March 2011

Moon 1 available to buy at the BTB Store

That’s right! Finally, after all this time – Moon 1 is available for you to order at Beyondthebunker.com! You can now get your filthy mitts all over this lovely merchandise for a nominal fee (plus a little bit on postage). No need to get up, put your clothes on and go out the door either. We will deliver it to your address. All you need to do is head over to the newly opened (and currently little but threadbare) Beyond the Bunker store and order via Paypal – the securest way online unless you’re an oil barren millionaire and the copy of Moon will be winging its way to you in no time at all!

While we of course had a great time at the Beyond the Bunker launch on Saturday we of course need to spread the word as far and wide as possible so please, if you enjoy what you see in this issue, please recommend it to friends, family, workmates, solicitors, oil barren millionaires!! We will of course also be at Kapow Comiccon in London on the 9th-10th April so you can come and see us there. You might have to put trousers on for that one though…

Photos from Beyond the Bunker Launch Party: The Bands

Capping it off was the talent. Paul Sweeney compered like a tight trousered mean thing with a guitar fetish, followed by Ryan Brannon and Paul Rich (the Coldcallers) who played to the back of someone’s head – we will find that person. Straight in and at the exasperation of local residents and the exultation of the assembled masses came the audio blitzkrieg lullaby that are Duke of Marmalade – three lads from Milton Keynes on their first gig in London. To finish off the night, the lyrical and gutteral guitar strands that are Skyskratcher – headed by chief sound engineer Jude Benjamin – who brought everything to an astonishing crescendo and finished the night with a massive bang!! All round a top night and honestly too small a venue to contain these bands. So now its onwards – either a bigger venue or playing them each one gig at a time. Sadly, no images of Skyskratcher – not sure why but otherwise Imogen Banks captured the rest beautifully.

Paul Sweeney having a 'special man moment' on stage.


Coldcallers (Ryan Brannon and Paul Rich) get all accusational


Attack of the Big Hands: Ryan Brannon (of Cold Callers), Steve Penfold (Big hands) and Jeremiah O Connor (outside)


Last minute additions Duke of Marmalade scare the neighbours


Paul Sweeney meets a fan!

Gary Oldman on Dark Knight Rises

Gary Oldman is an outspoken and seasoned actor – if he says something is good it is going to be very good. Here he gives a fair bit of insight into the security used by Christopher Nolan to keep the script under wraps and very little insight into what we can expect except that it is going to be great.

Trust the Oldman.

If Michael Bay Made Angry Birds…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2matH4B9bTo&w=640&h=390]

The folks over at Rooster Teeth have been internet heroes for years thanks to their Halo parody series, Red vs Blue (which is now in it’s 9th season! Blimey). This month however they’ve taken a break from Spartans to bring us a trailer for a very special film. Given all the Transformers buzz about at the moment, I felt it was appropriate to do some sharesies with it. The last line of the film made me pretty much fall off my chair with laughter.

I was just on the phone to Steve for about an hour. We’ve got so much cool stuff going on behind the scenes here which I really wish I could talk about. All in good time though. I’ve been getting a little R&R time in this weekend in the wake of the Launch Party to end all Launch Parties. As you can tell by the use of the phrase “R&R” some of that time has been spent watching bad cop films. Really bad cop films.

By the way, scanning stuff for a wedding gift list is exactly like being James Bond and don’t let anybody ever tell you different.

D
x

Practitioners 24: John Romita Jr

John Salvatore Romita Jr or JRJR (born August 17, 1956) is an American comic book artist best known for his extensive work with solely with Marvel comics from the 1970s to present day.

Born and still living in New York city, Romita Jr is influenced heavily by the city around him and that he grew up in. Fittingly he has remained at the company that calls New York home, 367 Park Avenue South or Marvel Comics throughout his professional career and his work has become synonomous with its most famous characters. He was born to John Romita Sr, co-creator of several notable Spider-man stories in the 1960s and 1970s. In true New York style it could be said that drawing Marvel comics is the family business.

Oddly Romita Jr began his career at Marvel UK, doing sketches for covers of reprints. His American debut was with a six part story entitled ‘Chaos at the Coffee Bean!’ in Amazing Spider-man Annual 11 in 1977. At this point Romita Jr’s artwork represented the time it was being produced with clean linework and animation standard (simplified) detailing. But his characterisation and simple adjustments to the panel by panel and simple visual storytelling that was taking place then won him a lot of fans. His characters weightier and more rounded than others, his line work curvaceous and bold when necessary Romita Jr’s style was bold and easily digestible. Romita Jr is a commercial artist, offering bold and brash imagery that feeds the eye more for the same price as other artists.

Romita’s early popularity began however with his run on Iron Man with David Michelinie and artist Bob Layton which began in 1978. He was eventually offered his first regular run on Spider-man in the early 80s and was the artist that launched the Dazzler series. In this period Romita Jr co created the character of the Hobgoblin with writer Roger Stern – a kind of Green Goblin light with his own good / evil morality in play, Hobgoblin represented a genuinely unrestricted and unfamiliar goblin for Spider-man to play with.

Uncanny X-Men 304

From 1983 to 1986 he had a popular run on Uncanny X-Men, introducing the future X-man Bishop in his tenure in a brutal and distinct storyline that battered the edges of what was being done in comics at the time. Romita Jr returned to Uncanny X-Men in 1993 in which he pencilled the Fathers and Son’s crossover Uncanny issue in which Prof X and Magneto collide and Magneto has his mind removed. He depicted the turning of Colossus and his joining of the Acolytes and the showdown between Xavier and his X-Men and Magneto and his Acolytes on Asteroid M in the Fathers and Sons X-over that made history with the release of X-Men 25. Romita Jr’s work was bold, reminiscent of 50s and 60s pop art and exploded from the page in a way nobody else’s did at the time.

But prior to his second stint on Uncanny X-Men Romita was granted an extended stint on Daredevil with writer Ann Nocenti and Eisner award winning inker Al Williamson. In this period he began to develop the Romita Jr style we see now. Shoulders and shape became more developed and something significant happened… Romita Jr broke the rules…

Most artists use a series of bubbles in place of parts of the body in order to decide placement, perspective and shape. The leg would be perhaps five parts (the longer larger upper leg, the smaller oval knee joint, the slightly bannister like lower leg / shin, perhaps a round joint at the ankle joint to indicate a change of angle and an uneven tear drop shape to form the foot). You can achieve this easily with every body part and build an entire Human frame using these bags. You then pencil over it, define the shape clearly and subsume it in ink – hiding your working underneath all that.

Romita Jr doesn’t. His characters are effectively the same set of shapes inflated and deflated according to the size and shape of the character. The sawn off frame of Wolverine is the same as the tall powerful frame as Colossus. The Punisher from Romita Jr’s very cool run in Punisher: War Journal is the same shape as Wolverine. Art law says this is bad practice. That by showing your working and working from such a clear template is not art. Romita Jr has made one thing clear in the nicest possible way. He simply doesn’t give a shit. And neither should he.

Romita Jr’s success is built on these parameters. The characters represent mannequins on which Romita Jr applies the feelings and the events that are taking place around them. He applies garish, squared and diametrically even surroundings that draw in the eye and hold it there. He isn’t a naturalist or a life artist, Romita Jr is a comic artist and a purist and never an apologist.

He has built an incredible career with the same company (even his other company credits are Kick Ass – printed through Marvel’s Icon Imprint, Punisher/Batman in association with Marvel as well as DC and admittedly 1 credit with the Gray Area 1-3 in 2004 with Glen Brunswick for Image Comics). He is a class act and no freelancer – he has a job with a reputable company which he is doing well and there is no reason he should stop doing it.

Rolling out Spider-man, Avengers (most recently the new Avengers series), Black Panther, Daredevil, Iron Man, Cable, Punisher, The Eternals, The Hulk, Fantastic Four, Thor, X-Men, Ultimate Vision, Wolverine, Sentry and pretty much the only thing worth picking up World War Hulk for by ingraining it with such force and mind-bending power on each that it was a joy to behold.

The fact is with Romita Jr, you can see the workings but you can also see the most basic rules of comic book art. Clean lines reminiscent of the 60s era in comic books, graphic and bold line work that still belongs on an Andy Warhol Pop art wall hanging. Romita Jr is keeping historic conventions alive and kicking in his work. If you look at his work you can still see the influence of Ditko and his dad, Romita Jr and the reason that everything we see in comic books today comes from it. I hope Romita Jr remains at Marvel for a great many years.

He’ll be attending the Kapow Comicon in London on April 9-10th and I hope to catch him there. My work isn’t much like his but frankly I think that’s because I’m not sure I’ve fully learned how to draw comics.

Photos from Beyond the Bunker Launch party: Characters and Creators 1

In the middle of the event was Imogen Banks, photographing furiously to bring you the finest pieces of photographic evidence of the events of the first Beyond the Bunker / Moon Launch party at the Square Pig in Holborn. With so much going on its difficult to choose what to shoot frankly but she did a great job of capturing the night – with characters, bands, guests, creators and a Moon head swinging around the place it might’ve been difficult but she covered the event brilliantly and is now the official Beyond the Bunker photographer. There are no benefits to that role at all. Throughout this week we’ll be posting the pictures of the night to give you a perspective of how it all went down…

The Moon of the moment...


Ray and Moon taking reviewing their latest case


Moon and Shades Rodriguez (Alistair Reith)


The Joker grabs a lolly


Moon Men: Dan and me (Steve) enjoy a moment before something else happens


Shades Rodriguez (Alistair Reith), Dan Thompson (looking cheerful), The Joker, Ray Barton (Lee Ravitz), me (Steve Penfold) throwing a punch

The Greatest Captain America parody trailer you’re ever likely to see…

Don’t read. Watch.

‘Do you think this A on my helmet stands for Fuck yeah? Because it does!’

Within a week of the new Captain America coming out we give you one of the greatest parody trailers ever! Its Captain America vs Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America. The creation of a slightly overwhelmed CelticPredator on Youtube its hard to think of a better mash up. Amazing!

Moon 1 and Fallen Heroes 1 available on BTB in the next week…

The Moon launch last night at the Square Pig in Holborn went exactly as expected – in that everyone had a great time, everyone had a wicked time, enjoyed the book, the music was monumental and someone was almost killed. Mix that together with being surrounded by Police, possible attack by anarchists, explosive sound checks, great music, some classic moments in the history of photography, the introduction of an amazing Moon theme tune which we are now looking forward to getting recorded and having sold a butt load of Moon books and you have a great event. Anarchists always finish off my day nicely I find.

Check back here tomorrow for more Moon news and throughout the week for more details on the event itself. Amazing stuff.

But we’re not done yet – there’s still a hell of lot more to do. Moon 1 and Fallen Heroes 1 are still available to buy in various forms and details of how those who didn’t make it to the event can get their hands on more copies will be posted up here over the next few days!! Indeed Moon 1 will be available to buy online right here tomorrow. Watch this space. With Moon 2 and Fallen Heroes 2 on its way, and news on more projects on the way you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Also, don’t forget that we will be in attendance at the Kapow Comic con in London on the 9th and 10th April and Fallen Heroes have announced that a few (very few) more printed copies will be available at their table on that weekend.

Moon Launch: All systems go, only one injury

The Moon launch last night at the Square Pig in Holborn went exactly as expected – in that everyone had a great time, everyone had a wicked time, enjoyed the book, the music was monumental and someone was almost killed, the local head of the housing association came to see what the noise was about, the music didn’t work for a while, sound checks involved running between a basement and the main bar, the bar manager came close to losing her mind and there was a threat of anarchists. So standard stuff.

We may have got even more guests before it started as the pub was surrounded by Police vans due to repeats of 150 anarchists (of an estimated 400,000 protestors) moving through town smashing bank and business fronts. Both bands were later than expected, Coldcallers were late because Paul Rich couldn’t decide whether to wear a leotard or not. True. Sweeney called after he was meant to be there saying he was getting on the bus. At 6pm it was myself, Skyskratcher and the bar staff. Jude (of Skyskratchers running up and down the stairs attempting the first multi storey sound check as the sound board was in the basement and the music was in the top bar). Some lads who were passing came in for one quick pint but were just as quickly followed by a lovely family who were meeting someone at the same address who I felt I had to let in. This flurry of activity caused me to miss an old gentlemen who came in, bought a pint for himself and settled into one of the comfy chairs before I’d noticed he was there. At 5.30pm I had guests, none of whom were there for the party, almost no acts, no comic books, no float and the possibility of anarchists. It was shaping up strangely.

Eventually Stephen Du Toit (Costume Designer) and James Eaton (of Roughlee Films) turned up followed by writer Jo Stokes. So we were off, soon to be followed by Artist and possible wizard Simon Rogers, then rampant irritant and possible gypsy king Ben Guibirelli but I had no comic books to offer them for they were with Dan. And Dan was still in Greenwich struggling with a PC.

In attendance (shipping in by Bus) were Paul Sweeney who blew it all apart with some neat asides about myself and Dan and a brief song about Pandas to kick things off, before the Cold Callers took the stage and took the place apart in the silliest way possible. A distortion in the mikes and the close proximity of the bar meant they came over more ‘Tenacious D’ than ‘Flight of the Conchords’ but they still went over brilliantly. They blew us away with a rendition of the Moon theme tune – an amazing translation of the events of Moon 1 that will complement the project for a long time onwards.

Complaints came in thick and fast from the local residents who chose to move in above a pub – a lack of personal responsibility there I feel – and this was only heightened by the oncoming seismic beauty of the Duke of Marmalade, named after a famous horse and with at least as much thoroughbred they tore the place apart with flowing rock even my auntie Susan enjoyed.

As soon as the drums began in the sound check, the bar manager, who was a picture of cool all night, came close to losing her mind. With each additional soundcheck of Bass, lead guitar and vocals it became clear that the rest of block’d be aware of a party taking place. Hilariously, the head of the housing association paid us a visit about the noise however being a producer for Music and TV had to acknowledge they were very good but too loud.

Finally came Skyskratcher, filling in for the notably absent Damn Jammage (I assume they got another gig) finished the night beautifully with exactly the lyrical, guitar waxing and blazing I expected from seeing their work online. Finishing with a bit of flair, Jude Benjamin electrocuted himself towards the end of the set, sending himself reeling to the floor. Shaken up, buzzing a bit and offered a free pint he was sat down on a stall and refused, on basic human protection grounds, not to continue the set though he was determined to do so. That man is a machine. A little, brainy machine god with a penchant for massive guitar riffs.

Amps blew before the start and two of the support for Skyskratcher made a mad dash across town to Crouch End and back again to bring us what we needed to be back before Coldcaller’s set finished. At the start of the evening there was no sign of Dan as he was hunched over a PC at his flat in Greenwich desperately trying to get a DVD containing the Beyond the Bunker video wall film to render. He succeeded, only to be defeated by the in-house AV. But none of thsi made a difference it was an epic night and nothing it seemed could derail it thanks to the efforts of those involved and the brilliant guests.

I have to say a massive thanks to Jude Benjamin (for sound checking from the basement and finishing with such a pirouettic denouement), Paul Sweeney and Drummond Bowskill for the light entertainment, Cold Callers for their beautiful rendition of ‘is it gay’ and apologies for forcing them to cut their set short – I’m deliberately not referencing one of the absolute highlights of the evening as I will be mentioning on the photographic report over the next couple of days. Thanks to Duke of Marmalade for keeping the Head of the Housing Association oddly content and Skyskratcher for absolutely nailing the end of the evening with aplomb and great music. The stage is set for another… watch this space for details.

But special thanks has to go to our respective fiancees, without which, none of this would have taken place. Fi manned the desk and blocked any and all marauders from entering unless they smiled and paid a fiver and Tori has frankly put up with my obsession with Beyond the Bunker for far too many years, including a very late request (1pm on the day), while trying to complete A-level Exams with her students for a mike stand. Both are the light in our lives and if it all folded tomorrow I confidently predict we’d still be the happiest chaps in the world thanks to our beaus.

There is more news coming but its almost completely redundant without a visual or audio accompniment so you will have to wait a little longer updates on how the rest of it went. But needless to say it went brilliantly…. oh, and we sold quite a few comic books – exact figures aren’t in yet… far from being over though Moon 1 will be available from Monday on Mail Order so you can enjoy the Moony goodness in the comfort of your own home, ward, dormitory, cell, lighthouse, tent without the threat of electrocution.

Cheers,

Steve P

Moon Launch!!

The day itself and the surprises continue to flow in: Another band ‘Duke of Marmalade’ will be filling the gap potentially left open by the Damn Jammage (though they will be in attendance and might have a go if there’s time) and we have confirmed multiple characters in attendance. Lee Ravitz (Ray Barton), Alistair Reith (Shades Rodriguez), Noel Wesley (from Ragnarok Dawn), Fiona McRae (Nyfain) and I’ve just sent a message to the legendary Paul O’Shea (Koun in Moon 1 and the slightly unhinged Nikolai in Ragnarok Dawn) so we hope he’ll be in attendance.

Well here we have it. The Beyond the Bunker launch is on! Today at 6 at the Square Pig, 30-32 Procter Street, Holborn, WC1V 6NX and featuring Paul Sweeney, Cold Callers, Skyskratcher, and almost the entire cast of Moon 1 (yes, cast). Don’t feel there’s much more to say except thanks to all of those who will attend this evening and all those who’ve made it happen (in particular the staff of Square Pig, Jude Benjamin, Tori Kingston, Cold Callers, Paul Sweeney and Skyskratcher. We hope there will be a video wall featuring short films, artwork, Moon and Fallen Heroes. Cheers again from the Beyond the Bunker team. See you there!!

If you’re still not sure there’s still plenty of time. Doors open at 6pm and the live acts starting at 7. £5 at the door and a free signed copy of Moon 1 to every entry!

DIRECTIONS: GO THROUGH BARRIERS AT SMALLER RIGHT EXIT FROM HOLBORN STATION AT TOP OF ESCALATORS. TURN RIGHT ONTO HIGH HOLBORN AND WALK ABOUT 80 METRES TOWARDS THE CROSSING. OPPOSITE YOU WILL SEE ‘GYM BOX’ IN MASSIVE YELLOW LETTERS. THAT IS THE CORNER OF PROCTER STREET AND THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD. HEAD UP PROCTER STREET AND THE SQUARE PIG IS ON THE RIGHT AFTER ABOUT 100 METRES.

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