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RIM SHOT
Today sees the release of Pacific Rim. The trailers didn’t fill me with hope as they looked like a larger scale Transformers. Before I start my review, I just want to say that I am a huge admirer of director Guillermo Del Toro. Pan’s Labyrinth and Devil’s Backbone are great films and both Hellboy movies are a lot of fun. Even Mimic, his mainstream monster movie, acquits itself very well. But the trailer for Pacific Rim is sadly very accurate. We are introduced to a world where monsters (Kaiju) from another dimension find themselves in our world, wreaking havoc and destruction and it takes a group of manmade machines (Jaegers) operated by two human pilots to go up against them. Charlie Hunnam (Sons Of Anarchy) plays Raleigh Becket, a Jaeger pilot who goes into hiding after the death of his brother and it takes Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) to get him to jump back into a Jaeger when the last few machines are all that stands between a Kaiju victory against the humans. For me, the big problem with Pacific Rim is just how infantile and empty it all is. The script is excruciatingly corny, the characters are nonexistent (only Del Toro’s regular contributor Ron Perlman as Hannibal Chau manages to lift the scenes he is in) and the plot, such as it is, is flimsy and filled with holes. Idris Elba, often good value in things like Luther and obviously The Wire, is wooden and awful here. I enjoy fun, intelligent action films as much as the next man, but Pacific Rim looks and feels like an expensive toy movie, with all the depth of a child filming his toys in his bedroom. The best action films (Aliens, Predator, Die Hard) have a level of intelligence to their scripts that lift them up from being more than just impressive special effects bonanzas. Del Toro is a huge fan of monster films and Japanese robot movies but nowhere here does this really feel like one of his films. I will also admit that I was never into Japanese monster movies and giant robot films when I was a kid so there is no nostalgia for me here. I am fully aware that this is a very deliberate series of choices from Guillermo Del Toro and this is a love letter from him to all the films he’s loved but it just didn’t connect with me. I would rather if Del Toro was to make a mainstream Hollywood movie, that it would have been more like Mimic than like Pacific Rim. Audiences have such poor taste these days for mainstream films that I’m sure it will do well at the box office but I feel this is such a waste of a true cinematic maverick’s talents…

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A TRIP BACK THROUGH THE WIRES
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…









A NEW TRIP THROUGH THE WIRES
So we’ve finished the TRIPWIRE Annual 2009 and done our onscreen proofing so we are just waiting for a physical proof next week. It looks amazing and is easily the nicest and best package we’ve put together since we brought TRIPWIRE back. Here’s the feature rundown:

•Stan Lee on Marvel’s 70th anniversary plus a look at the future of Marvel movies
• Solomon Kane history feature including a look at Dark Horse’s Robert E Howard line
•Guillermo Del Toro on his novel The Strain
•A look at the sleeper hit of the year, British low budget sci fi movie Moon with director Duncan Jones
•Joe Kubert on returning to Tor after years away
•30th anniversary of Alien feature
•Profile of Flesk Publications plus interviews with Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni
•A look at Tintin in the year of his 80th birthday
•Celebrate Batman’s 70th anniversary with a look back at the character’s history plus Frank Quitely interview
•Ian Rankin on Dark Entries, his graphic novel for the new Vertigo Crime line plus Vertigo’s chief Karen Berger on the new line
•DC’s Wednesday Comics series
•Bill Morrison talking about Bongo in the runup to The Simpsons’ 20th anniversary
•Interview with fine artist and illustrator Phil Hale, the man who painted Tony Blair’s leaving portrait for the House of Commons
•Bieng Human feature looking at the hit UK genre series
•Strips from Roger Langridge, Punx, Kevin Mullins and David Hitchcock
•The Power List 2009

Diamond US will not be carrying us over there because we didn’t make their benchmark so US customers will only be able to get us 1) from Barnes & Noble, 2) At San Diego Comic-Con if they’re lucky enough to be going or 3) order it from us directly.

In the UK, Diamond UK are carrying it and it’ll be on sale in Borders as ever. If you live in Canada, it is been distributed through LMPI so will be on sale in Chapters.
So here are a few sample pages to tantalise you…






LET THE STRAIN TAKE THE STRAIN
So I did my face to face chat with Guillermo Del Toro about The Strain. It was a little short but we are doing a followup next week on the phone. He was very friendly and approachable as ever. The Tube strike in London meant that the traffic was horrendous and the weather was pretty shitty too: drizzly and sometimes even proper torrential rain. We did our interview in a hotel near Seven Dials in Covent Garden in London and I got a few decent photos as ever so here are a few I snapped…



















BULLISH BEHAVIOUR?
On Saturday morning, I went to Forbidden Planet for a brief photo call with Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy 2, Pan’s Labyrinth) who has a new novel, The Strain out and was signing there in the afternoon. I only got about 10 minutes with him but I’m going to be interviewing him properly this Wednesday. The queue was absolutely crazy and snaked around the block. I did manage to get some very nice shots and I chucked him a copy of last year’s Annual. He was extremely nice and approachable as ever. So here are a selection of photos I took at FP…

TRIPWIRE NEWS
So we’ve officially circulated news about the TRIPWIRE Annual 2009 and the Adventure Special, which we have put back to December. Here is our press release that covers both subjects:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
TRIPWIRE NABS GUILLERMO DEL TORO STRAIN INTERVIEW
(London, May 30th 2009)
TRIPWIRE is proud to announce they have added exciting new features to their already jam-packed 2009 Annual. The magazine has landed an exclusive interview with award-winning genre master Guillermo Del Toro discussing his new novel The Strain as well as a few tidbits on Hellboy 3 and upcoming movie projects. Additionally, the magazine has attained an in-depth first look at Moon, the eagerly-awaited low budget British sci-fi movie starring Sam Rockwell and directed by Duncan Jones.

“The addition of these two top notch features compliments what already promises to be the best Annual we’ve released to date,” said Tripwire’s Editor-in-chief Joel Meadows. “We’ve got such a big issue already. With our cover feature looking in-depth at Marvel Comics and its 70th anniversary, or the Alien 30th birthday retrospective later on, the Bongo Comics interview with Bill Morrison who’s always entertaining, or even the Stripwire section with over 20 pages of original comics –it’s just a real pleasure to be publishing this quality material. Adding these two new features strengthens the magazine further.”
On the topic of making a better magazine, Tripwire has performed a little reorganizing at the printer as well. Originally the magazine’s 2009 publishing schedule included an Adventure Special for June, a Horror Special for Halloween and a Science Fiction Special for December. Instead the editors have taken some of the more timely content from the Adventure and Science Fiction Specials and folded it into the 2009 Tripwire Annual, making it bigger and better than they’d announced at solicitation. “We’re committed to releasing the best magazine we can,” offered Meadows, “and sometimes this means making adjustments on the fly.” Features now included in the 2009 Annual are an exclusive Joe Kubert interview, a profile on publishers Flesk Publications with sidebars about artists Gary Gianni and Mark Schultz, a feature on 80 years of Tintin and a look at Dark Horse’s Solomon Kane and other Robert E. Howard properties. 

”Our first focus is on the Annual, and making it as exceptional as its two predecessors. When we saw several articles from the June Adventure Special and the 2009 Annual beginning to converge, we knew we had to sacrifice the one to make the other even better,” Meadows revealed. While the Annual has gotten larger than promised with the addition of the extra content, Tripwire still plans to do an Adventure Special later this year. “We’re looking at releasing an improved line up for the Special around Christmas with a big Conan cover and features inside that cover everything from Howard’s characters to a resurgence in the popularity of the pulps and many of the upcoming adventure movies and television shows for the next year or two.” And the Science Fiction Special? “First Quarter of 2010, maybe,” said Meadows with a laugh. “We’re still planning Fantasy and Crime Specials for 2010 and now the schedule is tightened. There’s so much we want to print, sometimes we have to make some painful choices.”

TRIPWIRE publisher and Editor-in-Chief Joel Meadows can be reached for comment at: joelmeadows@btinternet.com or 01144 208 959 4192
TRIPWIRE Annual 2009 is still available for preorder from Diamond Comic Distributors, 164 pages full colour, $15.95 US, item code MAY091149

A CRAZY WEEK
The problem with being a freelancer is that you go from sitting twiddling your thumbs to not knowing how you’re going to fit everything in. This past week, I have landed a couple of new writing gigs, while trying to get closer to finishing TRIPWIRE Annual. The Adventure Special is now coming out in December because we thought it would be too tight if we published it so close to the Annual and the Annual would suffer. But we are folding in some of what was in the original version of the Adventure Special, so that the Annual now contains the Joe Kubert Tor feature, a profile of Flesk Publications and our history of Tintin. The Annual is still available to order and with our exclusive Guillermo Del Toro interview and a first-look at the sleeper hit of the year, low budget British sci-fi movie Moon, everyone should order a copy. Item code is MAY091149…
I went to the Saturday of Londonexpo on 23rd May, which was held as ever at Excel in Docklands. The selection of comic people was greater than it has been and even Warren Ellis was there, looking like he was auditioning for Mad Max IV. The only film thing I did was an interview with Duncan Jones and effects guy Gavin Rothery about Moon which went very well. So here’s a few pics from that…

Last Sunday I walked from Hammersmith to Kew to write my sample chapter for the river and canals book and the weather was fantastic: sunny and felt like that it was mid-summer. Here’s a few photos from my walk…


HELL OF A FOLLOW-UP?
I have been sitting on this review for about a month now. I went to see Hellboy 2 before I went to San Diego but because it didn’t come out until August 20th, we were asked not to put any reviews up until nearer the time. So here is my take on it, if I can remember it. The first Hellboy was a decent stab at bringing Mignola’s creation to the big screen but it had its flaws: the plot was a little bit thin. So when it was announced that Del Toro would be having another crack at Hellboy, I was very excited indeed. He was now a more visible director thanks to the acclaim of Pan’s Labyrinth and the hope was that he would merge his arthouse sensibilities with the Hollywood Del Toro that made things like Blade 2 and Mimic, and here he almost pulls it off. The film opens with a young Hellboy being told a bedtime story by Professor Trevor Bruttelheim (John Hurt in the only cameo here) about this monstrous Golden Army built by the Elves to defeat the humans but mothballed thanks to a pact between the two. The bedtime story is animated in this wonderfully gothic naive way that it’s a great start to proceedings. Then we move action forward to the present day and Luke Goss plays Elf Prince Nuada, who decides that enough is enough, the humans have ruled for too long and he decides to take the war to them and waken the Golden Army after all these years. Goss almost reprises his role as the vampire from Blade 2 but here, complete with white wig, looks like he’d make a fine Elric if the Weitz brothers ever pulled their fingers out and made it. He also has a twin sister, the exquisite Nuala, and they are linked so if one comes to harm, the other is affected. So Nuada unleashes a box of tooth fairies at an auction and these are things that you really wouldn’t want wandering around under your pillow while you slept: they are nasty, deadly things who drain the calcium from their victims. The sequence with Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe battling the aforementioned tooth faeries is fantastic: a true slice of modern gothic horror. So the group discover that Nuada is at the heart of all this chaos and they set about trying to find the Golden Army before he does. They visit the Troll Market which exists under the city in an attempt to garner clues and this is a spectacular sequence, sort of a fantasy version of the bar scene in Star Wars, and Del Toro and his team have pulled out all the stops for this. When they encounter the Elf Prince at last, he awakens a plant elemental to hinder their progress and it takes a great deal of effort for old red hands to beat it. The film also introduces a new addition to the team: Johann Krauss, the spirit-like figure encased in a metal suit, voiced by Family Guy‘s Seth MacFarlane. The journey to find the Golden Army takes them to Northern Ireland and there is a huge battle at the end but the BPRD wins the day. Hellboy 2 has so many ideas and great concepts but the script is too loose and the change in tone from dark fantasy to light comedy (I’m still not sure whether the scene where Hellboy and Abe Sapien sing Barry Manilow really works) feels a little strange at times. And the relationship between the Elven siblings could have been explored a little more deeply, as could the world they inhabit. But it is an admirable attempt to put something different on the screen and perhaps it is a film that improves with multiple viewings. So it’s a three-and-a-half-star film. It’s done decent box office so there’s a good chance that there will be a third movie. If you’re a fan of the comic or of Del Toro, you should definitely check it out…


STUDIO SPACE SIGNING
Tomorrow Saturday 7th June is our Forbidden Planet signing in London at the store at 179 Shaftesbury Avenue with Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons and Sean Phillips. It kicks off at 1pm and should be a good afternoon…
Speaking of things getting signed, here is a photo of my hardcover copy of the book signed by Guillermo Del Toro, which’ll be staying on my shelf. I’m going to try and get as many people in the book to sign it…



A HELL OF A MORNING
It’s been a very good week for me. I found out that we have had some more reorders for Studio Space (the second batch in fact) and on Wednesday morning, I went to a Hellboy 2 junket
with Guillermo Del Toro, accompanied by Steve, who I thought might enjoy it. Some rough footage was show and we had a roundtable with GDT. I even got my hardback of Studio Space signed, which made my day. Then, on Eat on Oxford Street, we were in the queue and we saw ex-Doctor Who Tom Baker. I got a photo with him as did Steve. So here are photos from the roundtable and the Baker photo…