November 2010

BTB Classic: Caelum Priory 2

Caelum Priory was devised by Thomas Boosz and was started in 2005. It absorbed a lot of reference material and character design as it involved a very large set of troops – though focussing on maybe 6 or 7 central characters of varying ranks. The environment, weaponry, equipment, architecture and vehicles all had to be designed from scratch which is something I favoured as its nice to get broad scope on a project to design from the bottom up. It would be nice to revisit Caelum at some point though I’m not sure it’ll ever come back. It felt, after the development work, more like a sprawling free roaming battle sim (Medal of Honour style) than an ongoing comic book as much of the action was strategic. Thinking about it – I’d fully buy that game. It’d be amazing!

Moon Rise.

May we introduce you to Moon. The main character of the title due to be released by Beyond the Bunker early next year. Interested? Well, watch this space for insider info, including the identity of our new colourist and preview pages and artwork well before official launch February 2011.

The time has come! A date is decided for the official online launch.

Would you be looking, fair browser, for a suitable arouser but not just for trouser in the early morn of a New years day? Still chilled in the cold, you could feel less old if only something would hold your attention. Well fear not dear sir, for something provocative will stir in the corners of your web based dimension. Its a Bunker Beyond anything you could so easily ‘comprend’ and a distraction of curdling sway. So tarry not dear child, for an experience so wild is merely a mouse click away.




BTB Film – Give Us A Hand

Very very silly this week. We’ve been plundering my old archives for a while now, so the curly haired one and I thought it was high time that we pulled something from his past. This is a very young Steve showing off his presenting skills in the somewhat lesser seen show ‘Give Us A Hand’ filmed as part of his university course back in the year 2000. It proves three thing about Steve Penfold:

  1. He can’t cook for shit
  2. He taught Guy Richie everything he knows about writing scripts
  3. It’s a crime that he never presented Live and Kicking

Laughing aside, this vid is actually a really nice early look at the video production skills of Mr George Featherby, he’s a friend of the Bunker and a very very talented man. He at least has the sense to stay behind the camera…something the two of us really should learn.


(I really miss that shirt I’ve got on in the title sequence.)


Friday Trailer: ‘In Blackest Cinema…’

Seeing as the Friday night film is up soon (as it is) and me and Dan are massive Green Lantern fans after the monumental Blackest Night craziness over the last year or so I thought I’d offer a little trailer (or two) before the movie.

The Green Lantern trailer has been released by Warner Bros, the film itself due to be released Summer 2011 in the US (and sometime shortly afterwards for us in the UK just to keep us in our place). The great thing about Green Lantern is that practically no one outside of comic fans and the US have heard of him. The interesting thing is that practically no one outside of comic fans and the US have heard of him. Take a look, see what you think…


Typically, any obscure comic character breaking out into movies has an ace up their sleeve. Years of development out of public view and a sudden shot in the arm as they arrive on the big screen with a pre-prepared back story and ‘best bits’ that can be used while none of the weight of expectation the heavy hitters like Superman, Batman or Spider-man might suffer from. Ang Lee got bit by public scrutiny with his Hulk (2003) for not living up to expectations while Wesley Snipes, Stephen Norrington and David S. Goyer strode out defiantly with Blade (1998) and kick started more than a decade of high budget comic book adaptations and gave Hollywood a much needed sure-fire formula they could rely on. So, is this going to be a Blade or a Scott Pilgrim or is this going to be a Phantom or a Catwoman?

So, our worthy verdict….

Ryan Reynold’s has been swimming about the comic movie industry for a while now without much luck of finding shore. There was Blade Trinity in 2003 as one of the Nightstalkers and Wolverine: Origins in 2008 as Wade (Deadpool). But his ship may have just come in with this one as he occupies the part of Hal Jordan almost a little too well. Cocky, brash and adventurous is pretty much what he’s being trying to put across (and at times move away from) since he arrived on the scene so good luck to him.

For us comic geeks, the film clearly goes Oa-side pretty swiftly with the Green Lantern Corps early on with Abin Sur carking it early as in the book, Tomar Tu (beaked finhead) apparently playing tour guide on Oa (GL HQ), Sinestro (Mark Strong) hanging around suggesting there’s a plot developing for later films (hopefully) and Lantern recruitment and training officer, Kilowog all pig faced and politically incorrect name intact, all clearly face checked. No Morg or Bzzt but you can’t have everything. Carol Ferris is present and very correct (Blake Lively) as the love interest. There’s no sign of John Stewart (though he is credited as appearing in it played by Nick Jones on Imdb – I checked) or Guy Gardner (not credited) so it looks as though the storyline will centre on Hal joining for film 1 which should keep things fairly simple. No obvious Guardians floating around but according to previews they’re in there too somewhere.

There’s no suggestion of space battles and most of the action is based on Earth so there’s a possibility still that Geoff Johns (current writer and Dc’s Chief Creative Officer since Feb 2010) has kept the filmmakers under control and retained a simple but effective plot line that introduces the wider universe for later movies but focusses on the central threat of the crazy scientist (potentially fun) which is not a bad idea seeing as how the CGI looks a little overstretched – though there’s a possibility given the time left that not all is complete just yet. Let’s see shall we….

Not as good as this though I’m sad to say as its not for a real movie….


Practitioners 4: Brian Azzarello

Brian Azzarello has written for Batman (‘Broken City’, with Eduardo Risso and Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire) and Superman (‘For Tomorrow’, with Jim Lee). Prior to his rise as a writer he was best known as the line editor for Andrew Rev’s incarnation of Comico, a middle American publisher responsible for Robotech, Jonny Quest, Mage; The Hero Uniscovered and Grendel before going bankrupt in 1990.

But his greatest works are the investigation and subsequent revelling in the murky underbelly and imagined clandestine power houses of the american continent in the incredibly indelible and affecting 100 Bullets – which ran from August 1999 to April 2009. It was a masterwork.

It was initially presented as a set of episodic, self-contained storylines, an occasional appearance by the seemingly omnipresent Agent Graves the only connecting detail but by its completion it made clear a nationwide network of criminal empires resting behind the accepted powers-that-be that touched (and consumed) the lives of everyone inside it.

The Series won the 2002 Harvey Awards for Best Writer and Best continuing series (as well as Best Artist for his long term creative partner Eduardo Risso) and 2001 Eisner Award for Best serialised story, and in 2002 and 2004 Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series.

Although diffuse, the main reasons for this success were most likely Azzarello’s uncanny capacity for realistic use of regional and local/dialects as well as often oblique use of slang and metaphorical language in his character’s dialogue. His capacity for subtle and accurate characterisation and his capacity for dynamic and often potentially debilitating plot twists while never losing control of the inherent details that made it so gripping.

He had worked with Eduardo Risso on Jonny Double and went on to work with him on Batman: Broken City applying the same noir and pulp principles reminiscent of the best Miller, Janson and Varley. The intuitive sense of layout and pacing between them formed one of the most effective partnerships in comics history, underpinned by Azzarello’s understanding of provocative and engrossing storytelling.

His dabble into self publishing was (and still is) a rip roaring success with Loveless; a noir Spaghetti Western following the trials of an outlaw couple in the desolate and uncertain years following the American Civil War.

His most recent work of note is Joker for DC comics in which Azzarello brings the long standing image of the DC’s comic book Joker closer to that of Christopher Nolan and the late Heath Ledger’s version from The Dark Knight (2008). He represents far less an ethereal and spiritual threat to Gotham than he does a more potent and vicious one with real verve and clarity in his criminal intent. Something that in the hands of other writers might lessen a long beholden character, but in the hands of Azzarello (aided ably by Lee Bermejo) it finds greater potency in its compactness. An affecting writer, well worth a look if you get the chance.

The Killing Joke

Lenny Bruce is arrested for obscenity


I spend quite a lot of my time writing jokes in one form or another and so I suppose it’s kinda natural that the same question comes up over and over , “What’s your favourite joke”. It’s a hard question because there are so many that I love. Jim Holland‘s “I was grilling mackerel the other day, they know nothing.” once left me entirely disabled with giggles just as I was walking on stage (I’m a sucker for a mighty pun) but if I’m pushed to pick what I think is the best joke ever written then there’s one that I generally go with (it has a bit of a backstory to it, so bear with me).
In 1961 Lenny Bruce was arrested on stage for obsenity, sparking a debate over what a comedian can and can’t say on stage that continues today. The very next night the Second City improv club in Chicago (a wicked group that’s spawned the likes of Bill Murray) ran a joke about it, it went like this: The entire cast would assemble on stage for the start of the show minus one member. The missing actor then ran onto the stage, interrupting the sketch that was going on and shouted “Did you hear? Lenny Bruce just got busted for swearing onstage!” without missing a beat, another cast member replied “No shit!?”
This tends to confuse people a bit and yeah, it probably doesn’t sound that great when it’s written down, but it’s one of my favorite jokes, not just for what it represents (which was essentially the opening of the floodgates in terms of free speech in comedy) but because it’s one of the most superbly intentioned uses of provocative material that you’ll ever hear. In two lines the joke manages to totally undermine the credibility of the idea of profanity – it’s a supreme dismissal of the idea that language can be controlled and a snub to the people trying to do so. This is what comedy should sound like! It’s what comedy does better than anything else. Sure, we can make deep cutting comments about hypocracies and injustices, we can tell people they’re wrong and we’re right, but so can poets and musicians. The true power of the comedian lies in our ability to give these subjects the kind of patronising condesention that they really deserve. I’m not saying there’s no place in comedy for direct statements or seriousness, but they’re not our only weapons.

The Second City today

I often hear comics talk about how powerful jokes are, but in reality joke’s themselves aren’t powerful or political; they’re just cleverly constructed sentences thrown out to a bunch of people who laugh at them and then throw them away. What’s powerful is the fact that as comedians we can transform any topic we like into one of these jokes, stripping it of it’s credibility and turning it from a big scary monster to something we’re all laughing at. When Second City made that joke, they weren’t saying “Profanity laws are wrong!” they were saying “You still think swearing’s offensive? That’s funny! Anyway…” If in the great house party of life, it’s that easy to relegate anti-free speech advocates to the kitchen, think about what jokes like that can do to racists or biggots of all kinds. That’s why comedians are so scary to these people, they’re not monsters to us, they’re just a fucking joke.

When Second City told the Lenny Bruce gag they brushed away decades of outdated thinking about free speech and nearly fifty years on they’ve been proved to be right. That is a fucking good joke…though I’m sure it would have been better in pun form. 😉


One in the Googles!!

Shameless fame hungry animals that we are I thought I’d check up my own name on Yahoo (powered by Google). Couldn’t simply look mine up though now could I. Good news! After a mere 247 hits we are officially the first thing to come up on Yahoo when you type in ‘Beyond the bunker’. If you type in even a slight variation than that by even one letter you could get anything but we are the most popular search response with exactly our name!!

Its official!!

But woah. Hold your horses what about those within Beyond the Bunker? Where does Dan get exactly? Thought I’d check and the results were encouraging.

There he is! 2nd page of searches when you type in Dan Thompson. Its his comedy page on to to have a look. We intend to get a page up on soon. He’s the first hit if you type in ‘gay pirate’ but many might not make the association with him. He also shares a search name and was slightly pipped to the post by this guy and his timelapse experiments on Vimeo.

Me, I checked. Turns out I specialize in the social, cultural, and political history of twentieth century Canada/ North America, with a particular interest in the great lakes region. Happily, I wrote a book called The Donut: A Canadian History in which I put the Donut into its historical context. I was fairly sure everyone knew what that was but there you go. Even got a review in the Guardian in which the reviewer hoped ‘Steve Penfold will only stay famous for his passion for doughnuts.’ I do like doughnuts.

While I do appear on page 1 below the pastry historian its for an obscure ad I posted up for myself on which got me NO jobs (score for Mandy!!). But on page 3 there I am, in a link to the website for an interview I did with Martin Conaghan and Barry Nugent about Fallen Heroes – It also appears I’ve been brought in to encourage Safe Sex. It makes me worried I’m a contraceptive.

Be safe, people.

So there we have it! A lot of work to do. Can we get our names to the top of Yahoo searches for us both using the very material you will find here? It hardly matters but its worth a crack!

Friday Film – The Devil’s Fork Outtakes

Every Friday we descend into the vaults here at Bunker HQ and dig out one of the many fine (and occasionally not so fine) films that we have produced over the years. Come join us for another instalment of cinematic silliness.


Got a little bit of fun for you this week. I was editing together the DVD of Devil’s Fork for the cast & crew and I thought I’d take a moment to share with you some of the outtakes. I know that you are all labouring under the impression that Steve and I are entirely infallible and that we nail everything on the first take, but allow me to set your minds at rest. As this video proves we are, at times, an utter shambles.

And no, I won’t explain that fucking “What did Councillor Troy say to her boyfriend?” joke again.


BTB Classic: Caelum Priory

To finish up with Caelum Priory (for now – unless I recover the old files) the two pieces I’m most proud of from the set that remain. Effectively a splash page I asked for in order to set the scene more clearly – revealing the city all the action takes place in and a page revealing the initial launch of the troops into the battlezone from the centre of the city in Drop ships (nicknamed hogs because of their porkine snout and heavy nature). The page was too detailed though to have really worked at a smaller size.

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