Action! Convergence! Stuff!

This Wednesday in the US, Thursday in the UK, sees my first issue of Action Comics (#890) in comic shops. Do grab one and check out our surprise last-page villain! (That's just asking for spoilers, isn't it?) I'm so excited about this story. There's a print interview with me about it up at iFanboy and I've also done a live chat with them for their Don't Miss Podcast. You can hear new Dad Josh trying to deal with my enthusiastic bouncing.

Tomorrow I'll be flying off to Minneapolis for Convergence, a convention that runs across next weekend. I'm looking forward to all the usual panels, plus a good dollop of fun, in the context of Just A Minute and, erm, Iron Chef. Whatever that may be.

I have an interview in the latest edition (#198) of SFX Magazine...


Where I'll be talking to Rob Williams about Action, Pulse and loads more besides.

And, here's fun, I'm going to be doing a lecture at this year's Fortean Times Unconvention! It's entitled 'Fortean Themes in Doctor Who'. The Unconvention runs from 23rd-24th October, it's at the University of Westminster in London, and when there's a website where you can sign up for it, I'll let you know. As you know, I'm a long term Foretan Times reader, and it's great to be part of their big event.

I hope to be seeing some of you in Minneapolis. Until then, Cheerio!


DC Exclusive!

I've just signed an exclusive deal with DC Comics, which means that, over the next two years, I'll be doing a lot of work for them. Indeed, I'm a couple of issues into one title you haven't heard about yet. I couldn't be happier, or feel more welcomed, in my new playground. You can hear about that, and about what's going to be happening in Action Comics, including who some of our guest villains are going to be here. I'm thoroughly chuffed! Cheerio!

Ten Things for a Summer Weekend

It's been a while since I've done one of these, and now I have a little time to spare to do it, because Caroline's just headed off to work at Liverpool Cathedral for four weeks, and with work keeping me here, I don't know how long it'll be before I can go and see her.

For those who've asked, we're very pleased with the ratings for Pulse (around 300,000 for each screening, which is excellent for a pilot, and a great uptake on the online version) and are still waiting to hear about whether it'll go to series. This long wait is a good sign, I'm told. You'll know when we do.

I was bowled over by how great 'The Pandorica Opens' was. I think Moffat's taken the show to yet another level with, first, 'attack of the everything', then a lovely set up of expectations and reversals, and finally the ultimate cliffhanger. It was romantic, mythic and great fun, all at once. As an old friend of mine pointed out: all that's left in Pandora's Box is hope. But more ranting on that theme after the series is over.

Okay, so without further ado:

1: Faringdon Arts Festival runs from 1-11 July, in the Oxfordshire market town of Faringdon, halfway between Oxford and Swindon. As long time readers know, this used to be my hometown, and, having helped set up the first Festival, I'm still part of it. This year I'll be MCing at the big concert weekend at the end of those eleven days, introducing continuous bands and musical acts. (Including, this year, the fabulous Quadrophobe.) During the evenings the Market Place fills up with a huge crowd of people, and there's a brilliant carnival atmosphere. On Saturday 10th, SF writers and critics Roz Kaveney, Juliet E. McKenna, Sarah Pinborough and Ian Whates will be appearing. (And Roz will also be reading some of her poetry.) And as always, a Dalek will be roaming the Market Place. If you're anywhere near, do come along.

2: My Lady's Chamber are a six-person classical music outfit who play 'passionate baroque', that is, music from 1600 to 1780, in a manner accessible to modern audiences, including pieces by Purcell, Handel and Bach. They also believe they're the first people to revive a number of pieces unperformed since that time. 'All was not calm,' they say, 'under the 18th Century's bedsheets.' They're touring various southern and London venues this summer, and are open for bookings.

3: What we're really missing on the music scene these days is some UK Grime based on the Peter Davison version of the Doctor Who theme. Lady Leshurr is the artist in question, the track is called Exterminate and, ohhhhh yes, it mentions William Hartnell!

4: And while we're on that subject, this chap calling himself Z has put together a Doctor Who related audio track compilation that begins with the words 'straight outta Gallifrey', but moves around genres quite a bit. There's some excellent stuff in there.

5: Those of you who are into the Weeping Angels may well find Stone Gardens of interest. It's Joel Meadows' coffee table book, a photographic journey through the Victorian cemeteries of London. There's a fifteen page preview on the site, full of looming gothic decorations.

6: And those of you bravely breaking fandom ranks by displaying an interest in football could do worse than check out this latest offering from our ever-busy friends at the BBC Archive. This time it's Football Legends, interviews with six of the British greats from England's victorious 1966 World Cup campaign.

7: Stuart Ian Burns reviews and comments on issues around Hamlet. And only Hamlet. In all its different forms. He's covered twenty-nine different performances so far. The blog demonstrates, for one thing, how central the play is to western culture. David Tennant's version, if you want to start there, is number twenty-three.

8: I love the idea of the Why I Adore... blog, which is just fans talking about film and TV they love, 'without the snark'. It's a cure for the way the internet generally reveals human nature. And the one I've highlighted is one Lee Zachariah simply gushing about his love for Doctor Who.

9: Daryl Joyce, an artist who has many professional Doctor Who credits to his name, has recently updated his website, with many new examples of his work, including this up to date piece...


10: And this week's horse-related-TV-show-intro-sequence-of-the-week is the greatest of them all, the full version of which has been known to reduce me to tears. The music is by Denis Andrew King. It's got a middle eight to die for, and the kind of female harmony backing vocals that, with a Proustian rush, can transport you back to the early Seventies, when those of us of a certain age were sitting in front of the telly with a bowl of Angel Delight. Like most TV themes, it's built around humming the show's title, but it's also big time into the business of representing in sound the movements of a horse galloping and rearing, and wants to do its job in suggesting the various different flavours of the series: excitement; a bit of mystery; nostalgic romance. Also check out how well this title sequence is made, in terms of framing the shots, the atmosphere and the impact of the thing. It's a little piece of art.



Which brings to an end our obsession with horse-related TV shows, unless, of course, you lot have any requests concerning series I haven't featured.

Now I'm going to go make dinner for one in this big, echoing house. Must try not to get all The Shining in the coming weeks. Until next time, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Cheerio!

Action Comics Preview

Didn't mean to blog today, but here it is, the Five Page Preview of my first issue of Action Comics, #890, which is out on June 30th. Ah, that lovely Pete Woods art. I love his Lex and Lois. (And, you remember, there's a thing, a trick, a doohickey about them being together? Phew. Glad you did.) Until the weekend, Cheerio!

Comics on Wednesday and Pulse Script Online

Out today in US comic stores, tomorrow in UK comic shops, is Age of Heroes #2, which contains a Young Masters short by me and Mark Brooks. Myself and some of the other writers involved are interviewed about it here. And there's another interview, this time about the forthcoming Spitfire one-shot here.

Meanwhile, those of you with an interest in scriptwriting might want to check out the Pulse pilot script, which has been put online courtesy of the BBC Writer's Room here. Cheerio!

Grodd!

Just thought I'd share with you this lovely David Finch cover for Action Comics #893 -


This is also the issue where we gain a regular back-up strip in the form of Jimmy Olsen by the very talented Nick Spencer and R.B. Silva. So that's Deathstroke in #892, Gorilla Grodd in #893, hmm, who'll be the guest villain in #891? We haven't told you yet. And as for #894...!

There's also a new interview with me about Action up now at Digital Spy, and also one about Pulse, the number of online comments about which now boggle my mind, and make all of us at the production proud. We'll get you news on that as soon as we know.

I really enjoyed alt.fiction in Derby: interesting crowd; very focussed one day event that might benefit from spreading out to two. I like their new definition of alternative fiction as encompassing all the different genres offer. And I saw a lot of old friends.

There'll be a Ten Things this Sunday, and on that day I'll be soliciting for your things to feature on Twitter. I'll also be blogging midweek about my Marvel work. Until then, Cheerio!

Alt.Fiction

This Saturday, as you can see from the conventions list to the right, I'll be appearing at Alt.Fiction in Derby, a convention that differs from the norm in that it brings together all three of the fandoms I move amongst: SF; Doctor Who and comics. At 10am I'll be doing a panel on prose SF, with Tony Ballantyne and Colin Harvey. At noon I'll be talking about writing for comics, with Mike Carey (hmm, I hope he's cool about the whole pulling me out of a shrubbery thing at Bristol) and Liam Sharp (hmm, I hope he's cool about the whole leaving his Rock Band while onstage thing at Eastercon). At 4pm I'll be doing a reading. And at 8pm I'll be talking about social media for writers, with Lee Harris and Mark Charan Newton. There's a really cool cross-section of folk coming along, from Rob Shearman to Stephen Volk to Ramsey Campbell. Much cross-pollination of cultures should result, and I can do my favourite thing: introducing people. If you're coming along, do say hello. Until then, Cheerio.

Pulse on the iPlayer

Thanks very much for all the kind comments about Pulse overnight, everyone. I'll let you know when the ratings come in. The bunch of folk we saw it with squealed in all the right places, which was good fun. We've all got a good feeling about how it went.

Those living in the UK can now see the pilot on the BBC iPlayer here.

And we've now got loads of comments on the BBC3 Blog. Which is awesome. If you've seen it and liked it, please add your voice. Cheerio!

Pulse Tonight!

Well, it's broadcast night for Pulse (9pm, BBC3, a mantra which, afterwards, I can finally let slip from my brain!) I don't know why I'm so nervous, it's not like the little people in the TV set are going to do anything different on the night. In the last couple of days, I've done so many interviews that I've lost track, including but not limited to Pink Raygun, On TV Tonight, Velcro City, and Sky TV. I've written a blog about the creation of a particular scene for the BBC Writers' Room. The press conference after the preview is featured in two podcasts by the Geek Syndicate and we got a great review on BBC Radio 5's Richard Bacon Show, about one hour and fifty-six minutes in. Through it all, Tom Hunter's being doing a fantastic job of summarising the coverage for our Facebook fan page. On Twitter, our hashtag is #pulsebbc3. I gather that the Aylesbury SF Group are meeting up to watch it together. If you're nearby, why not get in touch and pop along?

And of course those in the UK can see the whole episode online now here. Though I gather that gets taken down sometime today, presumably at the moment of broadcast. From then on, the pilot should be on the BBC IPlayer, and I'll provide a link when it appears.

If you see the pilot tonight and enjoy it, please make sure to leave a comment on either the BBC 3 Blog or at their Facebook site. The bigger the response, the more chance we've got of going to series.

Thanks very much, everyone, for all your support in the run up to broadcast. I really hope you enjoy it. You'll see how much hard work that fine cast and crew have put into it. Let us know what you think. Until tomorrow, Cheerio!

The MCM London Expo and the Eagle Awards

The MCM London Expo over the weekend was excellent. Comic Village organiser Emma Vieceli has found a way to connect particularly small press comics to that huge and brilliant manga audience: young; diverse; loads of women; costumed. There's so much cosplay now. It's liberating: the opposite of geek shame. Those kids are starting to make anyone passing by who's not got a huge cardboard sword feel a wee bit under-dressed. They shape the Expo: a huge mart with a lot of spaces to be and things to see, a social, not closeted, experience. Coming to that crowd as a comics and TV creator feels like you've found the motherload, the audience of the future. It's the UK's San Diego, with panels from Fringe, Stargate: Universe, Caprica and Merlin to prove it. I got to say hello to the affable Ron Moore, and found Esai Morales and Alaina Huffman to be entirely charming.

And, incidentally, we were there too. Myself, Executive Producer Simon Heath, and three of our Pulse cast: Arsher Ali; Emily Beecham and Gregg Chillin did a panel in front of a surprisingly (for a show that hasn't been broadcast yet) large audience, and I think our actors were really pleased at the number of people in the autograph queue. Our publicity chap, Richard, brought in the weekend press clippings, which put us all in a bouncy mood.

More about Pulse as we approach broadcast night on Thursday. Obviously.

I also enjoyed being on the writers' team in a gameshow of us versus the artists: one round of Pictionary; one of Taboo. For the second year in a row, the writers won. 'That "squiggle" as you call it is Wonder Woman!'

On the Saturday night, I met Warren Ellis, and found him to be very sweet, like Santa with an edge. The night did get a little blurry after that, but not as blurry as Bristol had been. Thank goodness, because Mike Carey wasn't there to pull me out of the shrubbery. And at one point, I was standing at the bar with Tony Lee, and I saw Cassandra Conroy, the organiser of the Eagle Awards over there, and I thought that I really should do this now, and went over and sat down to talk to her.

I should tell those of you won't don't know that I've been perhaps the single loudest critic of the Eagle Awards. I've often been the one at the back actually heckling. Shoddy presentation, meaningless categories, drunken acceptance 'speeches', a grinding feeling that the British comic industry is just a tiny club of drinking pals, that it doesn't deserve a proper awards ceremony. When Cassandra took over, a feeling of new hope spread amongst the creators, but it was swiftly dashed when it was announced that she'd ruled out several nominations on the grounds of 'ballot stuffing', which was never quite defined at all, but came down, it seemed, to being popular enough to get lots of people to vote for you. (Tony Lee was the victim on that occasion.) Which is the single biggest reason why you haven't heard much about the Eagles lately. Having discovered that it was possible to be too popular to get a nomination, most creators decided not to mention the awards on their blogs, in case they were accused of cheating. Then the awards missed a year, and ended up announcing just the latest nominations at this year's Bristol convention.

And I continued to be cynical. It had got to a point where I'd fetishised my dislike of the Eagles, where it had become a thing. And I'd started to feel that this wasn't good, that this was actually a bit of a burden, and that I had to do something positive. Having Captain Britain and MI-13 nominated this year made me think about what my options were: should I turn down the nomination? If it was just me, maybe, but I couldn't turn down an award on behalf of Leonard Kirk and Nick Lowe. What if we won? Should I make a speech about how bad the Eagles were? God, that'd be the height of ingratitude. Should I get up, say thanks, and hop off? Well, that's me being a hypocrite, after all these years of yelling. Creators not putting the effort in are half of the problem: everyone appreciated D'Israeli, in a tuxedo, delivering a proper, dignified acceptance speech a couple of years back. It reminded us that we'd been selling these awards short too. Maybe I should do that... but that'd look so phony, coming from me.

And yeah, I know, we're not going to win anyway, but still, the inability to dream happily about doing so led me into a maze.

So I decided that I had to sort this out, hence my trip over to Cassandra's table. I don't recall, but I hope I began by offering my apologies. I said this looked like great timing on my part, having been nominated. I asked about the 'ballot stuffing' question, and was immensely pleased to find out that this year it's defined as 'multiple votes coming from the same email address'. Fair enough: that's ballot stuffing. I said that what one is really after is an awards system so popular that every comic creator on the planet is calling up their friends and haggling for them to vote for them, for everyone to be doing the previous definition of 'ballot stuffing'. That being a problem is a symptom only of a neglected awards system, where just a couple of people are bothering, and they're thus obvious, and aren't drowned out by the masses.

I was pleased to find Cassandra open to criticism, even from someone she knew had been scathing in the past, with a genuine desire to take the Eagles forward and make them great again. So I offered to help in any way I could. It was good to hear that one of my complaints of old had been thoroughly dealt with: the awards that go to fictional characters are no more. (I've always wondered what we'd do if the Joker showed up to collect Best Villain.) I was impressed by the new Eagle Awards Initiative, a competition for unpublished creators. That deserves being promoted far and wide, and shows that there's new thought and energy being invested.

So at the next Eagle Award ceremony, I'm going to be pitching in and doing something. If you're a British comic creator, you could too. I think we could all help, for a start, by showing up sober and taking the whole thing seriously. A positive circle needs a bit of heaving to start it moving. It needs us all to deliberately believe it's important in order to become important.

In short, I'm proud to announce that Captain Britain and MI-13 has been nominated for an Eagle Award. You can vote on the Eagles website here. Please spread the word.

There, that's as it should be. And a burden's been lifted. Phew. Thanks, Cassandra.

Until Thursday, Pulse broadcast day, Cheerio!