A LOOK BACK AND A LOOK FORWARD
Just like I did at the end of 2006, I like to take a look at what I’ve done over the past year and what I intend to do in the following year. 2007 was a pretty decent year:

•We lost our publisher for the studio book but we gained another one at the end of the year, which allowed us to keep the original title and will be a nicer book than it was going to be originally;

•The TRIPWIRE Annual, which wasn’t even definite this time last year, was a proper success. The launch at San Diego sold better than expected, it went into profit and wiped out the horrible memories of San Diego in 2003. And everyone I mentioned it to who I brought it to show was amazed at the level of quality we had managed to achieve;

•The contract at Time allowed me to stop hustling for freelance work for a number of months and guaranteed me income for the first time ever;

•I managed to pick up some more writing work, interviewing Ridley Scott, Jon Favreau, Brian Aldiss and writing pieces on Watchmen the movie, Stardust, Heroes and more for Death Ray and Comics International (although the hash that Death Ray made of the Ridley Scott feature led me to remember why I like writing for my own projects);

•I became a better photographer. Although I’m never going to make a living out of taking photos, buying the SLR has made my shots better;

•The two radio appearances over Christmas came as nice bonuses and I am hoping that I shall be invited back for more radio in 2008

So that’s the look back. What would I like to happen in 2008?

Studio Space comes out in May and I am hoping that it is a lovely book that sells well enough to get some attention for me and Gary and allows me to get some more book projects off the ground as I have a few other titles I would like to make happen. A presence at Bristol with copies of the book hopefully, a panel there and signings at Forbidden Planet, the ICA and even a couple of US bookstore events won’t hurt;

•This year’s TRIPWIRE Annual does even better than last year’s, which seems possible since we will have extra distribution through Borders in the UK and now one has come out, retailers know what it is. It will be on sale on the Image stand at San Diego Comic Con this coming July so I am hoping that the attention that Studio Space gets will get the TRIPWIRE Annual noticed;

•The two TRIPWIRE specials (Heroes in June and Hellboy in November) allows the TRIPWIRE name to increase in recognition again and to continue the momentum we have generated;

Hidden City will get picked up by a publisher, giving me a kick up the arse, so that the public may even see it in 2009;

•I continue to use this blog to shamelessly plug my work, review films I’ve been to see and talk crap about subjects that interest me

This will be my last post of 2007 so have a good New Year and I’ll see everyone in 2008…

RADIO,RADIO

It’s happened to me a couple of times in the past but I got a call out of the blue yesterday from BBC World Service. They wanted me to come in and talk about the fact that the UN have joined forces with Marvel to produce an ‘educational’ comic to give away. Now I have done quite a few panels over the last few years but not done so much radio so I did feel a little bit self-conscious. But it seemed to go well and in fact I am on BBC radio again, this time for The World, a BBC programme from Boston in the States.
And here is the World Service interview for you…

http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

My friend Steve Colgan was also kind enough to put it up here:
stevecolgan.blogspot.com

The other interview for The World is available here:
http://www.theworld.org/





ON THE SHELF SPECIAL EDITION
It’s been quite a while since I did one of these so I thought it was about time as several companies have been kind enough to send me a selection of trades over the last few months.

First up is Heroes Volume One (written and drawn by various, Titan Books/ DC Comics), hardcover. When this was announced, there was a big fanfare. After all, Heroes the TV series is a very popular fixture on the box and it was promised that it would feature the best modern comic artists around. But there are two big problems here: apart from Tim Sale’s work which is exceptional as ever and a few stories from creators like Staz Johnson, the rest of the artists in Heroes Volume One are unknowns whose work is bland and generic, and what worked well on the web (five page vignettes filling in the gaps between episodes of Heroes Season One) comes across as slight and throwaway in print, especially in an eighteen quid/ thirty dollar hardcover. The only story that works here is the one that introduces Hana Gitelman, an Israeli soldier with special powers. I know for a fact that there are more substantial stories in the second batch of Heroes web strips but Heroes Volume One smells like an overblown cash-in…

The Art of Matt Wagner’s Grendel (drawn by Matt Wagner with various, Dark Horse Books). Dark Horse do oversized hardbacks celebrating particular series with lots of style and panache: just check out The Art of Sin City or The Art of Hellboy. The Art of Matt Wagner’s Grendel, tying in with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the character, is no exception. While not quite as consistent as Mike Mignola, Wagner’s art possesses a unique elegance to it and his pieces are always well-composed. The addition of the art of creators like Tim Sale, Bernie Mireault and Jacob Pander in this hardback makes it an invaluable historical document of the evolution of a character who has had its role to play in shaping contemporary comics. It also shows how Wagner has matured as an artist over two and a half decades. The art direction for the book is pretty flawless too. Recommended as a last-minute Christmas present or a birthday present for fans of Wagner or modern comic innovators…

Fritz Lieber’s Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser
(written by Howard Chaykin, drawn by Mike Mignola & Al Williamson, Dark Horse Books). First published by Marvel’s now-lamented Epic Comics line back in 1990, before Hellboy, this smart adaptation of Lieber’s darkly satirical fantasy novel series holds up well nearly two decades after it was first published. Although Mignola is a less mature artist here than he went on to become with Hellboy, there is no denying the graphic power of his lines, assisted by genius Al Williamson. Chaykin is no slouch in the scripting department either and he manages to bring Lieber’s mismatched pair to life with class and humour. More melancholy and satirical than Conan, Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser is a mustbuy for anyone curious to see Mignola’s path to Hellboy or anyone who enjoys intelligent graphic fantasy…

Michael Moorcock’s Elric: The Making of A Sorceror (written by Michael Moorcock, drawn by Walter Simonson, DC Comics). Another fantasy collection, this time of DC’s four-part prestige format series from 2004. But this is no adaptation: Moorcock created this story especially for the comic series, where we see how the pale fantasy icon became a powerful sorceror. Simonson’s work is fabulously baroque and he creates a world that owes much to the mythology of Native Americans and Norse legends. His Elric is majestic but a little more callow than his later comic representations in things like Stormbringer and Elric of Melnibone. The Making of A Sorceror is an indispensable addition to Moorcock’s Elric library…

Finally, we have Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others (written by Mike Mignola, drawn by Mignola, Richard Corben and P. Craig Russell, Dark Horse Books). The seventh Hellboy collection, and the last before we come to Duncan Fegredo’s interpretation of the character, The Troll Witch has much to recommend. The Vampire of Prague, beautifully drawn by P. Craig Russell specifically for this collection is a magnificent evocation of the Eastern European city while Makoma, illustrated by an artist whose work I am not normally a fan of, namely Richard Corben, has a broad mythological feel to it that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it. The Ghoul, a Mignola effort, displays the likeable dark humour that Mignola has made a career out of it while showing that there is a definite intelligence at the heart of Hellboy. The Troll Witch is a gothic grab-bag of rare genius but if you’ve read any other Hellboy, this’ll come as no surprise…

www.darkhorse.com
www.dccomics.com
www.titanbooks.com

TRIPWIRE ANNUAL AT BARNES & NOBLE
For all of our American visitors here, just a reminder that the TRIPWIRE Annual is still available at Barnes & Nobles across the US if they still haven’t picked one up. Priced $14.95, where else could they find Matt Groening, Alan Moore, Jeph Loeb, Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Steve Niles, Judge Dredd, Hellblazer, Sean Phillips and Frazer Irving all in one place?






KENSAL GREEN: A GOTHIC CEMETERY IN TWO PARTS
I have been to Highgate and to Abney Park Cemetery, two of the famous Victorian cemetaries in London. But I have never visited Kensal Green. Until today. Since I have been working at the Doctor Who Adventures, which is located on Wood Lane in White City, it is about a 20 minute brisk walk to Kensal Green Cemetery. Created in 1833, the cemetery covers 72 acres in a very urban part of north and west London, from Ladbroke Grove to Kensal Rise. And it is a magnificent, truly Gothic masterpiece. More of a sprawl than Highgate, Kensal Green is a massive but very well-kept cemetery with some incredible views. A very urban place, I spent about an hour wandering through it, so here is the first part of my photos that I took today in the suitably bleak and windy weather…

LEGENDARY PERSPECTIVE
I got to go to see I Am Legend with Will Smith the Friday before last at a press screening. It’s just been a bit of a manic week so this is the first opportunity I’ve had to post a review of it. I have never read Richard Matheson’s novel but I have seen Charlton Heston’s The Omega Man, a 1971 film that sees Heston driving around dressed in a safari suit shooting at zombies, which is also based on Matheson’s story. It’s as silly as it sounds and hasn’t dated well. I Am Legend is directed by Francis Lawrence who was responsible for the schlocky comic adaptation Constantine with Keanu Reeves back in 2005 but I am pleased to say that movie is a giant step from that effort. Smith plays Robert Neville, the last man in New York after a terrible disease appears to have wiped out the rest of the city’s inhabitants. So he wanders the city during daylight with his dog in an attempt to find a cure for the disease and restore life to the city. The Omega Man was set in Los Angeles but the New York setting here works so much better with the ghostly shell of a major metropolis realised to eerie and unsettling effect. Lawrence ratchets up the tension, helped by the magnificent performance of Will Smith, who effectively has to carry the film. Viewers have seen a deserted city left to go to ruin in things like 28 Days Later but the New York City of I Am Legend has a uniquely haunted feel to it. The film ends on a high note but you are mostly left satisfied at its conclusion.I Am Legend is a tense sci-fi thriller with a masterful performance from Will Smith, who captivates the viewer from his first appearance on screen to the last reel. It asks some questions of its audience and it makes you think as you leave the cinema and there are few Hollywood films that do that these days.

www.iamlegend.co.uk