Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tricks and Treats!

Nik and I would very much like to thank every one who came to see us at our signing this afternoon at Waterstones in Maidstone. You can't beat playing to a home crowd. And we'll be in the KM too!

We were there, and so were lots of books.

Major thanks to Toby, and all of the staff at the Earl Street branch, for making us feel so welcome.

While I remember, can I just take the opportunity to say that the long awaited Knights of Pendragon (volume 1) trade paperback collection is out now from Panini? I can, can't I? Oh, I just did.

Anyway, it's Saturday. Time for some more from the note book:

Idea for a one panel cartoon #254
(Thanks to Andy Lanning) In an Italian Restaurant, Sarah Connor looks up in alarm from her dish of spaghetti polpette as a T-800 Terminator smashes through the door to confront her.
Caption: “Pasta la vista.”

Idea for a one panel cartoon #66
A female patient lying in a hospital bed screams in terror as a nurse shows her a photograph of an earthworm. The specialist explains what's going on to the patient's concerned husband.
Caption: "She's lack toes intolerant."

Happy Hallowe'en!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Waterstones Maidstone - signing!

A quick reminder that I will be signing at the Earl Street Branch of Waterstones in my hometown Maidstone this Saturday (October 29th), and I would love to see you there if you can make it. I'll be around at noon for an hour, and then again and three in the afternoon, for another hour or so. Looking forward to meeting you in person!

Uhm, you know I'm talking to you, right? Yes, you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Maidstonian Werewolf In Oxford

I may have mentioned that October is Birthday Month. Off we went this weekend to Oxford, to interpret Jess's birthday through the medium of dinner and presents. Jess is at St Edmund Hall, which is where I also spent my undergraduate days. For those of you who haven't visited the city, it looks a bit like this.

Rain threatened from time to time, in a moody and atmospheric way, but it held off long enough for us to enjoy a few wanderings and visits.

This is us, for example, in the Oxford Museum of Hogwarts Movie Sets, also known as the Bodleian Library.

We also spent some time in our hotel room playing Make Your Own Mark Rothko.

On Sunday morning, we visited the Ashmolean Museum, which is one of my top five all time great museums. Considering two of the other four are also in Oxford (the Pitt Rivers, the History Of Science), you may think me biased. The Ashmolean, recently and very dynamically renovated, is free, so there's no excuse for not going to find out how good it is for yourself. It's based on the private curio collection of Elias Ashmole (1617 - 1692), much of which was inherited from the collection of John Tradescant and son, and is the first University Museum in the world. It's full of art and artifacts that will simply take your breath away. This was the museum at dawn, long before it opened. The moon in shot is the lycanthropic orb that's been haunting me for the last few nights, bright as a bright thing, causing me to wake up naked and covered in blood at the bottom of a tube station escalator holding a beer mat marked "property of the Slaughtered Lamb, Yokelshire".

Anyway, here's what sunrise looks like in Oxford when everyone else is asleep, apart from the guy downstairs in the hotel kitchen who's warming up the grill to cook my breakfast. This last year, I have become a very early riser. And/or a werewolf.

Towards the end of our visit, a sudden heavenly insight hit me.

(A flash of insight from heaven, earlier)

Remember my account, a post or so back, of Nick Kyme in Modena? The tale of the Warm Milky Drink? Quite clearly, he should have visited this cafe in Oxford's Covered Market first:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Italy: what was The Point of that, then?

Yes, what WAS the point of the Italian Games Day Expedition? Did it have a point? Or was it pointless? What's the point of anything? And, depending on your point of view, is there any point going on?

In an effort to answer these pressing and pointedly critical concerns, a team of Top Government Scientists (from The Department of Indicative Signifiers, Centre Point, Pointon) has been examining photographic evidence provided by Mal ("Malbuquerque") Green of BL. The Top Government Scientists now believe they have successfully identified the point in question or, at least, narrowed it down to a number of likely talking points... Up to a point.

Exhibit #A. This shot, from Mal's POV, may have been the actual point:

However, it clearly wasn't the whole point, as Exhibit #B clearly reveals:

The Top Government Scientists conclude that this, Exhibit #C, was probably the ultimate point:

All of which is clearly beside the point.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Grande Day Out

Just so you know, this blog entry might equally well have been entitled "Put Your Chocolate On My Cream Mountain". Or "Taste the Blood of Doctor Acula".

The Black Library's Expedition to Games Day Italy was marked by an unusually large number of actual rotfl moments, all born out of idle conversations that are now impossible to forensically reconstruct. I could spend some time explaining that "Put Your Chocolate On My Cream Mountain" was something Mr Nicholas Kyme requested, straight-faced, of the over-decorative dessert chef at the restaurant we frequented in Modena, one of those things you say before you've entirely thought it through. That, however, doesn't adequately explain why it reduced our entire table to helpless laughter. Helpless, weeping, fist-banging laughter.

We'll get the grande thing later.

In the company of Mr Kyme, and Mal Green (aka "Malbert", "Malbatross" etc), I headed for Modena, where we were joined by our very fine hosts from GW Italy, and our conversational co-conspirators from Forge World and the Studio, including Ead Brown, Tris Buckroyd, Jes Goodwin, Christina Burton, Alan Merrett, Joe Tomaszewski and Andrea Wright. In the days that followed, a number of conversations took place that, as Ead put it, caused us to go to bed with 'laughter headaches'. This is no bad thing, although It Was Really Funny But You Had To Be There stories do not a good blog make.

I can tell you that Games Day Italy was a roaring success, that we were made to feel very welcome, that the Italian staffers and the fans were incredibly friendly and enthusiastic, and that Modena is a beautiful town. I can also tell you that "grande" is Italian for large, and "latte" is Italian for milk. These things are useful to know.

I can also tell you that the mid-sized items of luggage that some passengers insist on bringing aboard as carry on, because the flight's 'only two hours long' and they can't be arsed to check them through baggage, despite the fact that said luggage will occupy ALL available locker space and caused untold invoncenience during disembarkation, will henceforth be known as "carry on douchebags". This is a blanket term for both the luggage and the owners thereof, and is named after the imaginary Carry On film of the same title. I can also tell you that at Bologna airport, we went down a ramp to board our flight home and were confronted, twenty feet away, by a plane. We knew it couldn't be ours, because there was a bus between it and us, a bus we were required to get on. Our plane is waiting at another stand, we decided. We got on the bus. It started up, drove around the plane in a tight circle, and stopped again as far away from the boarding steps as we had been from the nosecone in the first place.

I can't, on the other hand, tell you why our "League of Master Supervillains" (a work in progress), caused quite so much hilarity, though I can mention it includes The Menguin, The Crouton (aka, mild-mannered Bob Gently), The Pixilator, The Manchovie, Subliminal, plain old Liminal, and Mr Acula (he'd been struck off). And probably The Procrastinator.

So to Fair Modena, where we lay our scene.

Pretty isn't it? I took a LOT of photographs of the streets and general civic loveliness, but I'll spare you the holiday snaps because a) you get the idea, and b) it's clearly a hard life, jetting off to handsome locations like Modena to 'work', and I want us to still be friends by the end of the blog.

There were fine things to see, such as this famous statue depicting St Francis Lamenting The Loss Of His Smartphone In The Pond.

We also discovered that the chief local delicacy was not, as one might expect, pasta. It turned out to be the wrap.

Suffice to say, it was a very nice place to wander around. I recommend it, and its cathedral and museums, very highly indeed. There were an inordinate number of pipe shops too. Pipes for smoking, that is. And lingerie shops. Man, can you buy a lot of good lingerie and pipes in Modena. We never saw anybody smoking a pipe but, to be fair, we never saw anybody wearing lingerie either. I think the long Italian lunchtimes, where the only things to be seen on the streets are English idiots wandering around in search of beverages, must be a great deal more louche and exotic than we first imagined. Fancy a shag? Si, but let's have the sex first.

One place we were determined to find was the Modena branch of GW, except that Mal had forgotten to write down the exact street address. After some aimless wandering and several abortive plans ("Let's find a news stand and look up the address in an Italian copy of White Dwarf!", "Let's go into the computer shop and look up "GW Modena" on the interweb while we pretend to explore the display models!"), I came up with the blisteringly great idea of ringing Nik back home in Maidstone and asking her to google the address. As a result, shortly thereafter, we saw this:

And Andrea and his customers were delighted to see us.

It was in a street nearby that the grande thing happened. We're well aware that in Italy you don't drink hot milk after noon, and that coffee comes AFTER food, but - heck, we're English and its hard to quit our barbarian habits. Late in the afternoon, we sit down at a cafe, and Mr Kyme orders a "latte grande", just like, you know, in Starbucks. It's what he wanted, okay? He maintained his desire for it all through the waiter's increasingly panicked interrogation. There, in a nutshell, is the falsehood of marketing. Starbucks use the words in an attempt to convince us we're ordering something exotic and cosmopolitan. Chic, if you will. Starbucks can bollocks. Nick got a glass of hot milk. Not only that, but it was a large one, as he had specified. He insisted it was quite nice. We insisted he might like a lovely nap after his milky drink. We also took the piss relentlessly for the Whole Rest Of The Weekend. You play the hand fate deals you.

The show itself was in a terrific modern venue built to hold the AGMs for Ferrari. Seriously. Modena is slap bang in the middle of thoroughbred Italian sports car country. Exhibition space surrounded a main auditorium where the talks and readings were to be held. Not intimidating at all, then.

We had, of course, brought stock. English language stock, which was both brave and slightly passive aggressively jingoistic of us.

Still, who could resist piping hot Prospero Burns's fresh out of the book bakery?

The local carabinieri had, by that stage, circulated images of the usual suspects. This was due, we believe, to an incident of Da Vinci Code-esque mystery and adventure which had taken place the previous day during our wanderings. Mal, Nick and I had inadvertently strayed into a private, sacred and downright prohibited part of the cathedral during out touristy ramblings. A clerical official appeared and repeatedly hissed the word "Scusi!" at us. Scusi is, of course, an Italian word meaning "Absent yourselves from the bishop's bedroom immediately". We had already discovered that the custodians of the Duomo guarded their secrets jealously. A sign at the main door read "Please do not take photographs inside this building or you will be invited to get out". I love that. "Invited to get out". It's on a par with "Encouraged to die" or "Coaxed to burn".

A number of additional crimes were duly taken into account.

Then Nick and I faced our audience. I told you the auditorium wasn't intimidating. No sir, not one bit.

A roaring trade in signed books then followed. Here we see Mal, slightly stunned at the amount of business he is doing. In all fairness, he had drunk so many espressos by then, he was vibrating like a humming bird and could see through time.

I noticed this banner, one of the many brought to the show. From my perspective, it covered a number of interests close to my heart.

I also can't end this post without letting you glimpse the wonder of the Eldar craftworld constructed by one of the Italian clubs. I am trying to find out what the Italian for awesome sauce is.

I'd like to thank everyone who came to see us there, people like this happy band of GW enthusiasts. I would also like to thank the GW Italy crew: Elmes, Mauro, Gerry, Antonio, Andrea, Manuela and all the others who gave up their weekend and put in the hard work to make the third Italian Games Day a roaring success.

See you next time and, as they don't say in Italy, but do say wherever large milky drinks are politely requested, ding dang do!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Then This Happened

Anyway, so I went to

for the

and hung with

(that's Todd Nauck and Andy Lanning breakfasting at the Tick Tock Diner, fyi)

and we saw lots of friendly

and several

(that's our old buddy Eddie Berganza in his editorial lair)

and we saw lots and lots of

lots and lots of them

and we weren't late for any of our signings, no sir

and some of our signings also involved ace artists Brad Walker and Miguel Sepulveda

and I talked to people about mucho projects, including


(Rocket Raccoon, not to scale)

and the Ultramarine wanted to know why I hadn't written the movie about a, you know, actually COOL chapter like the Space Wolves or the Blood Angels, and we lolled, and he suggested I had better go spend some time somewhere like

and think about what I'd done, mister, and I said "No way", and he said "Yes way", and that didn't end well

and then I got home just in time for

Lily (and Hannah's) Eighteenth Birthday Party, which was circus themed and apparently went brilliantly, except that everyone looked like Pennywise, which was creepy

and then Lily's birthday was over

and it was mine instead.

Busy week, as you can see. More busy to come, as I shoot off to Games Day Italy this weekend. I can't wait to be there. I hope the flight is better than the one to NY, where we circled Newark in the rain for so long, we ran out of fuel and had to land at an unrated airfield in Connecticut, and finally got in six hours late.

Andy and I would like to thank Legion fan extraordinaire Dave Rash for his support during the NY visit, and Todd for his forbearance, and say a huge "Peace and Love" to all the people who stopped by to say hi, or interviewed us, or tolerated our diva-like antics. And The Karaoke Incident. And thanks to Banks Wine Bar in Maidstone for being a brilliant party venue (tell your friends).

And anyway, you know how Customs and Immigration officers are REALLY serious, especially going in and out of the US, and you must never EVER try to be amiable or josh with them, because that way surprise cavity searches lie (I'm not mocking, it's a serious job, and they're trained to treat joviality with the contempt it deserves). So, Sunday night at JFK, heading home, Andy's gone through the barrier and is putting his stuff on the X-Ray, and I approach the Very Serious And Very Armed officer at the station, and he takes my passport off me, and looks at me and I know, I just KNOW that it's My Turn for a random spot check, or I've accidentally stepped over a line, or had a funny look on my face, and I brace myself, and he says, "When are you going to finish that Space Wolf novel, then?"

And grins.

Something Wicked Your Way Comes

The splendid people at SFX magazine have just announced that issue 204's book club will feature Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, as raved about by me (Mr B is pretty much my all time favourite author). Details at SFX here.

Please join in and play along at home.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

NYCC additions and revisions

Off to New York in a second. Just wanted to add a quick update to the previous post. As of today (Wednesday), this is the most accurate info I've been given:

Artist Alley: the tables numbers for me and Andy are now T10 and T11.

On Saturday, Andy and I - along with Brad Walker - will be signing at the Marvel Booth between 3 and 4. This means my signing a the Codex stand that afternoon has been put back to 4 - 5. The Codex stand signing in the morning at 11 remains the same.

On Sunday, Andy and I will be at the Midtown Comics stand (2143) for an hour's signing at midday, as previously reported, and we will also be participating in a Marvel panel at 1.15 (room 1A06).

I will try to update you with any revisions and additions as I learn them. We're looking forward to seeing you at the Con.

Monday, October 04, 2010

New York Comic Con and other sightings

Mr Lanning and I, collectively known as DnA, will be attending the New York Comic Con this week, from Friday through to Sunday. We'll be popping up all over the place, though Andy and I have tables (T8 and T9) in Artist Alley if you're especially struck by an urge to find us. Come say hello. DnA will be doing some Marvel signings and panels, the times of which I'll post here as soon we know them, but I can tell you that I'll definitely be at the Codex ("Ultramarines Movie") stand on Saturday between 12 and 1, and again between 3 and 4, and Andy and I will be at the Midtown Comics stand (2134) on Sunday for an hour, from noon. Looking forward to it.

I then rush home in time to wish my daughter Lily a happy eighteenth birthday, an event we're all celebrating with a big par-tay, during the course of which I quietly turn *mumble mumble* years old.

Thereafter, with barely any time to catch my breath, I'm out the door again and heading for Games Day Italy on Sunday the 17th. I really can't wait for this one - I've never been to an Italian Games Day before. Hope to see you there.

After that, on Saturday the 30th of October, I will be signing at Waterstones in Maidstone (the Earl Street branch). You will be able to find me there between 12 and 1, and then again between 3 and 4. Don't let me sit there on my own with just tumbleweed and crickets for company ;)

Oh, and just some advance notice that Nik and I will be attending Thought Bubble in Leeds in November.

Let us now whoop and cheer for the "at long last" publication of the Knights of Pendragon trade paperback collection (ignore the"when this item becomes available" bit on the Amazon link, IT'S COMING!). It'll be fabulous to see this - the first half of our KOP run from the very early nineties - back in print at last. I have very fond memories of this series, and I get asked about it a lot. Actually, here's a better link than the Amazon one, with extra info. If you haven't ever heard of KOP, try this handy primer.

Finally, let's gape in awe at the job Richard Dugher did assembling and painting my Titan. I recommend his work very highly indeed...;)