Just like I did at the end of last year, 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. 2008 was a pretty decent year:

•The second TRIPWIRE Annual did pretty well and we were able to build on the previous one;

Studio Space came out at the end of May, after a four-year wait. It sold briskly at Bristol and it’s gone very well, so well that we are planning another one;

• I have improved my photography again and started to get to grips with my SLR. I got to use the new camera at shows like Wonder Con in San Francisco and San Diego in July;

• We banished the ghost of San Diego 2003 with our table this summer on the Image square. We did pretty well at the table and although it was exhausting, it was worth doing;

• I managed to get work on books since the newspaper and magazine market has shrunk significantly. Working on Guinness World Records Gamers’ Edition and a couple of manuscripts allowed me to expand my CV;

• I got another feature into Time Magazine about Open House London and even though they’ve effectively turned the London office into a bureau, I was glad to get something else into the mag and my experience as a copy editor has been useful. I also got work published in Sci-Fi Now and picked up regular film-reviewing work in Total Politics, something I’ve never managed to do before. I even went back to write something for Death Ray and, if they pay me promptly, I’ll work for them again. I even set up features for the Judge Dredd Megazine, which I haven’t written for since 2005;

So that’s the look back. What would I like to happen next year?

TRIPWIRE becomes more regular. We have already started this process with the planned Superhero Special in March but we would like to get four issues out this year including a couple of genre specials. The Annual for 2009 should be another impressive package as we are planning a Batman anniversary cover and feature. We are looking for a backer and so hopefully someone will come forward and give us some investment to throw into it;

Studio Space 2 will be greenlit so we can improve on what we did in the first one and actually make some money for our efforts;

•I continue to get regular feature work from the magazines I’ve worked for in 2008;

•We’ll do tables at Wonder Con in February in San Francisco and at San Diego in July;

•I don’t have to deal with film company PRs who have no interest in a) the films they’re promoting and b) treating us with any equanimity;

•I get at least two new book proposals off the ground at publishers (Odd London would be a start) so I can develop this different side of my career;

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

This will be my last post of 2008 so everyone who comes here, have a good New Year and I’ll see you in 2009…

I met up with Andy today and we went to have lunch in Muswell Hill. It’s cold but there’s that great winter light with some great sunshine. So I took some fanastic pics in Muswell Hill on the Broadway and then we wnent back to Highgate, where we stood on Suicide Bridge. It’s actually the Archway Road Bridge on Hornsey Lane but owing to years of people throwing themselves off it, it’s earnt this rather unfortunate local nickname. I was able to get some great photos into the distance, even as far as the City and Docklands thanks to the lens. So here are a few pics…

Over the last few weeks, I’ve managed to take quite a few shots for my Odd London proposal. It’s a book that I’m hoping to start in the New Year. It should be a lot of fun to put together. Here are some photos I took literally down the road from me of these animal statues, which were erected at Fiveways Corner, where the A41 meets the M1 to accompany a multimillion pound car showroom. But the money ran out and they even demolished a historical tithe barn to make way for the showroom that never happened. But the animals are still there: four guardians to the corner. The weather was cold but very bright today so, armed with the 18-108mm lens, I went to photograph them. I had shot them a few weeks ago with the monster lens but the photos were terrible. There are also giant leaves underneath the flyover, put up at a similar time but for a different purpose. So take a look yourself…

On Monday, after going to Waterloo to get my ticket to go down and see Gary on Sunday, I took a walk across Blackfriars Bridge to find another of the oddities for my Odd London book. I got some nice shots of Blackfriars with the new lens, including the ghost pillars, which have always fascinated me, plus when I walked round the back of the top of Fleet Street, I went near St Brides. This used to be the journalists’ church when the papers were based on Fleet Street and, legend has it, its spire was the inspiration for the first tiered wedding cake design. So here are a few shots from my wanderings on Monday including a church near Waterloo…

I admit that, before I started taking lots of photos, I used to hate winter in London. The short days and the bleak scenes. But for photos, it’s fantastic with its spiky trees and gothic light. So here are a few shots I took on my lunch break near Total Film‘s offices, which is by Marylebone Station. The two churches are located on Crawford Street, parallel to Marylebone Road, and near Lisson Grove on the other side…

I haven’t seen that many films in December, apart from Che Part Two, which was for a review for Total Politics, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I won’t put a Che review up here but I will review Benjamin Button. Directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is loosely based on an F Scott Fitzgerald short story. Brad Pitt plays the eponymous hero who is born in his eighties and ages backwards while Blanchett is his on-off love interest, Daisy. The two actors dominate the film so entirely that while honourable mention should be made of Jason Flemyng, who plays Benjamin’s real father, Elias Koteas, the captain of the ship that Button joins as a member of its crew, and Tilda Swinton as Benjamin’s first real love affair, it is really Pitt and Blanchett’s vehicle. Fincher has been an odd director in his career: moving from pop promos to features, while his films have looked stylish, many of them have been an exercise in visuals over depth (see Se7en and Fight Club). But Benjamin Button succeeds in balancing the picaresque elegance of its production with a compelling and affecting two-hander from Pitt and Blanchett. Pitt is a great actor, who has transcended his pretty boy early roles to show range and depth. He was superb in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and he also shined in Babel, which he co-starred with Blanchett in back in 2006. Blanchett is also a very talented screen performer, as her pain and anguish on screen is often palpable. The film recounts the tale of the unusual life of Button, paralleled with the historical changes taking place in in the wider world, and even though its running time is over two and a half hours, it never drags but brings you into its orbit with grace, agility and a rare likeability. It is cut from similar cloth to films like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, where the sense of inevitability runs through it like a dark cloud but it never topples the production. This is a masterly film with spectacular performances from its leads and a simple humanity at its core that has you cheering for Pitt and Blanchett’s characters. It should certainly be up for a number of nods in 2009’s Oscars noms. Anyone with a love of classic cinema should run to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button…

It’s funny but ever since I’ve been rummaging through old issues of TRIPWIRE to catalogue the issues for a possible best of through a book publisher, it’s made me think. It’s scary how long ago some of the issues I’ve unearthed are: we started publishing back in 1992 but even the ones from 1996 are now 12 years old! Some of the features we ran still look and read pretty well and some of my derogatory reviews are still pretty funny. It’s sad that a couple of our contributors are no longer with us: Daniel Epstein, who used to write for CBR and Suicide Girls, did a Y The Last Man feature and a Bulletproof Monk piece for our shortlived colour newsstand run back in 2003. When I met him at a New York Comic Con a couple of years back, he thanked me for giving him a start in his writing career and he died suddenly last year, not even forty years old. I’ve also reconnected with Ed Hipkiss, a friend of Gary’s, who wrote some stuff for that same ill-fated volume, and has friended me on Facebook. We may use some of his stuff in our plans to make TRIPWIRE more frequent. On top of that, working at Total Film this week, I bumped into Jonathan Selzer, who used to write for Melody Maker but he also used to do reviews for us way back in the Nineties. Haven’t seen him in quite some time and turns out he’s now working for Metal Hammer, the music magazine. So it’s strange that you do bump into people after years of not seeing them. Christmas and New Year are looking pretty good now too: I’ve landed some work after a big of a draught in October and November. It’ll be features for the Megazine, which I haven’t written for since 2005. I also may be doing some more writing for Death Ray, who seem to be back on track. I did an Edward Olmos feature for them and there may be some more stuff. So 2009 looks like being a manic but ironically decent year…