Doghouse # 1

May 7th, 2014

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Doghouse # 1 , a new comics anthology from Sleepydog, is now available via Comixology.

That’s three new stories by me and @cherrysheriff.

AVALON I mentioned a post or so ago, but it’s got a sweet Chinook crash and swordplay in it.

REPO DELUXE is a fun slice of The Rockford Files but if Jim only went after rich idiots.

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NYPD WEIRD introduces you to cops with special powers tackling the oddest cases in New York.

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They’re all really fun to write and it’s a pleasure to see this stuff come alive via Dave’s artwork . Enjoy!

There’s a little pile of issues stacked behind this one so if you enjoy these 30 pages there’s a lot more to come.

The Internet’s Own Boy

May 2nd, 2014

“And the old world killed him.”

Huge fan of Participant and just about everything they’ve put out. Very pleased to see them involved in the Aaron Swartz documentary.

Safe hands indeed.

The Salvation

May 1st, 2014

Got to the end of the trailer and wished they’d held back a little more, but that’s a damn fine cast right there:

 

Mayday

May 1st, 2014

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May already. How did that happen? Soon be Christmas at this rate, but on the plus side it means May 7th is right around the corner. That’s when a NEW THING, a comics anthology in fact, is scheduled to drop on Comixology. It’s called DOGHOUSE and there’s a bunch of stuff in it by me and Dave Kennedy. If you enjoyed the motion-comic stuff in CAPER then there should be plenty for you to dig about these stories.

This one for example:

 

Avalon coverThat’s the cover to part one  of AVALON. Art by Dave Kennedy, words by me and brought into comic-book form with the good folks over at Sleepydog.

In a nutshell: it’s a British GI SAMURAI with a lot more swearing.

Next week I’ll be also be writing a short serial/story THING over on Medium. Kinda experimental. We’ll see how that goes.

Expect updates here to be a little more regular, but as ever the best way to catch me is via Twitter.

Also playing around with different ways to update this on the go so expect some odd formatting. Although that probably won’t matter if you’re reading via RSS.

In the meantime here’s a bonus shot of one of my favourite people in the world, Haruka Abe, taking a break from kicking some Saxon arse.

Haruka Abe

AND we should be warming up for the second block of MERICA ADAMS soon, but more on that later.

Meanwhile…

February 5th, 2014

Mad busy on CAPER and MERICA ADAMS plus a bunch of other stuff I hope I can share with you soon, but will be warming this place up again asap.

In the meantime I’m as active as ever on Twitter or if you don’t know me at all there’s some basic info here.

WWED

August 21st, 2013

Justified’s Graham Yost remembers Elmore Leonard:

“He wasn’t precious about his work but he was also very honest. The big joke between all of us was that he didn’t like Raylan’s hat. At first he had a different hat in mind. But he grew to accept it because he just loved Tim [Olyphant]’s performance.” In his writers room Yost handed out “WWED” bracelets to reinforce his commitment to preserving the spirit of Leonard’s text. “What Would Elmore Do? He got a kick out of that when he heard about that. He asked if we could send a few of those to his family. Elmore’s Ten Rules of Good Writing, the number 1 rule is leave out the parts that people skip over. Just that alone – bring it down, make it faster, funnier, or smarter – is something I try to take to heart.”

The guy who got Sergio Leone to watch CHiPs

August 20th, 2013

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Great interview with William Forsythe that covers some of the more interesting points of his career. THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU’RE DEAD, RAISING ARIZONA, CHiPs(!)… And of course Boardwalk Empire:

You know, if a guy could, he’d buy life insurance for his character. [Laughs.] Anything could happen. So, no, not really any warning, but… I knew. I guess I can say that. I never divulged the secret. But I knew the moment I walked into the house and killed those girls, I knew I wouldn’t be around.

Kinda wanna watch STONE COLD on the plane now.

Elmore Leonard (1925 – 2013)

August 20th, 2013

“ALL GLORY COMES FROM DARING TO BEGIN”

August 19th, 2013

Something new on the way from JJ Abrams.

I was asked to throw some ideas around at Bad Robot the last time I was in LA (back again this week by the way) and as you can imagine the place is just a little bit awesome…

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Had a great conversation about their mindset and why and how it is they try and do things a little differently from the rest of Hollywood.

Fascinating… as the chap with the pointy ears would say.

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1995 again

August 19th, 2013

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This sounds great:

the game is one of almost archaeological exploration. As Kaitlin, the player searches through closets and drawers to find artifacts of family life that explain what happened to everyone. Quickly it emerges that Sam, a high school senior, has a crush on a girl named Lonnie. Their story — told through the technologies of mid-1990s high school life, like crumpled notes passed during classes, photographs that had to be developed to be seen, mixtapes of riot grrrl music, even mimeographed zines — forms the game’s spine.

UP DOWN ON OFF SLOW FAST

August 15th, 2013

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My good friend @cherrysheriff surprised me with the above t-shirt this morning. Bastard beat me to that one, but we’re both big fans of KING OF THE ROCKETMEN.  There’s a little nod to it in something we’re working on right now with @Sleepydog. Here’s a preview:

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Hoping to have the full thing in your hands very soon.

Watch the skies…

Invisible Astronauts

August 15th, 2013

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No. Not really.

But these x-rays of NASA gear for the Smithsonian’s Suited for Space exhibit are fascinating.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

August 10th, 2013

Also that rare movie where the opening becomes more powerful than just about everything that follows the more times you watch it.

The crude coffin framed in the doorway should be as iconic as the silhouette of Ethan in THE SEARCHERS.

And the easy manner with which the rifle is tossed, put to use and then thrown back again… well, that’s the kind of crucial character moment most modern action movies couldn’t find even if they knew what they were looking for.

 

DROKK

August 8th, 2013

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I I listen to the digital version of DROKK a lot. Something that hits me in both the Judge Dredd and John Carpenter sweet spots? You’re damn right.

If you haven’t already had the pleasure you should go grab the album now. Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury have done a beautiful job.

But sometimes you need an actual thing taking up actual space in your actual life and Invada have put together a package that is quite something. It arrived today.

The shirt

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The canister

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The canister interior

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The first piece of vinyl

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The protective layer

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The second piece of vinyl

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The CD case

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The CD interior

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The CD

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I’m sure these days the kids are getting music beamed straight into their faces probably before it’s even been created via some kind of temporal sharing network, but if you wanna go futuristic old-school then DROKK is the dog’s bollocks.

And as a bonus they very kindly threw in a couple of extra CDs as my order was delayed* Thanks, guys! Much appreciated.

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*Thrill-suckers get in everything this time of year

The autumn of 1955

August 7th, 2013

Quatermass II

The summer of 1953

August 5th, 2013

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“Phasers set to PUNCH”

March 12th, 2013

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WELCOME to a world where if you have enough money any problem can be solved – through time travel.

Chronological manipulation is a tricky and expensive business. Very expensive. But for a small fortune a top team of scientists can work through the almost countless variables and put together a surgical strike package that can solve your problem. They specialise in pinpoint precision and minimal collateral disruption. Each sanctioned alteration can be immediately undone. These guys are the professionals.

And then there’s Merica Adams.

HAVE GUN. WILL TIME TRAVEL*

If you don’t have the cash for the precision solution then… fuck it.

May as well try the blunt instrument.

*Small print: NO DO-OVERS

Crosspost

“I ain’t got time to bleed.”

March 11th, 2013

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But I’m bleeding anyway.

Unexpected overnight stay in hospital (I brought a leg to a scalpel fight) meant I had to put February’s LA trip on hold. I’m still waiting for the wound to heal so everything’s been moved back another month or so. Annoying.

Lots to keep me occupied here in London though and a few things to share.

First let me see if I can remember where the publish button is on this old thing.

Ah, there it is…

13

January 2nd, 2013

FionnaTwo thousand and thirteen.

That’s the number of items on my to do list.

Max just wanted gasoline.

McClane just wanted Holly.

MacReady just wanted to be left alone.

A bunch of stuff gets in the way, but you just gotta keep moving forward and eventually you’ll run everyone over.

Drop a German off a building.

Die in the snow.

But it’s not the destination it’s the journey, right?

Let’s go…

“Why here?”

November 1st, 2012

Scene One

Sirens. We hear the city before we see the detective. He’s getting ready for the day and that means coffee. By the time he’s in front of the mirror the noise from his neighbours, their television and the cacophony of traffic outside form a dull roar. From the dresser he pauses to pick up the three objects that presently define him; a badge, a switchblade and a pen. Next to them, on a clean handkerchief, rests an old worn piece of wallpaper depicting a rose and hopefully his future. He picks up his jacket, already laid out on the made bed, but only after removing a small speck from its breast. He reaches past the metronome at the side of his bed and clicks off the lamp.

Less than a minute in to David Fincher’s SE7EN and we already know an awful lot about Lt. Detective William R Somerset. Three minutes later and we’ll know even more. And then the movie proper can begin.

There’s something fascinating about these scenes that act as prelude to a movie. They exist pre-credits for a reason, a cold opening that drops us straight out of the theatre and into the thing. In some cases they become as important in their own right as the movie that follows. CASINO ROYALE, for example, not only adds an exemplary pre-credit action sequence to an already iconic roster, but acts as the best possible introduction to that Bond. A rougher, blunter instrument than we’re used to who runs through walls and uses his rib cage to break falls. When faced with defeat he doesn’t dig deep, but rather thinks on his feet. Fuck it, I’ll just blow us all up or Fuck this being polite I’m gonna grab this piece of cutlery and jam it into your neck if you dare try and outsmart me. But I digress… (go see SKYFALL).

SE7EN’s opening is perfect. It’s become overshadowed by the credits sequence that follows (redefining as it did an entire industry) and the crimes themselves (that inadvertently launched a sub-genre of lesser movies), unfolding over seven days that eventually lead to a box that should never be opened. But for me, the entirety of the move is found in the first four minutes and those four scenes that hold our hand as we sit in the darkness and enter what Fincher describes as the ‘belly of the beast‘; Somerset’s unnamed city.

The Removed Scene

Prior to us meeting him that morning Somerset had recently returned from a trip to the countryside and the home he intends to move to in a week’s time. It’s there he finds the old wallpaper that he now carries a piece of as a token of escape, but also a trophy and a totem. We don’t know this though. The sequence was shot, but later cut. You can listen to the director and cast commentary on the Criterion disk of the movie to find out why. It’s also detailed on the movie’s Wikipedia page. But the flower is important. Most cop movies dwell on the guns. Here the cop carries a rose and a switchblade.

Scene Two

Our first crime scene. That’s the writer of the screenplay lying in his own blood, but you don’t need to know that. I smile every time I see his ass which isn’t a sentence I type lightly, but it is true. Face down in his own world made real – you know he’s smiling too. The police already on the scene have this covered, but it’s an opportunity for Morgan Freeman to deliver his first line and it’s a beauty.

TAYLOR
Then they heard the gun go off. Both barrels.
A crime of passion.

SOMERSET
Yeah, just look at all the passion on that wall.

His subsequent question about a child shows just how at odds he is with his fellow police officers. He sees things that they don’t because he goes looking for them. No one else cares. He’s world weary and his response is to save what’s left of his life and get out of the damn city. The most interesting character in a parallel universe in a similar position is meanwhile setting up a custom search-light and handing the job over to a troubled man who dresses as a rodent. I’d rather stick with Somerset. We also see the detective for the first time in his hat. Vital, as Morgan Freeman explains:

“Primarily it’s just a rain hat, but it’s one of those things that I find always informs me. Very often if a character can wear a hat a hat will identify him, will give you the last little… well, tie the knot in the thread. This is one of those situations where the hat sort of [CLICK] there it is. That’s him. Put the hat on and you look and you see the character. And you know who he is.”

Its in this scene that (the hatless) Detective David Mills arrives. And cut.

Scene Three

We’re outside. It’s raining. It always rains here. If you haven’t already then go take a look at a book by Warren Ellis called FELL. Imagine a map of places that you never want to find yourself then trace your finger over an invisible line between Somerset’s city and Richard Fell’s Snowtown. Feral cities, twinned. Now go and wash your hand.

We begin to understand Mills as in one moment he takes in a passing woman under her umbrella and in the next pauses to angrily watch the retreating form of a man that has roughly pushed past him. In another excised sequence we would have seen Mills get into some shit with two thugs the night before* and seen the rashness in him there. Here instead, and in a fraction of the time, we see him let his anger go. You’ve seen the end of the movie, right? This is important.

Fincher makes a decision to abandon coverage and allow the two actors to walk and talk, ‘go toe to toe‘. Apparently it took something like 27 takes. It’s perhaps the most vital part of SE7EN for me and represents the last opportunity for hope in the movie. From the question that forms the title of this blog entry we’re less than two minutes from the opening credits yet by the time we first hear Nine Inch Nails the path of the movie is irrevocably set.

SOMERSET
Look, Mills? I thought we might find a bar someplace,
you know and sit and talk…

MILLS
Well I’d like to get to the precinct if it’s all the same. You
know, not much time for this transition thing.

SOMERSET
I meant to ask you something. When we spoke on the
phone before.

MILLS
Yeah?

SOMERSET
Why here?

MILLS
I don’t follow.

SOMERSET
Well, all this effort to get transferred. It’s the first question
that popped into my head.

MILLS
I guess the same reasons as you. The same reasons you had
before you decided to quit. Yeah?

SOMERSET
You’ve just met me.

MILLS
Maybe I’m not understanding the question.

SOMERSET
It’s very simple. You actually fought to get reassigned here.
I’ve just never seen it done that way before.

MILLS
I thought I could do some good. Look, it would be great for me
if we didn’t start out kicking each other in the balls. But you’re
calling the shots, lieutenant.

SOMERSET
Yes. I want you to look and I want you to listen. Okay?

MILLS
Now I wasn’t standing around guarding the Taco Bell, I’ve
worked Homicide five years.

SOMERSET
Not here.

MILLS
I understand that.

SOMERSET
Well over the next seven days, detective, you’ll do me the favour
of remembering that.

So much information thrown at the audience here. Mills is new to the city while Somerset is about to start his final week. Seven days. That’s the time frame that destroys them. By the time Somerset not only remembers his partner’s name and actually calls him David it’s far too late. LETHAL WEAPON this is not (or perhaps it is but only if you ever wanted to take Gibson’s suicidal cop with a murdered wife to a more logical conclusion than a martial arts bout in the rain).

The city is a place you get out of or die in. Somerset lives alone with a fucking chess set. He’s not married and has no family here. Mills has brought his with him. One of many mistakes that Mills makes is not understanding what Somerset means when he says, ‘Not here‘. He’s not implying that police work here is different. He’s stating that the city itself is different. Unlike anything Mills has ever experienced. But this conversation wasn’t supposed to take place here. Somerset wanted to take his partner to a bar. Talk. Mills, not a great listener, shoves the idea aside.

And that’s him turning his back on hope.

Maybe if he’d dropped a gear and spent a day drinking and chatting with his new partner things would have unfolded differently. We’re not in the film yet. Monday only flashes up after the credits. They don’t have a case yet. They don’t have the case yet.

There’s time here, detective. You should have taken it.

Scene Four

Don’t panic. We’re almost there.

Night. Somerset is back in his apartment, in bed and trying to read. The noise from the morning continues unabated into the night. Defeated, he places his glasses on the night stand and sets the metronome running at a calming 66 beats per minute. Freeman explains that the character here finds it difficult to shut his mind down at night, “It’s like putting a clock in bed with puppies“. I’m writing this at 5am and buying a metronome app the moment I hit PUBLISH. A battle between the continuous pulse of the city and the beat in the room begins. It’s the regular calming voice of the metronome that finally leads Somerset into sleep and the audience into the credits. Before the end of the week the metronome will be shattered across the floor.

The city always wins in the end.

Four minutes.

All that and I didn’t mention John Doe once.

*This excised scene is eventually realised to comedic effect in HOT FUZZ, much more of a sibling to SE7EN than any of the SAW movies or the torture-porn bollocks that followed**

**Sorry for the foot notes