Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Say Thee... Okay!

There have been rumours knocking around for a couple of months now that Kenneth Brannagh will be directing the next big Marvel movie, an adaptation of Thor, god of Thunder and scion of Asgard. Now Brannagh doing something nerdy like that seemed somewhat unlikely (although he did do Frankenstein, and the less said about that, the better), and all in all it sounded like someone making a rather superficial connection between the director's love of Shakespeare and the dubious quasi-Shakespearean dialogue associated with the thunder god's comic appearances.

Brannagh's Henry V was on this afternoon, and I was reminded of how good it is as a film; not only that, but it's a pretty convincing audition piece for Thor: The Movie. It's dramatic, never slow, and there's a stonking battle at the end, filmed exactly the way I'd want to see Thor, all blood, tears, rain and mud. Great stuff.

And if Brian Blessed doesn't play Odin, there's no justice in the world.

Or maybe Volstagg...

Monday, November 17, 2008

As Nails

Now, I quite liked Ang Lee's Hulk; the ending was nonsensical, but the rest was pretty solid, and those who thought Eric Bana's performance was too restrained were missing the point. So I wasn't expecting much of the sort-of-sequel, particularly after lukewarm reviews from pretty much everywhere, only to enjoy it even more. It's not as clever as Lee's version, but I think the key thing is that it's not trying to be; the film takes the simple premise of a big green bloke smashing stuff and does it as well as possible. Not fussy, not special, just rock solid. It would have been nice to have seen the Hulk get stronger and larger during the big final fight, and I would have preferred him to do the big jumps from the cartoon and comics rather than the tiny little Spideyesque hops we got, but those are my only complaints. Not bad at all.

I could knock a burglar out with that... I was dead pleased this week to discover The Girly Comic Book v1 on my doormat. I contributed to the first issue of this anthology, ooh, about seven years ago now, and I never expected that contribution to appear again, so I was incredibly proud when editor Selina Lock got in contact to let me know that the story I drew back then would make it into the collected edition. I've had my name on the outside of a hardback comic collection before, but this is the first time my work's been included inside one. If only it were better work! But as Meg points out, whenever I'm not pleased with my current output, I can look back to see how much I've improved.

All of which is not exactly selling it, but The Girly Comic Book v1 really is a neat little collection full of great little comic stories, and it's quite eclectic too. The foreword from Mike Carey compares it to the generally excellent Flight, and I don't think he's far off. You can buy a copy for a very reasonable £15 at the Factor Fiction website.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Legend

About ten or so years ago, Channel Four had a brief kung fu season of late night films, I think on Saturdays. One of those was The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk, a thrilling mix of martial arts, family drama, political tensions and vaguely Shakespearean comedy. I loved it to bits and was very pleased that I'd taped it.

That tape went missing a long time ago, and I've been trying to find a dvd copy for a while, only to discover that the Weinsteins had bought the international dvd rights and, as the Weinsteins tend to do, butchered the film and slapped an ugly dub on it, without giving the option to watch it in the original language. Oh dear.

The only option was to buy a copy direct from China, but I'm always wary of that route, as I've heard too many stories of dodgy bootleg copies being sold on the sly. Nonetheless, on Friday I went ahead and ordered one, thinking that a bootleg of the original is better than a pristine copy of the Weinstein atrocity.

Then I read this week's Radio Times, and discovered that it's on, in the original Cantonese, this Friday. Argh.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Funny Pages

Lots of newspapers have comics sections, but that tends to mean a little pull-out with reprints of Peanuts or somesuch. I recently discovered that the Guardian has a slightly more ambitious comics section, on Saturdays I think; this morning I discovered that they actually have a pretty good comics discussion and news section on their website. I don't think I've ever seen a print version of it, but it's good to see nonetheless. It's not even as highbrow and faux-trendy as one might expect, either.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Life in Comics

Borrowed from Rol...

Favourite regular series right now?
I'm not reading many regular series right now, because I'm tired of all the crap. Sorry. But I'm still really enjoying Invincible; it's a simple, solid superhero title that reminds me a lot of the old Stern/Frenz Amazing Spider-Man, only with more gratuitous violence. I could do without that bit, although I understand its inclusion.

Comic book character you only recently discovered/started reading?
Er... the only title I'm reading from the Big Two (and what a joke that concept has become) is Captain Britain and MI:13, but he's been knocking around for decades, so I wouldn't say I've "discovered" him.

If you could draw/write one character who would it be?
The Avengers. I know it's a cheat, but I don't care.

Alternatively, Death's Head.

Are you a fan of the big multi-issue crossover extravaganzas?
In theory, but they're never any good, are they? They're done far too often nowadays; both Marvel and DC have been in a constant state of crossover for about three years now. They always seem to confuse "epic" with "long", and they always promise much but deliver little. I think the last crossover I actually enjoyed was Operation: Galactic Storm, and that was 1992.

Last comic book series that you dropped and why?
Ha. Pretty much all of them. I finally gave up on the Avengers titles because I couldn't justify paying money to see Bendis (puttup!) run them into the ground; I even stopped accepting the free review copies I got through Comics Bulletin because I got worn out by the interminable awfulness of it all.

And then there's Spider-Man. The recent reboot was as wrong-headed, inane, and smug as Boris Johnson at the Olympics, and I couldn't go on reading.

I never thought I'd drop Spidey and the Avengers, but Marvel proved me wrong. However, Bendis (puttup!) is leaving Mighty Avengers, the series he created but proved unable to actually write properly; taking over is Dan Slott, who was one of the Spidey reboot writers, but that mess was editorially-mandated, so I'm cautiously optimistic about his Avengers. It will probably be rendered unreadable by being forced to participate in the braindead crossover of the moment, but I can hope.

Favourite character?
Spider-Man, Death's Head, Rocket Raccoon, Thor. In that order. I think.

Are you a DC or a Marvel fan?
I really don't get DC's heroes. They all seem so stiff and conservative, your grandad's superheroes, if you will. Also, DC reprints weren't nearly as plentiful as Marvel's when I was a nipper, so I grew up on the latter.

Do you remember your first comic/series?



I remember it from a reprint in a Grandreams Spider-Man annual in the early 80's. While I'm sure I read comics before, that story stuck with me all my life, and is largely responsible for me swapping the Black Cat in for the simpering Gwen Stacy in the classic Spidey love triangle.

Is Watchmen the movie going to be as good as the comic book?
Nowhere nearly. The thing is, Watchmen isn't a great story; there's a decent twist, and it's a nicely layered mystery, but it's not a brilliant plot. What's great about Watchmen is the density of the storytelling, the repeated motifs, the playing with the structure and format of the comic book, the focus on aging superheroes past their prime, and the examination of the superhero psyche. All that structural stuff will, by definition, be chucked out in an adaptation (to me, the film looks less realistic than the comic), and I'm not expecting in-depth character psychoanalysis from the director of the Dawn of the Dead remake...

Favourite comic book movie?
Spider-Man 2 without a doubt.

Worst comic book movie?
It's either Batman and Robin or LXG. I'm tempted to put Batman Begins in there too, but it's partially redeemed by Gary Oldman and Michael Caine.

Character you’d like to see in a movie?
Thor. I hear it's in the works, but it'll probably be awful. They should do it either as a gloriously over the top fantasy, pulling liberally from Kirby and Simonson, or drench it rain, blood and mud and play up the viking aspect.

Series that you’d like to see on TV?
I'm not a fan of Daredevil, but it baffles me that there hasn't been a TV show already. You can do the superhero stuff, and since he's low powered, it'll be cheap on the special effects; you're not going to need to spend millions on a cgi Galactus, for example. You can do plenty of the soap opera love life stuff, since Matt Murdock's got more than a couple of notches on his bedpost. And then there's the courtroom stuff. There's enough material for three shows in there.

Too Slow

For a good few months now, I've been chucking around the idea of a post-zombie-apocalypse sitcom. Not in any serious way, since I'm not a writer and am unlikely to ever be one, but I've mentioned it to a few people. I mean, "zombie apocalypse" is a situation, after all, and I've long held that you can find something to laugh about, no matter how grim the situation. And the genre standard of the house occupied by six or so survivors drawn from various backgrounds tallies up nicely with the usual sitcom small cast/one set structure.

Like all my best ideas, it's just been done by someone else.

Ballcocks.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dying in Public

If you're on Facebook, then please pop over to my new group and vote. Following on from the likes of Garen, Tony and David, I'm going to be doing one of these daily art challenge thingies, only my one won't be halfway as good, since they're all proper artists.

Anyway, the basic idea is that every other day, I'll be drawing one cartoon/comic character from the beginning of the alphabet and one from the end, engaged in some sort of conflict. Starting with A versus Z, we'll then move to B versus Y, then C versus X, and so on. If I've done my sums right, we'll end with M versus N. You can vote for one of the combatants, for both, for the winner, and the type of conflict. I thought it was quite simple, but some people seem to be confused already. Oops.

Anyway, if you have time and a Facebook account (despite it being run by a bunch of Republicans), then do head over and vote. I will more than likely post the images here too.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quickie Film Reviews: Casshern (2004)

Robocop + Hellboy II + Holocaust analogy + Christ metaphor = Utterly mental and probably not much good. 6/10.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's a Kind of Magic

I wasn't expecting much of the BBC's new Merlin; it looked a bit cheap and tacky, and somewhat juvenile (and yes, I know this, Robin Hood and Doctor Who are all ostensibly for kids, but the latter two are rarely juvenile in tone). So I was pleasantly surprised by the first episode.

The costumes and setting are disappointingly generic pseudo-medieval fantasy, and I've never been a fan of that approach to Arthur; that said, unlike the Robin Hood story, which has ties to an actual historical period, this is myth and speculation, so I can let it pass, even if I'd prefer a more gritty rain-and-mud approach. What makes it work is the writing, a blend of solid plotting and some witty dialogue, and the characters; Colin Morgan makes for a charming Merlin, confident yet vulnerable in equal measure, and his relationship with the young Arthur, played as a posh prat (do we have an equivalent to the US "Jock"?) by Bradley James, promises to be an interesting inversion of the hero-sidekick dynamic. Anthony Head also entertains with an Uther Pendragon who's equal parts fascist bully and broken idealist.

It's not as gloriously over-the-top as Robin Hood, but Merlin is decent enough filler while we wait for Who to come back, and I'll carry on watching.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tabula Rasa

(I know.)

I've never been particularly satisfied with using the mouse for digital art; it's not particularly intuitive, and it strains the arm and hand in a way that the pencil/pen doesn't, so I've often looked into the idea of using a graphics tablet. However, I've never taken the plunge because, despite being a gamer for decades, I've always been concerned about how the hand/eye coordination thing is going to work; the very concept of "drawing" at the desk but having the results appear somewhere else bothers me slightly. And I don't know anyone local or well enough that has a tablet that I could borrow and try out. Also, the things have been hideously expensive up until very recently. So it's always been a case of a lot of umming and ahing and not much tabletting.

So birthdays are good, because people can buy you what they like, and you don't have to worry about the burden of buyer's remorse, even if the gift is rubbish (it's not) and will spend the rest of its life shunned at the back of a cupboard (it won't). This year, I got a Wacom Bamboo One, and while I haven't done much with it yet, I've had a bit of a play, and I think I can work with it. It is weird, but not in the insurmountable way I thought it would be. It will take a lot of practice before I'm anywhere near competent with it, but it should be good enough for my purposes; at the moment, I mainly use the computer for colouring and lettering, but I could see myself drawing directly on the screen once I'm more confident with the gear.

One question though: how is the pen powered? It's very light, so I don't think there's a battery in there, yet it has to be powered somehow for the buttons to work. Doesn't it? I'm confused, and the minimal documentation isn't very helpful. This is the kind of thing that occupies my thoughts, so do help if you can.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Not Dead Yet

Work has been insanely busy of late, what with it being the time when we're enrolling all the new hairdressers and mechanics for the year. It's been a lot of long days, so I've not had much else to be getting on with. Nonetheless, I've got some showing off to do.

There's another "Green Day" (argh) article up here, this time on the Young Avengers, Marvel's best idea in ages (not including nextwave, obviously), and one which has been characteristically squandered. I think I might do Rocket Raccoon next.

And I also did an interview with Andy Winter and Mick Trimble for their short graphic novel Septic Isle, a nifty spy thriller which is out in November.

Also, real online Scrabble isn't anywhere as good as Scrabulous was, despite all the bells and whistles, and that new Google browser is a bit naff.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Dark Knight

I would have liked for this review to have gone up at Comics Bulletin, but due to the vagaries of international release dates, I missed the Slugfest by a week. Still, what are blogs for?

(I don't give scores for things here, but over at CB I do, and this would get four bullets out of five.)

I didn't much like Batman Begins. The cinematography and editing were ill-judged, relying on far too much in the way of MTV-style fast-paced cutting and never letting the audience get a good look at what was going on. What plot there was was choppy and confused, veering listlessly from storyline to storyline, with a feeble attempt to tie everything up into a cohesive but nonsensical whole by the end. Katie Holmes had barely anything to do, which is something for which I suppose we should be grateful, because she was awful, and Christian Bale was dull as ditchwater, sleepwalking his way to a paycheque as Bruce Wayne, and growling like a disgruntled terrier as Batman. Worst of all, the film overreached for po-faced seriousness, thinking somehow that this meant it was more intelligent and highbrow than its predecessors, when there was in fact nothing to it below the grime and darkness. All that said, the film looked quite good (except for the lumpy Batsuit), when we were actually allowed to look at anything for more than a picosecond, and both Gary Oldman and Michael Caine were excellent in their rather undeveloped roles.

So yeah, I wasn't exactly leaping with excitement over the sequel. Indeed, I was much more excited about Hellboy II, which is due out in Britain sometime in 2017, I believe.

So I was pleased to discover that The Dark Knight is a vast improvement over the first film, particularly in terms of writing and editing. This time, we actually get to see Batman now and then, and yet the film-makers retain that slight sense of him being an unnatural, otherworldly presence by occasionally showing him from the perspective of the common person, so we'll be sitting in a car with a family when a black shape whizzes by (the Batbike), or we'll follow a boy's line of sight up into a darkened corner to see a pair of eyes looking back, and the vague shape of something huge and dark perched up there. While the idea of Batman as an elusive phantom is hugely important to the mood of this revamp, it's also good to actually see him once in a while; after all, that's what we've paid our money for. All that said, some problems remain; while the action scenes thankfully now make sense, the editing elsewhere in the film is a bit choppy, with scenes switching abruptly for no particular reason.

Christopher Nolan wrote the previous film by himself, but is joined by his brother this time around, and the improvement in the writing is astounding. The Dark Knight is actually about something; competing concepts of order, chaos and justice, as embodied by Batman, the Joker and Harvey Dent respectively. The clash between these philosophies, and the way they change and develop as a result of that clash, is what drives the plot. And there is a plot this time around, which is a blessed relief after the seemingly random nonsense of the first film. On the other hand, the dialogue is a bit choppy at times, with characters occasionally breaking into speeches about their feelings and motivations, instead of conveying them through their actions.

Christian Bale's performance also shows marked improvement. Bale seems to have less to do in this film, but does seem more comfortable in the role. His Bruce Wayne is much improved, although his Batman retains that ridiculous growl. Furthermore, I suspect that the film-makers have told him to emphasise his mouth movements when he speaks, to make up for the rigidity of the cowl, but he's gone a bit over the top, and most of the film consists of him looking like he's chewing on tobacco while having some kind of facial spasm.

Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent is a tad disappointing, as he's potentially the strongest character in the film, but instead is not given enough to do. He hovers around as a sort of contrast to Batman, and to a lesser extent, the Joker, until his accident, when he just runs around shouting a lot. In this film, Harvey is the negative space that defines Batman's role, and while that works, it does short change the character somewhat. Meanwhile, Maggie Gyllenhaal is a huge improvement on the pudding-faced Katie Holmes, since she can at least act, but the character remains underwritten and largely pointless.

Of course, the performance everyone will be talking about is Heath Ledger's Joker, and while it is definitely a strong role, I think that's more down to the writing than Ledger. As mentioned above, the writers have given the Joker a philosophy and meaning, and to me it's that philosophy that drives the character, rather than the actor; while Ledger was a good actor (although I'm not sure he was quite as good as all the hysterical tributes following his death suggested), any quality actor could have done a portrayal of similar strength given the material. For me, it is Gary Oldman's Gordon who steals the film with a very human and natural portrayal of a simple man trying to do his best in a world gone mad. Oldman is quiet, thoughtful and real in the role, a humble hero, but a hero nonetheless. Towards the end of the film, when Gordon speaks of Harvey Dent as being the pure white knight, the "best of us", he seems to be speaking about himself, but is too modest and down-to-earth to perhaps even realise it. It is Ledger who will inevitably receive all the plaudits, but it's Oldman who deserves them.

The film also drops some interesting hints and potential continuity seeds. Early on, we see a nascent Bat Army, reminding us of Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns, there's an oblique reference to the new armour being cat proof, and the weasely ex-employee of Wayne Enterprises who discovers Batman's true identity has more than a hint of Riddlerishness to him. I'm probably reading too much into that last one, but I suspect we will see him again in some capacity, if not a costume, and I'd be very surprised if we don't see Catwoman in the next film.

All in all, Tim Burton's 1989 blockbuster remains the better film, I think, and the 1966 movie is more ingenious, but The Dark Knight is nonetheless a good solid film, and it has convinced me that this update of the franchise is worth doing. I eagerly anticipate the inevitable third instalment.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Monkey Magic!

The Beijing Olympics. Bit of a dodgy subject, and I'm not sure I approve of our athletes going out there to compete; after all, we boycotted South Africa's sporting events and teams for decades. Still, politics aside, at least one good thing has come of the event already:



Brilliant.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Watch Out!

Right, so is everyone excited about the Watchmen trailer because it's any good? Or has the fact that it's, you know, Watchmen, distracted them from the dodgy lighting and pedestrian cinematography on show?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Life in Movies

Over here, Rol lists the best film from each year of his life, and gets some of them wrong. Here's my list, which probably tells you an awful lot about my tastes and personality. Apparently, I'm really quite fond of horror and scifi and am easily bored by "proper" films. Who knew?

1978
Okay, technically I wasn't born until 1979, but Halloween is my favourite film ever, so it makes the cut. Ha.

1979
The Warriors because it's the best video game adaptation ever made, even though it predates the beat-em-up genre by years and its own adaptation by about fifteen.

1980
It really is a toss-up between The Blues Brothers and Flash Gordon, but Jake and Ellwood just pip the magnificent comic strip glamgasm. Ask me again in a month, and I'll have gone the other way, most likely.

1981
A really tricky year, this one. 1981 gave us An American Werewolf in London, Clash of the Titans, Escape from New York, Excalibur, Mad Max 2, Superman II and Time Bandits, all favourites of mine. But 1981 also gave us Raiders of the Lost Ark, and that'll do the job nicely.

1982
Conan the Barbarian. I know I probably shouldn't, but I adore this film.

1983
It has to be Return of the Jedi. An unpopular choice, most likely, but it's not a great year for me, and unlike 99% of Star Wars fans, I've never been bothered by the Ewoks. 1983 and 1997 flavours only are acceptable.

1984
A much better year, but as such much more difficult to pick just one film. Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (possibly my favourite of the series), The Karate Kid, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Night of the Comet, and The Terminator all came out this year. I think we'll go with Peter Venkman and the gang, with Nausicaä coming a very close second, and Indy trailing by not very much at all in third.

1985
There's not much of a contest here. It's Ewoks: The Battle for Endor all the way.



No, it's Back to the Future. Obviously.

1986
How can I choose between Aliens, Big Trouble in Little China, The Fly, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Highlander, Labyrinth, Little Shop of Horrors, Stand By Me or Transformers? It's between Wil Wheaton and his pals, Optimus Prime's noble demise and Matthew Broderick breaking the Fourth Wall, but Ferris Bueller, you're my hero.

1987
Bad Taste and Evil Dead II come out this year, and I'm torn. In half. By a zombie. We also get Full Metal Jacket, The Lost Boys, Predator, The Princess Bride, Raising Arizona and Robocop, but I think that Bruce Campbell and his chainsaw just edge out Nicolas Cage and the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse. Just.

1988
We got Beetlejuice, and we got The Gump's last decent film in Big (which is not to say that it's a great film, or even a favourite of mine, but I feel it's worth mentioning). We also got buzzing silver balls of death in the excellent Phantasm II, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which has not aged a day. In the end though, it's a toss-up between my favourite Christmas film ever (Die Hard) and the best film about childhood ever made (My Neighbour Totoro). I think I have to give it to Totoro, even if the current DVD release has been contaminated by The Insipid Fanning Creature.

1989
"Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"

1990
Total Recall came out this year, and that's one of those films that I've never considered owning, but if I come across it while channel-hopping I will always, without fail, sit and watch it to the end. My pick of the year is Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, however, and that's about as highbrow as this list will get.

1991
Does anyone remember Meet the Applegates? Great film. Anyway, James Cameron made his last decent film this year, and there are far worse ways to end one's career than with Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

1992
As much as I like and admire A Few Good Men, Braindead runs away with the prize. Then slips a bit in all the blood.

1993
Any year that sees the release of Super Mario Brothers and Beethoven's 2nd is a good year for movies (sarcasm), but I have to pick The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk, which is the film that made me fall in love with martial arts cinema, and remains Jet Li's finest two-and-a-bit hours.

1994
Well, it has to be The Shawshank Redemption, doesn't it? Like everyone else, I came to it quite late, but it's just a brilliant, brilliant film about friendship and I will never tire of it.

1995
Wow. The first year where I've found it difficult to pick because nothing has really jumped out at me. Mallrats, I suppose.

1996
While I dearly love From Dusk Till Dawn, Fargo wins it.

1997
Alien 4 is eleven years old. Crikey. To my endless shame, I still haven't seen LA Confidential, despite borrowing it at least twice in order to do so. The Fifth Element is a definite contender, but the runaway winner is the absolutely perfect Princess Mononoke, one of the best movies ever made, animated or not.

1998
What a crappy year, with Armageddon/Deep Impact, Saving Private Ryan and Godzilla all festering like sores, an ill-advised film version of The Avengers and an even-more-ill-advised Blues Brothers sequel. On the other hand, there was American History X, The Big Lebowski, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Ringu. You know, I didn't like Lebowski at first, but I warm to it a little more each time I see it, and it may well become a favourite one day. But I think I'll have to go with Fear and Loathing.

1999
Ah, the year that saw M Night Shyamalan unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. Lots of good films from this year, and lots of interesting and unconventional films coming out of Hollywood too, although that didn't last. I mean, we got Fight Club, The Straight Story, Being John Malkovich and American Beauty in one year. We also got Inspector Gadget, The Virgin Suicides, and The Phantom Menace, but every silver lining has a cloud.

I'm told that I'm not going to get the full benefit of The Matrix, having never seen it in a cinema, but it's a moot point because as the years have gone by, Sleepy Hollow has supplanted it as my favourite from '99.

2000
O Brother, Where Art Thou? I used to think that this tied with Raising Arizona as my favourite Coens film, but since that didn't make the list, I suppose I've made a decision. Looks great, sounds great. Great great great. Unbreakable, Shyamalanadingdong's only good film, comes in a close second.

2001
The year I paid 20p to see Pearl Harbo(u)r. I still feel cheated. Spirited Away, Amélie and The Devil's Backbone are favourites, but The Fellowship of the Ring has to be my pick. I don't think the trilogy as a whole is a successful as it could have been, but the first instalment is spot on.

2002
Lots of good films (and also Attack of the Clones), but it has to be Spider-Man. It's not perfect, and Blade II is probably the better film, but Blade II didn't overwhelm me with joy from the first moment.

2003
The sequels did absolutely nothing for me, but I could watch Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again and not get bored of it. However, Orlando Bloom isn't in Kill Bill, and Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu are, so we have a clear winner.

2004
Spider-Man 2 finally supplanted the 1989 Batman as the best superhero film ever. They couldn't top this, and indeed didn't. Honourable mentions go to Hellboy and Kung Fu Hustle, but it was always a one-horse race.

2005
Ah the year in which everyone got really excited about a bunch of really very mediocre films. I'll pick Sin City for the lack of anything better.

2006
Oh dear, not much to choose from again. The Nightmare Before Christmas was re-released though, so I'll go with that.

2007
Stardust was very, very good, but The Bourne Ultimatum was just a touch better, even if it didn't have Rupert Everett in it. Bear in mind that I haven't seen No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood or that Jesse James thing yet, so things may change.

2008
Iron Man is my favourite film so far this year, but I'm expecting Hellboy II to topple it. I am not expecting much from Lost Boys 2 at all.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

New Who Clues (pt nothing)

Obviously, no Who this week, but rumours about the upcoming specials and fifth series are already beginning to circulate. This Christmas sees David Morrissey appearing as "The Doctor" alongside Tennant as The Doctor, a situation which reminded me of the audio story The One Doctor, in which a conman poses as the Time Lord, setting up alien invasions which he then repels... for a tidy fee. The new series hasn't been shy about going back to the audio and written adventures for inspiration, so it's no surprise that the more recent rumours suggest that the Chrimble story will turn out to be an adaptation of The One Doctor.

Much more unexpected is the suggestion that Sophie Aldred will be returning as proto-Rose companion Ace, and that Paul McGann might be making another appearance as the 8th Doctor! I'm not sure about that last one, as I'd imagine that there are some rights issues with bringing back anything from the Fox TV movie, but it would certainly be welcome, as McGann was a good Doctor in a terrible episode, and he deserves another chance. Oh, and Neil Gaiman has apparently been meeting with Series Five writer Stephen Moffat...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Crime and Punishment

Super Smash Brothers Brawl is brilliant. I knew it would be.

For those who might be interested, my Friend Code for the game is 0388 0323 8824, and my Wii Code is 7714 7295 2393 7107.

I've yet to unlock Sonic the Hedgehog, so I can make that mid-90's Sega versus Nintendo rivalry come to life, but I'll get there. I've waited long enough, after all; the game came out in Japan and the US circa 1758, and when it was finally released here last week, my copy was delivered to Meg's workplace and was then promptly stolen. The building CCTV caught the thief, who turned out to be someone from one of the other firms in the complex; the police have closed the case, however, deciding that there isn't enough evidence. That's despite the following in the footage:

Two people walk by the mailbox. Both can confirm the game was there.
Someone walks up to the mailbox, puts something in her bag, and leaves.
The earlier two people return and can confirm that the game was gone.

However, since the camera is at slightly the wrong angle, you can't see what exactly that third person puts in her bag, so the police have decided that they can't press the case. On the plus side, the building owners refunded the cost of the game, since it was stolen on company property.

This week's post also brought a copy of Rol Hirst's PJANG!, and this was thankfully not stolen. I haven't looked back on the art I provided since I finished it, and seeing it now makes me cringe a bit, but that's pretty common for me. I've heard that such a reaction is healthy, because it means you're aware of the faults in your work, and that's a first step to improvement. I hope so. The other two stories are illustrated by Tony McGee and Andrew Cheverton; I'm a huge fan of Tony's work (I thoroughly recommend Angel Nebula, in particular), but I have to say that Chev's strip is my favourite here. Part of that is down to the writing; it's the best of the three stories by far, a sort of revenge thriller with a creepy, almost Clive Barkerish, twist. Chev's art is what really grabbed me, though; I've not seen his artwork in print before, so I don't know if he usually goes for the Mike McMahon-esque style he uses here, but it's a striking approach and fits the unsettling tone of the story quite well.

Tony's work is good too, of course, and the writing in all three stories is as strong as I expect from Rol, but that one story is really good stuff, and easily worth the (very reasonable) £1.75 cover price. Sir Nigel of Lowrey disappoints by only providing a cover, but it's a great one, so I can't complain too much. And thanks for the Death's Head cameo, Nige!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Who Clues (pt 11)

Well, not really, as almost all of the ongoing mysteries have been revealed. There's still some goings-on concerning the "something" on Donna's back, but more on that below.

So the Doctor is regenerating! Well, no, because Tennant's in the Christmas episode with the Black Cybermen and David Morrissey, so what is going on? Clues...

There was a very conspicuous close up on that severed hand early on in the episode, and one that served no purpose. Yet.

And when the Doctor was shot, the "extermination" visual effect only covered a quarter of his body, not the whole thing as it does with others. That quarter just happened to include the arm that matches up to that severed hand.

So I reckon that only some of the Doctor's body (including only one of his two hearts) was damaged by the Dalek, that his regeneration won't take, and that he'll be caught in some kind of mid-regeneration, Ten-and-a-Half, state. The process will be happily reversed by the end of the episode by somehow using that severed hand to replace the dying bit of the Doctor.

How the lingering plot threads regarding Donna will turn out, I have no idea, but I do wonder if she'll have anything to do with fixing the regeneration. There's also a suggestion that she still has one of those time-bugs on her back, so perhaps she's going to change history again; if they use that to turn back time once more and undo everything, that'll be annoying.

Is the Joke on You?

There's a pleasant newly-pedestrianised bit in Brighton, just by all the theatres and the Pavilion gardens. You'll often see performers down there doing bits and pieces, as it's a perfect spot for that kind of stuff. Today, there was a bloke dressed in scruffy clothes and make up, like Heath Ledger's vaguely trampish Joker from the upcoming Batman sequel, standing on a bench proselytising about false gods and chaos.

Given that there's been lots of "viral" marketing for the film, things like why so serious?, I did wonder if this was just some random street performer (quite likely down here), or if the film people are paying actors to go out and act like the Joker. I don't think it was related to this, as it was more of a performance than a photo op, and besides, no one was taking pictures.

Has anyone else seen a Joker recently?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Planet of the Apes

The Spanish government awards human rights to apes, while the US Supreme Court makes a ruling that suggests that they deserve said rights more than we do.

Meanwhile in Brighton, Starbucks defend the illegal opening of a coffee shop by claiming that it is not a coffee shop at all.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Who Clues (pt 10)

Cracking episode (although it did borrow quite liberally from Donnie Darko, which isn't a bad thing), and lots of ongoing threads got referenced. It seems clear that the disappearing planets have something to do with "the Darkness" (the Daleks), and Rose has come back to help defeat said Darkness. The disappearing bees got a mention again, but I can't begin to imagine how that has anything to do with a Dalek invasion, so I wonder if the writers are planning ahead, and the bees will come into play in Series Five? I'm also quite intrigued by the "What are you? What will you become?" the fortune teller (a welcome reappearance from last series' Chantho) spat at Donna; I wonder where they're going with that? There were rumours knocking around earlier in the year that Donna might be a regenerated Romana, but that seems a bit cheap...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gordon Brown Knows the Score?

A while ago, a petition was circulated, asking for Alan Moore's work to be recognised. Now, the petition seems to have been answered.
Thank you for taking the trouble to sign this e-petition.

The Prime Minister recognises the achievements of Alan Moore and the widespread regard in which he is held.

This is highlighted by the hundreds of people who have signed the e-petition on the No 10 website calling for him to be honoured.

I'll believe it when I see it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

New Who Clues (pt 8 & 9)

No clues last week, although the Confidential had incoming showrunner Steven Moffatt talking about other stories in which the Doctor meets people he hasn't met yet, in particular the Elizabeth I moment from "The Shakespeare Code", which suggests that we might be seeing that implied story at sometime. Still, the library two-parter was a great bit of storytelling, and the series is in safe hands with Moffatt.

A surprisingly good story this week too. Very tense, with some interesting things to say about humanity and the Doctor's faith in the race, quite spooky in parts, and a nice contrast with what looks like some epic storytelling coming up. We also got another cameo by Rose, another mention of a lost planetoid, and another mention of the mysterious "Medusa Cascade".

The upcoming story, probably another multi-part finale, looks to be quite epic, and I hope Russell T Davies is up to the challenge. I'm still not looking forward to bloody Davros though.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

500: I Wish I Could Quit You, Ray Mears

It's been a slow and lazy day here at chez Brainsplurge, so we've been watching a fair bit of telly.

I introduced Meg to The Fall Guy on Five US today. It was a bog standard bit of 80's adventure television (and why don't they make adventure shows any more?), but for some reason, it was signed. Now, I'm completely in favour of signed television, but I did wonder how many deaf people are going to be watching The Fall Guy repeats on an obscure channel on Sunday afternoon?

Meg then went to the pub, and missed Ray Mears meeting the Bush Tucker Man. Ray and BTM are off camping in the wilderness, eating roots, berries, river mussels and the like, as you'd expect. What you might not expect is what happens at about 2:30 here:



Two blokes. Camping. Wilderness. That music. The BTM had even been talking about how his friends thought he was "fishing" when he was out learning his bushcraft. Was it an accident, or is there someone mischievous in the music department at BBC Bristol?

500th post, and it's about telly. Sorry.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

New Who Clues (pt 7)

No clues that I could see this week, but it was a cracking episode nonetheless, with some spooky bits, lots of funny bits, more hints at the mythology (last time it was about the Doctor's name, this time it's a wife?) and some great ideas (the library has "saved" all the people as books, I reckon, because the air piranha things won't eat books). Doctor Who is definitely in safe hands with Steven Moffatt.

In other "news", I've got a new "Green Day" (ugh) column up here, this time concerning Spider-Man's sometime love interest, the Black Cat, and Marvel's rather dubious treatment of the character of late.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New Who Clues (pt 6)

No clues that I could spot this week, apart from a brief mention of the missing bees thread (and I'm really intrigued by that one; where are they going with that?). The recurring joke about the Doctor and Donna being a couple cropped up again, but I'm not sure that's going to be significant.

I was really looking forward to the Agatha Christie episode, as her mysterious disappearance seemed like good fodder for a Who story, and chucking the Doctor into a murder mystery seemed like it might be fun too, if a little obvious. For some reason, however, it just didn't come off; the mystery was choppy and convoluted in the worst way, with the clues available to the viewer not adding up to the eventual answer. I don't know, but if you're going to present a story as a Christie-style mystery, surely it should work like one, rather than just pay lip service to the genre? They also seriously squandered the author's disappearance, relegating it to an offscreen bit of plot mechanics at the end, when it should have been the core of the story.

I did, despite myself, quite like the nod to Cluedo early on, but they spoiled even that by explaining the joke almost immediately. Bah.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New Who Clues (pt 5)

I didn't spot any of the potential ongoing threads in tonight's Who. There was a vague suggestion towards the end of that "Doctor as hero/god/mythic figure" thing we've seen a couple of times this series, but it wasn't overt and was probably just me reading too much into things. There was lots of stuff about the Time Lords and the Time War, but that's been a theme since the show came back.

It was a cracking episode though. The underground city looked much better than a bunch of corridors with some junk strewn about had any right to, and the fish-men were really well done. The story was quite similar to last year's Gridlock, with an initially clichéd setting giving way to something considerably more interesting by the end of the episode. There wasn't much to Jenny (the titular Doctor's Daughter), but Georgia Moffett did well with what she had, and brought the character to life; I sense a spin-off, but I hope she'll be back in the main series to, if only to give the Doctor something to smile about.

It's the Agatha Christie episode next week, which is the one I've been most looking forward to for some reason.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

New Who Clues (pt 4)

Well, I missed the first five minutes of this episode, so I don't know how Bernard Cribbins got out of the car, but the rest of the episode was quite tense and would have worked quite nicely as a series finale, so I hope they can top it with the real finale.

Which will probably be Daleks. Again.

Fascinating final scene too, with a TARDIS which doesn't seem to want Martha to leave, and the Doctor's Severed Hand (the ship is huge, so why is he keeping it in the console room?) going mental, which usually only happens when there's a Time Lord around. Hmmm...

I didn't pick up any of the "code words" this time, although there were echoes of the first episode of the series as the Sontarans too wanted to turn Earth into a nursery planet. We also briefly saw Rose on the TARDIS monitors, but that's not exactly a clue, since it's quite obvious that she will play a large role in the series' over-arching story.

There was also a nice nod to the Gas Mask Zombies in the episode, and a confirmation that the Brigadier was still knocking about (in Peru, apparently). Neither are probably clues, but they were welcome bits of fan service nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Healthy Sales

I've never been much of a fan of the Grand Theft Auto games. I've enjoyed the freeform elements, but the plots are rubbish, so I've often spent more time trying to jump from one skyscraper to another on a moped than I have in beating up Generic Thug 1 because Generic Thug 2 said so, and there are only so many hours one can waste doing that. However, like Halo, the mediocrity of the GTA series hasn't stopped a huge fanbase developing around the game. People are very excited about GTA IV, so I was quite surprised to see that all the shops still have massive stacks of copies, but can I find a single copy of Wii Fit in all of Brighton?

The Wii, you'll remember, is Nintendo's vanity project, which will never be successful because teh grafx r suxxor5!

I'd be interested to know what the ratio of order to sales have been on the two titles, because despite my ambivalence towards the series, GTA IV should be selling shedloads. I can only assume that the shops all massively over-ordered GTA, and perhaps under-ordered Wii Fit, thinking it wouldn't catch on.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Let Down

So why is it that iTunes can't find album artwork for OK Computer? Seeing as it tends to jockey for top position with Revolver in pretty much every Top 100 album rundown ever published, it's hardly an obscure release.

Then again, I haven't checked to see whether it's heard of Revolver...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

New Who Clues (pt 3)

The Sontaran Stratagem wasn't too bad at all. In hindsight, the plot was a bit rubbish, but there were lots of other good bits to make up for it; Donna's reunion with her family was surprisingly touching, and the Sontarans themselves were quite brilliant, coming across as outer space versions of the stereotypical blustering English colonel. It's always good to see Martha return, too.

Not much on the way of "code words" this week. Aside from a nod back to the Time War, with the Sontarans miffed that they weren't invited, the most notable nugget was a reference to the "15th broken moon of the Medusa Cascade".

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

By George!

I'm pretty apathetic to these patron saint days at the best of times, and I'm not one for national pride. So seeing all these posters and signs up in shops saying stuff like "Celebrate Our National Day With Pride!" has been a bit off-putting for me. I don't know, isn't it better to take pride in what our nation does, rather than some nebulous mythical figure?

I know it's just a gimmick to sell more tat in the shops, but all this celebration of the flag strikes me as a tad right-wing and exclusive, really, and it gives me the creeps a bit.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New Who Clues (pt 2)

Well, the Ood episode was a lot better than I expected, playing up the mystery behind the Ood's hostility quite well, as well as getting some decent material out of the slavery angle, even though it was a bit heavy-handed. The climax was a bit nutty though.

And the Ood turn out to be less like Cthulhu after all, and a lot more like benign sci fi versions of the Mind Flayers from Dungeons and Dragons.

(My geekery is not quite boundless, but getting there...)

As far as the ongoing mysteries go, there was nothing about the Shadow Proclamation or missing planets this time, but I did spot a reference to "missing bees" (last mentioned in the first episode of series four) and we also saw a repeat of the Donna-and-Doctor-as-deities-slash-legends theme from the Pompeii story. There was also a bit of a nod to the Doctor's "song" (which is more of a meta-reference, really) and a suggestion that Doctor Ten's days might be limited, mirroring the similar (and no doubt similarly misleading) prophecy concerning Rose's demise from the Ood's first appearance.

Regarding those bees, I'm sure we're all assuming that it's something to do with the series arc, but could they also be tying it into the mysterious disappearance of bee colonies in the real world? Ripped from the headlines!

Huh?

Did the brief, fatherly relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker still happen post-"One More Day"?
Brevoort: "Yes."
Does Tony Stark know who Peter Parker is?
Brevoort: "No."

So Stark doesn't remember why he invited Peter Parker to live with him or why they formed a father/son relationship?

And presumably he doesn't remember why he designed a suit of spider-armour for Peter, since as far as he knows, there's no connection between Spider-Man and Peter Parker?

Not a messy retcon at all then...

Super Secret Scott Pilgrim

Robbie Williams has packed in the music, grown a beard, and is investigating alien abductions in Nevada.

In other news, those blokes who did that annoying tune for Friends branch out into other, less annoying, TV themes:


I've done quite a bit of preparation work on my Super Secret Personal Project™ now. It is, unsurprisingly perhaps, a comic, and I've got the first ten or so pages laid out and scripted. I've got a bit of a block after that, but I'm confident that in drawing and lettering the first ten, something will come to me. Either that, or it'll be quite a short Super Secret Personal Project™.

But then there's Scott Pilgrim. I'd heard of it, of course, but I hadn't read any until recently, after I'd laid out the aforementioned ten pages. There are some similarities. Not particularly close similarities, but enough that someone could say that I've been borrowing from the considerably more famous and popular Bryan Lee O'Malley. I don't want to change what I've done, because I think I've captured the unique feel I was after in initiating the Super Secret Personal Project™, but it turns out that it's perhaps not as unique as I'd thought.

Bah.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Who Clues

Well, we're only two episodes into the fourth series so far, but Doctor Who is off to a good start with two very strong episodes. I'm not sure about next week though; while I liked the Cthulhoid Ood back in series two, their return looks a bit like a cheap "aliens attack" story. We shall see.

The new theme tune is great, too. It adds a bounciness to the existing New Who theme, and there's even a sly homage to the Peter Davison-era theme in there.

Anyway, the writers have apparently been seeding this new series with clues as to the big threat coming up in the thus far untitled two-part finale (I hope it's not Davros; I'm bored of Daleks anyway, and they'd long-past exhausted the story potential in Davros by 1985). Here's what I've spotted so far:

The Shadow Proclamation. First mentioned way back in the first Ecclestone episode, and again in Tennant's first full appearance as the Doctor, it's been mentioned once in each of the two episodes so far.

Venus. In the first episode, Donna (Catherine Tate) and her grandfather discussed the planet Venus, and there was some attempt to equate the lone "female" planet with Donna's sense of individualism. In episode two, while dressing up in a Roman toga, Donna jokingly claimed a resemblance to the god Venus.

Missing Planets. The space nanny (yes, really) in the first episode chose Earth as a crèche for her charges because her own "nursery planet" had disappeared. This mysterious disappearance confused the Doctor somewhat. In episode two, the Pyrovillians (really nicely designed magma/rock beasts with a vaguely Roman Legionnaire appearance) were intent on colonising Earth instead of returning home, because their home had also vanished. Again, the Doctor picked up on this baffling occurrence. Planets just don't go missing.

My current pet theory, based on the brief appearance of Rose in the first episode, is that she's using the resources of alternate-Torchwood to try and get back to the Doctor. Back in "Doomsday", the Doctor burned out a sun in order to generate the energy needed to speak to Rose across the dimensional barriers; what if Rose is blinking out whole planets in order to get across? What if Rose is the villain?

What if Rose is Galactus?

Gasp.

Of course, it doesn't really work; why would she be munching up planets on our side of the barrier in order to get through from her side? Wouldn't she already be able to cross over if she could steal planets?

It probably is Davros. Sigh.

EDIT: The Medusa Cascade. I'd overlooked this one originally; the words stood out in the historical Pompeii setting, but I'd put them down to some oblique reference to the petrification effect plaguing Pompeii's soothsayers. It turns out that the Medusa Cascade was mentioned by the Master in last series' finale, "Last of the Time Lords"...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Guh

Why is it that holidays end up tiring you out more than if you'd just stayed at home with a cup of Bovril?

I'm back from a largely uneventful week off in what appeared to be Tory Paradise, from all the Audis, BMWs and Range Rovers that kept attempting to nudge me into dark country ditches. A full report may or may not be forthcoming, depending on the mood of your correspondent.

While I was away, I had two Commodore 64 reviews published at Virtual Console Reviews, and appear to be an official member of the team now, and the latest in my series of "Green Day" articles was posted at Comics Bulletin. Sorry about that last one, Nige.

Oh, and I got a fair bit of work done on my super secret project!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Intelligent News

On the ITN television news this afternoon:
"Perhaps your power is out, or maybe a tree has fallen and caused damage near you. We want to hear your storm stories, so email the newsroom with your stories and pictures."

Er...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Gremlins

I finally decided to dump my old bolted together blog template and go with one of the prepared Blogger ones. I don't understand the new template syntax at all, and it appears to have dumped all but six of my links. I'll restore the rest over the next few days, so if you think I've dropped your link for any malevolent reason, don't worry, I haven't.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Un Pot Ter

One of my big problems with the Harry Potter books, aside from the chronically unsympathetic protagonist (really, how do you get your lead so badly wrong?) is that they just don't make any sense. It's as if Rowling came up with some ideas ("Oooh, a dual world of magic and mundanity") without actually thinking any of it through. So there's no attempt to explain how the dual world works, why a school for wizards not only labels a full quarter of the student body as "evil" but actively encourages villainy, and so on. The stories might be good, and the characters (apart from Harry) might be compelling, but the books are just utter nonsense, and they drive me mad.

Un Lun Dun then, is a breath of fresh air (pun intended). One of China Miéville's strengths as a writer has always been his elaborate but thoughtful world-building; sometimes, as in the case of Iron Council, he forgets that we're all here for a story, but the worlds he creates are always interesting. Un Lun Dun has a good old-fashioned (only not) adventure story, a strong cast, including a great "protagonist", and best of all, it all makes wonderful sense. Yes, there's magic, and big slabs of psuedoscience, but there's an internal logic, not only to the ideas, but also to the plotting. It's a bit Neverwhere, a bit Narnia (the good bits), and even a bit Army of Darkness, and it's hugely enjoyable, a book that delights with each new invention or plot development, full of ideas that make me want to stand up and applaud. Great stuff, and I'd be happy to have Miéville write more of these, even if we never see a grown-ups' novel from him ever again.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Monday, March 03, 2008

Too Hot ta Trot



I'm geeking it up again at the Virtual Console Archive, this time with a feature article on the mighty Commodore 64.

So that's comics and video games; to complete the set, I suppose I'd best start writing about the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons or something...

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Golden Age of My Arse



The Golden Age of Censorship is the worst book I have ever read. I get the feeling that Paul Hoffman wanted to write something about his experiences as a film censor, but realised that some limp anecdotes and half-formed musings on censorship and the nature of film weren't enough to carry a novel, so he bolted on a superficial bit of soap opera nonsense in place of a plot. Said plot only starts to get going about halfway through the book, and isn't worth hanging around for, because it's far too thin and useless to be compelling, no matter how much Hoffman blathers on about destiny and inevitability. There's an absurd twist ending that makes no sense whatsoever, subplots that go nowhere, and the majority of the cast are introduced early on, then ignored for the rest of the book, including the two most interesting personalities.

It's entirely possible that Hoffman is being very clever indeed with this novel, but even if so, he's also a million miles away from being at all entertaining. The worst book I've ever read.

Not the worst book I've ever started, mind. That honour goes to The God of Small Things, which was so staggeringly inept that I gave up about eighty pages in.

In other news, today I finally finished the comic I talked about here. Not the "funky comics project", but the one I was drawing for a friend. Which is not to say that it's not funky, because it is, only a different kind of funky to my funky comics project. Er...

Anyway, it's done, and I'm not too displeased with it at all, beyond being horribly late, of course. Rol, for he is said friend, does some big-upping of the strip here. When Rol first gave me the script, sometime around the abolition of the Corn Laws, I thought it was for something he was going to put on his website; little did I know that he was actually going to be printing and selling it, and I had no idea that I was going to be in such august company. I'm not sure when PJANG! will be published, but I'll give it a plug here when it's out.

Oh! And I almost forgot. Or in fact, I did forget, but came back to add this bit later. The other day, I came home to find that the postperson had delivered my copy of the limited edition hardback collection of volume one of The Rainbow Orchid! It's absolutely gorgeous, and if the completed book is half as lovely, it'll be very lovely indeed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Good Lookin'



If you headed over to Comics Bulletin today, you would find that the regular "What Looks Good" column has been taken over, for one week only, by myself. I don't really know why the CB bosses picked me, since I'm never amazingly enthusiastic about US comics these days, but so it goes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Indy Saves The World... For Real!



Steven Spielberg resigns as artistic director of the Beijing Olympic Games:
"I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual. At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur."

Now I'm looking forward to Indy 4 as much as the next guy, but I don't think an old man in a hat is going to cut it, Steve...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Phoo-ey



I wonder how long this new BBC redesign will last. I thought only BBC Three was getting a revamp, but I noticed that even BBC One now has a thoroughly annoying between-programmes ninety second news blip complete with loud music and flashy graphics for all those viewers totally devoid of any sort of attention span. Of course, BBC Three used to have this kind of "news" programme, but it's now been replaced with some sort of bizarre round up of what other news networks are talking about. What? Why do I need a minute of some slack-jawed ex-model shouting the headlines from the Chinese state news service at me?

Anyway, Phoo Action, then. One of BBC Three's new young, hip, yoof drama pilots, it's based on a Jamie Hewlett kung fu comic strip, and I'd assumed that "Jamie Hewlett" and "kung fu" were sure signs of greatness.

What they did, it seems, is take Hewlett's designs and bolted them to, to... I don't know what it was, but it wasn't much good. It should have been funny, but it wasn't. It should have been fast, but it wasn't, and it should have been much more manic than it was. You could see signs of the limited budget around the edges in stuff like the locations, but that doesn't excuse the ponderous yet empty script, the leaden directing and the non-committal acting. The closest thing to which I can compare it is the old Batman series, but Phoo had none of that show's energy and enthusiasm, and you never got the impression that Adam West was embarrassed by what he was doing. It's a shame, because if they had come out with a more impressive first episode, then the BBC could have had something truly unique on their hands. Perhaps it will get picked up, and the actual series will be better, but I'm not confident.

Chronic Lack of Perspective Within US Government Shocker!



US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, talking about the men they're charging over the September 11th attacks:
[There will be] full due-process and defence lawyers and all of the fundamental rights that would bring to justice those were responsible for one of the worst war-crimes in world history.

(emphasis mine)

Never mind that it's not a bloody war crime at all since no one was actually at war at the time, Hiroshima, Dresden, the Trail of Tears and the Holocaust all just pale in comparison, don't they?

Cretin.

By all means bring these men to justice, but try to do it through something other than sheer rampant idiocy.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Heavy Metal Thunder



A lot of my fondest video gaming memories involve not the games themselves, but their soundtracks. The Amiga in particular had some great music ; Chaos Engine and Stardust are classics, and I remember playing through Lemmings mainly for the tunes.

I never had a PC Engine, as they were about as abundant as unicorn tears in Britain; in fact I never even saw one until very recently when one turned up in the window of GameStation. So I missed out on a whole system's worth of games, which I'm slowly catching up with on the Wii's Virtual Console.

I just downloaded Lords of Thunder, which like many PCE titles, is a shoot 'em up. Not one of my favourite game genres, to be honest, as I lack the inhumanly quick reactions needed to be any good at them, but Lords of Thunder is still worth playing, if only because of the absurdly over the top power metal soundtrack. Really, I've heard nothing like it before; it's as if DragonForce have set up shop inside the Wii and are rocking out like the galaxy itself depends on it.

It's sheer silly big-haired guitar-wielding brilliance:



Genius. How the guys at ocremix haven't been all over this game yet, I don't know.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Says It All...

"Good luck staying awake!"

The BBC's Super Bowl presenter, within thirty seconds of the coverage beginning.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Rehabilitation of Henry J Pym



Right, so as part of the Silver Bullets transformation into Comics Bulletin, they've set aside Tuesdays exclusively for Marvel content. And they've asked me to do a regular column, in which I bitch and moan about a Marvel character, because bitching and moaning brings in the punters, apparently. The first one is up, and concerns one Hank Pym, better known as Ant-Man. Or Yellowjacket. Or Giant-Man. Or Goliath. Or Dr. Pym...

Anyway, it's here. And "Green Day" wasn't my idea.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Brand New Day



Two posts in two weeks. It's getting to be a habit.

Not much to report, actually, except that over at SBC, we've read the first chapter of "Brand New Day" and found it rather less than brand new. If you read Spider-Man comics at any point between, say, 1969 and 1985, you've seen all of this before. That's not to say that it's not any good, but... well, read the review.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Renegade Master



Again, it's been a while. Oops.

Things have been fairly eventful, which makes a change, as usually I struggle to find interesting things to talk about here. The biggest thing is that we've moved house. We were feeling a bit cramped in our flat, despite the sea view, and so we've been looking at moving up to a house; Meg had been searching for a while, and we didn't think we were going to even start the process of moving until the spring, but she chanced upon a small cottage a bit further out of town than where we were (no sea view). We went to see it, loved it, and decided to go for it. We had to take it pretty much then and there, so we moved in a rush about a week before Christmas. And because the flat was part-furnished, we didn't have any furniture.

And we still don't. Our sofa and bed aren't arriving until February, so we spent Chrimble sitting in fishing chairs and sleeping on inflatable mattresses. A full third of our presents seemed to be among the two million lost by a beleaguered Royal Mail, and Meg burnt or sliced most of her fingers preparing the Chrimble dinner. Still, even with all that, and the requisite Christmas Colds, we had a pretty good time of it in our new place. It will be nice when we have real furniture, although I secretly quite like these funky fishing chairs.

I should probably also mention that my story "More Than You Can Chew" was recently printed in the third issue of vaguely-horror-themed anthology comic Paragon. It's not my best work by any means, as it's more of an illustration of a concept than a real story, but nonetheless it's great to see it in print. The rest of the issue is a really good read, including a fun mystical superhero thingie called Battle Ganesh, which plays like a Hindu Dragon Ball Z, and should turn out to be the star strip of the comic, Paragon's version of Judge Dredd or Dan Dare. Should you want to pick up a copy, you can find ordering details on the ComicSpace page.

Alas, the funky comics project I was hoping to kick off, um, today isn't ready, and I'm still behind on a strip I'm drawing for a friend, so my New Year's resolutions are to get the latter done by the end of January, and to at least get started on the former by Easter.

Oh, and the Silver Bullet Comic Books Year In Review for 2007 is up. Go and see what I was grumpy about last year, and what my more level-headed colleagues actually liked. Also at SBC, a review of Amazing Spider-Man #545. I'd dropped ASM a while ago, on the grounds of it being rubbish, and I wish I'd stuck to my boycott.

It's back to work for me tomorrow. Given how I forget how to do everything after only a weekend, having almost two weeks off will completely throw me, most likely.