Young Avengers and Dark X-Men Today

Just a quick note to say that Dark Reign: Young Avengers #3 and Dark X-Men: The Beginning #2 are both out today in the US, Thursday in the UK. I'm very proud of them. Indeed, I think Young Avengers might turn out to be my best comics work so far. And one of the other stories in Dark X-Men is written by my old mate Rob Williams, so that's pleasing.

And Leonard Kirk's blog is up and running again!

And... it continues. This from Rob Stradling.

The expression kind of suits the costume, doesn't it? Until next time, Cheerio.

Uses for a Spare Tom Baker Head... Two!

It continues.

John Sawyer suggests a Futurama scenario of putting said head in a glass case. Robert Dick has the sensible thought of chopping the head off a Time Lord figure and making a Time Lord Tom. Richard Salter went with the Zaphod option ('though for the third arm you may have to sacrifice a Colin Baker'). Daniel Blythe suggests also cutting off his arms and legs and recreating the cliffhanger to episode one of 'The Leisure Hive'. And Fran Dowd, who is frankly on something, says, and I quote, 'float it on top of a bowl of custard in the fridge, surrounded by maraschino cherries, and wait for the elephants'.

And there are more of photos, of which I think the second is especially chilling. This from Peacock Pete: ground control to Cyber Tom...

And this small work of genius from NicPiper...

More are always welcome, of course. Cheerio!

Uses for a Spare Tom Baker Head

So I have, in a line on my bookcase, three of Character Options' gorgeous classic Doctor Who action figures: Tom Baker; Peter Davison (now with replacement sonic screwdriver superglued in place) and Colin Baker, with a Christopher Eccleston (in 'Father's Day' green shirt variant) beside them. I'll be getting a David Tennant when I work out which one of the many versions is closest to what he wore in 'Human Nature'. The Tom figure, rather wonderfully, comes with an extra head, so you can represent either dark and brooding Hinchcliffe era Tom or giddy Williams era Tom (although the angle of the hat makes him look rather more like original Tom from 'Robot', but anyway...) However, in this case, two heads are not neccessarily better than one, because, and I'm sure this is a problem shared by many in our community, but not until now spoken of very much... I don't know what to do with the extra head. It's been sitting there on the shelf beside him, alongside all the bits of Giant Robot included as 'get all the figures and you can have a Giant Robot too' extras with the Doctors, like the four Doctors are looking on at some terrifying Tom Baker/Robot accident.

'How's your head?' asked Kate at the signing yesterday, knowing of my predicament.

'I've never had any complaints,' I replied. Quick as a flash. That was actually the high point for my ego that day. I was pleased to see a beautiful young lady enter the shop clutching what I thought was her copy of Captain Britain. Reaching out to a female audience, I thought, a young audience too, that's a good sign, that's what I'm aiming for. 'Could you sign this, please?' she said. 'It's for my father.'

So, about Tom's extra head, I did what people do now. I asked the internet. And here are the replies I got via Twitter. And some photos...

Tom Daylight, Shedside, Andy Boyd and Alex Rohan all suggested I make a Zaphod Beeblebrox figure. Jim Smith and Ian Cottrell suggested I use bits of cactus to make a Meglos figure. The Tin Dog Podcast considered a key ring or a Christmas tree bauble, which I think would be rather groovy. RetroCristal, it seems, put hers on top of Davros' wheelchair, and AudryT tried what I initially actually did, sticking it under the complete Tom's arm. But I'm afraid it won't stay there, Audry, even with the superglue. Wimble suggested I build my own Morbius figure and Jon Deeming suggested donating it to science. I'm not sure science would appreciate it. LeighWoosey thought that it might look good cheekily poking out of the Tardis doorway, but that kind of conjures up a rather terrifying image. 'Hullo! I'm the Doctor! No, really, I'm not just a head on a stick!' The 2Sixteen was rather practical and suggested adding it on top of a Jon Pertwee body to make a post-regeneration variant. Similarly, Prof Yard suggested I wait for the release of a Rev. Wainwright figure, chop off its head, replace it with Tom's, and have my own The Life and Loves of a She Devil action figure.

Peter Anghelides suggested attaching it to a Worzel Gummidge figure: 'It's me future 'ead, Aunt Sally!' Canadian Content would have me 'put it on top of a pencil, carry it around and have it narrate your life'. Kasterborousdw asked me to consider mounting it on an upturned empty butter carton to create a 'Face of Evil' play set.

But I'll save my favourite suggestion until after... the photos.

That's Tom as Dr. Constantine, courtesy of WilkinsJohns. And here's something rather disturbing from Simon Watkins...

And this scary vision is from Alun Vega...

My favorite suggestion as to what to do with the spare Tom Baker head, is, mind you, from Bill in Black: 'lie it on the pillow of a sleeping My Little Pony'.

If anyone wants to send me a photo of that, or of anything else you've done with your spare Tom Baker head, please feel free. Within reason. And I'll see you next time. Cheerio!

Final Cap Day and Worldcon News

What do you think of the new look? It's designed by Tara O'Shea, and I love it.

Today (or Thursday in the UK), Captain Britain and MI-13 #15 arrives in your local comic shop. As I'm sure you all know, it's the final issue. I'm very proud of how we wrapped it all up, and I hope you'll enjoy it. This blog will, as always, serve as letters page. I hear that Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1 has sold out and has gone to a second printing, so getting your hands on the first edition of that, if you can find one, might be an idea.

I now have an extra panel at Anticipation in Montreal. It's about the sexuality of the Doctor, and how the portayal of that's changed. Again, an excellent idea for a panel, and a Doctor Who one that I can usefully be on without being asked to offer critique of my colleagues. I'm really looking forward to all these panels now.

And Cheryl Morgan kindly asked me to be a part of a mashup she's organising for Montreal, which will then go on to cover other conventions. Basically, this one site will put together loads of volunteer bloggers, tweeters, audiobooers and flickrers, so you get vast coverage of the event from loads of points of view. Check it out:

I hope to see some of you in Dublin on Saturday. Until then, Cheerio.

Dublin Signing, Black Widow, and Oops, My Wife Will Be A Vicar

I finally get a chance this week to collapse in front of the computer and talk to you lot. First up, and most importantly (and thanks everyone for their congratulations), my wife Caroline's been told that she passed her Selection Conference (a three day marathon of presentations and tests which thankfully didn't include anything about listing the Ten Commandments in order, which she can never do in pub quizzes) and will be training, from this autumn, to become a priest in the Church of England. This means huge changes to our lives in the next few months, but it also means we can have a proper holiday this summer before it all starts. It's been Caroline's ambition since she was fourteen. I hope being cloistered in academia will do good things for my writing life, and that it won't be like, you know, me as the lead in The Prisoner. I'm also aware that having someone in a dog collar at my side will make a difference in the various fandoms in which I move, with reactions ranging from happy curiousity and questions (always welcome) through the tiny added burden suffered in silence by the many kindly atheists we know (and I'm sure it does hurt a bit, and, you know, sorry!), all the way to complete bigotry. People tend not to say anything to Caroline's face, but, you know, the internet. I sometimes worry that all my work will start being examined by the more extreme sorts of fandom for signs that it's not ideologically pure, and that my rather confrontational way of coming at issues in fandom will also be read as ideological. When actually, I think Tolkien and Rowling got it right: representing your ideology directly in a text, rather than working it over and challenging it, just makes for bad books. But this is all mere paranoia on my part. By and large, people have been lovely, and in some cases have amazed me with their kindness for people who don't believe the same things they do. That, dears, is what the world is after.

Also, this week, I wrote 'The End' at the end of the novel manuscript (122,000 words, which is a reasonably slim volume). I still have to go back over it and smooth a few things out (I may have mentioned this a couple of blogs ago: I'm really scared of finishing and then having to, you know, show it to anyone). But I'm confident that I'll deliver it to my Agent for his notes at the end of the month. And then I look forward to getting into a whole new draft of editing.

I had a wonderful time hosting the Faringdon Arts Festival last weekend. Thanks to the prop makers (you know who you are) who turned up and entertained the audience so much, and to Phil Ford and Simon Guerrier, who became the latest authors to address the assembled masses. The bands were, as always, terrific, and the crowd held out even amid the rain on the Saturday night. Here, filmed by Sheila Donovan, is one example from the weekend, the terrific Emma Kennedy:

And yesterday, I was honoured to be a guest at the wedding of stand up comedian and actor Toby Hadoke, who decided to sort out tables at the reception by means of badges with different Doctor Who actors on them. 'Troughtons, any Troughtons out here?' called the ushers moving the audience towards the buffet. The speeches were, as you might imagine, quite something. I'm sure Toby and the lovely Katherine will have a wonderful life together.

So, right, stuff! Next Saturday, the 25th, I'm doing a signing at the Sub City comics shop, at Unit 5, West Essex St, off Dame Street in Dublin, from 2pm to 5pm. If you're going to be in the area, it'd be a delight to meet you.

Secondly, and very importantly, amongst all the other great stuff this week, it was announced that artist Tom Raney and I will be collaborating on a Black Widow miniseries to tie in with the Iron Man 2 movie. There are interviews about it here:

And here:

Which I think cover what I want to say. I'm hugely excited to do this, because I love the character, and it means I get to write a spy thriller again. To cover a couple of points raised: it'll be a techno thriller set right now, with flashbacks to various aspect of Natalia's past. Everything established will be included, nothing will be retconned. I've heard a couple of commentators say the plot sounds sexist (a threat to 'everyone Natalia has ever kissed') but that's not exactly what the deal is, and I'm not going to play it like that. My main aim is to present a non-powered female hero who's incredibly tough, mentally and physically, having been at peak fitness, continually learning new martial arts, for fifty years. Who was an equal partner with the Son of Zeus. She's the lead, she's in charge, they are, to some extent, defined by her. And I get to write a James Bond style 'pre-titles sequence'. I hope you enjoy it when you see it.

And of course, Captain Britain and MI-13 reaches its series finale, I mean, its final issue, this Wednesday/Thursday. I'm hugely proud of the way we tie up the story and go out. There's an eight page preview here, which I really should have asked them not to go with (as I did the previous issue) because it does give away one of our big final twists, but if you don't mind being spoiled, do take a look:

I'll be putting up a final issue blog, and letters page, midweek.

I'm into the 'excitement building up about Worldcon' phase of my Summer, which is especially keen considering I'll be having to fly the tuxedo over to Canada, since I'm presenting a Hugo Award this time round. My provisional schedule for the weekend is as follows:

Thursday 2pm: I'll be reading from my short stories.

Thursday 5pm: A panel about Fringe, glad to see that getting some attention.

Thursday, 9pm: Charades.

Friday, 11am: The Fantasy Music of Kate Bush. My own presentation, which I'm very excited about. It's basically going to be a lecture about how Kate presents fantasy topics in her music. More on this as the day approaches.

Friday 12.30pm: Snobs R Us: a panel about which texts genre audiences look down on (YA, media tie-ins, etc.) which I'm very much looking forward to.

Friday 3.30pm: I'll be doing a signing.

Friday 9pm: Just A Minute (which I'll be hosting).

Saturday 10am: Looking Forward, Moving Backward. 'How are current SF movies and TV shows reinforcing out of date attitudes and prejudices? It’s said that media SF is where written SF was a generation ago. In what ways is it pushing the genre forward?' (Again, just the sort of crunchy debate I enjoy.)

Sunday 9am: Stroll With The Stars. Me, Lou Anders, John Picacio, Mary Robinette Kowal, Farah Mendlesohn and Felix Gilman will be taking a turn around Montreal with everyone who wants to show up. It was great fun last year. It's something Stu Segal organises to encourage fitness within fandom. I hope my knees hold out.

Monday 10am: A United Planet? You Gotta Be Kidding. (About the way the concept of planetary government has always been popular in SF, but failed to catch on for real.)

Monday 11am: I'll be doing a Kaffeeklatsch, which is when a small bunch of folk who want to chat over coffee with an author can show up to do so. I think you need to sign up ahead of time.

I think I've been really lucky with panels this year. Great stuff. (I don't tend to name fellow panellists, although there are some delightful ones featured, until they've confirmed their own schedule.) Anyhow, I hope to see some of you next Saturday, and some of you in Montreal. Until then, Cheerio!

Black Widow: A Deadly Origin

Just popping in quickly to say that my big news this weekend has broken:

Me and Tom Raney doing Black Widow: A Deadly Origin, a miniseries to tie in with the Iron Man 2 movie! I couldn't be more excited.

Caroline's just heard that she passed the interview, and she starts training to be a vicar from this autumn, so we're off out to get champagne now! More about the above project and all sorts of other stuff, when we get from Toby Hadoke's wedding. Cheerio!

Dark X-Men

I'm alone in the house for a couple of days, so I've taken advantage by really racing for the finish line of the novel. Of the original vast pile of notes (and one page of plot as a PC document), and I'm now down to two pieces of A4, with most of the notes on them crossed out, as I use them up. The plot's down to five lines as well. Most of the notes are payoffs for things I've written in earlier on. So when someone says 'you see that ornate and rather ostentatious gun I have hanging on the wall?' I'll have a note that reads 'gun must be fired'. (Note for demonstration purposes only. Content of actual notes may vary.) I've told my Agent that I'll have it done by the end of this month, and I think that's well on. I might get to the actual ending by the middle of next week, and then will come a long read through, where I polish up all the bits that have all the beats in there, but not neccessarily in the right order, and sometimes repeated, damn it. ('Did I show you that gun I have on the wall?') I'm very psyched about it, but of course this is all just a first draft, and much revision is ahead of me even after that. But still, the end is in sight!

Meanwhile, I also suddenly have three comics to write, so have requested deadlines from my editors, so that I may plan my days. All three are exciting, but no, sorry, I can't reveal any of the details yet. ('Do you remember that gun he kept pointing out to us?')

However, what I can talk about, and coming out tomorrow (in the US, Thursday in the UK) is the first issue of Dark X-Men: The Beginning, an anthology title detailing how members of said team came to be in Norman Osborn's employ, put together by various creative teams, including eleven pages of me and Leonard Kirk (together again) in each issue. Leonard's got even better, if that were possible. And it's an honour to be in the same book as so many creators I admire. My old mate Rob Williams is writing one. Here's a preview with three pages of each of the stories in the first issue (my Namor/Norman; Mimic and Dark Beast):

And here's an interview about it, with bits from me and much more erudite bits from editor Nick Lowe:

Okay, back to the novel I go. With the Ashes on in the background tomorrow, Torchwood in the evenings, and Faringdon Arts Festival this weekend: who could ask for more? ('So you've got a gun on your wall, stop going on about it!') Cheerio!

FAF, SFX and the Inside Story

I've got into an extraordinary groove in this hot weather, managing to put down a lot of word count, and do a lot of running. This is what I do in summer, when I'm in a continual state of jittery happiness, and make up for in winter, when I can barely twitch my toes and am generally miserable. Today, for instance, I wrote one of those big end of chapter reveals, which I've had in mind for about a year. They feel, as you approach them, very scary indeed, like you'll never get into them, never mind past them. But the Fear (that sensation that all writers get of how the hell do words get from my puny little brain to into a book, and isn't magic somehow involved, and surely I'm not qualified to be involved in any part of that process, and I somehow managed that tomorrow, but you mean I have to do it this morning too, well how do I even start?) withdraws quite a bit when it's already light and lovely outside when I get to my desk. So I got right past that big moment today, and into the fun slide down towards the ending, yelling whee. I've told my agent I'll send it to him by the end of this month, and I should think that's well on. Phew!

Meanwhile, Faringdon Arts Festival approaches! I shall be MCing, again. And as well as me talking a bit about Doctor Who, Phil Ford, of The Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood and Who, will also be coming along for a chat. We're both appearing on the Saturday, and the event runs over the weekend of 10th-12th July, in the glorious market town of Faringdon, halfway between Oxford and Swindon in so many ways. Here's the FAF website:

Talking of events, SFX Magazine have been kind enough to invite me as a guest to their SFX Weekender event, something of a new idea, it being SF fans taking over a holiday camp for a weekend, rather like Northern Soul fans do. (Or indeed, like the Cult TV conventions did.) Other guests announced so far are John Barrowman, James Marsters, China Mieville and Robert Rankin. Should be good!

And, here's news! Bernice Summerfield: The Inside Story, awaited for more than five years, and continually updated to reflect changes in the fictional life of my space archaeologist heroine, is out next month!

No, really! 300,000 words of the (blood on the carpet, warts and the burning off of those warts and all) story behind the book and audio ranges, written by Simon Guerrier (who's also appearing at Faringdon Arts Festival, but only if you're a pupil at Faringdon Junior School, and a quick shave and long shorts won't get you in). All pre-orders get the book signed by Simon and Lisa Bowerman. Go have a look, go on!

And of course, Season Ten (Ten!) of Bernice's adventures has just started being released, with plays by Nick Wallace, Daniel O'Mahony, Lance Parkin & Mark Clapham and Eddie Robson, whose series this is as showrunner. It's all building to something quite spectacular.

Finally, IGN were kind enough to ask what my favourite shock moment from 2000AD was. Relive a number of thrill-powered panels here:

Until next time, Cheerio!