Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Manchester Terrorist Attack

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

My Comic Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 14 April 2017

Spot the Time Lord...

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

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

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

April 3rd


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

Self


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





Eyes Down

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

Semblance Of Norm


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



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

That Resolute Desk


Reference: Oh this one is littered with them.


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

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


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


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

That Resolute Desk: Seas Will Rise



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

A Bedtime Story


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

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



"I Am A Vampire!"


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

That Resolute Desk: Seven-Thirty



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

Ushers



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

Lasagne



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

Fellow



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

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

Little Green Running Man

Reference: This...


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



Pfft... Queues!

Still in production!

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

Dead Stock 

Still in production!

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

The Beautiful Ones: King Of Wank!

Still in production!

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

Starship S.O.S.!

Still in production!

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

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Smile: Time After Time

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

Don't ask, just look...

2011


2012


2013 (shot by Tohko Kanzaki)


2014


2015 (Shot by Gabby Kere)


2016 (Shot by Sarunas Berinas)


2017 (Shot by Jack Porter)


Alternative title: Watch Me Age (Oh God)!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Look Out... It's March 31st!

We're in April!

Before I reached the new month, however, I had a list of things that needed to be concluded. It felt like lots of things were all piling up, sharing a deadline of March 31st. First of all, in the last week of March I still had my 2x 22 page comics to write, as I had put them off all month long, until it became unavoidable that the 2 comics would have to be written back to back, in quick succession. Could it be done?

Then there was my entry into the FutureQuake comic competition. Now this was only a short 5 page story, but again... I'd delayed writing it for no good reason, and so it combined with my 2x 22 page comics... leaving me with nigh-on 50 pages to write in just a week before April hit!

Finally, I found a job perfect for me with the closing date on the application being, yes, that same March 31st. D'oh! So now, on to of all that comic book writing I also had to find time to put together not just a suitable job application... but a bloody great one, that would hopefully grab the attention of the recruitment manager, and demand that they interview me.

I'm happy to report... I did it! All of it.

I'm really proud of that fact.

In order to do so I really had to knuckle down, and commit myself to everything. For the comics, I was lucky in that I had already plotted the FutureQuake idea, and made my usual doodles. It's called Starship S.O.S.! and features a little girl playing in her pretend spaceship when... well, that would be telling! Let's hope it's accepted by FutureQuake, and published at some point next year, or possibly in 2019.

With that in mind, it was a case of typing up what I'd written for it - which took longer than I thought (as ever, I questioned the quality and meaning of everything I wrote) but eventually it was done, and I even managed to submit it into the competition a full day before the deadline.

Moving onto the job application, I also got lucky as my CV only needed minor updates. My Cover Letter was, however, written from scratch - but seeing as though I really want this job, and do feel I'd be a perfect fit for it, it actually turned out to be a relatively easy task to write it up. Again satisfied with my work, I sent the application off - pretty much meeting the 5pm deadline of March 31st.

No question then that the hardest task was writing those 2x 22 page comics. This consisted of two issues of Darkened Avenue - 034, "Orpheus" and 035, "Purgatory". Of the two, "Orpheus" was pretty standard fare - a set-up for a new drugs related storyline, featuring all of the regular cast. The hardest part of putting this issue together was just how I built up to the cliffhanger I had planned. Eventually it clicked, and in 3 days "Orpheus" was complete.

But then came "Purgatory". Oh boy...

This one drove me crazy! Literally, it must rank as one of the hardest things I've ever written. The story is pretty simple - the main hero, Quinn, wakes and finds himself in a strange place, from where he cannot escape. Usually other characters would feature, either interacting with Quinn, or we'd cut to other scenes/locations. However here... nope. We stick on Quinn, alone throughout. In addition, the journey Quinn goes on exhausts him, drives him crazy and has him questioning everything. Confined to one location, I had all that to tell without him interacting with anybody... anything else. It was incredibly hard to plot ahead, as if I had to live the madness of the script myself before I could commit to paper what Quinn would do next.

I managed it though, and in all honesty... I think "Purgatory" might just be brilliant! Mad, but brilliant. I dunno - maybe I'm wrong and it's a steaming pile of dog shite, who knows?!

So, as March neared it's end... I was able to sit back, let out a sigh of relax and...

...Well, realise that as soon as April hits, I have more new comics to write... and I know I'll probably leave it all to the last minute again!

D'oh.

Here's to the new month!