A LOOK BACK AND A LOOK FORWARD

As this is the last day of 2014, as I have done the last few years, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at 2014 and think about plans for next year. 2014 was a pretty good year:

•I did some more work for Comic Heroes and for Imagine FX, although with Comic Heroes gone, after four years there won’t be any more work for them. I also got an article in Esquire Weekly, although sadly that has closed.

•I did some more work for digital magazine Cult TV Times and we almost struck a deal for TRIPWIRE. But with the future of CTT uncertain, it is not that likely that this will com to fruition.

•Speaking of TRIPWIRE, the digital edition was launched and didn’t really do what it was supposed to do. The TRIPWIRE 21st anniversary book from 2013 didn’t work out the way we’d planned either so we have put TRIPWIRE to one side for the moment.

•I moved the blog from blogspot to here, which does look a lot nicer.

•On the subbing front, I had a big chunk of freelance work that saw me through from February to the end of November for a variety of different places which was good.

•Regarding my photography, I made a few small sales on RedBubble and I got myself a new SLR, which should keep me going for a few years. Despite the fact that they were only a few sales, they were more sales than I made when I first signed up with RB a few years ago. I also put a load of new photos up on flickr.

•I got to 10,000 words of a second draft with my detective novel, which I am proud that I managed to achieve this.

So 2015 is upon us and there are a number of things I intend to do (this blog post is as much a plan for myself as it is a look back)

•With my instagram account now up and running, I shall be sticking photos up there regularly.

•I have registered tripwiremagazine.co.uk and from around February this year, we shall be sticking stuff up on it on a regular basis, so we can keep TRIPWIRE out there and I can keep my hand in.

•I’ll be doing more with my photography including putting more up on Redbubble and looking at the logistics of putting on a photo exhibition funded by crowdfunding.

•I’ll be doing more with my fiction including finishing the second draft and getting through a third draft to send to an agent.

•I shall still be freelancing, writing for whoever will accept my pitches and subbing, but I’ll be casting my net wider for other freelance work like photo retouching and graphic design, building on a book project I designed in 2014.

I have a lot of plans for next year and hopefully some of them will happen.

To everyone who visits here, have a great New Year and I’ll see you in 2015…

ALMOST GREAT SCOTT

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Ridley Scott as a director isn’t what he once was. Exodus: Gods and Kings casts Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as pharaoh Ramses, retelling the biblical story of Moses leading his people out of Egypt. People have been complaining about Scott casting white actors in the film but let’s be honest, the story of Moses is no more historically accurate than the story of Marvel’s Thor so the question here is whether Scott weaves an entertaining yarn. Shot in the obligatory 3D, Exodus barrels along at a decent pace and Bale is likeable as Moses, although he slips into his cod-American accent towards the end. Edgerton is serviceable as the evil Ramses and visually Scott with the aid of the veteran production designer Arthur Max have created a very impressive looking vista and the battle scenes are well-orchestrated, which you’d expect from Scott. The film is a little too long but it is far more entertaining than Noah, the year’s other biblical epic. There’s no arguing with Scott’s visual panache and Exodus: Gods and Kings is a respectable addition to the Scott canon…

BREAKING THE HOBBIT

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So after three years, we have The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies, director Peter Jackson’s final Tolkien adaptation. What is interesting is that the three Hobbit films have mirrored their Lord Of The Rings predecessors. An Unexpected Journey was alright but dragged quite badly, while The Desolation of Smaug was much better than the first film with a stronger script. The Battle of The Five Armies ends the Dwarf quest to retake their homeland of Erebor from the clutches of the evil dragon Smaug but there is the small matter of defeating the Orc armies led by Azog (Manu Bennett). With a  running time of only two hours and twenty minutes, it feels quite brisk compared with its progenitors but while it does wrap things up fairly well and sets things up for Lord of The Rings, it feels a little bit lightweight. The main battle doesn’t feel as epic and as grand as the battles in Lord of The Rings and the tension created by Jackson in something like the battle for Helm’s Deep in the Two Towers is absent here. Freeman is good as Bilbo and McKellen is always decent on screen but the sense of threat we had in the Lord of The Rings films feels like it’s missing here. It’s not a bad film by any means and if you enjoyed the other two, then this will neatly conclude the story for you. It will be interesting to see if Jackson can move away from Tolkien and try something different. A pleasant enough two and a half hours…

ARTFULLY DONE

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Over the last few years, IDW Publishing have created a unique niche with their Artist’s Edition series, showcasing the best in comics in a large format. Manhunter and Other Stories Artist’s Edition by Walter Simonson represents the classic series where Simonson, with writer and co-creator Archie Goodwin, made his name and got noticed by the comics industry. Despite the fact that it was published back in 1972 in the pages of Detective Comics, early on in Simonson’s career, it is still a magnificent story. Goodwin and Simonson channelled James Bond and brought Eastern weaponry and sensibilities to bear in a story that predates what Miller did in Daredevil by a number of years. And despite the fact that Simonson was an inexperienced artist at this point, it is still fantastic to admire every stroke of his linework at the larger format. And you can see a real development between the first chapter and the last, Gotterdammerung, which guest-starred Batman. By the time you read the silent postscript story here which was published years later, you can see just how accomplished and exceptional an artist Simonson has become. There’s not just Manhunter here also: it also reprints Captain Fear written by David Michelinie, Detective Comics 450 with Elliott Maggin, Doctor Fate by Martin Pasko and even Metal Men written by none other than Steve Gerber. Simonson is a true original and IDW with editor Scott Dunbier have created the ultimate celebration of Simonson’s DC work. For fans of Simonson, this is a must-buy book…

PULP FRICTIONS

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James Ellroy is a class act. There are very few of the old school American noir writers still around, with the death of Elmore Leonard. Only Lawrence Block springs to mind. So Ellroy’s new novel Perfidia, set in (where else) Los Angeles just before and just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The book sees two policemen, William H Parker, a captain with a  drinks problem, and Sergeant Dudley Smith, an ex-IRA killer, go head to head to solve the murders of a Japanese family in a city hellbent on revenge after the Japanese attack. Ellroy throws beautiful young dilettante Kay Lake and Japanese police chemist Hideo Ashida into the mix as well as a number of other LA policemen, members of the triad and real-life Hollywood actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. It’s an incredibly dense book and it is testament to Ellroy’s skill that he manages to keep most of the balls in the air throughout. However, it is a little too long, clocking in at nearly 700 pages in hardcover and so it does feel like it would be a stronger book with some judicious editing. Perfidia is an impressive piece of work perfect for aficionados of crime and thrillers and despite its flaws, it is still well worth picking up…Perfidia cover