GO WEST YOUNG MAN 2008 PART ONE
So as promised, here is part one of my posts about this year’s Bristol Comic Expo. Bristol is one of the highlights of the British comic calendar: Mike Allwood and David Morris have transformed the show into a decent weekend with lots to see and do and a good selection of American guests. Last year was a fun trip but the weather was pretty showery but this year we have had a mini heatwave so it was sunny when we left London on Friday morning. My mate Andy Colman came with me. We took the M4 motorway and had hoped to stop at Bath to have a wander around and chase a couple of invoices that were long overdue from one of the magazines I work for but unfortunately the traffic leading into Bath was so huge that we decided to head straight to Bristol and set up. So we met my brother Matthew, who had the copies of Studio Space, and we cracked open the box on Friday at 4.30pm. Feeling slightly nervous (after four years of waiting), we opened them up and were knocked out by the quality of them. So myself, Andy, Gary Marshall and my brother went for dinner to celebrate at the Shed Severn round the corner on the canal. So here are some photos from the first day of the show with the hall, Gary and Andy at the table, Barry Kitson and Mike McKone signing, Sean Michael Wilson of Boychild, stormtroopers inside the Commonwealth, Gary showing off a copy of the book, my friend David Baillie, the hall, stormtroopers outside the venue, a slightly drunk Jock and Frazer Irving. I’ll be putting up a report of Saturday’s activities over the next day or so and then something on Sunday and finally a visual account of my rather circuitous trip home with Walt and Louise Simonson on the Monday…

END OF THE JOURNEY
So I shall put some proper posts up about Bristol but I just thought I would tell everyone who visits this blog that the books turned up okay and the paperback of Studio Space looks amazing. We opened the first box on Friday afternoon and it was a very strange feeling; that, after four years of hard slog, knockbacks and setbacks, we were going to see the finished article. I had images of the books not reaching my brother’s place in Bristol or that they would be misprinted. But they looked fine. Lots more to come including a selection of the photos from the show and the trip back…

THE STRANGENESS OF POACHER-TURNED-GAMEKEEPER…
I’ve done four interviews now about Studio Space and TRIPWIRE (for The Comics Reporter, Resonance FM, The Judge Dredd Megazine and Sci Fi Now) and it feels really strange to be answering the questions rather than asking them. I just found the link to the Resonance FM interview, which is at http://podcasts.resonancefm.com/archives/993, so if you want to listen to me ramble with what sounds like a sock in front of my mouth (it wasn’t a great line), then feel free to visit it. Doing audio interviews is even more scary as I am used to print so I can at least clean up the text in print. Off to Bristol tomorrow so there will be at least a couple of posts from the show. If you are going to be attending, don’t forget you can pick up your copy of the Studio Space paperback there before anyone else (and get it signed too by some of the artists there)…

AMAZON’S JUNGLE
With the release date of the book only a few weeks off, I’m been getting obsessed with checking its ranking on amazon, and it’s a very strange thing. It can be 64,000 one hour and 285,000 the next and that applies to amazon.com as much as it does amazon.co.uk. In fact, on amazon.co.uk as I post this entry, the Studio Space paperback is ranked
79,674 and 34th in the Image Comics category, for some reason the hardcover isn’t ranked on amazon.co.uk, and on amazon.com, the paperback is ranked 162,110 and 87th in the Image Comics category while the hardcover is 413,248. I’m sure it will have changed almost instantly…


STUDIO SPACE SIGNINGS
So with less than a week to go until Bristol, we have firmed up some signings for Studio Space both at Bristol and beyond. On our TRIPWIRE table at Bristol, we shall have Walter Simonson, Duncan Fegredo, Sean Phillips, Dave Gibbons and Dave Taylor signing at various points over the weekend, so please stop by and check what time they will be signing at. But it doesn’t end there: on Saturday 7th June at Forbidden Planet London on Shaftesbury Avenue, we have three top artists signing copies of the book: Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons and Sean Phillips. Then the following Saturday, 14th June, we have a Waterstones talk and signing at Waterstones on 421 Oxford Street opposite Selfridges with Bryan Talbot and Steve Dillon. Then, so we don’t neglect our friends in the North, Saturday 28th June will see a Studio Space signing at Forbidden Planet Manchester with Dave Taylor and Steve Dillon and possibly one other artist. So the summer will be pretty packed. Before all that (except Bristol). Add San Diego to this where we’ll be set up on the Image booth and I expect I won’t get any sleep for the next three months…


NO NEED FOR SPEED
The week has been a complete blur because I’ve been working while trying to do more work on the Annual and get ready for Bristol which is now only a week away. Last Sunday I went to a press screening of the Wachowskis’ new film, Speed Racer. To be honest, of all the summer blockbusters, this is one that I was looking forward to the least. Emile Hirsch plays the eponymous Speed, a boy who hero-worships his racing-car driver brother Rex, only to see his brother die in a racing accident. Cut to years later and Speed is now a racer himself and the film follows the machinations of the evil car company tycoon Royalton in his attempts to ensnare Speed and his family into a web of corporate greed and race-fixing. Speed Racer is probably the most garish film I’ve ever seen at the cinema and its Wacky-Races-on-speed production design is enough to give the casual viewer a thumping headache at the end. Speed Racer was never shown over here so unlike, say Battle of The Planets, there is no nostalgia for the Japanese anime series here, and so it could be seen as a strange curio by the UK cinemagoing audience. Of course, if you’re 8 years old, then this film is probably fantastic but it left me wondering what has happened to John Goodman’s career (here as Speed’s dad) and how far the Wachowskis have fallen since the first Matrix. The races are edited so quickly that it’s almost impossible to discern what’s going on and the plot is so corny and stupid that if the visuals don’t appeal, then there’s really nothing left. Emile Hirsch is okay but since he is playing a cartoon character or a video game character, then it’s not like there’s a lot for him to do. In fact Speed Racer looks and feels like a game with the script a late afterthought. Save your money and go and see Iron Man instead, which is a smart, enjoyable genre movie that doesn’t make you nauseous when you leave the cinema…