Saturday, December 16, 2006

CURRENT SOUNDTRACK: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SEASON 2, Bear McCreary, "Baltar's Dream"

Been a while since I've updated the blog, mostly because I've been busy trying to get things finished and I've got little new to talk about; still doing work on REDEYE 6 which never seems to end; still working on SEVEN SENTINELS and related websites; still doing bits for my own illo website (which I really need to sort out for next month), while returning to a day job. Of course when things are finished I'll add them up here. In the meantime, thought I'd do a list of what was memorable for 2006, best tv, comics, films etc, because I have bought and read a ton of stuff recently.

BEST TV: Without a doubt, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. The single greatest thing on TV this century. As much as I love the LOST shenigans, as gripping as Jack Bauer having another bad 24 hours is, and as frustratingly close to greatness SMALLVILLE teters, BSG blows them all out of the water with consistantly strong writing, inventive special effects, outstanding acting, and a score that I can listen to a thousand times over without ever getting bored. Everyone I've recommended BSG to has come away a frakking convert. This is simply what sci-fi should always be, but so very rarely is: a cracking drama. Go to www.scifi.com/battlestar.

BEST COMIC: There's been a good number of comics I've really enjoyed this year.

DMZ: Brian Wood is a creator I've only recently been introduced to (thanks Haroon, I owe you on that one), and I've been eagerly reading his back catalogue, without realising I already had his seminal CHANNEL ZERO. DEMO, SUPERMARKET and LOCAL soon joined it on my shelf. DMZ draws from so many historical sources and while commenting on current Neo Conservative fundamentalism in America, it just reminds us we see the same scenario time and again replaying through history. There's echoes of Beirut, of Gaza and Baghdad, but for me (and most telling) the parallels of Manhattan under seige with Sarajevo during the Bosnian war. Its an essential read. Go to www.brianwood.com.

THE ESCAPIST is so cleverly written by Brian K Vaughan, as the narrative snakes in and out of 'reality' of the comic creators and the characters within the very comic they're creating. It's something you could only do with comics, and I just hope the team come back for more after the initial run. Go to www.darkhorse.com

HELLBOY: It's Mignola. I don't need to say anything more. Got to www.hellboy.com.

THE GREAT GAME: Ian Edginton and D'Israeli could be the next Lennon and McCartney of British comics. Time and again they have teamed up to create some of the most beautiful comics I've ever read. KINGDOM OF THE WICKED is a masterpiece; LEVIATHAN is a small sliver of genius that deserves ten times the page count it was given in 2000AD, as shown by the recently released collection. But the highlight for me has been their WAR OF THE WORLDS trilogy. Beginning with SCARLET TRACES, the sequel to Well's book, the creators established a darkening British Empire using left over Martian technology to sustain its stranglehold on Earth. Then, midway through developing the sequel to that, they were asked by Dark Horse to adapt WAR OF THE WORLDS itself for a webcomic, which has recently been collected in glorious hardcover. Once again some stunning imagery and Ian Edginton adapts the text well, but it is merely a taster of what is to come in THE GREAT GAME. Set some years after the events of SCARLET TRACES, the British Empire have invaded Mars and have been fighting a brutal and pointless war. A journalist travels there to uncover the grim truth of a government not above killing its own soldiers to win the battle and the inevitable counter invasion. Much like LEVIATHAN, THE GREAT GAME is near perfect for a Wells fan like me. The only failings of these projects though are their short length; I'm not talkinga bout decompressed storytellingbut a more satisfactory resolution to the plots and themes which are introduced. THE GREAT GAME certainly features what I believe to be some of the greatest art of D'Israeli's career. I can't wait to see their newseries in 2000AD in 2007, called STICKLEBACK. Go to www.darkhorse.com for WOTW and www.2000adonline.com for LEVIATHAN.

BEST FILM:
2006 has been a weak year for films for me; the big ones like XMEN 3, MI3, SUPERMAN RETURNS, were all disappointments. THE DA VINCI CODE and ULTRAVIOLET are two examples of how NOT to make a film. V FOR VENDETTA was quite good, nowhere near as bad as it could have been, but it could never match the source material. KING KONG was enjoyable (whats not to like about a fistfight between a giant gorilla and three T Rex?) if overlong. Others I wanted to see, but didn't get round to it in time like CHILDREN OF MEN, CLERKS 2, THE BLACK DAHLIA, and NACHO LIBRE will be on my DVD list I think. Still a few more to get in before the end of the year.

BEST ALBUM:
Again I bought a hell of a lot of cds this year, but one that was definitely worth every penny was FOO FIGHTERS: SKIN AND BONES, an acoustic live album recorded in Hollywood. I actually only bought it after seeing clips on YouTube, recorded by fans. The DVD which also features the concert at Hyde Park is just as brilliant.

BRIT COMICS OVERVIEW:
There were times these last twelve months when I've looked at the quality of stuff coming from Brit creators and felt a tingle down my spine; the feeling you get when you've just discovered something immensely cool and want to share it with everyone. There seems to be this palpable sense of being on the verge of a revolution in Brit comics after too long in the wilderness, they'll be that one breakthrough title that spark it all off. The addition of two new conventions in Lancaster and Birmingham to the yearly schedule, and the ever increasing page count of REDEYE is just another sign of that.

Paul Rainey (www.bookoflists.co.uk) is a creator who deserves far far more attention, and I guarantee he'll be snapped up by the big publishers within the next two years.

Likewise with Lorenzo from Blink Twice, whose art and enthusiasm never ceases to amaze me.

Likewise with Daley and Dave from Brodies Law, whose passion for the medium is never short of inspiring.

Likewise with Matthew Badham who is helping to introduce MEGAZINE readers to the wonders of Brit comics.

Likewise with Shane Chebsey of Smallzone, who has consistantly gone above and beyond with promoting UK comics for the last 15 years, with a significant milestone reached this year with his mounting of the successful Bristol International Comics Festival (http://www.thecomicsshow.co.uk/) along with James Hodgkins, Andy Baker and Paul Birch. It was such a successful show that next years is guaranteed with huge names coming over from the US.

Likewise when I look at Ben Dicksons' FALLING SKY, or Marc Olivents SEVEN SENTINELS, or Dave Hitchcock's SPRING HEELED JACK collection, or... this could get to be a very long list.

I have a feeling that 2007 will be a landmark year for Brit comics. I don't why. I don't know how. But in 12 months time, I'll be looking back and saying, yep. That was a year that kicked arse. And you know, I may actually get REDEYE #6 out.

Have a great Christmas and a brilliant New Year.

XMASCARD1