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2015 seems to be the year of potentially crippling threats to my endeavours.
It started with the VATMOSS crap, which is basically the EU putting into effect a poorly planned new VAT law, designed to stop big businesses from exploiting certain loopholes, but at the same time DESTROYING micro-businesses similar to mine.
At first glance, it appears Paypal is joining in the fun with an update to their policy:

www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/…

“When providing us with content or posting content (in each case for publication, whether on- or off-line) using the Services, you grant the PayPal Group a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, sublicensable (through multiple tiers) right to exercise any and all copyright, publicity, trademarks, database rights and intellectual property rights you have in the content, in any media known now or in the future. Further, to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law, you waive your moral rights and promise not to assert such rights against the PayPal Group, its sublicensees or assignees. You represent and warrant that none of the following infringe any intellectual property right: your provision of content to us, your posting of content using the Services, and the PayPal Group’s use of such content (including of works derived from it) in connection with the Services.”

Now, there are multiple interpretations of the above. Alarmists say it means that any content that is paid for by way of Paypal now BELONGS to Paypal. Technically, if it’s in writing and you agree to it, it is a contract. Paypal could, in theory, swoop in and claim all your IPs. The offending paragraph isn’t so specific as to rule that out.
However, if Paypal DID do that, it would simultaneously set a new legal precedent AND ruin them. Think how widely used the Paypal system is. The second they tried to nab an IP, word would get out and their user-base would vanish, along with their profit.
In all likelihood, the revised policy is just arse-covering and not something to get in a twist about.

***Minor Spoilers***

Even at their worst (Iron Man 2), the Marvel movies (The real ones, not that sh*t Fox and Sony keep excreting) are always a fun ride, well worth the price of a cinema ticket. Age of Ultron maintains that level of entertainment.
Despite having a huge array of characters nibbling at screen time, it never feels as sluggish as the midsection of the first Avengers flick. It rockets along at a glorious pace and maintains focus on its own story, but at the same time, Age of Ultron isn’t as good a tale.
Whereas Avengers felt like the end point that multiple movies had been leading up to, Age of Ultron doesn’t seem to further the series’ overarching narrative. It exists purely so we can spend more time in the company of the characters we know and love. Not a bad thing per se, especially with the usual barrage of fast quips and gags causing some genuine LOL moments (“I’m sorry”), but it does make the movie seem more forgettable than those before it. It has no real beginning and no real end. In the future, when we’re doing movie marathons and watching the Marvel films back-to-back, this will be one of those that you don’t mind leaving for a pee break. To its companion movies, it’s what Two Towers is to Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King: the middle one where there’s some walking, some talking and some fighting, but we’re really just killing time before the final chapter.
While Ultron is played brilliantly and makes a supurb villain, Baron Strucker and Hydra, whose presence had been built up at the tail end of Winter Soldier, are utterly wasted. Both register barely a blip in Age of Ultron when it seemed they should have had a more prominent role. I don’t mind if the conflict with Hydra is confined to the Agents of SHIELD TV series, but if there’s no space for them in the movies: don’t put them in! Good villains are hard to come by. Use them properly!

Oh, and don't wait until the end of the credits. We get a mid-credits stinger but nothing else...... I was kinda hoping for Spiderman.

So, two teasers of huge movies have been released. Why am I not bouncing up and down in my chair with glee?
I get a bit of stick these days for my supposed, relentless negativity, but it’s only there because of the relentless mediocrity that I keep getting told I should be excited about. It’s been a really bad couple of years for movies. Nothing but reboots and sequels. Nothing that treds new ground. Everything seems more interested in perpetuating a franchise rather than actually entertaining an audience.

It wasn’t the first to appear, but I’m going to start with it: Batman/Superman: Dawn of Justice.
This was probably only released because it leaked. It certainly does the movie no favours. The ham-fisted attempts at drama which brought down the previous Superman film look set to not only continue but intensify. It’s dull, it’s grim, it shows us once again that you can’t write Superman as Batman. He just doesn’t work as a brooding character.
Batman himself appears in the teaser very little, but what is there hints that they still don’t understand why he works better in the comics and animated movies than any of the live action incarnations.
I think the Keaton era Batman came the closest, if not bang-on target: Batman doesn’t talk much. He’s a character of action, not dialogue. He will demand an answer from a villain and that’s about it. If said villain refuses to answer, Batman beats the sh*t out of him and then asks the question again. That’s Batman. He’s to-the-point. He doesn’t threaten to make people bleed, he just goes ahead and does it.

The best example of how Batman should be done is in the flashback scene of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. That’s the damn benchmark. Not even Nolan’s hallowed Dark Knight comes close. Dawn of Justice doesn’t look like it’s even trying.

Also, though not seen in the teaser, there’s the surplus of side characters that we’re going to get. I’ve no idea how that’s going to be handled, but if you look at how too many character introductions has killed previous superhero movies (like the recent Spiderman) and add in the desperation of WB/DC to produce their own Avengers style mega-movie, things don’t look too good.

Next: Star Wars 7.

I have higher hopes for this than Dawn of Justice. I really, really, really wanted to hate JJ Abram’s Star Trek because I felt the time-travel narrative was utterly lazy. It made the characters less like heroes who were forging their own path and more like pawns of fate, waiting to be told what to do next. However, the movie was such impossibly good fun that I saw it on the big screen about 5 times and enjoyed each viewing. I’ve never done that before.

The big gripe I have about SW7 is that it’s ignoring all of the really good material that was produced in the wake of the original trilogy. I was hoping episodes 7, 8 and 9 would be adaptations of the Thrawn trilogy, but it was announced early on that none of the expanded universe was going to be used in the movies.
It doesn’t matter how you slice it: that’s a real slap in the face for all the fans who kept the franchise afloat all these years.
Then there are the visuals, which are very “Abrams”. He’s promised to cull the lens flare, but the teaser is really making his Star Wars look a lot like his Star Trek. Everything’s f**king shiny! Shiny robotic hands, shiny TIE fighters, shiny Storm Troopers. Shiny, shiny, shiny.
And when did the Empire become Space Nazis?! I’m not talking about the way they act, I’m talking about the way red flags are draped everywhere. It’s something I noticed in an episode of the (very, very Disney) Rebels CGI animated series. As a visual metaphor that informs with all the subtlty of a brick, it’s as lazy as the time travel thing I mentioned earlier. You may as well just have a subtitle flash up reading “These are the bad guys. Commence booing”. That kind of crap is a recent development. It was never even in the prequels.

I’ve mentioned in previous journals that I find stories that focus on the Jedi to be rather boring, so, while I will be watching SW7, along with the rest of the planet, I have a feeling I’ll enjoy Rogue One more as it's about war in the stars, not space wizards.

I don't draw other people's characters very often, and I generally advise other people not to either, because, unless you're actually being EMPLOYED to do so; you're not getting anything out of it. You're not promoting yourself or your own ideas but giving a big company free advertising. You're spending time and effort cementing someone else's IP into the public consciousness when you should be doing the same for your own.

That said, messing around in worlds that you did not have a hand in creating is a lot of fun. I do it myself and feel very guilty for it because I should really be focusing on my own.
These fanfiction concepts include:

A massive crossover of science fiction universes that sees Star War’s Empire and Star Trek’s Star Fleet fighting above the titular construct from Halo….which has been overrun by Daleks.

A Sonic the Hedgehog origin story, charting the arrival of Dr Robotnik.

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tale that focuses on Splinter’s early years.

My take on the Batman universe, which attempts to make the Dark Knight appear more nightmarish and scary.

Roger Ramjet…. I’m not saying anything more, but I have an idea that'll turn it from a goofy old cartoon into something that kicks ass.

And finally, a rewrite of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which drops certain characters and adjusts the motivation of others (Aliens and refrigerators remain).

The chance of me actually getting any of these to any stage of completion is very slim, but I’ve created a new poll because I’m curious to know which you would be most interested in seeing fleshed out, even if it's only a little bit of concept art.

The BBC has decided to drop Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, following some sort of altercation between him and a producer over food being served at the end of a days shooting.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainme…

Very little information has actually been released about the incident. It’s only ever been referred to as a “fracas” in the media and “a bit of a dust-up” by Clarkson’s co presenter James May.
I’m a huge fan of the show and Clarkson’s style of presenting, but if he punched a member of the crew because his food wasn’t hot then axing him is the right decision. There’s a huge difference between an unbroadcast, antiquated, school-yard rhyme (one of Clarkson’s previous “offences”) and physical violence.

Will Top Gear be the same without him? No it won’t. Will Top Gear survive his departure? Yes it will.

Another very popular BBC show is “Have I Got News For You”, which has been running since 1990. For the first 12 years it was hosted by a chap called Angus Deayton, but he was dropped in 2002 because he ended up IN the headlines in a scandal about prostitutes and illegal drugs. There was a question as to if the show could continue without the dead-pan presenter. It’s still running, 13 years on. They just altered the format so that the presenter is a different guest each week, rather than a set anchor.

Provided they don’t do something stupid and start recruiting children to present it (minimum age of 40, please, BBC. Grumpy men in fast cars are funny), Top Gear will endure.

They’re taking another stab at adapting the Hitman videogame into a movie. The trailer looks kinda snappy, with the eponymous Agent 47 appearing to be slotted into a more neutral/villain role rather than the antihero we saw in the 2007 flick (which I have watched a number of times and which still makes NO sense AT ALL).
I think the chap playing the character seems a bit young. I’ve always seen 47 as more well-travelled. This guy looks like he’s just turned up for his first job interview
They’ve also draped the story with some “genetically engineered being” tripe, which suggests it will not break the “curse” of using games as a basis for movies.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=alQlJD…

We are unlikely to see a GOOD video game adaptation anytime soon simply because, at the moment, there are always too many cooks in the kitchen. The average “summer blockbuster” always suffers because of studio interference. Adapt a game and you have to deal with a second group of unimaginative businessmen: the publishers who own the IP. They’ll have their own demands as they want their property to be seen in the best light possible.
Try to squeeze a movie through this corporate mangle and the result is always going to be a bland, forgettable piece of crap that does nothing daring, original or even true to the source material.
This also scares off any halfway competent directorial talent. Who the hell would WANT to work under such conditions?

A good videogame adaptation is going to require all parties involved to adopt the same mindset as the creatives behind the recent Marvel movies: serve the audience, not the IP. You serve the audience and THEY preserve and popularise the IP for you.

Just before the doors opened at London Super Comic Con 2015, Neal Adams walked around the entirety of the Artist’s Alley, shaking the hands of all the creators currently seated at their tables.
He stopped at mine, pointed to my price list and said I wasn’t charging enough.
Now, when a veteran of the industry in which you are currently operating at the very fringes of gives you advice, it’s generally in your best interest to listen. On this occasion, though, I’m hesitant to follow it.
I charge very little for on-the-day convention sketches: £5 (about $7.50 USD) and all I’ve been hearing for the last three days, from fellow artists and other parties (SHUT UP, MA!!), is how I’m crazy to ask for such a piffling amount.

It’s starting to grate.

I charge £5 for a pic for a few different reasons:

1) I do not go to conventions to make a profit. If I cover the cost of transport, accommodation and the table, that’s great. No loss if I don’t because I’m there for the atmosphere and interaction, not the coin. If I was purely interested in profit, I wouldn’t go to conventions at all! I’d stay at my desk and work on material that I know sells.

2) I think a convention is where you should be able to find a bargain. Instead, it always seems to be the other way around. The focus seems to be on bleeding the crowd rather than cultivating it. I don’t like that. If it weren’t for the masses, I’d have to get a REAL job. The least I can do is offer SOMETHING at a lower than normal price.

3) I charge what I would be willing to pay for a similar piece, and I don’t think the pencil sketches/drawings I scratch out are worth more than a fiver. If I asked for more, then I would feel obliged to spend more time on them, meaning fewer would get done, meaning fewer people would take something unique home with them. A higher price means more pressure on me and less satisfaction for the audience, making EVERYONE miserable. How is THAT a good thing?!

I respect the old guard immensely, but even if I do become some big name like Neal Adams, my convention prices are going to stay low.

After much fretting over the potential ramifications of making use of the Patreon service, I have decided: f**k it. I'm going ahead with my plans.
Might be a mistake, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.....and then jump off to make a daring river-escape should things go south.

Assuming I haven't ballsed anything up (I'm new to using Patreon), my page can now be found here: www.patreon.com/jollyjack

Content is much the same as you'd find in the "Beasts and Babes sketchbooks" that have appeared in the Apsara Portfolio previously, so if you've no interest in that kind of material, save your time and coin and don't bother with it.
I'll be adding a new sketch roughly every day, along with sneak peeks at new Apsara comics that I'm working on.

Nothing will be 100% exclusive to Patreon, it will just show up there first. Eventually all content will become available via the channels I usually use, so don't get in a twist if you don't want to use that service.

Let me tell you a little bit about the House of Wisdom.
It was founded in the 8th century, eventually becoming based in Baghdad, and was a major intellectual centre during the Islamic Golden Age. Scholars there made it their business to collect as much information as they could, from all corners of the known world. They would collect books and texts and return them home for translation. It made the people of the Islamic world among the most culturally advanced on the planet.
They constructed astronomical observatories, they forwarded the science of medicine, mathematics, chemistry, zoology, geography and cartography. They drew upon the work of both those who had come before, and their contemporaries, and then advanced it. Many inventions from the Islamic Golden Age have had a legacy that lasts up until this very day:

www.independent.co.uk/news/sci…

So, what happened? If the House of Wisdom was such a fountain of knowledge and invention, we should be flying around in starships by now, right?
Well, if the Golden Age had lasted, we might have been.
In the 9th century a new Caliph came to power, one who had no interest in science or rationalism, and who demanded a more literal interpretation of the Quran. The spread of Greek philosophy was seen as anti-Islamic and the House of Wisdom fell into decline.
What remained of it was destroyed in the 13th century when the Mongols rolled in from the East.

Religion ruins everything once again.

Aaaaand, they’re still at it: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middl…

The killing and the murder that IS are currently engaged in is terrible, but the systematic destruction of past human achievements just seems to cut a lot deeper. Vandalism like this really makes me see red.
The general attitude of IS seems to be one of revenge. They blame the rest of the world for the sorry state in which they find themselves, and fingers can certainly be pointed on some issues.

But if you only ever read one book, if you preach anti-intellectualism, if you don’t study the triumphs and failures of the past: your country will always be a shit-hole.

It's a more or less a week away, now.
I had a blast last year. Lots of fun, doing sketches and chatting to readers for two days!
Hope it's as good this year!

They've assigned us our tables......and put a typo in the name I gave them. "Solo Endeavours"?! C'mon.
Solo ENDEAVOUR (me) can be found at A110.

Check here for a full floorplan: www.londonsupercomicconvention…

Dear Rest of the World,

Our rodents are better than yours.

Kindest regards,
Great F**king Britain.



www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31711446
I’m currently looking at Patreon from a new angle. I generally don’t like the concept of crowd-funding, which is how I’d always seen it, but as a different avenue of distribution it might actually be useful. Especially now that so many other artists have already gone before me and built up an army of patrons. I wouldn’t be asking people to sign up to yet another webpage purely for my own purposes. Chances are; you’re already there.

My original idea was to start dumping content onto Patreon that would otherwise have been distributed via The Apsara Portfolio under the “Beasts and Babes Sketchbook” title, but then I read the user guidelines and they seem just as squeamish when it comes to smutty content as everyone else.
Guy getting torn apart by bullets and exploding in a shower of red gore? Fine.
Male and female genitalia coming into contact with one another? Oh my god. Think of the children.

A revised approach is to post content there, along with selected elements from the sketchbooks, which is probably a little too smutty for DeviantArt, but not to a level where people start trying to shut my account down. Essentially just very suggestive pin-ups.

I have no plan on thinning out the content I post here on DeviantArt, nor do I intend on forcing people to start paying for content that has thus far been free to view.

There’s still a bit more I need to read up on before I push forward on any new plans. I always approach new things with caution. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what people (especially existing Apsara customers) think of the idea.

www.polygon.com/2015/2/26/8112…

I had a feeling it would happen one day.
Battle Chasers ended 14 years ago, after a mere 9 issues. I would say “suddenly” but their release schedule was almost as sporadic as mine. It just sort of fizzled, stopped and then everyone involved wandered away.
The artist, Joe Madureira went off to make video games and was involved with two studios…both of which closed. The most recent was Vigil, who made the rather pleasing Darksiders, which is probably where the non-comic readers out there will recognise Joe Mad’s western-manga style from.
Unfortunately, Vigil went bye-bye because its parent company, THQ, crashed and burned. All the IPs and studios under its wing were sold off. No one wanted Vigil, but the Darksiders brand was nabbed by Nordic games, who have yet to announce anything involving it.
This all left the remnants of Vigil having to rebuild, and obviously has provided motivation for a return to Battle Chasers by Joe Mad. It’s coming back, not just as a comic, but as a game.

Battle Chasers is one of my fave comics from that period. It was very slick thanks to Joe Mad’s art style and the fantastic colouring work (done by a group called Liquid!, if memory serves) and still remains a real benchmark.

And, of course, it had Monika: a mix of classic 90s bad girl and Jessica Rabbit.
She....uh....might have had something to do with me picking up the comic in the first place.

If I don’t understand something, I try my hardest to learn more about it. Thanks to the internet, that’s easier than ever and leaves people very little excuse to remain wholly ignorant on a subject.

I’ve only posted a handful of images and journals voicing my increasing unease at recent Russian behaviour on the world stage, but within the comments section of each have been very lengthy debates and arguments.
A popular response from the Russian side of things tends to be “You just don’t understand Russia”. They just love saying that, but they never try to explain it, even when you flat out ask them to:



SO, with the heartfelt belief that the more people talk, the more ideas and concepts you share, the better the world becomes:
“You just don’t understand Russia”
“Then explain it to us until we do.”

Go!

The great Leonard Nimoy has died, age 83.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainme…

There’s not really much I can write about the chap or his impact on sci-fi culture that you’re not already aware of. We all knew and loved him as Spock from Star Trek. Hell, I named one of my webcomic’s characters after him.
Nimoy never forgot about his fans, either, and how it is they who ensured his lasting popularity. It’s telling that it was he who cameoed in the recent Trek films and not Shatner.

Being the awesome man he was, his final words to the public (by way of twitter) were “LLAP”.

“Live Long and Prosper”.

Any time I pass comment on world events, especially if that comment is negative toward the actions of a foreign country, I get the same replies: “Your media is lying to you”, “It’s all propaganda”, etc.

I promise the people that said all that: I’m just as paranoid and untrusting of the world as you guys, which is why I question everything before opening my mouth.

There is constant talk of conspiracy and media manipulation, and I believe that it does occur, but it is not as long lasting as it was prior to the dawn of the digital age. In the past, information could be controlled very easily, but now, with everyone who owns a phone being a potential source of news, the truth will surface much faster. Lies are now exposed within hours, not decades.

Within the comments of a recent deviation I made mention of how I assess information, but it probably go lost so I shall repeat it here: I don’t just look at one news source, I study three. The BBC, RT and Al Jazeera. With each coming from a different part of the world and with their own agendas, my theory is that if information across at least two of those networks match, it’s as close to the truth as an average civilian can get.
From that, I draw my own conclusions. Conclusions which I feel I can confidently share and debate, should I feel strongly enough about them.

Should you read one and have a flash of anger as a result, rather than simply spitting “No, that’s not true. You're a fool for believing it”, try asking “Why do you think this?”

Taking a known hero of fiction and altering their gender and/or race is a stunt. A gimmick. They do it for the sake of “shock” advertising rather than out of any real desire to add variety to the predominantly white male pantheon.

There have been a few news articles to stoke my irritation over the last couple of months. First there was word that Thor of the Marvel universe was to become female, then there was a rumour James Bond was going to be recast with a black actor and now there are mumbles that the Spiderman who may/may not show up in the cinematic Marvel universe will be a black kid: www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trend…

Personally, I think all this crap is side-stepping the issue of diversity rather than addressing it. If the likes of Marvel were really serious about it, they’d invest time and capital creating new heroes who are a different gender/race from the get-go. Building up a new mythology for a female or black character would be so much stronger than if a different gender or ethnicity were shoe-horned into an existing character’s spandex suit.

Idris Elba was the actor being pegged as a potential “New” James Bond.
WHY?!
Why the f**k would you want to take an actor who is that good and lumber him with the baggage of Bond?! It would be such a waste!
For god’s sake, if you’re going to rope in the likes of Elba, come up with a NEW spy franchise that has a black guy at its core. Something to COMPETE with Bond and forge its OWN identity so that when you say the title it conjures up a specific image in the same way that “007” makes you think [insert white actor’s name here].



The script for the comic this person is referring to was written months before the material they’re claiming I ripped off was posted here on DA. I have emails that confirm it.

I’m rather irked that anyone would think that, after all this time, I would actually plagiarise anything. Parody for the sake of comedy, sure, but not flat-out copy.

Let me tell you what I know: the creative process grants you access to infinite possibilities. As such, I have never, ever felt the need to copy someone’s work. If I am aware of something that exists, I veer away from it. Partly because it would just feel wrong to steal someone else’s ideas, but mostly because….it’s boring! I get a kick out of devising new things. It’s one of the most enjoyable and satisfying endeavours you can pursue.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jiP5T…

How the hell did I not know about this?!

TV series Spooks (known as MI-5 in some parts of the world), which ended in 2011, is returning as a feature film, titled Spooks: The Greater Good.

Spooks started during the same, post 9/11 years that spawned 24, but unlike the Kiefer Sutherland Whispering Hour, Spooks was actually rather scary and often very brutal. It was one of the first series I remember watching and just not knowing if every member of the main cast were going to make it to the end credits. The scenarios it played with were also worryingly plausible, dealing with very realistic threats rather than Hollywood-level, OTT absurdity.

I’ve harped on about this before and I’m going to do it again…..and again and again…..until people stop doing it.

I do not fave pictures that have watermarks right across them.

This isn’t me being monumentally arrogant and thinking that I alone faving a piece of work bestows upon it some kind of greatness. This is just me having an artistic eye.
If you’ve slaved to create the most astounding piece of work to have ever graced the galleries of deviantart, something that puts all your peers to shame and will remain a benchmark that others aim to match for years to come…..and then across the middle of it you decide to slap a watermark that you spent 5 minutes farting out: you just f**ked up your artwork. You have added something that detracts from my enjoyment of the piece and I’m not going to fave it.

There are a number of brilliant artists out there who I’m on the verge of unfollowing, simply because it irks me so much to see a tacky watermark (or worse, the default DA skidmark) ruining what would otherwise be a beautiful image.