FLYING THE FLAG
We’re in the last two weeks of work on the book, which may well change its name from Studio Space to something else. When I know what it’s going to be called, it’ll be up here. All of the chapters except for the Tim Bradstreet one have been written now and we’ve almost got every bit of artwork in now. It’s been a pleasure to check our ftp site or open up the CDs we’ve been getting from some of the artists and a real reminder of the talent in the book. Here’s three more pieces of art to tantalise you from Bryan Talbot, George Pratt and Tommy Lee Edwards…
I went to see Flags Of Our Fathers on Tuesday, the new Clint Eastwood film. It doesn’t open here until December 22nd (it was a press screening at Warners on Theobalds Road in Holborn) and I have to say that it was very impressive indeed. Eastwood doesn’t appear in it but he has managed to assemble a fantastic cast of familiar faces and unknowns and bring out great performances in all of them. The film looks at the taking of Iwo Jima by the US, particularly that iconic photo of the US flag raising and tries to explode some of the more fanciful aspects to its place in history. Eastwood is very canny with the movie: it could have just been a straight retelling of the battle but that would have been too relentless. The battle sequences are brilliantly and harrowingly shot, graded in this almost otherworldly half light, but we also get to see what happens to the three main protagonists (Ryan Phillippe as John “Doc” Bradley, Jesse Bradford as Rene Gagnon and Adam Beach as Ira Hayes) once they return to the States. At first, the men who are supposed to have raised the flag on the island are lauded as conquering heroes but it is soon apparent that the US government sees them as nothing more than useful propaganda tools in their campaign to raise war bonds to finance the war. Adam Beach plays Native American soldier Ira Hayes with true humanity and empathy and Flags of Our Fathers succeeds creatively where Saving Private Ryan did not because it’s not afraid to criticise the American government’s behaviour and attitude to the three men. There are some beautiful moments in the film visually: the first view of the US fleet in the waters around the island is one of the most exceptional panoramic views ever committed to film and Eastwood makes the island a character in the movie, albeit an unfriendly, alien one. At the age of 76, he has shown that he is as full of the same passion, vigour and invention as he was when he made Play Misty For Me back in 1971. Paul Haggis’s script is heartwarming but avoids mawkish sentimentality. The film deserves, at the very least, an Oscar nomination next year. Whether it deserves to win is another question, since this year has been an exceptional one for groundbreaking cinema (see The Departed, Children of Men and The Prestige). It’ll be very interesting to see Letters From Iwo Jima, his film about the Japanese side of the battle. Eastwood truly is a film phenomenon…
Another week closer to handing in Studio Space to the publishers and it’s been a very productive one. I started last Saturday only just finishing transcribing Tommy Lee Edwards and a week later, I’ve written the chapters for Duncan Fegredo, Jim Lee, Frank Miller, Joe Kubert, Adam Hughes and Walter Simonson. That just leaves Tommy Lee Edwards, George Pratt and Tim Bradstreet for my part of the book. We’ve given up on Moebius as that turned out to be too complex to negotiate in time but perhaps he may be in the next one, if we do another volume. The book preparation is going extremely well and we’ll definitely hit our target to deliver at the end of this month, which is lucky since I’m going to New York specifically to deliver the book then. I’m also lucky enough to go to Frank Miller’s studio to take photos (for Studio Space) and I get to see Robert Mcginnis’s studio, which will also be exciting.
I’ve put a couple of my photos up of the artists in their studio, which will appearing cleaned up in the book (Walt Simonson, George Pratt and Joe Kubert). Also here’s a rather lovely Tommy Lee Edwards Superman image.
I picked up the latest Daredevil trade paperback, The Devil: Inside And Out, by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano. Reprinting the first six issues of Brubaker and Lark’s run on the book, it’s a much less self conscious and more accomplished effort than most of Bendis and Maleev’s work, which preceded it. Matt Murdock has to survive in prison while a man wearing Daredevil’s costume is running amok around New York. Brubaker shows that he is a more solid writer than Bendis now, with a neat line in intelligent plotting and Lark’s art is less reliant on photo reference than Maleev, making it much more kinetic. It’s a great start to the run and, if the pair continue to deliver to this level, then it could be a truly classic partnership.
Next week I’ll be reviewing Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers and giving you a few more snippets from Studio Space.
ANOTHER YEAR OLDER
I celebrated my birthday on Saturday, October 28th, with an Indian meal in the evening with David Baillie, his girlfriend Jen, my mate Andy and Gary, who came up from Winchester. That was the perfect cap to a fun but exhausting day. Myself and Gary started the day by visiting the London Expo out in Docklands. They made a reasonably big deal out of the comic creators’ presence but it was rather a token effort. So it was more like an anime expo with a minute amount of comics. We did get to catch up with Adam Hughes and Brian Bolland, both for the purposes of Studio Space. We also saw Sean Phillips for lunch, since he was in London, signing at FP. But compared with Saturday, it’s been a relatively uneventful week. I met up with Mike Carey and David Baillie on Tuesday for a few drinks and a later dinner in town and Thursday I went to see toy designer James Jarvis speak at the Peacock Theatre as part of the D&AD Presidents lectures. It’s funny: I went because my mate Steve is a big fan and the tickets were free but it turned out that he’s a big comic fan, especially Mike McMahon, and also appreciates Asterix and TinTin. So that’s ended up as a surprisingly interesting evening. The issue of Empire with my Robert Mcginnis interview came out this week and what was a pleasant shock was the fact that they used all five quotes in print. They told me when they commissioned it that only one of them would appear in print with the rest on the website. A commissioning editor who delivers more than they promise. That’s rare. So here’s my piece for you which hopefully you can read…
I’ve also included photos of the two sets of statues outside Australia House on Aldwych and the tower of St Clement Danes on a particularly great day for light for photos…
We’re in the last month of Studio Space so we’ve begun putting the finishing touches to every chapter. We’ve been getting some pretty cool and exciting artwork in to accompany each chapter and I may tantalise you with something next week.