Friday, 18 July 2014


I’m hiding out at friend’s house with my Mac screen propped up on some D&D rule books because the hinge is loose and my flat is a no go zone. Sorry for detonating your imaginings of the glamourous life of a writer.

Changes. Lots of changes lately. My flat mate is in the process of packing up his entire life. And because he’s a bookworm there is a hell of a lot of it. Not to mention DVDs and the vast amount of Doctor Who related kitsch that swamps the lounge. The flat is currently a waiting room, a loading bay with an attached kitchen. No place for writing at all.

Changes. Lots of changes. I’ve started work on a new series that may or may not go anywhere. I’m playing with all the Fantasy tropes I deliberately avoided with the last series. Magic and strange creatures and mentions of dragons. It feels weird writing ‘the last series’ when Book Two isn’t released until 18 Feb 2015 and Book Three some time in 2016. There’s still things I want to do in Landfall, but it’s too early to say if they’re viable. Will anybody want to read it?

And still more changes. The news feed is a litany of failure. Scientists and civilians shot out of the skies over Ukraine as children are bombed on beaches for the crime of being born Palestinian. The US of A sells even more weapons to Israel despite the growing shit storm. Cameron cynically reshuffles his cabinet to appeal to women voters and all those who absconded to UKIP. A brazen attempt to bring us yet more austerity despite the champagne bill at the House of Lords skyrocketing.

Hands up who’d like a change for the better?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Re-reading: Hellboy

Eastpak has really gone downhill in recent years.
I’ve re-read the first two volumes of Hellboy in as many days. I find reading for pleasure easier when I change medium. The pictures are easier on the eye, the only words dialogue, caption and infrequent exposition. Working on a book all day only read another book for entertainment can be heavy going. Not so Hellboy, who has since gone on to spawn two films.

So what’s so special about that big red brawler?

The art is bold, easy to pass off as simplistic, in truth wonderful chiaroscuro. The pages are all heavy shadows and dramatic light, seemingly conjured from a just a few hurried lines. There’s an economy at work here that is fascinating. And those slabs of colour are much like the titular hero – no nonsense and straightforward. Hellboy inhabits a world wedded to a gothic past, where castles boast sinister statuary and graveyards are ancient and full of foreboding. 

There’s a pulp sensibility to Hellboy that you might expect from a superhero comic. Few are the problems that can’t be solved without the judicious application of fist to face, something Hellboy is well versed at. That he has the occasional wisecrack up his sleeve is no bad thing. 

Reading Hellboy: required. Drinking rum: optional.
While Hellboy is a fun character he’d be nothing without antagonists, and the bad guys  have plenty of attention lavished upon them. His foes are creatures of legend, but also men seeking power for themselves. It’s this weaving of the historical with folklore that makes the comic such a rich read. Romanian Vampires rub shoulders with Nazis harboring apocalyptic visions, while Baba Yaga confides to Rasputin and so on.

Warning: bringing about the apocalypse without supervision is dangerous.
It’s a dark and melancholy set of tales with an indefatigable protagonist who is refreshingly upbeat even when world-weary.