Some more events from August’s Edinburgh International Book Festival have been uploaded to the EIBF’s YouTube channel, including the full, hour-long talk I chaired with Arthur C Clarke award winning writer Lauren Beukes and cracking artist Inaki Miranda, talking about their collaboration on Fairest: the Hidden Kingdom for DC’s Vertigo imprint:
Last month as well as reporting on the Edinburgh International Book Festival as I do most years I was on stage for some events, the first of which was chairing a talk with superstar Scottish comics writer Grant Morrison. We discussed his earliest work in Near Myths, an anthology which grew out of the old Edinburgh Science Fiction Bookshop (which would become the Edinburgh Forbidden Planet years later) which was well ahead of its time in trying to create a comics form for adult readers and also featured the first appearances of Luther Arkwright by the great Bryan Talbot – in a lovely moment Grant took the opportunity to pay tribute to Bryan’s place in the medium (Bryan was in the audience at the time and was, I think, rather delighted) – it was nice to see this peer to peer respect from one top creator to another. We discussed his Batman and Superman works, his plans for reworking Wonder Woman and the return to Seaguy, before throwing open the second half to questions from the audience, who were eager to ask Grant their own questions (and he was looking forward to the chance to interact with his readers, so we tried to give a good chunk of our hour to the audience Q&A).
I’m not mad at being in front of the camera, I prefer being behind the lens, but it was a fun event and from folks I bumped into over the rest of the Book Festival it seemed to have gone fairly well as they told me they enjoyed it, which was a relief as that was my very first time chairing an event at the Book Fest. I have done plenty of events with authors in my bookselling career of course, but it’s been years since I had to do an on-stage event and doing it with a major name, at the world’s biggest literary festival, well, that’s a hell of a way to get back into the saddle! But it was fun to do it as part of the huge Stripped segment of comics themed events at the Book Festival:
During my very busy period at the Stripped comics strand of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, in addition to chairing a couple of the author events this year I was also delighted to pose the questions for a couple of their series of short video interviews with authors, including this one I did with Lauren Beukes and Inaki Miranda shortly before chairing their event (which was great fun) – don’t worry, you don’t see me in either as I am safely behind the camera (which I prefer) and indeed as they edited it to mostly the author’s responses you barely hear me, but was nice to be asked to do a couple and fun to do. I talked to Lauren and Inaki about their collaboration (this was the first time they met in person) as well as their next projects:
And I also got to ask Neil Gaiman some questions, which was great – hard to believe it’s been around twenty years since I first did an author event with Neil in my old bookstore. Our slot got bumped by another interview team but Neil noticed this and very kindly arranged to fit us in after the next item on his very busy schedule, and so we got to stand in late summer sunshine in Charlotte Square and I got to ask Neil about his returning to the Sandman, working with JH Williams III and how it felt, having grown up like most of us our age watching Doctor Who, to walk onto the TARDIS set knowing they were filming a story you wrote, and how much more receptive the people now at the BBC are towards his work:
In-Between is a wonderfully charming short animation, in French (with English subtitles, although there isn’t too much dialogue), about a young woman whose fears and timidness manifests itself in the form of a crocodile only she can see, who playfully stops her trying new things or meeting new people. It’s a lovely wee piece and, rather pleasingly, it doesn’t play out in the most predictable manner but takes a slightly different (and smile inducing) route:
Heading down the coast a few weeks ago with a chum and his dog we stopped off briefly at Longniddry Bents to let the dog have a quick walk and in case he needed to ‘use the facilities’. As we walked down to the beach we had this rather lovely sight of a pair of horses being exercised in the shallow surf of the Bents (which have a long, very shallow beach so at high tide you can wade around a fair bit before it gets too deep, the odd dips notwithstanding):
This one was actually being lead rather than ridden as he’d injured his leg and the salt water was good at cleaning out the wound:
Cameron Michael lugged 130 pounds of camera gear around Manhattan to record these scenes for a wonderful time-lapse of this intensely vibrant urban cityscape through day and night. The high definition imagery is beautifully clear for both day and nocturnal scenes, while the the speeded-up nature of the time-lapse film creates an almost animation-like feeling in places. I love time-lapse work, it’s one of those fascinating faculties we are denied in the real world – we can’t pause time, slow it, loop it, repeat it or speed it up in the waking world, but in the lucid dreamscape of our various media (film and comics being perhaps the best for it) we can make time dance to our desires to open new windows into ways of seeing that so-called real world in a different way. I must also confess to a real weakness for urban cityscapes, especially night scenes – probably why I love Michael Mann films so much and why I take so many photos and night shots myself, there’s just something intoxicating about the mix of photographing the real but it looking slightly imaginary in the image, the Looking Glass effect of the camera…
Out with my dad a few days ago, one of those days where we had bright sunlight, rain, hail and more all within minutes of one another. May make the weather unpredictable for going out but it also means constantly changing quality of light, something I rather love in Scotland, it makes even scenes you’ve seen many times before look different. We had driven up and over the Campsie Hills (a range of extinct volcanoes a little north of Glasgow) and coming down the far side towards Fintry we pulled over to watch a band of sun and rain move along the hills and mountains in the north. Above you can clearly see Ben Lomond, the most southerly of the Scottish Munros – a Munro is a mountain over 3000 feet and hill walkers and climbers who try to do all of them and tick them off are known as Munro Baggers – which is in the Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park, still snowcapped as you can see even in late April, caught here in shafts of sunlight from gaps in the cloud while dark curtains of rain flicker over the other summits nearby.
You can see huge areas such as the foreground in deep gloomy shadows from the heavy clouds overhead, some of the peaks in the distance being hammered with rain, others basking in sun (we watched the sun and rain move along the whole range in a few minutes), if you click on the pics to go the larger images on the Woolamaloo Flickr you can even see some smaller, lower clouds floating around below the actual peaks themselves. All this landscape beauty is just a short drive from Scotland’s largest city – it’s one of the reasons I love living in Scotland, even in the middle of a city you are never far from our landscape. Here where I live in Edinburgh I can catch glimpses of the Pentland Hills from the middle of town, or views down to the might river Forth and the hills of Fife on the other side. Best of both worlds.
My friend Deirdre put me on to these, somehow she knew they would appeal to me Introducing Henri the existentialist kitty cat…
Fan-made documentary – a filmumentary – on one of the greatest cinematic adventure yarns of all time.
When I was a wee boy my dad got me an enormous train set, the best toy I boy could have, especially fun since he’d often help me set it up and run it. I was lucky enough to have a whole bunch of engines and my favourite was the Britannia, a great mainline steam loco (and a bunch of Pullman coaches for it to haul). Long, powerful, graceful, elegant, it was my childhood ideal image of a mighty steam engine from days now gone. And here I was with my dad again looking at the real thing – not silent and static in a museum, but breathing steam and smoke, belly full of fire, steam whistle shrieking as she prepared to depart, a sound that only a few decades ago would have been heard all over these islands.
The watching crowd almost vanished between bursts of steam exhausting out
I edited a couple of brief video clips I took between photos – the video isn’t great; my camera is a great stills camera and even though the video mode has full HD, widescreen etc it also has very annoying autofocus that is too twitchy and keeps trying to refocus itself while shooting which tends to ruin the images a bit (doesn’t help the light was in my lens instead of behind me either), but it does capture those fabulous sounds, including those deep ‘breathing’ whump, whump, WHUMP! sounds as she steams out, slight wheelspin as she does. I love those sounds.
Doesn’t this look like ever so much fun? Short, silent movie by RW Paul from 1898 showing a ‘switchback’ railway, what we’d later call a rollercoaster (via Retronaut):