Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Splank #1.

Delighted to say I have a strip in the first issue of the very wonderful Splank. Its a story about an old Irish Alchemist who finds himself thrown through time into modern Belfast. A sort of Catweazle with Spides and Norn Iron people. I was doubly happy to be on the page opposite Davy Francis, a writer and artist I not only greatly admire but one with whom I have had the pleasure to work with; way back on the first issue of Holy Cross. Peter is trying to evoke the spirit of an era now sadly passed in British comics and he manages to straddle quite skillfully the feelings for the then, the now and what is to come.
             Splank could well become a highly addictive pleasure.

Tom In Glenbogle.



What a fine figure Tom cuts in his kilt. The Laird Of The manor to be sure. Or Monarch Of The Glen to be more accurate. What a lovely wee show that was. Perfect Sunday night viewing. Sitting down to watch it was like opening a window and smelling the wind blow over the wild gorse and heather of a mountainous rugged glen. The BBC are brilliant at this sort of thing. Always were and hopefully always will be. I had to track this old Radio Times down when I saw the cover. Who needs a picture of a majestic stag when one can have a picture of a majestic Tom Baker instead.
            It was doubly desirable when I saw the feature on Hitchikers inside as well. Hitch hikers was only twenty five years old at that point. I remember at the time it seemed unimaginable for so much time to have passed since it first aired. By now , by then that is, it just felt so fresh still. Even though it felt like it had always been around, like Doctor Who or David Bowie or Ken Dodd and The Diddy Men.

Coppernicus Magilacuddy.


                                                               (From my sketchbook.)

Alien The Cold Forge.

Just finished this recently published new book in the Alien series, bu an author; Alex White, I am unfamiliar with. A situation which off course changed as I read the last page of this story and turned to the short and probably deliberately vague bio at the back of the book. I suggest deliberately vague as I learned from it how he likes to take his coffee rather than any inspirational figures or sources he may have absorbed on his path to literary success, which I have no doubt he will attain with novels of this page turning clarity of storytelling. It is no bad thing for an author to remain deliberately and hopefully comfortably annonymous in his dealings with social media, actually increasingly so. Alex White I salute your decision or rather I salute the Alex White shaped sillohuette left by the two paragraph author's biography.
            The Cold Forge is a Weyland-Yutani research facility , a remote space station , RB232, which has been set up to attempt weaponising the xenomorphs discovered on LV427. Hadley's Hope now being completely destroyed following the horrendous events which occured  there( or the film Aliens as it is perhaps better known.) Learning little by way of species self-preservation, it would seem, Weyland-Yutani misunderstand the simple formula; Human beings plus Xenomorphs equals nightmarish disaster. It is a given. Put the two together and you end up with something from the bad dreams of the poet John Milton and the artist and visionary H R Giger. It also seems the interview process for becoming a member of the Weyland-Yutani staff involves proving oneself to be a complete inhuman bastard. or at the very least to be possessed by insane tendencies for mutual destruction. Actually in that aspect it is a depressingly familiar current science fiction trope; with all crew members being awful human beings, as if only the very worst of us will make it to the stars. Witness the idiotic Prometheus crew and the even more obnoxious covenant crew. They were supposed to be a colony mission but came across as a bunch of hipsters on their way to Ikea for some outre shelving. As though all the people who were too self conciously pouty to be allowed into anyone's Fight Club were packed off on a deep space one way journey to spare humanity the casual acceptance of woolen beanies worn by anyone other than Special Ops( A sure sign of The End Times.)
              Dorian Sudler, the main protaganist in this book, is a Weland-Yutani "cleaner" and ruthless corporate stooge. he makes Patrick Bateman seem like a Butlins Red Coat. He is in his own self made way as monstrous as anything that ever leapt out of an alien egg. Alex White allows us, the reader, to be privy to his brutally efficient internal monologue in the most uncomfortable of ways. he is pure corporate evil squeezed into his form fitting Weland-yutani briefs, which get a mention once or twice. It is perhaps an echo of the final encounter between Ripley in her underwear at the end of the first film and all the naked vunerability that implied, the naked determination to survive.
                Tighty whities in space! I would pay to see that movie.
                Much as I enjoyed this read, and I did, literally just ripping through it. I do wish that some of the writers connected to and working within the Alien franchise would insert some characters of a more humanely altruistic bent. Elizabeth Shaw was a fine example of brilliant dazzling humanity travelling to the stars, more please. The only other kind, brave and heroic figures tend to be artificial beings( Apart from the Big Bad Himself; David.) and even their morality has more to do with excessive programming. How mankind likes to think of itself rather than how it actually is.
                 Maybe that is the point.
                 Oh dear..how depressing.
                 Unlike the book which is exciting and page turning. There is a lot to like in it. Particularly if you are a fan of the earlier films.  I suspect Alex White wrote it for you.

The above is a concept painting for Alien Covenant by artist Khang Lee. It explored some ideas for a road not taken in the making of this movie. I cannot recommend highly enough you perhaps explore this work further on line. They are really quite brilliant.


Thursday, 17 May 2018

Genesis At The Cinema.

How good would it be to sit in a darkened movie theater and watch this. genesis Of The Daleks flickering across a movie screen. The Doctor, Sarah and Harry on Skaro, witnessing the birth of a monster race. What an embarrassment of riches this story was..and is ,I suppose. It has never really gone away.
            Real magic rarely does.

Come Back Mrs Noah.

Oh my giddy aunt. Now this is a part work I could get behind. A record of a truly mind boggling mistep taken by the BBC sometime towards the end of the seventies. I once described this series to a few friends and they honestly believed I was making it up. Which I most certainly was not, it was real and it was every bit as excruciating as it sounds. Go and investigate on line. I kid you not..
              Someone very cleverly dummied this up and yet the reality is beyond parody.

Ultimate Frankenstein.

The Ultimate Frankenstein is an anthology collecting a series of stories that riff on the original novel by Mary Shelley, covering a wide range of the same themes a very young and seemingly unworldly Shelley covered in that work. Some truly stellar talent bring much to the dissecting table with a string of tales not for the squeamish, easily offended or those not intrigued by a love that barely has a name. it is a broad and hideously detailed blanket that settles about the shoulders of this two hundred year old text. Themes such as loneliness and hubris, love and dismemberment, creation and destruction, all these themes are touched upon, with some startling and rewarding innovations, quite quickly sorting out the men from those who blush easily. It is not a collection for the coy or as i suggested the easily offended, but then why would such a person be looking through a Frankenstein anthology. there is some lovely work in hereand the collection serves as a timely reminder of just what a genre formative work the original was. Surely one of the first and certainly most enduring works of science fiction, brought into being, and created from some rough shod, long before such a term or notion of genre material existed.
            I attempted such a story myself, back in the day. We Belong Dead it was called. A story about the creation of a surly adolescent creation, until at some point I realised I was merely writing the story of any teen .
            Mary Shelley crafted a being that lives way beyond the constraints of the medium it was born into. Mother of Frankenstein and midwife to a new age of Gods And Monsters.