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All Change at DC – 6 Titles Cancelled, 6 Titles Launched.

It seems like only a few weeks ago that DC relaunched their entire line of super hero comics and introduced us to the New 52. Today however the company announced that it was going to be shaking things up by cancelling 6 of its lower selling books and replacing them with brand new titles. These cancellations are not exactly big news as DC have been very open about how the New 52 is partly about throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. What is perhaps more surprising is that the company is allowing the doomed titles to run to 8 issues rather than cutting them off around issue 4 or 6 as seems to be the trend as of late. Obviously, if you’re a fan of one of the cancelled books then this is going to be cold comfort but in today’s ruthless publishing world, 8 issues is a pretty good run.

So who are the casualties? Men of War, Mister TerrificO.M.A.C.Hawk and DoveBlackhawks and Static Shock will all be closing up shop in a few months time. Not surprisingly they’re all minor character books whose sales have never really been able to keep pace with their bigger cousins. The cancellations will see the departure of several creators including recently returned 90s star, Rob Liefeld.  DC editor-in-chief Bob Harras however has promised that some of the characters will live on in other books, “These characters’ stories will continue. It’s all part of that world building we’re very keen on here.”

In the place of the now defunct titles, 6 new books will be making their debut. The biggest bit of news on that front is that Grant Morrison will return to the Bat universe with the relaunch of he and Chris Burnham’s Batman Incorporated series. The Justice Society will finally get their own New 52 book in the shape of James Robinson and Nicola Scott’s Earth 2 and there will be more golden age action in the form of World’s Finest, a book about Power Girl and Huntress.

On the more obscure end of the scale we have G.I. Combat which appears to be some kind of war story anthology (perhaps an odd choice given the cancellation of DC’s two existing war comics) and Dial H, the debut comic from novelist China Miéville, which promises to blend super heroics with horror and science fiction.

Finally we have The Ravagers by Howard Mackie & Ian Churchill. It’s being described as a spin off from Scott Lobdell’s Superboy and Teen Titans and is apparently about 4 teen super heroes on the run from a shady organisation.

So where does that leave you, dear Bunkerites? Have you lost any of your favourite titles? Are you excited about the new additions? My pull list has thankfully avoided the chop for now (I had been rather worried about Resurrection Man’s chances but the guy dies every issue has ironically survived this time). Let us know your thoughts.

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Sketch week!!

Not all of the work we do at Beyond the Bunker makes it up on to the site. These are the delirious, subconscious scratchings of an artist fighting to finish our title, Moon 2 in time for our proposed deadline. Still, I took a minute to knock this up to show – I dunno – some of the stuff lying around the work space at any given moment. More random pieces of artwork will be appearing here very soon. Please keep an eye on Wednesdays for Beyond the Bunker Classic as well as some scraps to illuminate the edges of the work we do here at the Bunker.

Slightly more Goldeneye: 50 Years of James Bond on Blu-Ray

Goldeneye, Casino Royale, Dr No, The Spy Who Loved Me, The Living Daylights – James Bond has had more great movies than any other franchise. And now when he flips a car, runs over crocodiles, free falls off a snow cliff or sets fire to a sexually ambiguous hit man it’s going to look a little sharper. Because it’s now on Blu-ray!

This trailer reminds us all just how much fun Bond has been.

The Lost Jedi: Master Govija Kaoli

Jedi Master Govija Kaoli (Jack Gavin) is a whip crack smart tactician who always gets every body killed. Always put at the sharp end because of his calm exterior, Govija Kaoli has only one true Achilles heel. His Padawan Mooba Choobi. Having been assigned an idiot nephew to the successful Hooba Choobi, Govija finds his path immeasurably blocked by the affable buffoon. Govija is a kind hearted warrior with almost immeasurable patience and a wry view of the universe but even he is uncertain whether his strong Jedi intuition and piloting abilities will help him survive alongside such an incredible idiot.

Jack Gavin doing a pose

Kiss In the Eye 1: Skarpi Thrainsson’s Incredible Ice Caves

Has NASA released photos taken from a the interior of an alien world or the promo for a brand new spanking X-box game? Nope. Brave globe hopper and Photographer Skarpi Thrainsson has taken these beautiful photos during a visit to Iceland’s Vatnajokull glacier in December.

Seamingly quiet and peaceful, the Glaciers, Thrainsson tackled tempertaures of -12C to grab these shots. The Glacier itself has recently claimed the life of a fellow photographer. Beautiful, transluscent and ageless – it’s nice to know that places like this exist (for now) somewhere in this world.

This is the stunning natural beauty of ice caves caught on camera deep beneath the surface of Europes biggest ice cap. The other-worldly marble-like caverns form when melt water reacts with the enormous 3,100 km-square Vatnajokull ice flow, in Iceland.

Practitioners 47: Alan Moore (Part 4)

The turn of the Millennium was fast approaching – something that would perk up the most sallow mind – and Alan Moore’s is nothing if not finely attuned to the ebbs and flow of the world around him, though perhaps unconcerned with the date itself. His is a mind that, when presented with a milestone in time and history he looks backward for another, using the existing build to a momentous date to gain insight into a period in history similar to one he found himself in. But who to populate this book? For a literary man there could be a myriad of choices. From those choices was formed the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The story of the League sees H. Rider Haggard’s elderly and Heroin addled Allan Quartermain, H.G. Well’s malevolent and uncontrollable Invisible Man, an aggressive, xenophobic but ultimately honourable Captain Nemo of Jule’s Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the puny and bestial duality of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde brought together in the name of England by the haunted Wilhemina Murray now some years after her ordeal in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. All this at the behest of the porcine Government liaison ‘M’ (a certain Mycroft Holmes, survivor of his more famous brother). Together, drawn by the incomparable Kevin O’ Neill, the League dealt with threats as easily found in successful literature as themselves, though of course at all times unaware.

A satisfying, bounding, rambunctious rendition of old tales renewed called on almost all of Moore’s previous experience – drawing on his love of classic science fiction, withering horror, humour and unapologetic and resonant sexuality threaded seamlessly through the politics and society of the period. All presented with cartoonish glee reminiscent of Rupert Bear (who makes an appearance as a sexually aggressive experiment of Dr Moreau, who for the benefit of ease is now working out of the English Woodland) or Victorian funnies.

The first volume of the series pitted the League against Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes books; the second, against the Martians from The War of the Worlds. A third volume entitled The Black Dossier was set in the 1950s. The series was well received, and Moore was pleased that an American audience was enjoying something he considered “perversely English”, and that it was inspiring some readers to get interested in Victorian literature. Moore has always undervalued his influence. His writing has represented for a great many years a bridge across which readers of otherwise unassociated literature could cross to others.

Kim Jong Il might have declared himself Priminister of Sweden that year or Arnold Schwarzennegger a governor of California because somehow the most reknowned English comic book writer had just started a company named America’s Best Comics.

His relationship with Jim Lee had seen him agree to create an imprint within Lee’s Wildstorm company shortly before it was sold to DC. Lee and Editor Scott Dunbier flew to England specifically to reassure Moore that the sale to DC Moore had experienced before his pilgrimage into independent comics would not affect him and would not have to deal with DC directly. Moore, had already begun lining up a series of artists and writers to assist him in the venture, decided that there were too many people involved to back out now – and America’s Best Comics were born to two English creatives and a story about uniquely English characters at the height of the British Empire.

Other than League, titles such as Tom Strong, Top 10 and Promethea – all writen by Moore – covered the gamut of Moore’s interests and fascinations, supported by some of the finest artists in the business. Tom Strong, drawn by Chris Sprouse, is a post-modern superhero series, inspired by characters predating DC’s Superman was reminiscent of Moore’s work on Supreme but according to Lance Parkin was ‘more subtle’ and ABC’s most accessible comic,’ while his unnatural, drug induced longevity allowed Moore to enjoy enjoying commentary on the history of comics and pulp fiction.

Top 10, a cop procedural comedy, in a fantasy city named Neopolis in which all have super powers, costumes and secret identities was drawn by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon , spawning four spin-offs (partially written by both Cannon and Ha); including two sequel mini-series, Top 10: Beyond the Farthest Precinct, written by Paul Di Fillipo and drawn by industry legend Jerry Ordway.

Promethea allowed Moore to set the record straight, determined that his tale of a teenage girl, Sophie Bangs, who is possessed by an ancient pagan goddess, the titular Promethea, would not portray it’s central world of occultism ‘as a dark, scary place’ as that was not his experience of it. Drawn by the monumentally talented J.H.Williams, it has been described as ‘a personal statement’ from Moore, being one of his most personal works, and that it encompasses “a belief system, a personal cosmology.”

However, perhaps inevitably, despite the assurances that DC Comics would not interfere with Moore and his work, they subsequently did so, angering him. In League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #5, an authentic vintage advertisement for a “Marvel”-brand douche caused DC executive Paul Levitz to order the entire print run destroyed and reprinted with the advertisement amended to “Amaze”, to avoid friction with DC’s competitor Marvel Comics. A Cobweb story Moore wrote for Tomorrow Stories No. 8 (part of an Anthology featuring further characters Cobweb, First American, Grey Shirt,Jack B. Quick and Splash Brannigan) featuring references to L. Ron Hubbard, American occultist Jack Parsons, and the “Babalon Working”, was blocked by DC Comics due to the subject matter. Ironically, it was later revealed that they had already published a version of the same event in their Paradox Press volume The Big Book of Conspiracies.

DC had once again interfered in his work and Moore and with his runs on ABC titles coming to an end, he decided once again to step out of the industry, remarking to Bill Baker in 2005 “I love the comics medium. I pretty much detest the comics industry. Give it another 15 months, I’ll probably be pulling out of mainstream, commercial comics.”

Frank Quitely's portrait of Mr Alan Moore

A powerhouse and a much needed revolutionary and inspirational force was again lost to the mainstream. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen continues still now with Century, a three part saga, of which two are now available (one of which advertised in Fallen Heroes 1 which I was proud enough to be a part of).

In January 2011, the forth and final issue of Neonomicon was released by Avatar Press. Set in the H.P. Lovecraft universe it is, as it’s predecessor and prequel The Courtyard was, drawn by Jacen Burrows.

But in 2010, true to form, and after a lifetime of bucking the system and creating his own, he formed ‘the first 21st Century’s underground magazine’ titled Dodgem Logic, utilising Northampton based artists and authors, as well as original contributions from Moore.

Future projects are The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic, written with Steve Moore and earmarked for release with Top Shelf in ‘the future.’ Otherwise, the easily recognisable cultural figure of Alan Moore can be found at numerous musical events, including a forthcoming appearance with guitarist Stephen O’ Malley confirmed for the ATP ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ music festival in London. Alternatively, he can be found bare chested in the Simpsons episode from 2007 ‘Husband’s and Knives’ which was aired on his 59th Birthday.

While you can apply many titles to Moore his reason for everyone being aware of him is because he is a writer. His recognisable appearance would have gained him nothing if not for the attractiveness of his words. Familiar sounds applied to unfamiliar environments, Moore’s is a voice that spits gravel but reaches the reader as blossom. Moore understood the potential of any medium to portray palpable ideas and failed to recognise the limitations artificially applied by so many other writers in the business. Where the most successful commercial writers rise and fall with the last big ‘event’ nowadays, Moore will outlast them. Moore’s writing was never based on sensationalism or the direction of a company – no matter how well intentioned. Moore’s stories are built on ideas and those last forever – no matter how they are received or sent out to the public.

Moore’s increased distancing from film adaptations of his work bely one very clear principle. His were personal projects, created with one or two others at a time. No recreation worth millions of dollars will ever compare to the thrill of reading a Moore penned panel on a Moore planned page. It was in the man, in the moment of creation that what has inspired and intoxicated so many with ideas over the years was formed. With every passing day the sentiment that placed it on the page chills, such is the immediacy and personality of a Moore script. Had it been written a day after you sense it would have been written differently, the idea formed slightly differently by an absorbed piece of prose or a remembered or realised politic. When you read a Moore panel it is the thought of a great man, crystallised and still. All you get from it is a momentary glance at the whirring cogs in the great atomic clockwork mind of Moore and even in that momentary encounter with it – there is enough wonder and intrigue to fuel 100,000 more books.

If you doubt this you only need to look at Moore’s run on the Green Lantern Corps series, short storiesdetailing a corps made up of thousands of disparate and incredible beings from a thousand different worlds. But one Green Lantern, created by Moore, doesn’t socialise. In a short story named ‘Mogo Doesn’t Socialise’, a hardened bounty hunter arrives on a partially forested planet looking for the mighty Green Lantern Mogo. In true Future Shock style, he wanders about the planet for years, determinedly hunting for his quarry, mapping the banded tree line as he goes. It’s not until his search is almost complete that he realises his mistake. The Green Lantern he is looking for is not on this planet. The Green Lantern in question is the planet. Moore is Mogo, a constant presence drifting in the dark, his influence felt among every member of his fraternity.


Moon 2 colour tests

This week a look at the background work going on on Moon 2. There is a considerable amount of back and forth between the art department (read: Myself and Ivanna Matilla) about how to approach each scene with possible outcomes having to be balanced between what the story asks for, what we’re trying to achieve and bottom line; what looks cool. Continuing the palette from Moon 1 of course but the situation has worsened considerably for our adventurers. How do you colour that.

Iv is an incredibly reactive and quick colourist and rather than stooping to conquer, she stoops to colour and we’re eternally grateful for her input on this project. She certainly keeps me on my toes to the point where to question anything she does feels highly presumptive and frankly stepping above my station. Not because of her of course. She’s an upbeat delight. However, her sheer talent is enough to keep us on our toes.

The marking hasn’t gone on this one though. Any doubt is swiftly queried with the sure hand of a teacher (as you’d expect from Iv as an English teacher just outside Buenos Aires). On my Iphone, I keep the digital clocks for Buenos Aires and Cape Town (to keep track of things when I’m working with Fallen Heroes / Tales of the Fallen colourist Gat Melvyn) and although Buenos Aires is two hours behind, Ivanna Matilla is years ahead of the rest of us.

A genuine pleasure to work with.

Skyrim Mod Turns Dragons Into Macho Man Randy Savage

In what is probably the silliest act of programming ever performed, a modder named Fancy Pants has created the “Macho Dragons” mod for Skyrim. Now, instead of being menaced by giant flying lizards on your travels, you can come face to face with giant, reptilian versions of the late wrestling legend Macho Man Randy Savage. The dragons come complete with Savage’s trademark shades and cowboy hat as well as an array of Macho quotes with which to thuum you into oblivion.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bifmj1O3D24&w=853&h=480]

 

You can download the mod from here.

Ooooh Yeaaah!

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Dropping Science: The surprising truth about what motivates us

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc&w=853&h=480]

Welcome to the first Dropping Science of 2012, hope you all had a lovely Christmas/New Year. We all know the basics of financial motivation, you reward people with money when they do good work and thus they keep doing good work. Except that this may not actually be true. This study by M.I.T, narrated by Dan Pink and presented by The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce explores the surprising results of studies that show how our motivations are in fact far more complex than we think.

In the arts we are of course well versed in the idea of purpose based motivation. Could it be that the financial sector has something to learn from this?

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Home Video Director’s Commentary

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLElgnjVCpU&w=640&h=480]

 

Most of us have a tonne of home videos sitting around at home and John & Richard Ramsey are no different. What sets these two brothers apart from the rest of us however is that one day they decided to break out some of those old videos and record a DVD style commentary over the top. The result is painfully funny.

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I’m still trying to find a regular feature to fill the Fridays slot now that Monsieur Poppaleux has met his demise. I’ll keep you all posted on how that goes.

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