Ramblings (Blog)

I didn’t read many superhero comics as a kid – you just couldn’t get hold of them where I lived. My comics were the Beano, the Dandy, and the occasional Whizzer & Chips. My only written brush with Up, Up and Away came from the weekly adventures of Bananaman, who was, so far as I can tell, never a member of the Justice League or the Avengers (although, that’s something I could see Grant Morrison changing, if ever he has the chance). Like most folk my age, my superheroes were on TV. Cartoons like Spider-man and his Amazing Friends and The Incredible Hulk. The live action Adam West Batman. And, of course, the Christopher Reeve Superman films. By the time I finally got into comics in a big way, at around the age of twenty, it was as much nostalgia and glimpses of half-remembered characters that drove me onwards. Why am I drivelling away about this? Well, for years and years after being bitten by the comic bug, I found myself having to repeat the same mantra to disbelieving family and friends: Superheroes aren’t just for kids. And it’s true. There’s a lot of darkness and emotional weight beneath the […]
Those of you who follow me on Facebook (so, three out of the four people reading this blog) will know that I was lucky enough to have a peek around some of the disused and backstairs areas of Charing Cross station this weekend just gone. I can’t claim special privilege. All told, upwards of a thousand people will have seen what I saw. Every so often, the London Transport Museum (well worth a visit in its own right) organises guided tours around abandoned/curious bits of the Underground. This time, it was Charing Cross; this time last year, it was Aldwych. The Tube’s always had a bit of a quiet fascination for me – blame the classic Doctor Who serial Web of Fear for that – so I find poking around abandoned platforms and ventilation shafts far more entertaining than I should. The timing of this trip proved particularly serendipitous, as I closed out a draft of my current novel project, Coldharbour, last Friday. Coldharbour is set in present day London – our London, not some pandimensional duplicate – which means accuracy’s important. For me, the whole point of using a familiar or iconic setting is to use it as it […]
So, End Times: Archaon is out. This post therefore contains mild spoilers. You have been warned. Archaon’s an odd book to talk about, not least because it serves as a capstone for a couple of things. First of all, well, the series is called the End Times – you do the nihilism. Secondly, Archaon was my last book for Games Workshop. (Well, the narrative half was, anyway – I haven’t written rules for ages.) Destroying the world, well, it wasn’t easy. Ulthuan, Bretonnia, Athel Loren, the Empire… They, and the world they belonged to, have been part of my life for twenty-five years, ever since I picked up a copy of Warhammer’s 3rd Edition. I’m not sure how I felt when I typed the last few words. Guilty? Possibly. It helped, of course, that it was always going to end this way – if I hadn’t written it, then someone else would have finished the story, and almost certainly in a way I wouldn’t have (writers are like that). Relieved? Definitely. I’m not really one for taking joy in watching something take shape over time. I like to see the final, tangible product of my efforts. It’s the main reason […]
Reviews for From Software’s Bloodborne are starting to pop up on the internet, and with them, an interesting pattern is emerging. Games journos are heaping praise on it like sand on a fire. Meanwhile, watchers from the sidelines are asking awkward questions like ‘But didn’t you say it’s excrutiatingly hard? How can it be a good game if the difficulty’s as well thought out as a chocolate welding mask?’ I haven’t played Bloodborne yet, and most likely won’t unless it makes the leap across to PC, but I still find it fascinating. The ‘souls’ games (Demon Souls, Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2) of which Bloodborne is a spiritual heir, are an intriguing phenomenon. On the one hand, they’re beautifully realised worlds, in a gaming genre all of their own. They offer a sense of achievement that goes beyond almost anything else I’ve played. However… They’re also glitchy as hell, full of questionable design decisions, and don’t explain themselves at all well, making death not so much a learning experience, but more of a ‘what the bloody hell did I do wrong this time?’ Where From have succeeded, intentionally or not, is by selling these failings as part of the […]
I realised this morning that I’m waaaay overdue a blog that isn’t entirely about promoting my books. No sooner did I resolve to fix this when, lo and behold, a juicy topic falls into my lap: Marvel have finally admitted they’re rebooting their comics universe later this year. For the uninitiated, this is a big deal. DC comics like to hit the reset button every five years or so – the most recent example being the New 52 range – but Marvel haven’t done this before, not really. Thing is, I’m not really going to talk about. I was going to, sure, but then I realised that I don’t have anything to say that you won’t find on a hundred other blogs at the moment. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really do well with change, and if I’m presented with it I tend to zero in on all the reasons why it’s bad – just like most of the internet. In an effort to avoid this, I’m going to go with what’s become my standard response when a big company hurls itself into remodelling a beloved IP: Better make it good, because you’ve a hell of a legacy to […]
You have to go back more than a quarter of a century to find my first visit to a Games Workshop. It wasn’t to buy anything for Warhammer, but a box of plastic Daleks and Cybermen.  I still have memories of a dark and dingy place; something of a cave of wonders, filled with dozens of different games and hundreds upon hundreds of miniatures. Have you seen that Bugs Bunny film where Daffy Duck finds Ali Baba’s treasure cave? Well, it felt a bit like that. I think there was even a Nazgul on Winged Beast behind the till. Not actually serving behind the till, of course. That task fell to two men of indeterminate age who were fighting a losing battle against the till roll. Funny the things that stay with you. If the pair are still with the company, they’re probably quite senior by now. Needless to say, the Daleks and Cybermen were only the first of many purchases. My first real Warhammer miniatures consisted of a pack of five Beastmen and a Keeper of Secrets (the one from the Combat Card) which I managed to stick together using Humbrol polystyrene cement. Goodness knows how. I’d bought them […]
So, there’s a teaser trailer out for the new Star Wars film. Have you seen it? No? Then go and watch it immediately – it’s far more entertaining than anything you’ll find here. I’ll wait. Done? Good. I’ve not really paid much attention to the oncoming horror/brilliance that is Episode 7, The Force Awakens. Sure, I’ve known about for a while (you can’t really spend any time on the internet and not know about it) but I’ve not really engaged with the dribs and drabs of information that are floating around. Partly, this is because I still like to maintain a little bit of mystery. However, it’s mostly because I’m sick and tired of internet commentators wildly speculating about things they know nothing about. (Guys, having a wild guess that turns out to be true isn’t foresight if you made thousands of wild guesses – it’s a statistical likelihood). Did I enjoy the trailer? I’m not too proud to say that I grinned like an idiot for most of it (but then I grinned like an idiot when I saw Optimus Prime ride into battle on Grimlock, so I may not be a good barometer on this one. Oh, and […]