MAKING AN EXHIBITION OF YOURSELF
The TRIPWIRE 21 book is at the printers and will be back with us around 9th May. We’re very proud of the way it’s looking. But we are celebrating TRIPWIRE’s anniversary in a few other ways as well. Firstly, we shall be having an exhibition of TRIPWIRE-related photos and images up at the gallery at Foyles on Charing Cross Road in London. Kicking off the morning of 16th May, it’s absolutely free and it will give you the opportunity to see a selection of our magazine covers, photographs and art at a bigger size than you would normally, so it’s a very exciting opportunity for us.
Secondly, also on 16th May is our TRIPWIRE 21 evening. Starting at 6.30pm, I am joined by Michael Moorcock (Elric, fantasy legend), Mike (Hellblazer, The Unwritten) Carey, Roger Langridge (Muppets, Snarked!), Peter Milligan (Hellblazer) and Christopher (Bryant & May, Roofworld) to talk about 21 years of TRIPWIRE and 21 years of comics. We’ll also be making copies of TRIPWIRE 21 in paperback and limited hardcover available to buy at the event and get signed. It’s going to be a great evening and tickets are still available from Foyles. Lastly, we’ll be at the Bristol Comic Expo from 11th to 12th May, with a table selling TRIPWIRE 21 paperbacks and hardcovers and a panel at 12noon. So May is going to be a crazy month for us but we are pleased at last that an anniversary book will be seeing the light of day. The paperback will also be solicited in the June Previews so that our colonial friends will be able to buy the book too…
Bristol Comic Expo
TRIPWIRE 21 evening
TRIPWIRE 21 exhibition
ANY OLD IRON MAN?
When Iron Man came out back in 2008, it was a refreshing and very likeable film. When Iron Man 2 hit two years later, a poor script and forgettable scenario meant that many people, myself included, came out of the cinema disappointed. Fast-forward to 2013 and director Jon Favreau has been replaced with Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Black has been responsible for some of the most enjoyable mainstream films of the past two decades. Iron Man 3 is a bit of a strange film. It opens with a flashback that sees Downey Jr, back as playboy Tony Stark, with girlfriend, boffin Maya Hansen (played by Rebecca Hall) meet and belittle scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). We cut to many years later and a bitter Killian is determined to get his revenge on Stark. So enter The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, who appears to be in league with Killian. Stark’s home is destroyed and so he is forced to defeat this new adversary of his. Black does have a deft hand with action and there are a few nice funny lines here (most of them given to Stark) but the mcguffin involving the Mandarin comes across as rather stupid and doesn’t ring true at all. There are a few nice nods to things like The Avengers too. Pearce as the betrayed scientist chews the scenery but is very watchable as is the gorgeous Hall as Stark’s ex girlfriend Hansen. Kingsley makes the best of a very thin role. Ty Simpkins as Tony Stark’s occasional child sidekick is a little bit obnoxious but he doesn’t have much screen time. Downey Jr does manage to tie it all together, still the most charismatic thing on the screen here. Iron Man 2 was bland and formulaic whereas Iron Man 3 is silly, forgettable but still fairly engaging. It does show that the character has run out of steam and that enough is enough now with Iron Man in his own right…
TWO’S A CROWD (FUND)
So the Kickstarter campaign ended last Sunday (14th April) for the TRIPWIRE 21st anniversary book. Disappointingly, we only got as far as 75% towards our target, so like TRIPWIRE 20 at Unbound, we didn’t succeed in funding an anniversary book through crowd funding. Crowd funding is a very strange beast. I have come to realise that it only actually works if you’re a celebrity, a rock star or someone like Amanda Palmer, who have thousands of followers on Twitter. Unfortunately we are only a magazine with a fairly niche audience. But it doesn’t actually matter. We have secured distribution for TRIPWIRE 21 and it will be carried to the UK booktrade through Turnaround and the US book trade through SCB Art. It will also be available to comic shops through Diamond US and Diamond UK, listed in the June Previews. So we are looking at the Kickstarter as a two month PR campaign. We shall also be offering the limited hardcover at Forbidden Planet in London, at our table at the Bristol Comic Expo and hopefully at the Foyles event in London on 16th May. Also if people want the hardback, then I shall make it available to order directly from us. Running a crowdfunding campaign is very stressful (it is a real emotional rollercoaster as you go from seemingly getting really close to having the wind taken out of your sails) but without both the Unbound and the Kickstarter, this book wouldn’t have happened at all, which would have been a real shame. They gave me the impetus to gather material and commission new art and writing. The fact that we are putting on an event at Foyles on Charing Cross Road to commemorate this with Michael Moorcock, Peter Milligan, Mike Carey, Christopher Fowler and Roger Langridge is something I am very chuffed about. And we’ll even have a weeklong exhibition of TRIPWIRE 21st at Foyles in their Gallery, kicking off on 15th May. So we have hopefully the best thing we’ve ever put out, so the fact that the Kickstarter didn’t work is actually academic. When we have an item code for the book through Diamond US, I’ll be putting it up here. But in the meantime, to remind everyone about what’s in the book, here’s a selection of the art and the cover…
FROM THE SIXTIES TO THE EIGHTIES
StudioCanal have an admirably eclectic list of titles they put out on Blu-ray and DVD but sometimes this makes for a rather strange variance in tone and quality. Recently I received three titles from three different decades and so I thought I would review them together.
First, chronologically speaking is Joseph Losey’s The Servant (1963), starring Dirk Bogarde, James Fox and Sarah Miles. Bogarde plays servant Hugo Barrett who gets hired by dilettante Tony (James Fox) to keep his house in West London. When we first meet Barrett, he seems like the perfect manservant but there is a dark side to him which manifests itself as the film progresses. Barrett is incredibly possessive about Tony and he manages to alienate his girlfriend Susan (Wendy Craig). In fact, Barrett succeeds in alienating Tony from anyone but his own hand-picked group of oddballs. Bogarde is excellent, managing to come across as sinister but strangely likeable while Fox turns in a decent performance as the upper class dupe who Barrett becomes obsessed with. Based on a novel by Robin Maugham and adapted by Harold Pinter, The Servant feels very claustrophobic and director Losey does a wonderful job of maintaining the tension. It’s not all perfect: Sarah Miles as Vera, Barrett’s co-conspirator, sometimes goes a little too far over the top on screen and she does detract from the greatest strength here, the interplay between Tony and Barrett. But The Servant is still a classic and it is good to see it on DVD…
Entertaining Mr Sloane (1970), based on Joe Orton’s classic play, shows the difference almost a decade can make in terms of filmmaking. Like The Servant, this film has a very small main cast (Peter McEnery as ‘Mr Sloane’, Harry Andrews and Beryl Reid as demented brother and sister Kath and Ed and Alan Webb as their father Dadda) but unlike The Servant, this adaptation of Entertaining Mr Sloane shows its limitations when moved to the big screen. McEnery is decent as chancer ‘Mr Sloane’ and Andrews and Reid both make the best of a bad situation but the script feels dated, the directing looks like an early seventies sitcom and there’s even the obligatory cringe-making title song by Georgie Fame. It is interesting to see London in 1970 but it really isn’t enough to warrant sitting through all 90 minutes of this. So unlike The Servant, Entertaining Mr Sloane is only for hardcore aficionados of esoteric British seventies cinema…
Finally, we have Blood Simple (1984). The first Coen Brothers collaboration, nearly thirty years ago, is a strangely uneven affair, dealing with the noirish love triangle between Abby (Frances MacDormand), Ray (John Getz) and Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya). Classic character actor M Emmet Walsh has a turn as the sleazy private eye Loren Visser. It’s very primitive, very slow-moving and the Texan accents are hard to understand sometimes but it does contain a few pointers to the assured film-makers the Coen brothers become, with their distinctly idiosyncratic approach to characterisation displayed here. This is a director’s cut too so there is no argument that this historically important film deserves such treatment. It is interesting to watch a young Frances MacDormand (the future Mrs Joel Coen) and a young Dan Hedaya on screen together and Emmet Walsh is great as ever.
So The Servant and Blood Simple are both recommended and Entertaining Mr Sloane is recommended with extreme reservations…
TRIPWIRE 21: SEVEN DAYS AND COUNTING
So the TRIPWIRE 21 kickstarter campaign has got seven days left on it and we’re at 56%, so hopefully it will happen. I have been told that activity ramps up in the last week so hopefully this is true. I am very chuffed with the way the book is looking: it was designed to be the best thing that we have put out under the TRIPWIRE name. We have also managed to arrange a fantastic event to commemorate the book: on 16th May, at Foyles on Charing Cross Road, we’ll be having a TRIPWIRE 21 evening with Mike Carey, Roger Langridge, Christopher Fowler, Peter Milligan and Michael Moorcock, hosted by me. We’ll be chatting about 21 years of the magazine and the last 21 years of comics and genre. You will be able to get the book signed too. So here’s some page layouts from the book. You have until 14th April to pledge on the book otherwise the limited hardcover won’t be published, which would be a real shame.
Foyles TRIPWIRE event
TRIPWIRE 21 on Kickstarter
LONDON CALLING TWENTY YEARS ON
I’ve known Tim Pilcher for over two decades now. I first met him at the long-gone comic shop Comic Showcase in Covent Garden and he has worked for Vertigo when they had a London office. He also worked until recently for Ilex Press, a book packaging company in Lewes. So as he was kind enough to give the TRIPWIRE 21st anniversary book a plug, and he can’t take the rejection of another Britain’s Got Talent audition, he’s decided to launch his own kick-starter. He was there back when Vertigo was bringing creators of the calibre of Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan and Frank Quitely, at the heart of it. So he must have some great stories to tell but to find out what they are, you’ll have to pledge on the book, which goes live on 4th April. He has got supremely talented graphic designer and artist in his own right Rian Hughes, to put the whole thing together too. So here’s some info on the book including the all-important URL. I’ll be sticking my hand in my pocket and I think you should too…
A Cautionary Tale of Sex, Drugs & Comics
Tim Pilcher’s shocking, revealing and completely unofficial memoir of DC Comics’ legendary London office, to celebrate Vertigo’s 20th anniversary.“…For a few glorious years only, before cost-cutting set in, there was Vertigo’s ‘British Office’ – the comics equivalent of the Loaded HQ in the ‘90s. Vodka, mushrooms, Es, sex, money, travel and the pure unleashed creativity of young people having a good time together.”—Grant Morrison, author of Supergods, All Star Superman, Batman Inc. and The Invisibles.
”Comics were undoubtedly in my blood from day one. I had ‘four colour funnies’ running through my veins before I’d even heard the expression. Cut me and I bled cyan, magenta, yellow and black. I inhaled the musty smell of old comics, as if they were perfume. I sweated Indian ink and I came in process white. It was my destiny to work in comics.”This is the candid, uncensored and utterly unofficial of story of DC Comic’s infamous Vertigo UK office, written by one who was the heart of the drug-fuelled, creative whirlwind. It’s the odyssey of one comic fan in pursuit of his dream job, becoming the first British member of the DC editorial staff, and learning the harsh realities of publishing life. Along the way he meets comics professionals and celebrities including Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, Jamie Hewlett, Mark Millar, Garth Ennis, Philip Bond, Paul Gambaccini, Glyn Dillon, Jonathan Ross, The Spice Girls, Blur, Adam Ant, and many, many more. Revealing the crazy, halcyon days of the British comics publishing in the mid-Nineties, it blows the lid off the debauchery and excess that was part and parcel of the industry. When you reach such dizzy heights, there’s only one place to go.
“Comic book guru” and author Tim Pilcher said, “It was an incredibly exciting time to be in comics. We felt we could achieve anything at the Vertigo office, and things got a little crazy. This is the book I’ve been threatening to write for the past 20 years! I suspect the first people wanting to pick this up will be all the comics professionals, to see what I said about them. There should be some very worried writers, artists and editors out there!” The veteran of quarter of a century of working in comics continued, “I wanted to let the world know that the comics industry is not all geeky and nerdy. In fact it’s every bit as hedonistic as the music business. If Paul Gravett is ‘The Man at the Crossroads’, then I’m ‘The Man at the Centre of a 15-Car Pile-Up’”.
There are three versions of Comic Book Babylon
“Comic book guru” and author Tim Pilcher said, “It was an incredibly exciting time to be in comics. We felt we could achieve anything at the Vertigo office, and things got a little crazy. This is the book I’ve been threatening to write for the past 20 years! I suspect the first people wanting to pick this up will be all the comics professionals, to see what I said about them. There should be some very worried writers, artists and editors out there!” .
There are three versions of Comic Book Babylon available: eBook (with additional images), paperback, and 200 limited edition hardbacks, with covers created by design genius and comic book artist Rian Hughes. “Rian’s out done himself,” said an impressed Pilcher, “The punky/acid house colours perfectly reflect the rave mood of the times in the book.” Hughes has also designed a limited edition print and three “Sex, Drugs and Comic Books” badges as incentives.
Comic Book Babylon: A Cautionary Tale of Sex, Drugs & Comics
Comic Book Babylon: A Cautionary Tale of Sex, Drugs Comics launches Kickstarter on Thursday 4 April, 2013 for just 30 days! See a preview of it here: Comic Book Babylon
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A NEW DIMENSION IN HORROR
Evil Dead II is a classic horror film. Released back in 1987, Sam Raimi’s follow-up to The Evil Dead (1981) took the horror genre and turned it on its head. Evil Dead II is a horror comedy and the expert fusion of the two genres shows that Raimi is an extraordinary director. This restored Blu-ray starts off a little bit ropily with the picture quality a little bit grainy but it does improve after a few minutes. Bruce Campbell plays Ash, a chancer who brings his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) to a cabin in a woods but he soon finds himself embroiled in a battle between the living and the evil spirits of the dead. Visually it is very impressive as Raimi uses a mix of animation, prosthetics and more traditional special effects to show why he has had such a long career in movies. It also managed to build on its more primitive progenitor, showing real technical development. Its script is suitably subversive too with its cartoon violence well handled. Campbell is manic, funny and charismatic on screen and the balance between the horror and the comedy is well-maintained. Clocking in at under 90 minutes, Evil Dead II is a smart, funny modern horror film with some nice touches and it certainly deserves a Blu-ray release…