Sunday, 23 December 2012
Sorry I haven't been writing in this blog much. The last few months have been hectic and I've been suffering from a bit of an injury which has incapacitated me a bit. However, Adrian and I did meet a few weeks ago and we're planning to do a number of things in 2013. The main thing is that we're not going to let 1949 disappear if we can help it. We have planned a meeting towards the end of January hoppefully to tie in with an event in Belfast - assuming that the riots there have ended. But I'll tell you more about that later. In the meantime I hope that each and every one of you have a great Christmas and an incredibly Happy New Year. Will talk soon with hopefully something positive on the comics scene.
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
I'm writing this in the middle of a thunderstom with a few flashes of lightning. I haven't been keeping this up as much as I'd have liked as there hasn't been a lot happening on the comics scene as far as I'm concerned. There is some talk about a new strip but it may not come off and I don't want to say too much about it in case it doesn't. However, I may be off to Cheyenne very soon - yes, off to cowboy country - as a speaker and guest on a conference about zombies of all things. They've sent me down an rough itinerary of the festival and I see there is a section on comics. We've been talking about me speaking at that event which I'm willing to do. I haven't done much on zombie comics - although I understand that they're very popular - but as some of you knowI did work in comics and did have my own sporadic comics company in Fool Moon which produced a number of comics during the 1960s/early 70s and kept up my interest in comics. We did try to start up another incarnation of Fool Moon here but, as someone pointed out "This is Northern ireland and we don't do things like that here" and once again its not the 1960s. Things are very different now unless you're a big celebrity or sing in a band. But I'm just being sour again. I think there may be some other comics publishers/fans in Cheyenne as well so it might be very entertaining. It might be interesting to see what some of the newer publishers are doing - particularly in the zombie market. Other than that I've been reading some of the Marvel material - Marvel Firsts from the 1960s and 1970s, which I suppose is more my era. Very good and I think it shows what comics can do if they work in the proper framewrok. Maybe we'll get back to those days again. It's just there doesn't seem to be anything comparable now - something that tells a story that you want to read. Maybe I'm being disloyal to the comics field and maybe it's my generation but I know of several people who have canceled their subscriptions to modern comics. But I'm always willing to be convinced. Maybe Fool Moon could rise again. I can live in hope. Going to something to eat and will talk again shortly. But if you happen to be in Cheyenne at the end of September come up and speak to me. It's can't hurt - much!
Monday, 9 July 2012
I haven't been near this blog for a little while. If you look at my author blog you'll see that I've been ill. Many years ago I was in South America and I got a cut on my hand. The upshot is that I got a parasite into my bloodstream and I have a condition which is in some way related to malaria - and from that I have a condition which is like Meniere's Disease. This is a kind of vertigo-like thing which is triggered by sleep - so I get up in the mornings and the bedroom is spinning round. It passes but sometimes takes most of a day. They're treating me with various drugs and they tell me that most malaria things are cyclic and that this will pass. It's about three years since I had it before and it seems to have passed. However, as I can't do much it made me sit down and read a few comics from the 1960s/70s. I have collections like Marvel Firsts, In Search of Galactus, the Silver Surfer. That'll give you a clue as to where my interests lie. And reading them made me think. Some of those, especially the DC Secret Origins are extremely good. I've been sitting moaning in all my blogs about how awful comics are at the moment. Why don't I do something about it instead of moaning? Comics are dreadful at the moment but why don't we change that. So if there's anybody out there who wnants to do soemthing get in contact. There's bound to be money to finance a porject out there somewhere and I'm curretly looking at educationaal programmes. I've a stack of scripts here that I don't want to disclose on the Internet for obvious reasons - so if you're a comic maker, a comic distributer or just generally interested in the genre, let's see if we can make this work. I know that there are meetings of comic creators in Belfast, maybe some of them. Let's see. I'll leave it with you. Off now to listen to ghost stories on the radio. Talk soon
Sunday, 24 June 2012
I've been struggling to keep up with this blog - things have been very busy at the moment and the fact that I've been a bit sick hasn't helped. An old conditition - I know that sounds a bit suspect - has resurfaced. I suffer from a condition whih is a bit like Menier's Disease and arose out of an illness not unrelated to maleria. Things start whirling round and I have to sit down and rest for long periods which isn't like me at all. Gives me a chance to read some comics though and I managed to get my hands on a copy of Marvel Firsts from the 1960s. I had really forgotten how good these comics were and it has prompted me to order up the next collection from the 1970s which should be with me this week. A lot of these comics seem much better than the material which is tossed out today and I keep wondering why this is. I think it is because they tried to tell a strightforward story without all the gimicks which are about today I have a couple of the modern modern Marvel and DC sitting in front of me as I write this and I'm not impressed at all. It's all artwork and no real story. And there's little imagination I think. That's my opinion anyway and doubtless others will have theirs. I also got a collection of 1950s stories entitled Out of the Night which is also terrific and full of story twists. But once again somebody has taken the time to sit down, use their imaginations and come up with a genuine story. I wouldn't even mind if some of the tales were in story-arcs as long as they were good, I'd buy them. But I have a number of story arcs here and they seem to go nowhere - they're over a number of different comics and they seem to go nowhere. They're simply marketing ploys to get you to buy about half a dozen comics that you wouldn't usually buy. So it all seems very commerical and very cynical. But recently I've seen nothing that I'd really like to go out and get buying. And to some extent I've lost a lot of the interest in new comics - not in producing them, but simply buying them. I was talking to Adrian a little while ago and he was saying exactly the same. Many of the comics that he used to order, he's cancelled because there is nothing happening in them and no real story or adventure to any of them. He was saying that the imagination seems to be just samey. So maybe there is a place for Space 1949 yet - we're still thinking about what we're going to do with it. I'll let you know as soon as we've decided. Anyway, the football will soon be on so I'll go and grab a bath and see what's hoing on with England vs Italy. I will keep this blog up - that's a promise. Stay tuned.
Sunday, 27 May 2012
I've had some computer problems -nothing major but enough to annoy me - so apologies for the delay afterr promising to keep this post up. Truth to tell there hasn't been much in the line of stuff worth writing about. I've hunted in vain for some new comics that I could genuinely get excited about but have found nothing just the same old material. There's actually nothing that jumps out off a shelf at me - even the covers look pretty lacklustre. Went and saw the new Avengers movie which I thought might inspire some new stuff - the movie itself was actually one of the better superhero movies and I thought that it would invigorate something new. But I walked into Forbidden Planet a couple of weeks ago and there was nothing. The Belfast branch even seems to be cutting back on the amount of stock that it's holding and a number of the shelves were nearly empty. I bought a couple of titles just because I felt I should but they were nothing special and I'd both of them read on the way back from Belfast on the train. So no real change - I'm worried that this blog is starting to become something like a whingeing session but I'm afraid that's the way I see it. Some of you should write to me and tell me I'm wrong and point me towards new and exciting things that are happening out there - and maybe there are - as I can find them. The digital comics are just as bad and they're eminently disposable as well. Are we living in an age of disposable culture. Enough whining. I'm just getting old I think.I was approached by a Bosnian publisher to maybe do some more Father Tibor - Judgement of the Calusari but he can only afford to pay me in marka which is no good to me, even though he's increased his offer from last time. Bosnian marka are not legal tender here and getting them changed is something of a nightmare. So if anyone - even in Europe - would like the idea for the strip get in contact with me. I can work for euros. Otherwise the Calusari will slink away in the dark. Still nothing on 1949 either and we're not sure where to go with it. It seems too good an idea not to do but where to take it. I had asked the Northern Ireland Arts Council for some money to take it to the US but, as usual in Northern Ireland, there's nothing happening. You have to be in the know over here here - or a member of some former political organisation - to get funding for anything. And comics are not high up the Northern Ireland Arts Council's list. Stuff the idea that they could maybe make graphics connections with Europe - but if no need money to redo a paramilitary mural into something more inclusive, and there's nothing wrong with that, then they're your people. It's just being in the know - the last Creative Industries Award, and that title was a laugh if there ever was one - went to all the usual suspects, like the Borough Councils. As I said, in the know. This is turning out more vitrioliic than I expected but it's one of the problems of living and working in Northern Iraldn. Their idea of creativity in an HBO filming of Game of Thrones - does anyone else find it boring? Can anyone follow it? I'm becoming more grumply - must be my age - so I'll stop. The compuer seems to be running again, hopefully, so there might be another blog along soon. See you later
Thursday, 17 May 2012
Am suffering from a broken toe at the moment which is a bit painful. Don't ask, a silly argument with a chair. And I was in Belfast on Tuesday and walked round on it all day, then came home and called into the supermarket and in a queue at a checkout a woman in front of me with high-heels to an involuntary step backwards - agony! She did apologise and I told her it was all right - smiling through the pain.I was in Belfast seeing Adrian to see if there was any way forward for 1949 - still nothing. We both agree that the comics scene is more or less dead. Both D.C. and Marvel have killed it. I went into Forbidden Planet when I was in Belfast and there wasn't a thing on the shelves that I found remotely interesting. One of the other things I think which has killed the comics industry is digitalisation. It's like music. I was talking to a guy the other day who is a musician and an old friend. He's been putting together albums for about 20 years and his stuff is excellent. But te albums don't sell. This is mainly because you can get his stuff on download. So what happens is that you hear a track and say "I quite like that". Go to your computer and download it - just the track - onto your MP3 player. It'll cost you around 70 or so pence. After a while you say "I don't like that any more" or "It's not as good as I hought" and you delete it. You've only lost about 70 pence. Now my friend was saying you have no idea of his work beyond that track that you downloaded. You don't listen to his album as a whole - it's simply disposable. And it's killed music. The same thing is happening with comics. You download a comic - it's not what you thought or you read it through and tire of it and delete it. It fosters a disposable mentality. As my friend says "Nobody listens to music any more - they listen to tracks and then get rid of them" It's the way of things - it's almost a throwaway culture. And looking at the comics I've seen there's little to keep. I have collections of comics which told stories - it's not like that any more. All about artwork. I get the impression that the folks at Marvel sit around and say "Who haven't the X-Men fought for a while?" "The Fantastic Four. Let's string that out across several comics - we don't really need a story, the artwork'll carry it." That's why none of the big comic companies want writers - except they're celebrities. And of course celebrities can't write as the comic by Jonathan Ross Turf showed so well. And yet it's picked up because it's done by a celebrity and there's the possibility of a film or television show. When I walked into Waterstones there was "the new comic by Jonathan Ross" in big vold letters. Ant the comic - a hardback - was absolute rubbish. I couldn't bring myself to even read too far into it. And it's the same with Philip Chevron of the Pogues - the comic about Irish emigration is unintelligible. Get back to really goos stories. Right I've had my rant - I'm off to get something to eat and have my toe seen to. Will write again soon, hopefully
Sunday, 29 April 2012
I haven't done very much this month in this blog - I had intended to but other things kept getting in the way. And anyway, there's not much happening on the comics front - except for the Avengers Assemble movie which I haven't seen yet, though I'm sure some of you have - but which I hear is kind of like a large Marvel comic with popcorn. Mind you I called into Waterstones the other day and the graphics section - or what graphic section thee was - was coming down with Avengers graphic novels. The only comics which seem to be hitting the streets these days have merchansising attached to them - I suppose we just have to live with that fact. I've been approached by some publisher in Bosnia of all places asking about doing some sort of comic. He had linked on to my Father Tibor - Judgement of the Calusari which has appeared in some Polish fanzines and wanted to see if the character could be developed.I replied to him - as I always do with most e-mails - but he hasn't replied. Maybe publication is as hard in Bosnia as it is elsewhere although Eastern Europe, I gather, is the place to be for comics. My own interests are now drifting more and more towards the British comics of the 1960s and 70s. These are the type of comics, all of them black and white and published by comanies like IPC and Fleetway, that I grew up with. I've been trying to track down a strip which appeared in a comic callled Smash and which was called the Legend Testers which was a kind of mix between science fiction and folklore. In it two operatives of the Museum of Myth went back in time to check out the truth about old legends. I remember this strip - it featured Rollo Stones, no prizes for guessing where that name came from, and Danny Charters - in my late teens, yes I was still reading comics then. It was terrific and since then I've only seen a couple of pages of it - so if anybody knows where I can get copies or if any have been reprinted, as I know some have, let me know. It was very straightforward and wouldn't hold up to the modern day Avengers but at least there was a story there which there really doesn't seem to be in modern comics. I looked through all the Avengers issues in Waterstones - some of them very heavily priced - and there wasn't anything there that I desperately wanted to buy. It was the same not so long ago in Forbidden Planet comic shop in Belfast. I went along shelves and saw nothing which really took my interest in the way in which some of the old IPC black and whites did. Maybe it's time for them - or something like them to make a comeback. But I won't hold my breath. Will write more regularly next mont - that's a promise I'll try to keep, though I may not. But I'll be back soon
Saturday, 31 March 2012
What withe getting a couple of books finalised and rushing to meet the deadline for the new American Vampires book for Career, I haven't had much time to think about comics. From what I can gather anyway, there's little happening on the comics front. Each time I go into the local bookstore which sells comics all I see on the shelves are the Avengers - prior to the film - Thor, marked as a film tie-in, the Hulk marked as a film tie-in and Captain America, marked as you've guessed as a film tie-in. All getting ready for the Avengers film which is out in April I think. So it looks like the only available comics are tied into the films that Marvel and Walt Disney want you to see. I'm also expecting a spate of Batman comics prior to the film. Other than that there appears to be very little - just the usual clutch of X-Men. I would assume that Marvel and D.C. have now killed the innovative market and all that's left for one or two artists is storyboarding for films. A sad state of affairs. Of course I could be wrong but nobody has been in touch with me to tell me that I'm not - in fact just the opposite. Comics as we knew and loved them are, by all accounts - and not just me - dead in the water. Of course you can download the latest Batman or Spiderman to your mobile phone or I-Pad but am I the only one who enjoys an ordinary comic that you can leaf through? In one of the rooms I have a couple of shelves of comics dating back to the 1950s and I still get a thrill out of sitting and looking through them. Am I out of touch? My son, in his kinder moments, refers to me as a dinosaur and maybe that's true. But I've a feeling I might give up talking about comics in this blog and talk about football instead. So what about 1949? Well Adrian and I are going to meet up around the beginning of April and sit down and have a talk about it - so watch this space. But I'm getting depressed with it all. Comics used to be new, vibrant and exciting and full of possibilities. But there's not any more. Like everything else. Is it just my age?
Sunday, 4 March 2012
I had been intending to do more on this blog before the end of February but a number of other things got in the way. First, I've been suffering from a minor chest infection deriving from a cold which my daughter kindly brought home from school - it only lasted for a day or so with her but it really took the feet from under me. Must be my age! Second, I've been trying to get the Lovecraft book finished - this is the longest and most detailed book that I've written but we're getting towards the end now. Only another short couple of sections to go. And of course I took a little bit of time off to celebrate my birthday on the 14th February - some Valentine baby, huh? With all this going on I haven't had much time to think about comics or how to take them forward. A number of people have been in contact with me about Space 1949 and have asked me if there's going to be any more. The plain and simple answer is that I don't know. I'd like to think that there would be and have a number of adventures drawn up for it as well as the spin-off Hal McLean - there's a couple of entire adventures already drafted out in lay-out form - but it's finding someone who will take them. As I've said, the markets are pretty static at the minute and seem to be completely resistent to anything that's new. However, I will be meeting with Adrian later this month to decide if there's anything that we can do. I appreciate that a number of people are interested in seeing it develop and thank them for their encouragement and support. As I said, I'd really like to take it forward but everywhere we've looked we seem to have hit a blank wall. If anyone has any ideas, they're welcome to get in touch with me and we can develop things. We'll see what we can do ourselves when we meet up but suggestions are truely welcome. Maybe sometime in the future we'll see 1949 out there in some shape or form. Now back to the Lovecraft book!
Sunday, 19 February 2012
I haven't been following this blog up of late as I've had a few medical problems around the start of the year - nothing major but time consuming - and I'm suffering from a ghastly cold which my daughter kindly brought home from school. She only suffered mildly for a day or so but it has floored me. And I'm still working on the two new books which are due in soon. There has been a bit of interest in the Italian comic and a couple of people have sent me very nice e-mails about it. This seems to be the place where there is an interest in comics and maybe it is worth exploring. Someone was telling me that Eastern Europe, South America and parts of Europe are an area to investigate but they are notoriously hard to get into - a bit of a "closed shop", mainly because of language barriers amongst other things. Another source was telling me that the CIIF - the Creative and Innovative Industries Fund - is also coming up again here in Northern Ireland. However, he was also telling me that there is little point in applying as the Arts Council and group have already decided who they want to get the money and it will be targetted within a specific way. That's the way they do things here in Northern Ireland. The main emphasis will be on technologies and the set up of digital networks - so the money will go to more technological and software manufacturers who are already established. At least that's what he's heard - he works with granting bodies - and I've no reason to disbelieve him. The Fund is not about genuinely creative ideas at all but feeding money to companies which the Northern Ireland government have decided that they want to fund. This is the way it was done the last time I think which is why so many statutory bodies such as local Councils received money from the Fund. I had thought of reapplying but there seems to be no point. Of course I could be wrong but I'm told that this is the way it is. A bit depressing really. Maybe it's time to look to Eastern Europe or South America and see what we can do there. Maybe I'll bursh up on my Spanish and Portuguese or even Serbian. Now that I'm feeling a bit better I'll try to keep his blog up to date. One can always hope
Sunday, 12 February 2012
I haven't been doing this for a number of weeks as I've been trying to get a couple of things done and there's been really nothing to talk about. The comics industry seems to have gone completely flat with nothing of interest happening, The only thing I've even looked at is an edition of Heavy Metal which I get sent to me but even that now seems more of the same. Is there nothing happening out there? I seem to remember a comics press somewhere in Scotland who sent me some of their comics which remuinded me of some of the old underground stuff which used to be around in the 1970s - and nothing wrong with that. But they now seem to have disappeared and I haven't heard from them since. And of course there are Print Media Productions, I'm not sure where they are although I know that the publisher is in Bosnia which seems tobe producing stuff, although it's more for downloads. And that seems to be the future of comics. I'm old fashioned enough still to enjoy the comic you can hold in your hand rather than on your phone - but then I'm something of a dinosaur anyway. There's going to be a big comics and media convention in Belfast this weekend though. I can't go as things are really busy at the moment but my friend Adrian will be there and we're to meet up and discuss it. We'll see what comes out of it - though I would suspct that it'll be more about media and tv than about actucal comics. It might be good but it'll be busy and I don't think I would be able to sit down and really discuss things. But Adrian is helping to organise it so we'll see what it turns up. It's all very depressing but there might be hope. If anybody's out there willing to take a chance get in touch. Will head off and get something to eat, then it's back to writing the books. Sorry I haven't something more positive to say. That'll come I think - I hope. Will get back to writing this after I've the books finished
Sunday, 29 January 2012
I stand corrected! There might be hope for some sort of comics scene and it might lie out there in Eastern Europe. I would guess, from what my friends in the US tell me, that the comics scene in the US and UK is either dead or stagnating or both. However, I was in Belfast on Tuesday for a meeting with Adrian and on the way home I stopped into Forbidden Planet and picked up a copy of Strip magazine which is a kind of comic anthology. I'm still reading through it - this week has been hectic, I'm not long out of hospital and I've been running round trying to get things done - but it looks interesting. The introduction says that the publisher, who's based in Bosnia, I think, has been a fan of strips like Adam Eterno and the Steel Claw. I can't fault his taste. He also can't understand why something similar is still not being produced in Britain today. Nor can I. These are the comics I grew up with and for better or worse I still think they're the best. There was a bit of thought and a bit of adventure with them - not the formulaeic material that's brought out now. I had a look round Forbidden Planet and do you know - for the the first time in a long while there was nothing there that I genuinely wanted. The American and British scene seems to be more or less petered out. So maybe the smaller publishers in Eastern Europe and I'm told South America may point the way to the future. So here's to Eastern Europe which I may explore further. Anbody who likes the Steel Claw can't be all that bad!
Sunday, 22 January 2012
Just out of hospital where I had to go for tests - nothing major, just a few ulcers but it wasn't a pleasant experience. I took a few days off - well sort of - to recuperate although I have to go back in tomorrow for a few more tests to make sure that things are working o.k. It was not an experience I'd care to repeat. Just before I went in last week I was rushing around like a mad thing trying to get a lot of things cleared up. Consequently I haven't had a chance to see what has been happening in the comic world but I guess not a lot. All my friends in the US state that the comics scene there is completely stagnant and there's nothing worth having. I've spoken to a couple of people over here who tell me that they've cancelled all their comics at the comic stores as there's really nothing they want. And thanks to those of you who contacted me telling me that 2000 AD was still on sale but that it's pathetic and they don't buy it any more. I haven't seen a copy either here or even in Belfast for a long time - so much for the UK's leading weekly comic! Is it still weekly? Rob told me that it'll probably fold very soon as nobody buys it now. Not like the great old days when it was gone every Friday morning. There was one short-lived spot of light. I happened to lift the Times and there was a free comic in it. Great, I hought, maybe some of the newspapers are taking comics seriously - the way they used to. It was all syndicated stuffbut it was a start. But I haven't seen it since. I take it that the Times has ditched the idea. I hadthought that a nice Sunday supplement might be the way forward but it doesn't look like it. Oh well. Still thinking about 1949 and I have a meeting with Adrian hopefully this coming Tuesday in Belfast and we'll see what we can come up with. He thinks digitial comics may be the way forward and I would guess he's right. We'll see and I'll keep you posted. I'm supposed to be taking things easy for a while but there's some chance! I'll go on but let me know what you think of a Sunday supplement for comics - now that would be back to basics but it might be worth it. And would there be a newspaper that would be interested. Who knows?
Saturday, 7 January 2012
A Happy New Year to you all. I hope you all had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year - although I think 2012 is going to be a really rough one, especially if you're in the creative market. All my friends in the States tell me that both the publishing and comics business as we know it is going downhill and they doubt if it will pull back. I tend to agree. Comics are now being digitalised and the choice is now so restricted that I don't see how it can pull back to what it was even several years ago. Having said that, on New Years Eve, the postman knocked my door and handed me a package. And when I opened it I can now truthfully say that I've got my name on the front of a recent comic. It was Materia Osscura which I'm told means Dark Matter, a collection of stories illustrated by David Lloyd who did the original V for Vendetta comic strip and it was published in Italy - in Tuscany I think. So it's sitting here beside me on my work desk as I write and it looks very well. But outside of Italy there doesn't seem to be much going on in the comic world. Certainly not here in Britain . Does anyone know if 2000 AD is still running? I haven't bought it for years and when I asked about it in one of the Northern Ireland newsagents I was told that they didn't bring it in from England any more as there was no in terest in it. I asked Adrian who works in Belfast and he said that he hadn't seen an issue for a long time, even in Forbidden Planet. So maybe it's stopped publishing. The last issue I saw of it was dreadful so I wouldn't be surprised. On the other hand, I lifted a copy of The Times today and found a weekend comic. However, it's all the usual stuff but it's good to see that some of the newspapers are taking comings a bit more seriously, even if it is The Times. I wonder how long it'll last though - I seem to recall that some other paper tried something similar a little while ago and the comic folded pretty quickly. It's aimed at children and how many children take an interest in The Times? So let's see what 2012 brings - after all it is a time when Britian is supposed to be investing in culture with the Year of the Olympics and so forth. And we'll see what American comics do - everybody I talk to in the States say that they're on their last legs, that all creativity's gone and merchandising has taken over. However, I live in hope. We can do little else. Have a great New Year and we'll all talk soon