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Just a quick reminder that I'll be perched on a table at Demoncon this Sunday, should anyone want to stop by for a natter :)

www.facebook.com/events/153312…
No, I’m not going to kill myself, but watching the reaction videos on Youtube regarding the first real trailer for Suicide Squad certainly makes an “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore” feeling more prevalent. It’s like everyone suddenly turned into moths and Warner Bros just ignited the biggest bug-zapper in history.
You’re gonna get burned, people!

Elements that make for a good trailer are only part of what is required to make a good film.
The Suicide Squad trailer is a rip-roaring rollercoaster of explosive moments that will have both action-film junkies, like me, and the special-needs Michael Bay fans bouncing up and down in their chairs with glee.
Add to that their choice of music and you have trailer perfection, because Queen automatically makes everything it backs f**king awesome: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Hi8IW…
It’s like using a cheat-code. No wonder the Bay-crowd are frothing over it.

Concern for me comes from the dialogue they elected to add. The dialogue, and its delivery.
Harley in Batman TAS was annoyingly squeaky voiced, but actually funny. Harley in Suicide Squad is just annoying.
“The voices”
Oh, god, that sounded so forced
“We’re bad guys. It’s what we do”
Gnnnnnn, I’ve heard you say two lines and I already hate you.
It’s no doubt going to be a 2-hour-plus film and THAT’s the crap they elected to show us?

Let’s look at the trailer for another film about a team of anti-heroes: www.youtube.com/watch?v=d96cjJ…

Compare the two. Which gives you a clearer idea as to the quality of the movie it’s promoting?
The Suicide Squad trailer looks more like it’s hiding the actual movie behind an explosive glare, while Guardians of the Galaxy actually gives you a real taste, without Batman v Superman grade spoilers.

Now, when I poo-pooed Guardians of the Galaxy on first seeing its trailer, it wasn’t because I thought it was going to be a bad film, it was because I thought it was stretching the Marvel Cinematic Universe too far from its greatest strength: a delightfully grounded feeling. I was proven very, very wrong, as GotG felt just as grounded as Iron Man had.
On seeing the Suicide Squad trailer and looking past the flashy edits and rocking score, I just see bad acting, lazy writing and committee-born design choices.

Right. No one seems to have died today, so I can post a notice of conventions I'll be attending in February.

The first is the cozy little Demoncon on February 7th: www.facebook.com/events/153312…

The second is the, much larger, London Super Comic Con across February 20th and 21st: www.londonsupercomicconvention…
This one kinda snuck up on me. For some reason I thought it was in March! Pretty sure last year's was. I'm stepping up the pace of production on Little Victory #6 to ensure it's ready!
Gotta love a tight deadline!

As usual, I'll be lurking beneath my Solo Endeavour banner, should anyone want to stop by for a chat :)

What the f**k is going on??!!!

OK, let's make this easier. Any famous person who ISN'T dead, please raise your hand.

Alan Rickman, famous for playing a multitude of roles, including Hans Gruber, pretty much the greatest movie villain of all time, has died at the age of 69.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainme…

Spoon-violence will just not be the same without him.

Zootopia looks to be a rather funny and charming animation, just as much of a visual delight as all past Disney CG animations…. Yes, including the abominable sh*t-stain that is Frozen.

Something that I think to be rather bizarre, however, is that the very first teaser released for the movie felt the need to explain the concept, as though it were so alien that it would otherwise frighten the kiddies: anthropomorphic animals.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nP9hU…

Has it really been that long since such creations were mainstream that the idea of walking, talking cartoon critters would confuse present-day kids?!
I guess so. I can’t really think of any (good) modern-day animated cartoons that feature a fuzzy cast, and the only critter left in the world of video games is Sonic, who hasn’t been entertaining since 1994.
The damn things were everywhere when I was a kid. There was such saturation of the market that Disney had to start making up whole NEW animals in an attempt to stand out:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wuzz…

It’s kind of depressing to think that, up until this point, a generation hasn’t seen a single fluffy tail on their TV screen. Cartoon animals are one of those keys that unlocks the imagination, because if you can accept the fact that a talking bear flies a cargo plane or a Scottish duck owns a mountain-sized vault of money, you’re immediately granted permission to enjoy all manner of whimsy. Your creative mind no longer needs to conform to the bounds of reality. The words “That’s silly” are squashed by the words “That’s fun”.

David Bowie has died at the age of 69 after an 18 month battle with cancer.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainme…

Damn. I thought that guy was immortal.

I never really cared for his music, but the movie The Labyrinth was a big part of my childhood, and Bowie was a big part of that.

I’ll have to do a bit of Goblin King fan-art.

The annual hilarity of writer Charlie Brooker’s year-in-review is lurking around Youtube, for those not in a part of the world where you can make use of the BBC’s iPlayer.
Watching all the major events of the past 12 months lined up in sequence did rather show how god-awful 2015 was. Fingers crossed that 2016 is a year of scientific and intellectual advancement!

It’s mostly drawn from the British perspective, but there’s one clip the Americans really need to watch:


Please stop him. Please? He’s making the weaker-minded think they need to be afraid of someone wearing a t-shirt with the word “peace” written on it!!!
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europ…
****Spoilers (do I really need to say it?)****

During the adverts leading up to the film, there was a brief plug for Fallout 4. As soon as I heard the Inon Zur score kick in, I realised something: I had been looking forward to the launch of that game more than The Force Awakens.
The reason for this was that Fallout 4, I knew, was going to be a step into the unknown. It was going to present something new that I could explore and savour. The Force Awakens, by comparison, I knew was going to tread far more familiar turf, beginning a journey which we won’t actually see the conclusion to for at least 4 years. Everyone knows their favourite out of Episodes IV to VI, but that’s because they’re all there for us to watch. Of VII to IX, we have only seen VII. The arc, if there is one, isn’t even halfway through.
If you put your logic hat on, it’s hard to get excited about something that you know perfectly well is not going to have a conclusion.

Cutting to the point – Is Star Wars: The Force Awakens a good film?

F**k no.

Is it a great deal of fun and well worth the price of admission?

Hell yes.

As a theme park ride and huge advertisement for the next big expansion of Disneyland, it’s (mostly) brilliant. Spaceships, explosions, action, a glorious sense of fun, it has the lot. But as a piece of storytelling, it’s a turd.

First up, I will say that suggestions of it being just a re-hash of Episode IV are kind of missing the point. It struck me as being intentional, not as an act of lazy writing but as a deliberate reflection, with the veteran cast adopting the roles that Obi Wan and Yoda filled, and the newcomers filling the shoes of Luke and Han.
The introduction of Death Star 3: Death Harder, however, did negate any subtlety that choice may (should) have had. A new, dastardly plan that needs to be foiled with something other than an X-Wing shooting at a hole would have been a better choice.

The pacing was also off. For the most part, the film rockets along, but suddenly stops dead in the middle for no good reason. One moment it’s full steam ahead, the next, the heroes stop off in The Shire for drinks and random lightsabers at an alien-infested Prancing Pony, while a beetle-lady spouts some meaningless exposition that may or may not have relevance 2 years from now.
It all felt like a horrific waste of precious screen time that really should have been devoted to building up the final act.
As it stands, it’s actually something of a crime that such a major and beloved character’s demise felt more like a throw-away blip than the epic punch-in-the-gut it needed to be.

On the subject of characters, Force Awakens suffers a surplus, which, as with other films that fall into the same trap, is to its detriment. A Han/Chewie style rapport between Finn and Poe was hinted at, and would have been very interesting to see develop on-screen, but because there wasn’t time to do so; they’re suddenly best-buddies by the time the third act starts, despite only hanging out together for about 10 minutes. It makes no sense and just looks silly. It would have been better to save it for the next film rather than shoe-horn it in.

Those major factors are what bring the film down, but not to a level where it isn’t enjoyable. Treat it as a big-budget B-Movie and you’ll have fun. Go in expecting greatness and you’ll be left disappointed.

I gave up on The Walking Dead TV series some time ago. I just stopped caring about the characters when it became a chore to sit through their ongoing stupidity.
Ineptitude is a very lazy catalyst for drama.
Unfortunately, while it took a good few seasons for that to set in with the original series, the spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, suffers from it by the second episode. Starting to think picking up the box set was a waste of coin.
The characters might have an easier time dealing with the Zombie Apocalypse if they SPOKE to one another and shared information CLEARLY rather than through vague, cryptic answers.
When someone asks "What's happening?/What's going on?": TELL THEM.
If one of your neighbours is eating another, perhaps you should tell your daughter WHY you can’t go out and help.
If you know your cliché disgruntled-by-divorce son is likely to hang up when they hear your voice, don’t waste time by asking “Where are you?”, just cut straight to “There’s a virus out there are you’re in danger”.
Granted, if you put any of that in your script you’ll have to actually write some original dialogue as characters communicate, rather than just waste screen-time with faux tension, but that will make them INTERESTING, which is kinda the point.
I’m only up to episode 2 and so far the only character I give two sh*ts about is the weighty kid encountered at the school. He’s just a side-character, barely been on screen for 15 minutes, but I’d rather be following HIS story than ANY of the main cast. Not because he was smart enough to start carrying a knife AND to raid the school for supplies while everyone else was looting the stores, but because when he spoke or was asked a question, he relayed useful information that fleshed out the world the narrative was taking place in. Everyone else is just speaking in riddles or standing in silence with a face like a startled goldfish.
I think I’m just gonna stick with the Walking Dead comics from now on. The dialogue may be a bit clunky in places, but at least the characters are articulating!

Yeah, I’m bored with Trump's prattling now, too, but he’s yet another loudmouth who is claiming Britain has “no go” areas for non-Muslims.
Earlier in the year, Faux News was claiming that Birmingham was some sort of Crusader-era Muslim stronghold where anyone not of that faith got their hands chopped off if they dared enter the city….which was news to me as I’d just bought some comics there that day - jollyjack.deviantart.com/journ…
Now, His Trumpiness is claiming that London is swarming with radicals and the police fear for their lives - www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-…

Shortly after he spouted this, a rather handy pie-chart surfaced online. One that I think should calm any fears about security within the capital:

OK, this is all spoiler free, and I’d appreciate it if you kept the comments spoiler free for both myself and others.

As you probably know; I’m a fan of the Fallout games. Exploring the retro-futuristic ruins of 2277 (or there abouts) has provided many, many hours of entertainment, wonder and inspiration. I was probably anticipating Fallout 4’s release more than that of the upcoming Star Wars flick!

My experience with the game so far (I may revise these points on completing the game…..which is still a waaaays off) has led me to the following opinions:

1 – It feels more like Borderlands than Fallout.
This game feels like an FPS rather than an RPG played from a first person view (Yes, I know some of you play it in 3rd person. I don’t). It’s not a bad thing as I like both styles of play, but the VATS-heavy gameplay of Fallout 3/New Vegas made the game feel more tactical and I kinda miss that.
The concept of a red crate being at the end of a dungeon feels like it’s been taken straight out of Borderlands. I’m not sure I like its presence as half the fun of the previous two Fallout titles was scouring the environments you’d just cleared for hidden goodies. Having said prize be presented to you on a silver platter rather shatters the illusion of this being a world.
I think I like that equipment degradation has been removed. I like the idea of finding a weapon that you love and forever keeping it as your trusty sidearm, but I’m also aware that it removes a bit of the thrill present in previous titles. Keeping your gear in working order made entering a new dungeon a tactical choice: do you move forward with weapons that may break in the next encounter, or do you flee back to a settlement to repair your stuff? Now you can just charge in without a second thought.

2 – NPC interaction is crap.
Your choice of response in conversation is too vague for my liking. It lessens the feeling that you as a player are having an impact on the world. Combined with the player character having an actual voice, you feel more removed, like you’re observing the action rather than participating in it, which is what an RPG is supposed to be all about.
It also makes it impossible for you to pursue your own avenue of investigation. If you don’t know exactly what you’re going to ask, how can you possibly grill someone effectively for information on a specific subject? Much of the world-building in the previous games came from NPC conversations, and streamlining them like this is actually making the Boston Commonwealth feel rather empty.
I don’t like the way the world continues to move around you as you enter a conversation, either. There was one occasion where I was talking to an NPC after a particularly ferocious battle with bandits. He was about to tell me something useful when a Deathclaw lumbered into view in the background and wandered over to the on-screen characters, who didn’t react at all until the creature was striking them.
The best RPGs smoothly relay their story. Fallout 4’s attempt to be more pretty than Fallout 3 has succeeded at the expense of smooth story-telling.

3 – Your companions are retards
I don’t think I’ve ever shouted “get the f**k out of my way!!” more at a screen. Climbing stairs or passing through a doorway simply should NOT be made such a chore. I’d rather deal with the ugliness of ghosting through a companion, facing the horror of the head being displayed inside-out, than have my traversal of the environment be hindered with such regularity!

Ultimately; Fallout 4 is very good and well worth playing, but it’s just not as good as Fallout 3.

Just a heads up: the division of Yahoo that I use to host my website/s (www.collectedcurios.com / www.soloendeavour.com) is breaking away and becoming a separate company altogether, so there are changes currently going on in the background which are completely beyond my control.
There may be some disruption.
Right now I can't edit my site, so the latest Sequential Art strip is sat here on my harddrive, waiting to be uploaded.
Tomorrow, hopefully!
As I was walking down the street, a driver who I didn't recognise tooted their horn and called out "Jolly Jack!".
Unfortunately it was a pretty busy road, so they couldn't stop for me to ask how or where they knew me from. If they were referring to me as "Jolly Jack" it has to be a member of the internet crowd, but B3TA or DevArt? I've met many from the former and there's enough photo-evidence in my gallery for a member of the latter to easily identify me.
Well, random person, if you're reading this: Hello. You found me.

I’ve been playing the game for seven hours now and I’ve been loving every moment of it, but, wow, some people been shafted by the games industry on this one.
A friend of mine eagerly raced home from work last night to play it….and spent the next several hours waiting for it to install and update. By the time it had done so, it was too late for him to give it a shot.
I’m not sure how or why I got off so lightly. Maybe it’s because I’m a console gamer. Maybe it’s because I installed and updated the game in the morning of its release in the UK, before the Americans woke up and strain was put on the servers.
It shouldn’t have happened, though. It’s everything I hate about modern video games: they’re selling something they KNOW is BROKEN. I don’t care how large the game is, if it has bugs in it you FIX those bugs before putting it into print! The players, especially the die hard fans, shouldn’t be punished for sloppy development.

Other tales of Fallout woe stem from physical distribution. Look around on the internet and you’ll find stories of people pre-ordering the game months ago and who are now receiving messages that their copy has been delayed. Sometimes indefinitely!
How pissed off must they be?!
This is why I don't pre-order games or buy "Season Passes": unless your game is on the shelf, and I can pick it up and take it to a till, I refuse to believe it exists. I'm not giving you money for something that doesn't exist. I don’t care what kind of Pip-Boy shaped carrot you dangle in front of me.

So, the trailer for Warcraft dropped a couple of days ago:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Rxoz1…

Wow. That looks…..reeeeallly bad. Not Uwe Boll bad, granted, but certainly as bad as any other cinematic adaptation of a video game IP.
Why the hell didn’t they go full CG? Compare it to one of the latest World of Warcraft trailers:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYNCCu…

See? Don’t all the visuals just gel better than the CG/Real life mash-up that the movie is promising?
Now, at its peak, World of Warcraft had about 12 million players. I think it’s down to about 5 million at the moment. This movie is going to make money, sure, but so did the first Tomb Raider film, and for precisely the same reason: the fans will go and see it.
The last time I visited Azeroth, though, was in 1995, with Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness, so any of the characters and settings developed across the course of World of Warcraft are unknown to me. If they show up in the movie, I would neither know it nor care. To me, all the trailer is showing is a strange cocktail of Narnia, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. One that doesn’t tempt in the slightest, purely because it looks so very bland. It just has a bunch of stuff that I’ve seen elsewhere, with none of the visual flare that compels me to buy the occasional Blizzard art book.

Despite being the only 007 film to open with tentacle porn, it didn't achieve the highs of Skyfall (which I'll admit I didn't warm to on the first viewing, but which grew on me the more I saw it) but certainly feels like an old-school Bond flick. Lots of globe trotting, chases, a few gadgets, but a very mediocre revenge plot, the exposition of which that rather undermines the charm of certain characters.
They openly stated that they tried to make this film bigger than Skyfall, but “bigger” doesn’t usually mean “better”.

I’ll really have to try and see it again, as my cinematic experience was rather undermined by a young kid who I assume was visually impaired. When he wasn't talking over the top of the movie (probably because ANY kid that age would have NO interest in this kind of film) his headphones were ramped up so loud I could hear the descriptive audio from the far side of the room.
I'll be as kind and considerate as possible to disabled folk when out and about. I will offer them assistance, I will be respectful of their situation and dive in automatically if I think they're in trouble. But when I've paid the absurd fee required to sit in a sh*tty cinema in the hope of maybe, just maybe, seeing a good film: you will sit your crippled ass down and shut the f**k up.

The UK networks tend not to have the budget to create anything as flashy as their US counterparts, but they’re very good at working with what they’ve got: a ton of old buildings.
British towns and cities don’t seem to pull down the old structures as much as they do build over them. Why waste time and money assembling sets when there are plenty of period houses, streets and cellars available?
The latest series to make use of them is a new take on the Jekyll and Hyde story:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=tei6Hc…

I’ve just seen the first episode, which, while entertaining, did give me a bit of a fright. If you’re familiar with my super-hero comics and the universe in which they’re set, you’ll know that there’s a division of the British military called the Office of Dangerous Anomalies (ODA), who are essentially monster hunters that run around in dark coats and bowler hats.
Guess what you’ll see in the Jekyll & Hyde trailer?
Yep. Government monster hunters in dark coats and bowler hats. A branch of Military Intelligence titled “Other” (MI-O). As soon as they rocked up I found it hard to enjoy the episode as I was terrified they would be identical to my own creation. Thankfully, as it went on, it became obvious that they were taking the concept down a more predictable route: MI-O is essentially an MIB knock-off, working in the shadows, keeping their existence a secret. Bowlers aside, there’s no similarity between they and my fiction.
And, boy, did I give a sigh of relief.
Anyway, the actual show itself holds a lot of promise. It takes place 50 years after the original “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, with a young Robert Jekyll, the original Dr Jekyll’s grandson, being summoned to London. Having been brought up in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by adoptive parents, he has no knowledge of his family history until a legal firm makes contact with him in regards to the fate of his grandfather’s estate. Word spreads of Robert’s existence and other parties, who are aware of the family history, seek his capture.

It’s kind of embarrassing to be a Brit at the moment. Not because we’re now essentially just an island of mercenaries in the employ of the more wealthy world powers. No one here gives a rat’s arse about that. A job’s a job, but they were jobs that didn’t clash with national principles.
What really makes the average islander want to hide their face in shame is our government, by way of deals and military involvement, broadcasting to the world that we no longer hold those principles. We can no longer take a stand on anything without sounding like complete hypocrites.
Because the previous Labour government were complicit in the lies that brought about the Iraq debacle, we can’t criticise Russia’s action in Ukraine, and thanks to the current Conservative government, we can no longer criticise anyone of human rights violations.
Cameron and Co have put us in bed with China, whose most recent transgressions include breaking agreements made WITH Britain over the administration of Hong Kong ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Hon… ), and that’s just one point on a very long list.
China just dumped a sh*t-ton of cheap steel onto the market which has caused a number of major employers in the UK to close up shop, costing thousands of jobs.
They’re aggressively claiming leagues of ocean as their territory, threatening future conflict.
None of which we can now speak out against.
The Conservatives, who have probably pocketed a fortune of from China to greenlight this new “relationship”, are calling it a “Golden Era” (www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-…) . One that will boost the UK economy.
There was an opportunity for us to do something similar in the 20th century. A highly industrialised nation wanted to work with Britain, to forge a “Golden Era” that would undoubtedly have led to great wealth and power for both parties.
We said no….. because, at the time, that highly industrialised nation was run by the Nazis.

A loooong time ago, Wil Overton gathered a mob of artists from Rare and produced a family-friendly, 2000AD style comic called Smart Bomb, featuring a bundle of individual little stories.
He's finally found the time to put together the next collection, with a post-apocayptic tale of mine among them.
The whole thing is available for purchase here: gumroad.com/l/uxKjk
It's digital-only at the moment, but there are plans to produce a hardcopy version.

As part of a promo for Rare Replay, Rare are releasing little clips featuring folk who worked on the various games, talking about their contributions.
Guess who shows up among them?



I do look a bit....rumpled, there. I didn't realise it was going to be filmed!
:D

The other chap in the clip is Ryan Stevenson, who did most of the character concept work in the game.
Top notch artist. He still works at Rare so most of the content he produces is under wraps, but try to find some if you can! It's well worth keeping an eye out for!