Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Avengers' Bums Assemble!

A little while back Marvel Studios released a poster for the upcoming Avengers movie.

It was a fairly typical piece of Superhero artwork that unfortunately suffers from a fairly typical problem with  superhero art; the so called "Broken Back" pose, a stance where a female character is posed so the reader can perve over both her boobs and her arse at the same time.  This pose is far too common in comics (especially on covers) and can make reading comics on the train pretty embarrassing.  Avenger's director Joss Whedon has a long history of creating strong, well rounded female characters, and it seemed a shame that a project he was so heavily involved in would resort to such lowest common denominator marketing.

Today, Marvel Studios announced a new title for the film here in the UK, Avengers Assemble (presumably to avoid confusion with the 60's spy show) and debuted a new poster.
It's still a fairly standard superhero pin up, but this time Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow looks absolutely bad-ass and it's two of the male characters flashing their chests/bums.  Admittedly it's not proper broke back art, Iron Man's face covers up most of the Hulk's arse, but it's a faltering step closer to equal opportunity lechery, and isn't that what everyone wants?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Skin Diseases & Novel Update 27/02/2012

Hello again, how is everyone?...  That's nice, glad to hear you're all doing well. I've spent most of this weekend worrying that I'd caught impetigo from my three year old nephew.  I wasn't really concerned about the disease itself, as according to nhs.uk impetigo is rarely a serious condition and my skin's already pretty much a write off.  I was worried that I'd pass it on to my girlfriend, mostly because I'm a selfless, heroic gentleman but also because I was afraid that it would be really awkward.  I'd not heard of impetigo before this weekend but my  dad described it as "basically herpes for kids"  and I've been terrified of having to tell the missus "I've not been fooling around with anyone, I caught this pestilence I've given you from my nephew."  Which is pretty much the worst excuse I could have come up with and would almost certainly have got me in to even more bother.  Fortunately both myself and Mrs myself seem to have dodged the plague and the nephew's looking better.

I've been able to do a fair bit of writing since the last update and I've managed to reach 27,709 words, or 37% of the novel.  Having said that, I'm a lot further than 37% into the plot and there are lots of gaps that I'm going to have to go back and fill in/or paper over, so it's probably more accurate to say I've half written the first 75% of the book.  I'm going to update on a Monday night from now on, so I'll be able to spend all of Sunday night actually writing the book and not end up having a late night writing the accompanying blog post.  Next week's target is 32,000, comeback on Monday to see if I reach it.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Novel Update 16/02/2012

Well this week's been a bit of a write off.  The word count's currently at 21,662, a fair way short of my 25,000 word target, so 29% of the total target's been written.  I know you all expected more from some idiot dicking about with words on the internet, I'm sorry I let you down.  I'm away this weekend so it doesn't look like I'll be able to write many more (although I'm travelling by train so I might be able to get a few thousand done).  However the weekend after that is the one before pay day so I'll be too poor for adventures and should be able to get some cheap, cheap writing done.  The current plan is 27,500 by Sunday 26th February, which should put me back on track for my self imposed first draft deadline of mid-April, come back then to see how much I've done.

Sunday, 12 February 2012


Hello all, I'm afraid there's not going to be a novel update today, I hope you can cope with this all crushing disappointment (if you can't cope don't do anything stupid).  I've had a busy few days, so most of this week's writing is still scrawled in a range of notepads.  I'm going to type it up tonight and I'll post a proper novel update later in the week.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Witch Doctor and Novel Update 05/02/2012

I did a fair bit of writing this week, not only on my novel but also some general whining about the Watchmen Prequels which you can find one post down. Aside from writing I've spent most of this week working overtime, teaching my immediate family to use Skype (and relearning how to use it myself) and returning to York for drinks on Friday.  Since pay day was this week I also bought myself some comics.  All of which were pretty good but the highlight was probably Witch Doctor: Resuscitation.  

Witch Doctor was my favourite new comic of last year, a magical medical mystery about a maverick doctor (is there any other sort) who fights supernatural diseases.  The creative team behind the comic; writer Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner, have created a well thought out world of grimy monsters that are just about biologically plausible and each issue introduces at least one or two interesting scientific twists on classic monsters. I've seen Witch Doctor described as House verses the supernatural and  Garth Marenghi's Darkplace played straight and it's no where near as terrible as the Garth Marenghi comparison implies.  It's a fun comic from creators who know how to pace a story for single issues, there's a graphic novel collecting the first miniseries and a new series starting this year.   I'd recommend Witch Doctor to anyone who doesn't mind a bit of body horror in their comics, especially my fellow science/horror fans/geeks.

"But what about your writing Tom?" I hear no one ask, it's been another good week and my word count currently stands at 20,187 or 27.0% of my 75,000 word target.  Come back next week to see if I make 25,000.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Before, Before Watchmen

This week DC Comics announced a series of prequel mini-series to Watchmen.  According to DC's The Source blog the mini-series will be:

  • RORSCHACH (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
  • MINUTEMEN (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
  • COMEDIAN (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
  • DR. MANHATTAN (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
  • NITE OWL (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
  • OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
  • SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner
I love Watchmen, I have a copy signed by David Gibbons with a sketch of Rorschach saying "Tom Huh?" in his threatening scary voice, which is probably the third thing I'd save if my house burnt down (first two are my sketch book and whatever friends/family are in the house with me, I'll leave it to your imagination to decide which order they're in).  

Anyway, before I wander too far off topic; I love Watchmen and I've enjoyed the work of all involved in Before Watchmen.  Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier is a masterpiece of comics storytelling which uses everything that's great about the DC Universe, Amanda Conner is one of comic's best cartoonists and manages to capture a range of facial expressions most beyond most artists, J Michael Straczynski's sadly unfinished Supreme Power, a brilliantly tense "realistic superhero story" was a triumph in long term suspense and Len Wein co-created Wolverine.   I can see why all of them were chosen for the job.  Having said that, I'm not excited about Before Watchmen.

I've already said how talented these creators are, but everyone involved in Before Watchmen could do the best work of their career and it would still seem redundant.  One of the original Watchmen's great triumphs (I hate that I'll have to refer to Moore and Gibbon's text as the original Watchmen) was it's tight plotting and razor sharp characterisation; everything was fully fleshed out and built to the conclusion, all of the characters had a clear motivation and the reader understood the reasoning behind every action they took.  Watchmen wasn't a story like Star Wars that exists in a universe where you could potentially tell thousands of exciting stories (I stress the word potentially).  Everything that mattered in Watchmen has already been fully explored.  Watchmen covered the entire lives of these characters, every emotional turning point or moment of character development has already been shown.  These mini-series cannot be anything other than redundant retreads of the flashbacks in the original, or diverge from Moore & Gibbons's work and so fail as an origin story.  

Why (other than the obvious answer of because it'll make a quick buck) assemble such a talented roster of creators and hamstring them with such a problematic assignment?  Any one of these creative teams could produce a classic graphic novel with a long lifespan as a collected edition that would win a shower of Eisner's. Cooke and Conner are a dream team, why waste them on a Silk Spectre origin story?  I'd love to read another period, political superhero book from Darwyn Cooke, or see Jae Lee draw a man slowly realising he has to become a supervillain to save the world.  But like the majority of DC's audience, I know how they'll end & that makes it all a bit pointless.  I can't imagine another project in comics with Before Watchmen's calibre of writers & artists being less inspiring.  DC already owns thousands of franchises and characters, why couldn't they leave Watchmen as something unique and special?

N.B. I haven't touched on the problems around why DC own the rights to watchmen rather than Alan Moore and David Gibbons, mostly because others have already done so, but needless to say DC acted shamefully.