on the appearance of the Seventh Doctor...



"I Am A Vampire!"


Reference: The vampire states that he's 910 years old. The Doctor typically answers that he is around 900 years old (and is infact 910 himself in the show's 2011 series).

That Resolute Desk: Seven-Thirty



Reference: Tom Baker's 16-foot multicoloured scarf can be seen behind Jarvis, plus the Seventh Doctor's pull over ? jumper, and toy Daleks!

Ushers



Reference: A character sits reading an issue of Doctor Who Magazine in the staff room.

Lasagne



Reference: A TARDIS keychain has been left behind inside a Soho phone booth.

Fellow



Reference: At the very beginning of the piece Margot Shelley is seen sat in a park, reading an Eighth Doctor novel ("The Crooked World"). Horatio approaches, and asks her out. As seen in the first Horatio film - Self - he grew up loving Doctor Who, so it makes sense that he'd be attracted to a female fan of the show!

Later Horatio observes that his mum has redecorated and states "I don't like it" - which is a typical reaction from the Doctor, when learning that another of his incarnations has a new styled TARDIS!

Little Green Running Man

Reference: This...


It's a call back to the 1979 adventure "City of Death" where two characters (played by John Cleese and Eleanor Bron) mistakenly look at something that most definitely isn't art as if it was! The artist, Tiziana Ibba, even has them dressed identically!



Pfft... Queues!

Still in production!

Reference: It's set in a supermarket called Ice World (like 1987's "Dragonfire"), and the script states that children run around the story, playing with sonic screwdrivers.

Dead Stock 

Still in production!

Reference: The script states that a shop full of Egyptian items contains something from the 1975 Tom Baker adventure "Pyramids of Mars".

The Beautiful Ones: King Of Wank!

Still in production!

Reference: At the beginning of the strip, the group of characters walk along a London high street. In the script one of the shops seen in the background is called Meglos Books - after the 1980 story, "Meglos"!

Starship S.O.S.!

Still in production!

Reference: The Captain of the other ship is called Zoe Herriot, after the Second Doctor's companion of the same name.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Smile: Time After Time

It's become a tradition: Every April I plonk myself down in front of my TV and photograph myself pointing at myself, on the screen.

Don't ask, just look...

2011


2012


2013 (shot by Tohko Kanzaki)


2014


2015 (Shot by Gabby Kere)


2016 (Shot by Sarunas Berinas)


2017 (Shot by Jack Porter)


Alternative title: Watch Me Age (Oh God)!