I got back from San Diego late last week but I am still horribly lagged. It was a very enjoyable 10 days and I even got to do some fun things too. I’m hoping that the regular visitors here haven’t all died of boredom and stopped visiting as it’s been almost a month since I last put up a new post. But July and the beginning of August have been very interesting indeed, passing by in the blink of the proverbial. So here’s half a dozen photos from San Diego for you (Bruce Timm, Frank Darabont, some bloke dressed as Death who was on the escalator opposite me, John (Bender) DiMaggio, who I gave a copy of TRIPWIRE to, Matt Groening and Grant Morrison. I’ll be putting up a proper post in the next few days…

I couldn’t think of a pun for this blog post. We are a few pages away from putting the TRIPWIRE Annual 2009 on the presses and less than two weeks until I see the final product. Putting a magazine today with such a small staff is very difficult and subbing the thing has taken weeks, with us constantly spotting errors. But it will be very satisfying to see the magazine at last. It is hopefully the best one we’ve ever published. People visiting San Diego Comic Con can come and find us on Small Press Table S07, where we’ll have copies of the Annual for sale as well as for anyone looking for stuff for David Tennant to sign will be able to pick up copies of TRIPWIRE Annual 2008 at a knockdown rate. So I am getting excited about San Diego…

To round off my LA week, Thursday was a pretty packed day for me. Because Andy G felt better, we went to Hollywood to a Thai/ Sushi place near Sunset-Gower Studios to meet a number of people for lunch: Guy Dyas, a production designer who I have interviewed a few times but never met, his wife/ partner Dominique, storyboard artist Trevor Goring and yet another ex-pat Mark Berry, a photographer from Bristol who lives in LA. Also there was Colin Grant, a concept artist and another ex-pat but he left soon after myself and Andy G got there so I didn’t get the chance to chat to him. Dyas has worked on lots of big movies (Superman Returns, Indiana Jones, X-Men 2) and Goring has also become a mainstay of Hollywood for around two decades now, so it was a very interesting and entertaining lunch. We discussed lots of stuff that I won’t be sharing about film, which was pretty enjoyable, but I will say that Trevor has a huge book of Storyboards out from Hermes Press next Autumn. This book includes storyboards from The Birds, Aliens and tens of other films and looks like an amazing book. We’ll be doing something on it for next year’s Annual.
Once we finished lunch, after taking photos at the Arby’s restaurant sign (apparently an LA landmark), Andy drove me all the way to Duarte, where he lives with his wife Susie and her mum. I had never been out that far so that was pretty cool and I took a few photos out there. When he told me there were black widows where he lived, that freaked me out a little bit. But Duarte is at the base of some foothills, so there was some dramatic scenery and it’s always a pleasure to catch up with Susie. So after doing some planning for TRIPWIRE and other projects, Andy drove me back to Sherman Oaks, where Andy Suriano, our neighbour at San Diego Comic Con, and his wife Carlyn, came by for dinner. We ate at an Italian restaurant in Sherman Oaks which was very nice.
So now I’ve bored you with my week in LA, normal service is resumed. Here are photos by Arbys including one of me showing off my double chin, photos of Andy G, his wife Susie, roses in their back garden and the foothills. I left just before the fires got bad and I am hoping that Sherman Oaks continues to be unaffected…

I know it’s taken over two weeks but here is the last post about this year’s San Diego. Saturday went pretty well: Tim Bradstreet and Bryan Talbot signed copies of Studio Space at the Image signing area in the morning and sales of the book and the Annual were pretty brisk all day. The funny thing is that, because ticket sales were capped, the comic area of the hall on Saturday wasn’t as hard to get around as in previous years. Also on Saturday the Doctor Who cosplayers came by the table so we got a couple of photos of them with the magazine. I continued to try and find Mark Chiarello but to no avail. Sunday went by very fast but by that point, I was exhausted and so once we had packed away the Annuals and dropped off some Studio Space stock for sale at Bud Plant, it was over. So in retrospect, San Diego 2008 was a great show for us: it had wiped away the bad memories of 2003, where we had the worst table position imaginable and the courier had damaged our stock. It was a fantastic networking show: we would probably not have met Joss Whedon if we weren’t set up on the floor. I got to see my friends Jim Johnson and Pete Bickford as well as spend lots of time with Andy Grossberg, Susie Lee and Jeff Carlisle. Also we are slightly higher up the food chain than we were last year since the second Annual has shipped. I also met with an agent who seemed interested in the London bridges book and another book project I have started to work up and it was great to be at the show with a book like Studio Space, that everyone seems to like. There is still such a buzz about San Diego that you don’t get at any other show and this one, my 10th, was no different. I think it may have been my best San Diego to date…

So I got into San Diego on Tuesday night before any of the other occupants of the room. So apart from a temporary cash crisis that day, there’s nothing to report about this day except for the fact that the Annuals had arrived safely (they look great). So Wednesday July 23rd was the first proper day of the trip because it was when Gary and his mate John got into town. So we met up in the morning and Gary wanted to do some touristy things in San Diego before the madness of the show began. So we walked along Harbor Drive and spent the first half of Wednesday visiting ships The Star of India, HMS Surprize (used in Russell Crowe’s Master and Commander), an old Russian submarine permanently moored in the harbor and USS Midway, the huge now deactivated American aircraft carrier. The sub was amazing, although not for the claustrophobic as it had very low ceilings and the Surprize and Star of India were also incredible although how much had been restored is still open to question. I admit that I wasn’t as interested in the Midway as Gary and John but I thought, what the hell, we’d only have gone to shopping centre Horton Plaza anyway, and I have to say that some of it was staggering like the scale of the aircraft deck where the planes took off and landed from. The weather was perfect with crisp blue skies too: quite a contrast to the grey early Autumnlike weather I had left at home. So here is a photo of Gary next to the HMS Surprize, me inside the cockpit of one of the planes on the Midway, John inside the sub, a view from the top of the sub, a view of the deck of the Midway, a photo of the bowsprite from the HMS Surprize, Gary inside the Russian sub, sun through the masts of the Surprize, a photo taken through the window on the Coaster train from Carlsbad to San Diego, pigeons in the Harbour, the massive front of the USS Midway, the inside of the Russian submarine and the Star of India with the HMS Surprize…

Got back today from San Diego and slightly lagged. So I’ll have a series of proper posts for you in the next few days but to whet your appetite, here’s five photos taken on Wednesday near the aircraft carrier Midway of a Bob Hope statue, a navy memorial, a rather bizarre statue of a sailor kissing his girlfriend and the harbour at San Diego…

Just like I did at the end of 2006, I like to take a look at what I’ve done over the past year and what I intend to do in the following year. 2007 was a pretty decent year:

•We lost our publisher for the studio book but we gained another one at the end of the year, which allowed us to keep the original title and will be a nicer book than it was going to be originally;

•The TRIPWIRE Annual, which wasn’t even definite this time last year, was a proper success. The launch at San Diego sold better than expected, it went into profit and wiped out the horrible memories of San Diego in 2003. And everyone I mentioned it to who I brought it to show was amazed at the level of quality we had managed to achieve;

•The contract at Time allowed me to stop hustling for freelance work for a number of months and guaranteed me income for the first time ever;

•I managed to pick up some more writing work, interviewing Ridley Scott, Jon Favreau, Brian Aldiss and writing pieces on Watchmen the movie, Stardust, Heroes and more for Death Ray and Comics International (although the hash that Death Ray made of the Ridley Scott feature led me to remember why I like writing for my own projects);

•I became a better photographer. Although I’m never going to make a living out of taking photos, buying the SLR has made my shots better;

•The two radio appearances over Christmas came as nice bonuses and I am hoping that I shall be invited back for more radio in 2008

So that’s the look back. What would I like to happen in 2008?

Studio Space comes out in May and I am hoping that it is a lovely book that sells well enough to get some attention for me and Gary and allows me to get some more book projects off the ground as I have a few other titles I would like to make happen. A presence at Bristol with copies of the book hopefully, a panel there and signings at Forbidden Planet, the ICA and even a couple of US bookstore events won’t hurt;

•This year’s TRIPWIRE Annual does even better than last year’s, which seems possible since we will have extra distribution through Borders in the UK and now one has come out, retailers know what it is. It will be on sale on the Image stand at San Diego Comic Con this coming July so I am hoping that the attention that Studio Space gets will get the TRIPWIRE Annual noticed;

•The two TRIPWIRE specials (Heroes in June and Hellboy in November) allows the TRIPWIRE name to increase in recognition again and to continue the momentum we have generated;

Hidden City will get picked up by a publisher, giving me a kick up the arse, so that the public may even see it in 2009;

•I continue to use this blog to shamelessly plug my work, review films I’ve been to see and talk crap about subjects that interest me

This will be my last post of 2007 so have a good New Year and I’ll see everyone in 2008…