Monday, May 31, 2004


The 2000AD Discussion Panel

FI - Frazer Irving

NK - Nigel Kitching

MB - Matt Brooker (AKA D'Israeli)

PJH - Paul J Holden

AB - Alan Barnes

SS - Simon Spurrier

RM - Robby Morrison

MS - Matt Smith


The MC opened with a request for what went well this year. Matt replied that there was positive feedback on the new stories (AHAB, Chopper, Savage, Low Life) which was encouraging. He was looking forward to issue 1400 (only 10 issues away) and also the new stories coming out in the second half of the year (including Strontium Dogs, Caballistics Inc, ABC Warriors, Robohunter, Lobster Random, an Asylum sequel, and a Freaks sequel called Faces). Matt unfortunately couldn't really go into what would be up-and-coming in 2005 but luckily the rest of the panel were much freer with the news!

Robby was putting together scripts for Nikolai Dante in time for Christmas and for Shakara next year. He was amazed how he had been able to get away with so little dialogue in the latter. He also mentioned a possible return Shimura, a judge character he had created in the Megazine way back in 1993.

Si was quick to point out that Shakara must be a Pokemon as the only dialogue they have is their name. Made logical sense to me. Si went on to mention script work coming out for Lobster Random, Bek and Kawl, and the thoroughly under-plugged Simping Detective (out next week in Megazine 220).

Alan had good news on the reprint front - budget had been freed up for commissions so lest reprints (obviously good to hear). He mentioned a new Middenface McNulty story (Killoden, a grim parody of Culloden, drawn by John Ridgway), a gory Judge Dredd (drawn by Dave Taylor, new to 2000AD, Batman artist), and a thriller strip called Six (supposedly similar to the movie "Se7en" with someone impaled on the Empire State, for example.)
All sound interesting.

Frazer mentioned that he had worked with Si on the Simping Detective before plugging his non-2000AD work. Apparently he needed to loadly emphasise the Simping Detective for those at the back who hadn't heard him the first time. 

The MC asked about breaking into the US more - Rebellion are working with DC on some cross-overs (Robby started to drool at the idea of a Wonder Woman/Nokolai Dante team-up). The weekly anthology format of 2000AD doesn't suit the US market.

Asked as to what didn't go well this year, Matt quickly saw through the MC's question and started talking about Valkyries. It hadn't hit the mark in it's 6-issue run but there had been a few people writing in saying they had liked it. Personally I have enjoyed Steve Moore's writing in Tales of Telguuth but Valkyries didn't really work for me. Interesting ideas, maybe, but slightly too silly (especially the sex). Anyway, the panel decided that you can never tell what's really going to work.

Dreddcon? -  Should be October 2nd at Oxford Uni. Is planned to coincide with the DC graphic novel tie-ins. Look on the website for news, where there will also be a design makeover too.

What did the panel think of Striker, the football comic with Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) graphics? Frazer thought it was "absolutely bloody awful" and Alan said that 2000AD would use such graphics over their dead bodies. So the panel were pretty evenly split there.

Alan mentioned that Extreme would move to bi-monthly. They would drop the theme as it was becoming too tenuous a link between stories. It's a great job selecting stories - sitting there all day reading old progs. On the subject of reprints, there's a graphic novel compilation of the Judge Dredd/Batman stories (except the one printed on different paper, I think). A few others in the pipeline included Robohunter's Verdus story.
Rogue Trooper game? 2005.

Frazer was quizzed on the possibility of using Colour in his artwork. Apparently the occasional use cyan and magenta counts. Hmmm.

Why does the panel think artists and writers go to the US? For example, Jock and Andy Diggle have recently signed a 2-year exclusive deal with DC (I didn't realise Andy had been editor of 2000AD and the MegaZine for about 18 months). Robby said working on The Authority was not an offer you could turn down. The panel explained that the US paid well and there was a larger market (who can turn down more fame?) but it isn't one-way traffic. Matt explained that there was only a certain number of artists and writers who can be published in a weekly 2000AD (and worse for the monthly Megazine) so people have to get work somewhere - why not the US?
Alan said 2000AD did not regret people leaving - going to the US adds experience and exposes artists and writers to a wider spectrum of work. It is, though, expected that Jock and Andy will be back some time in the future - Garth Ennis has returned. There is a lot of freedom in working at 2000AD and Robby found being able to work on Nikolai as he wanted something you can't get everywhere.2000AD is apparently more fun than US companies - it is smaller and decisions are made so much more quickly.

What are the panel working on OUTSIDE of Rebellion?

Frazer was challenged over his work looking like Berni Wrightson (co-creator of Swamp Thing; good artist during the 70's and early 80's). Obviously this annoyed Frazer a little - I don't know how many times he gets this. Just because he does horror in B/W doesn't mean he's copying Berni. Instead he said that Berni copied Ken Smith but that lost me - maybe I misheard.

Bits and bobs:

That's it - buggered if I'll ensure everything has a bloody hyperlink again though


Went to the tribute to Don Lawrence who died last Christmas. Christopher Weston read out a history of Don's life, spiced up with memories of his own time as apprentice. I found this an excellent insight into the man's life - from the published artwork it is very difficult to understand what people are like.

Don was a chain-smoker and self-confessed pot head. When Don was talking to Christopher's dad about the apprenticeship, he admitted that he smoked cannabis - not exactly what the father wanted to hear and he demanded his son was not introduced to the evil of drugs. Liam Sharp, an earlier apprentice, didn't have the same trouble! On one occasion, when pulling out drawers to show off artwork, a drawer of drying leaves was brought out - but not for too long before disappearing straight back in again.

I only knew him from his artwork for the Trigan Empire in Fleetway's Look & Learn (an educational magazine for children that ran from 1962-1982). This seems to be common in the UK as in Europe he is much better known, especially Holland where he was recently made Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau. Don had produced The Trigan Empire for 11 years before being sacked (or resigned, according to the Guardian)- he had the affront to ask for more money when he discovered from his agent that the series was being sold well across Europe. Don wasn't helped in the UK by not having good writers to team up with - some of the stories he drew were great to look at but had poor script to make them worth reading.

His ability to draw from memory was exceptional - he very rarely used references (for drawing the detail of a hand, for example). Even moving horses were drawn straight to paper. Liam did try pointing out that a human ear Don had drawn didn't appear quite right but, after the look he received in return, decided not to comment again.

Towards the end of his life, a botched eye operation and subsequent infection caused the loss of his left eye and the depth perception essential to his work. Being unable to produce work as good as he wanted - and he was very hard on himself and others - dragged him down into bouts of depression.

Don received a lifetime achievement award but only once he had died. Christopher would be handing it to his widow, something that should not have had to be that way. Why did the industry have to wait until it was too late so guilt would force their hand.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Had burger "in a bun" with chips today so decided to check out my current BMI (nothing to do with the airline). Managed an unhealthy 31.5 - "You are in the range that is classified as obese and your health would greatly benefit from a life-long reduction in weight." I need to lose a stone just to drop down into the "overweight" category"! Ideally my BMI should be 25 - for my height (5'9") that's 12 stone. Not impossible, just a lot of hard work.

Sunday, May 23, 2004


Friday, May 21, 2004

Essential maintenance to the house!

I think MSN WeeMees are great - this one has my receding hair, a perfect match for my favourite green T-shirt and a pint of lager (plus a hint of a tummy bulge from being middle-aged!).

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The football season is over as far as 98% of the clubs are concerned and it's time to vote in the WOLVES MAILING LIST AWARDS 2003-04. This is always tricky for me as I don't get to see too many games so I tend to be influenced by what other people say. :-)

1) The Player of the Season Award
Alex Rae, for non-stop effort and dedication (I wish him well in his move to Rangers today).
2) The Young Player of the Season Award
Mark Clyde, for being the only young player (at 21) to get into the team.
3) The Most Improved Player of the Season Award
Henri Camara, one goal in November and then six towards the end of the season as he seemed to really settle in.
4) The Defender of the Season Award
Paul Butler, for really raising his game in the Premiership
5) The Midfielder of the Season Award
Alex Rae, followed by Paul Ince
6) The Forward of the Season Award
Henri Camara, followed by Carl Cort
7) The Worst Player of the Season Award
Mark Kennedy, for his lazy reputation
8) The Best Buy/Loan of the Season Award
Carl Cort, who was banging in the goals at the end once he became match fit
9) The Worst Buy/Loan of the Season Award
Silas, for being a waste of space.
10) The Goal of the Season Award
Don't know - should have done some research
11) The Best Match of the Season Award
Leicester at home, a match Sue and I attended; great 2nd half turnaround which gave false hope for the season.
12) The Event of the Season Award
Beating ManUre 1-0
13) The Worst Event of the Season Award
Relegation, obviously
14) The Best Decision (by the board/manager) of the Season Award
SJH stepping down (years too late, of course. Why couldn't he have run the club like a business instead of a toy?)
15) The Worst Decision (by the board/manager) of the Season Award
Not investing during the summer (no business plan ready when we won at cardiff, everubody went on holiday for ages, come the summer all the good players had gone and we had little to spend anyway. Criminal negligence)
16) The Best Contributor(s) To The Mailinglist of the Season Award
Clive for his match reports - week in, week out, home and away, always a full match report.
17) The Mail of the Season Award
Don't know - should have done some research
18) The Poem/Song of the Season Award
Don't know - don't think we really had anything memorable

I must admit to being as pleased as punch that someone gave me a vote in category 16. Made my day.

Monday, May 17, 2004


GuilFest 04

Haven't been on the guest list for a gig for MANY years. Managed to save a tenner by getting in with Sue at RUSU's "360" to watch the Buzzcocks. They aren't really on tour, just doing the occasional gig every few months so I'm impressed they are playing here at all.
Non-stop punk music - no chatting between records, just loads of energetic music. Quite a few I recognised (and some I didn't), opening with "Boredom", "Harmony In My Head", "Promises", "Noise Annoys", "What do I get?", "Ever fallen in love?", "Oh shit", "I Don't Know What To Do With My Life", and a bunch of others before ending with "Orgasm Addict".
Another band added to my have-seen list before they pop their clogs (last year I caught The Undertones at GuilFest)


Saturday, May 15, 2004

Spent 3 days in the company of Nick Bates, founder of Strategic Edge this week. Nick does a brilliant job of teaching people how to get the most out of their lives. He is very well read and has a great range of techniques and strategies for improving your own quality of life, your career, and so on.

One of my favourites this week was an approach to thinking round problems. Basically it's putting yourself in someone else's shoes so that you can see things their point of view which may help you find a different perspective. We had to build up our own virtual advisory team drawn from any period of history, fact-or-fiction, alive or dead. The idea is that you would have a range of opinions to try and draw on - "what would Aristotle have thought of applying the object-oriented
modelling approach to our agent-based cross-organizational workflow system?" Well, you get the idea.

Initially this was quite a challenge as there were a number of people I liked and/or respected but didn't really think they would have any advice for me and the sort of issues I see - WARNING - Limiting Belief Alert - WARNING. So, on reflection, I was wrong. For example, I didn't want Sir Ranulph Fiennes on my advisory team as he is a bit too ... focussed ... for me. I would prefer challenges where there is a good chance I return in one piece (no missing extremities from frost-bite, for example). But then I find that he is one of the world's top inspirational business motivational speakers so what do I know!

We only had a short while to create the list and all I could come up with initially was Rincewind. Other people had Winston Churchill, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and a host of others. I only had Rincewind. (Oh, and my wife for "local knowledge"). He represented "logical negativity" and would be a vocal participant in assessing risks. Nick Bates had just reviewed Edward DeBono's "Six Thinking Hats" so the picture of a nervous chappy in a black hat with the word WIZZARD emblazed across it in sequins immediately leapt to mind (even though it is really red in the bookend on the right). I find it quite revealing that on a 3-day self-development workshop I come up with a cowardly failed wizard who dreams of a boring life.

Next we had to nose around and find out what other people had and why. This gave me a few more ideas and I quickly added Jamie Oliver to the list - some people don't like him but I find his enthusiasm and drive very refreshing. ((Isn't the Internet great? Had to use this Swedish photo of Jamie with käk written on it. Apparently this is not a comment on Jamie but means "grub" as in "lovely grub". Nice one. While we are on the subject of food, my favourite recipe of his is Midnight Pan-Cooked Breakfast. Pukka.))

I needed a creative "Green hat" to join the table and so quickly
signed up Dave Gorman. Not only does Dave come up with off-the-wall ideas but he goes ahead with them too (or that's how the story goes). So far I've seen the following DG theatre shows : Googlewhack Adventure,Better World, Reasons To Be Cheerful, and Are You Dave Gorman? - his performances never cease to amaze me.

Akira Kurasawa, for the style he put into his movies - although I have seen only a pitiable few (Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Kagemusha, maybe one or 2 others).

I was on a roll here - Billy Bragg was enrolled for his passion, if not his politics. Wouldn't have even been short listed if I hadn't been reminded how good he is when we saw him at Southampton in March as part of his "Essential" tour.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Alan Shearer? Who?

Your name's not down, you're not coming in.

And with that draw, Wolves were officially relegated although they were effectively down as soon as they need to cancel out a 30-goal difference on ManCity. I'm impressed that the team has kept up the effort even though they could have just played out the remainder of the season. Roll on the end-of-season match with the also-once-mighty Spurs.

And a special mention to the long-suffering Wolves fans, as applauded by one of the Toons in their local paper:

"Really disappointing result on the weekend, but take nothing away from wolves they played with guts, and their fans were amazing. I havent heard such a large noise from a set of fans so high up in the stadium before. They were a credit to their team, shame we couldn't even challenge them with our own chants - our fans were absymal today."

Saturday, May 08, 2004

If you need only ONE Internet radio station it is this one:

Friday, May 07, 2004

GARPS elections ended up as a damp squib. "So who wants to be President?" ..... {silence}.... "Ok then, how about Treasurer?"..... {silence}.... "Safety Officer?"
Maybe 9 people wasn't really the sort of turnout we were hoping for so we'll have another bash during Fun Week - a 'turn up, vote and get a free beer' sort-of-thing should help.
At least we had a good discussion of what we could do in Fun Week - the sponsored 24-hour gameathon for charity should separate the dedicated gamers from those who thought Uni was for studying. First step is to choose a worthy charity that would benefit from the sponsorship (finding the GMs and players for the 24-hour session should be a lot easier!). Other activities will be a trip to an appropriate film (blood, gore, teeth, naked flesh, etc etc); a pub run; a games demo night; the rearranged elections-cum-AGM; and other stuff we haven't thought of yet.

Wow - the Fun Run made the BBC news website!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Tomorrow are the all-important GARPS elections.

My year as Vice President has been pretty uneventful but NEXT year will be different ... and here's my manifesto:

Regular pub night (at least once a month)
Regular demo night (at least once a term)
Regular cinema night (at least once a term)
End-of-Exams Fun Week (every May or June)

Properly maintained website (sorry, Crystal).

Support attendance at conventions whether term-time or holiday-time (e.g. GenCon UK – mid-Oct, Dragonmeet - Dec 4th)

Large games convention to be held at Reading Uni by 2010.

Fresher's Week
Accurate data collection using a PC.
Profiles taken of interests/availabilities
Handout packs of leaflets (RPG/games conventions, etc.).
Posters throughout the year on the society notice board.
Aggressive sign-up for Yahoo group for mass-mailings

Major achievement today - I managed to run 5km without making a fool of myself. I haven't done that for a quarter century! (Run 5km that is. I make a fool of myself most days). Averaged almost 6mph in a sort of strolling, jogging, running combo. Crossed the line to rousing cheers from my team-mates ... who somehow all found good business reasons not to join me on the run. They did all give a fiver each in sponsorship (to the NSPCC's website for teenagers - There4Me) so that's alright then.  :-)


My D&D evening at Reading Uni still trundles on week after week. I'm going through the 3rd edition learning curve - big, shiny books with colour graphics and sensible tables. Cool stuff like the standard modifiers for all stats - no more 18°° strength and the like. Much easier to use. Of course, I'll never agree that THACO had to go as that would just cheer up John Imossi no end.

As an aside, John paid me an excellent compliment the other day when I told him what happened to his character in the gaming session he had missed:

"You are a horrid horrid person and shouldn't be allowed to be in charge of a D&D game"

It makes all the work I put into running the game worthwhile.

Just re-discovered that 2nd ed only came out in 1989 so I must have been using 1st ed throughout my time in Portsmouth and at Uni. I stopping gaming in the early 90s as Samantha took up a lot of our time and only took up the baton again after Sue got a job at RUSU and became aware of GARPS - MUST get that website updated...

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I'm looking forward to the 6th Annual Official Comics Festival in Bristol in a few weeks.
It's enlightening to see the creators of the stories I read every week in 2000AD in the flesh. They are all more than happy to give you their time to knock off a sketch for free (although I haven't tried to come between them and their pint in the Reckless Engineer yet). Here's one that the very dark Frazer Irving (Judge Death specialist) did for my birthday a couple of years ago:

The events are pretty good too - the guys from Viz made me laugh at the London festival last autumn. So irreverant, talking about all the stories that got them into trouble. Tha Kappa Slappa story (title now changed?) was written by a poor, unsuspecting work-placement artist who based it on a trailer parker he knew from school. The girl wasn't impressed - she sounded just like Vicky Pollard, the character created by Matt Lucas for "Little Britain":

Now that character is pretty scarey - I have been told that people like that really exist. I am so happy that I haven't had to meet them.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Managed to catch a view of the lunar eclipse in between banks of clouds.
Looks like I need to work out how to take better night-time shots with this camera.

The first photo is from yesterday (May 3rd) showing a recently risen full moon.

The second is the partial eclipse from tonight (May 4th).

And back to normal.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Spent most of my time in Debenhams looking at the Sky Sports results instead of shopping. Wolves beat the Toffees! Amazing. Newcastle cave in to ManCity. Disaster. Why does the team fighting for 4th in the Premiership insist on losing to such dross as ManCity? The final moment when you realise that all hope is lost is gutting.
Oh well, back to being able to get hold of tickets for matches which DON'T cost £38 like the thieves at St Andrews charged. Come on you Wolves.

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