Sunday, 31 December 2017

The 42nd Post.

A bit of a change to my usual 'last post of the year' and as I write this I worry that I am becoming a grumpy old man.
My first smart phone was an iPhone.
My current smart phone is an iPhone.
It is the same phone and I've had it for about 4 years now.
To me 4 years isn't very long at all.
I have an iPhone 5C.
For 4 years I've been pretty happy with it. I do love its ease of use.
I bought my daughter an iPhone 5S a year ago.
The only real difference being the amount of storage capacity, her's is much bigger than mine and the size of mine was a mistake from the start. A mistake that has caused me to be careful with the number of applications I download and to have to frequently manage the space, deleting emails and managing photos etc.
It was something that I've managed to get my head around and something that I've been able to deal with, although it has been frustrating at times.
Now I'm getting messages to upgrade to iOS version 11, from 10.3.3.
I worried about the fact that doing so might actually grab a bit more of my most precious smart phone resource:- Space.
From SETTINGS I can see that the 10.3.3 iOS takes a hungry 578.8 MB. That seems a lot to me but its a great little device so I'm sure its all for a good reason.
I asked my daughter what iOS she was on.
'iOS 11' she informed me, as if that's what everyone should be on.
'How much space does that use?' I asked.
'1.36 GB' she said, 'and I'm running out of space.'
Bloody marvellous.
I don't have that much space, it's been ages since I have had that much space. I can't afford to lose that much space. I've long since run out of sacrificial applications.
And what on earth is Apple doing between versions that requires so much extra space anyway?
I feel that I'm being ripped off by Apple.
They have been caught out already for nudging people to upgrade their devices to the latest version by slowing down older machines.
I think they are also making the smaller capacity phones obsolete by guzzling up as much space as they can get away with in their operating systems.
Sadly I think I'll be moving to Android next year when my contract expires.
I love the iPhone.
But I'm sick of being taken for a mug...

Movies of 2017.

I'll confess to see mostly movies about Superheroes with my daughter Jemma but I also took time to see the last Apes movie in the trilogy and the sequel to my favourite film of all time, Baderunner.
It's always difficult listing things in some kind of order as they all have something different and overall then only assessment I feel qualified to talk about is 'How much I enjoyed them'.
Here goes.
In order of my enjoyment.
Thor - Ragnarok
This had the feel of a buddy movie, and whilst it had a similar feel to the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, with Hulk playing the role of Drax to Thor's Starlord and even Valkyrie playing Gamora, I went along for the ride and really enjoyed it. There were some great one liners and I loved the way the even the trailers were misleading when put in context of the surrounding movie.
War of the Planet of the Apes
A great ending to the trilogy, and I hope not the parking of a great re-imagining of the franchise.

I loved everything about this movie. I really 'human' story with a message. Some really nice touches, one of which explained humanity's loss of the ability to speak as seen in the original. Yep, I really hope they do more.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2
Yep, this one was almost as good as the first and like the Thor movie it never let up from bugging to end. One of those films where the end credits surprise you more for them coming what seems like too soon than the little extras.
Drax is excellent and baby Groot is used really well. The soundtrack is fabulous too. Sure it plays a bit with comic book mythology but I'm not going to complain at all. Comics are comics and movies are movies. I love the little changes, otherwise what's the point really.
Wonder Woman.
Certainly the best of the DC movies to date. Human story, well developed characters, not too much CGI and an actress who carried the role really well.

I had worried that this would feel too much like Captain America, a warrior out of time, but it had its own thing going on and just flowed so well.
A bleak end to Hugh Jackman's Wolverine run but the best of the lot.

I just wish they'd been allowed to make this type of movie for all of his solo outings. Powerful stuff.
Justice League.
Yep, I enjoyed it. So there.

There has been a lot of criticism of this movie but I was always going to watch it regardless. A lot of the criticism I'd read was actually, well, just wrong. Written by people who must have on half watched the movie. It's a shame that the internet gives a voice to anyway (yep, I see the irony there, with me writing the post). I loved the Flash and the scene when he was spotted by Superman despite feeling invulnerable moving at speed is the standout scene for me this year. Yes, it was dark, but it allowed all the characters to have screen time and certainly sets up an interesting future for the franchise. This is if people stop listening to know-nothing critics and give the films a chance.
Bladerunner  2049.
It didn't ruin my favourite film.

I actually allowed myself to go to this despite my fears that it would ruin the myth that follows the original, Bladerunner.
It didn't and I enjoyed the movie.
Not as good as the original, or anywhere near it, but a decent film with a great soundtrack and some amazing visuals.
SpiderMan - Homecoming 

Although it felt a bit too much like the main Marvel movies and didn't really stamp its own identity on the franchise (which Ant-Man did so well), I enjoyed this latest version of Spidey and think it is probably the best to date. I also liked some of the more subtle changes to supporting characters and thank somebody somewhere that it wasn't another origin story.
Plenty of movies lining up for next year, should be a good one.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Street Art in Birmingham.

Every now and then I'm really impressed with a piece of street art. I came across this a few days ago whilst meeting up with my daughter in Birmingham.
I need to explore Birmingham better and see what other artworks have been produced around the city.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Bargain at HMV.

Spotted this bargain yesterday in HMV.
Yep, for £9.99 I can get this DVD of a film that intrigued me when it came out. Or, I could combine it with another £9.99 DVD and pay an extra 2 pence, for a total of £20.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

New Steampunk comic.

Accent UK will be producing a Steampunk comic next year. Short stories featuring some very unique characters, with a twist. I'll not say more than that at the moment but the first story is in and I'm working on the script for the second one as I type this.
Gary Crutchley will also be contributing story and art in his own little tale, leaving only Colin to sort out his contribution.
Here's a teaser image.
with art from the very talented Russell Mark Olson, creator of Gateway City.
I'm hoping to Kickstarter this one to get it in front of people outside the UK.

It's a cracker.

Just to show that you can learn something new every day, I got this in my Christmas cracker.
No, it wasn't that the jokes were getting better...
I never knew that's where the X in Xmas comes from.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Me and Elvis.

I've always enjoyed listening to Elvis, who doesn't really.
Imagine my surprise then when up in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery I managed to take this selfie...

The magician's knot.

I forgot to mention that when I got home I found that somehow the magician had managed to get the knot that he'd cut from two pieced of string, that become one, to somehow turn up in my room.
Now that's magic.

Steve Tanner's 50th.

I've been busy of late with a new job and other things and so haven't updated the blog as much as I should have.
I wanted to share this photo though that I took at Steve 'Timebomb' Tanner's 50th Birthday party that we were invited to.
When Steve greeted me at the door I asked..
'Do you expect me to talk Godfinger?'
To which Steve replied...
'No Mr West, I expect you to die!'
You can't beat lines from classic movies :o)
We had a really enjoyable evening, I was magician's helper for a while and had to look after 'The knife'.
A great night chatting, eating some wonderful curries and drinking with Steve and his family, Colin and Karen, Dave Morris and Liz and Paul Birch and his wife.

I've just booked Meanwhile event for next year.

I really enjoyed this year's event and so booked early for next year.
If you are in the area and want to see what a regional show can be like them pop along.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Getting AccentUK comics digitally.

We've been available for a while now through the Rusumat application, and this weekend the good people at Rusumat informed me that they've been working hard on their application with a new upgrade and have launched it with Has Kane Mesmer Lost His Magic Touch? up there.
This is the follow up comic from Marleen Lowe and myself.
Set in the same universe as Whatever Happened To the World's Fastest Man? and also Missing : Have You Seen The Invisible Man? (my collaboration with Joe Campbell) this tale once again balance the good with the bad. The good side and bad side that comes with an ability, and in this case also with celebrity.
You can find more details on the app at  () and subscribe at .

Monday, 30 October 2017

Flesh - Issue 2 - A review.

I'm not a big fan of horror comics.
I mean real gritty and grim horror comics where people get their throats ripped out by come creature who lives just to rip people's throats out.
And so I've never really been drawn to the comics of Dark Pond Creations.
They're not my cup of tea.
Talking to Patrick Scattergood, the driving force behind DPC, at this years Nottingham Comic Con however I was struck by the fact that one of the tales in issue 2 of FLESH was a more personal story from Patrick. One about his battle with depression.
I bought a copy.
The first two tales in the comic then are what I expected and although well written and illustrated I found myself passing through them pretty quickly before arriving at The Black Dog In The Night.
It's a personal story expertly illustrated by Luke Cooper about Patrick's fight against The Black Dog, depression. A real horror that confronts too many of the people around us. There are some really subtle touches to the artwork, the thin scars on the wrist for example, that add to the realism. A powerful tale all the more horrific because it is very real for so many.

I'm not a big fan of horror comics.
But I'm a fan of stories like this.
You can find Dark Pond Creations on Facebook.

Nottingham Comic Con.

It's nice to go to a Convention that is all about comics.
The Nottingham Comic Con is all about comics.
Sure, you get the odd stall selling trinkets or chocolate but really it's all about the comics.
This then was our first visit to Nottingham, in previous years it had always clashed with something we'd already committed to.
The Accent UK team of me and Gary Crutchley drove across early Saturday for the one day show and found everything went very easily.
Directions, parking, accessing the venue, the lifts, finding our table and setting up.
All was very very straightforward.
And we were next to the chocolate stall (more on that later).
I'd heard a lot of good things about this show, but always from creators who talked more about catching up with friends than actually meeting lots of the public interested in their books. As such I really wasn't expecting to sell much, but wanted to experience the event and enjoy it for what it was.
Or, what I thought it to be.
There were, however, plenty of people passing our table, lots of interest and we actually did pretty well.
I also managed to catch up with Andy Bloor, Patrick Scattergood and Alex of Pipedream Comics, and if you are interested in Independent comics then The Pull List is a great way to find out what's going on. Recommended. All had tables and all were enjoying the show.
Gary spots me loitering on the balcony above.
I learned a lot about the healthy benefits of 'real' chocolate from our neighbours, and sampled their product in the shape of a dark chocolate frog. Did you know that sniffing 'real' chocolate keeps hunger away? I didn't either, but a quick experiment with the half eaten frog later in the day actually seemed to confirm it. There are plenty of other good things to report and basically 5g - 20g (depending on your weight/build) of 'real' chocolate a day is good for you.
We finished the day with a Thai meal with Matt Booker and then chatted all the way back. We agreed that we'd had a really nice day.
We will definitely be back next year.

They Live in Sainsbury's.

I always give the tagline "It's They Live meets Deadwood" at comic conventions when describing our western horror comic, WesterNoir, and am usually disappointed to find that not many people below the age of 30 have seen the film.
It's a classic.
And it's only £7 for the BluRay at Sainsbury's.
Go get it.
Ha .. a thought occurred to me that I should force it into shopping trolleys as they pass and fight anybody who tries to take it out. Fight them until they accept that they will indeed buy it and watch it.
That paragraph will make no sense unless you've seen the film.
Go buy it.
Go watch it.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Bladerunner 2049.

It's not news that I'm a big fan of the original Bladerunner movie.
It's one of those films where everything just works.
The story, the actors, the cinematography, the special effects, the music and the myth that followed in the stories wake... Was Deckard a replicant?
And so I decided that I wouldn't go to watch it.
More than that, I'd avoid hearing anything about it.
But that was of course impossible.
I saw a photo of a much older Deckard.
But did that necessarily make him human?
Who was I kidding. I couldn't resist and found myself at the first viewing.
I think it must have been too early as you can see from the photo above.
What was the film like? It was excellent.
It built on the first story, and didn't try to re-write any of it.
The actors were great, and old Harrison Ford still plays himself better than anyone else can.
The cinematography was as good as the first film.
The music had echoes of the great Vangelis soundtrack from the original.
The myth was preserved, with Deckard's humanity as uncertain at the films end as it was at the beginning.
The film is a success and I'd recommend it to anyone... and everyone.
I liked it so much I even bought the T-shirt.
Go see it.
But take a friend... just in case.

One ticked off my Bucket List.

It started with an email from a good friend of mine from my time working at the Co-op.
Neil Morrow had a spare ticket to an American Football game at the Wembley Stadium.
I was into American Football way back when they used to show it on Channel 4 and it's a game that I've always wanted to experience live.
It always seemed such a great experience. An event that was bigger than the actual game.
'I'm interested.' I replied, 'Who's playing?'
'Miami Dolphins vs the New Orleans Saints'
Wow. Miami Dolphins were my favourite team way back then. Dan Marino being the star quarterback, if memory serves.
'Hell yes.' I was up for this, even if I knew I'd be feeling really tired from travelling back from Glasgow the week before and also that I was going to Chichester, and back, on the Saturday.
And there I was. Sat watching the screens show off cheerleaders and interviews whilst Pepsi cola T-shirts were being shot into the crowd by girls in costume surrounded by men bouncing around on those stilt things.
And the game started.
I still remembered the rules and the first quarter was quite tense, with Dolphins almost getting a Touchdown in their first drive.
Sadly this was as close as they got all game and where overwhelmed by a stronger New Orleans team. There were more penalty plays than I ever remember seeing on TV, maybe the rules have changed a little as they have with our own football where you can earn a free kick these days from falling down when someone looks at you.
I enjoyed the spectacle, and the way that 4 * 15 minute Quarters game time resulted in about 3 hours event time. It was never boring though. Something was always going on, whether it was the man in a Dolphin suit who ran around and engaged the crowd (which took me back to the Simpsons episode when Homer had gotten the job of Team Mascot) or when one of the stewards on the pitch got a decent Mexican Wave going.
An enjoyable day, despite the poor Miami Dolphins performance, and something I can tick off of my Bucket List.
Thanks for thinking of me Neil when the ticket became available.

Meanwhile at the Comic Con.

When Simon Birks (of Blue Fox Comics) mentioned his new Comic Convention in Chichester I must confess to thinking it'd be another small provincial Con with few customers and too many stalls. This was typically how they went so why would Meanwhile be any different ?
But Simon is a friend and so I offered my support and agreed to book a table.
As it typical for me it was a few months later that I actually got around to booking the table, but book one I did.
As the day drew nearer Simon offered me an extra table as someone had dropped out, so I was to have two tables to fill and man (as I was on my own).
It's been a busy few weeks and it was only the night before, having loaded my stock, that I looked to see where Chichester actually was and how long it would take to get there.
An early start for me then but the drive would only be two and a half hours, so not too bad.
I managed to arrive with only 15 minutes to spare, but even on my own had managed to set the table up with seconds to go.
The day started nicely, with a fair number of early ticket holders showing interest, and I realised that this was a comic con then more than a multimedia one. People were here looking for comics.
And when the general population entered that was confirmed with lots of discussions held with a good number of customers and many of these resulted in people buying a book or two.
As first Cons go, this was a great one.
The efforts of Simon and team paid off and I think the Con will only get better year by year as word spreads.
A great mix of professional and independent creators, craft stalls and events.
Well done to all.
Accent UK will be up for returning next year.

Monday, 2 October 2017

From Krypton To Kelvingrove.

I took the opportunity whilst up in Glasgow to catch the end of the Frank Quitely exhibition in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
Jemma had kept an eye on the dates and suggested we have a look at it all on Monday.
The last time I'd been in the art gallery was to see an exhibition of Mucha's work, and it was actually quite something to have a Comic Artist exhibit, to me it gave some degree of credibility to comic art in general and I was pleased to see it attended by all age groups whilst we were there.
It was stunning.
I've been a fan of his work since Flex Mentallo and to see original pages and videos interviewing him and his peers about his work was great.
It's a shame that it's not an exhibition that's on tour as it would be really good to make the general public aware of the talent of a lot of comic artist and in particular Mr Quietly, I won't divulge his secret identity.
I can't wait to get see his next project and hopefully the animation that he's creating.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Glasgow MCM.

For the first time in recorded history the Accent UK team was split across two Cons.
The A-Team (that's any team that includes me, and this time was with Jemma) were at the Glasgow MCM and the B-Team (which is any team that included Colin, and on this occasion included Gary Crutchley and our guest from Denmark Martin Flink) were at Thought Bubble.
Of course there was a competitive element to the whole thing, although I'll confess that I was doubtful of my chance to win. Added to the international guest there were two new books at Thought Bubble that I'd not managed to get hold of, WesterNoir 8 and Martin's The Lizard.
Still, I do love a challenge.
This year then saw us on the table next to Steve 'Timebomb' Tanner.
It's amazing that in his 10 years and our 15 this was actually the first time that this had happened.
We would get a chance to see the Sales Master in action.
He is quite impressive and soon we were both busy talking to customers and swapping cash for comics as is the traditional way of things.
Saturday was very busy and an improvement for us on last year which had been relatively quiet. The Lego figures drew in a lot of interest, but sadly it was mostly under 10 year olds and none of the comics that the characters they saw in Lego form were suitable.
A poor marketing strategy then.
There were, as always, plenty of Cosplayers to marvel at.
My particular favourites were...
Spike from Steampunk Giraffe and...

this from Coraline. Amazing.
A good day ended with a really enjoyable night at Babs (Kebab restaurant (thoroughly recommended) with Mikes Garley and Stott, Jemma and Jenika and Steve Tanner. Great food and great company.
Sunday, whilst starting slower, was another good day.
Did I beat the boys at Thought Bubble ?
Well ... not on total number of Comics sold.
But ... wait a minute ... they had two tables and I had only the one.
So if you take the sales per table, which seems only fair, then I won by a country mile 😂.
I'll leave you with this...
Stay tuned.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Meanwhile at the London MCM Con...

The post about our attendance at the next London MCM was a mistake on my part.
Accent UK will be at the London MCM event as always.
Next weekend though we will have tables at both Thought Bubble and Glasgow MCM events. The A-team will be at the Glasgow MCM and Colin, Gary and Martin Flink (on his first UK appearance) will be at Thought Bubble.
And then the week after I will be representing Accent UK a the Meanwhile event, you can find details about this new event here.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Another event at the Asylum.

This was our second visit to the UK's (and possibly the world's) largest festival celebrating all things Steampunk, set in and around Lincoln's Castle and Cathedral.
Unlike last year, where we spent the three days in the Cathedral Centre (rooms above the cafe) which weren't that well attended, being a little out of the way, the organisers had decided to try moving the literary folks (that's comics and books) around the event. Each day at a new venue.
Day 1 then saw us in the Castle itself.
Being out there amongst the event in this way allowed us to really appreciate what it was all about. It struck me that this wasn't so much an event but more a spectacle. You could see this in the faces of those people who weren't dressed up, and may not have actually been aware of what they were walking into. You could see in their faces however that they were stunned by what they saw.
All the costumes on display.
All the modifications made to everyday objects with such care and attention to detail.
Stall scattered around the castle grounds had all manner of stock, from material for you to use to make your own steampunk gear to items ready to wear.
And all the while beautifully garbed people wandered around, perusing.
It really did feel like I'd wandered into a steampunk dimension and that this was a normal market in such a world.
Now, I've never been one to dress up but even I've started to feel the vibe and bought a few items. I've an idea for where to take my character but it's very much a work in progress and I expected to add an item or two each year.
Colin however needs only the slightest excuse to get his kilt out...
with matching socks of course.
We saw many more visitors to the store than last year, with returning customers looking to pick up the latest issues of Stephenson's Robot and WesterNoir.
Steve Tanner and David Morris where there with Flintlock, although we didn't get to see them for much time during the day as they were in a different venue. I popped over to check on how things were going and bumped into Ian Ashton and his family, which was great as we were able to talk about Kia Wordsmith, our collaboration which will be out next year.
We did get together with the Timebomb crew for a meal after a busy day though, to swap stories and give some insight into each other's first day venues.
Accent UK and Timebomb Comics crossover event.
(not sure where Steve Tanner was though)
On the second day we were back in the Cathedral Centre and did find that the venue had started to feature in people's plans. A good showing in the programme, and some new signs we put up, saw more customer's than we had the year before.
One of the things I love about the whole Steampunk thing is the diversity of costumes, ranging from Victorian through Western to Science Fiction (futuristic but with a steam overtone), and there was also the disturbing...
Sunday night saw us go to a Steampunk Giraffe concert, a band I'd only become aware of following last year's event. Accent UK treated Steve Tanner to the event as it's a significant birthday for him this year. It's funny that as we stood there in the audience we had to position ourselves to avoid our view being obscured by large top hats and feathers. Not a problem in most concerts these days. A great night out and I'm a bit hooked on the band now I must admit. Thanks Colin for getting me that CD, I played it all the way back to London in the car on Monday night.
Monday then was quieter.
I think people were spent up and had pretty much seen all they wanted to see.
We were in the University venue and I feel a little too far out for the casual browsers to wander back to if they'd been there on a previous day. We did however meet some people in wonderful costumes..

Lovely people and such amazing costumes. You may well see these three in a future comic of ours...
And then it was over and driving back to London with Steampunk Giraffe CD in the player I couldn't help but smile at what had been a very enjoyable Bank Holiday weekend and start to think about a number of steampunk projects of my own.
Damn ... it's infectious.

London MCM - Ouch.

Well, we've failed to get a table at the MCM in London this October.
It'll be the first we've missed for a very long time and a shame but we just didn't manage to get our order in in time. The tables had gone in 5 minutes.
It's great that there is so much creativity out there, with so much interest in selling work at Conventions and I sure it'll be a great event.
Let's hope we're luckier next year.

We are at the Glasgow MCM in a couple of weeks though, so not all bad.

Playing with collages.

I've an idea to collage my A to Z of Super Zeroes, for the little hard cover book I've been working on in the background for a few years. I find making them quite relaxing and almost have 26, I just need to work out the story for each, their name and how to position the lettering (on the image itself or under the image on the surrounding page). I'll try both and see which I prefer.
Here's 'A' at any rate.
Alphabet Al.
That's all I've got for him at the moment 😐
Well, I have the beginnings of a rhyme but I need to work on it a little.
Get it to rhyme for a start.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

An evening with Mr Benn.

So, it is probably common knowledge to those who know me that I'm a bit of a David McKee fan.
It will come as no surprise then that when I learned that the man himself would be appearing at The Illustration Cupboard in London's Bury Street (No. 22) I penned it straight into my diary.
I was reminded nearer the time, not that I needed it, by the cover of The Big Issue (and picked up two copies, one for me and one for Mr McKee should he want it).
When the day arrived, as it typical at the moment, my work day took me right up to 5.30pm, meaning I'd have to move it if I was to get there and enjoy the evening, without arriving in a big sweaty mess (it was another very hot and humid day in London). As luck would have it the last meeting of the day was cancelled and so with  some of my McKee collection in a bag I dashed out of the building as soon as the slow office clock reached 4pm.
And there he was.
The man who produced Mr Benn, amongst many other great characters from my childhood.
It was a healthy queue of people aged from about 6 to 60.
When my turn arrived I produced a Buttons comic, two of my old Mr Benn books (one from a library (how did that happen ?)), a Buttons comic annual and a Big Issue (or two).

By the time I'd reached the table I'd also picked up a couple of Melric The Magician books and an audio CD of the Mr Benn theme tune.
Whilst David signed, and more importantly sketched, each book I asked him the question that had been on my mind for too many years to count.
And as if by magic, David appeared.
Keeping my cool I asked David about Mr Benn.
'Why had it stopped so soon ? Why only the one TV series ?'
'The studio chiefs weren't interested in a second series of Mr Benn, believing that viewers would think the second series was a repeat airing of the first', he told me.
And with that David had moved onto other ideas he had.
A shame, but maybe that's part of what makes Mr Benn so special.
Condensing the magic down to so few books and a short series.
Anyway ... it was great speaking to the man who had inspired me so much, and still does.
I don't think I gushed.
I think I kept my cool.
ps. Nobody else had the cheek to sit next to him for a photo.
pps. He was thankful for the copy of The Big Issue.