Thursday, 26 December 2013

The 42nd Post...

As is customary with bloggers with their last blog posting of the year I'll use this opportunity to look back at the films I've seen and books and comics I've read over the year that's just about to come to a close.
I'm not going to label them 'The Best'. They are just the things that I've enjoyed the most and the list doesn't even survive without disagreement within my own house. I stand by this list though, nobody can argue with it apart from me, and if that happens... well, let's just hope it doesn't.
The film of the year for me was actually Now You See Me which was a clever little film about stage magicians and... well, that'd be telling. A great cast, a good story and pretty fast moving, it is certainly a film that I would recommend, and have recommended, to friends.
The best Superhero movie ? Well there have been a few but I agree with my daughter Jemma (a rate thing :o) that for me it was Thor 2 - The Dark World. It had all the action and battles of the others but also mixed in a fair dose of misdirection and the characters, now established, were free to develop. I also enjoyed Wolverine 2 which for me was a massive improvement on the first and the new Superman film had its moments.
My favourite Sci-Fi movie was Star Trek 2- Into Darkness, I'm a bit of a Trekkie and this film was a great follow up to the last one and a clever interpretation of Wrath Of Khan. It's a shame that J.J. Abrams has moved on to Star Wars, but then again if any franchise needed his help then that would be the one.
Favourite Fantasy movie ? Well I think it may have been the only one I saw but The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug was a great follow up to last year's effort and sets the scene really well for the closing chapter. It did leave me feeling that I'd just sat through half a movie and then been asked to leave, but I'll suffer that as I'm enjoying the journey. For those who criticise it for straying too far from the book, well, if you want the book then read the book, if you are going to a movie then expect to see something different.
The film that confused me the most was The Lone RangerJohnny Depp did a good job playing a Native American version of Captain Jack Sparrow but I found that I couldn't laugh at the funny moments that followed a scene where we watched Native Americans get cut down by Gatling guns. Those scenes were just too harrowing, do Directors really expect viewers to be able to flip so easily from one emotion to another or am I just odd? I did however really enjoy The World's End the last in a trilogy of movies from Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. I had absolutely no idea where it was going 40 minutes in and then it took off, good fun but my favourite in still Shaun of The Dead.
TV-wise, I've really enjoyed Ripper Street, Sherlock (I think there was a series of this earlier in the year) and Game Of Thrones. Not much else has really caught my interest as much as these. Dr. Who is still too fast paced for me and I'm hoping that the new Doctor will slow it all down a bit.
I've been watching old Twilight Zone episodes (I'm up to about the middle of Season 3) and have really enjoyed them. Some great stories in there. I have, however, failed to get my daughter interested, as highlighted in my Christmas Card to her this year. OK, I went a bit mad and it was too big for any card I had in the house by the time I'd finished it...
As far as books go, well this year I've been re-reading the old Larry Niven Science Fiction books that I last read a long time ago. I'm really pleased to say that they've aged pretty well, still page turners (for me) after all these years. I did pick up the two issues of The Long Earth from Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett. finding the concept and characters pretty interesting and looking forward to see where it all goes. I've also caught up with Skulduggery Pleasant and really enjoyed the penultimate book, The Last Stand Of Dead Men, in the series. I do hope Derek Landy has plans for what he's going to follow it all up with.
I'm not sure what I'd highlight from a comic book perspective. Getting my hands on a copy of the Zenith hardcover collection was a highlight, but I've still not found the time to sit down and read it yet. I've enjoyed Deathmatch from Boom! studios, I always look out for books from Paul Jenkins, there's always another layer to his comics, and really enjoyed this one. As is usual for me I won't make mention of any small press or independent titles as I know I'll miss something and upset someone somewhere.
So, looking forward then...
  1. I will finish Strange Times Book 2 next year.
  2. I will try to finish that book I've been playing with for quite a few years now.
  3. I hope to publish Has Kane Mesmer Lost His Magic Touch ? with Marleen Lowe's art.
  4. I will publish at least one WesterNoir book, and current plans have it at three new books.
  5. I hope to publish From Super-Zeroes to Super-Heroes with art from myself and Seba Velez, and
  6. I'm really hoping that we get a few issues of Stephenson's Robot in print.
Plenty to go at there...
...and on a personal note, I'm going to look up some old friends and work at keeping some of the newer ones as I move jobs.

I wish everyone a prosperous 2014.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

A busy year...

This has got to have been one of the busiest years I've had.
My day job at  the Co-op Bank became a real challenge as I found myself being moved from my Data Architect role into a more generalist Senior Solution Architect one, on a very complex Programme. There was a greater need for Solution Architects than Data Architects in the Coop at the time and so it was a case of me getting my head around a new role and a part of the Banking Group that I hadn't looked into at all in my two years with the company. I accepted this change in my role, although I did discuss it with more senior people, but as this role was not what I had specialised in over the years I also started to look for opportunities outside of the Co-op.
Whilst this was going on Accent UK was having one of its busiest years as far as Conventions and publications were concerned. We had had tables at more than 10 events (with Colin doing an additional two without me) by the end of the year.
On top of all of this my daughter Jemma has had her first year of exams and is at the stage where she needs to consider what she does for her A levels, and where she does it. This is always going to be a tough time for parents as you want to advise but need to step back and not take control. It all has to be their choice in the end. It is their life.
Hard work all around then.
I know I wouldn't have been able to cope if I didn't have the good fortune to know and work with a lot of really good people.
As I sat on the train going home from the last of this year's Christmas Parties I reflected, in a bit of an alcoholic stupor (supported by a whole load of drunken footfall fans who belted out the one song they knew... for the entire journey), on  how many good people I had met at the Co-op and how I'd miss them as I take on a Data Architect role at Lloyds (yep, I had managed to secure the role that I wanted).
Cracker Joke from first Co-op Xmas party.
I have made some really good friends at the Co-op and I realised that working in a city really helps. It's nice to be able to pop out for a coffee and chat at lunchtime, or to pop into a pub for a quick beer and chat on the way home. To get out of the office environment. My previous job at Barclays (looks like I'm collecting Banks) was more of a campus, self contained set up, in the middle of nowhere. This meant that when the day was done everybody just got into their cars and went home. I'm not sure what it'll be like in my new role but I've promised myself that I'd work at keeping in contact with my friends at the Co-op and also look up some of my old ones from Barclays, I really shouldn't have let so much time pass without getting in touch.
I guess I've discovered that I really am a bit of a people person.
We discussed this one a bit on the night of the Party..
it reads wrong to me... surely the little candle would go out first.
When it comes to Accent UK, I've always split the workload with Colin, but this year has seen our on going title WesterNoir go from strength to strength. Gary Crutchley and I meet up every week or so to work out a bit more of the plot, and Gary not only produces the wonderfully appropriate artwork but also fleshes out the first draft of the script, leaving me to merely edit it and suggest a title. This has helped enormously and I will go so far as to say that we wouldn't now be looking at print dates for issue 4 if Gary hadn't invested so much of himself in the project.
My best Christmas Cracker toy this year.
And finally, when it came to helping Jemma it was my wife Jane who was always there to listen and provide advice when asked for. We'll see what Jemma decides to do when she gets her results, but I commend Jane on playing a background role, answering questions, providing advice when asked for but never suggesting or recommending.
So, what am I trying to say ?
  1. I guess I've realised that it's important to take the time to sit back and think about your life once in a while, rather than just carry on rushing into each new day.
  2. I guess I've realised how important good friends are and how lucky I am to have so many.
  3. I guess I've realised that with good friends around you you're less likely to get swamped by it all, and...
  4. I guess I've realised that if you want a nice quiet journey home then not to get the 9.04pm train from Manchester Piccadilly to Crewe.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

WesterNoir in Curiosity Of A Social Misfit's Top 10 comic books of 2013.

Yep, our WesterNoir series has been selected by Pat Challis in his ''2013's Top Ten Comic Book Releases!'' list. You can read the full list and see how high we got over at Curiosity of a Social Misfit.
We've a lot planned for Josiah Black and the world he wanders, and are planning an accompanying series called Tales of WesterNoir, which will let us tell stories about the other characters that cross Josiah Black's path. I've already written a short story about Jim Wilson, yep, the bloke who died in issue 1, and an artist has accepted the job of bringing the words to life.
I'll be meeting up with Gary sometime soon and he'll no doubt have his story written up as well. I know he also has an artist lined up but we'll announce who they are when the books are closer to seeing print.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Invisible Man seen in comic stores...

I've just been informed by my local comic shop (Millennium Comics in Northwich (thanks Dan)) that Missing - Have You Seen The Invisible Man? has been delivered by Diamond and so should be in stores across the country (and wider) as of tomorrow.
If you would like a copy then I suggest you pop in before they run out as stores don't tend to order many.
And please do let us know what you think of it.