STELLAR EFFORT?

SPOILER WARNING

2014 has already seen three Marvel movies: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider-man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past. To this we can now add Guardians of The Galaxy. When it was announced a few years ago, it did seem a very strange choice to transfer onto the big screen. An obscure series featuring earth man Peter Quill (Starlord) and his team of aliens including talking animal Rocket Raccoon and sentient tree Groot, character recognition was pretty nonexistent. But it has been promoted as a comedy and so GoTG (as it shall be known from now on to save on characters) was never going to be quite the same beast as many of its Marvel stablemates. Basically, Quill (Chris Pratt) is kidnapped by alien buccaneers led by Yondu (Michael (The Walking Dead) Rooker) as a kid. We jump forward to Quill as a young man, calling himself Star Lord, who has become an intergalactic ne’er do well and he finds himself up against scary Kree warrior Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace (The Hobbit, Pushing Daisies), the son of huge chinned Thanos (voiced by John Brolin) when he manages to acquire a globe of incredible power. Quill is assisted by by the gorgeous Gamora (Zoe (Star Trek) Saldana), psychopath Drax (wrestler Dave Bautista), walking tree Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper).GoTG is obviously aimed at a younger audience than something like The Winter Soldier or Days of Future Past which explains the presence of Rocket Raccoon but the eighties nostalgia here (explained by a mix tape from Quill’s late mother) will strike no chords with younger viewers and the visage of Ronan may even terrify a younger audience. The film is fun, looks fantastic and Pratt is very good as Quill but the script is fairly forgettable and Rocket Raccoon, while no Jar Jar Binks, doesn’t really work for an adult audience. The inevitable 3D lends little to proceedings. It has been compared with Star Wars and perhaps that is a valid comparison. Director James Gunn has made a decent job here. It doesn’t matter what I say here because a sequel for the film has apparently been greenlit. Guardians of The Galaxy is a very enjoyable but fairly unmemorable summer blockbuster with some impressive effects. Fun while you’re watching it but you are hard-pressed to remember what you even saw a few days later. It is still better than Amazing Spider-man 2…

 

Remembering Bill Baker

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Over the years, we have lost people who have written for the magazine. Sadly it’s a bit of an occupational hazard. But we have never lost anyone who has also been a close friend. Bill Baker wrote a number of articles for TRIPWIRE, including interviews with Jim Lee and J Michael Straczynski. He hadn’t contributed to the magazine since before the Annual launched in 2007. He died back at the end of February this year and I admit that I have been putting off writing something about his passing because subconsciously perhaps if I wrote something, it would be admitting that he is no longer around.  So apologies if this entry is a little longer and a little more maudlin than what you are used to seeing here. I first met Bill at San Diego Comic Con way back in 1999. It was while we were both loitering at a publisher’s table, I can’t remember which one. It was the first US show I had been to but we just got chatting and we instantly clicked. There are a number of other people who cover comics with intelligence and putting them into the correct cultural context but Bill had a very sharp mind. He was able to bring something new to his coverage of whatever he wrote about. We would see each other at San Diego and then when we both stopped attending that show, we would catch up at other shows like New York Comic Con. We would speak once a week and I would use him as a sounding board sometimes and he would also fill me in on what was happening with him. What is so sad about his untimely passing is that he was about to sort himself out and relocate from his rather bleak location in Michigan to somewhere where he would be closer to the action. His loss is a great one for journalism and for coverage of comics as sadly the internet has meant that we are now drowning in a torrent of ill-conceived and bland corporate coverage, written by people with a poor command of English grammar, who are not interested in putting things into a cultural context. Comic sites, by and large, and there are exceptions like Tom Spurgeon’s Comics Reporter and Milt Griepp’s ICV2, are run by fanboys unable to really grasp the bigger issues at play here. Bill Baker was a real journalist, interested in highlighting those creators and creations who weren’t getting the coverage they deserved on other sites and in other places. He was ambitious, erudite and he had a very good heart. He will be missed, both on a personal and a professional level. Goodbye, my fellow journalist…
Here’s a photo that our mutual friend, Paul Michael Kane, took of Bill…

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A NEW DIGITAL TRIP THROUGH THE WIRES
After months of preparation and development, the TRIPWIRE bimonthly app will be available for people to buy from iTunes this month. We shall be producing a new edition every two months so issue two will be out in Feb, issue three will be April and issue four will be June. It will give us the opportunity to cover material from the worlds of comics, movies, genre and related fields with the same approach we have always taken: quality, intelligent journalism. The first issue includes a piece looking at how mainstream superhero films are killing quality Hollywood, what’s wrong with ABC’s Agents of SHIELD show and an audio interview with Ian Rankin, talking about his new Rebus book and much more. To tantalise everybody, here’s the cover image to the first issue. We are all excited at the future opportunities digital has to offer and we’ll be taking full advantage of them. I have neglected this blog over the last few weeks but I shall be back with a vengeance over the next couple of weeks. Come back here to see my review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug this week. But in the meantime, TRIPWIRE digital app is available from iTunes as of now. Please visit the following URL (the app is free but each edition only costs £1.99)
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tripwire-magazine-comics-film/id717140470?mt=8&ls=1

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TRIPWIRE 21 IN PREVIEWS

It’s taken over a year but TRIPWIRE 21 is listed in this month’s Previews. Unlike TRIPWIRE 20 in 2012, the book has been printed so we’re now able to offer it to the US market with stock already available. This 180 page paperback retails at $24.99 US and contains everything for the comics and genre aficionado including:
•new and rarely seen art from a who’s who of comics and genre artists including
Tim Bradstreet, Howard Chaykin, Dave Dorman, Garen Ewing, Duncan Fegredo, Henry Flint, Phil Hale
, Jon Haward, Michael Kaluta, Joe Kubert, Roger Langridge, David Morris, Mike Mignola, Mike Perkins, Sean Phillips, Frank Quitely, Greg Ruth, Walter Simonson, Drew Struzan, Dave Taylor, 
Ben Templesmith, Chris Weston  
•A look at the good, bad and indifferent of the comic movies out between 1992 and 2013
•My 21 favourite covers from the history of TRIPWIRE•A dip into the archive of the magazine, representing warts and all, the pick of our graphic novel and comics and music reviews from 21 years of TRIPWIRE
•Retrospectives on the history of Image and Valiant Comics
•Highlights of TRIPWIRE interviews with Alan Moore, Mike Mignola and Michael Moorcock plus the choicest quotes from a stellar cross-section of the biggest names in comics and genre like Brian Michael Bendis, Peter Milligan, Jim Lee, James Robinson, Matt Groening, Joss Whedon and many more
“TRIPWIRE really is a breath of fresh air. Its layouts are superb, with great well-written features perfectly set off by the pictures, adding clarity and intelligence to every page. And it keeps on doing it. Amazing, Gratifying. A pleasure to look at, a pleasure to read…”  MICHAEL MOORCOCK, fantasy legend (Elric, Hawkmoon) “TRIPWIRE is pop-culture champagne, the one-stop must-have magazine for all that’s cool and classy in comics, film & TV. I’d be an uncultured loon without it.”-  CHRISTOPHER FOWLER, writer, Bryant & May, Roofworld 
“TRIPWIRE is essential reading — one of the best on the market!”-  MARK VERHEIDEN, TV writer, Falling Skies
“TRIPWIRE has been, for more than two decades the touchstone of comic book culture in the UK and one of the leading periodicals dedicated to this narrative art form. Incisive, smart and always relevant.”- Guillermo del Toro, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim
TRIPWIRE 21’s item code is JUN131448 and is listed on page 378 of June’s Previews.Here’s a few pages to tantalise everyone…



Tripwire Exhibition MAY 2013

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

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17 DAYS INTO KICKSTARTER
So we have 43 days left on the Kickstarter campaign for TRIPWIRE 21. It started well but it has tailed off a little bit. I do wish that we had an extra 30 days to fund this but 60 days is the maximum. So I have been pushing it relentlessly on Twitter and Facebook, reminding people of its existence. I am not by nature a salesman and it does make me feel a little uncomfortable about doing this but if we don’t fund it this time, then I’m not sure what we’ll do. Here’s a few more layouts to show you the progress of the book. Pledges start at only £1…
TRIPWIRE 21 kickstarter

A LOOK BACK (AND A LOOK FORWARD)
As I always do at this time of year, I take a look at what I’ve done over the previous year and what I hope to do in the following year. 2012 has been a very interesting year for me:

•I had my first photography exhibition, the comic portrait photos shown in Gosh back in March of 2012. Even though this was supposed to tie in with a 20th anniversary that didn’t quite happen, I was still very proud to see my work blown up and shown at Gosh in Soho in London for three weeks.

TRIPWIRE 20th anniversary through Unbound. Unfortunately, the 20th anniversary book that was supposed to be published through book crowd-sourcing site Unbound didn’t happen, despite our best efforts. We gave out postcards at Kapow and Bristol and constantly promoted it on Twitter and Facebook. But it just didn’t gel. However if I hadn’t started to gather material for the project, I wouldn’t have had about 20 images in hand that will be running in the 21st anniversary book in 2013, so it wasn’t a totally wasted effort

•I published two more photography books, Spooked: A London Gothic and Faces. They had their problems but it was thanks to the Faces book being published that my Bryan Talbot photo was seen and I received some money from Steve Bissette for its use on the cover of an ebook he is bringing out about Bryan Talbot. So I am very pleased that I put it out

•We did another digital TRIPWIRE edition, our Dredd special, in November. We were hoping to put a digital TRIPWIRE out a bit more frequently but this was designed to show that we are still a going concern. It made me decide to do a digital bi-monthly as of Feb 2013

•Freelance work was pretty good. Despite a parting of the ways with the Judge Dredd Megazine in the summer, I continued to do features for Comic Heroes and by the end of the year, I have a number of other outlets lined up including a publishing website and a print magazine I haven’t worked for in a while, which is a result. In terms of subbing, despite a few contracts ending prematurely, was also a good year, thanks to me casting my net a bit wider

•I also continued to submit stock photos to Writer Pictures and I have a number of pages there now. The fact that I kept shooting increased my confidence and I intend to build on this

•I am almost halfway through the first draft of my detective novel, which I am determined to complete

•I started two new blogs on Tumblr, one dedicated to my photos and the other whose aim is to promote TRIPWIRE 21

So it had its ups and downs but it was a very packed year. So my aims for 2013 are almost as ambitious

•We shall be doing a TRIPWIRE 21st anniversary book through Kickstarter UK. It shall be up to pledge on by the middle of January and it will hopefully be a great celebration of the magazine’s 21st birthday, with the plan to release it sometime in May to launch at Bristol. There are also plans afoot to schedule some anniversary talks and events around London in 2013

•From the end of February, TRIPWIRE digital will be put out initially as a bi-monthly publication. It will cover comics, film, TV and genre in the same way that we have been doing it in the magazine, offering quality and depth while also making the content accessible. I am very excited to get started on this and if it works out, then we may do a print annual which will reprint the cream of the digital

•I probably will do some more photography books, both in print and as ebooks, as I have improved considerably since I started and really want to pursue some more photography projects

•I shall continue to populate the three blogs and the TRIPWIRE website with content as they all serve a slightly different purpose

•I shall follow up on a few nibbles from New York Comic Con, one of which may be the resurrection of a comic artists studio interviews book like Studio Space

•I shall finish the first draft of the Hanging Man detective novel

•I shall continue to submit photos to Writer Pictures

•I also intend to try and get my photos seen in a number of new places. The Gosh exhibition made me realise that there are an infinite number of opportunities regarding where to show off your work but you have to think laterally sometimes

I want to build on what I have achieved in 2012 and hopefully set some new goals. These blog posts at the end of the year are as much for me as for regular visitors to this blog. It helps to crystallise my own intentions if I consider what I’ve done professionally.

So 2013 is looking like another very fruitful year…

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TRIPWIRE: FROM 20 TO 21
For those of you who have been following the TRIPWIRE 20th anniversary crowd funding campaign on Unbound, you’ll notice that it’s come down from the site. When we approached Unbound earlier in the year, it was always going to be a gamble. There was no guarantee we were going to make our pledges and unfortunately it didn’t happen. The people at Unbound were very nice and they meant well but it just didn’t fit with the other books on the site. It didn’t help that it wasn’t known in the US, the place where a large proportion of the people who would have pledged on TRIPWIRE 20, are located. So you live and learn. So it’s off Unbound but in January, TRIPWIRE 21 will be going on the Kickstarter UK site. Kickstarter is a place chock full of comics stuff and I feel more confident that it will raise what it needs. The aim is to get it out for around May time next year so this gives us more time to put it together and make it the best print project we have ever produced. So keep your eyes peeled here, on the tripwire website (www.tripwire-magazine.com), my twitter and Facebook. In the meantime, here’s a few of the images we have gathered so far to include in the book: Frank Quitely, Walter Simonson, Dave Dorman, Phil Hale, Duncan Fegredo, Michael Kaluta, Joe Kubert, Howard Chaykin, Drew Struzan, Mike Mignola…

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UNBOUND: A MONTH IN
TRIPWIRE 20 has been up at Unbound for around a month and it’s 5% into its pledges. So it’s a decent start to proceedings and I thought I’d talk about the process so far and share the images I’ve had in for the book. It’s been very interesting so far: TRIPWIRE 20 is the first project I’ve ever done through crowdfunding and so I have had to think of something to say every day on Twitter and Facebook to keep people interested. Because TRIPWIRE has such a rich history (with 55 back issues to dip into), I’ve been putting up whole classic features in the author’s shed, a place on the Unbound website that you can only access if you pledge on the specific book. I’ve also been plundering my contacts book to get publicity for the book. Having worked as a journalist and a sub editor for fifteen years have proven to be very useful. I have also been writing guest blog posts for people like my friend Stevyn Colgan and genre figures like Christopher Fowler have been kind enough to give the book a plug. The other thing, just like when we did the tenth anniversary book but perhaps moreso, has been the joy of getting images in to run in the book. As of this writing, we have art in from Drew Struzan, Henry Flint, Phil Hale, Walter Simonson, Dave Dorman, Ben Templesmith, Mike Mignola, Frank Quitely,  Roger Langridge, Jon Haward, Chris Weston, Duncan Fegredo, Dave Taylor, Joe Kubert, Mike Perkins and Howard Chaykin. This is an amazing list and one that keeps on growing. I have also come to realise that people don’t check Twitter and Facebook religiously so I have to keep informing them about the book. So here’s some of the images that I have in already. Please feel free to pledge on the book by going to www.unbound.co.uk/books/43 (also until 12th June, there’s £5 off pledges and that includes US residents. All you have to do is get the voucher code from here: http://eepurl.com/mddlX)Hope you enjoy the images…
TRIPWIRE 20th Unbound