Hit Girl, and why film reviewers should stick to what they know

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Last week, I had a bit of a night out with a bunch of friends. All male, all film-makers, all nerds (and I mean that as a compliment). A few beers, a bite to eat and a movie. There was only one choice of film with that crowd, really. It had to be Kick-Ass.

Now, I will admit to a slight feeling of unease going into the Vue West End for this one. I’m not the biggest fan of Mark Millar. I find his work simplistic and derivative. And Matthew Vaughn made a bit of a hash of Stardust, dazzled by a big budget and Hollywood starfuckerage. But I’d had a couple of beers, and I was feeling accommodating.

I had a really good time. It was fun, silly, gory, sweary no-brakes nonsense, and I laughed more in the cinema than I have since subjecting myself to Emmerich’s godawful 2012. The comics references were spot on, the fight scenes just on the right side of wire-fu overload, and Nicolas Cage was a delight as he channeled Adam West’s 1960’s Batman.

But the absolute star of the piece is Chloe Moretz as Hitgirl. She oozes confident nonchalance throughout, curling her lip with aplomb at every curseword. She still comes across as a kid, but not one that has been damaged in any way by the manner in which her dad has brought her up. Frankly, seeing an 11 year old girl on the screen that isn’t interested in Barbies or makeup makes a refreshing change.

Of course, certain members of the press have glommed onto the fact that Hitgirl dresses up in a short skirt and throws c-words around like shiruken, and began shrieking that the end times have come. Christopher Tooky in the Daily Fail loses the plot completely, throwing teenage pregnancy stats into the mix, before stating

The film-makers are sure to argue that there’s nothing wrong with breaking down taboos of taste – but there are often good reasons for taboos.

Do we really want to live, for instance, in a culture when the torture and killing of a James Bulger or Damilola Taylor is re-enacted by child actors for laughs?

…which is, of course a typical Mail tactic. Take an argument and then immediately present the worst possible scenario as the next logical step.

It’s telling that the Mail website has closed the comment thread on Tookey’s review. As the Bleeding Cool forum notes, every single comment blasted the critic for his over-reaction. Kinda cheering, considering that it was pretty obvious that the Mail would have it in for the movie – or rather it’s writer, Jane Goldman, wife of Mail bete noir Johnathon Ross.

Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, Manohla Dargis also manages to find the wrong end of the stick with both hands. Calling Mark Strong’s mob boss a “supervillain” is a bit of a head-desker, but I can let that go. However, she can’t resist the icky angle either, claiming

Tucked inside this flick is a relationship as kinky and potentially resonant as that between Lolita and Humbert Humbert…

*wince* Well… no. Not unless she was watching a whole different cut to the one I saw. While Manohla has at least sussed that Kick-Ass is at heart a satire of superhero movies, she hasn’t cottoned on to the fact that Hitgirl is the latest in a looong line of kid sidekicks. Robin is the obvious example, and notably in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight incarnation, the cape and pixie boots were worn by a girl.

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Sidekicks are typically wounded characters, and will frequently suffer at the expense of the main character. Green Arrow’s ward Speedy famously ended up on drugs (the clue was kinda in the name he chose) and the Jason Todd incarnation of Robin was killed off by popular demand. Rick Veitch’s Brat Pack goes even further, making a group of sidekicks both stooges and over-worked helpmeets to their headliners, and the victims of a superpowered serial killer. 9B5AE7E2-4DC2-4803-9305-30C800D73E56.jpg

Hitgirl’s character path tightly knits into the rites of passage that every sidekick undergoes. The tragic loss of a family. The extensive training, interspersed with the fatherly urging of the superhero in charge that she’ll never quite be good enough, that she keeps making schoolgirl errors. By having her break free from this towards the end, by having a (kinda) normal life with a new family, she breaks the dysfunctional chain that would always see characters like Dick Grayson unable to forsake the cape.

It’s the fact that she can rise above that training, use what’s appropriate and discard the unhealthy bits that makes Hitgirl such a powerful character. She’s no role model, but no-one’s claiming that she should be.

The last word, though, should come from Hitgirl herself… or rather, Chloe. In an interview with MTV, she comes across as likeable, grounded and totally cool about the whole situation – unlike the critics, who don’t seem to be able to see past the fight scenes and swearing. Swearing that, as Chloe herself points out, would have her grounded until she was twenty if she dared to try.

Chloe, the commentators of Mail Online and just about every other person with at least two brain cells to bang together should be able to see that Kick-Ass is broad satire with a few wry points to make about the state of the comics, and indeed the comics movie scene. Claiming it as a symptom of some greater malaise is not so much missing the point as running past it blindfolded while whooping and waving your arms about. Apart from an uptick in purple wig and mask sales, I can’t see the Hitgirl phenomenon hitting the streets in any major form.

Although if it helps to drop the instances of playground bullying – I’m all for it.

Oh, Chloe’s on Twitter as well. @ChloeGMoretz. Keep an eye on this kid. She’s gonna be something.

Five Days Of Script Frenzy

Well, so far so good. It should be noted that the first week of Script Frenzy has coincided with a Bank Holiday, and some shift time off. So I’ve been able to get my head down and hack out some serious scriptage.

Let’s do the maths. I’m writing a seven part comics series, each of which is 16 pages long. So far I have 20 pages down. But this equates to 33 actual script pages written, which means that whichever way you look at it I’m ahead of schedule. If I was to be positive, I could declare that I’m a third of the way there.

I wouldn’t say the story is spilling out of me, though. I have to break everything into pages and panels, and make sure that the story flows and works on a page, issue and collection basis. It’s not really a slog, but I’m aware that I can’t just blaze through a word-count in the same manner as Nanowrimo. I’m treading a bit more carefully than normal.

Further, the way Celtx (the scriptwriting software recommended for this adventure – Final Draft but free, thus with less of the bells and whistles but a dedicated comic-writing setup) formats a comic page is a bit, well, ODD. It breaks things down into an A/V script – that is, everything in boxes, description to the right, captions, bubbles and SFX to the left. It makes all kinds of sense, but it’s not something I’m used to. I really hope it’s acceptable for the final page count like that, otherwise I could be in real trouble.

Progress will also be delayed somewhat by an upcoming trip to Amsterdam for to partake in the drugs and ladies of negotiable virtue culture and maybe a small beer or two. I’ll be taking the Dell, but I expect my page rate to drop. Which is why I’m trying to stay as far ahead of schedule as I can now.

So, if you’ll excuse me. These coyote-spiders aren’t going to stalk my hero by themselves.

Script Frenzy


Because I believe in making life difficult for myself, I am doing Script Frenzy this year. Hence the badge over yonder.

This is the script-based version of the Nanowrimo challenge that I’ve done for the past 4 years now. Same challenge, different discipline.

The idea is to come up with a 100 page formatted script in a month. That’s as restrictive as the challenge gets. It can be film, stage or comics based, and on any subject. As long as you get those hundred pages out, the rest is up to you, foolish writer.

This year, to add to the firsts, I’ve decided to write a graphic novel. My love and respect for the form knows no bounds, but it’s been a while since I did anything creative with it. It’s about time I put out and got some words on paper which is, after all, the ethos of Nano and Script Frenzy. Their logline should be Just Do It, but I think a plimsoll company got there first.

Just to make things even more complex, I’m trying an experiment in form. A couple of members of the Readership have been bored to oblivion already by me banging on about the transformative nature of the comic I’ll be writing, and you can probably figure out what I’m going to try if you look up my recent comics posts. I don’t want to say too much, because I think I’m onto something genuinely new here. Let’s just call it an old school response to the idea of digital comics.

It begins, appropriately, on April Fools Day. I’m prepping like mad now, working on format and structure. I did some sums last night, and realised that to do the story I have in mind properly, I will need to write 112 pages instead of the hundred required. Seven blocks of sixteen pages. I’m breaking the task down into managable bites, figuring out page counts for each day and week. This, to me, is the only way to do it. The breakdown works out to just under 4 pages a day. A hundred pages of script might not seem like much, but I’m planning on getting 25 panels into some of them. (Any comics professionals reading this just winced at the last sentence. Comics generally have between six to eight panels per page. Watchmen was notorious for sticking to a nine panel grid that is a pain to write and draw.) At some points, I think it’ll be pushing it to get a page a day done.

I’m nervous and incredibly excited about this project. It genuinely feels like a leap into the unknown. If it works, then I think I might just have hit on a new way of getting comics onto the page.
If not, then hey, it’s only a funnybook, right?

Cape Wrath

...and you really don't wanna know where he keeps his supply of web fluid...

I’ve had it with superheroes. There, I said it. I’m sick of capes, bored with masks. I’ve had enough.

There’s no one event that has led me to this point. No real tipping point. Rather, it’s a feeling that’s developed gradually, as I flick through the rows of books in Forbidden Planet, then gently put them back and walk away, shaking my head. It’s a terrible thing for a comic fan like me to say, but I don’t think Marvel and DC have anything to offer me.

Superheroes are no fun anymore.

I’ll try to untangle the sick knot of dread I get when I pick up a mainstream superhero book. If I could quantify it into a sentence, it would probably be “Oh. More of the same, then.” This is not really the fault of the writers or artists, who in some cases are doing splendid work. No, it comes down to the nature of the superheroes themselves, and how little they can change.

Consider. Superman’s first appearance on the front cover of Action Comics was September 1938. Batman haunted Detective Comics not long afterwards. Most of the Marvel heroes we love came out of a massive bolt of creativity blasting out of Times Square in the early 60s, although Captain America and the Sub-Mariner can be traced back to dubyadubyatwo. A fledgeling comics writer coming to these characters is faced with at least 40 years of backstory, reinvention, retcon, downright oddness and ill-thought experimentation. All of which is canon. All of which, if misinterpreted or misread, will have fanboys on your back like a horde of ravening ferrets. The Batcave HAS to stay the Batcave. Superman will never move out of Metropolis, and Wonder Woman will never get out of that ridiculous bustier. There’s the chance for great opportunity there, but it’s constrained within the tropes and iconography of characters that haven’t changed in a real sense in decades. You can’t change the costume. Well, you can, but it’ll change back within the year. You can’t change the thin slick of motive that clings to the characters as closely as the spandex they wear. Batman will never get over the death of his parents. Supes will always be the immigrant made good.

Most importantly, you cannot kill them. As Si Spurrier put it most eloquently, superhero stories have beginnings and middles, but no end. The death of a character is simply a hook to hang a year or so of storyline from before you bring them back. Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, and Bruce Wayne are both about to reappear after a year dead for tax reasons.

Both these resurrections have taken place after massive multi-book, months-long events that have promised to completely redefine the universes in which they are set – which will do nothing of the sort. There will be a big bang, and when the dust has settled, the landscape will re-emerge without looking any different. These books, which I call Crisis storylines, are at best bloated and self-indulgent, and are blatant marketing exercises

A trope of the Crisis storyline is that they involve deep trawls through the archives to dredge up characters and situations that really should have remained buried. They are convoluted, arcane in detail and expensive to follow, requiring the hapless reader to buy not just the core book of the series, but the rags of the associated characters as well. They are certainly no good as entry-points to the genre. In fact, if I have to recommend comics to the beginner, the current raft of superhero books would be the last place to start.

These events are the point where I really lose patience with superhero comics. They’ve been a part of the Marvel and DC universes since the 80s, and have to my mind never been up to much. They involve characters that are at best second-stringers being pushed forward, messed about with and then shoved aside. Often they will be reintroduced and then despatched by the Big Bad of the story in a couple of pages.

The most horrible version of this in recent comics history occurred in the Identity Crisis storyline, when the wife of Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man was raped and murdered. Ralph and Sue were always light, funny characters – the Thin Man couple with superpowers. By putting them at the centre of a hamfisted attempt to bring Law And Order – SVU to DC, the writer Brad Meltzer managed to make the Dibnys both pathetic and vulnerable. And as a result, a lot less interesting. Identity Crisis ended up making me feel like I needed to wash my hands after reading.

The trouble with taking your average superhero into dark places is that it’s too easy for the whole enterprise to collapse into silliness. It takes a writer like Alan Moore or Frank Miller to be able to take the inherent ridiculousness of the superhero concept and place it into a slightly more realistic setting. Notice I say slightly more here: Watchmen and the Dark Knight books are both set in places that are absolutely not supposed to be the world we recognise. That’s how they get away with it. Without a careful approach, you end up with a book like Identity Crisis, that manages to be both horrible and stupid all at once. A fair old achievement.

Finally, though, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Marvel and DC are starting to twig that something ain’t right. Both publishers have run storylines where most of their characters have been resurrected as zombies, which shows at least an iota of irony and self-awareness. If you’re gonna bring someone back from the dead, do it right. There is also a move towards a lighter, more inclusive style of storytelling, breaking from the gloom and darkness that has settled over the books for an awfully long time. There are always exceptions, of course – Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor’s work on Power Girl has been a joy, with the right mix of exuberant storytelling, self-deprecating wit and just the right level of cheesecake. And you can’t go wrong with anything coming from the desks of Jeff Smith and Darwyn Cooke. These guys do work that has a retro sheen, but modern sensibilities. Solid storytelling and art that isn’t afraid to laugh at itself.

I would point at DCs Wednesday Comics experiment as a template to adopt or at least an idea that’s worth a second look. Rather than massive and confused webs of storytelling, the focus here was on weekly, single page shots. Espressos instead of venti moccochoccachinoes. Based on the Sunday newspaper foldouts that were a mainstay of American comics experimentation in the 50’s (the funny pages were where Will Eisner, one of the masters, learned his chops, after all) the Wednesday comics are big, cheap foldouts that are best read spread out on the floor, to be pored over with milk and cookies to hand. Imagine a Crisis storyline run through a couple of issues of something like that, where each page brings a new character, a new struggle. I’m reminded of Paul Grist’s work on Jack Staff, which took the multi-story, multi-character approach of British comics like Victor and my beloved 2000AD, and then weaved a single storyline through them. There’s less inclination to ramble when you only have six pages to get your characters in and out of trouble.

They were a revelation to me when they appeared last year, and I feel appropriately evangelical about this format that my next writing challenge will involve a story using those formats. Trust me, no capes involved.

More news on that in my next post. Stay strong, true believers…

In The Gutter

At some point today, I am reliably informed, X&HTowers will have it’s first dedicated e-reader. Sure, TLC and I both have laptops and iPhones, which are both perfectly capable display vectors, but she wanted something bigger than the phone, smaller than the Macbook. Plus, she’s a geek of the highest order and loves her tech.

Of course, in the process of researching which model to go for (no Kindle on the list, BTW. My wife likes it opensource. No wait, that came out wrong) I started considering the possibility of putting comic content on the device. Which got me thinking about digital comics in general.

The major and minor players are already pushing digital content hard, and in a hurried and unthoughtful way. Obviously reading from a screen is a whole different experience to picking up a book and flicking through it. It’s clear that there’s no way to replicate that experience on an e-reader. But what I’m seeing is a rush to completely rethink and reformat the way comics work, forcing them to fit the screen.  Alex De Campi on Bleeding Cool has already written insightfully about how this is likely to work. I can see the advantages, of course, (not least the financial benefits to the creators) but speaking as a consumer there’s still something missing when you’re forced to read a narrative panel by panel. It’s like trying to read a book when the formatting is set to one paragraph per page.

There’s less of a sense of flow, and certainly no way to expand and contract scale, say by moving from a tight 9-panel page to one with a single image. There are tricks you can play with pacing, sure, and tweaking for the Japanese market becomes slightly less of a pain but… I dunno. I’ve not seen an iPhone comic yet that’s been a satisfying experience, and downloads onto the laptop just feel cheap. I view them more as previews to see if I’m likely to want to invest in the comic or trade when it comes out in the real world.

And don’t get me started on motion comics. The bastard son of Crash Cargo-level animation and bad audiobook readings, I’m dumbfounded by any suggestion that this mongrel format is in any way the future of The Ninth Art. I watched a version of Brian Bendis’ Spiderwoman that had perhaps three frames in it, and a conversation between two characters on the top deck of a bus that seemed to go on for an hour and a half. Pretty impressive for a fifteen minute clip. I swear, I popped out to make a cup of tea and came back to find the same frame playing that had been on the screen when I left. This shit ain’t comics. It certainly isn’t entertaining.

I may be coming across here as something of a Luddite. In which case – good. I’ve not finished yet, either. Last week, on one of my increasingly rare trips to Forbidden Planet, I came across a title that quite genuinely had my head spinning with the possibilities.

I found the DC Wednesday Comics, and I fell in love.

The Wednesday Comics hearken back to the age of the comics section included in every big American Sunday paper. Broadsheet sized, and therefore able to cram a heck of a lot of story into a single-page strip. This was the place where Will Eisner’s Spirit blazed a trail, and where the story-telling techniques of masters like Alex Raymond and Chester Gould dropped through the mailbox of millions of American homes every weekend. In the UK, we’ve never really had anything like it. Our broadsheets simply don’t have the girth of the American heavies.

So, the Wednesday Comics have tweaked that look and feel for the modern audience, and the genius part is that they’ve made it transformable. It racks as an A4 (ish, I don’t have the proper dimensions to hand so I’m using shorthand) booklet, which then folds out to A3. Each single-page strip has an A3 page to itself, and in the centre two strips share a single unfolded sheet of A2.

Coffee Mug For Scale
Coffee Mug For Scale

Are we seeing the possibilities yet? I see a story that can go from small and intimate to absurdly widescreen within a sixteen page spread. I can see stories where scale can be reined up and down with abandon. It’s a neat, flexible way to get huge swathes of art and story into a pocketable form. Plus, it’s printed on lovely tactile newspaper, the kind of stock that most Brit comics were on when I was a kid and buying them regularly. I’d love to see Paul Grist do something in this format with his Jack Staff or Kane universe. Screw it, I’d like to see Rebellion do some 20o0AD spinoffs on newsprint. A new Cursed Earth maybe. Certainly, I remember Dredd back when it was in the centre pages and started every episode with a big splash page. Dinosaurs, robots and mutants rampaging across a huge sheet of paper.

It was cheap, it was lurid, and above all it was fun.

Let me throw down my cards, let me show you the cut of my jib, and the lining of my jacket. I don’t like digital comics. I don’t think they work as the fetish objects that comics should be. It kills the magic. It sucks out the joy. It turns art into graphics files. It turns the process of reading into a linear, stilted and over-directed chore. It turns the magic of what happens in the gutter between every frame into a LOADING message.

Fuck that. The best and brightest stuff on the web will eventually find it’s way onto print, and there it will finally find it’s true home. I talk about Warren Ellis a lot on this site, and it’s telling that his web project with the brilliant Paul Duffield, FREAKANGELS, would always preview on the web before making it to print in an expanded and collectible edition. Sure, you can read it for free online, but it’s not the same. He, and other writers I admire like Cory Doctorow have long been exponents and advocates of the web as a place where content can be tasted and sampled before you, the discerning consumer, complete the cycle, and dump some cash on an object that’s nourishing to the soul. An OBJECT, not a file.

Let’s put it like this. X&HTowers is home to a pair of techy geeks, and yet it is a place groaning with bookshelves full of tatty paperbacks and vinyl records. A place where a fat internet pipe cannot compete with music, booze, a book and quiet conversation. Sometimes, it seems that we are the McLuhanist dream. We are a place where the medium really is the message.

A Few Recommendations

Darwyn Cookes “Parker” adaptation, the only one approved by Donald Westgate (and that’s including the masterful Point Blank)  is on bookshelves NOW, and there is a preview of the first twenty pages here.

To reiterate what I was saying in my last post, Templar, Arizona is one of the most consistently surprising, innovative and imaginative comics I’ve read in a long time, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Start here.

You all read Diesel Sweeties, right? Rich Stevens has been a mainstay of my feeds for years, and he is just an unstoppable joke machine. No? Well, everything to date is up on his site as downloadable PDFs. Essential for all your sexy robot needs.

Adam Curtis is the alchemist of archive film. His latest, “It Felt Like A Kiss” will give you chills as he tracks where we are now to a tightly interwoven set of coincidence and dodgy interventionist foreign policy. Wildly funny, deeply unnerving. Free on the iPlayer.

In case you think I’ve been slacking off reading comics and surfing the interwebs well… you’re right. But. The observant amongst you may have noticed a couple of minor tweaks to the site. I’m also knee deep in a new short story that I’m really excited about.

Oh yeah. And we have us a summerhouse now. We raised it ourselves. Greetings from Copse End.

A quick one from Warren Ellis

This is the text of a speech Warren Ellis gave earlier in the month on the subject of comics. And it absolutely nails the reasons that I love this medium more than any other. It’s purity, it’s honesty, it’s speed of response mean that you can do things in a comic form that would either be impossible or unfeasibly expensive otherwise. Give it a read. If only for the jokes about Grant Morrison and the brown acid.

Here We Go Again

Regular members of The Readership will recall my posts late last year on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, and it’s attack on free speech as pertaining so called “violent pornography”.

Well, as expected, that bill passed and is now being used to protect us against something else that isn’t a threat.

And this time it’s really personal.

The fuckers are going after comics.

The problem arises around this Bill used in conjunction with Section 49 of the Coroners And Justice Bill, currently being reviewed before making it’s way to the Lords. Take a look:

(1)
It is an offence for a person to be in possession of a prohibited image of a child.

(2)
A prohibited image is an image which—
(a)
is pornographic,
(b)
falls within subsection (6), and
(c)
is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.

(3) An image is “pornographic” if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.

(4) Where (as found in the person’s possession) an image forms part of a series of images, the question whether the image is of such a nature as is mentioned in

subsection (3) is to be determined by reference to—
(a) the image itself, and
(b) (if the series of images is such as to be capable of providing a context for the image) the context in which it occurs in the series of images.

(5) So, for example, where—
(a) an image forms an integral part of a narrative constituted by a series of images, and
(b) having regard to those images as a whole, they are not of such a nature that they must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal, the image may, by virtue of being part of that narrative, be found not to be pornographic, even though it might have been found to be pornographic if taken by itself.

(6) An image falls within this subsection if it—
(a) is an image which focuses solely or principally on a child’s genitals or anal region, or
(b) portrays any of the acts mentioned in subsection (7).

(7) Those acts are—
(a) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with or in the presence of a child;
(b) an act of masturbation by, of, involving or in the presence of a child;
(c) an act which involves penetration of the vagina or anus of a child with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;
(d) an act of penetration, in the presence of a child, of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;
(e) the performance by a child of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary);
(f) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) in the presence of a child.

Got all that? Anyone see the problem yet?
Well, as with the CJIB last year, the issue is with the distressingly vague terms with which the terms are couched. That old chestnut “must reasonably be assumed to” creeps into the text on more than one occasion. And of course “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.” That really ties it down, don’t it? My idea of grossly offensive is, I will bet you anything you like, different to my neighbour, the nice lady at the petrol station or the average copper who has to try and make sense out of this lax, lazy attempt at anti-child porn legislation.

In fact, it gets almost surreal. Please, reread section 7, subsection (e) and (f). And then shed a tear for the unicorns.

Let me make it simple for you. A drawing of a child is not a child. A drawing of a character that looks child-like is not a child. A drawing of that character engaged in pursuits and endeavours of an adult nature is still not a child. Tell you what, you tell me. How old is Astro Boy?

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How about Princess from Battle of The Planets?

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(incidentally, this pic was hosted on the BBC Cult website, which described it as… oh, see for yourself).

One more, as noted on the Comic Shop Voice website when mentioning the even more bothersome Section 52, which states:

(6) Where an image shows a person the image is to be treated as an image of a child if the impression conveyed by the image is that the person is shown as a child.

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and for comparison…

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(which I ganked from the Daily Mail website, who seem more than happy to print this kind of pic. Actually, linky to the whole page for more pics with kid actors underneath, which viewed out of context could be seen to be highly inappropriate.)

So, yet again, another piece of badly thought out, poorly examined and potentially ruinous legislation from a government that is passing laws that seek to criminalise me with every passing month.

Seriously. I own a copy of Lost Girls. Under the new laws, that makes me a criminal. God only knows what that makes Alan Moore.

Links for you to read include Comic Shop Voice who have a more detailed and much angrier version of the argument, and The Comic Book Alliance, a force for good in the industry. The Register have a very good (ie effing terrifying) version of events here.

There’s a big meet in Brighton about the whole situation this Monday. Bleeding Cool have the details. Worth lending your support.

A Day Of Tweaks And Noodling

Off sick today, which is always a bore. I’ve been pretty much stuck upstairs, shuttling between the bedroom and the loo (don’t ask, really, unpretty situation.)

Which leads, of course, to a day of Rob’s favourite pastime, Fannying Around On The Laptop. Listen to the author’s squeals of joy as he archives off 10 gigs worth of ephemera to the external drives! Rejoice with him as he gets Last.fm working along with Growl, and spends the day watching a window pop up on his desktop every time a new song plays! Gasp in near-orgasmic wonder as he … oh, you get the idea. Geeking out is what I do, and it can sometimes be good to have the excuse to do nothing but for a day.

So, concerning the local amenities, I’ve juggled things around eso slightly. There’s now a Last.fm list widget, so that you too can enjoy my musical “tastes”. I prefer to call them eclectic, although the accusation often levelled is “schizophrenic.”

Philistines.

There’s also a Facebook widget, and updates to the blog will now appear as new Notes in my FB profile. Sharp-eyed readers may notice a change to the quote in the header, and really sharp-eyed observers will note I’ve tweaked the logo. Notice I have resisted the temptation to stick a lightning bolt in the middle of it.

There’s been a few updates to the growing pile of juicy content in the writing rooms. Satan’s Schoolgirls will always update on a Sunday, so Chapter 5 has just gone up. I upped a new short story Saint Charlie to the Short Fiction room earlier this week, and I’m rather proud of it. Any updates to the fiction or film room will always be noted in This Week’s Special, the text box to the top right.

A couple of interesting links, because obvs I sent a chunk of time hitting the feeds today.

The guys at scans_daily came up with the goods again, with a wonderful piece by Darko Macan, about a bookshop that has every volume in the world … excpet one. The ending is just heartbreaking.

"Mister Bookseller"

Finally, as a writer, I am by definition a language technician. My chosen language (or rather the one that circumstance and to a certain amount laziness has forced onto me) is one of the most illogical and eccentric on the planet. With a vaudvillian twinkle, Ed Rondthaler takes us through a few of the pitfalls and pratfalls that the English language has in store for us.

(Youtube vid, better quality here)