November 2010

Fallen Heroes…

Exciting stuff! More than one title will carry the Beyond the Bunker logo. I (Steve P) am currently working on Fallen Heroes along with Martin Conaghan (writer/adaptor) and Gat Melvin (colourist) – adapted from Fallen Heroes – the novel by Barry Nugent (the powerhouse behind the whole thing).

We will of course have copies of Fallen Heroes on our table at conventions though it’ll be Moon we’re pushing.

Details on Fallen Heroes’ll be forthcoming and get more and more detailed and regular as we get closer to the release date so it’ll be a couple of weeks before the next so check back here regularly.

The Practitioners 3: Mike Mignola

Alien : Salvation (Darkhorse Comics 2001)

Mignola was born in 1960 in Berkley California and not as some might assume in a Caravan on the side of a grey stone track in an Eastern European forest valley in the rain, presided over by witch fiends and troll-likes. Working his way up from his intro into comic illustration in 1980 he brought to life Red Sonja on one page (despite his assertion to this day that he’s never been any good at drawing women), Daredevil, Powerman and IronFist, Incredible Hulk, Alpha Flight and the Rocket Raccoon Limited series (which I’ll literally snap your arm off to get ahold of). Mignola seemingly only ever touching the fringe, edgy characters of the Marvel universe, where, for any long term reader, the great ideas are formed away from the bright, commercial centre. This undeniably is exactly where he belongs.

Mignola is not a mainstream artist but dragged the mainstream towards him with some indelible, brash and clear artwork, broken by black line and mat colours. Mignola’s work is best viewed from a distance… and really close up. Any image he creates works as well as a poster as a piece of comic design or storytelling tool.

He is an artists artist. His abstract linework imbuing life with effortless light detailing. A carved out eye brought to life with a commaed black circle. His Alien glides in black shadow, his Hellboy looking twice as powerful than any carved superhero with his bent coathanger shoulders, his trench coat hanging off him. His composition allowing mind-blowing Kablammo whack outs with rock hard mitts and tender fear and indefinable nightmares in forms and shapes that are perfectly laid about a panel but form a broader latticework across the page. His viewpoint in art is life, curved and shaped and seen through the bottom of a broken bottle and a late night nightmare.

His ‘household name’ moment came with Hellboy, son of the almighty damned one, broken horned, bright red with FF’s Thing scowl, stone hand and Judge Dredd jaw he imbued him with savagery and a bitterly Human soul in the face of fairytales and horrors. Constantly in conflict with the bumps in the night he should be leading, Hellboy represents any person who refuses to follow a path laid out for him by others. Fascinated by international lore, fairytale, myths and legends; Mignola pushes Hellboy from dark path to broken bell tower where he meets a menagerie of dark gods, witches, gargoyles and pig boys who he inevitably fails to reason with and ends up battering with his great stone hand.

A better philosophy on life for the average guy there may never have been.

Pages? Where we’re going we don’t need pages.

Evening all,

As well as playing an insane amount of Fable 3, I’ve been doing a bit of site redecorating as of late so I do hope you like the way things are going. There’s a few more changes in the pipeline (including a fair bit of rather exciting Moon related news), so keep an eye out for those in the next few weeks.

I’m freakin in love with the Comixology app on my iPhone at the moment. I chewed my way through most of the free comics in about a day and am now well and truly a slave to Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead epic. I’m notoriously bad at resisting cool looking digital stuff and at £5.99 for 6 issues I’m having to make an active effort not to blow all my spare cash on zombie related goodies. The book itself is as awesome as everyone says it is. More than most, Kirkman really knows how to end an issue in a way that makes you go right out and buy the next one. It’s like the first season of Lost…but with fewer bears. The thing that’s amazed me so much is how quickly I’ve grown to love the Guided View style of reading comics (essentially the screen flows panel to panel, rather than showing you the entire page). The biggest difference is that you no longer have the idea of each page being a mini story and instead just push on continuously to the end of the issue. It’s a different style to the one I’m used to and given how much time I spend working on page layouts, I should probably be less enthusiastic about this change in the way our stories are told. But then, it wasn’t that long ago that we thought every issue had to start with a splash page or that thought bubbles were a good idea. Our form of storytelling is, by it’s very nature, a very fluid one and if new technology allows us to tell our tales in new ways then I that can only be a good thing…up until the point we’re all struck down with RSI at least.

Now if you’ll excuse me, me and my dog, Growlbion, have got a kingdom to save/wreck.

D
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Paintballing: Delta Force

Went Paintballing yesterday. My girlfriend (fiancee) bought me a Paintball for two Sporting Gift. Literally the only ‘sporting gift’ I could’ve been bought. Once I’d opened it and because of the young couple beaming out from below their visors – lifted up in a clear breach of their own health and safety guidelines – leaning on a log, paintball guns in hand – I assumed, wrongly that this was intended for us to both go together. I thought that her later attempts to suggest I should go with my mate were sheer thoughtfulness however it was because she never really wanted to go. This continued on until the day before when she told me she’d never really wanted to go and my guilt about not being sure she would enjoy it was entirely redundant the whole time.

We used a Paintball for Two Sporting Gift from the Activity Superstore. Tori bought it from Debenhams and it provides you with a code at the website. Once entered you can choose from a number of real world sites belonging to Delta Force Paintballing (http://www.paintballgames.co.uk/) the biggest paintballing company in Britain, originally founded in South Africa (FYI). Bringng up the map online of possible sites its an impressive sight – offering three types of location -Red. Minimum age 10 (easy pickings), Yellow. Minimum age 12 (XBox trained), and National Paintball Centre (the only one in Ireland (minimum age 16 – surly). According to the site ‘90% of UK’s population liv(e) within 1 hour of a Delta Force Paintball Centre.’ They’re the Ribena of Paintball centres.

I tested this out and found one within 20 minutes of my house, and another only 40 minutes away. We opted for the closer one as it is a 9.15am start which is insane if you ain’t sporty. Having booked, I got a phonecall from a smiley, and slightly sexy female voice checking to make sure everything was okay with the booking and a text reminding me of the booking and offering me a number if I wanted more people to join up. My cynical mind kicked in. ‘They’re not busy at this time of year,’ I figured ‘, so they up the marketing schmoosiness in order to get more people. Charlatans.’

THE DAY

It was easy enough to find and collect your kit, visor, overalls and paintball cannister and 100 paintballs. It was cold as I’d heard it can be at that time in the morning and I was getting nervous I’d be found face down in a frozen ditch, my first paintball locked frozen in the barrel. The place was rammed. 400 people piled in and started gearing up. At that time in the morning there’s a tension in the air, not least coming from Tori as she put on the body armour (offered to Women and Children but not men who want to go all SWAT). I became wary of people with pony tails – always aware that people with ponytails are often good at things like paintballing and hunting down and killing small animals. Tori and I disappointed when it turned out that 30 children aged 11-12 were not bearing green arm bands (masking tape) and so were not our opponents.

We, bearing the mark of the original paintballers, wore plain masking tape and were the browns. After the safety talk in which Tori discovered that paintballs travel at 186 miles an hour and ‘will blind you.’ they even revealed their own Stig, the Aveley Terminator. His job; to march out onto the battlefield and challenge someone of his choice by pointing both weapons at them.

The first battle was in a copse with two bases and was straight annihalation. Noone got annihalated. Eventually, after some sheepish ducking, the adrenaline started to kick back in for everyone and my legs remembered how to crouch and the game was on. I got increasingly aggressive verbally, barking that ‘I f@cking hit you, now f@ck off,’ to at least two cowering individuals probably just checking to see if the paintball had broken on them. I took two in the stomach from an unseen assaillant.

Second was the Vietcong Village, a territorial dust up involving five huts, one central. This was aggressive stuff, requiring a charge into heavy fire to begin with. It could’ve done with a chopper drop to get things going and sniper rounds from the long grass but otherwise it didn’t ring like a battle in a B&Q Garden ornmaent section that it could do, it actually took on the shape of a proper conflict with people darting from one position to another, dodging overhaed fire and manoeuvring from hut to hut and trying to take out the opposition while watching their own flanks. Whoever had the most huts at the end was the victor (just like Vietnam). We took the central hut immediately (thanks to orders from me) and one further on their side and overwhelmed them in the second taking all five huts!! I was fortunate enough to take the fifth hut and the feeling of success is pretty cool, though lacking the relief a proper soldier does that he didn’t get shot in the face. In spite of my orders, noone was hung up by their nipples and summary executions were not enforced.

Deltaforce uses Flashbang fireworks (bangers), smoke grenades and paint grenades and I never got my hands on one but they were effective. Flashbang’s did stop the field in their tracks but tended to scare the guy who threw it so didn’t really affect the state of play. A smoke grenade was thrown later but kind of acted as a clear sign they were coming through that way, which seemed to put the opposition off, having announced it just before with pink smoke. I never saw a paint grenade fired but its unlikely they’re as effective in real life as they are in my head and that entire rooms are sprayed in multicolour shades, anyone inside falling out of door rubbing their eyes covered entirely in Dulux thick colour but they all add up to the scene and make it as close to battle as possible without having to pull the dead over your head to protect you from indiscriminate shelling and death gangs.

The third was an airfield assault, one side having to place a bomb inside an airplane shell that was defended by the other side. The scale of this one was impressive, with a plane shell, armoured vehicles and a command tower. Placed ahead of the incoming attack one detail of Delta Force became clearly more entertaining. At other paintball places a hit to the gun or your head is a kill shot; Delta Force allow head shots and gun hits which means you’e in the game at all times. This makes you braver and allows for pitched gun battles from vantage points.

Here, the most exciting moment took place. I’d managed to convince the team (in a moment that caused Tori to wander off out of embarrassment) that we had to push forwards in two big groups, firing wildly and cover as much ground as possible. We identified the quickest (slimmest) among us and identified the set of barrels I’d been hiding behind, just short of the plane itself as the best opportunity to get close enough to the plane to get the runner in and drop the bomb through the tail window. But it was a close one, the opposition could get their quicker unless we kept them at bay. e did. Charging forwards and firing at any head that moved, the greens instinctively ducked away allowing three of us to gain access to the rear of the barrels. While those behind us laid down suppressing fire and attempted to take out the Greens as best as possible I discovered I’d exhausted all of my paintballs in the initial assault. Speedy (as he will now be known) was beside me, staying down, with the barrel bomb in his hands. The only option was clear. I would run interference as he made a break in the opposite direction for the tail window. I called out to others to stand and fire all at once on my word which presented itself, unsurprisingly to anyone who works with me / lives with me as a guttural roar. The back positions rose and opened fire simultaneously as myself and Speedy made a break for it. While I confused a few and took several hits, firing blanks at the uncertain greens, Speedy darted expertly across the field, along the wing of the plane and threw the barrel into the window. As he was hit by (he claimed) 15 paintballs as he attempted this his aim was slightly off and the barrel clattered off the window frame and onto the floor below the wing. My game was over, as was Speedies but the Brown’s were not done yet. A second push was made shortly afterwards – with someone managing to grab the bomb barrel and hurl it into the plane window – winning the game.

It was this point I was asked for my name by the marshall. I was up for Best Player which was worth +1 to the team the winner was on. I was pretty chuffed as you can probably tell (see below). I was never to pick up a prize though as my day had come to an end.

After a quick kit check, both myself and Tori were out of balls at this point, with half a cannister between us but we ploughed into the next game. One fraught with Political espionage and national security!

The President (a selected member of the team) was in town and had to make his way across a battlefield and into a bus on the far side, avoiding heavy fire from the opposition. His soldiers had to protect the President at all costs and could regenerate by touching the derelict bus on their own side (just like A Few Good Men). The President of the Green Nation decided on a mad dash, carrying, obscurely, a barrel, which only really served to slow him down allowing a kill shot. In the reverse game we opted for a hgolding position, the smallest member of the team pinioned between two crack shots behind the most central barrels. Covered from both sides by more troops who would hold position and one other marksman behind central cover to pick off any attempts from either side to get around the defenses. It was impressive and fairly futile as both sides sat there and waited for the other to make their move. My cannister empty I unloaded imaginary paintball pellets for several minutes before making a dash in the dying moments to add a bit of spontaniety to the proceedings. I took one in the leg about 4 feet from the bus.

At the risk of sounding like an advert for a Museum of historical games involving circles, It was a great day all round. Both myself and Tori found something to like about it (myself from behaving like a 4 star general and Tori by being able to go at her own pace because of the scale, layout and the well organised games). We got a Pizza lunch, 4 out of 6 games and a fair bit of excitement. I’d recommend it to anyone as its more inclusive than some of the other indy sites in the UK and it allows people to play at varying pace and get something out of their day. Also; rules in place such as minimum three metre shooting distance means that Dan would be thrown off site for shooting me in the arse like he did last time we went. Which is great.

Steve Penfold is shitting himself

Dan has failed violently to post up his Friday Film. It is now 4.30am on Sunday. I tried to give him enough room to slap it all up before I started posting up again so I’m just going to blog and I have insomnia so am trying to fill the time before morning.

It could be said that I am shitting myself due to the fact that we have less than 11 weeks to complete Moon 1 before we know that we have missed the printing date for Cardiff and London conventions. This involves completing 22 pages of colour, 6 more pages of pencil and pen. Get them print ready, sent to Florida (at present) via Ka-blam printers, printed and sent back in time to start selling.

It could be that I am shitting myself as I will be responsible for the design of the cover, thereby causing me to be responsible for its success / failure in numbers of sales. Or that I won’t be able to put in for the banners in the background or the printing itself if I don’t get enough work between now and January- and that January is typically a seasonal dip for all industries I occupy.

Part of it is likely that I’m actually scared of the potential success of Moon. A life coach (or Guru as I like to call him) that I had a fear of success and that I taught myself in a classroom as a child that if I hid my intelligence I would be more popular, beginning a lifetime of very convincingly proving to the world that I am stupid by (but not limited to) trying to cut my own hair with a bic razor, eating a map needed to cover the final route on a 200 mile journey en route, losing a brown beach hut among three rows of brown beach huts because it had been repainted white,  putting contact details on a CV intended for a job my Dad had lined up in Australia as Happily_underachieving@yahoo.co.uk prompting the receiver to enquire if it was a joke, turning my back on Dan during a firefight and most recently throwing away the bin lid with the rubbish without realising. Another is of course, the length of the last sentence.

However, most likely its because I’m going paint balling with my girlfriend in just a couple of hours. I genuinely don’t know what to expect on this one.

Friday Film: The Devil’s Fork

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.

When two friends discover an antique fork in their garden they think they’re in for a big payday. But when the fork’s ghostly owner comes calling they discover that all they’re in for is three prongs of terror!

(Warning: contains scenes of mild cutlery)

Fresh from its excellent showing at  the 2 Days Later Festival, here is The Devil’s Fork in all its glory. It’s a a collaboration with the wonderful chaps at Roughlee Films so please do have a look at their other stuff. I’m really happy with the end result of this one, I think it’s one of the tighter scripts I’ve done (albeit with a tonne of help from the fantastic J.T. Eaton). Please do watch it and pass it around to as many people as possible. It would be lovely to see its popularity to continue to grow at the rate it has been.

D
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Awards

2 Days Later Finalist Winner - Best Popular FilmWinner - Best ScreenplayBest Actor Nomination - Jack GavinNominated (Joshua Broadstone) - Best ActorNominated - Best Editor

The end is nigh(ce)

Because of a couple of projects I hope to develop (with some advice from Dan and perhaps another artist) I have had to consider the end of the world and the possible causes of it. Don’t have to look far. Ladies and Gentlemen, you’ve had the uneasy comfort of the steady ride up the incline (19th, 20th Century) with the odd judder (WWI, WWII, all armed conflict, Jeremy Beadle) to the peak of the first drop (21st Century), the carriage clicking away inexorably in a steady climb towards the sky (Agricultural revolution, Industrial Revolution, Digital Revolution, Genetic Revolution, invention of the IPod) however, all evidence ( Al Gore, Volcanoes, Tsunamis, Floods, Earthquakes, mass extinctions, speedy melting of the polar ice caps, Al Gore, Goths, Emos) suggests that the clicking and clunking of the chain pulling you to the top is slowing and the clunk of the wheels coming into play on the oily track is beginning to fill your ears (a Republican admitting Global warming is happening). The car is beginning to dip and the drop begins to loom (Gas Fissures appearing from under permafrost, increased religious fundamentalism, Bill Oddie no longer on Autumn Watch) and the dizzying realisation that the drop is much sharper and terrifying (runaway greenhouse effect, dissolution of the ozone layer, global famine, disease and the total breakdown of human infrastructure) than it looked in the queue (Fox News).

However I can confirm that following some fervent researching I can confirm that its not all bad;

  • Guardians of the Galaxy suggests that this will lead to Starhawk returning occasionally as a girl.
  • Killing those who wind you up – or just plain scare you – will become inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Suck my baseball bat, comedy legend cameo!! (Zombieland)
  • Cities will be rebuilt to look like NeoTokyo allowing ample driving room for street gangs and for giant mutating abstract psychic baby morphs. Which will be entertaining to the locals. (Akira)
  • After a brief stint of alcoholism, a former Californian Senator will impale himself on a giant cross in the middle of a church leaving people to say he lost his battle with his inner demons. (End of Days)
  • According to James Cameron we will have Cyborgs blowing shit up on LA highways um… about twelve years ago. (T1, T2)
  • Roads will be free and easy to access, provided you carry a shotgun and your own fuel. And a scrawny mate with a helicopter. (Mad Max 2)
  • As with the fall of the Roman Empire there will be a period in which no one will write anything down allowing minorities not to be marginalised by literature.
  • In 600-700 years time the Vikings will return on boats made of Toyotas and steal the Isle of Wight. (London Bridge Experience)
  • Surfing will be much more impressive, through the streets of London, Paris, New York… (Authority, Flood!, The Day After Tomorrow)
  • Thanks to a very ambitious plan to build fake cities under the sea, Kevin Costner will become convinced there is no land and become lost in the mediterranean. Will Smith will also be on his own. (Waterworld, I am Legend)
  • People will live in shopping centres. (Dawn of the Dead)
  • We all get to be in The Sims and the Duracell Bunny at the same time. (Matrix Trilogy)
  • The world will probably look like the Lion King.
  • We will all be saved by Roland Emmerich. By boat. In the Himalayas.

The Devil’s Fork Wins at 2 Days Later!

Well, I was hoping to keep a bit of a lid on this until I post the film up on Friday, but Steve’s all excited so I shan’t keep him waiting.

The Devil’s Fork put in a rather good showing at the 2 Days Later Film Festival, winning Best Screenplay and The Audience Choice Award. It also picked up a nomination for Best Editor and Jack & Josh BOTH nabbed Best Actor nominations. Perhaps the most exciting part is that the Best Screenplay award was voted for by a panel including Kim Newman (Empire Film Critic and Author) and James Moran (writer – Severance, Doctor Who, Torchwood)!

Suffice it to say that we’re rather blown away by the whole thing. We’d like to offer a massive thank you to everyone involved in the project especially to my co-writer/director J.T. Eaton. Jim is an amazing talent so a lot of this is down to him…and Steve did a great job too (just don’t tell him I said that).

Award winners (Top from left) Joshua Broadstone and his lovely wife Ania, Steve, (Bottom) J.T. Eaton, Dan, Jack Gavin

Picking up the Audience Choice Award

The full film will be going up on Friday and we very much hope you enjoy it. In the meantime you can read the full report of the night’s fun here.

D
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BTB Classic: Secret Samurai Sketchwork

Secret Samurai - concept art for defunct project

I remain unsure as to how to start in terms of presenting my artwork and this seems as good a place as any. I’ll present some concept designs that never went anywhere. There’s a million reasons for this and given that nothing has been printed yet everything posted here could turn out to be concept art that went nowhere, however this is the female companion for a project I always hoped’d take off but I scuppered mainly through my own over exuberance. I developed the life out of it and failed to complete the original request. Lesson learned.

I’d love to do a samurai story based around the period in which Japan opened its borders after nearly a century of isolationism. I’d also like it to be pretty funny. Who knows, maybe one day….

http://penners.deviantart.com/

 

Practitioners 2: Katsuhiro Otomo

Writer/artist for Akira

At the top of each book sold of Akira there rests a very impressive name in bold lettering. Katsuhiro Otomo. The 2000 page epic would not exist without his genius. Personifying his countries often distant ideals of constant devotion to practice, work and perfection towards a focussed life goal, Otomo marched onwards to completing his masterwork even as he was unaware that he was developing it.

Born in Miyagi prefecture, Japan in 1954, Otomo left school in 1971 to become a Manga artist and succeeded quickly – unsurprising given his unswerving diligence in perfectly measured linework coupled with highly detailed yet crystal clear characterisations. He worked for ‘Action’ magazine until 1979 diligently putting out work on behalf of others.

With the release of solo projects (most notably Fireball (1979) and Domu: A Child’s Dream (1980)) he revealed himself to be a true auteur, a position that can only be occupied when you have mastered all aspects of a medium and his body of work illustrates this perfectly. Katsuhiro is the epitomy of the short gap between an artist’s hand and mind when fully utilised. Fireball was uncompleted but is considered a milestone as it carries themes that were carried forward into his later work. Domu: A Child’s Dream saw a battle between a senile psychic bent on secretly murdering residents of his apartment building for pleasure with his powers and a young girl, Etsoku who stands defiantly against him with her own battery of powers.

Its difficult to imagine Katushiro Otomo as anything other than a genius. Writer, artist, draftsman, director, and unself-conciously and perhaps unexpectedly global cultural avatar. His work, one most specifically, speaks for him more than many other creative practitioner in the field as there is little that can be gleaned as to his character from it because his understanding of so many elements is so diffuse and wide reaching.

Domu: A Child's Dream (1980)

His writing blends perfectly the spiritual, the cultural, the subtle and the brutal.

 

Any flaw visible in any work he has done before or since is overshadowed by Akira. Around bikers Kaneda and Tetsuo the world spins, never leaving the confines of the Neo Tokyo city limits in 2000 pages, as bikes blaze through neon streets, psychic children fight over broken buildings, people burst up walls and a general with a mohawk struggles to get an orbiting defence platform with a massive laser to explode a giant bug baby.

Tower blocks rise through panels with thousands of windows each as perfectly proportional as the last, even when they are upside down and falling into the sky. Broad themes of creationism rest perfectly next to action sequences involving tanks driven by amateurs through cluttered streets in Tokyo’s districts. Never has an artist been so adept at slapstick octane and subtle broad ideas, occasionally in the same panel.

Using his love of film as a benchmark for his artwork and his stripped down storytelling style, Anime was always a natural advance for Katsuhiro and he was working as a character designer for Anime Harmageddon one year before the beginning of his epic; Akira began. Helming Akira as an Anime in 1988, begun while the book was still incomplete, and creating one of the most (if not the most) far reaching Anime ever created and forever altering the standard to which western comic books are now held to.

A master who took a boyhood dream and worked diligently to see it happen, standing head and shoulders above an already advanced and crowded medium in the country that had long since mastered the form.

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