Tim Burton has always been a very strange director. His films have always looked sumptuous but often they have suffered from either a weak script or poor direction. Dark Shadows was a cult TV series in the US that ran from 1966 to 1971 about an eccentric family in Maine who hid a dark secret, that one of its number, Barnabas Collins, was actually a vampire. The TV series didn’t really get shown in the UK but it has quite a following in the US so it was an obvious choice for someone like Burton to bring to the big screen. I admit that I have never seen the original TV show so expectations were uncertain when I went to see the film. Burton has brought in regular collaborators Johnny Depp (as protagonist Barnabas Collins) and the director’s partner Helena Bonham Carter (as psychiatrist Dr Julia Hoffman) here while the rest of the cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Lee Miller and Chloe Grace Moretz as the rest of the Collins family. The plot is simple enough: vampire Collins is cursed and entombed in a coffin by witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) at the end of the 18th century after he spurns her advances. He is woken up almost two centuries later in 1972, when the family fortunes have dwindled and the town that they gave their name to, Collinsport, is controlled by Angelique, who now runs a huge fishing company. So Barnabas makes it his mission to restore the influence of the Collins family to its former glory while searching for his former love and coming to terms with living in a strange and unfamiliar future. Dark Shadows is a real mess: Depp does have some nice lines and he looks great in costume but any empathy for his character disappears when you watch him dispatch his victims to feed on. The rest of the cast are pretty forgettable: Eva Green looks stunning as witch Angelique but doesn’t have much to play with while Collins matriarch Pfeiffer and her estranged husband Roger (Lee Miller) are totally wasted, appearing as nothing more than flimsy foils for Barnabas’s story. The film’s script is all over the place as well: not scary enough to be a decent gothic horror and not quite funny enough to cut it as a straight-out comedy, the film ends making little sense, dispatching Angelique but setting things up for a possible sequel. Burton is a frustrating director: his ideas are nearly always interesting but he just doesn’t know how to put them all into a cohesive whole. Dark Shadows is worth watching for Depp’s amusing performance but otherwise it’s just the same old thing from Burton. File under mostly forgettable…


In 1992, I was still at sixth form college up in Barnet but it was the year that I started TRIPWIRE. 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the magazine and so I thought, just like back in 2002, that we should do something special to mark this milestone. TRIPWIRE 20th Anniversary will be a must-buy book featuring art, rarely seen and new, from the likes of Frank Quitely, Mike Mignola, Walter Simonson, Phil Hale, Howard Chaykin, Drew Struzan, Dave Taylor, Duncan Fegredo, Chris Weston, Jon Haward, Henry Flint and more. It will also represent the cream of the interviews and features of two decades of TRIPWIRE, with everyone from Alan Moore to Frank Miller, Mike Mignola to Guillermo Del Toro featured in its pages. Additionally, TRIPWIRE 20th anniversary will include the best writing on subjects and trends that have shaped and influenced comics and its related media from 1992 to now like the best and worst comic movies, digital comics, creators who have left us, the 20 most iconic TRIPWIRE covers and the best graphic novels 1992 to 2012. Whenever I put a book together, I try to make it the sort of book that, if I wasn’t doing it, I would buy myself.
And we are putting it out in a different way to the recent Annuals and magazine issues. I had been following Unbound for a few months as I was curious about the crowdfunding model. Unbound is crowdfunding just for books, so it allows writers, authors and creative people the opportunity to get their work out there without the traditional trappings of big monolithic publishers.
TRIPWIRE 20th anniversary is up on Unbound now and we can’t publish it without people’s support. Pledges start at a very reasonable £10 for UK pledgers. That’s only about three cups of coffee these days and you’d be supporting us;). The more you pledge, the more unique collectibles you get. We are planning a Foyles event in September to commemorate this with special guests and panels.
Here’s a work in progress version of the cover design, a few interior images from some of the great artists we have in the book and a few classic TRIPWIRE covers.

If you’re at the Bristol Comic Expo this weekend (12th -13th May), then we’ll be set up so you can come by and pick up our exclusive anniversary print by Duncan Fegredo (his magnificent painting to TRIPWIRE Annual 2007)

Don’t forget: We can’t do it without you…


Carol Reed, director of The Third Man and Oliver!, didn’t make many classic films in his career. Outcast of The Islands, made just after The Third Man, is an odd curio of a movie: based on a Joseph Conrad (Heart of Darkness) novel, it has just been released on DVD by StudioCanal. The film follows the fortunes of chancer Peter Willems (Trevor Howard) in Southeast Asia, when he finds himself on a remote island in the Pacific after some poor business decisions. It has a fantastic supporting cast with British 1950s stalwarts Robert Morley and Ralph Richardson offering very solid performances. Reed was a great director even if he didn’t make great films all the time and Outcast of The Islands is an intriguing snapshot of British filmmaking in the 1950s. It isn’t quite as compelling as something like The Third Man and the plot does lose cohesion in the second half of the film but Reed is helped by an excellent cast and it’s hard to go wrong with source material like Joseph Conrad. For aficionados of British cinema, Outcast of The Islands is worth checking out on DVD…