Monday, December 03, 2007

Young Gods: Sneak Peak

Just to whet your appetite, here's a sneak peak of Paladin's new costume, which will debut in the second part of Young Gods: Birth Pains.

Costume design by Ezequiel Pineda.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What I'm Doing and Something Worrying from the news...

Well, it's been a while, I know, but I thought it was time that I posted a quick round up of everything I'm working on at the moment, just so you all know I'm not spending my days watching Power Rangers and Charmed (Rose McGowan and Alyssa Milano in one show together...it's so hard to resist...).

ELEVENTH HOUR #'s 1 & 2

Both issues of Eleventh Hour have been spectacularly well received. We've had some great reviews online, particularly from Geek Syndicate. However, I think my favourite review has to have been Doctor Who and Wisdom writer, Paul Cornell's comment on #1, "It was lovely." In fact, he thought that it was so lovely that he was the first person to buy a copy of #2 when we released it at the Birmingham show a few weeks back. He was walking past our stand, just after we'd set up and did a double take. "Eleventh Hour!" he exclaimed. "I loved the first issue, I have to have the second." Considering the fact that he's become a bit of an idol for me and Pete, you can imagine what a boost that was to both of our egos. We're pretty much sold out of both issues now (although if you're in the Cardiff area you can still pick up a copy of #2 from Comic Guru, and I'm planning on dropping off my last few copies of #2 at The Grinning Demon in Maidstone this weekend). We'll be ordering more copies of both issues soon, so we can keep up with demand. So, not only were we able to pay for the printing of #2 with the money we made from sales of #1, but we've also been able to pay for our tables at next year's Birmingham show with the money we made from sales of #2, and we still have money left to pay for reprints! We're still a long way off from becoming a global publishing empire, but it's a good start.

ELEVENTH HOUR #3

Would you believe we've already started work on #3? Well, yes, you probably would. I don't want to give too much away at the moment, but you can expect stories from myself, Pete and Cherie, in collaboration with an array of talented artist from around the world. Not only that but #3 will also feature a story by our good friend James Redington, who we all sorely miss. I'm so glad that I got to work with James before he passed away, and it's just a shame that he won't get to see the results in print. My own contribution to #3 will hopefully see the return of an artist who was associated with Orang Utan Comics in our early days, plus the return of the first ever comic book character I published - watch this space. Issue Three will be released at the Bristol Comic Expo in May.

YOUNG GODS

I've decided to split the Young Gods OGN into a two part mini-series entitled Young Gods: Birth Pains. As such, issue one is now completely pencilled and inked and just awaiting colouring and lettering. I've also asked several artists to produce cover art for the book, and once they're all done, and we've got a few pages finished, we'll start looking for a publisher for the book. It's looking fantastic, Ezequiel Pineda is a star in the making.

THE INTERGALACTIC ADVENTURES OF SLAM RIDLEY

The pencils for # 1 have been complete for a while, and, indeed, so have the inks. However, after discussions with our publisher (yes, we have a publisher for Slam Ridley - surely that's the worst kept secret in the world by now? For those of you that don't know, we'll hopefully be making an official announcement about that soon) we've decided to redo the inking for a cleaner, brighter look. I've actually decided to digitally ink the book in Illustrator, and the results so far have been fantastic. We're also planning to use the traditional DC colouring palette to ensure that the colours have a bright and vibrant feel to them.

We've also just released this promo video to whet people's appetite for the book:



Let me know what you think!

IRAQ: OPERATION CORPORATE TAKEOVER

I did the pre-press work for this OGN from the charity War On Want which, I believe, has just been released. I know that it was mentioned recently in the Guardian's "Guide", but I haven't heard too much about people's response to it yet. Obviously, my own involvement in the book was fairly limited, but hopefully it will do well.

THE FLYING FRIAR

The Flying Friar was recently released to much critical acclaim. The nice thing for me being that, as it has previously been released in black and white, every review has commented on the colouring, and those comments have been very favourable. I really enjoyed working on The Flying Friar, and outside of OUC, it's probably the single piece of work I'm most proud of to date. If you haven;t picked up a copy yet, shame on you!

CONTRABAND

Contraband by TJ Behe & Phil Elliott - a multi-issue graphic novel hitting the shelves February 27 2008 from Slave Labor Graphics.

Caught filming an illegal violent content transaction, a self-styled “citizen journalist” is bullied into finding the female activist who's sabotaging the world's most controversial cellphone video channel - Contraband. His search leads him into voyeur underground where profit-hungry youths prowl city street filming violent events to satisfy society’s accelerating demand for sensational content.

A rich character-driven thriller, Contraband vividly highlights our near-future use (and abuse) of wireless technology by incorporating modern elements of mobile communication throughout the story including text messaging, online blogging, avatars, alerts and live video broadcast.

Canadian writer TJ Behe has over ten years experience developing wireless content for global entertainment companies including BBC, Playboy, MTV and T-Mobile.

UK Artist Phil Elliott’s graphic novels include Illegal Alien (Dark Horse) and Tupelo (Slave Labor) and he has over 20 years experience providing illustrations for international publishers including Marvel, DC, Image and Fantagraphics.

Ian Sharman (Inks) and Cherie Donovan (Tones) are active professionals in the UK comic scene currently developing sequential titles at Orangutan Comics.

"Contraband is a great sci-fi thriller…" - Comics International

"Cool stuff!" - Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night)

“Contraband is as visionary as the technology Behe writes about.” (Broken Frontiers)

"Phil Elliott's work is optimistic and loving and fine...he makes it look so easy.." (Neil Gaiman)

Issue #1 Available @ www.Eyemelt.com.
Free Preview @ www.contrabandcomic.com.
Pre-order Contraband @ www.Amazon.com.

OTHER STUFF

As many of you will know, I'm now working full time in comics, which is a little scary. Thankfully I picked up a couple of new paid inking jobs this week, which should keep the wolves at bay for a little longer.

Check out the website for one of them, there's not much there yet but it looks interesting enough: www.ginaaxiom.com

AND FINALLY...

I was reading The Guardian Weekly today when I came across this little passage which I found rather disturbing, I won't editorialise too much here, just read it and draw you own conclusions. The one thing I will ask, however, is what is this woman's crime?

"Consider the case of a 23-year-old Muslim woman who was found guilty last week under new anti-terror laws. Samina Malik worked for WH Smith at Heathrow, but was given to writing poetry about beheading non-believers and martyrdom. Not long after she had begun visiting chatrooms, calling herself the "lyrical terrorist" - she thought the name "cool" - the knock at the door came. Examination of her computer revealed she had downloaded something called "How to win in hand-to-hand combat". She lives in Southall, and she now awaits sentencing."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Orang Utan Comics Unveil New Look Website!

Orang Utan Comics are pleased to announce the launch of their new look website at www.orangutancomics.co.uk

Surf on over to enjoy exclusive art and info about their upcoming projects.

While you're there, why not pop in to the online store and order your copy of the critically acclaimed Eleventh Hour #2.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

CHC Podcast: Pilot

It is finally here!
We have decided to join the ranks of Podcasters everywhere to bring you a weekly update in audio form, discussing the latest film releases, games, comic - anything geeky, really.

Click here to download the Pilot episode (WMA format).

Be warned, however... This is complete and unedited. Two hours in length.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Eleventh Hour #1 Touches Down On IndyPlanet!

Finally, the wait is over!

Eleventh Hour #1 is now available from IndyPlanet.

"Vampires, executions, post apocalyptic fish suppers and Extra Humans - just some of the surprises in store in the debut issues of Eleventh Hour. Featuring "Bloodstain", "Brothers in Arms", "Purgatory Blues" and an exclusive preview of "Young Gods". All wrapped in an exquisite cover from 2000AD's John Charles and featuring gorgeous pin ups by Azim Akberali. With a rosta of talent from around the World, this all new anthology is not to be missed.

"Eleventh Hour is a new and exciting black and white anthology series from a collective of writers and artists from around the World. It features exciting stand-alone short stories with a sting in the tale, as well as exclusive previews of upcoming Orang Utan Comics projects."

Get your hands on 36 pages of high quality comic book for just $3.99 from IndyPlanet.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

It almost seems a little pointless reviewing this
film. After all, if you haven't already seen the first
four Harry Potter films then you almost certainly
aren't going to go and see this one, and, indeed,
you'd be foolish to do so as it would make little or
no sense to you. If, however, you have seen the first
four films, then you're going to go and see this
regardless of what any review says because you're most
likely a Harry Potter fan (like me). Indeed, I'd go as
far as to suggest you've probably already read the
book upon which this film is based, so you know
exactly what's going to happen anyway.

Indeed, the main purposes of any review of a Harry
Potter film seem to be to let fans of the books know
which bits have been left out, and to say if the
people playing the new characters are any good.

The most glaring omission is the visit to St Mungo's,
which means that Neville's backstory must be told in
another way, and so it makes far less of a real impact
upon us. We're also left with very little information
about the origins of the prophecy, and how they relate
to professor Trelawny, which is a shame. Both Luna and
Tonks have much smaller roles in the movie too, which
is understandable as the focus would naturally have to
be on our main trio of heroes, but it also robs us of
some of the novel's highlights.

Of the new additions to the cast, it's Imelda Staunton
as Dolores Umbridge, the Ministry of Magic appointed
Defence Against the Dark Arts mistress, who gets the
most screentime. She is suitably horrid, and every bit
as sadistic and evil as she was in the book. Other new
additions include, as mentioned above, Luna, who is
excellent but underused, and Tonks, who is just as
cool as she is in the books, but sadly hardly present
in the film at all. Helena Bonham-Carter also finally
makes the cast of a Harry Potter film (it was kind of
inevitable...still waiting for Richard E. Grant and
Bill Nighy to make their debuts) as Sirius Black's
deranged Death Eater cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange.
She's good, as is everyone else. The established cast
also put in first rate performances, and all the
younger members of the cast (those playing the
students) prove that if you spend that much of your
time working with the creme de la creme of the British
acting elite then something is bound to rub off.

My only real criticism of Order of the Phoenix would
be the same problem I have with the book - it really
has no real plot. It serves two main purposes,
firstly, it gives us pause to consider what effect the
events of the first four films/books have had on
Harry, and secondly, it sets things up for the last
two books, where everything finally comes to a head.
As such, in and of itself, it's rather unsatisfying,
but, of course, more than any of the rest of the
films/books, this is part of a much larger story, and
should be seen as thus.

Ultimately, this is an excellent film, the spectacular
special effects never overshadow the most important
element of Order of the Phoenix - the growing and
deepening bond between our three main heroes, Harry,
Ron and Hermione. This film is far more about
character development than it is about magic and the
fight between good and evil, and, for me, it's all the
more better for it.

Production has already begun on the sixth film, Harry
Potter and the Half Blood Prince, with the same
director as this film, which is a good sign. With the
final chapter of this saga due to be released in book
form at midnight tonight, Harry Potter fever is at an
all time high. However, don't let talk of
"over-hyping" and rampant commercialism (neither of
which I can see any real evidence of anyway) put you
off. Harry Potter is popular for one reason and one
reason only - it's really very good.

Rating: 9/10

Friday, July 13, 2007

Movie Review: Die Hard 4.0

John McClane is back! He's older and wiser now, and so, of course, realises that even if you are being hunted by terrorists and shot at from every angle - that's simply no reason for bad language.

Seriously, I'm baffled by the decision to go for a PG-13 rating for this film, and thankful that in this country they got a 15 rating, enabling them to retain McClane's trademark catchphrase (you know the one, the one that ITV has been dubbing over as "Yipee-ki-yay Kemosabe" for years). That said, I have to admit that I'd rather have the film relatively swear word free, rather than find myself watching it on ITV in a few years and having to suffer hearing someone called a "gal dang melonfarmer."

However, the lack of a wee swearie or two hardly makes this film family friendly, with a whole multitude of violent and painful deaths filling the movie from start to finish. Why our society is ok with our young teens seeing acts of gratuitous violence, but doesn't want them to hear a few bad words, I'll never understand.

The language is nor the only thing that's different about the UK version of this film, it has also received a name change on its way across the atlantic. Billed in the US as "Live Free or Die Hard", it's received the simpler and less imaginitive title of "Die Hard 4.0" over here. One suspects that this has something to do with not wanting to produce multiple language versions of the poster artwork for the international release. Once again Hollywood seems to fail to understand that we do not speak a different language in this country. This attitude is what often leads to us having to wait for all the foreign language dubs and subs to be done on a movie before it's released in the UK, a policy which has sometimes lead to a film not receiving a theatrical release here in the UK until after the DVD release in the USA. And yet they wonder why there is such a big problem with pirate DVDs here?? I know I've mentioned this before here, but isn't it time that Hollywood got its act together and started releasing films over here at the same time as the US? If they were serious about fighting piracy they would.

Okay, so, time to get off my high horse and get back to the subject of the film! Is it any good, you ask? Well, actually, yes, it's great fun. That is, assuming you like your action movies larger than life, full of giant explosions and preposterous set pieces and you're happy to leave your brain at the door on the way in. Rest assured, you can happily give your brain the night off if you go and see this movie as whenever anything gets a bit technical or complicated, McClane is there for you, scratching his head and asking people to explain everything in words of one syllable just in case you've never heard of the internet or computers or something.

The main purpose of the plot in this movie is to lead you from one giant explosion to the next while firing off as many rounds of ammunition as is humanly possible. At one point, McClane takes out a helicopter by essentially firing a car at it and you think to yourself, "That is by far the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen"...trust me, you'll be revising that opinion by the end of the movie (probably during the "truck vs fighter plane" sequence).

Solid performances are delivered by everyone involved. Willis is, as ever, brilliant in the role he was made to play, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Justin Long also shine as McClane's chip-off-the-old-block daughter and his new hacker side kick respectively. Kevin Smith pops up in his now obligatory cameo role, and if like me you're a Kevin Smith fan, you'll enjoy it. I'm sure these cameos must really grate on those people that can't stand him though. Heh. What this film does lack is a really memorable villain, Timothy Olyphant is no Alan Rickman and the film suffers for it.

So far, in the year of the threequel, Die Hard is proving that four is the magic number.

Rating: 7/10

Friday, July 06, 2007

Star Wars & Me - Part 2

I used to have a picture of Jar Jar Binks up in my living room. There, I've admitted it. I'm not sure if I'm wholly ashamed of that fact or not, but, returning to the subject of Star Wars influence and impact on my life, it would be simply wrong of me to cover the Prequel ere without confessing that deep, dark secret.

However, I'm getting ahead of myself here. In the run up to next weekends Star Wars Celebration Europe I thought it might be interesting to talk about my experiences of Lucas' return to the Saga. As I discussed in part one, the Original Trilogy had a very profound and far reaching effect on my youth, and in many ways the Prequel Trilogy has formed something of a backdrop to my adult life as well.

It's hard to know exactly where to start with a discussion of the Prequels. My Star Wars fanatic sister had made sure that I knew from an early age that the first Star Wars film, A New Hope, was in fact episode four, and that Lucas intended to make three films set before it and three films set after it. I know that Mr Lucas has more recently claimed that the plan was always to only make six films, and that he'd never said he had plans to make episodes seven, eight and nine...but....well... I've watched interviews with him where he's not only said that he was planning nine films, but that the entire saga could possibly be twelve. So, like many of my generation, I'm sure, I spent much time contemplating what events might transpire in these as yet unmade films.

I think it's unlikely we'll ever see Lucas himself produce Episodes 7-9. For one thing, the time period they would likely have originally been planned to take place in has been thoroughly covered by the many novels, comics and video games that have been released over the last thirty years. It's not impossible that Lucas might come out and declare that none of that is canon and make three films that flatly contradict it all, but I'm sure he makes a lot of money from the sales of those "Expanded Universe" products, and I can't see him shooting the goose that lays the golden egg. I've often imagined the sequel trilogy as charting the fall of the New Republic, Luke's eventual turn to the Dark Side and the establishment of a new Sith Order opposed by the last remaining Jedi, Leia Organa. Thus demonstrating the cyclical and somewhat futile nature of history. But, you know, that would be kind of dark.

Speculation about the Prequel Trilogy, however, was always a little more fun. After all, where this was concerned, we actually had some clues to work on. We knew that the Clone Wars were likely to take place at some point during the films, though we had no idea what they were, other than that a Jedi such as Obi-Wan was able to attain the rank of General during them. We also knew that at some point during the Prequels Anakin would turn on his master Obi-Wan and embrace the dark side of the Force. We also knew that the final showdown between the two woudl take place beside a pool of lava, and that Obi-Wan would ultimately emerge victorious, and that Anakin would be left hideously disfigured. Lastly, we knew that at some point Anakin would father twins, but we didn't know who their mother would be (although we suspected that Luke would be taken from her at birth while Leia would stay with her for a short time).

That's all anyone had to go on for about fifteen years, but even with such a small amount of information, the early internet was still full of websites, newsgroups and forums dedicated to discussing exactly what was going to happen in episodes 1-3 and 7-9. Of course, it was all wild speculation and nothing else, and then...

...and then, in the wake of the huge success of the release of the Special Editions of the Original Trilogy in cinemas worldwide, George Lucas finally did what so many Star Wars fans had by now given up almost all hope of him ever doing...

...he announced the continuation of the Star Wars Saga on the big screen.

More specifically, he announced that production had started on Star Wars: Episode I. At that time it had no subtitle, that was it, he kept everyone guessing about the title for a long time.

Eventually, the first trailer was released on the internet, and I can remember patiently sitting for hours while my dial-up connection slowly downloaded the trailer. Ever so slowly the first new shots of a Star Wars film to be seen since the credits rolled on Return of the Jedi played across my PC's monitor. It looked amazing. This was going to be the greatest film ever. It was going to have been worth the wait.

My first inkling that this assumption may not have been entirely correct came when the title was finally announced - The Phantom Menace. I was convinced it was a joke. I thought it was a play one words, as in "The Fandom Menace" but I guess I was wrong. The title's grown on me since.

Soon after, the Duel of the Fates video was released, and it wasn't long before my then fiance and I knew every line of dialogue in that video off by heart. Now, when my then fiance and now ex first got together, she had never seen a single Star Wars film. I had the joy of introducing her to the Original Trilogy (in their Special Edition forms), which she instantly fell in love with. She had willingly joined me in my Star Wars fandom and we were both incredibly excited about the new film.

I deliberately tried to avoid any and all plot spoilers in the run up to the film's release, and given that I was such a heavy internet user (and active on a few Star Wars forums back then too) that was no mean feat. Thus, I was a little disappointed when a casual glance at the back of the soundtrack CD, released a few weeks before the film hit cinemas, resulted me reading the track title "The Funeral of Qui-Gon Jinn." Doh!

It was the summer of 1999, I had a good job, I was engaged to be married, traveling the world doing good, and there was a new Star Wars at the cinema. Life was good. Was it the greatest film ever? Well, no, I guess not. It was very good, but a little heavy on the politics, a little heavy on the annoying gungan and a little light on the Han Solo front. In the Original Trilogy, the Jedi's rampant idealism had been counterbalanced by Solo's world weary cynicism. There was none of that here, and the film suffered for it.

Reading a lot of people's views on The Phantom Menace today you'd be forgiven for thinking that's it's two hours of Jar Jar Binks in boring senate meetings about midichlorians. To be fair, the senate meetings, Jar Jar's antics and the mention of midichlorians are a very small part of what is, on the whole, a thrilling action/adventure movie. The podrace and the Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan/Darth Maul lightsabre duel are two of the high points of the entire six film saga. It has a strong cast, with Liam Neeson particularly standing out as Qui-Gon, whose presence is sorely missed from episodes 2 and 3. Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor are both fine actors on fine form here and, yes, indeed, Jake Lloyd is actually very good as the young Anakin Skywalker. The script, at times, lacks much of the wit of Original Trilogy and there are a few jarring cuts in the film which the DVD release later revealed were due to the removal of several scenes. I can't help but feel that had those scenes remained the film would have flowed more smoothly and I'm hoping that a future DVD (or perhaps BlueRay or HD) release will see these scenes fully restored to the film. Yes, Jar Jar got to be a little too much at times but...small children loved him, and my then fiance loved him too (that's why we had his picture up in our living room), she even carried around a Jar Jar back pack everywhere she went for quite some time. So, I don't hate Jar Jar, in fact, I'm rather fond of him. He reminds me of that simple, happy summer, when Star Wars was back in the cinema at long last (and I saw it four times).

The Original Trilogy had inspired such groundbreaking, classic PC games as Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, X-Wing and TIE Fighter, so when The Phantom Menace was released, LucasArts knew they'd set themselves up with a very high benchmark to meet. The official game of the film was a fairly uninspiring if fun platform affair, certainly not the type of game to almost take over your life, as the previous games I mentioned did. However, all was not lost, as there followed the extremely unimaginitively titled Episode I: Racer. I suspect that the guys at LucasArts had poured so much of their collective genius into making this game that they simply had none left when it was time to choose a title. I remember installing the game with eager anticipation, loading it up, navigating through the menu screens, clicking on "play" and being met by nothing but grey fog and what I assumed were the sounds of a pod race. A quick bit of online research later and I broke the sad news to my dad - he needed a new graphics card. My dad, bless him, splashed out on a brand new top of the range card, and before I knew it I was off racing across the deserts of Tatooine, across Malastare, Ando Prime, and the rest of the Galactic Podracing Circuit. This game was pretty much perfect, easily the best racing game I've ever played. Not only were the controls and the game play superb, but there was a veritable smorgasbord of tracks and pods to choose from, as well as a seemingly endless supply of upgrades which could be purchased with your race winnings. My only real complaint about the game being that the final few special races (unlocked by winning every other race) finally proved too hard for me. Still, if you've never played it, then hunt this one down in the bargain bins or on eBay. I seem to recall in needs a patch to run on XP, but don't let that put you off.

Now we move on to Episode II: Attack of the Clones. The summer of 2002, with my Podracer alarm clock firmly consigned to the dustbin (due to its providing the single most unpleasant way to be woken up in the morning), I was now a much oldr and wiser man, not only married, but also the father of one small but perfectly formed little boy, Zak (Han, Luke and Anakin having been rejected as names by his mother - although she would have happily called a girl Padme!?!).

I was, obviously, very busy with other things at the time, and Attack of the Clones kind of snuck up on me, and I only managed to see it once at the cinema. I remember being blown away when I first saw, and hugely disappointed when I later returned to it on DVD. It has some amazing parts, such as the introduction of the Kaminoans and the cloning facility, and Jango Fett was a very welcome addition to Star Wars universe. However, a lot of the action falls a little flat on further viewings due to either a complete lack of dialogue (the big end battle) or some appalling dialogue (the speeder chase at the beginning). The biggest problem with this film however, is Hayden Christensen's wooden performance. While I completely understand that he was trying to play a troubled character who was trying to keep his very powerful emotions in check, he instead comes across as an uncharismatic, whiny bore. The few times that he does let himself go, and truly emotes, he really shines (for example, when he confess to Padme about his slaughter of the Tusken Raiders). However, it's in the romance that his performance really falters, and it's just impossible to buy any kind of connection between Anakin and Padme. I've heard since that Christensen and Portman loathed each other, and if this is the case then it's a real shame as it really hurts the movie. I can't help but think that it would have been much more in keeping with the feel of Star Wars to have them fall in love while fighting side by side in the Clone Wars, rather than have them in such a stiff, formal situation light years away from the action.

All that aside, Star Wars films are a lot like pizza, when they're good, they're great, but when they're bad...well...they're still pretty good. This film still has some excellent moments, such as the showdown between Jango Fett and Mace Windu, or the ultimate fanboy moment - Yoda vs Count Dooku. Some people hate Yoda's fight scene in this movie and think it's laughable. Those people are idiots. It's damn cool. Yoda rocks!

My wife didn't enjoy Attack of the Clones, however. Hayden's acting was just too wooden, and she thought Yoda's fight scene was silly. She was falling out of love with Star Wars. It was no longer the care free summer of '99, things had started to turn sour at the church where I worked, which then dominated just about every part of our lives. Just as the victory celebrations at the end of Attack of the Clones are tempered with Yoda's warnings of impending doom, so things had started to go very wrong in my own life, and I was ultimately to find myself entering my own dark times, just as that galaxy far, far away was.

So we skip forward a bit to 2005, the Saga was reaching a close, and it's darkest moment, and my life was mirroring it in many ways. 2004 had seen me quit the church where I'd been working for five years as I discovered that my boss, the pastor there, was every bit as corrupt and morally bankrupt as Chancellor Palpatine. That had cost me a lot, my job, my house, the band I was bass player in and most of my friends. Then in 2005 it began to become clear that it was, ultimately, going to cost me my marriage as well. We were heading to the London Expo when she told me she was leaving me and while we ultimately decided to try and work things out for the sake of our now two children, it was clearly the beginning of the end. It may sound completely absurd, but it became most clear to me that we really weren't going to be able to work it out when, having pre-booked tickets for the opening night of Revenge of the Sith, she announced to me just before we were about to leave for the cinema that she didn't want to go and that my dad could have her ticket instead. Her love for Star Wars was well and truly dead, and with it yet another thing that we shared was gone. It took us another year to finally agree that it was over.

Still, you don't want to hear about that dark time in my life, not when there's still the final chapter in the Saga to talk about!

So, what of Revenge of the Sith? Was it any good? Of course it was! By far the best of the prequel trilogy, and probably the third best film in the entire Saga. Action, adventure, excitement, this film had it all. Incredibly dark at times, thankfully, and only slightly marred by Hayden's still quite wooden acting (oh, and that awful "Nooooooooooo" from Darth Vader at the end...ugh.... ). At last, here were those moments we'd been speculating about for all those years. General Kenobi fighting in the Clone Wars. Anakin... Obi-Wan... A river of lava... The finest lightsaber fight in the Saga. The twins are born (and generate the oddest, most pointless continuity error... how does Leia remember her mother?). Vader and Tarkin oversee the construction of the first dreaded Death Star and C3P0 and R2D2 find themselves on the Tantive IV under the command of Captain Antilles. The circle is complete! Now George Lucas is the master!

Obi-Wan Kenobi delivers a young boy to his aunt and uncle on Tatooine and...despite everything that's going horribly wrong in my life...I have a new hope. I start working on a comic called "Young Gods' and...well...if you want to know what that led to, then you'll have to go back to the first post on this blog, and keep reading...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Movie Review: Shrek The Third

I think a return of my regular movie reviews is way overdue, and so from now on I'm going to make an effort to post reviews of all the movies that I see. To add a little variety I'm going to aim to review films I watch on TV (either broadcast or on DVD) as well as films I see at the cinema.

So, let's get the ball rolling with Dreamworks latest CGI animated offering, starring the vocal talents of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz - Shrek The Third.

The law of diminishing returns, in regards to movie sequels, has never been truer than with the Shrek series. The first film was a work of genius, with a sharp and witty script (many of the best parts improvised by Myers and Murphy during recording) and groundbreaking computer generated animation. In my opinion, Shrek was the first CGI film that wasn't made by Pixar which was actually any good. It was a huge hit with both parents and children, and, having a five year old and a three year old myself, I've watched it more times now than I'd care to mention - but it hasn't lost its charm.

The second film was more of the same, although the script was slightly less sharp, it managed to avoid the feeling of just treading over old ground by adding new characters, such as the excellent Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), and a fairly amusing plot (although this lacked the simple, iconic brilliance of the original).

And so we come to this, the third installment, and, I'm afraid the well is running dry. The spark is gone from the Donkey/Shrek relationship, and Shrek and Fiona's "baby" issues prove that fairy tales really do need to end at "and they all lived happily ever after." Justin Timberlake is okay as Arthur (yet another character added to an already bloated cast), but is given precious little to do as the writers struggle to decide if he or Shrek should be the main focus of the story. Eric Idle is introduced to little effect, the producers committing the cardinal sin of forgetting that an ex-Python is only funny if you give him something funny to say or do.

There are amusing moments here and there, but they're too few and far between to really make this movie worthwhile. If you're going to make a sequel - please do it because you have a story to tell, not just to make money (which this film will no doubt do).

Hopefully this will be Shrek's final cinematic outing, and the producers won't return to the well a fourth time, to find that it's well and truly run dry.

Rating: 4/10

Ian.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Eleventh Hour #1 - Out Now!!!!!

The waiting is over!

The comic book event of the century has finally arrived!

Eleventh Hour #1 is now available to buy both on and offline.

Don't miss this opportunity to own a piece of comic book history - the first ever comic book from Orang Utan Comics!

Featuring tales of vampire hunters and their prey, condemned prisoners returned from the afterlife, apocalyptic fish suppers and superhuman teenagers kicking @$$! Lovingly scripted by Peter Rogers and Ian Sharman, painstakingly etched by awe inspiring artists from across the globe - including Nuno Nobre, Azim Akberali, Tom Walsh and Randy Valiente. Lovingly wrapped in the sublime cover art stylings of 2000AD's very own John Charles.

Head on over to the brand new Orang Utan Comics online store and order your copy now!

Alternatively, if you live in the Maidstone area, you can pop into The Grinning Demon comic shop on the high street and pick up a copy.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Slam Ridley Welcomes Simon Wyatt!


Well, there's good news and bad news for Slam Ridley fans today.

The bad news is that after much deliberation between Pete and myself, we've decided to let Paul Ridgon go from the Slam Ridley team. Paul is an amazing artist, and we're sorry to see him go, but we both felt that it was time to find someone more reliable to work on the book. We both wish Paul the best and recognise that, without him, the book simply wouldn't be what it is today (several months late...kidding...couldn't resist that one...heh...).

The good news is that we're very pleased to announce new series artist Simon Wyatt!

Simon first got in touch with us via comicspace, and we met up with him at Bristol this year. He's currently working on a six page story for Eleventh Hour #2. Danick and the Dragon is a short fantasy story written by myself, and, as you can see above, his work in this is outstanding:

Simon's recent pin-up of Ethal Nuargi from The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley initially started us thinking that he might be right for the book but his gorgeous pencils for Danick and the Dragon sealed the deal for Pete and I and we both immediately concluded that we'd found the perfect replacement for Paul.
Simon will be finishing up on Danick and the Dragon in the next few days, and then he'll be moving on to work on Slam, so hopefully we'll have something to show you soon!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Star Wars and Me.


















Thirty years ago today, while I had just mastered solid food and was embarking on the tricky business of learning to walk, a tiny little independent movie was released in a small number of cinemas in the USA. It was distruibuted by 20th Century Fox, who were the only studio willing to distribute what seemed to everyone else to be an obvious turkey.

At that point in time the movie in question was simply titles "Star Wars", and had yet to gain it's subtitle of "Episode IV: A New Hope", and while I was far too young to go to the cinema to see it (being still in nappies), when it finally made it to this side of the Atlantic (early in 1978, I believe) it captured the imagination of a generation of children - my sister's generation. I think she only got to see the film at the cinema once, but she read the novel and the Marvel UK reprint of the comic book adaptation and commiteed them to memory. She was, in her school playground, THE Star Wars expert. She knew EVERYTHING.

Now, my big sister is fab, and I've always wanted to be just like her (apart from the whole having breasts and being a girl part) and so it's no great shock that I inherited her love...no...her reverence of Star Wars. In 1980 a sequel was released, The Empire Strikes Back, and despite turning four in the year of its release, I can still recall being taken to the cinema to see it. I don't recall actually watching it as I fell asleep (hey, I was, like, three!), all I remember is a lot of white and then...a lot of black as I was asleep. Ah well...

Despite being a girl, my sister had, I seem to recall, built up a collection of Star wars toys, and as she grew older and moved onto being interested in Tears for Fears, dressing as a "futurist" and sitting in her room being miserable about the boy of the week, these were passed on to me, and I still vividly recall the birthday that I received the Millennium Falcon on, and the Christmas that saw the Empire strike back (sorry) with their very own AT-AT. I remember sending off for the accessory kit which meant that my Luke Skywalker figure could finally use a grappling line to attack the AT-AT, and receiving Nein-Numb through the post. (Oh, and I...ahem...inherited my sister's copies of the novelisation of A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Splinter of the Mind's Eye - she's welcome to try and retrieve these from my cold, dead hands someday...).

And I recall being in a small newsagent/post office kind of shop and seeing a paperback version of the comic book adaptation of the new film, just two weeks before its release. I couldn't resist, and begged my mum to buy it for me, thus ruining every surprise that Return of the Jedi had in store for me, but I didn't care - this was MY Star wars film, that I could finally see on the big screen. I was seven years old, and Star Wars was my world. I think that I got to go and see it for my birthday, with my best friend from down the road. It was about the same time we moved to our new house.

My father must have drawn some kind of short straw, because I clearly remember him taking me to see BOTH Ewok films at the cinema. I can't think what he did to deserve this. Presumably my mother had to endure some kind of shopping trip with my sisters (I have two, the other one never really caught the Star Wars bug like we did).

Something interesting happened shortly after this, the video rental revolution. The release of the Star Wars trilogy to rent on video helped to spur this on, and the release of the Empire Strikes Back to rent, just happened to coincide with my being off school for a week, aged 8, while I recovered from, ahem, a popular Jewish operation. The store said that my mum was the second person to rent ESB, she'd had to put her name down on a waiting list. I'd seen A New Hope on TV, of course, and Jedi at the cinema the year before...but now I could finally hear those chilling words "No, Luke....I am your father..."

Gradually the toys started to disappear from the shelves...but I still loved Star Wars. I joined the Fan Club, and devoured every issue of Bantha Tracks, hoping for news of the rumoured Sequels and Prequels (this was looong before we had the internet to discuss such things). I begged my parents to buy me a replica Luke Skywalker Dagobah fatigues jacket...they did...I looked so cool in that....heh...

Then the films were released to own on VHS, and my mum ordered them specially from the video store for my Christmas present, all three films (looking back, that can't have been cheap...thanks mum and dad!), unfortunately only A New Hope arrived in time for Christmas day, and it had no sound! I don't remember being too disappointed though - I knew that i was going to own all three films and could watch them as much as I wanted.

And then came the dark times...the fan club had to close down because there simply wasn't enough interest in Star Wars to keep it going. They promised to let me know when and if it started up again (they didn't). It's strange, most histories of the last thirty years of Star Wars seem to forget this time existed. I always get frustrated when I hear some celeb saying how they've ALWAYS loved Star Wars and have ALWAYS been a huge fan. But there was a time when no-one, save us faithful few, loved Star Wars. It was old news, forgotten, people simply moved on. I picked up the Han Solo trilogy of novels for next to nothing at a car boot sale, but there was nothing new coming out.

Then Star Wars started to come back. Again, most histories of Star Wars go a little wrong here too, as they cite Timothy Zahn's excellent trilogy of Star Wars novels as being what resurrected Star Wars, but it started before that. To my recollection, there were two things that seriously brought about the rebirth of Star Wars, one was the advent of "Widescreen" and the re-release of the original trilogy in this new format (again, another Christmas present from my mother, and, again, only A New Hope on Christmas Day...but the joy of watching the WHOLE trilogy, with nothing shaved off the sides - it was like watching all three films for the first time again - even if we did onyl have a tiny 15" TV to watch them on at the time!). The second thing that resurrected Star Wars, in my view, was the West End Games roleplaying game. OK, so I had no-one to play it with, but I devoure dthe rule book and the source books, immersing myself in my favourite fictional universe. Oh, and, in the back of the roleplaying game rule book - there was an application form to join the NEW fan club...

And so I was introduced to the joys of Star Wars Insider, and the catalogue that filled its centre pages. Oh, and for some reason, my dad had forgotten to give me any pocket money for, like, a year, and so owed me big time...and there, in the catalogue, was a shiny Don Post replica Darth Vader helmet. If only Tony had nominated me for a "You Look Like a Dark Lord of the Sith" award...

It's hard to get everything in chronological order, but, at some point, LucasArts brought out two of the greatest PC games ever....X-Wing and Dark Forces (OK, Dark Forces wasn't one of the greatest games ever, but its sequel, Jedi Knight, was). I fully emersed myself in these digital version of that galaxy far, far away...but there was one thing I steadfastly resisted - those darn Timothy Zahn novels. They weren't by Lucas, they weren' canon, and I didn't want to read them (feel free to imagine me huffing and crossing my arms here).

Then, when I was eighteen, I was called up to do jury duty, and rightly anticipating a lot of sitting around and waiting, I decided to buy a book to occupy my time...and....yes...I caved and bought Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. Roughly 100 books later, and my bookshelf is groaning under the weight of my Star Wars novel collection. It's had it's high point and lowpoints, and I'm still trying to regain my enthusiasm for the series in the wake of the disappointing New Jedi Order, but it's certainly help keep my love of the Saga alive.

This is going on a bit, isn't it? Suffice it to say that Star Wars was back, and following the success of the Expanded Universe, the roleplaying game, and the rerelease of Star Wars in Widescreen on VHS, Lucas decided to rerelease the trilogy in 1997 on the big screen for teh series' 20th anniversary. Somewhat controversially, he used the assocaited restoration project to return to the movies and, in his view, finish what he'd begun. Advances in sfx in the ensuing twenty years meant that scenes and effects that were well beyond the technology available to him in 1977 could now be fully realised according to his original vision. Now, arguments about who shot first aside, I personally loved the '97 special editions, although I'm less sure about some of the changes made to the recent DVD releases.

Little did we know at the time, but the work on the special editions was just a warm up for the big event - Lucas was finally ready to take the plunge and make a film that had to live up to over twenty years worth of fan expectations, a film that needed to surpass the dreams and imaginings of millions of people who were now well into adulthood, and had spent their life wondering about thing only hinted at in the original trilogy. The clone wars. The Dark Lords of the Sith. Could Lucas possibly make a film that could satisfy these people. Of course not...that would have been on a par with producing documentary footage that prooved that Father Christmas was alive and well and living at the North Pole with a small army of elves. The Phantom Menace could do nothing but disappoint. Despite breathtaking ligthsaber fights, and one of the most spectacular action sequences in movie history - the podrace - we simply weren't eight anymore.

That's not to say that Lucas doesn't take any of the blame - perhaps bringing some other people in to help with the script would have helped him see that Jar Jar Binks was...ah...possibly annoying...and that the Neimodians seemed to be a little too Japanese for modern sensitivities. But, nevertheless, this was Star Wars, and I'm still reserving judgement on all of the prequels until I've lived with them for at least a decade.

Attack of the Clones was a step in the right direction - although no-one was buying the "chemistry" between Anakin and Padme...and Revenge of the Sith perhaps saw the series return to, at the very least, Return of the Jedi levels. But for me, the feel of the original series has been more kept alive in the expanded universe. I have more of a fondness for the likes of Mara Jade, Kyle Katarn and Corran Horn than I do for Qui Gon jinn, Padme Amidala and Mace Windu.

So...Star Wars is thirty. Thank you George Lucas, for firing my imagination for three decades. Without Star Wars there'd be no Battlestar Galactica, no Star Trek Movies...Next Generation, DS9, Voyager or Enterprise, there'd be no Firefly or Serenity...there'd be no Spaceballs, Hardware Wars, Revelations or Threads of Destiny...and...of course...there'd be no Slam Ridley.

There are rumours of a new film, set in the time of the Knights of the Old Republic, but I don't believe a word of it. Rather, Star Wars is set to return to the place where it's enjoyed the most success...in the form of videos and dvds...Star Wars is coming to television, in the form of a live action series, and a CGI series. We can only hope that Lucas will solely function as executive producer on these and, like the expanded universe, hand the reigns over to a new generation of writers, who have a real feel for what Star Wars IS, rather than what he always wanted it to be. Less Jedi....more scruffy looking nerf-herders and their beaten up tramp freighters that have got it where it counts...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Online Portfolio

















Further to my hightened search for paying freelance work, you can now peruse a gallery of samples of my colouring and inking work on my deviantArt here.

The lovely Cher has also combed Digital Webbing for me and I've emailed a ton of people offering paid inking and lettering jobs...so we'll see.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Make Mine Slam!

Well, I've had a bit of trouble getting back into the swing of things, post-Bristol, but thankfully the talented array of artists we have at OUC have been a bit more on the ball. So, without further ado, from the red hot pencil of Mr Paul Ridgon, your first look at Mr Slam Ridley's final look (after going through Paul's original design, and Garth's redesign, we now have Paul's new design):
























Not only that, but our hot new pin-up artist, Marco Guaglione, has started work on a Kyouri pin-up, and here are the rough pencils to whet your appetite:























I haven't been completely slacking myself, though. I've finished up the plot to Hero: 9-5 #1, which I'll be passing on to an artist we hooked up with in Bristol as soon as it's typed up, and I've also written a short story entitled "Ghost Boy" for Eleventh Hour #2, which I just need to add panel descriptions to before sending off to an artist that I'm hoping will agree to pencil it.

I'm also more actively seeking freelance inking, colouring and lettering work (as in, for a page rate), and will be altering some of my websites over the next week to reflect this (posting my page rates and the like). Of course, my PC is still non-functioning, which doesn't help matters, but I can at least letter on my dad's PC, and thankfully my inking brush doesn't need an operating system to function properly. I can colour on here as well, although it's not ideal (not least because the monitor simply isn't as good as mine), and I have the problem that the various colouring projects that I have on the go at the moment are all on the non-functioning PC (on my secondary drive, which if push comes to shove I can always remove and plug into this PC, but I'd rather not). Hopefully my PC will be fixed sometime this week, if not then I'm going to have to start thinking about what I'm going to do (if only I had the money to just buy a new PC, and strip out the hard drives from my old one and put them in the new one, that would solve everything, as the old PC was getting increasingly buggy anyway, and has, for some reason, always refused to update to XP Service Pack 2, which is a pain). I would ultimately like to upgrade to a much more powerful PC anyway so that I can get back into the 3D stuff, which I've kinda' let slide as the rendering times got so long.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Massively Multi-Con Super Report!

















Zak meets a Stormtrooper while Aaron cowers in fear in Cher's arms...

Well, I guess I should apologise once againfor not updating for so long. My non-comic life has gone a bit wonky recently, and my initial relief at walking straight into a new job after being made redundant three months ago has turned into a strange disbelieving bemusement as my new employers found that they didn't have enough work to justify an extra designer after all. So I'm jobless. I'm also PC-less as my trusty machine seems to have given up the ghost, so I'm having to use my dad's PC to write this.

Memorabilia

But, I digress, back to business! I have lots of great pics to share of the last three conventions we've attended, starting with Memorabilia. As you can see above, Zak got to meet a stormtrooper, but Aaron wasn't entirely convinced that this was a good thing. It turns out that both my children are actually afraid of people dressed as stormtroopers, jedi, X-Men, aliens and daleks.

Even the presence of a certain brown-suited visitor from gallifrey couldn't persuade the boys that the Dalek posed no threat to them.

The convention overall was great fun, although the drive there and back proved a little too long for both boys (and me, to be honest). We met up with fellow OUC staff member Derek hartley though, which was good.

As always at these events there was so much STUFF that we wanted to buy, but we were very self controlled and just picked up a couple of Marvel Legends figures to add to our collection (which has recently been swelled by great special offers at both ASDA and Woolworths).

Zak got a couple of Power Rangers toys, as they are his ultimate heroes. He adores the Power Rangers. Aaron's Thomas The Tank Engine radar was fully operational and in the vast convention hall he managed to find a couple of engines to add to his vast collection.














The main purpose of our trip to Memorabilia though was so that Zak could meet these guys - the Power Rangers! Sadly there was no Pink Ranger present, but Zak was still very excited to meet his heroes.

We eventually arrived back in Medway much later than we should have (their mum wasn't hugely happy about that) but a great day had been had by all. I wouldn't hugely recommend Memorabilia as a family day out though, as the sheer size of the exhibition hall means that you'll be less than half way round before the children are asking to be carried, and the people in costume can be quite scary for the little ones.

Collectormania
Collectormania at Milton Keynes proved a lot more reasonable drive to and from than Birmingham's Memorabilia. However, Collectormania proved to eb even less child friendly. While the exhibition hall is a lot smaller, everything is a lot more cramped and there were vast numbers of people. Small children and crowds in enclosed spaces don't really mix well, and the boys were soon tired and irritable. Plus, there was a lot more cool stuff for the boys to look at at Memorabilia, whereas Collectormania is just about buying stuff. We ended up spending most of our time in Pizza Hut, so we still had a good time, but we could have done that locally and saved on petrol! Although Collectormania does score over Memorabilia by being free to get in! Considering there's little to do at Memorabilia other than buy stuff, charging to get in seems a little unreasonable. It's like having an entry fee at your local shopping centre!

We headed back the next day without the boys, although the crowds still made it very hard to look round all the stalls. The real highlight of the weekend was at the party on the Sunday night, where we got to bear witness to Anthony Head (Giles from Buffy) singing Sweet Transvestite, among other things.

I also got to meet Peter Mayhew, and got my photo taken with him with the intention of it aiding my campaign to win the "You Look Like A Wookie" award at the Two Drunk Guys In A Bar Golden Champagne Glass Awards, but due to them messing up I ended up without my picture. Still, the mess up did result in me walking through John Lewis with James Marsters. Something Cher still hasn't forgiven me for.

We left Collectormania early so that me could race to London for a screening of the classic animated Transformers: The Movie. Suffice it to say that Cher left the cinema transformed (sorry) into a rabid Transfan!

And now onto the big one - The Bristol International Comic Expo!

Friday
Pretty much everything that could go wrong in the week before BICE, did go wrong. I lost my job, my PC died, and our comics failed to arrive (and we're still waiting for them now, thank Ka-Blam!). I'd been working on a promo video for OUC for a few weeks, and the PC died as I clicked "Burn", leaving me a morning to redo it with images downloaded from our myspace page on my dad's PC.

As you can see from the picture, getting everything ready to take to the event took the form of organised chaos, with goodie bags and audio/video equipment spread all over the floor. For some reason we'd decided that it would be a good idea to organise the film night at BICE, for some reason the organisers of BICE had agreed, and God only knows what had possessed us to decide to make up goodie bags for the first fifty people through the door. As Derek kept pointing out, based on the attendance from rpevious years, fifty people coming through the door on the night was really wishful thinking.

We'd originally intended to leave early and get to Bristol at 2pm at the very latest. However, we had no comics and were clinging to the hope that they'd arrive at the eleventh hour (pun intended). That, combined with some other stuff going spectacularly wrong, meant that we didn't leave Medway until 2pm, and an accident on the M25, combined with roadworks on the M4, and hitting the outskirts of Bristol at rush hour, meant that we didn't get to the Ramada Plaza Hotel until around 7.30pm (and we still had to find our hotel!).

Still, from here on in things started to run smoothly. We set up our banner stands in the room where we were holding the Film Night and tested all the DVDs, which all worked perfectly. To our great relief, the DVD for Highlander: Search for Vengeance was indeed waiting for us when we arrived and as you can see from the photo, people actually turned up. Indeed, so many people turned up that we ran out of goodie bags. The film night was a huge success and we've been asked to host it again next year. We've already been brainstorming ideas to make the event even bigger and better.

Saturday
Proceedings finally came to a close at 3am, and we had to be up at 7am to set up our stand in the main exhibition hall! Despite not having any comics out table was somehow overflowing with stuff, and I can't help but think that we'll need a bigger table next time. The convention got off to a fairly slow start for us, as people semeed to be wandering around looking at stuff before buying at first. Things picked up in the afternoon, however, and we sold over half of our preview copies of Eleventh Hour on the first day. People also gave generously to the Orang Utan Foundation. The 32" LCD HD TV was hugely successful at drawing people to our stand (even if the Tokyopop people opposite us did have a bigger TV!).

Throughout the day we showed a selection of fan films, including Star Wars: Revelations, a teaser trailer for forthcoming Firefly fanfilm Bellflower, Batman: Dead End, AMV Hell 3, and many more. We managed to completely block the aisle we were on while we showed World's Finest (a team up between Batman and Superman) and Batman: Dead End (Batman vs Alien vs Predator). AMV Hell 3 also drew big crowds, with people standing at our stall for the full hour and a half running time (during which we waved our products in their general direction and enticed them to buy our wares). The big screen TV will definitely continue to be a feature of our stand at future conventions.

While most of the Saturday was spent at the stand, I did manage to get away for the Markosia panel, which was much better attended than last year's. Markosia have got a lot of big things in the pipeline and I'm particularly looking forward to their adaptation of Beowulf.

Saturday night saw us head to the Ramada bar for the infamous Two Drunk Guys In A Bar Golden Champagne Awards where our evry own Derek Hartley picked up the "Most Likely To Commit Murder In Our Name" awards, Cher picked up the "Scariest Fan" award and I completed OUC's award winning hat-trick with tyhe "You Look Like A Wookie" award. The ceremony was great fun and I can't wait for next year's awards. While everyone else seemed determined to drink well into the wee small hours, Cher and myself knew our limits and headed back to our apartment for some much needed sleep.

Sunday













The heaven's opened and created a much more subdued atmosphere on the Sunday (either that or everyone was really hung over). We sold less comics, saw less people, and there was generally an atmosphere of tired dampness about the whole convention. It rained so hard that one of the roads linking the main convention hall and the Ramada had to be closed due to a giant puddle (which I believe had developed its own tidal system).


The high point of Sunday was, of course, Hypotheticals, which went incredibly well, despite being moved to the Sunday. Cher somehow managed to get involved, being pulled from the audience by dave Gibbons to ask him a question (as he'd heard her interview with Budgie on Area-51 and knew she was good at that sort of thing). Budgie claims that it wasn't planned in advance and went to the lengths of producing the script in the bar later to prove this. I don't think Cher's 100% convinced that she wasn't set up. The panel wasn't quite as crazy as last years (mainly due to everyone being hung over rather than drunk, and the absence of Jamie Boardman), but it was still excellent.

After Hypotheticals we all headed back to the stand to find that everyone in the main hall was packing up, so, like the sheep we are, we joined in and packed up too! All that remained was to head back to the Ramada bar for a couple of hours to chill out and say goodbye to everyone. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to give the last two copies of the Eleventh Hour preview comic to Kurt Busiek and Alan Davis (who I gushed to about being such an inspiration to me...how embarassing). Then we crawled back into the car and headed back home. Thanks to everyone who made it such a great weekend, we'll see you all at Brumcon!

And for those of you that missed it, here's the OUC promo video:

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I Am The Wookie-est!

It's a proud honour to be nominated for a prestigious Two Drunk Guys In A Bar Golden Champagne Glass Award in the hotly contested "You Look Like A Wookie" category.

I'm up against stiff competition in the form of top comic book writing legend Alan Moore, so I need all the votes that I can get.

So, please, vote Sharman...it is your destiny...it is....the only way...

Go here to find out more.

I'd like to thank Tony and Dan and the makers of fine alcoholic beverages everywhere for making this nomination possible...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Useless Generation

What is the point of my generation? Really?

How quickly have we abandoned any dream of a revolution? Any notion that maybe we could forge some kind of brave new world for ourselves? How truly pathetic and apathetic are we?

We're content to work the longest hours in Europe, while we get the fewest public holidays in Europe. We just sit back and lap up crap like Big Brother, venting outrage about pointless stage managed so-called "reality TV" rather than getting off our rears and actually doing something to affect change. We've become completely blind to the real issues that are faced by our society - unacceptable levels of child poverty, escalating levels of general ignorance and apathetic acceptance of our elected representatives sanctioning illegal war on the grounds of fictitious military intelligence.

Any previous generation would have taken to the streets, would have been up in arms....we're too busy sharing videos of people falling over on YouTube to really care.

What are we going to be remembered for? YouTube? MySpace? PlayStation? iPod? Useless ephemera.
We are a decadent, fat, lazy generation. The kind of generation that brings about the end of empires.

We've accepted that the world is crap and there's nothing we as individuals can do about it because the state and big corporations are too powerful. But ordinary people have changed things in the past, and they can do so again.

We're one of the richest generations to have lived. So why are we all working ourselves to death? Why are we so stressed? Why can't we relax? Why do we pump ourselves full of stimulants - coke, coffee, red bull - in order to squeeze every last possible productive moment from our lives?

I'm tired of meaningless, pointless crap. I'm tired of working for a paycheck and nothing else. I'm tired of having to care about the relationships of over-privileged rich people I will never meet. I want to do something worthwhile. I have something to say and dammit I want to be heard.

I guess, ultimately, the whole point of this is to explain why it is I'm willing to go out on a limb with my good friend Peter Rogers and start up a publishing venture against all sense. You can't make money in comics. I know this, if I hear it one more time I'll scream. I have something to say, and my music was taken away, so I can't say it that way, the only way I can say it is through comics.

So, over the coming months, we'll be releasing some comics. Take a moment, pick them up, sit back and read them. Yeah, sure, on the surface Young Gods is just a rehash of the X-Men and Slam Ridley, that's just Star Wars, right? Maybe...maybe not... Have a read, you might just be surprised.

Now, repeat after me...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Absurdly Busy!

Where to start? Well, firstly, perhaps, an apology for not updating in so long, but there's just so much going on.

On the colouring front, busy with Heretic, another project that I'm not sure if I can mention yet, a remake of the Headlocked 6 pager, a CD cover for the Modern Monstrosity guys and a couple of pages for the Approbation guys. And I wanted to cut back on the colouring...sigh... That said, Cher and I are now colouring as a team, so expect to see future colouring jobs by us credited to "Orang Utan."

Speaking of Cher and I working as a team, we recorded our first show for Area 51 at the weekend. It needs a bit of polishing up, but hopefully the Area 51 people will like it and we can get it online soon.

The big news, though, is everything that's happening with Orang Utan, which continues to grow at pace. The official Orang Utan website hasn't been online for two months yet and we've already clocked up 20,000 hits! That's fairly mind blowing. (Oh, and congrats to Cher, whose comic review page on the Area 51 website clocked up over 9000 hits last month).

The first draft scripts for all four issues of the debut Slam Ridley mini series are now complete, and Paul Ridgon is hard at work on the artwork as I type.

Alessio is also hard at work on Young Gods, and I've recently received some great pin-up and cover artwork for Young Gods from Azim Akberali and John Charles (which you can see here).

Eleventh Hour is now, essentially complete. With all internal art both inked and lettered. I just have to prepare all the pages for printing, plus put together the blurb pages. Also, we're still waiting for the cover from Franke.

All in all, the preparations for Bristol are going well. We've just received our banners for the stand, and they look fantastic. Azim's art looks amazing blown up that big. We also have pretty much everything we need for the goodie bags now as well.

So much to do and so little time, but everything seems to be coming together now!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bristol International Comic Expo Film Night!

Orang Utan Comics are proud to present the official Bristol International Comic Expo Film Night 2007.

Held on May 11th at 10pm at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Bristol, this year's Film Night will be bigger and better than ever.

We have a thrilling selection of visual delights to offer you, including the UK premier of the new Highlander anime, Search For Vengeance; a rare chance to see award wining Star Wars fan film Revelations on a big screen; off the wall Superman fan film Losing Lois Lane; and the anarachic, feature length send up of "anime music videos", AMV Hell 3. Plus an exclusive first look at upcoming blockbuster hit, VZE!

There will be a collection during the evening for charity in aid of the Orangutan Foundation UK.

Entry is FREE, and the first 50 people through the door on the night will also receive a goodie bag from hosts Orang Utan Comics!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Future's Bright...


...the Future's Orang Utan!

I thought it was probably a good time for another update on everything that I'm working on at the moment. However, rather than just talk about what's currently in production I'm also going to share a little about one or two projects that are in the very early stages of development at the moment.

First off though, I want to draw your attention to a very talented artist, Pat Carlucci, who will hopefully be producing a pin-up or a cover for Orang Utan at the very least (and, if I get my way, much, much more).


Eleventh Hour 1 is nearing completion, with a mere five pages of inking needing to be done before all the artwork is complete. Much of the lettering has already been done as well. That leaves us just waiting on the highly talented Franke to complete the cover and we're ready to go to print. Now, those of you who've been following the development of Eleventh Hour may be aware that we were intending to use comixpress to print our comics. You may also be aware that comixpress have, for the time being, stopped taking orders due to technical difficulties. However, what could have become a real headache for us has actually been a blessing in disguise, as it's led us to Ka-Blam who seem to offer a far better service than comixpress anyway. Plus, Ka-Blam no longer charge set-up fees, which opens up a whole world of possibilities for us in the area of variant covers! So, hopefully, Eleventh Hour 1 should be available to order online in the next few weeks, and then we'll be officially launching the book at the Bristol Expo in May.

Not a huge amount of news on the Young Gods front, other than that we've droped the "The" from the title. I should be receiving some artwork from Alessio in the next few days and I'll be sharing some of that as soon as I have it.

Paul Ridgon reports that the new character designs for Slam Ridley are done, and he's completed the layouts for the first couple of pages of the script. So, once again, i should have some artwork to post in a few days.

Now for a quick look at some things a bit further down the line:

Hero: 9-5
Hero: 9-5 is a humorous look at a world where being a super hero is just another nine to five job that pays the bills. It's hard to save the world when your live-in girlfriend is also your arch-enemy, and she's jealous of your cute, young sidekick. Following the adventures of Flame-O, an employee of Heroes for Zeros, as he dreams of working for the world's premier super hero agency, POW! This series includes a colourful supporting cast, including Flame-O's sidekick Pink Girl (who has...pink powers...you know...power over...uh...pink), his girlfriend/arch-nemesis Frostica, and fellow Heroes for Zeros employees - The Rocket, Thunder Woman , The Loner and his sidekick Budgie.

Shine
Shine was my first ever attempt at making a comic. I originally produced three issues of Shine, which was written, pencilled, inked and lettered by me, and when I get around to scanning them all in, I'll put those old issues (done when I was about 18-19) up on comicspace. Ultimately I want to completely rewrite this and find someone with some actual artistic skills to draw it. It's probably a wee way off, but it's something I've wanted to return to for a long time.

Elephants From Norway Go Mad In Winter
I wrote this short novel about ten years ago. Some of you poor, unfortunate souls have actually read it. It's available in four parts on my deviantArt. It's my intention, after the encouragement of several friends, to adapt this into a comic book. So...um...anyone know someone who's good at drawing elephants?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Young Gods Come To Life!
































Seriously, how hard does this rock? This is totally awesome!

This pin up of The Young Gods was painted by Azim Akberali and will be appearing in the first issue of Eleventh Hour.

So...very...cool...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Orang Utan Comics Swings Into Action!





I may have been a little quiet over the past couple of weeks, but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything, On the contrary, I've been incredibly busy preparing for the launch of Orang Utan Comics at the Bristol Comic Expo in May.

Firstly, we're pleased to announce the creation of the official Orang Utan Comics website, which you will find here. Not only can you find out more about Orang Utan Comics, the creative staff and the projects that we're working on, but you can also join our Forum and talk to us! Yay!

Secondly, we're making great progress on all three of our current projects; Eleventh Hour, The Young Gods and The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley.

The pencils for Eleventh Hour are now complete, and so are most of the inks, and we're making good progress on the lettering too. This means that the book is well on schedule to be ready for the launch at the Bristol Expo. Eleventh Hour showcases the talents of many of the talented people currently working with Orang Utan Comics. The anthology includes stories written by both Peter Rogers and Ian Sharman, and illustrted by Azim Akberali, Randy Valiente, Nuno Nobre and Tom Walsh.

The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley has gained a new penciler...or, rather, an old one! We're excited to be able to announce the return of Paul Ridgon to the penciling duties on Slam Ridley. Paul recently took a short break from working on comics but now he's back and more fired up than ever. His new character designs look stunning and we'll be previewing the art at the Bristol Expo.

On the subject of pencilers, the long search for a penciller for The Young Gods seems to finally be over. Italian artist Alessio Nocerino has just agreed to take on the both the penciling and inking duties on the book. Again, we're hoping to be able to preview the art at the Bristol Expo.

Lastly, but by no means leastly, it gives me very great pleasure to announce that Orang Utan Comics will be hosting the film night at this year's Bristol Comic Expo. We'll hopefully be announcing the programme for the evning soon, but I can tell you that we've got some pretty cool things lined up!

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Young Gods hit the web!

Check out the Orang Utan Comics page on comicspace, here.

You can now view a six page preview of The Young Gods.

Also, keep an eye on my own comicspace page, here, as I'll be uploading a little blast from my past in a few days.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Life, The Universe and Comics!

In contemplating what to write in this update, it occured to me that the first paragraph of my autobiography is likely to include the words "four foot nine, Glasweigan lesbian", which I've always found to be a bit of an attention grabber.

Anyway, I thought it was time I put fingers to keyboard again and updated everyone on where I am with the various projects I've been working on (assuming anyone out there's actually interested...). So, here we go...

Shadowmancer
I have just completed forty-four of the sixty-six pages I have to colour for Shadowmancer. This has proved to be something of a mammoth task, bear in mind that my published colouring work so far has only been Smoke & Mirror vol 1 #5, and Smoke & Mirror vol 2 #1...that's only forty-four pages, so my work on Shadowmancer will more than double the amount of published colouring pages I have out there. I've encountered a fiar few obstacles along the way, not least of which have been my PC crashing over the Christmas break, a rather nasty stomach bug and being made redundant. However, the home stretch is now in sight and I've started work on #10. Unfortunately, these three issues will only be available in tradepaperback form, and only in the US.

Smoke & Mirror
As many of you will know, Smoke & Mirror vol 2 was sadly cancelled after #1. This was a shame because not only was it great fun to colour, it was also very, very quick to colour (unlike Shadowmancer!). Smoke & Mirror will always have a special place in my heart as it provided the first instance of my name appearing on the cover of a comic book - something I've wanted for as long as I can remember. It was also great to be involved in both series, and it was deeply unsatisfying that the second series only lasted for one issue. The first series got great reviews, and I know that many people were eagerly anticiapting the events of Vol 2 #2.

Well, the good news is that Smoke & Mirror is set to return later in the year! I don't know too many of the details but, Dan Bradford will be returning to pick up where he left off with the art, and I will also be returning to colour it. I'll post more information when it becomes available.

The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley
I'm sure you won't have failed to have missed the adverts we recently put up everywhere advertising for an artist on The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley. So...who's the new artist? Well, after receiving dozens of applications, and trawling through hundreds of sample pages, deliberating, cogitating and flipping several coins...Garth Graham returned from the wilderness, apologising for losing touch, and promising to have the six pager done by the end of the month! For those not familiar with the awesome art styling of Mr Graham, you can see them on his regular web-comic at www.comedity.com. Now, it strikes me that the end of the month is on Wednesday, so hopefully I'll have some more Slam goodies for you very, very soon. Having the six pager complete will mean that we can start shopping the book around to publishers, so hopefully things are about to go into hyperdrive for Slam. Another interesting development on the Slam Ridley front is that, after talking with Garth, we've decided to change the format. Slam Ridley's debut was originally conceived as a 48 page one-shot, but we've decided that Slam's story is just too big to squeeze it into one giant-sized issue, and we're busy re-writing it as a four part mini series.

The Young Gods
So...what to do with all those very, very talented artists who expressed an interest in ullistrating the Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley. Well, as fate would have it, just as Garth Graham returned from the wilderness, the artist who was attached to The Young Gods had to depart due to a schedule chock full of other goodies. So, the creme de la creme of the artists who applied were contacted and asked if they'd be interested in working on Young Gods, and we are currently in talks with two artists who are interested in taking on the artistic chores on the book. In other The Young Gods news, I can now confirm that the series will be making its debut in print in the pages of Eleventh Hour #1, which will be published by Orang Utan Comics and will be launched at the Bristol Comics Expo in May. We may also produce a Young Gods mini-comic, featuring those same six pages, with a full colour cover by 2000AD cover artist, John Charles. This may or may not be a free give away, we haven't decided yet. This cover is currently in production and I hope to be able to post up the pencils for you to admire later in the week.

Orang Utan Comics
I've mentioned Orang Utan a few times already, but I thought I should give them a section of their own, heh. Basically, things are progressing nicely with the production of Eleventh Hour, our debut anthology title. This will be on sale at our stand at the Bristol Comic Expo in May. This is sure to be a future collector's item as it will not only see the print debut of The Young Gods but, assuming that Garth actually comes through for us now, it will also see the print debut of The Intergalactic Adventures of Slam Ridley. Featuring a cover by jaw droppingly amazing Austrain artist Franke, Eleventh Hour is sure to be the surprise talking point of the Bristol Expo (unless Tony Lee steals all our thunder by climbing more trees). Plans are well underway to make the Orang Utan Comics stand a cut above the rest, and we hope that everyone will leave Bristol talking about the new kids on the block (as in us...not the rubbish boy band from years ago...). While it would be great to have boththe first issue of Slam and the Young Gods graphic novel ready by Bristol, it's highly unlikely. It would be great if we could announce publishing deals for both books by then though (and interested publishers should contact either myself or Pete by email via info@orangutancomics.com).

Other Stuff
Yes, there's tons of random other stuff, of course. For example, I've just done some digital edits on a few pages of a Headlocked six page story which will hopefully be seeing print somewhere at sometime, I'll let you know. I've also been working closely with the new editorial team at Markosia on a few things, but I'll keep those under my hat for now until I know if they're definitely going ahead or not. I've also been busy doing a few logo designs for Tony Lee. Tony's great fun to work with as he has no qualms about telling you that he hates something, which I personally find rather refreshing. I've also just agreed to provide sequential CG art for Cher's comic book, Project: Raven, but it's very early days on that right now.

Well, that's enough of my waffle for now. Hopefully I'll have more to post on both Slam Ridley and The Young Gods later in the week, so don't forget to check back for updates!