Archive for June, 2008

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Chadabourn signs major new Deal

June 30, 2008

CHADBOURN SIGNS MAJOR DEAL FOR NEW ELIZABETHAN FANTASY
Two-time British Fantasy Award-winning author Mark Chadbourn has signed a major three-book
deal with UK publisher Transworld for an epic Elizabethan fantasy.
‘The Swords of Albion’ will be published annually from 2010, in the UK and Commonwealth.
The sequence has also been acquired by a US publisher (announcement forthcoming).
Chadbourn says, “This is an epic story filled with intrigue, mystery, adventure and romance,
set against the rich backdrop of the Elizabethan era, that I hope will appeal to readers of both
fantasy and historical fiction. I’m very excited to be working with Transworld for the first time on
the launch of this new series.”
About ‘The Swords of Albion’:
‘Spies are men of doubtful credit, who make a show of one thing and speak another.’ ~ Mary, Queen of Scots
A devilish plot to assassinate the Queen, a Cold War enemy hell-bent on destroying the nation, incredible gadgets, a race against time around the world to stop the ultimate doomsday device…and Elizabethan England’s greatest spy!
Meet Will Swyfte – adventurer, swordsman, rake, swashbuckler, wit, scholar and the greatest of Walsingham’s new band of spies. His exploits against the forces of Philip of Spain have made him a national hero, lauded from Carlisle to Kent. Yet his associates can barely disguise their incredulity – what is the point of a spy whose face and name is known across Europe?
But Swyfte’s public image is a carefully-crafted façade to give the people of England something to believe in, and to allow them to sleep peacefully at night. It deflects attention from his real work – and the true reason why Walsingham’s spy network was established.
A Cold War seethes, and England remains under a state of threat. The forces of Faerie have been preying on humanity for millennia. Responsible for our myths and legends, of gods and fairies, dragons, griffins, devils, imps and every other supernatural menace that has haunted our dreams, this power in the darkness has seen humans as playthings to be tormented, hunted or eradicated.
But now England is fighting back!
Magical defences have been put in place by the Queen’s sorcerer Dr John Dee, who is also a senior member of Walsingham’s secret service and provides many of the bizarre gadgets utilised by the spies. Finally there is a balance of power. But the Cold War is threatening to turn hot at any moment…
Will now plays a constant game of deceit and death, holding back the Enemy’s repeated incursions, dealing in a shadowy world of plots and counter-plots, deceptions, secrets, murder, where no one… and no thing…is quite what it seems.
The entire world is the battleground – from Russia, across Europe, to the Caribbean and the New World. And while great events play out in the public eye, the true struggle takes place behind the scenes: the Spanish Armada, the Throckmorton Plot, the colonisation of the Americas, the Court intrigues, the battles in Ireland and against Spain, the death of Marlowe, the plagues, the art, the music, the piracy, the great discoveries…all are simply window-dressing as the great sweep of recorded history is peeled back to show the truth behind.

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Interview with Harry Markos of Markosia Entertainment

June 29, 2008

For those of you who have never met Harry I’d suggest tracking him down at the next con and pumping him. I mean for information, the guy speaks so passionately and doesn’t speak down to you. He is really enthusiastic about the industry and also comics. It’s a pity I have to transcribe this rather than putting the conversation up on the net as the enthusiasm comes across.

Interview with Harry Markos Bristol Comic Convention

CB: We’re here with Harry Markos of Markosia Entertainment, We’re going to have a little chat about Markosia, what he’s noticed this weekend and any forthcoming events and new titles coming out, Thanks for taking the time out this morning Harry I know that Markosia is busy this morning going through portfolio’s with people. Your stall’s been pretty busy this morning. What have you thought of the con in general this weekend?

Harry: Well it’s a bit busier than last year, Yesterday was incredible and they were locking people out it was so busy.

CB: I didn’t know that, I just thought that it was full again

Harry: They did, twice in fact, something to do with fire regulations and it being too busy in there. And as a side effect we were very busy yesterday which was great, todays a little quieter but still quite busy. We decided to do the portfolio sessions today as it’s a little quieter but we have still had 25 artists come today with portfolios. We’ve already worked through eight

CB: Already this morning?

Harry: Yeah, so I got plenty more to do. Some are also going to be sent in via email, as some of the artists couldn’t make it today. Markosia are always on the lookout for bright young talent, particularly from the UK, we want to encourage that talent as I know there’s a lot out there. We’re still using European and global talent as well but I want to introduce more British talent. We’ve been quite successful recently with the success of Paul Green who this time last year at Bristol, he came along and was introduced to me, his art blew me away. I asked him to do some concept art, which he did and it was amazing. Within a couple of weeks I’d offered him a four issue mini-series on Starship Troopers, which he was absolutely amazing on. He’s now been signed up to do Flash Gordon and is being looked at by everyone.

CB: This is the Flash Gordon that’s being shown at the convention.

Harry: Yeah, Actually I am quite fortunate, I made a bet with him, and I said that within a month of the first Starship Troopers coming out, if he wasn’t signed up by someone else, I would run down my road naked. So it was quite fortunate that in week three, he’d called me to say that he’d been signed up to do Flash Gordon. He’s got an amazing future ahead of him. I’m hoping that we’ll have some big players if the next few months pan out. He’s the kind of talent that I want to meet and I want to publish because there’s a lot of talent out there and I want to introduce them to the world as we feel we have a good platform to be able to do that.

CB: Going off the back of what you are saying there Harry, You’ve got the Big two Dc and Marvel obviously and then just underneath that you’ve got your Image your Dark Horse, which I personally don’t put down myself as I collect a lot of indie titles and Indie titles is where I started and where I will also show a lot of loyalty to. What’s Markosia’s main principle on the marketplace? DC and Marvel are all about the big bang the big buck. Some great writers and some great artists but it is the big product.

Harry: It is, it’s a really tough brutal market out there at the moment. And it’s only really the top five publishers that are actually achieving anything in my opinion. There’s a lot of controversy regarding the comic format itself, is it going to last? Is it going to be replaced? I personally think that it will always be there. Though I do think that it will be in a limited form and probably only those that can afford to do it will be able to do it in the future. As you know it’s not a cheap business. We’ve been going for four years now which is a miracle in itself. We were told by Diamond that 75% of new publishers don’t last five months. So four years is a big achievement for us and particularly for a British publisher as well. There are lots of small one title publishers about and they are doing a great job but unfortunately because of the way the market is at the moment they are not getting the recognition or the exposure that they deserve that they would have got 20-30 years ago when it was a different market. When there were millions of copies being sold around the world. It’s completely changed now, the internet has made a lot of inroads into the way the industry is being presented in the future, which we are going to be a part of, and we’ve got some talent lined up to do that. Mainly as a publisher and we’ve published Starship Troopers and Kong a couple of licensed properties, we moved into novels and when we started no other publisher was doing it. Now everyone seems to be doing it now but when we announced it people thought we were crazy as no one else would contemplate it. But back then we thought it would be big and we’ve been proved right. Where I am very keen to explore is new concepts new property’s new creators as well as established creators who want their own creations to be published, we enter into a partnership with them, where we take the risk on the publishing and marketing side and pitching it out there to the Hollywood’s and the European markets. We’re very well placed with that now and we see that for us that is the way forward. Acquiring these partnerships and new property’s because there’s a need for it, a need for new fresh blood, which is becoming more and more difficult for people to get into and what people don’t realize is that despite the success of Marvel and DC and maybe a couple of others the market is tightening up in terms of creator owned stuff, In terms of artists getting well paid jobs with the publishers, it’s getting harder and harder there’s more and more talent and less and less work paid work that is. And it’s stifling the market a bit, with all the problems with distribution and low sales more and more company’s are being forced out. What people don’t realize is that when the small press guys go and then the indie company’s go the rest of the industry will collapse as well. Most of the big guys at Marvel, DC, Dark Horse etc all started at the bottom of the ladder.

CB: Of course in the indie market.

Harry: Yes, so you take that away and they are going to suffer quite badly as well. I realize that every business has to evolve I think that at the moment we’re going through a transitional period where no one seems to know which way to turn other than internet related. Digital stuff. It’s very unclear where it’s going to go, so we’re determined that we’re going to be around for many years anyway. We’ve got a very good business plan laid out and we know where we are headed. We’ll struggle through it because we need to keep ourselves in the mind of people. Everyone needs the exposure and awareness out there. And when eventually the market sorts itself out with whatever direction it’s chosen we’ll be well placed to take advantage of that. I am very confident that within a year or two we’ll be very well placed.

CB: So going back to last night, The Butcher understands that Markosia was nominated for several awards at the eagles. Is that correct?

Harry: (smiling) I think it was seven yeah, it was originally more than that but it got whittled down to seven.

CB: Not being a fan of any awards as I find them very open to nepotism and I tend to smell a rat, were there any controversies at the awards last night

Harry: Hmmm there may have been, In fact there was yes. In fact the controversy started many weeks ago with some rumors spreading about some potential vote rigging and cheating, which was very unpleasant at the time. We kept well out of that as a company, we refused to have anything to do with that and were not involved. The creators who were involved were given an apology last night which was very good to hear and very big of the person who gave the apology. That was it as far as we were concerned we were actually nominated as far as I was aware. We made it into the top five as best publisher.

CB: Nice achievement.

Harry: Then we were removed, and were replaced by vertigo apparently. Which is quite interesting as DC were one of the five as well, it was interesting to see how that worked. But you know we’re not bothered about things like that, we keep out of it, and we get on with our own business. For us Bristol is a very important show it’s one of our home town shows and it keeps us flying the flag as it were. Which I think we’re doing reasonably well.

CB: It’s certainly a good stand this year, and in such a prime spot.

Harry: Thank you, we try our best, and there’s a good collection of work there to see as well, Over the last four years we’ve built up approximately 25 titles which is quite an achievement. We’re just experimenting with something and we went online and live on Thursday night before Bristol, We put three web comics up. Completely different formats and property’s than we’ve ever published before including a manga web comic which we’re quite excited about. We’ve got a lot of different avenues that we are pursuing.

CB: You’ve mentioned your big titles being Kong and Starship Troopers, here’s your chance to give us the lowdown on your other titles and guys

Harry: Oh most definitely, we’re very excited we’ve got some gorgeous new property’s coming out this year. One is at the printer this week Lazarus Immortal Coils by Joseph Gauthier who is based in SanFrancisco. The Man is amazing  his story coupled with the amazing artworkworks brilliantly he does so much work. It has Lazarus as the good guy and fighting demons. In July we have another completely different direction in a new series called N-Guard by Canadian Creator John Bryans,it’s an anthromorporthic all ages adventure that is in four parts that we’re very excited about and it’s just been given a staff pick in Previews which is quite an achievement for us. Also later on this year we have The Magpye, which  I understand that you know a bit about and the boys behind it

CB: Sure do, and have been pimping it well for you.

Harry (laughs) Yep, the Magpye is a much darker tale. Then December time we have a five-issue mini called Serpent Wars. It’s set in the 19th Century and is about a young apprentice, He Stows away on a British Lord’s ship to prove the existence of sea serpents. We’re really behind this title as we’ve pitched it to Hollywood and they are quite excited about it. Also we signed Mr. Regie Rigby’s Sunset, which Paul green is currently illustrating. And Paul is busy next year with another title Contagion which is written by Chris Jones.

CB: So going back to what you were saying earlier, has anyone taken the Harry seal of approval.

Harry: Yes, there’s been a couple actually. I’ll be holding further talks with them later. The two I met yesterday are both British Lads and some Spanish lads today. So we’ll see how it pans out but I am sure we’ll be seeing them under the Markosia label in the coming months. Our guys seem to do so well and move on to bigger things, we had Ryan Stegman who worked on Midnight Kiss. Now he’s drawing Spider man for Marvel. And that makes us proud to know that we helped those guys on the way. They are like part of the family and we stay close to them. That’s they way I like to work where it’s small contained like a small family unit and I believe that works.

CB: Anything you’d like to say to the fans?

Harry: Thank you very much for your support and we couldn’t do it without you, it’d be great if you continued your support and spread the word that we’re a young ambitious enterprising British company. We want to succeed, we need to succeed. We’re always open to comments if you want to get in touch, get in touch with me personally I will always respond. Markosia couldn’t have done it without you, thank you

CB: The Question from Stu.Art is what is your favorite cheese and why?

Harry: Dutch Edam, I have always loved that cheese, It’s the first cheese I remember as a kid and it’s just stayed with me, gorgeous tasting.

CB: And on that note thank you Harry .

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Dark Knight Photo’s

June 23, 2008

Heath Ledger as Joker

Gary Oldman as Gordon

Guess Heath didn’t get Christians “punch” line

Scary Eh

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Book Reviews

June 19, 2008

As I have recently been on a spending spree the next couple of weeks will see me going through 14 books. The first two up are

Horus Heresy-Legion by Dan Abnett

Angels of Darkness- Gav Thorpe

This is a departure from the normal Horus series, this is actually a very sympathetic book, without giving anything away and it would spoil the entire story if i did. This is one book full of turn and counter turn and chock full of suprises. Dan Abnett at his best

I was really looking forward to this as Gav Thorpe is a solid writer. Boy was I let down, this is by far his weakest book and did nothing at all to expand the mythos of the dark angels

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Brave Wales show guts and earn respect

June 14, 2008

Despite playing their socks off Wales just couldn’t put the boks to the sword. Warren Gatland must have been more impressed seeing the Welsh team play with fire in their bellys and fronting up to the Boks. Shane Williams once again showed why he is the best winger in the world and made the boks look foolish for trying to tackle him. Thanks to the BBC for the match report

Wales’ hopes of claiming their first win in South Africa were dashed in the second Test in Pretoria.

First-half tries from Gareth Cooper and a superb effort from Shane Williams had given the Grand Slam champions hope as they pushed their hosts.

But the Springboks proved too strong for Wales with Jean de Villiers going over for two of the world champions’ four tries.

The reliable boot of Butch James was key in securing a 2-0 Test victory.

Coach Warren Gatland was looking for redemption following last week’s 43-17 defeat and they certainly made some amends.

James Hook was placed at full-back and Jamie Roberts at centre for the first time, neither having played there at senior level.

The hosts made four changes, including returns for lock Victor Matfield and scrum-half Ricky Januarie.

And it was Wales who looked much more the lively in the opening stages and got off to the perfect start three minutes in with Stephen Jones kicking the first points.

South Africa responded by camping the Welsh on their own try-line forcing them to defend desperately.

James just narrowly missed going over at the corner after Matfield took out three Welsh defenders with a thunderous charge.

But they got the breakthrough when de Villiers slipped past the visitors’ defence when they failed to clear a line-out. James converted.

That lead was extended on 17 minutes as South Africa looked to take charge.

Juan Smith found space on the right and off-loaded to scrum-half Januarie to claim the second try, which James converted.

Wales immediately cut the 14-3 deficit when Jonathan Thomas cleverly laid off to Gloucester scrum-half Cooper at the front of a line-out and he broke free to race over.

Jones’ conversion put them four points behind, but James had the chance to open up the gap again with a penalty only to miss, ending his run of 10 successful kicks over the two Tests.

And it proved costly as Ospreys wing Williams produced another moment of brilliance with his 43rd Wales try.

The Springboks lost possession just inside their own half, Williams picked up the loose ball and raced past five players to go over near the corner.

Williams was then called into action at the other end just before the break when he intercepted James’ pass.

But James made sure South Africa went in ahead at the break when Blues centre Jamie Roberts was penalised at the line.

Jones did have the chance to change that in overtime, but sent his long-range penalty wide.

Wales came out on the attack in the second half enjoying more time on the ball, but it was the hosts who secured the first points.

Roberts infringed at the ruck allowing James to kick South Africa into a 20-15 lead.

But Wales were not ready to give up and Jones clawed back another three points after Mtawarira failed to roll away at a ruck.

And they went ahead with 20 minutes to go when Jones successfully kicked again.

The Springboks brought on all of their big-guns and regained the lead through another James kick.

It seemed to give them some more impetus and Percy Montgomery was halted at the line before de Villiers made sure diving over with James converting.

They continued to press and finally got their fourth score through Bismarck Du Plessis after a quick penalty.

On paper, the win looked far more convincing for South Africa but Wales showed that they do still have the fight that made them champions of the northern hemisphere.

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Comics pick of the week

June 14, 2008

This week there were some good comics and some bad comics. But the pick of the bunch were the following

Greg Pak continues his meteoric rise with this follow on from Planet Hulk. If Marvel had more writers like him and Dan Abnett then they wouldn’t get so much bad press. For a first issue this is paced nicely, The artwork follows in the same vein as Planet Hulk and the first issue is a good story.

Trinity 2. Apart from the second string story being moved into the mainstream story, this is a strong second issue. Really intrigued to see where this goes. DC has a 50/50 with weekly comics and I for one hope that with the talent on this title that they put this firmly in the hit.

Now that brings me to something I don’t like to do. I appreciate that every ones comic pounds are hard earned (or dollars) But I am going to recommend a Trade (as long as DC brings it out) GET Gotham Underground. Frank Tieri has proved once again that he can hold the big titles, keep a story flowing and make you feel something for the characters. There is one scene in the last issue where you read with heart in your mouth, thinking OMG Is he gonna……

Trust me this is a definite plus for anyones collection.

Which almost brings me to a close. Apart from one of my favourite characters and also my biggest gripes with any comic house. Firstly to the gripe. Don’t have a title where a) the characters name is in it and said character isn’t b) kill of an iconic character in the very first issue. I loved Wisdom and am a long time fan of Captain Britain. All I can hope is that Marvel haven’t decided to shaft us Brits yet again. This is a good comic, it could have been a exceptional read apart from No Captain Britain. I only got this title to read Captain Britain (rant over)

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Halt Lisbon Treaty-Tories speak sense labour once again ignores the people

June 13, 2008

Halt Lisbon Treaty process - Hague

William Hague speaks sense, speaks for the majority of people in Britain. But our Labour government the supposed party of the people once again shows how out of touch it is with the voters. What is it with the EU and the Labour Party in particular that they show such contempt for the people they are supposed to represent.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague has said the Government should now halt the ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty after it was thrown out by voters in Ireland.

“Alone in Europe they have had the chance to make their views known. If democracy in the EU is to mean anything their decision must be respected,” he said.

“The British Government must respect the Irish people’s verdict. Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in Parliament must be stopped immediately.”

He said that if Government still wanted to go ahead with ratification, it must now give people in Britain a say through a referendum.

The final referendum result showed 53.4% voted No, while 46.6% voted Yes. There were 862,415 No votes to 752,451 Yes votes, a majority of 109,964.

Critics said the “No” vote in Ireland represents the same fatal blow to the Lisbon Treaty as was dealt to the EU Constitution by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

Downing Street declined to comment on reports that the Prime Minister had called French president Nicolas Sarkozy to assure him that British ratification would continue.

The House of Lords this week cleared the way for Parliament to ratify the treaty when it rejected a Conservative bid to force a referendum.

But prominent eurosceptic David Heathcoat-Amory insisted the Government must “go back to the drawing board” and respect the voters of Holland, France and Ireland.

“The Bill before the British Parliament must be withdrawn because under the European Union‘s own laws this cannot proceed now. The Lisbon Treaty is dead,” the Tory MP told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One.