Sunday, 14 December 2008

Crikey! Is it really mid-December?

Apparently so...

Hello, again. Remember me? I'm almost not sure I do, but then again I have been out of my mind with raging flu for the better part of a fortnight...

My greatest of apologies for the break in service. It certainly wasn't planned, and I'm hard pressed to believe that my last blog entry was in October. But I guess that the date stamps don't lie. Flu aside, I'm afraid that work commitments have made the last month a real hell-for-leather, nose-to-the-grindstone, affair. You see there's this thing coming up shortly ('Christmas' or something...)and as many of you may already be aware I work for a UK Videogames Publisher. And as this time of year arrives there's a high demand for Videogames, as gifts or as some6thing to do over the holidays (For those of us not old enough to do the Drink part of 'Eat, Drink and be Merry'.

We make games. (Hoorah!) But in order to get those games out of the machines in our offices and onto the shelves of your local Videogame store a lot of things have to be done. Mostly making sure that they work as designed, don't randomly stop working mid-game, and that the nice people at Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are happy that they comply with all their own guidelines.

And that's actually a very time consuming process.

As a result the end of October through to start of December I pretty much worked myself into the ground with extra hours and weekend shifts, all for the greater good. And simply because of that this Blog had to go onto the back burner for a while. I've started a number of articles to post up, but haven't had the time to complete them. Hopefully, over the coming weeks I'll get all of that up on site. I've certainly got a fair few morsels prepped for the run up to Christmas, as well as something a bit special lined up for New Year. So watch this space...

So, I've been ill. If you live in the UK the chances are you have been too, as the annual December Flu Bug spreads itself out through the workforces of every company in Great Britain. I actually started this blog post two weeks ago, after my return from a few days in London seeing Coheed & Cambria (second night cancellation... Power cut... mumble) but staring at the screen was just a bit too taxing in my zombified state last week. So I sketched down the things I actually wanted to mention and decided to leave it until now.

Whilst down in London, in an unexpected turn of events, I bumped into Paul Cornell (Very nearly literally) in the Forbidden Planet Megastore, on Shaftesbury Avenue. I was buying myself a copy of Bryan Talbot's The Adventures of Luther Arkwright (Which along with Warren Ellis and D'Israeli's Lazarus Churchyard became my with-flu reading material) and he was just back from the States. Paul has been a very busy man recently (Convention appearances, writing, meetings) but he was very happy to admit that it was the 'Good kind of busy'. And he's even managed to get on top of things enough to deliver his annual 12 Blogs of Christmas. Go and take a look:

On the subjects of Paul Cornell and Forbidden Planet, the man himself will also be signing copies of the British (Panini) trade paperback of the first four issues of Captain Britain & MI13, in the London Megastore (That's 179 Shaftesbury Avenue) on Thursday January 15th, between 6 and 7 pm. So any British readers who have been trade waiting? This is your chance. And if you're stateside, you can pre-order through Amazon and other sellers (Pre-order at Amazon).

Now's a good time to try and get into the book. #8 came out on Wednesday (Thursday in the UK) and was a particularly tight issue. The team are currently battling a self-proclaimed Prince of Hell who is slowly taking over Britain, from a Tower Block in Birmingham - gaining followers by offering them their 'Heart's Desire'. And sure MI13 may be the good guys, but even Superheroes are only human deep down. Even they have weak-spots. There's some preview art to sway you, over at Captain Britain & MI13 #8

Both Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk have been doing a splendid job on this series. It just has such a great mix of characters, interacting so well together, and even if I didn't need to read it for a Blog like this I'd STILL recommend it.

In other news, you may remember a little while ago I mentioned that former Marvel UK artist (And Death's Head II co-creator) Liam Sharp had signed an Exclusive Contract with DC Comics. Well, Liam's first project for them has been their Gears of War series, for DC's Wildstorm Imprint. And it's performing particularly well. It sold out twice in the UK.

Obviously from being inside the Videogames industry I already have a certain amount of interest in Gears, but this series (Written by Joshua Ortega) is actually a very enjoyable read. It fits in perfectly well within Gears' continuity, and Liam's art (He both pencils and inks this one) look really great. I'm sure you'll agree.

More examples can be found at Liam Sharp's DeviantART page:

Stray thought back to my last Blog (The one about Death's Head connections in Nova #17) and I'm still thinking I'm on the right track. Like I said there had to be some way of Dr Evelyn Necker getting hold of the raw information on all of the Galaxy's greatest warriors and most important scientists through history. Since #17 we've found that she's not just had the opportunity for a short time in contact with the Nova Corps' 'Worldmind' - it's decided to make her offices and labs its new home!

Who knows, we might get Death's Head II turning up any year now. Never say never.

And finally, a bit of not so great (And apologetically belated) news.

The 3 & 4th of October this year was Mid-Ohio-Con, in Columbus, Ohio. A big deal for all Excalibur fans this year, as the Con re-united the respected Grandfather of all things Marvel UK, Chris Claremont, and long time collaborator Alan Davis. At Mid-Ohio Davis announced that The ClanDestine would be appearing as supporting characters in three annuals he would be doing for 2009 - One Fantastic Four, one Daredevil and one Wolverine annual. He also added that the Thor: Truth of History One Shot (Which came out at the end of October, but which I have not yet acquired) would "sort of leak" into those other stories.

More ClanDestine - Always good.

However, I discovered t the start of November that part of the reason for this appears to be, in Alan's own words (from a post he made to his own forum):

"The series didn’t sell well enough to justify a regular, or semi-regular, ClanDestine title. However, I’m currently working on three annuals for next year, FF, DD and Wolverine-- and though I can’t go into detail-- ClanDestine fans will not be disappointed (I hope)."

That is an incredible shame, and I for one am gutted that the book didn't pick up the numbers I would have expected it to.

Why that was the case is questionable, but I think part of the problem was that (in some ways) the series itself pretty much picked up directly from where Davis left off, in the 90s. You can quite easily join his final issue with the original series to the first issue of the limited - which creates a great story for those reading it as a whole (Especially those who picked up the hardcover released earlier in the year) but for those who'd never read the characters before I could see how they may have felt like they were missing something.

Davis did assure people at Mid-Ohio that:

"All of the ClanDestine stuff I've ever done has been to the same plan. All of the appearances go to that same long story".

Which is something which Davis has always maintained. Granted, it is a great shame that the story itself is now unlikely to be told in their own book, but as long as Alan gets the opportunity TO tell it I will most definitely be along for the ride.

I shall be trying to acquire me a copy of Thor One-Shot off eBay, and will report what I find when i do. In the meantime I'll be keeping an eye out for those Annuals as 2009 runs on. You can be sure that I'll post information up when the time comes.

Well, that's about it for now. It's late, I'm tired and a little post-viral blue. Hope you are all well. There will be another update by the middle of the week.

Oh, and if any of you are on Twitter I finally got around to signing up for that. You can bother me at:

Bye for now!

Mark (Sword)

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