Saturday, December 31, 2005
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Welcome to my 50th post. If you’ve been with me since the very first, congratulations, give yersel’ a pat on the back. If you’ve wandered into this blog by mistake, sorry the last crate of viagra has just been despatched.
Mike DeCarlo has been in touch. Yes, you know the name; it’s the same guy. Apparently Mike only works with fellas called Jim. Look no further than Messrs Starlin and Aparo who, along with Mr DeCarlo, brought us ‘A Death in the Family’, where bloodthirsty Batman fans voted to kill off Jason Todd as Robin. It was this rather than send him off to Hawaii or suchlike, so predating Simon Cowell and his merciless X-Factor hoary hordes by some years. Mike is drawing pencils and inks for ‘Fishy Sitter’, a Johnny Bravo script I’ve written for Cartoon Network Block Party. For one of his exquisitely pencilled pages look no further than above left. Welcome on board, Mike, my dear fella. How tall are you incidentally?
And coincidentally this isn’t the first story I’ve concocted using goldfish. The first was a few years back on Negative Burn drawn by 9 ½ foot tall Jon Haward, where a mother uses goldfish to teach her boy 'The Facts of Life'. Which reminds me…viagra…crate of…
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
A good time to look back n’est pas? How was 2005 for you? Good, bad, indifferent, a little strange? Invariably it’s the last option that applies to me. And don’t you think things seem that more important, magnified, when you measure them in years? The highlight from a publishing point of view was seeing ‘Whisky in the Jar’ in print in Metal Hurlant # 14. The book was scheduled for November 2004 but a delay saw it sneak gloriously into 2005. Had been worried it wouldn’t make it at all. It was written the best part of two years previously and had already been printed in the French MH. And I don’t think Metal Hurlant # 15 saw the light of day, so it just got in right at the death.
The eight-page Whisky in the Jar is set in the Old Western town of Totem where a sheriff fights a terrible war of wills with a supremely gifted but deluded surgeon in the backdrop of escalating violence ripping the town apart. It not only boasts glorious elegiac painted artwork from Gerald Parel, but I love my writing on this one. I love the voice I found for the piece. I found out later that this was the strip the editor sent out to prospective writers to demonstrate the perfect Metal Hurlant short story.
The title comes from the Thin Lizzy version of the song. Gerald assumed it was the Metallica version (I think there might have been a generation gap thing going on between writer and artist). In fact Gerald based the Murphy’s – the bad guys of the story – on the hirsute lads of Metallica. Sorry Phil, I’ll get you in something sometime in the future, promise. Maybe even 2006.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Just completed some Minitoons for Cartoon Network Magazine. Minitoons are those 3-panel newspaper strip-type thingys that bring such life and joy to millions (whether they like it or not). All featuring Johnny Bravo this time, but there is one previously that got away by the name of 'Mojo Supremo'. Featuring Mojo Jojo arch enemy of the Power Puff Girls (don't ask). This is my gift to the nation and the world. Merry Christmas all.
1. Mojo Jojo stands behind a few people who are standing reasonably close together. (They are waiting for something.) All are facing forward. Mojo at the back shakes his fist.
MOJO JOJO: KNOW THAT MOJO JOJO’S NEXT INVENTION WILL BRING THE WORLD TO ITS KNEES!
2. Similar scene to last panel. Mojo Jojo brings his fist down onto his palm. The people in front of him are shuffling their feet, or looking down, or glancing at each other, but their expressions are more to do with waiting for something rather than anything Mojo is saying.
MOJO JOJO: AND ALL KNEES WILL TREMBLE, YES, AT THE NAME OF MOJO JOJO!
MOJO JOJO: MOOHOOHAHAHAHA!
3. We reverse angles. The group are waiting for their orders at a Fast Food restaurant. An assistant is holding up a bag. Mojo Jojo tentatively holds his hand up. The others in front of Mojo Jojo continue being disinterested.
ASSISTANT: ORDER FOR CURLY FRIES!
MOJO JOJO: ERR…THAT WILL BE MOJO JOJO’S!
Monday, December 19, 2005
Check out those boots. From Blue Phoenix, art by Michael Shelfer.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
That's the last pages of inks just finished on my Birds Of Prey (issue 91, published by DC, out in Feb, in case you hadn't heard). Jimmy Palmiotti personally handed them over to editor Joan Hilty, which to my mind is a scene straight out of the 'Pulp Fiction' Tarantino really wanted to film. So the issue has almost nearly virtually been put to bed. Joan has been ever-vigilant searching out for the oddly quaintly British word that sometimes creeps into my scripts. A car boot sale becomes a yard sale, an enquiry becomes an inquiry, alluminium becomes illuniumumnumnum. As it has been with the great American icons I have put to paper in the past such as Johnny Bravo and, um, I Am Weasel. But rest assured friends young and old in a small pocket universe I call my own the characters of DC and Marvel all talk with a heady mix of the Glasgow patter and Ayrshire crac, and the Godfather of Soul doesn't sing 'Living in America', but 'Living in Ardrossan'.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Watched Narnia with my wee four-year-old boy, David, and the general consensus is a big thumbs up. The movie starts off at a cracking pace, and some of the set pieces such as the London Blitz at the beginning of the film and Aslan on the Stone Table were just stunning. The wee fella was on the edge of his seat throughout, no fidgeting and asking for ice cream for this lad (although he did have a Twix). I thought the children in the lead roles weren’t particularly strong, but the CGI animals are for the most part terrific. Hate to go all Hannibal Lecter on you, but, "love the leopards".
But the star of the whole kit and keboodle has to be Tilda Swinton as the White Queen. She is simply majestic in the role. Cold, understated malice, charismatic as hell. Oh lordee. I remember watching her as Orlando in the ‘90s, seemingly immortal who changes sex through the ages, but never grows old. Watching Tilda in Narnia after all this time, and I'm struck by the Faustian bolt-worthy prophecy of it all. I swear she has hardly grown a day.
Monday, December 12, 2005
John Stokes has been confirmed as inker on the upcoming Spidey/Cap Britain v the Fury strip. Scheduled to appear in issue 133 of Spectacular Spider-Man (Panini/Marvel UK). (We’re at issue 125 at the mo’, comes out every 3 weeks, I’ll let you work it out.) John inked the last Cap Britain story also written by moi and drawn by big Jon ‘8 feet tall’ Haward. Mr Stokes it must be said was part of the art-team on the classic ‘Black Knight’ from the Marvel UK Hulk Comic of the ‘80s. The Hulk Comic was released on the back of the TV Series, which was quite the hit in Britain at the time. Those were halycon days when you had a 32 page comic, black and white, with 8 stories mostly US reprint, but with original Hulk strips and of course, Black Knight running through all 63 issues. Black Knight was boldly and unashamedly inspired by British mythology, and just had to feature the original Captain Britain. John Stokes passes the baton from himself to…himself. How cool is that?
John Stokes is a gent, an unfussy, sharp, accomplished inker (and excellent artist in his own right). He was producing quality work when I was still learning to pee standing up. I’ve met him a couple of times at the Bristol Comics Convention. He remembers past conversations to the word. As for myself the brain clouds over from one conversation to the next, did I just imagine that, was my mouth connected to my brain there, did the Bottom Vampire just take a chunk out of my backside? John has always been patient with me and offers to buy me coffee. Here’s to John Stokes, the Carte Noir of the comics world.
Above excerpt from ‘Black Knight’ written by Steve Parkhouse, art by Paul Neary and John Stokes. Sorted!
Sunday, December 11, 2005
A little curio for you. I contribute to the Dandy Annual 2006. Scripting the Dreadlock Holmes story, where dear old Dreadlock loses his magnifying glass down the side of his sofa. My involvement with the character began with the relaunch of the Dandy, which is the oldest comic in the world, certainly that’s still in print nowadays. All in all I wrote 10 scripts for the character, who garnered much publicity on the back of being the comic’s first-ever African Caribbean character. A schoolboy detective constantly making the wrong assumptions having to be pulled out of the hot water by his wise beyond her years younger sister. The blurb would sometimes mention a father being involved although he never appeared in any of my strips. Nine of these scripts were used for the first story arc of the character. I never wrote the Xmas story.
I’d met the editor Morris Heggie earlier that year. He was aware of my DC/Cartoon Network stuff and wanted fresh blood on board. For my part years before I’d worked for DC Thomsons as a student in the summer packing Xmas annuals. And of course DC Thomsons is a venerable Scottish institution. I liked the idea of working for them, submitted a spec script and that as they say was that. Of course with DC Thomsons I knew what to expect. There are no creator credits. Check. Scripts are heavily subbed. Check. Very low page rate. Check. Even so once the strips started being published I was reading words and sentences that weren’t my own at a distressingly high rate. The meaning seemed to be ripped from some of the panels, don’t ask me what they were now about. I thought I was prepared for it, but once in the flesh of print, it was a little demoralising. That’s not to say I didn’t take a lot from the experience. My take on the character was well received, Steve White did a great job on the art, and the Halloween story (which was largely left untouched) was anarchic to the point of gleeful delight. But I decided that it wasn’t for me, did my 10 scripts then left it at that. No regrets, no recriminations, just one of those things.
As for the annual itself (thanks to Scott for sending me a copy) it’s all rather good fun. Highlights are Steve Bright’s hypnotically grotesque art. A rather bizarre Beryl the Peril strip. There’s some pretty good stuff in there from Graham Manley. And there are these one-pagers dotted throughout taking their inspiration from EC comics. Zombies shamble towards the Reader saying, "We want chips!" And one cannot help but delight in and marvel at the Bottom Vampire taking a bite out of a young lady’s arse. Ah, the sheer devilish madcap British humour of it all.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
There I am walking in Argyle Street when I see someone holding up an advertising board. Advertising a buffet meal for 3 pounds 99p if anyone is interested. With a helpful arrow painted on to point you on your merry way. Man holding advertising board, that’s quite a throwback to a bygone age. Quite unsettling in some ways. Of course it got me thinking – and now I have a one-page script starting with a cheerful face and ending with decapitation on a mass scale, which’ll be winging its way to Liam Sharp and Mam Tor in due course.
Moments of Inspiration #131.
Monday, December 05, 2005
When I’m not thinking up the latest insane/inane entry for this blog, I’ve been beavering away on a script for Negative Burn. The comics anthology is in its second incarnation published by Desperado under the Image banner. Originally, it was publisher Caliber’s jewel in the crown. Joe Pruett remains in charge and I had a chat with him and April Doster at Brighton. The thing is I contributed to the original Negative Burn, four stories in total (I think). There was ‘Facts of Life’ (issue 45) where a boy was taught the facts of life using goldfish. And there was ‘Sideburns’ (issue 47) featuring a day in the life of the eponymous, grizzled gumshoe, art (in both instances) by Jon Haward. As Negative Burn has been resurrected so has Sideburns, and my writing a second story connects the old with the new. Entitled ‘Conjoined Sins’ it’s shaping up to be a gratuitously off the wall, fuzzily violent script. It’ll be a nice change of pace for Jon and I after our recent tales of webcrawling derring-do.
On the subject of Joe Pruett he has a twin brother, James, who was my main editor back in the (Caliber) day overseeing the likes of Gabriel, Ripper Legacy, Amongst the Stars and a few Raven Chronicles. These guys kept me in print when no one else was prepared to. Blame everything on them folks. Anyway…twins. Now, you know how it’s everyone’s favourite male sexual fantasy to bed female twins? For the life of me I’ve never heard of vice versa being the case. Are there any women out there who lust after guys who look like each other? Mind you if you’ve ever seen Joe and James together…maybe that’ll explain why such women are thin on the ground! LOL!
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Well blast me with a sand blaster there’s actually going to be a New York Comics Convention held early next year. They’re calling it, ‘The first three days of the future of pop culture’. Hmm, well, whatever. I’m seriously thinking of going. I’ve been to New York three times before. I love the place, the pulse of Western civilisation whether the city likes it or not. It’s so energetic and busy; there’s life there, Jim, but not as everyone knows it. I imagine it’s quite exhausting to work, never mind live, there. But New Yorkers seem so hardened to it. And the buildings are so tall you get vertigo staring up at them from the ground.
DC and Marvel and quite a few other companies are based in the city. The show is being held a week after my issue of Birds of Prey is due out, so it seems too good an opportunity to pass up. So forget about the matching socks, tie, and shirt for Xmas, granny, howzabout a return ticket to NYC instead? Sorted.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Thursday, December 01, 2005
A world exclusive for ye. A first look at Jon Haward's pencils for next year's Spider-Man/Captain Britain v the Fury. Our first Captain Britain story published earlier this year in Panini's Spec Spider-Man sold 42,000 issues in the UK alone, created quite a buzz, was reprinted in (deep breath) Marvel Milestones: Captain Britain, Psylocke & Sub-Mariner, and was talked about a lot in my house. I'm sure this new story will be talked about just as much. I plan to begin early next week.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Of course I should say that the quote below does not apply to reviewers who like my stuff or at the very least are critically constructive ("I hate the writer, I hate the writer’s mother, but he does look after his hair"). These are of course fine virile men and women whose wrists are mostly chipped and withered away such is their need to reacquaint themselves constantly with their fit rippling physiques.
"Stop Messin’ About!" (Another quote from Kenneth Williams.)
Oh Lordee, the latest review on SpiderFan.org gives my Spidey/Wolverine/Venom story with art from Haward and Stokes and colouring from Offredi…0.5 webs! Yep, that’s half a feckin’ web. 0.5 is what you get for turning up! I’ve no idea if the mark is out of 5 or out of 10. To be honest I’ve never had a high enough rating from the reviewer to actually find out.
The issue (#118) hit the UK newsstands in June. Oh, and there's a little Lady Deathstrike in the story as well. Ok, I can accept the reviewer’s extreme dislike of the story, maybe a little more disturbed by the personal stuff having a go at my writing, characterisation, dialogue, and poor posture at the keyboard (ok, maybe not the last one, not yet). I can maybe even accept his attempts at trying to be funny and superior at the expense of the story but actually coming across as pedantic, tedious, and just a little mean-spirited. But to award half a point to the sterling efforts of Jon Haward, John Stokes, and James Offredi – who delivered art described by others as worthy of being published by Marvel US – is an absolute feckin' disgrace.
As Kenneth Williams once said: ‘Critics are like eunuchs. They’ve seen it a hundred times but can’t do it themselves.’
Monday, November 28, 2005
Currently I am most informed by one Ms Kate Bush and her exquisite album ‘Aerial’. Ah, Kate, Kate, we go back such a long way.
When I was a student I stuck a huge Hounds of Love poster on the ceiling directly above my bed. That’s the one with Kate Bush bathed in purple hue, her hair a galaxy of constellations, flanked by two beautiful sleeping hounds nuzzling into her, protecting her and being protected by her. As it was student accommodation I was living in at the time I was only allowed white tac (inferior blue tac, but it doesn’t leave as much of a mark on the walls) so the poster would sometimes lose its grip and gravity would bring Kate falling down on me. I would wake in the morning and find Kate there on top of me.
And another time when I came across a postcard of Kate. Quite a natural photograph like she’d just arrived in an airport or something and someone had just took a snap of her. I stuck it onto our flat’s message board and informed any visitor that it was a photo of my mother. For a few priceless minutes they looked at our Kate and then back at me and wondered if it could be possible. That a goddess could spawn a monster. Ah, memories, memories.
Now I have ‘Aerial’. The haunting voice and hypnotic hooks reach out and stay with me, an old friend revisited. I could wax lyrically on the virtues of King of the Mountain; An Architect’s Dream, and the title track. I really could. But let’s be practical for a change. The track that stays with me longest is pi
‘Sweet and gentle and sensitive man
With an obsessive nature and deep fascination
The chorus goes 3.14159… Enabling you to answer the pub question 'what numbers make up pi?' while singing on the karaoke at the very same time. Welcome back, Kate, you’ll find the world an older, maybe a little wiser, certainly a much more cynical place than the last time you came our way. But not all of the time.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Cartoon Network #99 is out right now published by Panini in the UK. It features comic strips reprinted from Cartoon Network Block Party published by DC. I'm a regular contributor to the latter (scripted about 30 stories for 'em so far) which means I'm regularly reprinted in the former. In issue 99 I chronicle Johnny Bravo's hair gel escaping and growing into a blob-like monster terrorising a town. Art by Robert Pope with some nice colouring. Even better featured also I have a Classic Strip Show - I Am Weasel in 'Around the World in 80'. Classic is another word for reprint of a reprint, but I likes the sound of it all the same! Features the classic line delivered by I Am Weasel to I.R. Baboon:
"Despair not, my furry chum - you will be the greatest king Mars has ever seen. Either that or they'll keep you as a pet!"
Friday, November 25, 2005
Event Horizon # 2 from Mam Tor published by Liam Sharp and featuring writers and artists you will have heard of and some you probably won’t have. It’s a reassuringly thick glossy book with numerous eclectic strips, text pieces, and illustrations. Truth be known it’s quite magnificent to look at. But the main reason it should have your attention is that this is a book prepared to give people new to comics publishing a chance. It’s getting harder and harder to break into comics. There’s no point moaning about this if you’re not prepared to support one of the few high profile publications out there prepared to give people a chance. You should be able to pick up Event Horizon # 2 (there’s 12 books planned in total) at your local comic store. If they don’t have it then moan at them, place it on order, and/or check out the Mam Tor website:
Price is $19.95 US, which, I don't know, is about 13 pounds sterling. But don’t let the price put you off, not until you hold this weighty tome in your hands and flick through the sublimely crafted daring painted pages. This is as professional and complete a package as you could hope for. Get your granny to buy it for you this Xmas.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Just been asked to contribute to a publication called 'Hover Monthly'. The new mag for hover pack enthusiasts everywhere. Contains handy articles on what and where to buy, the correct mix of rocket fuel and methane gas to use, and many more. As a proud owner of a hover pack you need never walk again to that office 15 stories up. But make sure there's someone on the other side to answer your frantic tapping at the window in case your fuel runs out and you plummet to your death. Issue 1 is on sale in three weeks time with the free gift of a special recording of the cd single from Westlife 'You Raise me Up'. Hovering to a newsagents near you.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Jim (Batman 80 Page Giant) Alexander as I'm now known in Birds of Prey circles. The Giant in question is No. 2, 'The Luck of the Draw', 1999. Jordan Gorfinkel, editor at the time, gave me the chance to pitch for one of the stories to appear in the anthology and I came up with 'Gotham Roulette'. Goes a little like this. Two-Face has Batman tied to one chair and a rival mob boss tied to another. Two-Face then flicks his coin. It comes down scarred Two-Face pulls the trigger Russian Roulette style so aimed at the 'bad' mob boss. Coin comes down on its good side, the gun is aimed at the 'good' Batman. Pitch was accepted so long as I worked on how to finish the story. One of my pals God love him suggested Two-Face just shoot Batman dead, which certainly would have been unexpected...
So out the issue came and into Glasgow's Forbidden Planet went I. Gleefully I pulled down a copy from the shelves - only to quickly flick through and find my story wasn't in there! I was sweating now. Maybe the strip got pulled at the last minute, maybe I'd just imagined the whole thing while digesting some mushroom pizza... Took a couple of deep breaths and then decided to methodically turn each page, using the power of the mind to will the strip into the book. To discover that it was the opening story! Agony turning to as much ecstasy as one can muster fully clothed. I'd written a Batman story, it was official, and the world slept quiet and content in their beds that night.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
"[Jim] Alexander (the writer) says Pandora was a painful experience. ‘John Hicklenton (the artist) took quite a while to draw it, I think he was very late. I wrote a few montage pages because I knew John would do that well – I was trying to mould it towards his style. But when we got the pages back… I spoke to David Bishop (the editor) at a convention. He said Pandora was going to divide opinion anyway, so I might as well go for a more Vertigo approach. I rewrote it on the basis of the art and went completely doolally – John Smith on steroids! It was quite a crazy time. I thought somebody out there might like it. The first episode got left alone but after that it was quite heavily edited and rewritten. By the end it was a complete and utter dog’s breakfast. Pandora was the death knell for my Megazine career – it put a noose round my neck.’
Bishop, however, has a confession to make regarding Pandora. ‘I never read Jim’s scripts before sending them to John Hicklenton, which is an unforgivable lapse of judgement for any editor. I commissioned the story but I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to even read the scripts. When John delivered the final episode, I sat down and tried to make sense of his art alongside what Jim had written. That was when I realised what a mistake I had made. The scripts got hacked about in an attempt to rescue the situation, but that probably made matters worse. John later told me the only way he’d been able to finish Pandora was by consuming a lot of acid. I don’t know if he was serious about that, but it would go some way to explaining what got published!’"
Extracts from ‘15 Years, Creep!’ Part 4. Charting the history of Judge Dredd Megazine. Appearing in Judge Dredd Megazine No. 239 (out now).
Pandora was published in 1995 and without doubt is the nadir of my writing career. By gum, though, it makes good copy. Just for the record it was a five-part series running for 41 pages. David Bishop, I presume, read the synopsis before commissioning and signed off every invoice I submitted for payment. The art arrived in his office periodically over a two-year period. Fair play to John Hicklenton. There is a lot of mad fantastic stuff in there. Mind you I think the Bishop is trying to be a little…’cute’ here. But it was such a longggg time ago...
"But if I ever get the chance to go back to my Megazine stories, Pandora would be the one. She had so much potential, that first series didn’t do her justice."
Monday, November 21, 2005
That’s me back safe and sound from the Brighton Expo. First time in Brighton and I rather fancy it won’t be my last. Brighton itself is a fairly cool weird place. Sometimes I felt like I’d just fallen off the planet. And it was really sunny and warm certainly for this time of the year. But where was the sand? The beach I saw consisted of stones. I wonder what Anakin ‘I hate sand’ Skywalker would have made of that.
The Expo itself was okay. I’ve been to a million of these things and am more prone these days to creaking. As per usual I never really got too involved with the show itself. Didn’t attend any panels. Was there for the three pronged reason of network-socialise-work. So how was it for me, then?
Network. One of the more interesting things about noughty Conventions is just how many people attend where comics aren’t their thing per se. They just want to meet happening people and see if there’s any synergy to be had. I met musicians, movie marketing guys, and painters (not of the comics or decorating variety). There were a couple of editors as well. It’s important to know if you’re going to gel with someone. If they’re laughing with you or laughing at you. Or laughing for you for that matter. If all goes well who knows something truly beautiful may flower from your newfound (professional) relationship.
Socialise. Kept bumping into Scotsman again. It’s the old chestnut you travel these hundreds of miles and end up speaking to guys who you never see back in Glasgow but live about a mile away from you. At 1am on Saturday there were say 40 people left in the hotel bar, of which 20 were Scots. At 2am there were 30 people left, of which 30 were Scots. At 2.30am there were 20 people left of which 20… Went to bed at that point.
Work. These weekend soirees aren’t cheap so you kind of look for one or two commissions to justify it financially. I found some of the editors there encouraging others very much less so. The best things I took out of the trip were an invitation to pitch again to Dr Who Magazine, doing a Negative Burn strip for Desperado with Jon Haward, and getting involved in a project for Markosia comics. Also I’m in the queue somewhere (I hope) to do something for Liam Sharp and Mamtor. Everything else looked kind of bleak. I have a triple whammy of stuff in the mix. The new Captain Britain/Spidey/Fury strip for Panini. (Jon H. showed me the first five pages at the Expo. Probably his best work for the company to date.) The Birds of Prey issue coming out in February. And the Star Trek script I have with Tokyopop (yep, you read that one right). So I have this triple whammy. If everything goes to plan I’m hoping it’ll push other things on a bit.
So that was Brighton. No doubt you’ll hear conflicting stories about the Expo itself. As I say it wasn’t a totally crushing experience nor a completely exhilarating one, but somewhere right down the middle. Which is not bad, not bad at all.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Written by Jim Alexander; Art by Brad Walker and Jimmy Palmiotti; Cover by Jesus Saiz
Guest writer Jim Alexander (BATMAN: 80-PAGE GIANT) teams up with guest artists Walker and Palmiotti (MANHUNTER, CATWOMAN) for a stand-alone tale of a sought-after organ donor whose plight is personal to two of the Birds!
$2.50 US On Sale February 15, 2006
So there it is on the DC website making it all toasty and official. Jesus Saiz's cover is bold and bright and in your face. The Huntress and Oracle are pictured just right mirroring their strained relationship to each other in the story. I likes it. I likes it a lot. The guy blind folded in the background is Tod the 'Donor' of the title. I can't decide if he looks a little older than I imagined him to be when writing the script. Mind you the more I look at him the more I'm convinced he is indeed da man.
Be sure and pick up a copy y'hear? I mean what else are you gonna be up to on Feb 15th?
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
It’s come up the odd time already so no surprises that I’ll be attending the Brighton Expo (Sat 19th and Sun 20th) this weekend. Arriving Friday leaving Sunday. No fixed plans, just fulfilling my usual capacity as amiable drunk. Must say the guest list is looking rather amazing. Check it oot on:
Yep, I’m planning on having a rare good time. The Brighton Expo replaces the London Comics Festival of last year. These days despite myself I tend to hit the Convention early doors. Gone are the days I stumble in around 3.30 pm to find everyone has left without me. London last year was pretty terrific and for the most part I didn’t have to move my arse. I was up early on the Saturday only to realise after seeing a full-sized version of Desperate Dan that maybe I should sit down and eat a (massively overpriced) sandwich and get some caffeine in me. About ten minutes later Joe Pruett and April Doster from Desperado appeared. I know Joe from my time at Caliber, so they joined me for a chat. Shortly after one Mike Ploog, working with Joe on a project, sat at the table. A few beers later and Ed Hammond, my editor at Panini, who I’d never met up to that point, introduced himself on recognising my voice. And he brought over the whole Panini posse. Highlight was being (relatively) sensible for the first couple of hours only to eventually crumble and metamorphosis into a quivering fanboy telling Mike Ploog how much I loved The Thing. (Mike did the designs on the John Carpenter classic, hell the best monster movie ever.) And that guy, I went on to tell him, who’d had one Flaming Sambuca too many, the Ghost Rider, he wasn’t too bad either. That was the day the Convention finally came to me. The day of JimCon, which you have to admit has a slightly better vibe that JimExpo, which sounds faintly indecent. See ya there.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Got a mention in the new issue of Comics International (#191) which sports this rather fetching Shaun of the Dead cover. Article is 'Panini celebrates 10 years of Marvel UK'. Our (Jon Haward and I) second Spidey/Captain Britain strip is thus described "versus the old Alan Moore character, The Fury". Right, so no pressure then. The strip is due out next year. I'll no doubt be returning to the subject to wax lyrically ad nauseam, but it'll keep for another day. Editor Ed Hammond also hinted "maybe we'll make it a yearly thing of having a Spidey/Cap Britain team-up..." Well, Ed, god bless ya, I already have a storyline in my head for the next instalment, which I intend to verbally pitch to you this weekend at the Brighton Expo. Expect no mercy on this, although perhaps I should enact the deed while under my ten pint breakfast limit.
Anyway great cover and it inspired me to watch Shaun again on Saturday night. Was struck by how tightly written the opening scenes are, and how they tie in so effectively to what goes on later. Cock it!
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Watched the friendly game Scotland v USA in the Maltman yesterday. That's the USA who are 7th in the FIFA rankings and Scotland who are 63rd. Generally I was pleased the way the team came back from losing a penalty goal early doors and draw 1-1. We showed a lorra fight, boys. Having said that my mind goes back to a Calhab Justice script I wrote, which appeared in the Judge Dredd Yearbook. Rather imaginatively called 'The Mega Cup' it told of a future World Cup international between Calhab (Scotland) and Mega-City One (USA). No opportunity squandered to have a dig at the Yanks inability to understand the great game of football, or soccer as they affectionately call it, as seemed to be demonstrated in the lead up to the 1994 World Cup hosted by the US of A. Here's a taster of some of the classic 'Mega Cup' dialogue to come out of such an obviously hilarious situation:
- "Burt! Soccer! Mean Anything?"
- "Yep, sure does. It's what those Euros play. They eat Frog Legs an' dance about, fairy like, in pantaloons filled to the brim in soft, whipped cream."
Cripes the way it's looking now the USA will win the World Cup in the next 20 years while Scotland take pride in giving San Marino a good game. What can I say to our friends across the pond - sorry for taking the mic' back then, the boot is well on the other foot now, best of luck in the World Cup next summer where you lot'll be there and Scotland won't! Ah well at least Canada are still below us in the rankings...for now!
Looking to the future looking to the past. You remember the publisher Com.X? Young turks from Britain responsible for Class War, Puncture, and Bazooka Jules showcasing the likes of Ben Oliver and Neil Googe. Not much been heard from them in the last year or so, though. In early 2003 I was asked by the company to take an idea and flesh it out into a proper script. After reading the treatment I thought there's just too much in here, two stories at least. I had visions of the film 'Batman and Robin' which introduced as many characters as it could to the detriment of everything else. Anyway I took out what I needed concentrated on shaping the protagonists and the cyberpunk/Victorian environment that had shaped them. The story was, and is, O:R:E, in three parts with a page count all told of 108 pages. Here it is in a nutshell:
The Man in the Iron Mask meets the British Empire meets Steampunk. Queen Victoria is a cyber-recluse and warring factions struggle to fill the political vacuum. Caught in the middle is James Abel, a man trapped in a prototype armoured suit fighting the forces of betrayal, murder, and of marauding psychotic cyborgs below the streets of Victorian London.
Scripts are all done but unfortunately the project hasn't moved any further. There was a search for an artist, but that fizzled out. Com.X is still around and I don't have any beef with them in as much as I was paid for the work done. But it would be damn nice to see the thing out there, who knows it could have made me a star! The story also serves as a personal marker, my son David turned two years at time of writing and I was discovering this little personality taking shape and coming through, the tying of the final strings of a bond of a lifetime. This is at the heart of O:R:E, the love a father has for his son.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Well pardners that's my blog all of one week old. Truth be told, actually turned out one week yesterday, but the Hoffmeister and breaking Birds of Prey news took precedence. Yup. Much obliged good people for all your comments so far. Keep 'em coming y’hear along with any requests/questions you may have. Don't let this washed up sad excuse for a cushion salesman set the agenda all a’ the time. Lord preserve us in marmite and jam otherwise!
Here's to another week - and another one after that if I can still be arsed.
(Art by Gerald Parel. It sure is purty.)
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
I don't know if you've picked up a copy of Birds of Prey from DC recently. Issues 81 to 85 has 'The Battle Within' story arc. It's great. The writer is the star Gail Simone with able support from the art team of Bennett and Jadson. The plot revolves around a massive drugs deal from Singapore to Gotham City, but the strength of the story is in the characterisation. The Black Canary in Singapore does epic battle with the Silk Brothers who take no shit from anyone; the Huntress reclaims her father's mob legacy in order to take control of the 'family'; and Oracle undergoes radical surgery to remove a Braniac-styled virus from within her in as moving a chapter as I've read in a long while. Terrific, just terrific.
So I'm especially thrilled to announce that I'll be writing Birds of Prey #91 - entitled 'Donor' - with art from Brad Walker and Jimmy Palmiotti. The script is in, the first five pages have been drawn. This'll be the first time I've worked for DC on a regular book. My last contribution to the company was a two page 'Kitty Kat' strip, which appeared in Young Justice: Sins of Youth Secret Files in the year 2000. And I hope and trust I do myself justice on this one. Keep watching this space.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Two degrees of separation from Robbie Williams. The artwork from Williams’ new album ‘Intensive Care’ is courtesy of Frank Quitely. He’s also done some comic strip work in his time – New X-Men, All-Star Superman, We3, The Greens – you might have heard of maybe one of them. Anyway I sat next to Frank, or Vincent to give him his other name, at a signing in the Moir Hall in Glasgow earlier this year. I entertained the long queues as they waited to see him. By then my one fan had been chased out of the hall by a couple of underfed police dogs. Doesn’t that surely qualify me as two degrees of separation from Robbie Williams? (The sitting next to Frank Quitely bit, not the underfed police dogs.) Don’t make me sing ‘Angel’ on the karaoke to prove it.
But for all his huge celebrity you know what, Vincent hasn’t really changed. It hasn’t gone to his head. No J-Lo antics for this lad. For a start we’d then have to call him F-Qui (as in ‘Bridge over the River F-Kwai’). In fact I’d even go as far as to say Vincent is the nicest guy in comics. Case in point, take a London Comics Convention, a dark dank Sunday morning, where Vince would gingerly step over the dead bodies in order to go to church. No doubt to pray for all the lost souls of us comics creators. Y’see I’ve known Vince for a long time. I remember oh around 12 years ago when Vincent, me, Robbie Morrison, Colin MacNeil, Gary Erskine, Rob McCallum, David Alexander (no relation) and a host of others used to meet up at the Tron in Glasgow City Center sipping on cappuccino mixed with Becks and talking well…a lot of shite really, but it was comics shite, so that made it all right.
And a world away I remember walking into the San Diego Comic Convention centre in 2003 and looking up at the sprawling expanse that is the DC booth, which is the centre point of the convention. And seeing two enormous banners one featuring the Endless as drawn by Frank Quitely and the other The Authority as written by Robbie Morrison. And it struck me that the centrepiece of the largest comics (and more besides) convention in the world could be traced back hundreds-of-miles-and-slightly-less-years away to that young eager open-eyed congregation from the Tron of Old Glasgow toon. I still say John McShane should write a book about it.
Monday, November 07, 2005
While it’s not quite made the attention of the United Nations, it is surely getting there. On Amazon.com RW Grant of Burnsville, MN USA, says of Deathwatch. "The story is paper thin, with no drama, no development, and, incredibly, no sense of conflict!" Apparently RW bought the book not realising it was a graphic novel. Alas, reading the thing proved a pretty miserable experience for the chap and he’s not shy on spreading that misery around. One out of Five stars.
Over on Amazon.de however the response is spectacularly different. Here’s a flavour rather exotically translated by Google. "Actiongeladen, excitingly and very tendencyful arranges." Actually it would be better if I just feature some of the original German, "die bunt zusammengewürfelten Space Marines der Deathwatch und eine solide, actionreiche Storyline besticht." Two reviews posted. Both Five out of Five stars!
Yes, me and the Hoffmeister together – we’re big in Germany!
Deathwatch, written by yours truly, is a Black Library graphic novel collecting the series that ran originally in the pages of Warhammer Monthly. The book is the company’s second biggest selling GN ever. It features the Space Marines doing battle with those rather nasty creatures known as the Tyranid Collective. The strip suffers from a change of artist early on, but it was important for me at the time to write something with commercial appeal – action sequences, hard man Space Marine dialogue, and the odd dramatic flourish appealing (hopefully) to both fans inside and outside the Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 Universe. Basically if it’s action adventure you want in the best traditions of 2000 AD then you could do a helluva lot worse. Prices quoted on Amazon (USA) start at a whacking $29.14. The German price quoted is better at EUR 16,57, but this is still approaching the price of a half-good night out. Feck ask me nicely and I’ll let you have a copy for a fiver.
I'd been trying to think of a detective/cop/traffic warden idea that I could send to a French publisher. All to no avail I'm afraid. That was until I walked to Somerfield for some basic provisions and I noticed someone driving out of the car park while obviously not looking where she was going. Then it hit me, a germ of an idea, something that I could mould and perhaps use. Moment of Inspiration Number 522.
(I should reiterate it was the idea that hit me, not the car.)
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, the Dread Dormammu. Try saying that when you've had ten pints. An' 'ere's John Royle's cover for our upcoming strip from Panini/Marvel UK. Colours are by Dylan Teague. Now that I've written Captain Britain I've been actively campaigning for the chance to write a Spidey/Captain Caveman strip. Dylan is sitting by the phone ready to start drawing the very minute we have the go-ahead.
Ya just gotta remember Captain Caveman. Outspoken hairy diminutive caveman chap. Large club and a bag full of, well, just about anything. How we laughed when Cavey rummaged around looking for an Uzi-9mm but instead produced from his sack old Aunt Agnes from Cowdenhill Circus. So dear reader don't you agree. Is it not time for yours truly to bring back Hanna-Barbera 's greatest creation and team him up with your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man? Then why not write to you local Member of Parliament and demand it.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Welcome to the latest instalment of Jimbo Watch where I report on this blog any mention of my name made across the four corners of the globe, or at least something resembling my name. Take St Malo, France, for example where acclaimed artist David Lloyd (V for Vendetta) was last weekend doing a signing. My name came up when David talked of how printing can screw up a good job, in this case one for Les Humanoids he did with - "a really good writer, James Alexander from Scotland". David used my Sunday name there, but y'know he's entitled. Apparently he made this remark unprompted, I don't have him on a retainer or anything. Wow, I mean whizzer and chips...
'Elemental' by David and I with colours by Snakebite appeared in Metal Hurlant # 13 (October 1994). It's a self-contained 10 page story of damnation, redemption, man and woman. A nice little story with a healthy dose of mean spiritness, and majestically rendered by Mr Lloyd. Welcome people to "Your own unique little cosmos of insanity, shit and pain". Unfortunately the colours didn't come out as well as they could. Compare the page on the left to what was actually printed (you'll need to pick up a copy to do this unless of course you already own one). I should say I'm immensely proud of our collaboration. I wasn't aware of any printing issues until well after I read the story in print. So at the time through to now I still feel the same way. Man was I thrilled.
(Many thanks to Chris McLoughlin, no mean slouch as an artist himself, for alerting me to this 'latest' Jimbo Watch.)
The pub singer's bible Neil Diamond's 'Jazz Singer' arrived for me yesterday. During a family holiday in Lanzarote - an interminably boring resort punctuated by the Ashes and the Champions League but pretty relaxing all the same - I heard what I later discovered to be 'Hullo Again' sung on the karaoke. The song just wouldn't let me be, swimming around the grey matter I have for a head, and after some tracking down (which mainly consisted of singing 'Hullo Again - Hullo' in true pub singer's fashion to anyone in earshot) I identified name of song and artist - 'Hullo Again' by Jim Diamond's uncle. The song's on 'Jazz Singer', which is going cheap shouldn't cost you more than a fiver. And I have to admit after initially flicking through most of the tracks to get to the ones of interest - 'Love on the Rocks' and 'Hullo Again' then back again - I found myself slowly surely taking in America and SummerLove until now I'm listening to the cd straight through and rather enjoying it. I ask you is this a sign of advanced middle age?
Friday, November 04, 2005
Judge Dredd Megazine is celebrating its 15th birthday and David Bishop is currently running a series of interviews charting the comic's history. In the latest issue I can be found commenting on the artist Lol, those nasty, nasty Megazine letters which appeared during my time, and the strip 'O'Rork', which came and went rather too quickly for my liking within its pages. This is Part 3 of a series of comment and interviews. Alas I wasn't quick enough to pick up the last issue from WH Smiths, which I'm sure would've featured me more and in particular Calhab Justice. Still it's strange being part of the firmament of something so longstanding, reading of my part in true bona fides British comics history. Christ on a bun, I must be getting old.
David Bishop was in fact my commissioning editor during my tenure on the Megazine. He gave me my first ever published (y'mean I get paid for this) commission and I'm grateful at least for that. It all ended badly though with the conclusion of Calhab Justice and a strip called Pandora, but I think that's another story for another time. David phoned up a few months ago to conduct the interview by telephone. And snippets of it can be found in the latest issue. Don't remember saying the word 'hairy' though.
And on the subject of 'Some Like it Hot' it's been said that Curtis claimed on set that "Kissing Marilyn Monroe was like kissing Hitler." Now I know Tony has reportedly denied having said this in later years, but y'know that kind of thing sticks, and after all this time it's time to be gracious. Marilyn that most misunderstood, tragic, and beautiful icon of all time. Tony, I know you're an occasional reader of this blog. Perhaps once and for all it's time to put the record straight.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Hey, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, the Dread Dormammu - it can only be a future story from yours truly to appear in Spectacular Spider-Man as published by Panini in the UK. Pencils are by John Royle and aren't they gorgeous. The story should appear sometime next year. I submitted a full script then tweaked the dialogue when John sent me back his pages. In between I mainly ate shortbread.
What happens if some punter comes to my blog fully expecting these kind of helpful links. Someone with a small knob who can only go at it up to 9pm? I've deprived the guy of the only two e-mails that could solve his problem. And another thing, why do you have to come to my blog to buy these things? Why not go to Boots the chemist (or pharmacy my American chums) and get them there? And when you go up to the counter and ask for some condoms, they can helpfully enquire into size of pecker - small or elasticated. Either that or you can buy another toothbrush, third in the last week.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
What do I have out at the moment? Spectacular Spider-Man # 124 by Panini pitting Spidey against the Green Goblin and Hobgoblin. This is an out of continuity strip published by Panini in the UK aimed at younger readers. Art by my two big mates Jon Haward and James Hodgkins. I only work with people over six feet tall. Originally I had the Goblin design a bomb to blow up New York City (as you do) but this handy plot device quickly transformed into a machine that produces a swarm of destructive goblin nano-robots (naturally). Favourite dialogue (Hobgoblin): "Winner is last to keep any of his own teeth". Also I write Johnny Bravo's strip in the latest Cartoon Network Block Party # 14 published by DC Comics. 'Damsel of his Dreams' with art by John Delaney and Jeff Albrecht, both of whom I assume are over six feet tall. Johnny is something of a knight in shining armour in this one. The story also features a donkey and an ice cream van. Favourite dialogue (Johnny): "Gonna hammer you, clock, into a thousand million tiny pieces! Or maybe six or seven!" Thanks and see ya.