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I am absolutely delighted with it. It’s everything I hoped it would be: Terrible.

Had it looked GOOD, there would have been this nagging feeling that I’d be missing out on something if I stuck to my vow of never again watching another Michael Bay movie. I have fond childhood memories of the Turtles, so I may have weakened. But because it looks like, well, a Michael Bay movie, that feeling simply isn’t there. I have no desire, at all, to pay for or sit through that film.
Transformers 3 was the last chance I was willing to give. I thought “There’s no way it could actually be WORSE than Transformers 2. I’ll give it a shot”.
Somehow…. it was.
That was it. That was the breaking point. No more Bay. EVERYTHING he goes near is pure effluent, and all the evidence you need of how toxic a film Turtles is going to be is in that trailer.

Obviously, we don’t know what the plot is at this point, but it’s a Michael Bay film, and if plot is generally treated as irrelevant by the producer, we can feel less guilty about passing judgement on the film based purely on the visuals.

First, Megan Fox is not April O’Neil. She’s just Megan Fox, and Megan Fox’s contribution to theatrical entertainment begins and ends with perching on a motorbike wearing very little. That’s it. That’s her sole role in any film. That or a variation of it.

Then there are the Turtle designs, which have attracted a lot of flak, with people comparing them to all manner of things. The general view seems to be that Michelangelo looks like Mike Tyson crossed with some form of root vegetable.
I didn’t think that at all. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw them was: they’ve tuned the Turtles into f**king Goombas.



Personally, I think they looked better in pre-production…..y’know, before they added the CGI. If they have a special feature on the DVD where the CGI is absent, I might actually buy that.



And finally there’s the city-wide destruction and utterly indecipherable action sequences we’ve had in every Bay film since Transformers, all directed by the guy who brought us the Grecian chamber-pot, Wrath of the Titans: a sequel that nobody wanted to a film that everybody hated.

If you want to go and watch this Turtles film, if you want to give Bay your money and piss away 2+ precious hours of your life that could be spent on something more constructive, despite all of the evidence you’ve seen, that you’ve probably witnessed yourself, that Bay’s films are among the worst the world has ever seen: there’s nothing I can say that’ll stop you.
Go buy your ticket.
Smart people are going to either buy or rewatch TMNT (2007): www.youtube.com/watch?v=gisFzh…
****SPOILERS****

I may need to watch it again, or I may just be cranky that we’re never going to see more 1940s retro sci-fi goodness, but I don’t think Captain America: Winter Soldier was as good as the first Cap movie.
It felt like a generic action film that didn’t really do much with the glut of material that it threw at you over the course of its time on screen. At worst, it criminally underused elements that could have made things more interesting had the makers not tried to shoehorn so much in there.
Zola’s presence, for example, is little more than a bullet-point, despite the wonderful set-piece. Makes you wonder what that vast computer rig was called. The Exposition 4000?
Then there’s the over-used trope of “The guys you’re working for are – shock/horror – THE BADDIES!”. I hate that. I really, really hate that. It doesn’t matter what kind of spin you put on it; that tired old twist just reeks of cheap and nasty. It’s so lazy to make the prominent authority figure the villain. You see it coming a mile off. They’re too easy a target and it doesn’t make the movie feel edgy or gritty as we’ve seen it a thousand times before.
The last gripe I have about the film is that I found myself zoning out during some of the lengthy action sequences. The last time that happened to me, I was enduring Transformers 3. If your movie does to me what a Michael Bay film does: you’re doing something wrong.
Action requires a good set-up in order to be compelling, that’s why The Avengers was so damn good. It wasn’t just about the characters beating people up for 2 hours, which is what Winter Soldier does.


I'm also kinda pissed that Black Widow bought a hair straightener.

The Marvel movies are at risk of faltering, 1) because they’re becoming to hung up on referencing previous instalments, making things feel as convoluted and inaccessible as the comics they’re adapted from, and 2) because they’re getting weird.
The success of movies like Iron Man is down to that fact that it’s “the real world but different”. A movie that has an air of familiarity, a world that we know and understand, and then has a single, crazy element dropped into it is always going to be easier for people to digest.
Guardians of the Galaxy could be a tipping point for the Marvel movie series. Despite looking brilliant to fans of both comics and science fiction, it has to do something that its predecessors didn’t: build its world and present it to newcomers. Even Thor didn’t have to do this (well, not to the same extent) because even if you’re not an expert on mythology, you know that ancient cultures worshipped a variety of gods. The characters in Thor are those gods. World building: done.
Guardians’ hard-to-sell outer-space setting, combined with the preoccupation of dropping character names and references to every previous event into a script for a film in which none of them actually feature, could sink the series.


Weirdness can put some people off going to see a movie, and this guy......he looks f**king weird.
It’s not often that hard to predict what will be the next big thing. Thanks to the internet, if you keep your ear to the ground, you’ll get a heads up of what’s around the corner. All you have to do is ask “how will that idea/concept impact my daily life?” and you’ll be able to work out if it has a future or not.

Google bought Boston Dynamics a little while back. Their robotic technology has clear applications, both industrial and domestic (though they’ll want to make that stuff look a little less underwear-soilingly scary for the latter), so this is a good corporate move.

It’s been all over the news that Facebook has “pulled a Google” and purchased Oculus Rift, which, in contrast to the Boston Dynamics acquisition, has me scratching my head. We knew 20 years ago that this was dead end tech. The practical applications of wearing a bucket on your head are extremely limited. It’s right up there with motion control. If it weren’t, we’d all have VR pods in our home by now.
Personal HUDs like Google Glass and other "augmented reality" kit will take off in the next 5 years. Oculus Rift will go the way of the dodo as soon as the hype dies down and people realise (once again) that leaving the screen on your desk is much more comfortable than trying to bolt it to your face.


1990s Virtual Reality. Pointless and made you look like a dick.


The Oculus Rift: Virtual Reality of 2014......no change, really.
I had a blast at the London Super Comic Con. Definitely gonna go back there next year.
I spent pretty much all of Saturday doing little convention sketches. It was brilliant. I love nattering with folk while I draw silly little things for them.
Sunday was slower on the commission front, so I spent the downtime doing a few pics that are now up on ebay, should anyone want ‘em (Edit: sorry, all sold, now).

A highlight was the presence of Arthur Adams, whose work I’m a HUUUUGE fan of. Alas, I didn’t really get the chance to talk to him. The only time I moved away from my table was at the tail end of Sunday, and by the time I reached his stand he was packing his gear away. Didn’t want to pester him while he was doing that, so I quickly bought a couple of prints and let him get on with it.
Frank Cho was there, too. I toyed with the idea of getting him to write “Cease and desist!!” in the Sequential Art book where the parody figure Funk Cho appears, but he was busy completing last minute commissions, so I didn’t want to bug him either.

Either I’m too polite or I’m an excuse-making pussy.

Aside from the next Demoncon in September, I’m probably not going to attend any more conventions this year. As much as I enjoy them, they require a bit of preparation and I really need to get back to my project work…..after I peel my travel-frazzled brain off the side of my skull (if the London Underground actually works most of the time, it’s amazing how it’s always falling apart when I’m in the capital).



My table at LSCC.....at the back of the hall.....the very back of the hall......by the dumpsters.
I thought the BBC had lost its touch when it comes to drama, what with the cancellation (temporary, it now seems) of Ripper Street and the generally abysmal writing of a plethora of recent prime-time series, but they’re back on form with the 3 part 37 Days.

It follows a number of politicians, particularly those of the British and German governments, in the days between the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and the outbreak of hostilities in 1914.
The concept may sound rather dry, but watching the intricate lattice of alliances, treaties and family ties that existed across Europe 100 years ago crumble into war made for some rather tense drama.
If you’re a fan of either history or political thrillers (or fantastic moustaches), it’s highly worth a watch.



It is a little chilling to see how quickly things can fall apart.
BTW: The crisis in Ukraine started 16 days ago with the removal of President Yanukovych……just saying.
The BBC takes a look at a day in the life of Glaswegian comic-book artist Vincent Deighan, better known as Frank Quitely.
I'm sure a number of other artists here will be surprised (perhaps comforted) at the similarity you have in lifestyle: weird working hours and a workspace that looks like it's been hit by a bomb.

(Note: It's on the BBC's iPlayer, so Johnny Foreigner might not be able to view it)

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/…

“Why don’t you launch a Kickstarter campaign?”
“Have you heard of Patreon?”
“Why doesn’t your site have a Donate button?”

Put simply, I have this (evidently archaic) opinion that; if you want to make money, you have to do the work first. I don’t like the idea of taking money off people unless they get something for it immediately, not [insert timeframe here] down the line. It feels like a scam. That’s why I produce all those cheap digital comics: to finance my larger projects (and which is why I get pissed off when I find them being distributed freely online, because it slows everything down).

Even for large projects, like video-games that only have a niche audience and which big publishers won’t ever assist: I don’t see crowd funding as a particularly good way to go about getting production capital. I prefer the early release approach, such as that Mojang took with Minecraft.
No complete product? Give the people something else. A little booklet of concept art, for example. Little products to finance big ones.

I always keep in mind the approach that a company called Mastertronic took back in the C64 days: they made lots of little games and sold them at pocket money prices. It worked brilliantly.
Make something small, sell it cheaply and reinvest the money in a slightly bigger endeavour. That’s how it’s done.

Obviously I’m very, very thankful toward people offering to throw a little coin my way, but I’m only going to accept your cash if you’re buying something from me, otherwise I’ve no right to take it.
Likewise, if you do have a burning desire to support an artist or a team, I don’t want to dissuade you. But I just feel that Kickstarter and its like are part of this growing sense of self-entitlement that seems to be settling over the world, and it’s not a good thing.

On the whole, believe there’s a difference between the people that run a country and the rest of the people who live within its borders. Politicians, regardless of where in the world they hail from, are generally bullies. You have to be a special kind of egomanic, self-serving prick to claw your way into a position where you have the power to put other people in harm’s way to benefit your own agenda. The only difference geography seems to bring is a level of subtlety. British politicians are slimy and insidious, American politicians rely on drama and theatre, and as we’ve seen over the last couple of days: Russian politicians are obsessed with proving they carry the biggest stick, at the expense of everything else.
Of course, in order to prove you have a big stick, you have to actually use it. That’s quite difficult in this day and age. A couple of hundred years ago, a master of a people could just point to a spot on the map, say “Want!” and his army would go there, kill everyone and steal their sh*t. These days you kinda need a reason. Even if you have to make one up.
In 2008, Georgia sent troops into its own South Ossetia region to take control back from separatists. At the time, the Russians claimed that the Georgians were conducting genocide, killing thousands of people and turning many more to refugees. That was the excuse they gave for sending their troops in and seizing control, which they maintain to this day.
The Russians have since admitted that the Georgians only killed about 180 people, which is terrible in its own right, but it hints at a far more restrained offensive than was indicated.
6 years on and we have a new aroma of bull-sh*t wafting over Europe, with Russia essentially claiming that the Ukraine is now under the control of a new Hitler. Why? Because a sizeable chunk of the Ukrainian people wanted to join the EU and got a bit upset that their former, pro-Russian President had a bunch or protesters killed and then fled the country.
Yes. Clearly fascist behaviour.
Solution: Invasion.
25 years of relative peace and quiet in Europe is obviously too much for some.

This is why the Iraq debacle is so terrible: it’s damn near impossible for anyone in the west to criticize unjustified military action and take a stand against it when your own country has been complicit in the same bloody thing.



This is a piranha. It’s ugly, has a temper and feeds by nibbling bits off the other fish around it. It probably hates gay people, too.
Compiled for no real reason other than that I felt like making a list. Might do some fan art, too :)
List is in order of appearance:


Princess Daphne (Dragon’s Lair, 1983)
Daphne is a cliché, blonde damsel in distress, yes, but she’s a cliché, blonde damsel in distress that was animated by Don Bluth, who had a stack of Playboy magazines on hand while he was drawing her.



Tyris Flare (Golden Axe, 1989)
Like a Frank Frazetta pic come to life….and then dressed in a bright white bikini by the Censors.
Also: That 360 game of hers really wasn’t that bad.



Blaze Fielding (Streets of Rage 2, 1992)
At some point between Streets of Rage 1 and Streets of Rage 2, Blaze must have washed her costume at the wrong temperature, because there’s a lot less of it. The horror.



Cammy (Super Street Fighter 2, 1993)
Chun Li had legs. Cammy has LEEEEEGS. And a perpetual wedgie.



Felicia (Darkstalkers, 1994)
C’mon. It’s me. Of course Felicia’s on the list.



Lara Croft (Tomb Raider, 1996)
The front cover of the original Tomb Raider is still my fave pic of Croft.



Jill Valentine (Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, 1999)
It takes guts to hang around in a city overrun by Zombies. It take more guts to do so while wearing a mini-skirt and boob-tube.



Kaileena (Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, 2004)
She’s the Empress of Time, she’s been alone on that island for a while, she wears a shredded, red tablecloth and she’s voiced by Monica Bellucci…..what’s not to like?



Jessie (Dead Rising, 2006)
A blonde in a business suit. Again: it’s me. Of course she’s on the list. Granted, Jessie gets a bit bitey, but, y’know…..no one’s perfect.



Fran (Final Fantasy XII, 2007)
If this list ran from least to most sexy, rather than chronologically, Fran would be damn close to, if not at the very, top. Not because she’s a bunny-girl in a bullet-proof bikini and heels, but because of that damn sexy voice she uses when not simply strutting around looking awesome.



Elizabeth (Bioshock Infinite, 2013)
Hey, Levine? You don’t want people looking lustfully at the girl? Then you shouldn’t have made her so adorable, brilliant and sassy….and you certainly shouldn’t have put her in a corset.
Ripper Street, the BBC’s period crime drama set in London’s East End, was cancelled last year when the majority of the British public decided it would rather watch Z-list celebrities eating bugs than a well-written and engaging narrative.......A sign that Fair Blighty sinking into the sea might be a good thing.
New BBC series have not been that great. Atlantis was a turd of legendary proportions and The Musketeers was a bitter disappointment; looking epic but putting viewers to sleep through dull, by-the-numbers storytelling.
That, in the face of all those failures, Ripper Street (a GOOD series) was canned did cause a bit of head-scratching.

To my surprise, I’ve learned that Amazon stepped in and made a deal to fund Ripper Street for a third season, airing first via Amazon’s digital channels and then on the BBC at a later date.

Detective Inspector Reid’s fall into the moral abyss can continue uninterrupted!

The very first company I worked for was Climax (not to be confused with Climax Entertainment, which made things like Landstalker) where I was a very, very green peon for a couple of years during the development of the action RPG Sudeki.
They hired me out of college with the intention of training me up in Maya and putting me to work as a cheap, 3D modeller. Unfortunately, I was crap at that, so they let me do concept art instead.
With Sudeki recently re-released via Steam, I thought I’d dig out some of the art that I had drawn for the game.

Now, there are two types of digital data storage: those that have failed and those that are going to fail. The one and only CD that my Sudeki concept art was on appears to be, well, f**ked. Borked beyond recovery. Unless I put it on a flash drive that I’ve forgotten about, it’s probably gone for good.
I’m not too broken up about it. The work I did back then was hideous. I’d only just started using photoshop and I was using a mouse to apply colour to my shoddy linework. An old mouse. The type with a ball in it which constantly got gunked-up by desk-grime.
Also: I still have the hardcopies of the linework kicking around here somewhere.

It’s a good reminder as to the importance of keeping your digital data stored on more than one device. Store it on one and you’re tempting fate.
These days I keep all of my digital work stored on my work machine and 3 portable drives, one of which travels with me and one of which is stored in a fire-proof lock box.
Call me paranoid.

The concept work I did on Sudeki was mostly low level stuff. The head concept artist was :iconniki-uk: and she drew up pretty much all of the key characters. I did NPCs, a few monsters and their variants, weapon designs….I also somehow got Tom Baker to say “Viva Pipingrad”, but I’ve lost the audio file…..

I hate to say it, but I’ve never actually played the game! I never owned an Xbox and the game was never compatible with the 360. Maybe I’ll pick it up on Steam and write a “How to play…” strip for it?


Sudeki's Japanese cover. Which is ace.


Sudeki's Western cover. Which is isn't.
The comics in the Apsara Portfolio can generally be described as “titillation with a thin veneer of story”.
A couple of people have voiced disappointment with the recent Jailer comic because I inverted that formula. I stupidly put what turned out to be an interesting premise in a comic where a good narrative hook actually ruins it. It was intended to be a one-shot, but the build-up has too epic a feel to it, leaving the second half and (apparent) conclusion to be unfulfilling.
Solution: I add more to the story. More little chapters that drip-feed character details, which now exist because I started writing them as soon as people began to voice their dissatisfaction.
It should make the opening “chapter” feel more worthwhile.

The whole thing will still be an Apsara comic, though, so don’t expect an easing of the usual Apsara elements.

The Robocop reboot was one of the few acts of lazy plagiarism that I wasn’t really bothered by, and was in fact looking forward to.
“WHAAAT?!” I hear some cry. “You can’t mess with a classic!”
To them I ask: Have you watched the original recently?
Unlike, say, Ghostbusters (1984), the original Robocop has not aged well, mostly because it was a satire and satirical comedy/comedy based on popular culture tends to date very quickly.
Also, because of the limitations of special effects at the time: Peter Weller now looks decidedly goofy clomping around “future” Detroit in that clunky costume. I’ve no idea how restrictive it was, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that he took the Anthony Daniels approach to playing a robot and made a point of moving like the Tin Man in a monsoon.

The reboot has ditched the satirical slant of the original and become a character-based drama. Those hoping for a repeat of the ‘87 squib-fest will be disappointed. The new Robocop tale has more in common with Frankenstein, and dwells on Alex Murphy and his family struggling to come to terms with what he has become. There is little in the way of comical edge, Omnicorp/OCP seem less diabolical, Lewis has had a sex change and nobody melts.

Single Dollar transactions, however, are referenced.

You can’t really ask the question “Is it better than the original?” because they’re two different films that tell very different stories. One makes fun of consumerism and vast corporations, while the other is a cautionary tale of drone-based warfare. The only similarities are the title and the fact the main character is a cyborg.
Is the original good? Yes. Paul Verhoeven is a f**king genius. Robocop (1987), Total Recall (1990) and Starship Troopers (1997) are all among my favourite movies.
Is the remake good? Yes. It tells a solid story, sets in place a foundation that can realistically be built upon and doesn’t sully any fond (blood-soaked) memories. It genuinely reinvigorates the franchise rather than cheaply strip mining it for quick cash.

There is no reason why you cannot watch and enjoy both.


Peter Weller was the original Robocop. He recently starred in Star Trek: Into Darkness.....sans box.
Well…..that was immature drivel.

I don’t know a huge amount about the “New 52” take on the DC universe (I stopped paying attention to DC’s output when they changed their logo to look like a half-unwrapped Acme magnet) but if the Justice League: War animation is any kind of summary, I’m glad I’ve not wasted my time.

Batman now seems to think it’s impolite if he doesn’t tell everyone who he is, Wonder Woman has taken to talking like a really, really bad Shakespearean actor and Superman is a dick.

Ignoring the animation’s terrible narrative, what struck me like a rancid kipper in the face was how god-awful the character designs were. In this instance; particularly Darkseid’s. Yeah, he wore a bucket on his head in the past, but it worked! It added to his menace as a laser-firing brick of doom. You took one look at him and you knew who he was.
Watch Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. THAT version of Darkseid is an iconic badass.
In JL:War, he’s a forgettable Christmas Tree.

It’s the same with Wonder Woman’s new, bling-free cozzy and Supeman’s blue romper-suit. They’re all just so bland.

Change for the sake of change is always a bad idea, especially if the designs you’re f**king around with have 70 years of development behind them. It doesn’t matter how talented the artist charged with the task is; you can’t just alter an icon overnight. You end up with the overworked crap we see in the “New 52”.

That this “New 52” garbage exists at all supports what I’ve said about both DC and Marvel for years, now: they don’t make comics. They don’t tell stories. They’re advertisers. Everything they do is written off as such by their parent companies. Their job is just to keep their IP on the shelves and in the public eye so that they can peddle the next movie/game/lunchbox that features those characters.
If that wasn’t what they do, they’d leave their tired old pantheon fallow for a few years and come up with some new characters and new mythologies, rather than brutalise what they already have in their stable via a botched "revitalisation".
In keeping with the apparent theme of casting actors whose presence just don’t match the characters they’re meant to be portraying: the role of Lex Luthor in the next Superman flick has now been filled.

Lex Luthor: A manipulative mastermind. A hugely successful industrialist. A brilliant businessman apparently born to be both the brains and figurehead of a multinational mega corporation. A man whose actions got him all the way to the White House. A man who is as charming and commanding as he is evil and power-hungry.

A man being played by Jesse Eisenberg, the weedy guy that played Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network……and whose voice sounds like a duck being raped by a chipmunk.

I want to do a couple of cartoon strips where any of my characters from any of my projects answer questions posed.
So, if you want to play along, say what character you wish to query, followed by the question.

I (or "they", depending on how you look at it) obviously won't get to answer everything, and questions that require an answer to contain narrative spoilers won't be touched.
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-ca…

Irn Bru is made from girders, the Scots claim. And I believe them.
The alarmingly coloured liquid is “Scotland’s other national drink” after the obvious Whiskey. It’s been produced since 1901 and is now illegal in Canada because it contains Ponceau 4R, a food colourant that is considered a carcinogenic be some food standard agencies around the world. One which may cause a reaction in those allergic to aspirin and intensify the effects of asthma. Even the USA, who are generally happy to eat anything, insisted the formula be altered before sale within its borders, and even then it can only be purchased in 500ml bottles out of the fear that any greater intake will result in someone dissolving.
“Irn Bru” is the phonetically written pronunciation of “Iron Brew”, as said with the collective speech impediment that is the Scottish accent (the result of collapsed nasal passages due to centuries of head-butting the English).

Canada has also banned Marmite, but that move is understandable given that it’s made from cow-scrapings and baby-sick.

A couple of people (literally only two, but it's a matter worth mentioning) emailed me after they had read the most recent Sequential Art strip, in which the fictitious element “Retardium” is mentioned. Both messages voiced disapproval at my using the word “Retard” due to its slang referencing of the mentally disabled.
That interpretation of the word, in my eyes, is outdated.
Used in describing a mentally disabled individual, “retard” is a slur, and (as with any slur) anyone who says it in that context deserves a sharp blow to the head. However, used to describe a “wilfully ignorant, able-bodied idiot”, I think “retard” is perfectly acceptable. I’ll wager that everyone reading this knows someone that can accurately be described as a "f**king retard", none of whom are disabled in the slightest, nor in using the word is a mentally disabled person even thought of.
I’ve not heard “retard” used to describe anyone with mental problems in over 20 years. Its common usage has moved on in the same way as many other words before it. Sometimes it's for the worst:

“….reluctantly Gandalf himself took a hand. Picking up a faggot he held it aloft for a moment, and then with a word of command, naur an edraith ammen! he thrust the end of his staff into the midst of it….”

- The Lord of the Rings, written between 1937 and 1949.


But in this instance, I think the change in association is a good thing. It's a splendid, cutting word to describe the complete and utter morons out there that are stealing our oxygen.

Of course, if my little theory gets communally torpedoed: I'll look like a total retard.
Am I just using my journals to shamelessly hawk my unwanted crap?

............yes. Yes I am.

More comics from my collection are up on ebay. Those that might be of interest (because they have particularly pretty pictures) are listed below:

Fathom: Dawn of War

Hellboy: The Island - Is it just me, or do we not see much Mignola art these days?

Ninja Boy - Hmmm. There were a lot of comics that had "Boy" somewhere in the title back when this came out. (No real point to that statement. Just making an observation.)

Iron and the Maiden - Very tasty artwork. I somehow ended up with 2 copies of Issue #0. If you've not seen the series, I recommend you find the TPB, which (after a legal dispute with the band "Iron Maiden") was renamed "The Iron Saint".
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