Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Anthological Fallacies

As I've probably mentioned once or twice already, I'm a sucker for anthology titles. It's genetic, I assume - something to do with my generation getting more than its RDA of 2000AD during its formative years. If you've contributed material to a UK anthology I've probably read it, I probably remember it and I probably enjoyed it.

Like I said, I'm an easy sale.

That said, it really does take something pretty special to raise its head above the herd in this kind of arena, and that's the absurdly mixed metaphor I'm going with to steer this post toward two anthology books I've been waiting for with great interest.

Rich McAuliffe and Mark Chilcott's Damaged Goods is a wide-ranging manifesto of terror from a powerful and profoundly disturbed creative team. Each exquisite little slice of nasty it contains is a thing of unnatural beauty and an object lesson in how irresponsible it is to let people like this tell horror stories or handle sharp objects. It'd be hard to go into specifics without spoilerising the shit out of the stories, but particular highlights for me include Zombie Bride and Clown, both of which tick most of my boxes at a stroke.

At over 100 pages, Tw1sted Vision is a virtuoso performance from cover to cover by artist, Valia Kapadai. Shifting effortlessly in style and subject matter, the book is a stunningly beautiful showcase for an artist of great range and depth. She takes on stories from a variety of writers and gives each a life and vitality of its own. With a handful of artists of half her talent, I could probably end the world.

The true danger in all this, of course, comes from the uncontrolled synthesis of already-volatile components. The binary agents in this ludicrously strained analogy are Rich and Valia, who have taken it upon themselves to collaborate on an ill-advised and probably hazardous joint venture. The projected product of this unholy alliance will be known as Snow. Described on the Insomnia blog as "a sensuous and disturbing story that rips the meat from the bones of what you know, right down to the last bloody scraps," I shudder to think of the damage it will do when it goes off.

God help us all...

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Stalked by Billy Talent

To be clear, the members of the Canadian punk band known as Billy Talent have never heard of me and they've never read anything I've written. They are, however, stalking my comics career with the tenacity of a truly gifted serial killer.

I've long considered the song "Fallen Leaves" to be the unofficial theme tune of Cancertown. Certainly, it's the tune that kicks off in my head every time I look at the book's wonderful Paul Cartwright cover. If you don't know the song, here's a link (embedding is disabled on this one).

See what I mean?

Anyway, if you want to get an idea of where my head is with The Ragged Man, you need look no further than this:

Friday, 16 April 2010

So I'm Sitting Here...

Well, as long as we're wantonly throwing previews around, here are the first three pages of The Ragged Man, an upcoming Insomnia book with art by Neil Van Antwerpen and colours by Peter-David Douglas. Letters, once again, are artfully supplied by the deadly Nic Wilkinson.

I'm constantly amazed by each new page of art on this book, and getting to work with my old Starship Troopers co-conspirators is an unbelievable rush. In fact, early plans are already in motion for our next collaboration. I can't say anything more just yet, but if current indications are anything to go by, it's going to be a full-service mindfuck.

In a further bit of Ragged News, the art guys and I recently recorded an interview with Ian Cullen for the SciFi Pulse radio show. The episode airs on Sunday night at 10pm, UK time, and we had a blast.

That's it for now.

Rock On!

Thursday, 8 April 2010


With major operations on The Indifference Engine thundering to a climax as we speak, we've been looking at assembling a preview package for the book to show at the Bristol convention this year. The general consensus was that a 3-4 page sequence was called for, to offer a sort of keyhole into the story without spoilerising it too comprehensively.

This is what we settled on:

Friday, 2 April 2010

Two Days in the Company of Jason Flemyng

Went to see Kick Ass on Thursday, followed by Clash of the Titans 3D today. 48% spoiler-free thoughts below:

Kick Ass
Despite several recent and very welcome surprises, I'm still a little wary of comic-to-movie adaptations. Repeated viewing has done Watchmen few favours, and there are still elements of Dark Knight that bother the fuck out of me, so my critical cup is rarely more than a few drops over half-empty.

So, given that pre-review comments like those above are traditionally followed by a "but", allow me to present my but to you by saying that, for my money, Kick Ass does an extremely good job of turning a disappointment of a comic into a very enjoyable couple of hours. I'd have to say that it's not remotely bloody enough to stand as a literal translation of the original, but equally, it also lacks the comic's paper-thin pretence of realism - instead, actively embracing the rising tide of lunacy and going balls-out on it. It shades off into Hollywood optimism a bit in places, but it had me from the second it kicked off the Dickies' fantastic cover of the Tra-La-La Song from The Banana Splits Show, a record that I've loved since forever. A minor highlight was Dexter Fletcher having a chance to dust off the American accent that got him through Press Gang, which is always good for a laugh. Also, Jason Flemyng was in it as a moany goon who goes out like a bitch. Good times.

Clash of the Titans
The longer I live, the more it appears that Louis Leterrier is incapable of making a film that I can't enjoy. I know this may shock some people, but I've no real affection for the original version of this film. I went in expecting better things and I got them. It was silly as all Hell, but that was what I wanted out of it. Not much to say about the central performances, other than that Mads Mikkelsen was pretty much head and shoulders above anyone else on-screen. There were frequent nods to the original to keep the fans happy, which did little for me, but the whole event felt like time well spent. Also, Jason Flemyng was in it as a one-handed monster who bleeds giant cocking scorpions and goes out like a total fucking bad-ass! Good times again.

Roll on the sequels, then.
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