Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Dad's 2017 Visit

This past weekend was fun, as Dad visited me in London. Over the years he's done so before - once to drop my possessions off in November 2010, then half a dozen times over 2011-2013. Every year since then he's visited once a year, and it's always an interesting experience.

This time around he arrived on Friday night, and left again on Sunday (we were joined by my step-mum Penny from the Saturday). It was nice to catch-up with him on the Friday as he gave me various updates about his life (his work, his health, what he's been up to, other family members) and I updated him about mine. We had food from the local chippy for dinner, and then headed to the Prince Charles Cinema in Central London to watch the next film in their Wes Anderson season - The Royal Tenenbaums. It was risky; I wasn't sure of Dad's relationship with Wes Anderson films. As it turned out, he liked the film a lot, and it was a great evening.

On Saturday we met my step-mum in Central London, and then headed to the Hunterian Musumn for a look around there as, after I visited the place myself last week, I thought it would right up my parents' street. It was! They loved it, and found the exhibitions fascinating. Afterwards we headed into my old stomping ground, Shepherds Bush, where we watched the latest X-Men movie Logan. I thought it was great! A perfect way to round out Hugh Jackman's 17-year stint as Wolverine.

For dinner on the Saturday we headed to Nandos (which I haven't had for months, and not suffered cravings for!) and then we headed home where we played lots of Sporcle quizzes, and my parents enjoyed a drink.

The next day we visited Greenwich, a place my step-mum loved. We drank coffee, looked around the Cutty Sark, walked up to the observatory, and then walked a strange underground tunnel that goes the length of the Thames, from bank to bank. Time defeated us after that, and we headed to Euston where the pair of them took the train home again.

As usual, it was great that they made the effort to see me, and I enjoyed their company. Yes, Dad embellished many-a-story, which you have to take with a pinch of salt - but that's just his character, and as much as it can grate you do get use to it. Overall then, a great weekend!

Mum's scheduled to visit in June, and my sister Sarah has said she'd like to visit soon too. I look forward to both - as well as Dad's next trip here!

Friday, 3 March 2017

My Sister Donna

It's a happy birthday to my sister Donna, who turns 27 today!


To mark the occasion I thought I'd write a few words about her, and share my love for the woman she's become.


Donna was born just over a year after me, in 1990. Being so close in age meant we had a lot in common, and it's true to say that we shared a great many experiences and grew up together. As adults I think we have a very similar thought process - although that's not to pretend there's differences too.

For starters, Donna has settled down in her life. She has a partner, kids, a house, even dogs. She's been in her job for years, and progressed up the career ladder. I, meanwhile, haven't achieved any of that. It means I'm a lot more of a free spirit, and she's the more mature, thoughtful one. I respect that about her.


Above: Me & Donna's daughter, Brooke.

One of the other things I respect a lot is her dedication to family. It sometimes seems to me that everything she does revolves around her family in some way. She is very selfless with her children, and me when I visit - always going that extra mile to make time for me, when I know she must have a busy life to lead, and going above/beyond, like when she picks me up at 11pm when I get into the train station!

Of course, I can talk to her about most things, and trust her. Yes, we disagree - but that is perfectly healthy, and it strikes me that Donna - perhaps - has much in common with the very best of my friends. By that, I enjoy her company a lot, and it's mutual. We enjoy talking, and learning more about one another. We like to make journeys together, and miss one another when we're not around.

Going off that, then - Donna is my longest friend.

Since 1990!

Here's to many more years.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Nine Days Off

"Close your eyes and I'll kiss you,
Tomorrow I'll miss you,
Remember I'll always be true.
And then while I'm away,
I'll write home every day,
And I'll send all my loving to you."
All My Loving, The Beatles

I've spent the last 10 days on a much deserved holiday - with my last week off being the first week of July last year! I'd have loved to have gone somewhere abroad, or even just adventuring in the UK. Sadly, my finances don't allow it - so it was a quiet affair, staying at home and keeping myself amused. I think I managed it.

This is what I got up to:

Saturday 18th February

Here we go!

On my first day of holiday, I wanted something of a lazy day - but equally, I wanted to get out the house and do something. The solution was simple: Greenwich!





It's a picturesque area of the city, and just a few short bus rides away from where I live. I journeyed there mid-afternoon, and had a great time looking around Greenwich Market, and the area's many book stores. (I picked up Raymond Briggs' Ethel & Ernest - released again following the triumphant debut of its animated adaptation last Christmas)

I headed home, where I watched Stranger Things with another housemate, Riv, and did some reading.

Sunday 19th February

My birthday! (But I've told this tale already - see here)

Monday 20th February

Man, I slept today! I had a solid 12 hours over night, but I headed into central London - where I met my friend/former work colleague Kathryn. She's now the General Manager at Picturehouse Central, and doing really well for herself. Time only allowed us a quick catch-up, but nevertheless it was good to see her.

I then headed to my favourite cinema, the Prince Charles just off Leicester Square, where I watched a double bill of movies focused on A.I. interfaces - Electric Dreams and Her. Apparently this is the only 35mm print of Electric Dreams still being shown in cinemas, and is something of a rarity. I loved it! Yes, it's pure 1980's cheese - but it's charming, has heart, and a kick ass soundtrack. I'd highly recommend tracking it down!

(I'd seen Her already, a few years ago when it was originally released. My opinion of it remains high, but it feels more poignoit now - my own break-up traumas still fresh in my mind.)

Tuesday 21st February

Today was the day I finished writing my new short comic - The Beautiful Ones: King of Wank. It's difficult to explain. Basically... it's a mickey take of hipsters, and their need to have a distinctive 'thing'. It's funny, and quirky, and not at all like me! Today I wrapped my redrafting; bouncing ideas back and forth with my friend and editor Jonathan, until we both reached a standpoint of being satisfied with the strip.

(I have to admit, I am still not overly impressed by it - but I'm my own worst critic, and everybody else who has read it likes it).

In the evening I watched the usual TV and read more of Judge Dredd, Rachel Rising and Marvel Comic's The Vision (which is fantastic!).

Wednesday 22nd February

Today was another cinema day, as I ventured into central to watch an incredible anime called Your Name & a classic of European Surrealist Cinema -  L'Age D'or (which is absolutely mental). I also picked up 2000AD's 40th Anniversary Prog - which is a thing of beauty, with stunning covers by Carlos Ezquerra and David Aja.

Later on I sat in the Picturehouse Central cafe and plotted out my next comic short - which for now is called Starship S.O.S.. I'm quietly confident about it, and think it could turn out to be something really great.

I don't know who, but somebody discovered my blog today. I had been posting on Instagram again for the first time in several months - and my statcounter has seen a spike in visits. At first I got terribly excited thinking it might be my ex, but I'm pretty certain it's not. A shame. If it's you, say hi!

Thursday 23rd February


Storm Doris hit the UK today, and I stayed at home to avoid it. I took the opportunity to clean up and reorganise my room. It's the first time I've shuffled shelving around, but with the amount of books I've bought since moving in, I needed to do so to make room!

Aside from the nitty gritty of moving things around, I also watched several episodes of Tom Hanks' The Eighties documentary, and a number of Louis Theroux programmes. I love his stuff!

Friday 24th February

With my holiday rapidly coming to an end, I plotted Darkened Avenue issue #033 'Pressed'. I had put it off for long enough - and realised that if I didn't write it soon, I would fail in my "2 comics per month" challenge.



I once more headed into central, and collected my Bowie Moonage Daydreams print from Orbital Comics. It's a fantastic piece by artist Jamie Coe, homaging the cover for David Bowie's Changes.

The day was capped off watching Rushmore at the Prince Charles Cinema. It's the second in their Wes Anderson season. I met a nice girl called Mimi at the screening. She's a fan too!

Saturday 25th February



Today me and my housemate Riv headed out to visit the Hunterian Museum, which houses lots of biological exhibits and is a fascinating venue. I took him to visit Forbidden Planet, before we headed home and I watched some rubbish Saturday night TV.

Sunday 26th February

Because I'm rubbish, I'd put off writing the 2nd Darkened Avenue comic of the month. Yes, I'd planned it on Friday (well, the first half of it...) but I still had the heavy lifting of writing it to go. So today I dedicated myself to putting it together. I woke and wrote 6 pages, before I started to get restless and distracted. So, I headed on out to Woolwich Starbucks and wrote there! I returned home with an impressive 12 pages done and dusted - and was convinced that I'd manage to finish the remaining 10 pages on Monday/Tuesday (and, you'll be pleased to hear, I did!)

I called Mum in the evening and spoke to her for an hour, before having a bath, and reading more from Rachel Rising and the first issue of Nailbiter. Then... then... it was bed, nice and early, my holidaying over for the next few months.

***

I didn't get up to much, but that's OK. I needed a bit of a rest, having not been on holiday since early July last year. Besides, I don't have the money to go travelling like I want. If I did I'd have gone to Dundee, Estonia, or Paris. Nevermind. Always next time.

Ah. Next time!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Behold! My Lists Of 2017!!

A rundown of cinema visits, comics read, and everything I've written across the year.


[RI] indicates a Re-Issued classic.
[PC] indicates viewed at a one-off showing at the Prince Charles Cinema, London.
[2000AD] were shown during the 40 Years Of 2000AD event.

JANUARY

Inherent Vice [PC]
The Big Lebowski [PC]
Split

FEBRUARY

Groundhog Day [PC]
Bottle Rocket [PC]
Strontium Dog: Search & Destroy [2000AD]
Future Shock!: The Story of 2000AD [2000AD]
The Batman Lego Movie - in 3D
Filmaggedon Quiz
John Wick: Chapter 2
Electric Dreams [PC]
Her [PC]
Your Name
L'Age D'Or [PC]
Rushmore [PC]

*****


JANUARY

Judge Dredd: Case Files Vol. 4
Scalped: Vol. 1
Jupiter's Legacy: Vol. 1
Chronaunts: Vol. 1
Revenge
2000AD: Lenny Zero
Brass Sun: Vol. 1 Book 1
Starlight
Jupiter's Circle: Vol. 1
Judge Dredd: Case Files Vol. 5
Scalped: Vol. 2
Sweet Tooth: Vol. 1
Frank Miller's Holy Terror
Wild's End: Vol. 1
Sweet Tooth: Vol. 2
Rachel Rising: Omnibus (Issues 1-4)
We Can Never Go Home: Vol. 1
Brass Sun: Vol. 1 Book 2

FEBRUARY

Rachel Rising: Omnibus (Issues 5-32)
Descender: Vol. 1
Judge Dredd: Case Files Vol. 6
Plutona
No Mercy: Vol. 1
Brass Sun: Vol. 1 Book 3
Lazarus: Vol. 1
The Vision: Vol. 1
The Vision: Vol. 2
Judge Dredd: Case Files Vol. 7
Nailbiter: Vol. 1

*****


JANUARY

Lazarus (Kings Cross Theatre)

FEBRUARY

40 Years Of 2000AD (Event - Novotel, Hammersmith)

*****


COMPLETED

[C] = Comic
[S] = Short Film
[P] = Prose

Darkened Avenue: Issue 030 - Milk [C]
Darkened Avenue: Issue 031 - Justice [C]
Darkened Avenue: Issue 032 - Arrivals [C] [read here]
The Beautiful Ones: King of Wank! [C]
Darkened Avenue: Issue 033 - Pressed [C]

WORKS IN PROGRESS

Writing has started - just not quite finished!

Ezra & His Human [C]
Starship [C]

Little Green Running Man, Pfft... Queues! & Dead Stock were all written in 2016, but work continues on their artwork.

*****

The lists will be updated and re-posted each month throughout 2017!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Self: 10 Years On

Growing up, I'd always wanted to write TV and film. I think watching Joss Whedon so effortlessly put together Buffy the Vampire Slayer was so inspiring in that regard. It's why I decided to pursue film making at college - where I made my first footsteps out into the world of script writing.


First up, April 3rd - somewhat of a failure, as the script didn't do what it was suppose to and the production was flawed to say the very least.

It's why I consider my next short - Self - to be the first truly 'me' script/film. Astonishingly, the film is 10 years old this week. Here's how I described the writing process and production on this very blog, all those years ago:

23/01/2007: Walking today I came up with a neat little idea (totally unlike something I'd ever do!) that I think would work as an experimental film. It's called Self and will explore the inner most thoughts of somebody my own age - and if it comes off it should be a real rollercoaster of a ride.

I'm only at the planning stages for Self yet, but I want it to be an essentially 'easy' film to make - with minimal cast and crew needed. Hopefully I'll start work on it at the weekend, and I'll report back my findings here asap.

27/01/2007: I've now made very basic plans for Self and hope to spend much of Sunday working upon it.

06/02/2007: I'm currently halfway through writing Self - since the last time I posted here, the development on the film has come on leaps and bounds. I've solidified my ideas, and at last got some sort of decent closure. In all respects then, all that's left to do is storyboard and then film.

However, I'm still missing my dialogue. Throughout the script, I've skipped writing down the dialogue because - as I've said dozens of times before - it's something I'm appallingly bad at.

Anyroad, my film uses narration so I can afford to spend a little longer working on the actual dialogue. I can (in theory anyway) film the film sequences and add the speech on later on. So I'm sorted! (If only it were that simple...)

12/02/2007: I'm halfway through production on my Self project, and it's leaving me with a few headaches. You see, I'm making the entire film all on my own; and every single decision has to be made my me. Which means that I've got a lot of work to do. I have to write/storyboard/perform/record/edit the film all by myself - and at times, even I'm lost as to where I'm up to!

13/02/2007: Work on Self is continuing thick and fast - but it looks although Thursday filming date has now been postponed by 24 hours, and will now take place on Friday. The guy I wanted working on the main camera, a friend of mine for almost five years now, wasn't available for the first filming date; so I've pushed back filming to accommodate him.

15/02/2007: Right now I'm feeling a little sickly. Whilst setting my bedroom up ready for filming of Self there tomorrow I encountered a real beast; and one that I have a real hate/hate relationship with - dust. It's a terribly nasty critter that somehow manages to get everywhere; clogging up book shelves, and making the television set unbearable to watch. Everywhere I turn it's there; and I swear I'm allergic to it, for the stuff gives me a right sore throat and headache. Damn you dust!

25/02/2007: I've spent most of my days tucked away in a tiny edit suite before a minute computer - editing away at Self. Friday was nice, as it gave me an opportunity to work with a close friend of mine, Jack Porter. He 'guest directed' a short scene of mine for Self - and did a pretty good job; although the scene is completely different to everything else in the film - which is no bad thing. I'll have to plan to work on a full length feature with him one day...

05/03/2007: Over the past week I've been editing my Self film (which is at last complete - hoorah!)

***

In the ten years since I have, of course, gone on and made a sequel - Fellow (click here to view it). On top of that, I've made another 12 short films since then, and have now moved into the world of comic book writing. But you can trace all that back to Self - the first time I ever felt like a proper media writer, and not just some pretender.

It's not perfect, and is a product of its time, but I am immensely proud of the film, and its legacy.