Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Distance Between Us

One of the saddest things about getting older is not growing up, but growing apart.


The amount of people that have come and gone from my life by this point makes me sad. I've had friends, good friends, who I've spoken to every day... and then one day, they are no longer part of my life.

Sometimes it's manageable. You can send them the odd text here or there, and it keeps the last remaining flickers of friendship going. Other times, however, you begin to realise just how long it's been with no contact, and that makes you sad, because with that thought also comes the realisation that you've probably now both changed beyond the other's recognition.

Then there's lovers. I struggle moving on from those that I have let into my heart. Each of them owns a piece, and when they leave it feels like they run away and take a piece of it hostage - because I want to still talk to them, know them, have a laugh with them... but they won't allow it. I've hurt them, and so they want me out of their lives for good. That piece of my heart never comes back.

It's upsetting because, in a way, my friends and girlfriends are my humanity. They keep me laughing, and feeling - and all I want to do when they go is reach out and reclaim what was once.

If you're an old friend of mine reading this, know that I love you - so get in touch, and let's reconnect, and not allow any more distance.

Friday, 13 January 2017

This Friday 13th... Is It For Me?

I was made a job offer this past week, but decided against it. WHAT?! Despite the money (and it was a fair amount) I genuinely don't think I'm the best candidate for the job... but I've put forward somebody who I think is and, ironically, it's my oldest friend! We'll see what happens. I think it was the right decision to say no.

Anyhoo... I've already had a busy time of it. I've spent the first few weeks of 2017 reading a number of new comic series, and catching up on some television too.

Some reviews!

Brass Sun (Book I) (2000AD Comics)


Oh, this is very pretty. I.N.J. Culbard's art caught my attention when I first flicked through the book in Forbidden Planet, and I knew I'd end up picking it up!

All-in, and thus far, it's a fairly solid story. Some of the dialogue is a smidge heavy handed, but I quickly adapted to its style and read on. The story is similar to Doctor Who's The Key To Time (but that didn't look this pretty). I'm looking forward to reading on later this month.

Jupiter's Legacy (Image Comics)


Again, this looks great (it's by the one and only Frank Quitely) but Mark Millar's script is fairly run of the mill. It tells the tale of a group of superheroes in the modern age, who face a conflict from within - as members of the team conspire to topple the leader.

It's fine... but never advances, or aims for better.

I'm reading its prequel Jupiter's Circle now. Wow! That's miles ahead of this. And that's saying something, as I usually hate prequels!!

Revenge (Image Comics)


Urgh.

Jonathan Ross wrote this, and says that he was aiming for something that was extreme exploitation... that would make a horrible read. Well, he succeeded - but maybe a little too well, as I hated the characters, couldn't appreciate the gore, and found the whole thing really... unoriginal.

Scalped (Book One) (Vertigo Comics)


Decent.

I liked the fact it was about Native Americans, and so gave voice to a previously unheard (in comics) portion of the US population. Sometimes though the plot was cliche, and the art made it confusing as characters had a bad habit of being drawn in a very similar manner to one another.

More than happy to give it another go I've loaned book 2 from Woolwich library. Let's see if it is able to build on the foundations here and turn in something great!

Chrononauts (Image Comics)


Oh, for fuck's sake! This was frustrating.

Yes, it can be fun. But! It is also incredible lazy. It's as if writer Mark Millar got half-arsed with the concept, because he never develops an idea to its full potential. The characters have time travelled and changed history? Great, let's see the repercussions! What do you mean, no, that instead you'll just write off that sub plot in a page and a half?

This could have been something great... with a little more effort spent on it.

Sherlock (TV - BBC One)


I have to admit, this new series has disappointed me. It leans too much towards soap opera, with action sequences thrown in for good measure; so much so that the focus has gone away from solving mysteries. There's been a greater emphasis on Mary Watson - but she doesn't work. She feels completely contrived, and has contributed to the show moving away to a nonsense action-adventure type series.

Also, four series in and the twists have become predictable. They say Sherlock and Mycroft have a brother... so instantly I know it'll turn out to be a sister. And because there was a mysterious woman at the start of the show... well, it'll be her, won't it?

Yep.

I think it's probably time the series concluding.

Meanwhile, Jonathan has now started work at Titan Comics. He seems to be enjoying it. Just for fun, I sent him my pitch for a Doctor Who cover...! What do you think? ;)


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Lazarus

A year on from his death, I celebrated David Bowie's life by having a bit of a themed weekend.


On Saturday, I travelled to the Kings Cross Theatre and watched Lazarus; the musical that Bowie had been working on in New York in the months leading up to his death. Having transferred to the UK, this version shared the premiere's leading man - Michael C Hall - although the production is winding down, and due to close in just over a week.


It's been extremely popular. So, I considered myself very lucky when a single ticket came up for it last month, at a very reasonable £35. I'm glad I go to go, especially to see this version of the play - with the same cast and crew that Bowie originally worked alongside. Any future version of the production just won't be the same - as if Bowie guided this one, and gave it his seal of approval.

But what was it actually like? Hmm. I loved the songs, how they were used, and how they were interrupted/incorporated into the narrative. The actual story was a little New York art scene for my tastes (although not bad, just... a tad pretentious) - but it's hard to fault a production when the entire cast and crew are giving it their all, and it shows.


Later on Saturday evening BBC 2 premiered a documentary called David Bowie: The Last Five Years. It was an intimate portrayal of Bowie at a time where he was working on Lazarus, and the albums The Next Day and Blackstar. It was refreshing to see some behind the scenes footage of Bowie from a 2004 tour, looking very relaxed, and joking quite a lot. So much of what we saw of him was Bowie sat intensely stern in interviews, that this brought a more human Bowie to the foreground.

Afterwards they played the movie The Man Who Fell To Earth, which I had never properly seen before. Which might have helped before seeing Lazarus, as the musical acts as a semi-sequel to the film. D'oh! Oh well. I liked it for what it was - a surreal, beautifully shot slice of 1970s cinema. It's hard to connect to the film emotionally - but perhaps that's the point? Bowie is marvellously weird throughout it, and it's hard to take your eyes off of him.


Sunday brought a reunion with my friend Dan O'Connor who had, coincidentally, journeyed down from Manchester to watch Lazarus. He's seen it before, so we got to talk about the show in depth - what worked/didn't, how well the songs were used, what it meant, etc. We also had a bit of a catch up about my comic strips. Dan seemed pleased for me, which was nice.


As he headed off inside the theatre, I left him again - eager to commute home before the Tube strike started. As I did so, I rounded off my Bowie themed weekend by getting my iPod out and - for the first time in 2017 - listening to a number of my favourite Bowie tracks.

I couldn't post this last year, as I wasn't writing in 2016, but here is a great rendition of Ashes to Ashes that I remember seeing at the BBC Proms: Tribute to Bowie concert:

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Fellow [SHORTS SERIES - 2015]

I had a lot of fun putting this film together way back when. I chronicled production throughout - click on the "Fellow" tag below to read up on what happend,  when.

Now, edited and complete at last:


Thanks to everybody who helped me put this together. It is the closest I've yet come to getting my vision on screen.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Mary Duffy

During 2016 I lost my grandmother, Mary Duffy. Today would have been her 80th birthday, so I thought it was the ideal time to pay tribute to the woman and her life.

Nan was born in Birmingham, 1937 (and definitely not 1936 like I believed for years and years!). I know her mother was very stern, and loved a drink. She had two sisters, both significantly younger than Nan, and would go on to marry a man named Frank in the 1950s. It led to 8 children, although one died during pregnancy. After my Dad was born, Nan and Frank separated - and Nan faced the prospect of life as a single mum... of 7!

Soon, though, she met Michael. Although not biologically so, I consider him my grandad. He took Dad and my aunts/uncles in, and helped raised them. In the 1980s everybody moved to Manchester, but stayed close-nit.

I'd visit Nan an awful lot growing up - using once a week as a child, and fortnightly as a teen. I remember we'd go every Saturday, and all the adults would settle down to play cards... leaving me and the other kids there that day to find our own distractions! Interestingly, it was Nan who bought me my first comic books (Judgement On Gotham being the first, but afterwards it was old grab bagged mags like Detective Comics, or League of Superheroes). Though I didn't fall in love with the medium through these books, I appreciate that she made me aware of them, and in part recognise I am where I am now due to her childhood influence.

She influenced me in lots of other ways too. Nan was full of great advice. How to deal with awful customers. Recipes. Fixing things. That sort of thing. It was always nice to be handed down the information, and learn from her. She was very resourceful, making a lot from very little. I'm proud to say it's a trait I picked up on, and made my own!

For the last 10-15 years she had been ill, and steadily getting worse. In her younger days she was a smoker, and the habit had caught up with her, as she suffered from Emphysema. Often out of breath, it limited what she could do, but she continued to have a zest for life. My last few visits to see her she was bed ridden, and parts of her body looked painfully swollen. But she still smiled, and was pleased to see me. I didn't see her before she died, as it happened so suddenly. As such, I don't have a last great story to tell of me and her. I remember saying goodbye to her in June, and as I was leaving, walking down the stairs, even despite everything, she did shout "I love you" though. I shouted the same back. It was nice that we parked things there.

At her funeral a word was repeated when describing Nan - "formidable". I think that's true. She was the family matriarch, and so everybody looked to her for direction. As a result, she commanded an awful lot of respect, but exuded authority. You didn't dare cross paths with her, or deviate from what she had planned. I remember once eating a steak at her house, even though I hate steak. I was just too intimidated to say no! I ended up in hospital, as my stomach couldn't digest what I had eaten!

But she loved her family, and they mattered most to her. A mother of seven, grandmother to over 30, and great-grandmother to a dozen others... what a legacy she leaves behind in terms of people, and their footsteps on this planet. It's a shame she is not alive to see what happens to them all next. I regret that she won't see any children I may have, or meet my eventual girlfriend.

Goodbye Nan, I miss you.