Monday, December 26, 2016

Mega City Book Club 22: The 1982 Annual


Paul Moore is my guest with his seasonal pick of a clasic thrill powered annual from the early eighties. Follow Paul on Twitter, and check out his artwork on his Tumblr site, and his Deviantart page.

You can can see a preview of Planet Of Daemons #1 on the Amigo comics site, and buy your copy from Forbidden Planet.

Please get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or email MCBCpodcast@gmail.com
 

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Mega City Book Club 21: First Progs


Mostly recorded at the Thought Bubble convention in November this is a clips show with a number of 2000AD creators and well known fans telling me about the first Prog they can remember buying or reading, or possibly the first one their own work appeared in. I've produced this episode for the fabulous 2000AD forum advent calendar organised by our very own P-WLS droid.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Mega City Book Club 20: Killing Time


Gareth A Hopkins introduces me to the wonders of John Smith and Chris Weston's Killing Time. You can find Gareth's own work at www.intercorstal.com and www.grthink.com

Killing Time is part of the Indigo Prime collection from the 2000AD online store

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hotdog Run

My winning (woohoo!) entry in the last 2000AD forum short story competition wiih the theme being "Race".

As soon as he saw the blip on his radar he knew it was going to be touch and go. Swan was far left of a wide formation as Judge Giant led the cadets on a sweep. After clearing a nest of Dune Sharks they were hunting for survivors. They had passed a mutant convoy heading for the Coney Island township two kilometres back, and now there was an ominous green dot on the extreme edge of the bike screen that only he could see.

He turned the Lawmaster and accelerated hard.

"Swan here, sir. Fast moving signal at edge of scanner, probable Shark on the convoy's tail. Moving to intercept."

Giant's response was brief, "Roger that, Swan. Cadets, left wheel."

Swan stepped up a gear and concentrated on the green dot. A faint ping at top of his screen indicated the rear of the mutant convoy. Thirty seconds to visual range, he transferred the radar to his visor and scanned the horizon. It was going to be damned close.

The green dot resolved into an image which his visor magnified and threw up to the top left of his HUD. Shark alright, big one, 200 kilos of flying muscle and teeth, kept aloft by a huge gas filled stomach chamber. Skin like plasteel, hi-ex could penetrate it but only if you hit soft spots. The bike had spitfire missiles to pick them off at range, he thumbed another switch and targeting confirmed what he already suspected, the shark was too close to the convoy. Any collateral damage and Giant would bust him back to the admin corps.

"Have to be the hard way. Bike, auto steer, same course."

He pulled his knife and cut through the palm of his glove. Blood flowed freely as he popped a grenade from his belt. He shook his head to clear the HUD, he could see the Shark and the convoy now, the wagons were making their way through a narrow gully with high sandy walls. No time for computers, this was going to be gut, and gut alone.

He gunned the bike to higher ground on full turbo and hit the edge at max speed. A brief glimpse of surprised faces in the last wagon and he was airborne. The grenade was slick with blood as he tossed it into the air.

"Hey, Fido. Catch!"

The shark's response was instinctive, attuned to the smallest trace of blood, it swooped away from the convoy and snatched the device from the air.

Swan's landing was rough but he held it together and the bike slewed to a halt on the far side of the gulley. Behind him there was a satisfying, muffled thump and the crash of the shark hitting the ground, its wings flapping uselessly against the sand.

Giant rode up close.

"Unconventional approach, Swan...."

"Sir"

"...but effective, now field dress that hand. Cadet Ajax, execute the creature. Snow, you've got point. Fun's over, get ready to move out, people."


Monday, November 28, 2016

Mega City Book Club 19: The Daily Dredds vol1

Guy Robbins is my guest to discuss a truly beautiful collection of Judge Dredd strips from the Daily Star. No spoilers but this is a must buy volume which you can get from the 2000AD online store.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Mega City Book Club 18: The Henry Flint Collection

Josh Davies brings the Henry Flint Collection into a techno-organic version of the book club to discuss seven magnificent examples of Henry's early work on Dredd.

You can find Josh's blog at https://spongejoshing.blogspot.co.uk/ and purchase your copy of the Henry Flint collection from the 2000AD store.

Please get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or email MCBCpodcast@gmail.com
 

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Mega City Book Club 17: The Ballad of Halo Jones

We're back in the London pub version of the book club with Sheridan and Rachael as my guests to discuss Alan Moore and Ian Gibson's masterpiece from the 1980s.

Check out Sheridan's Prog Slog blog here, and you can find pictures of Judge Thread on the 2000AD Southern contingent facebook page. And get your copy of the Ballad of Halo Jones from the 2000AD online store.

Please get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or email MCBCpodcast@gmail.com
 

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Mega City Book Club 16: The Judge Child Quest

Judge Anon from Buenos Aires joins me over an occasionally crackly Skype line to discuss a legendary Dredd epic. We keep the spoilers to the minimum while we wax lyrical over the artistic talents of Bolland, McMahon and Smith, as well as Wagner and Grant's great story telling.

The Judge Child Quest is available in Case Files volume 4 from the 2000AD online store. You can find Anon's history of female Judges on his Tumblr site, and there are details of the simply splendid Zarjaz fanzine on the Quaequam blog.

Please get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or email MCBCpodcast@gmail.com
 

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Mega City Book Club 15: Jesus Redondo Special

Alex Frith from the Heroes of 2000AD blog steps into the London pub book club and brings along two books with splendid Redondo artwork: Monster from the Scream! comic and the mind boggling Return to Armageddon. There are some minor spoilers and some fascinating facts about some of the great European artists who have worked on British comics.

Monster is available from the 2000AD online store, as is Return to Armageddon.

Please get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or email MCBCpodcast@gmail.com
 

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Mega City Book Club 14: Brass Sun

Nathan Duck joins me in a clockpunk version of the book club to discuss the gorgeous, glossy hardback edition of Brass Sun by Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard. We wax lyrical about the story, characters and artwork, and we keep the spoilers to a bare, cog driven minimum.

Get your copy of Brass Sun from the 2000AD online store, or dip your toe in with the free digital version of the first US issue.

Please get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or email MCBCpodcast@gmail.com
 

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Mega City Book Club 13: Alan Moore Future Shocks

Brett Summers from the Cult Faction website is my guest as we both attempt to grow suitably long enough beards to tackle the collected Future Shocks and Time Twisters from the great man of Northampton himself.

You can find Brett's website at CultFaction.com and buy your copy of Mr Moore's Future Shocks from the 2000AD online store.

Please get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or email MCBCpodcast@gmail.com
 

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Mega City Book Club 12: GoldTiger

Simon Belmont returns to the book club to tell me the history of the Modesty Blaise newspaper strips. Then we don sexy, sixties scuba gear to dive through the many layers of Jimmy Broxton and Guy Adams' quirky metatextual homage to sixties Spy-Fi comics, with the mysteries of the strip that never was, GoldTiger.

GoldTiger is available to buy digitally from the 2000AD online store, or you may still snap up hard copies from passing scuba-diving amazons.

Please get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or email MCBCpodcast@gmail.com
 

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Mega City Book Club 11: Chopper. Song of the Surfer


I welcome Glen Lees all the way from the wonderful land of Oz to discuss a classic chapter from the legend of Chopper. Surf's up and there are plenty of spoilers for the controversial ending right from the outset.

You can find this story in the Chopper: Surf's Up! collection from the 2000AD online store, or digitally from their apps for Apple, Android, and Windows devices.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mega City Book Club 10: The Mighty One


A special episode to tie in with the release of Steve MacManus' fascinating memoir of his time at the helm of the Galaxy's greatest comic. I'm joined by Will Cooling to discuss the mysteries of creating comics in the seventies and eighties. You can find Will's retrospective article about 2000AD in the latest issue of Geeky Monkey magazine, and check out his own interview with Steve on the Geeky Monkey podcast.

The Mighty One is available from the 2000AD online store, and you can also hear Mr MacManus on the Thrill-Cast with Mike Molcher.


Please get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or email MCBCpodcast@gmail.com
 

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Mega City Book Club 9: Zenith phase 1



David Grice is my guest to discuss the first appearance of 2000AD's take on the British Super-hero. There are number one singles, 80s shoulder pads, splendid black and white artwork, and some spoilers to come.

Zenith Phase 1 is available from the 2000AD online store, or digitally through their Apple, Android, and Windows devices.


Please get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, or email MCBCpodcast@gmail.com

All comments and suggestions gratefully received.


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Sunday, September 4, 2016

2000AD Sketchbook project

Here is my copy of the official 2000AD sketchbook with better quality paper. So far it has twelve sketches, usually paid for and therefore more detailed than the notebook Dredd head doodles. At the moment I plan to auction this for charity once it is finished but there are another ten pages and I only get one or two sketches at each convention so it will be a while yet.

You can see the sketches so far in this photobucket album. And just to whet your appetite here is a marvellously creepy Judge Death by Dave Kendall.



2000AD Notebook charity project

I've had a couple of questions about the 2000AD notebook project I'm currently doing for charity so here's what we've got so far.




The notebook and pen were this year's 2000AD subscribers' free gifts. The paper is a bit thin to use it as a sketchbook so I thought I would collect as many 2000AD Droids' signatures as I could and maybe ask them to do a quick Dredd head doodle if they had time. As you will see some of them did far more than a doodle, I told writers that they could just do a speech bubble although some of them bravely attempted a head sketch. You will also see that my clever idea of getting John Wagner to do a speech bubble coming out of the Mick McMahon sketch unfortunately buggered up the David Roach page because John used a sharpie instead of a pencil. My bad.

So far 40 creators have signed the book including Brian Bolland on his cover image. All of the creators did their sketches for free when I told them it was a charity project and I'm enormously grateful for their generosity.

You can find the a Photobucket of all the sketches and signatures so far by clicking here. The notebook will be travelling to another 2000AD signing next month and to Thought Bubble in November as well. After that it will go up on eBay as a 100% for Cancer Research UK charity auction with free P&P from me. Watch the 2000AD forums classified page for details or follow @MCBCpodcast on Twitter.

Here's the list of the signatures so far, the pictures in the photobucket are in reverse order:


I also have a more formal 2000AD sketchbook project which I'll post details of later. That has another 10 pages to fill so will probably be up for auction next year.




Monday, August 29, 2016

Mega City Book Club 8: ABC Warriors:The Black Hole


It's another pubcast as Julius Howe from the Inky Fingers podcast is my guest to go in depth on the artwork of the ABC Warriors' return to the prog in 1988. Recorded in a noisy London pub we focus on the stunning debut of Simon Bisley, and why SMS is the often overlooked half of a dramatic double act, plus Julius gives us his views on the various reproductions of the original art.

This story appears in the Mek Files volume 1, available from the 2000AD online store, as well as digitally for Apple, Android, and Windows 10 devices.


All comments and suggestions gratefully received. Please get in touch if you would like to be a guest on the show.


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Monday, August 22, 2016

Mega City Book Club 7: Button Man. Get Harry Ex


It's the return of the "Mackem" as Pete Wells brings along another masterpiece by John Wagner and Arthur Ranson. It's grim and it's gritty, but as ever there are pastry jokes and spoilers aplenty.

Now that Pete has been elevated to sub-droid level by the Mighty One you can find his covers uncovered postings in the news feed on the 2000AD site.

Buy the individual volumes of Button Man from the 2000AD store or digitally for the apps for Apple, Android, and Windows 10 devices.

All comments and suggestions gratefully received. Please get in touch if you would like to be a guest on the show.


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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mega City Book Club 6: Scarlet Traces


Dave Wynn, sometimes known as Judge Pal or Shaolin Monkey, brings along the three splendid volumes of Scarlet Traces, just as Ian Edginton and D'Israeli's fantastic series returns to the Prog. There are Martian war machines and spoilers aplenty!

You can find Dave's fabulous 2000AD sculptures on his DeviantArt page.

The hardbacks we discuss are now out of print but there's a new collected edition coming from Rebellion and 2000AD in 2017.

All comments and suggestions gratefully received. Please get in touch if you would like to be a guest on the show.


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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mega City Book Club 5: Mandroid


Steve Green, the cinematographer and effects wizard on the great Judge Minty fanfilm, and the upcoming Strontium Dog, joins me to discuss a great Dredd stand alone story. Be warned there are both spoilers and sirens to come!

Mandroid is available digitally from the 2000AD store, or in hard copy from the Hachette partworks site.


All comments and suggestions gratefully received. Please get in touch if you would like to be a guest on the show.



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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Mega City Book Club 4: Devlin Waugh:Swimming In Blood


Podcast becomes pubcast as I'm joined by Tony Richards in a London hostelry for a brief discussion of Devlin Waugh's debut in Swimming in Blood. Prepare yours ears for a trouncing.

Check out Tony's radio show at Radio Dacorum or on Mixcloud.

And get your copies of Devlin Waugh's outrageous exploits from the 2000AD online store.

Please like us on facebook and follow us on twitter or email the show MCBCpodcast@gmail.com

All comments and suggestions gratefully received. Please get in touch if you would like to be a guest on the show.



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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Mega City Book Club 3: The Cursed Earth


Jim Moon from the fabulous Hypnobobs podcast is my guest to discuss the first true mega epic of Judge Dredd's history. Mutants, killer rats, dinosaurs, zombie robots, and spoilers abound.

The Cursed Earth (Uncensored) is available from the 2000AD online store.

Please like us on facebook and follow us on twitter or email the show MCBCpodcast@gmail.com

All comments and suggestions gratefully received. Please get in touch if you would like to be a guest on the show.



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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Adventures in podcasting: 4

Counting the cost


Let's face it podcasting is not cheap. Only a small minority of all the 'casts out there actually generate income. I knew right from the start that Mega City Book Club was going to cost money, it is a passion project because it's fun to talk about the things you enjoy with like minded people. Find the things that make you happy and do them, that's what the psychologists tell us. Good advice.

My running total for spend on domains, hosting, and various bits of hardware and software is just over £300, but I reckon that could have been reduced to at least half that amount or even closer to £100 for just a Yeti and the domain and hosting, Owning the domain is nice but even that could be dumped for something like "YourPodcastName.blogspot.co.ok". Luckily I can afford a few extras.

I've decided that my podcast won't be looking for freebies or sponsorship, and I won't be running adverts, or asking listeners for donations.This is a go it alone type project. Of course there is my justgiving page for cancer research UK but that is just there and hasn't really attracted any donations from the podcast yet. We'll see how that goes.


But the major expense for a book club show has to be buying the books. I've already exceeded the space on my 2000AD shelf and there are more volumes on the way. The best way to keep up with what has been picked so far is on the Facebook page. I have a lot of this in digital through the 2000AD apple app but I am finding it is easier to make notes from hard copy editions so there has been a certain amount of double dipping. The good news is that I now have at least 15 books to read and then set up a recording date with my guest, so stay tuned. I will be in touch in the coming months.

The third episode with Jim Moon discussing the Cursed Earth will be out next week, then I will be probably be sticking to a four week release schedule after that. We'll discover how that goes as well.

Stay tuned and thank you for your attention so far.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Spaceman Spiff is going down!

The current forum short story theme is the Dredd epic to end all epics: The Apocalypse War. Here I have paraphrased the title of the first chapter of Alan Moore's revamp of Marvelman way back in Warrior magazine #1. I like this story much better than my last one but it's definitely time for me to stop the last line name reveal gimmick.





 A Dream of Falling

I dream about falling a lot. Not that unusual, apparently 95% of people regularly dream about falling, or wake suddenly with that jolt like feeling. That's called a myoclonic jerk, I read it in a textbook. You might not think Judges get time for reading but we have at least an hour a day of personal time depending on our duty roster.

Most of my sector house use it catching up on sleep, or they eat something more exciting then the nutri-packs the service droids provide. Plus there's gym time and while you're sweating it out on one of the cardios you catch up on the latest judicial updates, or review crime reports for your beat. And if you keep on top of that stuff the system allows you some personal reading material. I read psychology textbooks, I like them. They help me understand the jerks, both the myoclonic variety and the ones on the street, the perps who keep us so busy the rest of the time.

The academy techs tell us we don't dream in the sleep machines but they're wrong. We dream, the psych books say if you don't then you go crazy and most Judges keep it together better than the average Jack or Jill out there in the blocks. I reckon we all dream in the machines, but most don't remember theirs. I remember mine and I remember falling ... And I hear someone shouting? Calling to me. Weird.

Falling, the wind rushing past, that feeling that you're staying in one place and the ground is rushing towards you, the anticipation of an impact that never seems to come. The psychologists say it's natural human anxiety manifesting in our subconscious minds. The sense that we are on this unknowable rock hurtling through space, that life happens around us while we are trying to decide what to do, a feeling of lack of control ... What are they shouting?

I'm a Judge, I have plenty of control, it's been drummed into me since I was five. Sure there's uncertainty out there but we are the order in the chaos, we know right from wrong, we know what's going on, we make a difference, we do the things that have to be done.

I dream about falling a lot ... Did I say that already? Wind's howling by me now. I must have reached terminal velocity. Terminal?

Maybe this is a dream? It's different to usual. Longer and stranger.

Hypoxia can cause that. Another fact from the textbooks, the hypoxic brain dreams, that's why you get stories about drowning people seeing their life flashing before them. The dying mind fractures.

I still hear someone calling. What's that? "Sou..." South? No, that's not it. What is that word?

My mind is fractured, I've done something, I know I have, I hope it was the right thing. What's that word? I think it's a name.

"Souster!"

I    think    that    might    have    been     me.

Countdown to comedy

Here's a couple more recent entries into the 2000AD forum short story competition. This one was for a television themed contest. I'm not entirely happy with it and it didn't trouble the scorers. I still can't resist the last line reveal of a well known 2000AD character.



Down for the Count

The studio lights glared down on the simple set, four desks, a letter board, and the clock that gave the show its name. The red light lit up on the Tri-D camera as the floor manager silently counted down from five and then pointed at the host.

"Welcome back to the world's longest running quiz show, I'm Nat Bunderson. Just before the break the delightful Delilah had picked nine tricky letters for our contestants, let's see what they made of them. First of all our defending champion, Reg Trunion. How many, Reg?"

"Only five I'm afraid, POLKAS, like the dance."

"Very musical, Reg. And our challenger, Jam Bepy?"

"Nine, APOKALIPS, as in the war."

"That's rather an unusual spelling, we better go over to dictionary corner. What do you make of that, OED-1?

"[Unusual but accepted spelling variant. 20th century usage. Judgement = allowed]"

"Another nine pointer, Jam, continuing the strange spelling from your first round winner of Nekroplis?"

"Just dumb luck, Nat"

"Let's see if that luck lasts. Onto round three and back to our lovely lady of letters. What have you get for our wordsmiths, Delilah."

"Here they come from the random letter generator.

DINOMIGHT

Another strange selection, Nat."

"Strange and almost explosive, Delilah. OK, contestants, your thirty seconds start now!"

The single hand on the clock began to move as the familiar music faded in. Reg Trunion was scribbling furiously but Jam Bepy seemed to be struggling with his pencil. Their deliberations were suddenly interrupted as the floor manager ran on to the set waving her arms and shouting loudly.

"Bomb! There's a bomb in the clock! Clear the set now. Oh Grud, someone stop the countdown!"

The explosion ripped through the studio, destroying the three desks nearest the clock, and the dictionary computer. As the smoke cleared the production crew looked on appalled at the devastation. Both presenters, the floor manager and one of the contestants were dead. Only Bepy had survived, shielded from the blast as he scrambled under the steel desk to retrieve his dropped pencil.

A production assistant with a clipboard and a headset strode through the carnage issuing instructions to summon paramedics and judges. She took the dazed Bepy by his elbow and led him away from the mayhem.

"This way, sir, we'll make you comfy in the green room. I expect the judges will want a statement later, then I'll need you to sign a release form and talk about you coming back for next week's show."

"Next week? I sort of planned on this being a one off performance. Will there be another show?"

"Of course there will. C4 won't want to break the streak. If Chaos day can't stop us then neither will this. The show must go on and you'll be back as defending champion."

"Champion? I do like the sound of that. Can I think about it?"

"Of course. For now I'll just put you down as a definite maybe."

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Adventures in podcasting: 3

By this stage I had four episodes recorded and edited. I had turned them into mp3 files using Audacity and used a program called ID3 editor to edit the metadata tags on each episode. Thankfully it was a pretty straight forward job to create individual artwork for each episode and attach that to the mp3s with the editor so that you see something like this when the episode is playing in your mobile podcatcher.
The next job was finding somewhere to host the files online so that iTunes and other podcatchers can find and download them. Fortunately Brian had plenty of spare space and bandwidth on the Dreamhost server he uses for British Invaders so I was able to share this and have my own folders on the server and use a simple program called WinSCP to upload the files just by dragging and dropping.

I originally intended to use this blog to publish the episodes and build the feed from, and in fact the first episode was posted here. However I realised it was so easy to create a blogsite called megacitybookclub.blogspot.co.uk that I might as well give the podcast its own dedicated page. That means I can still post odd rambling stuff here without clogging up the podcast feed, although I will still be posting the episodes here as well.

Reading articles about podcast feeds gave me the general feeling that a lot of this stuff would be easier with a wordpress site instead of blogger but this page pointed me in the right direction. First of all I needed to set the blog to accept enclosure links, this means that blog posts can include mp3 files hidden within them. This is just a case of ticking a box on the settings page as described here, once that was done I created the post for the first episode and added the link to my mp3 file on the Dreamhost server.

I also wanted an audio player in the episode posting and this meant adding another bit of html to the page which I copied from this site here so that a simple player would appear at the bottom of the posts like this.




Then all that was needed was to tag each episode post with the label 'podcast' and I was ready to build the feed which I would submit to iTunes. Using the links from the pages above told me that the blog podcast feed would be:
http://megacitybookclub.blogspot.co.uk/feeds/posts/default/-/podcast

Almost there but there were a few more bits and pieces to add to make it suitable for iTunes. I used google's feed creation service Feedburner to do the final tinkering. I've read various articles suggesting google might scrap feedburner at some point and that I should be using a service called Blubrry, but these warnings mainly come from Blubrry themselves and their service only seems to integrate with wordpress sites at the moment so I have gone with feedburner.

The feedburner control panel let me add a brief description of the podcast and my logo artwork. For iTunes this needs to be a 3000 x 3000 pixel image at 72dpi. More details about iTunes and image files here. Once done this produced the final podcast feed:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/MegaCityBookClub

All that remained was to go to the iTunes connect service and submit this feed. You need an apple ID to sign in with and then they have their podcast review process before it becomes available in the iTunes store. I got an email from apple telling me they were reviewing the podcast and then a few days later I found that it was showing up in iTunes searches and I was able to start publicising the link to the whole world. I still haven't received an email confirming that my podcast was approved but it's out there in the wild now and people can find it with their podcatchers.

Adventures in podcasting: 2

Way back when I was just filling in as a guest host I was using a gaming headset to record for British Invaders. Once my guest spot became a regular deal I upgraded to a nice Blue Yeti usb microphone which has been OK so far. I use the free software Audacity to record my end of our discussions and then upload a wav file to Brian who stitches the two halves together and does all the editing magic.


It's a pretty good system that has worked well for us so far, but for Mega City Book Club I have a revolving panel of guests to record and obviously I am dependent on whatever kit they have or can lay their hands on. I'm using Call Burner for Skype which records both ends of our conversations as two separate wav files. So far I have carried on using audacity to edit the first four episodes but I am now learning how to use Sound Forge 10 as I strive for a more professional result.

I have also used audacity to turn my edited audio into the final mp3 files. I was advised by a couple of people that iTunes does a better job of this but strangely my results seem to have a lower quality than I wanted so I'm sticking with audacity until I master Sound Forge.

There's nothing like starting a podcast to send you to amazon to upgrade your kit and a recent spending spree has produced a Shure SV100 and a Focusrite Scarlett interface to connect it to my computer. My office is starting to look like a recording studio. I've also bought a Tascam digital recorder to use when I'm out and about. I used it to record episode four with Tony Richards which we did upstairs in a pub in central London.


Although the pub cast may sound a little rough we will see whether my new kit and software helps my future episodes sound more professional.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Adventures in podcasting: 1


It's been an exciting few weeks as I've discovered the basics of publishing my own podcast. I thought I would record some notes here as an aide memoir, and possibly as tips for anyone considering taking the plunge themselves.

First of all I have to acknowledge the help and inspiration of Brian Doob who encouraged and inspired me to start a comics cast. Brian is the driving force behind the British Invaders podcast that we do about British television genre television, he is also an audio expert and guided me through some of the basics of recording and editing, of which more in a later post.

I had been thinking of doing a 2000AD podcast for a while. With the ECBT2000AD cast covering individual progs and megazines I felt that the obvious gap in the market would be to do collected editions, which would allow me to cover stories from the full 39 year history of the comic. In a way it echoes the thematic intent of the volumes currently being published by the Hachette partworks Mega Collection. Brian suggested I could tie this in to my fundraising efforts from getting comics signed at convention and then selling them on eBay for cancer research UK.

My working title for the podcast was Trading Places which sounds daft now and completely non specific. Fortunately I woke up one morning with Mega City Book Club in my head, I liked the way it combined four words all of four letters each, it was catchy and seemed to work nicely. Brian suggested I register it as a domain name. There are several sites offering registration and all sorts of extras as well. I chose Hover and was able to secure www.megacitybookclub.com using a discount coupon code from another podcast I listen to, A Cast of Kings. My domain name forwards to the podcast blog site, and after fiddling around with the settings on Hover I learnt that ticking the stealth redirection box meant that it still shows megacitybookclub.com in the address bar when your browser gets there.

So I had a title and a domain name, the next thing was to open up Photoshop and design a logo. I spent a lot of time working on a design based on the space spinner free gift attached to the very first issue of 2000AD, but it was difficult to get good quality images of the original toy to play with. The resulting logo ended up looking decidedly amateurish.
I didn't like this at all and was considering paying an online design company when a random google search for Judge Dredd's law book brought up this prop from the much maligned Stallone 1995 movie.
As luck would have it the google images were from none other than Judge John Burdis' own Cellar of Dredd blog although sadly the pictures were not quite good enough to work with in photoshop. So a quick visit to eBay and I soon had my own copy of the book on its way from Hong Kong. It's an odd little notebook with mega city one legal codes printed on the bottom of the pages. Even with my own copy getting a decent photo of the front cover with equal lighting on all the shiny gold lettering was tricky but after a lot of fiddly photoshop manipulation I was able to produce the logo you can see at the top of this post and it looks much more professional in iTunes and on my phone podcatcher.

Next up will be some details of recording and editing before I get on to the complications of preparing individual episodes for publication, and the tricky business of getting a feed and submitting it to iTunes.

Mega City Book Club 2: America


I'm joined by the irrepressible Pete Wells from the 2000AD Covers Uncovered blog to discuss one of the definitive Dredd tales: America. We talk about the original story and the two sequels, Fading of the Light and Cadet. Please note there are spoilers for all three chapters and you should really read these great stories before listening.

The Complete America can be purchased from the 2000AD online store.


All comments and suggestions gratefully received. Please get in touch if you would like to be a guest on the show.



Download here
Right click and choose save link as to download to your computer.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

New podcast page

Excuse me while I tinker behind the scenes. I've given the podcast its own dedicated page at
Please update your bookmarks.

I've updated the feed so you may find episode one showing up in your podcatcher, apologies for that. Won't happen again.

I'll still be posting the episodes here as well on on the main page but this blog will soon be reverting to its old title and format for random postings from an aging geekster.

Thank you for your attention.

Eamonn

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mega City Book Club 1: Dan Dare volume one


It's the first episode of a new podcast dedicated to all the collected editions from 2000AD and Rebellion publishing. I'm your host Eamonn Clarke and for this first outing I'm joined by Simon Belmont to discuss the lovely hardback that is Dan Dare: The 2000AD years volume one.

You can find the 2000AD Thrill Cast episode where Pat Mills discussed the Dan Dare collection with Michael Molcher here.

Please check out my justgiving site link on the right of this page, and do head to 2000ADonline.com to purchase your copy of Dan Dare or any of their splendid books.

You can like the facebook page and follow Mega City Book Club on Twitter @MCBCpodcast

All comments and suggestions gratefully received. Please get in touch if you would like to be a guest on the show.


Download here

Friday, April 15, 2016

Mega City Book Club - books list


Getting the book cover images to line up is driving me more and making me wish I had chosen wordpress instead of blogger.
The best place to find the current book list is on the facebook group.
Please pop to
https://www.facebook.com/Megacitybookclub/
and like and follow and check the book list post there

In the meantime here's some text instead of pictures.

The list of books and episodes so far

Episodes
1: Dan Dare vol 1 with Simon Belmont
2. The Complete America with Pete Wells
3. The Cursed Earth (Titan editions) with Jim Moon
4. Devlin Waugh: Swimming in Blood with Tony Richards

Books to come in no particular order:

Button Man: Get Harry Ex with Pete Wells
GoldTiger with Simon Belmont
D.R, & Quinch with Adam Murdough
Zenith Phase 1 with David
Dredd:Origins with Oliver English
Satan's Island
The Apocalypse War with Jim Moon
Alan Moore's Future Shocks with Brett Summers
Scarlet Traces With Scowlin Munkeh
Nemesis Book 1 with Richard McAuliffe
The Ballad of Halo Jones with Sheridan Kelly and Rachel Bullmore
Mandroid with Steve Green
The Pit with Stacey Whittle
Chopper: Song of the Surfer with Seelnelg Vader
Rogue Trooper vol 1 with Chris J Thompson





Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mega City Book Club


I've changed the title of this blog because I'm hoping to start a podcast of the same name soon. The idea is to review collected editions of 2000AD stories with a revolving panel of guest hosts. If I get this off the ground the podcast episodes will be posted here as well as appearing in iTunes and all the usual pod places.

If you would be interested in being on the podcast with me then please get in touch. All you will need is Skype, a microphone and headset, and a 2000AD book that you want to discuss. Email me eamonn1961 or contact me through the podcast Twitter feed @MCBCpodcast.

Splundig vur thrigg.

Eamonn

Sunday, January 24, 2016

On the convention floor

The current 2000AD forum short story competition is Tales from the Convention. Here's mine:

image by the fiendishly talented Dave Kendall
Face Lift

Ting!

The lift doors opened and two Harley Quinns and a female Captain America spilled out giggling while the Judge Fear cosplayer slumped against the back wall.

I pressed the button for the mezzanine where I was meeting Ben for lunch after his photo shoot, and then turned to admire the impressive costume behind me. His cloak was tattered and cobwebbed, the mantrap shoulder pads looked like real metal with blood and gore on the rusted teeth, and a dull red light pulsed behind the eyes of the helmet.

"Blimey, mate, you've put in a lot of work. Might be a bit much though, you're going to give kids nightmares."

He didn't answer but pushed off the wall and stepped towards me. There was a strange jerkiness to his movements and I wondered if he might be disabled in some way.

"Whoh, save the act for the convention. Are you going to say the line?"

He came closer and stretched a gaunt hand towards me. That wasn't a rubber glove, maybe a clever paint job? A damp smell like wet leaves filled my nostrils as the lights started to flicker. He towered over me like a giant insect, a twitching monster from a silent horror film.

"Errr, excuse ..."

The words stuck in my throat as the hand touched my chest and everything went quiet, dead quiet. No machinery noises, no alarms, nothing but the sound of my heartbeat in my ears. I was suddenly cold as all heat left the world. All the noise, all the warmth, and all the hope were gone. I thought of Ben and I was afraid.

"P-p-please" a whisper died on my lips as his other hand jerked towards the visor and ...

Ting!

The doors opened and noise, heat and life flooded in around me. I jostled my way out through a crowd of laughing cosplayers and looked back into the lift but Fear wasn't there.

I staggered towards the balcony to lean on the railing. Sweat dripped from me as I looked down to the convention floor and saw Ben walking towards the stairs. He raised an arm to wave and then turned as he noticed the tall, cloaked figure behind him.

I tried to call out but my throat was still frozen. Fear bent over him as the crowds swarmed between us and when my view cleared they had disappeared.

The police searched but Ben was gone. The cosplay societies didn't know anyone with a Judge Fear suit, and he didn't appear in any of the convention videos or photos.

It's been three months now and nothing. I haven't seen the face of fear but it has seen me. I take anxiety medication but it doesn't work, my counsellor listens but doesn't believe, and I wake most nights sweating and afraid. The police are ready to declare Ben dead and the terrible truth is I hope they are right because the alternative just fills me with dread.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

1600 AD

The previous short story competition on the 2000AD forums came with a "1600AD" theme of something Shakespearean or along those lines. I took the Scottish play and a certain blue skinned genetic infantry man, and then mixed in some film references plus a line from King Lear. I quite liked the results and the last line made more sense this time.



Blue Ruin

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair"

That's what the three mad women on the blasted Heath said. They foretold that our Thane would take the castle and that the cursed Southerners would fall to his sword. They said he could not be harmed by any man born of woman.

So we raised our standards high and marched on Fife as the Southern Sassenachs fled before us. We came to the citadel and our Lord was impervious, no man could touch him and he stood before the gates until the feeble gatekeeper opened them and we entered without any more resistance from the Souther scum.

We feasted, we drank and we sang. Our Thane sat on his throne and it seemed that the crones' predictions had all come true. But just as flies are sport to wanton boys so are we to the gods of war and a black shadow fell across our victory. The Lord began to stare into dark spaces as if he saw spectres lurking there, and his Lady tore her clothes and walked the battlements late at night.

And then came the terrible dawn when we gazed out though the sulphurous mists and saw something moving in the trees. The malodorous clouds faded in the early light and there was the army of the South coming up the hill and gathering on the heath.

The troopers parted and their champion strode through and stood before us. The painted man, daubed with the blue pigment his clan wear to war. Mad Macduff, the Woad Warrior himself, wearing the helm, shield and sword of his fallen clan brothers. And he bade the Thane come face him in single combat. But still we were not afraid, our Lord Commander strapped on his armour and took his great claymore in his hand and walked out to defeat the blue rogue.

"Come do your worst," he called. "I fear you not for I cannot be harmed by any man born of any woman."

But the blue man just threw back his head and laughed.

"Then fear me, little Thane, for I am from no woman's womb. My clan brothers and I were birthed in the witches' cauldron from base clay, and eye of newt, and toe of frog."

At that the dark shadow crossed the Thane's face again and we saw his courage falter, but he gathered himself up and raised his sword.

"Well lay on, Macduff, and damned be he who first calls 'Hold!' "

But damned he was, and now so are we. The blue man fought as if possessed. Our Thane's sword bounced off the shield and helm and the painted giant swept his attacks aside and ran him through and through.

With our commander dead it was a rout and now our bodies form a feast for crows, the streams run red with our Northern blood, and so foul and fair a day has never been seen before.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Films of the year

And I haven't really seen enough movies this year, even with membership of our local arts picturehouse in Cambridge. Suffragette was an impressive and important movie. The Lady in the Van was bit cutesy although the performances were good. The Martian was enjoyable but only about as third as good as this simply splendid book, and they disappointed me by adding the Iron Man ending that is quite rightly ruled out in the book for good scientific reasons.


Marvel put out the Avengers Ultron movie and Ant Man and I can remember very little about them. By contrast Daredevil and Jessica Jones on Netflix were much more enjoyable and memorable for all the right reasons.

So that just leaves me with the four big blockbusters for the year. I had a good time at Spectre but the plot holes were huge and it was at least one set piece too long. I can't see Daniel Craig returning for a fifth go because this film ends with him hanging them up and choosing a life over a gun which was very refreshing.


Somehow Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation managed to out Bond Spectre and led the field in its use of practical effects and a splendid scene-stealing turn by Rebecca Ferguson. Strangely Tom Cruise managed to be less annoying that usual and it was all just terrific.



Star Wars: The Force Awakens also contained huge plot holes and moments of madness that made no sense but I didn't acre. It perfectly captured the magic of the original films and left me a very happy geek. I also was able to see it with my wife and kids, the first time we've gone to see a film together in years which was just as exciting. And when that music started I almost shed a tear.


But far and a way the best time to be had in a cinema this year was with Mad Max: Fury Road with Max himself almost reduced to a supporting character as Charlize Theron's Furiosa tore up the road and the screen. A movie where pretty much the first scene direction read cut to the chase, where former doctor George Miller threw everything at the screen and reminded us all how good action movies can be when we know it's actual stunt men doing this ridiculous stuff rather than those tedious bouncing CGI sprites. Best film of 2015 by several furious road miles.


Boo thousand tales

There are few other stories I need to post up but let's go right to the latest contest still running on the forum. The theme is all out horror with a seasonal twist. My killer uses a trick I saw in an ancient episode of Alfred Hitchcock presents back when the whole world was in black and white.

And let me use an image from the splendid Mutants in Mega-City One collection for which I now own the original artwork!



Dead men tell no tales

"Santa, please call here" says the sign but it's the judges who kick down the door. They are too late, the drug has taken hold and I'm already effectively dead.

"Jovus! He's been gutted like a fish."

"Eyes up, rookie. Perp may still be here."

The toxin paralysed me, heart rate reduced to almost zero, everything slowed to crawling speed, except my brain which races away but I can't let the judges know I'm still alive.

"Clear. Whoever did this is long gone."

"Call the tech. I'll check the body."

Coloured lights reflect off her leathers as the judge checks my non-reactive pupils. I can feel drops of moisture forming in my eyes. Maybe she'll spot my tears and realise I'm not dead? But no, judges are trained for blood and violence not tears, and she stands up again as the tech sets his tri-d camera recording the scene.

"OK, rookie. Tell me what you see."

"Male, mid forties, naked apart from his u-fronts. Belly has been opened with a serious blade, I'm guessing it nicked the aorta because there is a lot of blood. Let me just look inside ... yes, his liver is missing. It's him isn't it? This is the work of Santa Claws, the Christmas Delivery Man."

"Sure looks that way. Sicko's fourth victim in as many years. Let's see what else we've got here apart from a corpse."

Time passes. I'm just a piece of meat to them now.

"All done," says the tech. "You want me to send Re-syk up?"

"Yeah. We've got what we need here."

Then I'm alone again. I hear the judges starting their door to door but no-one will have seen or heard anything, while I lay here taking it all in, unable to speak.

Re-syk is a short guy in the familiar yellow jumpsuit. As he lays out the body bag he doesn't notice my finger twitching, the drug is wearing off. Good Grud, what if I'm zipped up in his van before I can move?

However this guy is slow, methodical, diligent. He hasn't even got me in the bag when I suddenly sit up. His face is a picture but my hand closes around his throat before he cries out. My blade was hidden beneath me and his eyes widen as it slides in below his ribs.

"I'm sorry," I whisper in his dying ear, "but you have something I need."

I eat his liver straight away and feel life flood through me as mine regenerates. My belly wound closes and my mutated skin knits whole again while I quickly bottle a pint of his blood to use next time. Five minutes later I'm wearing yellow and pushing the gurney down the corridor. The judges don't even look in my direction while they browbeat the neighbours.

Re-syk are expecting a body without a liver and that is exactly what I intend to deliver.

Perfect Ten

The theme for this 2000AD forum short story contest was cinema so I adaptated a story I had already written and called it My Fair Lady. As ever I was inspired by a story I read somewhere else and once again I manage a weak final line joke (must stop doing that).





My Fair Lady

“You’re Percy Malion, AKA Percy the Pig, Con-apt 1432, Rex Harrison block?”

“That’s right, Judge.”

“Time to explain yourself. Talk.”

“It was the Frothy-Fresh shower gel advert that started it. That’s where I first saw her.”

“Saw who.”

“The perfect woman, I’d never seen anyone as lovely. She had it all, the hair, the figure, the face of an angel, and those beautiful hands. The close ups of her lathering up with the Frothy-Fresh, well it fairly took my breath away, if you know what I mean.”

“So what did you do?”

“I had to meet her, I had to tell her how I felt. So I contacted Frothy-Fresh and they put me on to the company who made the advert. At first they said they couldn’t give me her name and contact details, but I can be persistent and after I dropped a few credits here and there I found someone who told me the truth about the model.”

“Who was she?”

“She didn’t exist. Not a single model anyway. They used a different model for each shot in the ad, One for the face, another for the legs, another for the breasts and so on. In all they used 12 different models to film that commercial. My perfect lady was a composite of a dozen different women.”

“The magic of Tri-D. Most people would have called it quits there, but not you, Malion?”

“No, Sir. I was in love and a man in love will move heaven and earth for the woman of his dreams, I had the list of all 12 models and their body parts. It was obvious what I had to do”

“For the record state what exactly you did.”

“I needed those body parts. I thought about gene-splicing and cloning. I had the funds but that would have taken too long. That’s when I contacted Dr Praetorius.”

“Praetorius is currently not cooperating with interrogation. Tell me what he did for you.”

“He did the surgeries. We started with Ellie “the body” Macafee. She was going to be the host body for all the others. It was easy for me to lure the women to my apartment. We just told them it was for a fashion shoot. You can get any model out of bed for 5000 credits. A glass of drugged Synthi-pagne on arrival and we were set. And we would have gotten away with it if Frothy-fresh hadn’t tried to book all the same models for another commercial. One model vanishing and we might have been OK but 12 missing models raised the alarms. And I was so close. Another two surgeries and I would have had her. The perfect woman all to myself.”

“Percy “Pig” Malion I find you guilty of the abduction and drugging of 12 women, and the murder and dismemberment of 10 of those women. You’re going to the cubes for life, creep. Looks like you might be making your own impression in the showers.”