GO SOUTHWEST YOUNG MAN PART 2
So after I went to Stanton Drew, we sat and had lunch and decided to head south to a place called South Cadbury, near Yeovil in Somerset (nothing to do with Chocolate:)). It has this, if you ask me, rather silly association with King Arthur even though there’s no historical evidence to back this up and so you have pubs called Camelot near it. But be that as it may, it’s a 7th century hillfort which now just looks like a strangely-shaped hill. It made me realise that we have our work cut out for us with the pagan book. Having said that, the views from it are pretty spectacular and you can see for miles from its top. It was hard to imagine it as an actual defensive fort but it was still interesting and worth visiting. So here are some photos I took of it…

















GO SOUTHWEST YOUNG MAN
Two weekends ago, I went down to Taunton to see Dave Morris and begin research on this Pagan Atlas of Great Britain that I’m planning with Andy Grossberg. It was a magnificent weekend: it started with me stopping off to see my brother in Clifton in Bristol and we had lunch together before I headed off to Taunton. The weather was pretty decent on the Friday and I really enjoyed seeing places I had never been to before. I’d never driven across the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the other side of the bridge had places that I wanted to stop at but I couldn’t. On Saturday, we went to visit a stone circle at a place called Stanton Drew, about 7 miles from Bristol. It isn’t as impressive as Avebury and you have to use your imagination to see them as complete stone circles but it was still very interesting. There’s a small three stone circle called The Cove there which is now in a pub garden (!). Trying to get decent photos of the circle where they looked more than just bits of disconnected stone in a field was bloody hard and made me realise that this isn’t going to be an easy book to put together. But it kicked off my pagan research in a positive way. So here are some photos of Clifton and Stanton Drew. Posts on South Cadbury and Glastonbury to follow. By the way, this month celebrates my two-year anniversary on Blogger…



















DOCUMENTING A CITY PART TWO
And here are a few more photos from around the City, including the church spire of Mary-Le-Bow on Cheapside, the church that, if you were born within the sound of its bells, you were a true cockney, the Golden Boy of Cock Lane, to commemorate where the Great Fire of London ended (a reference to a quote attributed to the then Mayor of London who claimed that the fire was so small ‘it could be pissed out by a woman’), a photo of Smithfield Meat Market, Old Bailey, St Pauls in the sunshine and a few other places…

TIME FOR OPEN HOUSE
Open House is an event I’ve been going to for about a decade now. It takes place in the third weekend in September each year and it opens up buildings you don’t normally have access to around the city. So I’ve gotten to write something about it for this week’s Time Magazine, cover dated 1st September 2008. You can also check it out online at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1834432,00.html
This is the third thing I’ve written for Time since 2006 (the other two pieces were a Mervyn Peake feature and a review of a book of amazing aerial photos of archaeological sites) and it’s rather nice to have this to add my cuttings and my portfolio…
www.openhouse.org.uk



















DOCUMENTING A CITY
I haven’t done this in a couple of weeks so I thought I’d put up some random photos I’d taken during my lunch breaks freelancing as a sub in various places. It’s funny: even before I had a camera and before I took photos, I would enjoy leaving where I was working and wandering in one direction or the other to see where it took me. It’s a good way to find out about an area you’re working in…
So here are photos taken around Old Street/Shoreditch, Moorgate, City of London and a couple of the London Eye and on Hungerford Bridge, just for fun…


HELL OF A FOLLOW-UP?
I have been sitting on this review for about a month now. I went to see Hellboy 2 before I went to San Diego but because it didn’t come out until August 20th, we were asked not to put any reviews up until nearer the time. So here is my take on it, if I can remember it. The first Hellboy was a decent stab at bringing Mignola’s creation to the big screen but it had its flaws: the plot was a little bit thin. So when it was announced that Del Toro would be having another crack at Hellboy, I was very excited indeed. He was now a more visible director thanks to the acclaim of Pan’s Labyrinth and the hope was that he would merge his arthouse sensibilities with the Hollywood Del Toro that made things like Blade 2 and Mimic, and here he almost pulls it off. The film opens with a young Hellboy being told a bedtime story by Professor Trevor Bruttelheim (John Hurt in the only cameo here) about this monstrous Golden Army built by the Elves to defeat the humans but mothballed thanks to a pact between the two. The bedtime story is animated in this wonderfully gothic naive way that it’s a great start to proceedings. Then we move action forward to the present day and Luke Goss plays Elf Prince Nuada, who decides that enough is enough, the humans have ruled for too long and he decides to take the war to them and waken the Golden Army after all these years. Goss almost reprises his role as the vampire from Blade 2 but here, complete with white wig, looks like he’d make a fine Elric if the Weitz brothers ever pulled their fingers out and made it. He also has a twin sister, the exquisite Nuala, and they are linked so if one comes to harm, the other is affected. So Nuada unleashes a box of tooth fairies at an auction and these are things that you really wouldn’t want wandering around under your pillow while you slept: they are nasty, deadly things who drain the calcium from their victims. The sequence with Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe battling the aforementioned tooth faeries is fantastic: a true slice of modern gothic horror. So the group discover that Nuada is at the heart of all this chaos and they set about trying to find the Golden Army before he does. They visit the Troll Market which exists under the city in an attempt to garner clues and this is a spectacular sequence, sort of a fantasy version of the bar scene in Star Wars, and Del Toro and his team have pulled out all the stops for this. When they encounter the Elf Prince at last, he awakens a plant elemental to hinder their progress and it takes a great deal of effort for old red hands to beat it. The film also introduces a new addition to the team: Johann Krauss, the spirit-like figure encased in a metal suit, voiced by Family Guy‘s Seth MacFarlane. The journey to find the Golden Army takes them to Northern Ireland and there is a huge battle at the end but the BPRD wins the day. Hellboy 2 has so many ideas and great concepts but the script is too loose and the change in tone from dark fantasy to light comedy (I’m still not sure whether the scene where Hellboy and Abe Sapien sing Barry Manilow really works) feels a little strange at times. And the relationship between the Elven siblings could have been explored a little more deeply, as could the world they inhabit. But it is an admirable attempt to put something different on the screen and perhaps it is a film that improves with multiple viewings. So it’s a three-and-a-half-star film. It’s done decent box office so there’s a good chance that there will be a third movie. If you’re a fan of the comic or of Del Toro, you should definitely check it out…











SAN DIEGO ROUNDUP 2008 PART THREE
I know it’s taken over two weeks but here is the last post about this year’s San Diego. Saturday went pretty well: Tim Bradstreet and Bryan Talbot signed copies of Studio Space at the Image signing area in the morning and sales of the book and the Annual were pretty brisk all day. The funny thing is that, because ticket sales were capped, the comic area of the hall on Saturday wasn’t as hard to get around as in previous years. Also on Saturday the Doctor Who cosplayers came by the table so we got a couple of photos of them with the magazine. I continued to try and find Mark Chiarello but to no avail. Sunday went by very fast but by that point, I was exhausted and so once we had packed away the Annuals and dropped off some Studio Space stock for sale at Bud Plant, it was over. So in retrospect, San Diego 2008 was a great show for us: it had wiped away the bad memories of 2003, where we had the worst table position imaginable and the courier had damaged our stock. It was a fantastic networking show: we would probably not have met Joss Whedon if we weren’t set up on the floor. I got to see my friends Jim Johnson and Pete Bickford as well as spend lots of time with Andy Grossberg, Susie Lee and Jeff Carlisle. Also we are slightly higher up the food chain than we were last year since the second Annual has shipped. I also met with an agent who seemed interested in the London bridges book and another book project I have started to work up and it was great to be at the show with a book like Studio Space, that everyone seems to like. There is still such a buzz about San Diego that you don’t get at any other show and this one, my 10th, was no different. I think it may have been my best San Diego to date…


















RANDOM PHOTO POST SAN DIEGO
Before I post about Saturday and Sunday properly, here’s a selection of other photos including the Embassy Suites (where we stayed), people playing giant chess, Doctor Who cosplayers with a copy of the TRIPWIRE Annual, Watchmen director Zach Snyder, the Hyatt at twilight, Malin Ackerman and Patrick Wilson from Watchmen, my friends Murphy and Steve Colgan who made it out to the show…












SAN DIEGO ROUNDUP 2008 PART TWO
Rather than bore everyone to tears with a report of each day, I’m going to try and move along a little quicker (especially since the show ended ten days ago!). So Thursday was a good day for us: we held a TRIPWIRE panel at 10.30 in the morning which was very badly attended but it was the first morning of the first day of the show so that wasn’t surprising. With 10 copies of Studio Space to last us until lunchtime Friday, interest in the Annual was pretty high. I didn’t do as much reporting and film stuff this year because I wanted to focus on the Annual and the book, so I spent most of Thursday at the table. I had a very productive meeting with James Killen, my rep at Barnes & Noble, and Doug White, my B & N rep at Diamond Books and so B&N are taking 1000 copies of this year’s Annual, which is great. It was the first day that I attempted to find my friend Mark Chiarello, who works at DC. In fact it became a running joke that Jeff Carlisle saw him quite a few times and in fact could locate him seemingly at the drop of a hat whereas I, who have known Mark for a number of years, introduced him to artist Robert McGinnis and always have lunch with him when I go to New York, never saw him once. We had great neighbours next to us at the Image booth: Andy Suriano, artist on Image’s Charlatan’s Ball, and his wife Carlyn were both lovely people and made the show a pleasure to set up at. Thursday night I had dinner with Andy and Susie, don’t remember where, but we had tickets for some party that we blew out because we couldn’t be arsed to go to. What people don’t realise is just how exhausting San Diego is, especially if you’re set up there. You get into the hall pretty early and three of the four days, it doesn’t close until 7pm. So once you pack up and walk back to the hotel, you’re not in much of a fit state to go carousing til the early hours at night. So Thursday ended better than Wednesday because I had resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn’t be getting books until Friday. Friday was a very good day if a bit of a blur: I did two film-related roundtables, one on Watchmen and one on Star Wars: Clone Wars. At first, they wouldn’t let us take photos at Watchmen but they relented so I have some nice shots of the cast and Zach Snyder, who I gave a copy of Studio Space to. Speaking of which, the books turned up halfway through Friday, which was a relief. We did our Studio Space panel on Friday morning with Tommy Lee Edwards, Bryan Talbot and Howard Chaykin, which was pretty well-attended (although I foolishly had forgotten what time that started so I rolled up halfway through it!). I got to meet Frank Darabont, director of The Mist, and showed him a copy of the book. Also, while I was away from the table, Gary and Jeff Carlisle gave copies of the Annual and Studio Space to Joss Whedon, who was passing by, and Gabriel Macht and another guy from The Spirit. Friday night, we went to the Weta/ Dark Horse/ Gentle Giant/Lucasfilm party, where I spent an hour with Jim Steranko, discussing film, which was rather cool. I’m going to leave Saturday and Sunday for another post but here is a selection of more random photos including the ice sculpture from the Weta party, Spider-man waiting for the trolley, the crowds around the convention on Friday afternoon, some shots from the Watchmen roundtable and more…












SAN DIEGO 2008 ROUNDUP PART ONE
So here’s the first part of my San Diego Comic Con report. After we spent the first half of Wednesday going around the Midway and the ships in the harbour, myself and Gary separated and arranged to meet up that afternoon to drag the copies of the Annual to the convention center. It had wiped out horrible memories of our TRIPWIRE table at San Diego back in 2003 and so we brought the copies of the Annual into the hall to our half-table located in the Image area but we were to have a small shock on getting to the table. Apparently the copies of Studio Space for the show hadn’t arrived from Diamond and weren’t likely to get there until Friday. So here we were on Preview Night of the show with no paperback or hardback copies of the book. But luckily I had brought ten copies of it in my bags just in case (and we had copies of the Annual to sell too), so I walked back to the Embassy Suites and grabbed the handful of copies of the book that I had with me. Wednesday was reasonably brisk and we did decent sales. I’m going to put up my report on the first proper day in the next post but here are a selection of photos including the traffic on Harbor Drive at the end of one of the days at the show, the view from Gary’s room at the Hyatt looking down at the traffic, the Studio Space panel from Friday with Bryan Talbot, Tommy Lee Edwards and Howard Chaykin and a few selected images including Frazer Irving trying to cheer me up…