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
You'll probably remember Marvel printing 'em, then Wildstorm had a little time with them, but did you know Tokyopop now has the rights to do Star Trek comics. Been a little on the quiet side, but this should change in 2006. I've made something of a contribution with artist Michael Shelfer, one of Tokyopop's Rising Stars. More will be revealed nearer the time, but the fusion of classic characters and storytelling combined with Manga should be quite something.
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.