All 5D Blog articles from June 2017 onwards can be located on the 5D Website at www.5d-blog.com No more post will appear on blogger from this point.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A new comic from Planet Jimbot: App-1


Well, well, well. Another week and another bold proclamation made in the general direction of 5D Headquarters. The boast came from non-other than comic book writer, Jim Alexander, who told me that; "Planet Jimbot has a new book out; a super-hero comic with a difference. I know you've probably heard this a thousand times before, but ..." Hmmmmmm, well as you know I can never ignore such brave (some would say foolish) claims without regarding them as something of a personal challenge. After all, In my never ending refusal ever to 'grow up' (whatever the hell that actually means) I have read during my life (and will continue to do so) my fare share of comics. As an obvious consequence, I have encountered more superheroes than I could shake a piece of Kryptonite at. 

Jim is indeed correct, In that I have heard the claim a thousand times before and occasionally, just occasionally, the claim can turn out to have some merit. So bearing this in mind I decided to do a little more research and find out for myself. I say 'find out for myself' because the vast complex of 5D headquarters is a little empty at the moment due to my loss of another cheap lacky assistant after her shoddy and unrealistic claims of overwork, no pay and few breaks (she had 15 mins a day for crying out loud). I cannot comment, for legal reasons, on her final reason for leaving being due to my request that she perform her research activities in a specially bought Princess Leia outfit. My legal team is currently working on a response to that totally unfounded claim, just as soon as they finish dealing with the other restraining orders.

Anyhoo, back to this 'super-hero comic with a difference'. Jim A was kind enough to send me an electronic copy of the first edition of App-1. Here's a brief synopsis of the story.....

"In a world overrun by terror,  despair and monsters, three kids cling on to the belief that there once existed a champion of good, a super-hero now gone and all but forgotten. Despite the dangers and sheer hopelessness of the situation, they decide to go in search of the super-hero once known as App-1."

When reading App-1 #1 one can immediately see why this comic is indeed a little different to many others. The book is written by Jim Alexander (Samurai Jack, Penguins of Madagascar) with stunning art by Eva Holder (Bad Tooth), Conor Boyle (Dead Roots) & iella (The Ugly Duckling). Perhaps the most noticeable element of this is the way that the reader is transported along three distinctly different time periods through the course of the first edition; the Present, the Recent and the Past. As one works ones way through the comic the reader begins to discover how all three stories are connected as we ask the question, how can a world protected by a super-hero at the height of his powers end up being taken over by monsters known as Bogeys?!

The present takes place in the first story, Tongue Lasher, which is written by Jim Alexander and contains artwork by Eva Holder. 

The Present is a time when the world has been overrun by monstrous Bogeys, one of whom we are introduced to immediately, the aforementioned 'Tongue Lasher' who is about dish out some of his/her/it's own brand of 'Bogey justice' to one of the poor locals. 

Meanwhile, best pals Erin, Briony and Jonathan risk staying out after curfew and facing the ire of the Bogeys. However Erin in particular dreams of another who could possibly help them in their time of need, but where is he?.......

I have to say that this is a lovely innocent, almost whimsical opening section in which the artwork and dialogue perfectly captures the bleakness and hopelessness of the situation that the world depicted finds itself in. However at the same time there is something of a quaint and traditional feel to it all which perfectly encapsulates the 'Doctor Who' sensibilities that Jim Alexander told me that he was attempting to convey in the story. He does this very well.


The Past comes next (of course it does) in the issue with the story, ‘Above Us Only Sky’ which is written by Jim Alexander, with the artwork this time by Conor Boyle.

In the past we see a glimpse of the hero in action together with an interview with App-1 from back in the olden days when he was at the height of his super powers. There is no hint here of the tortured soul we encounter later in the time line, here we are introduced to a supremely confident and charismatic superhero who is reminiscent of every clean-cut comic book champion of the young and innocent.

Sandwiched between the two parts of the episode from the past is a magazine interview with the celebrity that App-1 has now become, which is a very nice touch in which we learn a little more about the personal ethos of the superhero - in between him trying to plug his latest book, that is. 

In fact we see that while he may well be a well-meaning protector of the world, he is in fact, well very nice, but ever so slightly dim with his touchingly insipid celebrity-speak remarks. I love the part when he attempts to describe the ethos of his book; "It’s my personal vision of how I see the world and all her peoples growing and coming together. 'People synergy’ is what it is."

The artwork for the past by Conor Boyle is vibrant and rich, perfectly mirroring society's optimism and self-confidence in this time period.

The final segment in issue #1 is The Recent past, which is again written by Jim Alexander and with the artwork on this occasion coming from iella.

This Monsters origin story in dealing with how the Bogeys come to be is perhaps my favourite of the three time line sections. We see now how the once mighty hero has by now encountered some hidden inner torment. He is not only questioning the level of goodness within him, but also is terrified by the darkness that seems to be slowly engulfing his soul. Enter a Einstein/Freud scientific figure intent on helping the not-so-now-super hero.

As the section progresses it cleverly reveals the shocking truth as to how the Bogeys came to prominence. I know everybody always says this, but I certainly didn't see the fabulous twist coming at the very end - brilliant!

To put it in straightforward terms, this is a sensational first issue! Apart from the sparkling dialogue from Alexander and the quite beautiful pictorial work by the various artists, the strength of this story is the clever use of the separate time lines. In using this method of the different time periods it means that the reader is neatly steered away from the normal linear method of story telling and so results in a decidedly different kind of satisfying experience.

The use of a different artist for each section is another clever touch which serves to give each time period a distinctive character and feel of its own; the past, in which App-1 is at the height of his powers, is appropriately richly coloured and textured to heighten the optimistic feel of the time line. In contrast, the present takes on an entirely different look in which the look, whilst still vibrant, nicely captures the loss of the hope that once abounded.

I believe I'm correct in saying that App-1 is a three-issue series that takes us through this tri-time sequence in which we will eventually discover how all three stories are connected as we ultimately find answers as to how a world protected by a super-hero at the height of his powers end up being taken over by monsters. I for one cannot wait for Issue 2.......'cough'.........signed copy please, Jim......'cough'.......

Yes, yes, Yes. I admit it. Jim Alexander was indeed spot on with his boast that App-1 is a comic book with a difference.






App-1 is available to buy at the Planet Jimbot shop: 
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/241056959/app-11

Planet Jimbot can be contacted on planetjimbot@gmail.com


You can follow Planet Jimbot on Twitter @Planetjimbot








Wednesday, 15 July 2015

King Falls AM - Episode 6: King of King Falls.

I'm very pleased to be able to bring you the latest excellent instalment of the very funny, and exceedingly paranormal radio show from my friends in the States, King Falls AM.

You may remember from previous 5D blog articles, such as the one RIGHT HERE where I was lucky enough to chat with the show's presenters, that King Falls AM's late-night AM talk-radio show produces a Podcast twice a month featuring it’s paranormal, peculiar and weird happenings ..... Not to mention some equally weird inhabitants that seem to inhabit the town - sorry, no offence intended there folks!

The station had something of revamp not so long ago in terms of its late-night talk show in the form of new presenter, Sammy Stevens, who took over the 2 a.m time-slot from the local institution that was Diamond Dave Alvarez who had recently retired after his 18 year long stint in the shows hot seat. The first five shows have introduced us not only to ex-big city boy Sammy, his erstwhile local boy producer, Ben Arnold, but also to the little known reputation that the King Falls area has had in regard to paranormal activity

The latest episode is another excellent piece of late-night talk radio where, In an effort to learn more about his new hometown, Sammy books an interview with author and King Falls historian, Howard Ford Beauregard III. However Ben questions Sammy's intentions as well as Beauregard's facts. 

As I've mentioned before, I always aim to remain as spoiler free as possible, all I will say for now is that the exchanges between a clearly cynical Ben Arnold and the 'nocturnal loving' Beauregard are once again gold dust.


Here is the link for the show:




_______________________________________________________________________________________



iTunes:

I would like to remind you wonderful people reading this - firstly to take your medication, the ward nurse will be around shortly to make sure that your straight-jacket is securely fastened. I would also like to remind you that the shows can now also be accessed via iTunes. 

The King Falls AM team are continuing to push for reviews, ratings & subscriptions. It'd mean a lot if any one of you who've listened to the show take a few minutes to send in a review and help them in our climb towards iTunes "New & Noteworthy" charts. 

You can find them at the following link;

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A love letter to The Wrath Of Khan

Some years ago I had a conversation with a then work colleague who I rather fancied getting to 'know much better’. The talk was about our mutual love of sci-fi, and even though I knew she was far more of a full-on aficionado than I was at that point, I thought I was nevertheless on pretty safe ground. The chat was going very nicely for a while until she asked THAT question. It’s quite possibly the one question that in my experience seems to obsess many within and outside the sci-fi nerdy community as being important - and so happens to be the one question that probably annoys me more than most. “So"………she asked, in an ultra-serious tone that intimated that she would be rather annoyed if my answer was the ‘wrong one’…… "Star Trek or Star Wars?”

When I answered that I really didn’t think along those lines she was visibly flabbergasted. “You have to be one or the other, you can’t be both!” When I asked why, she paused, it was as if she had been provided with a conundrum that only Solomon had previously encountered in his biblical trials. I wondered for a moment if she was attempting some form of humour, but no, she was being completely serious – and just as insistent for my answer. Becoming very quickly bored with the conversation (and forgetting that I had other hopes for our 'working relationship'), I thought for a moment. “Well, if I had a gun placed to my head and I had to answer that question with a definitive answer, I suppose that I would have to say that on my personal sci-fi love scale (which sounds a lot more interesting and dirtier than it actually is), Star Wars would be a 9.95 out of 10 whilst Star Trek would probably be a 9.99 out of 10"....... She looked horrified, then immediately stood up and departed the room leaving me sitting there alone. She never spoke to me again except in a work capacity. It goes without saying that I never got to know her ‘much better’.

So let me put the record straight right now. The only reason why Star Trek may get a .04 more than that Galaxy far, far away is quite simple. The Trek universe has always been there in some part of my personal universe. It was already there in its original series form when I was a mere baby, it was there as it began its inexorable feature length movie series when I was entering my teens and it was there as it began to morph into its numerous TV spin-off imaginings. It is still here now. There is probably far too much for me to come remotely close to doing it all justice – so I won’t even try.  In fact I’m going to narrow down my love of the Star Trek universe to one single thing – a truly wonderful piece of work, the masterpiece that is The Wrath of Khan.

When Star Wars came a lumbering and thundering into the public consciousness in 1977 one of the side-effects of the worldwide Tsunami that it created was to inspire an invigoration of popular science fiction, both on TV as well as the big screen. Ever since it's demise due to poor ratings in 1969 Star Trek had been the subject, thanks to the world-wide syndication of its three seasons, of much clamouring to revive what by the late 1970's had become part of the public consciousness in its own right. Those of us who had been clamouring for its revival thought that our prayers and please had finally been answered when in 1979, keen to ride the Star Wars Tsunami wave, it was announced that there would be in fact a full length movie version of Trek. 

Hurrah and hip, hip hooray!!??? - well no, not quite. The problem was the the film was a bit of a bore. I can distinctly remember going to see it on it's first week of release, entering the cinema with barely controllable hysteria only to leave the building after it's painful 127 hour running time feeling, well, bored silly. The years of waiting for Star Trek to be finally revived had resulted in an overblown snooze of a movie which lacked the style, humour or excitement of the television series. If memory serves me correctly, it still became something of a box-office hit around the world as the need to experience the return of Kirk et al was irresistible to everyone. It was just a bit rubbish. If there was going to be a follow up then it was going to have to be a whole heap better than the first cinematic attempt if the Trek Universe was going to flourish once again. As it transpired, the 2nd in the series wasn't just better, it was genius.

In the days before the advent of the love of my life (the Internet), we had far less to go on in terms of movie details and spoilers, it was hell I tell you, hell. What I do remember though the distinct whispers of excitement that were permeating from across the pond in mid 1982 was that Trek had re-found it's mojo.....and big time. 

The genius that underpinned Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was initially two-fold. Firstly it immediately tapped into the nostalgic obsession of the TV series by using the inspiration of the story from a 1967 episode, 'Space Seed' in which Kirk and the Enterprise crew had battled with the genetically modified group of humans and their charismatic leader, Khan. The film sees the fight re-engaged when Khan and his group escape from their 15 year banishment to what had become an inhospitable planet. At the start of proceedings we encounter a recently promoted Admiral Kirk who rather than boldly going etc etc is more concerned with his ever-growing age, failing eyesight and boredom. Kirk's fate however is soon intertwined with Khan, obsessed with taking his revenge together with control of the Genesis device, a secret Starfleet technology than can render life from lifeless planets. The second stroke of genius was the inclusion of the death towards the end of the film of perhaps Star Treks most iconic character....but more of that in a moment.

In its infinite wisdom, my local cinema decided to show the newly released Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as part of a double bill with the 326 hour long first movie preceding it. We were going to need a lot of popcorn. At the time I can remember being aware of the feelings of restlessness throughout the packed auditorium as the Star Trek: The relentlessly long Motion Picture took to wind along its inexorable way. In fact I can remember a number of conversations in the audience erupting almost simultaneously during one of the numerous extended camera shots majestically floating around every single centimetre of the Enterprise's exterior.....again. However looking back, this may well have been a stroke of unintended genius on the cinema's part, because what it did was to make the anticipation of the next film almost unbearable. The result was like every Christmas morning rolled into one by the time the credits rolled for 'Khan'.

Oh my god, I can remember that feeling as if it was yesterday. It was immediately apparent from the moment that the stunning soundtrack began that this was the film we Trekkers/Trekkies/whatever had been waiting for. 'Khan' quite simply had everything: strong characterisation, fine special effects, great uniforms, pure excitement, humour, sadness and perhaps the finest bad-guy in all of Trek history. It was visually dazzling, imaginative and emotionally fulfilling on almost every level. It became very quickly the Trek film that, even to this day, every other film in the franchise is measured against. I was mesmerised at that very first showing. I loved the navel-esque red uniforms and immediately wanted one of my very own. The look of the crew and the Enterprise was a million miles away from the insipid quality of the first movie. The sparkling dialogue and chemistry between the crew was back, regardless that some of the cast couldn't stand to be in the same room as each other, it didn't matter.

On a personal level, two things stand our from a whole plethora of stand out elements. The villain of the piece, masterfully and energetically played by the redoubtable Ricardo Montalban, was a textbook case of how to produce a richly layered bad guy complete with numerous textures of vulnerability, pain, hatred, loyalty, love and of course, revenge - all in equal abundance. I can also remember thinking at the time that if I lived to look as physically fit as Montalban did as his age (who was in his 60's at the time of filming) I would be happy. For many years the myth endured that the actor wore a 'fake' muscular chest - nope, it was all him. He himself regarded the time as one of his happiest filming experiences in his long, illustrious career - and it certainly shows. Besides which, if nothing else it gave us this.......(and before any Trekkers/Trekkies/whatever point out that the picture doesn't tie in with the dialogue scene.....I know)

"S02-khan and joachim (battle stations)" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:S02-khan_and_joachim_(battle_stations).png#/media/File:S02-khan_and_joachim_(battle_stations).png
"He tasks me. He TASKS me; and I shall have him.

I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares maelstrom and 'round Perditions flames before I give him up"


........I rest my case.

Of course, as I mentioned before, the real emotional punch came towards the end of the film when a certain Vulcan was killed-off. If you weren't around at the time you will have to imagine just how big a deal it was when word did began to slip out during production of his death. Letters from outraged Trekkers/Trekkies/whatever overflowed on the desks of the Paramount offices in protest and even Nimoy himself didn't escape some of their wrath (sorry) after receiving a number of death threats. I don't suppose those fools were aware of the irony of issuing a death threat to an actor because they were angry about him 'killing' off a character.

I think I'm correct in saying that this was the period in Leonard Nimoy's life when he wasn't particularly comfortable with the level off association his career had with the character of Spock. In fact the only only reason he agreed to play him in 'Khan' was with the proviso that ol' pointy ears was killed off once and for all. And so he was.......well, kind of.......at least until Star Trek III. The problem was that by all accounts Nimoy had such a positive experience during the filming of 'Khan' that someway through he had a change of mind and suggested to the writers that they may want to think of a way that a potential 'resurrection' might be possible in the next film. They must have been pulling their hair out. 
"S02-spock's funeral" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:S02-spock%27s_funeral.png#/media/File:S02-spock%27s_funeral.png
However, at the time we were young and naive (I still have one of those qualities) and so the emotional kick in the stomach that the incredibly well-acted death scene delivered was powerful without ever falling into cheesiness. Indeed, the point where an almost dead Spock stands, but still pauses to straighten his tunic was improvised actually by Nimoy at that moment, adds a genuinely poignant extra.

As I mentioned earlier, I was expecting his death after being forwarned, however I will readily admit to crying my eyes out in the cinema that day. In fact I wasn't alone, most of the men in the audience suddenly developed an annoying little cough at that point. I can still hear the woman behind me trying to console her partner who was barely inconsolable, with the words "It's ok love, It's ok. I'm sure they'll find a way to bring him back". How right she was.























Sunday, 12 July 2015

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - now available on DVD/BluRay from RLJ Entertainment

When you consider that for many people this series was a hugely anticipated adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s acclaimed novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, it may sound strange (see what I did there?....sorry, I'll get my coat) to say that I almost gave it a miss. In fact I didn't watch the first two episodes when it began on the BBC a couple of months ago.

You may be wondering (or then again, you may not care less) for the reason behind my reticence to watch the series. In all honesty I hadn't read Susanna Clarke's 2004 debut novel featuring a fantastical alternative version of England during the early 1800's. It wasn't a conscious decision not to read it either. I had heard mutterings at the time concerning some of the interest that surrounded it after its initial release, but I simply never got round to reading the book and so it remained on my 'to do' list indefinitely. As a result I wasn't part of the ever increasing band of followers that the story had gathered over the years. There was though one other possible factor in why I didn't begin watching the series when it first started. The problem for me is the concept of the period drama. Actually, let me rephrase that - I don't have a problem with the period drama as a thing in itself, but sometimes I just get the feeling that we know that we Brits do them well, so the result is that we do them .......and do them.......and once we've done them, we do some more.

Don't get me wrong, I can enjoy a deeply Gothic piece of TV or cinema with the best of them, in fact some of my all time films virtually drip with atmospheric Gothic splendour. My issue is that wherever you look here in the UK we seem to be perpetually drenched in period drama overload........and don't even get me started on Downton Bloody Abbey. You'd think (as many seem to be of the opinion across the pond) that is the only worthwhile thing we Brits are capable of producing.

Two things happened almost simultaneously to change my mind about watching the series. Firstly a friend of mine began to tell me just how much she loved this "fabulous new Gothic drama about magic m'lovely, you simply MUST watch it!" - yes, she really does talk like that. In fact it soon became evident that each time we talked this chap called Jonathan Strange found his way into our conversation, she was insistent to say the least. The problem was that I had by this point missed the first two episodes and so in my tried and tested fashion, I was already lagging behind the public consciousness. Now I know what you're thinking, I could have easily have caught up by using that there fangled Iplayer malarkey. However I thought I would simply wait until the series came out on DVD because there was no rush after all, was there?

Well as coincidence would have it the very day I had had that particular conversation with my friend I also received an email from Aim Publicity advising me of the following: "One of the BBC’s most ambitious and bold productions to date, a major new adaptation of, and following its hugely anticipated, seven week run on BBC One which began last night, it makes its DVD & Blu-ray bow on 29 June 2015 courtesy of RLJ Entertainment’s Acorn Label." They then went on to mention that review discs were available if I was interested. Well it blooming well seemed that the gods were indeed trying to get me to finally see what all the fuss was about.... Who was I to refuse?

So if like me, you were unfamiliar with the book and also missed out on the TV adaptation, let me provide you with a brief synopsis......

"The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians became the stuff of legend. 

But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr. Norrell (Marsan), whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange (Carvel). Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very antithesis of Norrell. 

So begins a dangerous battle between the two great men. Their obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts will cause greater trouble than they can ever imagine. With its brilliant drama, stunning period sets, and amazing supernatural events Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is truly magical."


I gorged myself on the seven episodes in one glorious Sunday just a few days ago - To put it simply, everything about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is an unadulterated triumph with its multi-textured narrative and characterisation. It is quite frankly exquisite on every level.

At face value, the story is about an alternative or parallel version of 19th century England infused with fantasy and magic and the impact the employment of has on the unfolding history and conflicts that embroiled Europe at that time. However, it is far more than just a story of an alternative England where magic and sorcery reign supreme. The real theme that underpins everything that takes place is the evolving and devolving relationship between in the main the two principle characters, but also the collection of individuals whose lives they intertwine and impact with. 

The standout factor here is the stunning ensemble acting performances of all the cast, there simply isn't one weak link between them. 
Indeed special mention is naturally going to go to the endearing and inspiring performances of of three main players - Both Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel are simply wonderful as the 'only two magicians in England'. Carvel is excellent as the charismatic yet insecure Jonathan Strange and perfectly captures the character's ever complex and conflicted story-arc, while Marsden captures the innately phlegmatic and fussy Norrel with equal aplomb. However, for me the standout performance is from Marc Warren as their adversary from another domain who steals every scene he appears in.....and always with a devilish twinkle in his eye.

Staggering in it's complexity and scope and yet never failing to keep the viewer enthralled and involved the story is nicely complimented by a number of ambitious set-pieces, some of which include a level of CGI excellence often missing from British TV productions. The scene in York Cathedral near the beginning of the tale when Norrell is trying to convince a sceptical magician society that he does indeed possess skills that died out centuries ago is fabulous. The 'bringing to life' of the statues within the cathedral is skilfully put together to produce some lovely moments of chills and comedy. Those whose unfortunate place is to know me and my blog quite well will be fully aware of my hatred for spoiler-ridden prose in reviews so I will refrain from discussing any other of the magical set-pieces. Suffice to say that the Napoleonic war sequences benefit hugely from some fine and exciting special effects.

Even though period type drama's may not exactly be at the top of my personal wish list, I would be foolish to deny that one thing that the BBC often gets correct is the attention to historic and social detail. Once again, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell displays an acute attention to detail throughout each and every one of the seven episodes, with each scene within being lavishly and authentically designed to the minutest element.

However, it is the friendship and rivalry between the two main characters that forms the backbone of this wonderful series. Not only is the television adaptation lovingly written but, as previously mentioned, it is the delightfully nuanced performances from Carvel and Marsen who bring the complexities of the characters and their brooding rivalry alive. The scene where Strange and Norrell first meet and in which Norrell's cynicism and dismissal of the young upstarts magical skills is quickly replaced by joyous wonder at his 'trick' with the mirror is a joy to behold. Any production like this, where the chemistry between the main players is of the utmost importance, needs its actors to convince us of the depth and complexity of their relationship. They succeed, and then some. Mention and praise should also be given to the production's other actors, John Heffernan, Alice Englert, Samuel West, Charlotte Riley and Paul Kaye, - a genuine ensemble piece.

I can't explain how surprised I was in the level of enjoyment I experienced in watching this series and so unsuprisingly cannot recommend it highly enough. If you like an authentic historical drama laced with magic, fantasy and every human range of emotion - then Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell is for you. It's now available on DVD and Blu-Ray......I assure you that you won't be disappointed.


DVD SPECIAL FEATURES:

- The Making of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (includes key cast and crew, fascinating insight from the makers and the stars – Susanna Clarke is even on set!)
- Deleted scenes
- Two Making of shorts – showing how the special effects were added
- Bloopers
- Stills Picture Gallery
- Behind the Scenes Picture Gallery
- Subtitles

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Planet Jimbot - Glasgow Forbidden Planet and Preston Comic Con signing

It was my pleasure a short time ago to pass on the news that independent Scottish publisher Planet Jimbot's 'Amongst the Stars' had made the Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance (SICBA) shortlist for Best Graphic Novel 2015. The 64-page trade is written by Jim Alexander (Metal Hurlant, Star Trek Manga) and drawn by Mike Perkins (Stephen King's The Stand, Astonishing X-Men, Deathlok). 

Alas, winning the award wasn't to be. However, instead of sulking in a corner and vowing to hold his breath until the award committee change their obviously crazy-as-a-box-of-frogs minds, Jim has asked me to pass on his thanks for the support he received. If it was me in his situation I would be seriously demanding a recount, a re-vote or at least be attempting find out the home addresses of the judges in order to send my personal selection of horse's heads to share their beds.

I know I sound as if I'm a bitter man, maybe I am. I cannot confirm the rumour that I have never really recovered from the headmaster at my primary school smirking at my idea of a reenactment of the final scene from The Wicker man (the original 1973 masterpiece, not the Nick Cage monstrosity) for that year's harvest festival school celebration. He always lacked wit, talent or imagination (the headmaster or Nick Cage, take your pick).

It seems though Jim is a better man than me as he is moves onwards and upwards as Planet Jimbot will be appearing and doing their signing thing at Forbidden Planet in Glasgow on Thurs 30th July from 6-7pm.  Writer Jim Alexander and artist Will Pickering will be in attendance. Jim has also said that they'll be only be too happy to sign anything people send their way. Now as I'm still unsure about the nature of just how the legal system may view my personal interpretation of that last sentence I think it's better that we all stay on the clean and righteous side of what may be acceptable to Jim et al in what they would be prepared to sign. After all, I know from personal and painful experience that a defence of "Well they weren't very clear, were they?" is not generally acceptable in a court of law.

The team will be signing selling examples of their fine comic wares, namely: 

Casebook#1 & #2 of award winning GoodCopBadCop (True Believers/Eagle)

* Issues #1-4 of award nominated Wolf Country (True Believers/Eagle)

* And of course, the award nominated Amongst the Stars.

It was my absolute pleasure a couple of weeks ago to work my way through the delectable  series that is Wolf country. I aim to do the series justice with a proper in-depth type attempt at a review (I will crack this review thing malarkey one day) of the series in the next few weeks. What I will say for now that the series is genuinely one of the most exciting and imaginative comics that I've read in a very long time. 

"A vampire settlement is surrounded by hostile werewolf tribes.  The settlement is there for religious reasons, following the teachings of a vampire god.  The werewolves don’t want them. They consider a vampire presence on their land to be sacrilege.  

It is a frontier of fang and claw, with death and vengeance the common currency.  In Wolf Country, you need to watch your back and keep your loved ones close, because someone – or something – is always out to get you."


Jim Alexander first described Wolf Country to me as 'vampires v werewolves in a Wild West setting - and a whole lot more'. That particular description barely scratches the surface.  Written by Jim Alexander (Metal Hurlant, GoodCopBadCop) and drawn by Will Pickering (Burke and Hare) with cover art by Luke Cooper (Hollow Girl) Wolf Country is epic both in it's scale and depiction. I'm only sad that I won't be at Forbidden Planet in Glasgow on Thurs 30th July to buy a real paper copy (the only proper thing) and get it signed by the guys themselves.


Jim will also be attending the Preston Comic Con the following Sat 1st August.  Comic guests also include Kate Brown, Andy Diggle, Dave Taylor and Antony Johnston). Once again you'll be pleased to hear that I won't be in Preston that week either......... pesky restraining orders. 

So if you want more information about the event in Preston than click on the link at http://www.prestoncomiccon.co.uk/

Just looking at some of the names appearing at the Comic Con, in addition to Jim and his comic goodies, is enough to make me utter something that I never ever thought I would ever say in a lifetime of lifetimes - get yourself to Preston!

You can find out more about Planet Jimbot and the comic talent that lies therein at the following links;

Twitter - @PlanetJimbot

Website shop - http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/planetjimbot/