Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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Jericho

January 11, 2009

Well thanks to Stu.Art I am now addicted to another series, and guess what number crunchers cancelled yet another great show. Yep, I’m talking about Jericho. A good series has good characters and good plots. A great series has great character centric plots. Why can’t more writers churn this stuff out and why is it that when they do some idiot in an office decides lets cancel it. If you haven’t seen it i totally recommend it.

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Comic of the Week

November 3, 2008

There were so many comics running for Comic of the week, But Thor 12 took the title. JMS is one of my favourite writers and one of the few reasons that I am still with Marvel. Yes i know that cover is from the American Thor 12 but it is a nice cover. Now to the meat of it, why is this comic of the week. Well for one reason and one reason only. Thor was one of Captain America’s closest friends, Thor goes to Cap’s grave and using Mjolnir envokes Steve’s vow, that nothing not even death shall seperate us if the call is answered, and with a mighty roar of “Avengers Assemble” the shade of Cap is brought from the lands of the dead. Thor asks Cap does he want revenge and if so Thor will be the instrument of his revenge. Cap tells Thor no and explains what the fight was about, it was never about Steve Rogers or Captain America it was about what America meant and the errosion of that meaning. And that Steve/ Cap just wanted peace. So in one of the most touching moments in comics, Thor gives him his moments peace and short circuits all electrical devices capable of transmission, TV,Radio,Internet for exactly 60 seconds. It was a true dust moment I can tell ya

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Hulk Re-watched

October 19, 2008

Well thats the fourth time I have now watched the Hulk, And it’s still as impressive as the first time. One small thing that it’s taken me four watches to acknowledge. Emile Blonsky aka the Abomination in the film is Russian Born and brought up in the UK. Serving with the Royal Marines he was seconded to the United States for their special mission. Ok so far, but the scene where he is in full dress uniform talking to General Ross, quite clearly shows him in a US army uniform. Now when your seconded to another countrys military you wear your own uniform. Error or Lazy editing you decide

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Reviews

October 19, 2008

Well for me over the last two months there has only been one real head and shoulders comic that I’d like to review, Be warned total spoilers ahead

As this issue opens, we see a man named Shelton being taken by two shady looking characters in plaid suits  into a sleazy sex club in an unidentified red light district.  Shelton is uncomfortable, begging for help, but the identical twin thugs try to talk him into calming down.  One of them says that “the boss” isn’t all that frightening, and how he says nice things about Mr. Shelton all the time.  He turns to his brother for backup, but the other man states, “I’ll be honest…  When he talks I’m mainly trying to figure some way not to soil myself.  I’m doin’ the therapy work for it, but there it is.”  HA!  Shelton is led into a dark, bare room, with only a wooden crate on the floor.  A voice emanates from the box…  “Know who I am?”  Shelton nervously says that he does, and the voice asks why Shelton helped to steal from him.  Shelton babbles that he knows he shouldn’t steal from the boss (called “Junior”) and the hidden boss agrees, and then asks him a horrible question.  “You have wife, daughters.  They die, or you die.  They die or you die.”  Shelton screams to kill his family instead, and Junior drags him bodily into the crate, hissing “That is choice everyone makes.”  That… was creepy.

Somewhere else, an expensive car races through darkness, as Floyd Lawton and Thomas Blake go somewhere at ridiculous speed.  Blake xplains that something bad happened in Africa, and we see a flashback of the Catman in action.  “Lot of men died ugly, and were left to rot.  And worse.”  Lawton snorts, and almost laughs.  “I have it on good authority that guys die all the time.  You asking me to believe you care?”  Blake quietly answers, “No.  I’m saying I DON’T care.  I’m saying I’d do it again.”  As Catman contemplates retiring  they stop by a tiny convenience store, engrossed in conversation, and completely miss the gang of thugs trying to rob the place.  Blak explains that life feels like something’s missing in his life, and Deadshot picks out ice cream.  A skinhead pops up, puts a gun to Lawton’s head and screams for them to put their hands up.  “You ain’t the contemplative type, Blake,” replies Deadshot.  Heh.  We are treated to a brief shot of Junior’s lackeys coming in to clean up their boss’s mess, and he replies that he has the information they need.  “Know who is transporting her.  Six individuals, not serious threat.”  Uh oh…

Back at the grocery, Floyd and Thomas continue talking, and Deadshot suddenly realizes.  “It’s that girl!  That Huntress broad.”  The best part is watching the skinheads scream at them, as the two men calmly have their discussion about chicks and ennui with guns to their heads.  Lawton continues with his Huntress theory, explaining that “It’s the closest thing you can get to doin’ it with Batman.  Hold that thought.”  Deadshot whirls, grabs the gun, and breaks the thug’s nose with his elbow.  “You don’t respect ME, fine.  But you will $&@$ing well respect the GUN.”  Floyd shows the idiots how it’s done, explaining as HE robs the grocer, taking all the cash  and an armload of smokes  and Deadshot and Catman prepare to leave.  Catman feels obligated to step in and save the day, though, and rips the thugs nearly to pieces with his claws.  “Yep.  Guess the Justice Legaue oughtta be callin’ any day now, General Glory,” replies Deadshot from the door.

Back at their lair, the House of Secrets, Scandal continues trying to drink herself to death, only to find that Ragdoll has arranged for a birthday party for her.  A stripper pops out of a cake dressed as her dead lover, and Scandal’s drunken mind hallucinates as she recieves a pretty awkward lapdance.  She imagines Knockout talking to her, and wonders how.  “Because you’re stupid drunk, silly…  Or, perhaps it’s because I am a New God and death alone cannot extinguish what burns within me.  Or perhaps I am a woman in love.”  Scandal finally starts to sober up, pushing the stripper away.  “She’s gonna kill us all,” says Deadshot.  “Not me,” replies Catman.  “I brought the ice cream.”  Ha!  Scandal smiles at her idiot partners, shakes off her stupor, and tells them that she has a mission.  The Six  are to transport the Tarantula, but the mission is a bit funny.  Just as she points this out, Catman gets a call from the Huntress ( warning him to not take the gig.  She warns him that the Six are dead if they cross swords with Junior, and hangs up.  Speaking to the darkness, Huntress explains how much she hates doing what she just did.  “A bloodbath is coming, Huntress,” replies The Batman from the shadows.  “None of us are getting out of this with clean hands.  Least of all, Thomas Blake.”

Part Two

And Secret Six #2 delivers on every level.  Beyond the intrigue and Mad, Mad, Mad World-esque story arc, Gail tells an engaging story on every single page.  Whether it’s Bane, Ragdoll, and Deadshot talking about Scandal’s love life , or Batman and Catman discussing the ingredients of Mexican food while duking it out on the rooftops of Gotham City, Gail can write dialogue that has you both on the edge of your seat, and rolling on the floor.

Her Batman is one of the most human I’ve seen in a while.  Instead of nabbing Catman, and putting him away, he’d rather pay the Secret Six to not do the job they’ve been hired to do.  Coming out and saying he cares for everyone regardless if they are a homicidal maniac or friend is about as close as we are going to get to seeing a Batman who is in touch with himself.

It is interesting that Simone pairs Batman against Catman instead of Bane – or maybe it’s not, considering the other Cat in Batman’s life is currently on a hospital table with a big hole in her chest.  Regardless, Tom Blake’s bravado plays perfectly against Batman’s no nonsense “don’t make me kick your ass” attitude.  And their fight isn’t too bad either, ultimately ending in a tie, because Catman let Batman get a few hits in.And lets not forget that Catman was created way back in the 60’s as the perfect foil for Batman, so all in all the fight that most of us sixers have been waiting for was actually very well paced and entertaining

The rest of the Six don’t fare as well as Catman, as they end up in a spot of trouble trying to break the Tarantula out of Alcatraz. I’ve come to appreciate the current incarnation of Bane, and like his screwed up philosophy on life, even if it means giving the opponent exactly what they need (in their ornament-things).  Scandal is the tragic character in the group, and I have a feeling she’s going to get out of her funk before the story reaches its conclusion. Deadshot, well, he’s just this guy…

By far the creepiest character is Ragdoll.  This is one messed up mo’fo’, and in Gail’s hands he moves from homicidal looney to scary “put the lotion in the basket” territory.  While I can’t wait to see what comes out of his mouth next, I’m also cringing every time I see the specialized Ragdoll font because I know it is giving me another glimpse into the mind of madness. If you get the chance head over to newsarama and listen to the interview with Gail (and forgive the interviewer for saying how much he loves the series and not spotting that the girl in green isn’t enchantress but is in fact cheshire doh!!!!)
As I mentioned earlier, there is a very Mad, Mad, Mad World vibe to this arc, but it is probably a more accurate homage to Cannonball Run as the Six now have to get their prisoner from one coast to the other, anyway they can, while avoiding a whole army of villains hell bent on killing them, thanks to the war cry of some dude under a hood.  At the moment I have no idea who the mysterious Junior is, but I have a feeling when he is finally unmasked, we’ll all go “wha-huh?  I never expected that.

The art by Nicola Scott is, once again, out of the ballpark.

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Weekends round up and pick of the week

August 25, 2008

Well Saturday saw us all descend on the central bar to wish Dave Bath a happy birthday. I don’t know about anyone else but i was well and truly slaughtered.

This weeks pick of the week is my LTD edition

Gravel Never a dull day

I have all these as solo trades but i couldn’t pass up the chance to get them all in one with it being limited to 2000 worldwide and signed

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New Books (and a few old ones)

August 16, 2008

Storm of Iron is an older book, but this book leads directly into the ultramarines omnibus and as such deserves a mention. Graham McNeil is one of the black library’s finest writers and he doesn’t fail in this drop down drag ’em out sci-fi battle. The Hordes of Chaos have descended on Hydra Cordatus and a scratch defence is hastily erected. This book has it all Heroism, Courage, Disgrace, Defeat. The very fact that Graham Mcneil treats all characters with respect and gives each of them a valid part to play on his stage makes him one of my top 5 authors.

Now, after Storm of Iron I picked this book up and considering that it’s three books in one and about one of the chapters that when I worked for Games Workshop I absolutely despised I thought I may be a bit disappointed. For me the very subject matter of the ultra marines didn’t fill me with excitement. They don’t have the nordic influence of the Space Wolves, The inherent creepiness of the Dark Angels or the Noble but savage vamipiric nature of the Blood Angels. But then I started to read and realised that unlike every other chapter of the Space Marines they see themselves as the protector of man, and also with some sadness that man has a inherent nobility of character that because they are lesser mortals makes it all the more special.

This book for me cements why Graham Mcneil is a talented author. His ability to make you feel for both the supermen and the normal man is amazing.

Right, back to the book. The trilogy follows Sergeant and then Captain Uriel Ventris as he is thrust into more and more dangerous missions. From the Necron warriors to the horrors of the Tyranid to exile and death quest in the eye of terror.

This is the latest book from Graham Mcneil, it follows the furthering adventures of Captain Uriel Ventris.

This is a hard book to quantify, it has all the usual work that makes me rant about Graham Mcneil, but then it has me wondering, Could he have made a successful horror writer. I don’t know if he intended it or not but there are one or two shudder moments where you pause and go phew I am in the room and not in the book. There are parts that remind me of Japanese Horror, and I suppose that’s a plus sign, but I like My Sci-Fi Dark but also Sci-Fi. Now don’t get me wrong I loved the book and I loved the fact that these characters are true hero’s and when the mission is concluded you grip you hand and go yes, So in conclusion I did like this book.

For years I avoided the single issue books that made up this anthology, I never seemed to have the time or the cash to spend on it. But when your feeling down and need something to read this was that book for me.

It is written By Dan Abnett & Mike Lee, and let me tell you this, if you purchase any book that I recommend let it be this series. Dan Abnett is a superb writer (and I’m biased) but apart from the sensational Fell Cargo, i had never been drawn to his fantasy side. What a schmuck I was. Malus Darkblade is evil, sarcastic, self serving and those are all the reasons that you’ll love this book. Dan (whether intentionally or unintentionally) had me laughing all through this book. Don’t get me wrong, this in itself is not a comedic book, but rather a book of dark fantasy. But the one liners, the snide banter. The Character reminds me of My Mate Gez.

Malus is a typical Dark Elf, evil conniving, sarcastic and those are his good points, After being possessed by the demon Tz’arkan he is given a stark choice recover 5 items of legendary power or loose his soul.

This continues the adventures of Gez (sorry Malus). I can’t say too much about this book or the fifth book in the series without spoiling it but in short Malus Darkblade must foil his brother to retrieve a sword, look for the usual dark humour,the biting comments and the dark fantasy that Dan Abnett does so well.

The fifth book of the series. I must point out that I love this series and the only bad point was the flips to the current day, but hey I’m not an author who’s sold millions and writes some of my favourite comics, but it’s just a niggle. Malus sinks further into depravity and his year is almost up, follow Malus as he battles to save his soul, Make some money and further his rise into the ranks of notoriety

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Apology

August 14, 2008

Well I have been tardy lately. In my defence I have been busy organising cymru con, speaking to writers and artists. checking out venues and hotels. And had the mother of all virus’s visited on me this week. I will hopefully be back up and running this weekend

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Flint and Silver

July 29, 2008

This is the story before treasure Island. How Long John Silver went from law abiding sailor to Gentleman Buccaneer and how Captain Flint went from a member of the Kings Navy to one of the most feared Pirates around. It answers the question how did Long John loose his leg. How did blind Pew become blind. And why did Flint and Silver fall out.

Good news is that this has been picked up as a movie. I can’t wait for the follow up

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This Weeks Roundup

July 26, 2008

Firstly a piece from War Heroes as it appears in the Sunday Herald

Hollywood targets Millar’s ‘War Heroes’
Wanted comic creator Mark Millar has revealed that he has had two offers for the film rights for new book War Heroes.

He told the Sunday Herald that War Heroes, a comic described as Full Metal Jacket meets X-Men, could soon be turned into a film.

Talking about the storyline, he said: “It’s set a couple of years in the future. John McCain has just won the election and the war in the Gulf is getting bigger, so they give the troops superpower pills. That gets all the young American kids signing up to fight the Iraqis.”

Millar also noted that films based on comic books are in vogue because they offer Hollywood “high concept” ideas.

He said: “What producers do now is snap up material before others can get their hands on it. They’ll buy a project based on just a title, a blurb and an image. And if they smell what the business calls ‘high concept’, they will go into a feeding frenzy.

I hate Mark Millar so much right now having to give actual favourable reports when I know he’s gonna mess these up. Ok Mccain is President, America is still loosing men hand over fist in Iraq, then a suicide bomber blows up capital hill. America then invades Iran, Long and the short is that they start issuing soldiers with pills that contain superpowers. Arts good, Writing is fast paced. Will Give it time.
Number of the Beast
Now before someone pipes up and says thats the cover for No 8. I’d just like to point out that this series really worked for me. The characters and premise were amazing. I won’t spoil it but get this in trade asap.
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Book Reviews

July 5, 2008

Well I have been reading like crazy this week.

First up is.

Rogue Trader Lucian Gerrit learns the true meaning of profit and loss! Andy Hoare presents an epic adventure in his debut novel for the Black Library. Lucian Gerrit is a rogue trader – a starship captain granted ancient trading rights along the Eastern Fringe of Imperial space. But his family’s fortunes have been steadily declining for many generations and his inheritance amounts to little more than a pile of debt and misery. In a final desperate gamble to restore his family’s former glory, Gerrit strikes a deal on a forgotten Imperial world to aid its commander in a long-standing war with his rival. As Gerrit commits his family’s assets to the escalating conflict, he may lose more than his livelihood.

I Really like space opera, I especially like space opera set in the 40k Universe. This is a good book that even if you don’t know the 40k universe it is still accesable.

Rogue trader patriarch Lucian Gerrit and his family get swept up in an Imperial Crusade to track down and exterminate the alien tau. Having crossed the desolate area of space known as the Damocles Gulf, the fleet arrives on the borders of the tau empire. Can Gerrit’s resourcefulness save the day when the Imperial forces find themselves outnumbered and outgunned, thousands of light years from home?

This being the followup, works well. Now comes my problem with the Black Library. Try contacting them you get a stock answer. These books are popular but they won’t commit the writers to finish series. OK that may be harsh but thats my observation, you may have years between books.

First Officer Ward of the Imperial Navy cruiser Relentless, on patrol in the Eastern Fringe, is less than pleased when a new commander, hardliner Captain Becket, is appointed above him. To protect his own corrupt schemes and ambitions, the first officer arranges to have the new captain assassinated.

Unbeknown to him, though, Becket survives and embarks on a ruthless campaign to fight his way up through the ranks to seize back control of his ship.

This is Richard Williams first work and foray into the Warhammer 40K universe and as such I was surprised at how the characters unfold and how effortlessly he jumped into the subject matter.

First let me just say that I love books about Rome, And I really loved this book. However after reading Simon Scarrows series I did kind of feel that I had been here and seen it before. That being said, this is a first rate book and one I would recommend anyone who is a fan of Rome to read.

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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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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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Comics Week in Review part two

June 8, 2008

Ok, the first part was the ones I read yesterday and recommend, these are the ones I read today and give a big thumbs up to.

Cover for Amazing Spider-Man #558

Now some of you know that apart from a certain few titles I find Marvel very humdrum, very much of a muchness. That may be about to change as a) my favourite artist Barry Kitson is on this title. b) that the scripting is snappy and spideys jokes are popping quite nicely, thanks to Bob Gale for this.

Trinity: Another weekly comic from DC I sighed. Then realised that Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley were gonna be picking up the ball. This has two stories in it, The first is about the first trio of hero’s and plays out nicely, The second story is very …… Whats happening here?

Don’t want to diss a good book but First half amazing second half should be a marvel title.

And Finally

MARVEL 1985 #1

Mark Millar & Tommy Lee Edwards 1985. I tried so hard to dislike this, After all after the civil war and ultimates endings I thought Millar had sold out. 1985 is actually a damn good read, Can Millar keep it up, maybe, but if i hear a iron man speech about how many ways he could have won this then you won’t see my arse for dust

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Comics week in review

June 8, 2008

The title is a bit of a misnomer as I didn’t pick my comics up last week so two weeks will be amalgamated into one.

DAN DARE #6 (OF 7) Virgin Comics (2008)   /  New

This comic keeps getting better and better,Garth Writing is totally respectful of the Dan Dare Legacy and Garry Erskine’s art is truelly a joy to look at. This is like a boys own adventure with something for everyone that checks all the boxes. Long may it continue.

Teen Titans 59, This book just goes from strength to strength, Ties in nicely with the final crisis series and I really Enjoy Sean McKeevers writing. The art from Eddy Barrows is strong and crisp. Can’t wait for the next part.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ok I was starting to go off this series. But like a true buffy episode there were laugh moments and also sad moment. Highlights were Draculas speech to the new blood and Dawn taking on Dawnzilla the mech (trust me you have to see it)

This is the fight that I was waiting for, It kinda worked, but as with most things marvel these days I felt let down. My pull list gets smaller and smaller with Marvel. And I think I see a fat zero coming up in the future. Which when you think about the talent on this comic is criminal. Alex Ross & Jim Krueger. This should have had the Invaders cleaning clock but strangely no. Tony and his team of nazi’s ( and cap calls them that) layeth the smack down. There was one genuine good bit ” And Ironman has been axed” I wish.

And they were the pick of the crop, others were average, stale, head scratching.

What hit the bin this week

Brit No 6 from Image: All I can Say is no comment

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Update

June 6, 2008

Ok people tomorrow, I will be doing an interview with Chris Lynch and Stu.art about the Magpye, Markosia and cheese. These guys are hot Welsh comic talent and I think it will make for interesting reading. Also there are a shed load of comics to go through so If i get time I will do a review for you guys

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Long Awaited:James Barclay

May 27, 2008

Thanks for taking the time to drop by and have a chat. What first got you started as a writer. It couldn’t have been for fame and fortune as so many try and fail.
I’ve just always loved writing stories. Ever since I can remember. I wrote my first recognisable piece of prose at the age of seven and by age eleven was writing plenty of little bits and pieces in my spare time. I had an English teacher at secondary school who really encouraged me (and one who actively discouraged me like the prat he was) and I wrote a couple of novella length stories as a result. Both awful but great practice.

So I’ve always wanted to be a writer. The fame and fortune were never important so long as I could make a living. I just about do that so I have to consider myself happy.

What was your first published work?
It was a short story called ‘Goldstone’ and it was published in a Sheffield literary magazine called ‘Sheaf’ in 1985. The story was about birds cavorting around the walls and roofs of houses. I was delighted to see my work in print though I was paid not a penny for it. A special moment only bettered in writing terms by seeing Dawnthief on the shelves of Waterstone’s for the first time.

When did you realise that you had something real special with the Raven series. As a father did your literary child come easily, or did you have to drag it screaming into the world.

I always knew it was a good concept and that I’d executed it pretty well but that doesn’t guarantee a publishing deal. I knew it was special when it shot up the amazon bestseller charts shortly after it was published. It reached no18 or something in the Hot 100 at one stage which was amazing for a first time author of a fantasy novel. I was just so pleased that readers were getting out of it what I wanted them to.

But no, it didn’t come easily. Actually, The Raven began life as comedy fantasy years and years before it was actually published. I’m glad I changed tack because it would have been rubbish. I worked on the serious action fantasy version for five years before I got a publishing deal. Rewrite on rewrite, deletion, addition… but I knew I’d get there in the end. As the rejections came in, it occasionally became a tough thing to do but somewhere inside, I knew it would be worth it in the end. I’m glad I listened and kept on going.

I have to admit that I got upset several times in the books, and i judge that the mark of a good storyteller when you are totally immersed within their world and living with the characters, Does it get emotional for you when such and such happens to a character?

Yes, it certainly does. I’ve cried while writing the deaths of some characters and feel physically very low after writing such scenes. I guess when that happens, it means I’ve got them right. I’ve never taken a decision to injure, kill or write-out a character without a huge amount of thought as to the consequences further down the line. I can’t let it become a gratuitous thing to do or the emotional force is lost.

I’m glad you’ve been upset too – for me that’s a huge compliment because it tells me I’ve put across that emotional force correctly and that you loved my characters enough to feel sad when tragedy strikes.


Which of the Raven members are your favourites? Mine are Sol and Denser. Two complete opposites, but I also like the character journey that Denser undergoes to become a better man.

Hirad is my favourite. No surprise as he was my character way back in my role playing days. I love him for his passion, his belief and his unquenchable drive and desire for The Raven to succeed. And Ilkar too, because he’s sharp-witted and his banter with Hirad is something I loved to write. I love what he does for The Raven. He’s their techie, if you like, but impatient with it.

Your second series was a slight departure and while as you know I was critical of the first book, the second book allowed me to gel with the characters, any plans to revisit any of the characters again?
I have no current plans to return to Estorea though there are plenty of stories to tell there. I never say never but I can’t see anything happening for a good long while, if at all.

I understand from our communication that you have a new raven book coming out, what can you tell us about it?
It’s called Ravensoul and it comes out in November this year. It is set a decade after the end of the wars depicted in Demonstorm. It deals with an enemy that has cast the dead from rest and threatens the entire world. An enemy that barely even recognises the Balaians as sentient, let alone a threat. It is a chance for The Raven to ride one more time (metaphorically speaking) and is a story of how belief can turn the tide and how the pursuit of power can poison the minds of men.

Several great books have been picked up to turn into comics, how would you feel if the raven was picked up bringing it to a whole new series of fans.
I’d love it. I think the Raven would translate very well into graphic novel or comic format. And onto the small or big screen come to that.

How are you managing being a new(ish) father and successful author.
Well, it’s a tough balance to strike at times. I look after Oscar two days a week and that leaves just three for writing. It means I have to work a few evenings but that’s OK. What I find difficult at the moment is doing too much beyond my current project. That’s very frustrating as I have a million and one ideas sloshing about and precious little time to flesh them out to see if they have legs. But I can’t complain. I have a wonderful son and I get paid to do the thing I love best. Anytime I feel low, I remind myself of that…I’m a lucky man when all is said and done.

What do you have planned for the future?
Well, I’ve just agreed a trilogy of books based around the elves of Calaius. Can’t say too much at present but suffice to say that they will cover a couple of thousand years of history before The Raven began but will still have familiar names for fans to read about. The idea is that raven fans will love them for their history and new readers will love them just because they’re great books about cool elves J.

Any plans for a signing tour of Wales as so many of the big names tend to ignore us guys when the tours are announced. I know it’s down to agents but Welsh fans do deserve to meet their hero’s and people who take so much of their lives with their books.

I’ve no plans for a tour of anywhere at the moment. Whether there’ll be one around the launch of Ravensoul, I don’t know yet. Best to check my website for details nearer the time. But I do make as many appearances at conventions as I can. I’m at Fantasycon in Nottingham this September and also at Gamesfest in Tring this October. Neither is Wales, I admit but I’m happy to travel anywhere where I’ll get a warm welcome, can meet fans and have a good pint of ale!

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Lone Survivor- Marcus Luttrell

May 22, 2008

Ok first and foremost, I love my true stories, but I always shudder when I hear the jingoism greatest special forces in the world. Every Country thinks we have the greatest special forces. America it’s the Seals, Great Britain it’s the SAS, France the Foreign Legion, Russia the Spetsnaz. I respect all these guys as it takes a special person to be a soldier, to be that object of hatred and ridicule that liberal society seems to want us to believe our military men are. And when you consider that the special forces are perhaps the top 1/2 a percent of a nations best soldiers, then you’ll understand why every country claims they are the best.

Marcus takes us through a series of seemless flashbacks from afghanistan to his early life and training, right to the point and title of the book. I don’t know if they are the worlds toughest special forces, but the three men who died from marcus’s group certainly win my award for toughest SOB’s and if they are a general yardstick for the US Seal Teams then I hope if ever I am in trouble it’s these guys come to save me.

All in all a moving, sometimes disturbing but also a tribute to the human spirit

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Bristol International Comic Expo 2008

May 11, 2008

Interviews will follow later.

First I owe an apology to the ever excellent Barry Kitson. Barry I know I said I’d interview you but the mix of a broken coxix, aching feet and jetlag meant I was dying. I am so sorry especially after all the hard work you put into my sketch.

Well Bristol just keeps getting better and better, Touched down from my vacation in China thursday night, had 6 hours sleep and then back on the road for the convention. Courtesy of Cardiff Science Fiction and Fantasy Store(thanks Dave) got to go to the retailer day, where some excellent panels were held. Diamond Introduced themselves, then we moved through the different panels. Some great information from Bob Wayne and Eddie Berganza about future releases and the floor seemed to like the idea that depending on feedback a re-release of the excellent hitman series in trade format may be coming soon. Wildstorm was as ever excellent with some news that really excited me, Deathblow is joining one of the new teams. Vertigo also have a number of new and exciting products coming out and key one that seems really hype is Air. (thanks for getting us excited with this Karen Berger) We then had a quick slot with Dave Gibbons about the new book coming out later this year, Watching the Watchmen filled with never seen imagery a absolute must from titan books for anyone who is a Watchman fan.

We then gathered and had a few drinks and I got to meet YANICK PAQUETTE,The Butcher and Yannick Parquette who even after we destroyed him throughout the rest of the night is a thouroughly nice bloke and his artwork is second to none, so crisp and clear. For those not mentioned during the rest of friday, I am sorry a mix of both alcohol and jetlag is to blame, yep thats my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Nice to see many old friends and made a few new ones.

On the Saturday thanks to the people who organise this sleeping giant I got my press pass. It really is something to see the greats and people you admire gathering before the public get in there (and no thanks were needed for those that I got food and drink for over the weekend). Got to purchase some more work off Barry Kitson-sketching

Barry Kitson and had another great sketch, Had further sketches off Joe Jusko, John Burns and did a short interview with the ever excellent Bryan Talbot. Saturday also saw two shut outs as we were completely full. Wow that was a surprise and for those people stuck outside I feel for you as it was absolutely boiling.

Sunday came around so quick and picked up further work from Rodney Ramos and thanks for a great Black Adam, John Macrea. Also did a Interview with Harry Markos, Harry is one of the Industry’s nice guys and he likes keeping the Indie scene vibrant and exciting.Spoke at length with Tommy Castillo and I will get you and Rod beer next year.

Below are original pieces that I picked up last year through to this yearoriginal artwork from Empireoriginal artwork from supergirl and legion of superheroesoriginal artwork from supergirl and legion of superheroesoriginal artwork from empire purchased 2008original artwork from jla year one purchased 2008original artwork from countdown purchased from rodney ramos 2008original artwork purchased from john macrea jla-hitman

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Iron Man! Guest Review by MWM!

May 7, 2008

Iron Man

Okay! So the Butcher’s away and he’s asked me to put a review of Iron Man up, so here it is, a review from the Monkeys with Machineguns, Stu.Art and Chris Lynch.


Now I didn’t actually see this movie with Chris (sorry to destroy the illusion that me and Chris are some sort of ‘Bert & Ernie’ style duo!) so I haven’t really had a chance to talk with him about what he thought. So I’ve asked him to type his review and I’ll do mine and the two can run in tandem.


Firstly, let’s talk casting. Robert Downey Jnr. Is perfect. Perfect as Stark and perfect as Iron man, the two don’t always go hand in hand. Michael Keaton was a brilliantly dark and disturbed Bruce Wayne, but his Batman sucked! But Downey Jnr. Manages to bring an intelligence, charm, wit and genuine sincerity to his portrayal of Stark and lets not overlook his actual appearance, he looks like Tony Stark should.

The supporting cast too do a great job, the normally amiable Jeff Bridges pulls off quite a villainous turn and Gwynedd Paltrow successfully manages not to annoy me too much every time she’s on screen (something she normally does!).

Moving on next to the SFX. They’re brilliant! We’re spoilt these days in movies because unless something is mind blowingly brilliant, we as an audience are so used to CGI and SFX, we almost let it wash over us and don’t even notice it. The SFX in Iron Man are fantastic. The suit, the action, the environments all excellent without distracting you from the action or the movie.

The story of the movie is of course an origin story. This is fine as it’s what we expect and the story surrounding this origin holds up in this new movie adaptation. It’s what they’re going to do after this movie story-wise that is perhaps more interesting. There are rumours that Downey Jnr. Is tied into a trilogy, but further rumours also say that it may not be a direct sequel, but in fact Iron Man Vs. The Incredible Hulk and finally an Avengers Movie! I know, I know; imagine that!

I really enjoyed Iron Man, the only thing it suffered from a little was too much of the good stuff had been used in the trailers, something a lot of films are guilty of recently I would say. Overall though? 5 trotters up!

I offer 2 pieces of advice to you oh readers of the Crafty One. Firstly, run! Don’t walk to your nearest multiplex to see Iron Man! Secondly, don’t leave until the credits have finished.


Stu.Art

Master Butcher & Purveyor of all things…Meaty?

OK, so by now you’ve read Stu’s half of the review and he’s told you how great Iron Man is. The good thing is, he’s a man of taste (look at who his writing partner is!) and he isn’t giving you a bum steer. Iron Man was quite possibly the first American comic I ever read, and I have still have my copy of that issue, and as a bit of an uber-nerd myself, I like the idea that science can be cool.

So, it has everything you expect. But, for the congniscenti, here are what I consider to be the hidden gems.

1: Jeff Bridges potrail of Obidia Stane.
Pitch perfect and oh-so-reminiscent, at least to me, of some of the antics of everyone’s favourite CEO … Steve Ballmer. You might think your boss is crazy, but he’s got nothing on this guy …

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wvsboPUjrGc
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=kvbWLfr-Z4s
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=8To-6VIJZRE

Who can’t imagine that guy turning up in a thirty ton battle suit to tell your report was late.

Seriously, Bridges is great and deserves recognition for capturing on screen how truly scary corporate America is.

2: Robert Downey Junior is so good an actor he can act with a fire extinguisher.

If you thought the lamp in the Pixar demo movie had charm, or Bob Hoskins did a good job acting to thin air in Roger Rabbit, you have to see Downey have a conversation with a fire extinguisher. He gives it … life. Amazing stuff, and an almost throwaway scene as well.

3: The suit doesn’t work first time.

For anyone who has worked in developer hell. We’ve all had our own “boots at 10% power moment”. This should touch the heart of every engineer and scientist out there. How we pain for our works my brothers!

This list could run on and on, and its a testament to the painstaking attention to detail that oozes out of this movie. So, go and see it, compile your own top three, and send it on to a friend. Everyone deserves to see this movie.

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Outpost-Coming soon

April 23, 2008

I love a good war film, I love a good horror film and call me spooky, but I love a good film that has WW2 german soldiers in. Now Ray Stevenson (Rome) is about to merge all those into one. a film about Zombie Nazi’s. The premise is that the Germans experimented on their own men to make invincible  soldiers, Ubermen  if you like.  The only problem is it  made them undead.  Fast forward and seven mercenaries enter a bunker complex that housed the experiment. The address below is for a short trailer

http://www.blackcamel.co.uk/multimedia/OutpostTrailer.html