Thursday, December 23, 2010

Huzzah! It's the Primary Clone's Fiendish Christmas Quiz!

Or HUSSAR! as we say in this house.

Pausing first to wish Nik the happiest of happy birthdays on this, the 24th of December, 2010 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NIK! - let us proceed directly to the awesome sauce that is The Primary Clone’s Reasonably Difficult 12 Days of Christmas Quiz.

First, the rules. There are no rules! I laugh and throw small bits of rolled-up toilet paper at rules! Rules? Hah! Bother me not with rules!

Okay, here’s the way it works. It’s just for fun, see? Fun? Yeah? Remember that? They used to sell it by the ounce back in the nineteen seventies (ready-rubbed or shag). So this quiz is all about a bit of mind-probing fun. I’ll post the questions today, and the answers on New Year’s Day, so you can find out how clever you’ve been. BUT...there is a thirteenth question. Post your answers to that on the blog here during the course of this week (ie before midnight on the 31st of December, 2010), and I will choose three winners who will receive special prizes. Prizes! Prizes, I tell you!

Now, what that means is anyone can enter, as many times as they like, but if you sign in anonymously, I’ll never be able to identify you and send you that prize. So...when you post your answer, IDENTIFY yourself, and email the answer to the site with your name and address so I can get back to you if you’ve won.

That’s got all that out of the way. Let’s have some Christmas Inquisitorial fun! Warm yourself a nice Santa hat, put your Yule log in the upright position, pull up a mince pie and, if you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll begin.

On the First and Only day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... a Colonel-Commissar Gaunt. What was the name of the no-nonsense Major in the Hyrkan regiment who used to keep an avuncular eye on Gaunt when he was still Oktar’s cadet?

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... two Downlode sharks. 2000AD’s hitman gunsharks Sinister Dexter, of course, who are Finnigan Sinister and Ramone Dexter. But what are their middle names (hint: Ray has got two)?

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... three Ordo works. Looming on the creative horizon is the Bequin Trilogy, which will complete the cycle begun in Eisenhorn and Ravenor to form a trilogy of Inquisition trilogies (threes, geddit?). Anyway, what’s the name of Ravenor’s most famous work, and for an extra point, who’s favourite book is it?

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... four Mournivals. According to the Horus Heresy series, the “Mournival” of the Luna Wolves has had many different members over the years. Discounting the four that were serving during Horus Rising (Loken, Abaddon, Aximand and Torgaddon), name four previous members of the confraternity.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... five War Of Kings! Well, Marvel Cosmic anyway. Springing out of the big War of Kings and Thanos Imperative events, we’ve just announced a new cosmic superteam, The Annihilators, made up of Quasar, the Silver Surfer, Ronan the Accuser, Beta Ray Bill and Gladiator. What are the alter-egos of all five members... and, therefore, which one doesn’t use a ‘stage name’?

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... six saucy swear words. Where do the following cuss-words come from (you may be geographically specific, or simply refer to the series or franchise): feth, funt, sprock, hjolda, gak, flark?

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... seven Doctors Who-ing. I have a particular soft spot for the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, because he was the TARDIS resident when I was writing strips for Doctor Who Magazine. That early work lodged in the memories of good folk like Gary Russell fondly enough to get me an invite back to write audios and novels for Who and Torchwood in the noughties. My two Big Finish audios actually starred Sylvester and Sophie. But what was the name of the new assistant I introduced to the series in them?

On the eight day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... eight legs of badness. In Kingdom, for 2000AD, drawn by the fabulous Richard Elson, the big bad is Them, hyper-evolved insectoid horrors that have conquered the Earth. Who’s the hero standing in Them’s way, and what is he (and the others of his kind) named after?

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... nine
Heroes Hiring
. Marvel’s Heroes For Hire has a huge guest list and rotating cast of classic Marvel “street level” characters. Heroes are brought in - “hired” - for missions specific to their skill sets. In the first four issues alone we’ll have Falcon, Black Widow, Paladin, Misty Knight, Electra, Moon Knight, Silver Sable, Ghost Rider and... well, who will the ninth be? Actually, that’s not the question, because that would just be a guess, really, wouldn’t it? So try this: who is Control, and who’s REALLY in control?

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... ten battle brothers. Ultramarines The Movie is out there now, in all its glorious shooty-death-kill-in-space wonder. So, Astartes, what’s the name of the mission team’s cynical apothecary? And, for the record, “Astartes” is pronounced Az-tar-tease. Not ‘arse-tarts’. I mean, come on.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... eleven mangled lyrics. We like a mangled lyric in this house, we really do. From “Bring me an iron lung”, to “It’s all right, babies come in bags”, to “Don’t stand so colostomy”. But which Hussar-inspired jazzy Christmas lyric do we traditionally mangle in this household at this time of year (hint: Nik mentioned it on our Twitter feed this week).

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me twelve Angry Robots, eleven mangled lyrics, ten battle brothers, nine Heroes Hiring, eight legs of badness, seven Doctors Who-ing, six saucy swear words, five War of Kings! Four Mournivals, three Ordo works, two Downlode sharks, and a Colonel-Commissar Gaunt! Those splendid, if slightly irate, mechanoids at Angry Robot published my novel “Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero” this year, and I’ve recently finished my second book for them, the combat SF thriller “Embedded”. For a brand new publishing venture, AR have enjoyed considerable success. Which (excellent) book won them a well-deserved Ditmar award in September? And, while we’re at it, which two books split the 2010 Best Novel Hugo award?

And the crucial, prize-winning thirteenth question...

Complete the following sentence: “I wouldn’t say that Magister Anakwanar Sek, whose voice drowns out all others, was fat, but...”

There you have it. I hope it titivates your brain-cells for a short while over the Christmas break. If you’re not breaking for Christmas, for whatever reason (and I know that at least one reader is a policeman rostered on over the weekend, another is a doctor on-call, and at least half-a-dozen are serving in Iraq or Afganistan), be well and be safe. To everyone, wherever you are, a very Merry Christmas, and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hjolda! It's Big Steve!

Today was the shortest day of the year, we were snowed up the ying-yang, and the winter solstice's full moon was marked by the first total eclipse since 1638. No better time, then, to spare a thought for the Sixth Legion Astartes.

There was probably no one waiting more eagerly for the publication of Prospero Burns than Buff (formally “Big”) Steve Bissett, friend of this parish. Earlier this week, Steve very kindly sent me a review of the book, which I would like to publish here in its entirety. If you are easily alarmed by such phrases as “cock-spankingly great”, look away now.

“Lets have this out straight now this is an excellent book. This book goes above and beyond the call of duty. It would be wrong of you to assume that this Account of events leading to the Fall of Prospero is an exact and opposite retelling of Graham McNeill’s Thousand’s not. The telling of this saga starts out with roots like a great Fenrisian oak and ends up blossoming into full on 30k warfare, brought to you as only Dan Abnett and the Sixth Legion Astartes can. When I heard Dan was going to cast his lot with The Wolves I thought HELL YES! It would be fair to say that Dan had some concerns when approaching this subject matter: the Space Wolves of 40K can seem extraordinarily larger than life, sometimes more comic characters than Astartes. Dan’s worries about “Vikings in Space” were wholly justified, even the name “Space Wolves” in my eyes has always seemed a little jovial. With this in mind, and the added weight of responsibility to the dedicated and very loud and verbal Space Wolf fans, Dan sunk his Fangs into this challenge.
But trust in Dan! He has taken the Wolves and grounded them in his own particular way. He has rebuilt this legion from the ground up, his research has been impeccable. They are the Wolves we know but different, professional but different, darker, more sinister, cunning and, dare I say it... Scary! Yes, they are scary, all right, the kind of scary that worries even the Custodes and other Astartes. He has taken them and turned them ...well, Gothic. Even the Fang and its architecture is darker and more foreboding more like a Wolf’s lair, beautiful still, a miracle of engineering yes...just darker, we are talking.
The plot is intense. This book should come with a warning: many threads are sown in this book, and many are cut (LOL). Do not expect it to give you all its answers straight away. Like Dan said, stand with it and all will unfold to you in time. Dan has played to one of his greatest strengths: he has taken a story which could have been basically a 350 page book of drinking and bloodletting, and turned it into a story of conspiracy, intelligence, counter-intelligence, what you see you can’t see, what you know you don’t know. You would be just at home reading Eisenhorn or Ravenor when reading this account. Still it is an Account of the Wolves so there is still plenty of warfare: battle, stealth, vicious violence and slaughter in the way only the Wolves can do it and Dan Abnett can write it.
Of Primarchs and Legions, the Sixth, have now officially been given their place in the game. Questions have been asked and answered, and more have arisen. Leman Russ is ferocity and aggression personified. All Primarch’s are strategical and tactical geniuses: Russ’s place in the rankings has now been given and it is exceptional. He is lethal, loyal and he is FEARED! This is a curse as much as it is a blessing and there is a certain sadness about it, as he and his brothers know his place in the pantheon of Primarchs. Dan has really put himself into the mindset of the Wolves and things have now changed forever. So to all my Wolf Brothers (and Sisters) out there it’s time to take our place in the Hunt and, though it may alienate us, The Rout never wavers! We are sanction, and sanction must come to PROSPERO! HHHOOOWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

It is my understanding that Steve liked it a lot. Thanks, Steve.

I’d like to leave you today in the embrace of Gideon Ravenor, with this picture of the ”The Chair” by the peerless Nic Giacondino. Merry Winter Solstice, one and all.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's beginning to feel a lot like...

... Fenris. It's snowed all day. Very festive, unless you're out in it. I've spent the afternoon sitting under the tree signing a consignment of Prospero Burns that will be despatched to the four corners of the kingdom. I'm very excited that PB is out there at last, and I'm delighted by the great notices it's getting. I'm also delighted that Ultramarines is shipping, and the response is terrific. I'm also chuffed to pieces by this (thanks, IGN readers!), and by this announcement.

It's been quite a week, all round. Quite a year. I've now finished Embedded, and it's something I've very proud of. I'm knee deep in Salvation's Reach, the next Gaunt (though I'm pausing for a few days to write a cock-spankingly great*, Mournival-oriented Horus Heresy short story). Heroes for Hire and The Annihilators are keeping my comic hand in, as are Kingdom and Sinister Dexter for 2000AD, and Insurrection for the Megazine.

And now it's a busy final week, with the last few pre-Christmas deadlines to hit, and the last bits of preparation to do (on top of Christmas, it's my father-in-law's birthday, and then Nik's on Christmas Eve).

Anyway, the girls went out and got a tree...

Naturally, putting up the tree and decorations required some considerable 'help' from Pilgrim. The boxes to the right are the consignment of PB I mentioned earlier.

But it was worth it in the end.

Everybody may now say aaaahhhh.

Watch out for the mistletoe ;)

If you want to post this week (and please do), why don't you tell us all what's on your Christmas list? Or what your favourite Christmas song or carol is? Or which Primarch you'd most like to spend Christmas with, and why? Or what your favourite movie for Christmas Eve is? Something festive, okay?

Finally, the by now traditional Saturday peek in the notebook:

Idea for a one panel cartoon #568
A traditional nativity scene. Everything is normal scale except for the wise men, who are the size of action figures.
Caption: Wee three kings.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #39
A ventriloquist act, performing on stage. The vent's puppet is a large seagull.
Caption: Speaking out of tern.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #261
Several Ultramarines, in full armour, are enthusiastically grooving to a kicking bass drum and cutting edge synth in a eurodance club.
Caption: "We march for Macragge, and we shall know no no no no no no no no no no no there's no limit!"

I'll be here all week. Don't forget your waitress.

* copyright 2010 Buff Steve.

Friday, December 10, 2010

From the Sublime to the...Differently Sublime

Friday afternoon, Marvel announced The Annihilators, which is a project Andy and I have had to force ourselves to remain schtum about for, like, ages. Four issues of mega-level Cosmic goodness, which is also being printed double-header with the to-die-for Rocket and Groot mini.

Who says we don't treat you right?

Read this link right here to get the full lowdown in the form of mighty blurbation from's friendly neighbourhood Ben Morse, but suffice to say this is... well, some might call it the Cosmic Avengers. If Guardians of the Galaxy was a team of misfits and mavericks desperately trying to save space and time from dangers that always fundamentally outclassed them, this is the other end of the scale: the most powerful Cosmic heroes in the Marvel cannon in one premier division team standing ready to protect and serve... the Universe. Safe to say this is probably the single most powerful team ever assembled. Okay, various Avengers or JLA line-ups might give them a tough time, but, seriously dudes, can you think of a superteam that could take them, no question about it?

So just imagine the threats Andy and I are dreaming up to make this star cast worthwhile.

Quite fun to be going from the sublime of The Annihilators to the... other end of the scale with Rocket and Groot. Very, very awesome compared to very, very silly. Also, for us, imagine the creative luxury and delight of being able to move from the super-cosmic, star-snuffing huge-osity (actual word) of Surfer and the Annihilators to the nitty, gritty, human vigilante street action of Heroes for Hire. Contrast: it exercises all sides of the imagination without ruining your appetite.

Speaking of the sublime to the something else, I want to thank Nik for her blog last time. I'm delighted that so many people loved her inside view of my passive aggressive, diva-like antics and--- kidding, I have no idea how it made you revise your estimations of me, but it was a great piece of writing and I'm glad you all dug it. If you haven't dug it yet, go dig it.

The deadline? Oh, that was for Embedded, which I am seriously pleased with. I am now eyeballs deep in Salvation's Reach, the next Gaunt, which should delight some of you (though I have a rather tasty Horus Heresy short story to finish first).

Speaking of the Heresy, a few dates have been announced for Prospero Burns signings in January. See the BL site here. PB is now shipping (as is Ultramarines, hooray!), so I look forward to defacing your copy in a store near you in the New Year.

Enough of my yakkin'. I know why you're really here. You can't hide it. I can see it in your eyes. God, you're so transparent! It's the weekend. It's "take a peak in the notebook" time.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #27
A wise and rather beautiful young carpenter's son from Galilee lathers up in front of the bathroom mirror.
Caption: Jesus shaves.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #631
A TV cooking show co-hosted by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. In the lavish kitchen, they are just adding chipolata funnels to a ship-shaped cut of beef that's sitting in a casserole full of stock.
Caption: Braise the Titanic.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #88
Young padawan Obi Wan and his Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn glare dismissively in the direction of the eternally irritating Gungan Binks, who is staggering around, knocking things over, and generally talking shit.
Caption: "There's whiskey in the Jar Jar."

Idea for a one panel cartoon #191
Several Chaos Anarchs, whose voices drown out all others, are partying down so much the club can't even handle them right now.
Caption: The Joy of Seks.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #42
A giant Cthulhoid lolcat with tentacled mouth studies his cook book.
Caption: The Necronomnomnomicon.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A matter of life and deadlines (by Nik)

Today is the day that Dan is due to finish writing a book. Yes, it’s deadline day. These crop up at regular intervals, but I don’t have very much to do with many of them. For comic book and short fiction deadlines, there’s really nothing much for me to do, in fact, I’m rarely even aware of them; they simply fit into the normal ebb and flow of office life. Today is different. Today sees the final sentence added to the latest novel, a book that might have been in the system for years, from the first ideas to the title, from the first pitch to the contract being signed, from the delivery of the first chapters to the receipt of the first advance payment.

Day zero, the day a book begins, generally gets lost in the mists of time. Who remembers when that idea first got jotted down in a notebook? Who remembers when it bubbled to the surface as the possible basis of a possible plot for a possible novel that no one had commissioned, yet? Day zero doesn’t go down in the annals of history, not in this house, anyway. Day eleven-hundred-and-forty-seven, (or whatever it is), deadline day: the day on which the last sentence is given its full-stop, and the first draft of the manuscript is delivered up to the publisher is a day that most certainly goes down in the record books.

We are approaching our fortieth deadline day, and we have evolved coping strategies for making sure they pass smoothly... Well, I have, at least.

Dan sleeps less well the last few days before a book is due. He rolls about and snorts and gets up in the night. So, on the eve of deadline day, I try to be totally relaxed, and let him fall asleep next to me while we’re sitting in bed watching some rubbish on DVD. He wouldn’t be terribly good company if he were awake, so why should I stop him sleeping? He wakes up on deadline day early, certainly as early as any other day. I roll over in bed to ask if he’s okay, and then he’s gone.

A couple of hours after Dan gets up, I make a random noise down the stairs to let him know that I’m about. Something along the lines of “Coo-oo”. Then I wait. It’s winter, so I sit in bed with a laptop and go through my in-box, which will invariably contain several e-mails from Dan. Some of them will have little paperclip doohickeys where he’s sent chunks of the work in progress. Others will include instructions, like, “haven’t finished, read don’t edit”, or “read part two first”, or “look out for compound words”, or “can you find out who carried out the first successful blood transfusion”, or whatever it might be.

Then he appears with a cup of tea, Earl Grey, thank you very much. To be fair, Dan brings me a cup of tea every morning, but some mornings, I meet him in the kitchen when I hear him moving about. Not on deadline day. On deadline day, I let him get on with it. I don’t deviate from the routine at all on deadline day. He brings my tea and hands it to me from his side of the bed, and he stands there for a minute. He isn’t really in the mood to talk, so I say thank you and ask how it’s going in an airy sort of way. He mumbles something, and off he goes again.

And that’s it. I stay where I am. I begin to go through the chunks of manuscript he’s sent, doing a simple line edit, and following his basic instructions. There are lots of reasons for staying upstairs. Our bedroom is big with a reading corner and a table and chairs, so there’s plenty of room for me to find somewhere comfortable to work. If I go downstairs, I have to go through the kitchen, and that’s Dan’s space when his head is full. I could go through it into the wendy house where I usually work, but he’d hear me, and I don’t want to disturb him. The stairs to his office are also in the kitchen, (and yes it is a weird house).

Less than an hour passes, and Dan’s back with a cup of coffee. This is very early for him, it’s usually me that makes the second cup some time around ten. I take the cup from him and say thank you. He slopes off again.

He’s not miserable you understand, or difficult, or moody, he’s just in the zone and there isn’t room for two.

The door bell rings, and I realise that’s it’s Tuesday. Groceries get delivered on Tuesdays, and Dan always has a chat with the delivery dude. He’s got his Christmas list handy, as well, so there’ll be no interference from me on that front. I hear happy talking noises, but no actual words, and then the sound of the front door closing, and he’s off again, into the bowels of the house, to get on with things.

For the next little while, I check Twitter and Facebook. Dan has updated his status on FB, but hasn’t done anything on Twitter, so I do something. Something always comes up, and, today, it’s reviews of “Prospero Burns” and “Heroes for Hire”, the two most recent projects to come out of the office. I sort out some links and Twitter some, and send some to Dan via e-mail to enjoy when he gets a chance. I flag a couple of other things for him, and get back to reading the latest bits of manuscript.

Dan appears about an hour after the last time with the central heating thermostat in his hand. He gives it to me, without a word, and reaches for the cardigan he keeps draped over the footrail at the end of the bed. I’m not sure why he doesn’t know how to work the thermostat, but it doesn’t matter. I adjust it and give it back to him, and he puts it on top of the wardrobe nearest the window, the coolest part of the room. Clearly he’s cold. He asks if I want a cup of tea; it’ll be my third and it’s barely ten in the morning, but that’s what happens with displacement activity. I tell him to put the kettle on and I’ll see to it. He goes away. A few minutes later he’s back with a cup of tea for me.

“I was there,” he says, handing it over.

The kettle is a ‘thing’ in our house. Due to a condition that is too boring to talk about, albeit it’s rare, and a bit weird, my hearing is now pretty crap. There’s nothing wrong with my ears, per se, it’s just that other things prevent them from functioning. That doesn’t sound like it has anything at all to do with our choice of kettle, but you’d be wrong. We have an old-fashioned kettle that stands on the gas ring, back right, of our cooker. It has a flip down lid in the spout that whistles. It has a glorious sound, one that I can actually hear. I use it! I can be on the other side of the kitchen with the kettle boiling like buggery and not hear it if the whistle isn’t in the correct position.

The whistle is shrill, which is why I can hear it. It is also why no one else uses the whistle. They can all hear the kettle boiling without it, and, to a man, and woman, they find the noise the whistle makes excruciatingly unpleasant.

Clearly, this morning, Dan really didn’t want to listen to that whistle. I’m glad that I made the decision to stay upstairs, it was clearly the wisest course of action. Again, let me reiterate that Dan is not fussy or moody or difficult in these situations, he’s just... Well, he’s just Dan, only to a greater degree than normal: Dan squared if you will, or Dan to the power of deadline.

I hear a very satisfactory thud as the mail hits the bare boards downstairs. If I can hear it, it’s got to be heavy, so, probably that book I ordered for a friend’s birthday. I stay where I am. Dan appears a few minutes later with a cardboard parcel from Amazon, which he drops on the bed.

“It’s for thingy?’ he asks. “E-mail me a note for her and I’ll print it off and find an envelope.”
“Her address is in the rolodex,” I say, without thinking, and then cover, quickly, “so don’t bring it back up. I’ll sort it out later.” This is not the time to go thrashing about in Dan’s office, or on Dan’s desk, where the rolodex lives; there could be anything on there: scads of strategically positioned post-it notes, books cracked open at very important places, a carefully positioned action figure or two. In fact, the rolodex might be doubling as a piece of heavy artillery or a small vehicle, or the entrance to a bunker, or something.

Dan’s back a few minutes later. Clearly, he’s looking for displacement activity. The note is printed, folded and inserted into the book, which is in a manila envelope, addressed with the correct information to get to my friend. What’s more, the book is a second hand copy of “Fell Cargo” that I’ve tracked down, and he’s signed it and put a nice message in it. He doesn’t say “Ta-dah!” but I know he’s thinking it.

Eventually we sit down to lunch. I don’t eat much in the middle of the day, so it’s mostly about Dan eating and us catching up. He’s very quiet, so I pick up my laptop and continue with the line-edit. It’s deadline day, and I hate to get behind, so I do what arrives in my in-tray as soon as I possibly can.

“That’s an odd choice,” he says, reading my tracked changes to his manuscript over my shoulder. I explain why I made the choice, but it’s deadline day, and he’s not sure. I remind him that’s why I track changes and make suggestions, to give him the thinking room to make final choices. The truth is, when push comes to shove, he invariably goes with my suggestions, but that doesn’t make me right; it only makes me very used to his ways and his work, and useful to him as a first reader and editor... some of the time.

I follow him downstairs after lunch and there is the evidence, if ever I needed it, that this isn’t just deadline day, it’s ‘crunch day’. Dan has left the door to the dishwasher open.

It’s not much, is it, an open dishwasher door? Dan is master of the dishwasher. I didn’t want it, and I’ve never learned to stack it properly. I’d rather wash-up in the sink, and on the rare occasions when I do need to use it, I can’t get nearly as much in it as I’d like. Dan has taken to the bloody thing with gusto, it’s as if it belongs to him, somehow. I leave it to him. It seems fair enough. Today, Dan has left the dishwasher door open. The dishwasher has clean dishes in it. Dan has loaded and run the dishwasher. Dan doesn’t usually do this during the day. This is his evening job.

I take my cue, and I unload the dishwasher.

That sounds like it’s passive aggressive on his part. It isn’t. It’s just deadline day.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Are we for hire, or what?

Hello, heroes everywhere! Are you for hire?

With Heroes For Hire #1 hitting the shops this week, the interweb has been a-buzz with lovely feedback. I thought we might share some.

“Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Brad Walker's Heroes for Hire #1 does a fine job introducing its central premise and cast in an energetic, stylized manner, rolling along at a fast clip before arriving at a powerful and very unexpected cliffhanger. In this first installment, the team accomplishes a lot, but more importantly hints at even more exciting surprises to come. In other words, it's a wholly successful debut from a talented creative team that has already proven an ability to revitalize stagnant properties with their work on Marvel's cosmic line.

This being DnA's most significant venture into the grounded, Earth-based Marvel Universe since catapulting the cosmic properties to phenomenal heights, it's not at all surprising to see the pair take such a measured, meticulous approach to introducing this relaunch's new direction and cast of characters. The issue follows the new lineup's first adventure as Misty Knight, under her new guise as an Oracle-esque tactical leader codenamed Controller, passes the first mission from one operative to the next like a baton. Falcon and Black Widow start things off with an assault on a drug-running tractor trailer, Moon Knight follows the drugs to their distributor, and then Elektra carries out the mission's endgame in a way the others wouldn't. All the while, more operatives are hinted at and a familiar face makes his presence felt.

DnA and Walker inject enough personality and style into the mix to keep things lively, and it's plenty entertaining just to watch this new team in action. The writers have clearly put thought behind the inclusion of each cast member, allowing Misty to tailor "payment" to each individual. Like many aspects of this relaunch, there's a lot of great potential to the way Misty's new team operates.

Walker is arguably sharper and more impressive here than he's ever been, with panels that pop off the page and barrel along with a kinetic energy. Between the animated sense of movement between each shot, a palpable noir atmosphere appropriate to the book's street-level scope, and some fantastic figure-work, Walker outdoes his past work with DnA and proves himself the right choice for this title.

And then there's the issue's killer cliffhanger, which definitely had me clamoring to read issue #2. If that wasn't enough, the book also includes an eight-page prose Heroes for Hire saga identical to the ones Marvel usually publishes before one of these relaunches. Coupled with the book's high quality main story, this back-up makes this issue well worth the $3.99 price page, especially to those new to the property. Overall review: Great!” –

“Sure, it’s a crime story, but it’s a flashy crime story with superheroic snippets and super powered subplots…Abnett and Lanning caught lightning in a bottle with Guardians of the Galaxy, providing the comic-reading public with a critically-acclaimed darling of a comic that starred a whole bunch of nobodies who evolved into fan favorites. It would only make sense, then, to have the prolific duo try to ply their craft at Marvel’s collection of former Knights and some other street level heroes…Collectively, this combination of heroes should draw in a large number of comic buyers. After all, it got a Falcon fan to pick this book up…Joining his writers from Guardians, Brad Walker draws a tangible, impressive real world…Quite simply, Walker’s art is great, and this book really gives him a chance to show what he can do with characters that are more grounded in reality…Abnett and Lanning close out this debut issue with a stunning final page surprise. The way this book ends calls the entire story into question. That, moreso than the characters or the art, is the major reason I’ll be checking out the second issue of this series. It’s rare that such an enticing book erupts from seeming mediocrity, but this is definitely a fun read, the type of read that comic books were invented for.” –

“The cast is awesome and contains some of the best of Marvel's non-powered or street level characters…With DnA behind the wheel, and their Guardians of the Galaxy buddy Brad Walker on art, I'm expecting big things.” –

“This I can get…this very subject of well-networked folks hits the Marvel Universe a la the new incarnation of the Heroes for Hire, and what once felt like overactive extroversion becomes a force of justice…Getting paid for vigilantism may seem a little less noble than usual, especially for proven heroes like Elektra, Falcon and Black Widow, but even the most heroic can benefit from trade, even if it isn’t from currency. In short, for some passion is a reward, for others, intel. What’s going to surprise a lot of readers, including myself, is Heroes for Hire introduces not a new team (especially not the one on the cover, the majority of heroes totally absent from the issue inside) but a new system, and a seemingly effective one at that. Instead of having heroes standing about a myriad of tables discussing a myriad of directions, the first issue focuses instead on the problem, the crime, and the web of heroes who punch it into oblivion…Jay David Ramos is doing a very nice job on colors, letting things in the nightglow much like how you'd see in a city refusing to sleep…Also, there's a constant visual allusion to The Warriors strung throughout, and that's easy brownie points from me…The end of the issue reveals a bit of a shocker, something that could rip this concept wide open.” –’s Best Shots

“I love that Abnett and Lanning are doing a monthly book that is set on Earth for a change (though I do continue to miss Guardians of the Galaxy). I also love the fact that this isn’t going to be a “team” book but rather individuals whose powers are needed for that particular mission will be used…That the entire issue is woven into a story using several different characters in this way is fun, refreshing and well down right expertly told…this is genius in itself as now I am hooked on that little mystery as well…Joining the dynamic writing duo on pencils is the incomparable Brad Walker (the three of them make a terrific trio!) he in turn is assisted by Andrew Hennessey on inks and Jay David Ramos on colors. This team does a fantastic job on the visuals and giving it that special feel to the book that I am at a loss for words to explain but fits perfectly…Overall, folks, this was a grand slam first issue and if it’s on the bubble for you, then let me pop it ‘cause everyone should be giving this a go.” – Reading With A Flight Ring

“The issue ends with a fine cliffhanger, one beyond the bounds of fair-play spoilerage. All I'll say is that it guarantees I'll be around for awhile…Abnett & Lanning shake off the space dust and remind us that they can cut the mustard in any corner of the universe. The interaction between Misty and her colleagues is a joy. The lads give their characters distinctive voices, with Black Widow especially benefiting, gaining speech patterns straight out of James Bond…Brad Walker's pencils are excellent. Superbly drawn characters move fluidly through action packed scenes, with plenty of variety in compositions. He tells a story very well, and inker Andrew Hennessy makes the most of Walker's layouts, resulting in some sharp storytelling. Colorist Jay David Ramos and letterer Joe Caramagna also turn in sterling work, helping to give Heroes For Hire an all-round accomplished debut…There's a smashing wee bonus, too - a recap of the Heroes For Hire concept since Luke Cage came up with it as an ongoing business…So, issue #1 of a book that didn't sound like my cup of tea, and I'm in for the duration. Methinks Marvel has good hires in Abnett, Lanning, Walker and Co.” – Too Dangerous For A Girl

Thank you, all.

Also, in the midst of all this snow and ice, let us think of Fenris for a moment, and enjoy this link from Black Library

It's the weekend, so let's close with the now traditional peek in the note book.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #103
A giant gorilla dressed in a Santa Claus costume sits on top of the Empire State Building and waves cheerily at the looping fighter jets.
Caption: King Kong Merrily On High.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #4
In a faded, sepia tint image, two aviation pioneers in jodphurs, goggles and flying jackets innocently sidle up to a double winged airplane.
Caption: The Wrong brothers were biplane curious.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #211
A giant advertising hoarding displays a Budweiser advert. It is evening, and stars gleam in the night sky. Beneath the hoarding, we can see a traditional nativity scene: Mary, Joseph, the baby in the manger, the shepherds, the donkey, the wise men.
Caption: Born under a bud sign.

Friday, November 26, 2010

More weblogs are go

Adelie has been as busy as a busy thing, cutting and posting more sections of my recent weblog question-and-answer session. Along with the two listed in my previous post, you can now also enjoy the following:

Me discussing movies.

Me discussing the outcome of certain match ups.

Me on writing for the Black Library.

Me on the subject of writing generally.

Me on the Horus Heresy.

Me on the Inquisition trilogy of trilogies.

Me on comics.


It's the weekend, so let's finish by taking a peek in the note book.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #322
We are looking out of the wings onto the stage of an old time music hall theatre. A stage hand is looking very surprised as a drop hatch opens underneath him and he plummets from sight. In the foreground, Admiral Ackbar turns to us and cries out in alarm.
Caption: "It's a trap!”

Idea for a one panel cartoon #323
A plumber clambers out from under a sink, holding the U-shaped pipe he has finally disconnected. In the foreground, Admiral Ackbar turns to us and cries out in alarm.
Caption: "It's a trap!”

Idea for a one panel cartoon #324
Liesl comes running across the Bavarian Alps towards us, about to break into song. In the foreground, Admiral Ackbar turns to us and cries out in alarm.
Caption: "It's a Von Trapp!”

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weblogs are Go!

The first of the promised weblogs are now up, thanks to Adelie High (thanks, Adelie!). If you'd like to hear me talking about Prospero Burns, click here, and if you'd like to hear me talking about the Ghosts, click here.

Adelie recorded about two hours of me rabbiting away, so there will be more to come, and I honestly did work through every question that appeared here or on Facebook (though my answers to some queries may have been so incomprehensible that they ended up on the cutting room floor).

In case it does get snipped, I'll just go on record here and say IN A LOUD VOICE how much I recommend The First Heretic by New York Times Bestselling Author Aaron Dembski-Bowden. See the man himself talk here. I knew him when he was all fields, you know.

Also of gigantic excitement is the unabridged (yes, una-fething-bridged) audio book of Graham's Thousand Sons. Can we contain ourselves? No, I don't believe we flippin' well can, actually.

Thanks to Nathan Long, I discovered the following four pieces of genius. Enjoy.

Xhalax - a prize was awarded for the most compelling question, and the asker knows who they are. Your questions were splendid, and much appreciated, however. And the knitted Ghostie has indeed got a name. You know what it is, don't you? It's Ban. Of course it is.

Our Hussar ghostie is very active right now, BTW. Maybe Halloween shook him up. I'm not sure what he's up to, but the cats are really bothered by something. Maybe it's because they're building a new library across the road where the original barracks was sited in 1797. Maybe they've dug up something they shouldn't have. Maybe there's a spooky story in that. Maybe it's a real life spooky story, and I'm in it.

It's Saturday, so let's finish by taking a peek in the note book.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #12
A very inebriated wine maker is showing some guests around his winery, gesturing towards the vast wooden vats.
Caption: "But it was when we fell into the vat of red wine that we started to see things with greater clarety.”

Idea for a one panel cartoon #23
In the dark and claustrophobic confines of a U-boat, a chiseled commander in a white polo-neck retracts the periscope and looks at his smartphone.
Caption: Subtext.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #641
We are looking in through the cockpit windows of the Millennium Falcon as it accelerates into hyperdrive and the stars go stripy. Han glances casually across at Chewbacca.
Caption: “I like what you've done with your hair.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mentioned in Despatches

Forgot to add yesterday what a great time I'd had on my visit to Folkestone Library last Saturday. They made me feel very welcome, and I didn't appear to bore anybody too much. I'll also be doing a little comics workshop at Faversham Library on the 27th.

Now, to be a little shameless, the frankly cataclysmic final part of The Thanos Imperative came out from Marvel yesterday (Wednesday, in the US) and, to paraphrase Tess, the scores are in:

“Architects Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have made Marvel’s space-faring heroes the cream of the publishing crop.” –

“The Marvel Cosmic Universe is the most entertaining portion of Marvel's U, and DnA have outdone themselves this time in creating a story so epic that it dwarfs their previous efforts. Kudos, guys.” –

“The Thanos Imperative has made a name for itself as being one of the most epic and thrilling books on the stands. Thanos comes out of this story receiving exactly what he deserves…DnA have made the most of their storytelling potential…DnA pay off on years of buildup and deliver a satisfying conclusion to various character arcs. Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy will find this issue to be extremely bittersweet, doing justice to the quirky…Miguel Sepulveda's art is impressive once again…this series has seen Sepulveda rise to a new artistic level…we could be looking at the end of a long, memorable saga that began humbly with Keith Giffen's Drax the Destroyer mini-series. And while The Thanos Imperative is a fitting end to that saga, how many readers won't still be craving more after this issue? Let's hope next month's epilogue paves the way for more cosmic goodness.” –

“The heroic catharsis this band of galactic adventurers reach made for a very satisfying, even moving, conclusion…a sweeping saga.” –

Just to prove this isn't all me, me, me (or DnA, DnA, DnA), I'd like to recommend once again Matt Forbeck's novel Amortals. Go git it!

Stuff, some of, various.

Thanks for all the questions that have been pouring in via this blog and the Facebook and Twitter feeds. Lots of juicy things to answer there. Keep them coming, but be advised that if I can get Adelie to set up, I'll try to record the weblog this weekend. Seems like ages since I did one.

I also need to take a quick moment here to mention Thought Bubble. This is taking place in Leeds on the 21st of the month, and I was due to be attending as a guest. I'm sorry to say I'm going to have to miss it after all. Please accept my sincere apologies for this. It's simply that I've got a lot of deadlines to meet right now. I should, however, be coming to Leeds in the new year to promote Prospero Burns, so it's not like I've got anything against the place. I urge you to head along to Thought Bubble whether I'm there or not: it's going to be a great event, and there will be some fabulous people to meet. See?

Now is probably also a good time to mention that Titan is about to publish a paperback edition of Extinction Event, the Primeval novel I wrote a little while back. Oh, look at the lovely cover! The book was a lot of fun to write. Come on, stompy Tyrannosaurid death-kill. How often does a guy get to write that in his career? Baba Yaga, the big black She-Rex, is still one of my favourite bad guys.

Speaking of bad guys, I'm delighted to say that Sinister Dexter is back in 2000AD at the moment, in a six part story called Are You Being Severed? Gigantic kudos to Anthony Williams for the wonderful art. The Mighty Tharg is also about to start publishing Insurrection II in the pages of the Judge Dredd Megazine. This is the follow up to (a-duh) Insurrection, which ran a little while back to some acclaim. Story by me, art by Colin McNeil. That's ART BY COLIN McNEIL. See for yourselves.

We all understand why this is exciting now, right? It starts in Judge Dredd Megazine 305, on sale 8 December.

Our Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann forwarded me a picture earlier today. It was a commission done by Jeff Lemire, and he thought he'd share it with us. With Jeff's kind permission, I thought I'd share it with you too.

I've been a Lemire admirer since I read Essex County, and I urge you to go look for that, or Sweet Tooth, or his new run on Superboy. Check out Jeff's website here. Thank you, Jeff!

Anyway, it isn't Saturday, but let's have another one from the note book anyway. This one's not mine, it's from the demented mad of brain-man Dan Hart, but he says he's prepared to take the blame.

Idea for a one panel cartoon #84
In a haberdashery, Jean-Luc Picard is impatiently thrusting one of the machines at an assistant.
Caption: “ Make it sew!”

And scene.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Gunpowder Plotting...

I'm thinking of getting Adelie to film me again for a weblog - it's been ages since I did one. I'm therefore going to need some questions to answer. They can be about 40K, Marvel, 2000AD, Angry Robot, cloning for pleasure and profit, whatever you like, really. Post them here and I'll see what I can do to answer them. There may even be a prize for the most imaginative query.

Thinking caps to maximum.

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.