Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Moving Stories

I'm gonna be offlline for a few days while we move house. For some reason BT have to disconnect my broadband for 5 days just to switch it from House A to House B. Fuckwits.

Have to say, I'm not missing London one bit. I haven't even moved into my new house yet and I already know more of my neighbours, and have had longer, friendlier conversations with them, than the entire five years I lived in Surrey Quays. It's true: London really is one miserable town.

This isn't exactly ideal timing, moving while I've got four comic scripts on the go (apologies to Jock, Leinil and Kyle!) but hey, that's showbiz. It'll all be worth it in the long run. I mean, just check out my new pad!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Inspiration Strikes!

People keep telling me that my comics read like movies (if only they paid like 'em!), and I'm starting to wonder whether it's time I dipped a tentative toe in the shark-infested waters of Hollyweird. The question is, where to start... ?

The other day I was struck by something I read in Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott's excellent Wordplay site:
"Sometimes the thing, the item that's sitting right in front of you, can make for a great film idea... I guarantee you, as you sit there reading this, there are at least two items within your line of sight that would make fantastic topics for films. Million-dollar ideas that Ted and I plan on writing and selling, ideas we think are as good as TOY STORY."

Well, I've got a lot of time for these guys, but are they serious? I wanna write about exploding helicopters and rampaging dinosaurs and cyborg ninja assassins from the future and, y'know, grown-up stuff like that - not staplers and telephones and drifting swathes of paperwork (which I really must get round to filing at some point). But I thought I'd give it a go, as much as a creative exercise as anything else…

And my eye lit on an object lying not three feet in front of me. It had been sitting there on the desk for weeks, ignored. And the best idea I have ever had for a movie instantaneously downloaded itself into my brain, just like that.

"Tank, I need a premise for a high-concept Hollywood action thriller." ZZZZAP!

Now I'm not usually one of those guys who's afraid to tell people my ideas in case they steal them. There's nothing I like better than pitching my harebrained stories to an audience - preferably down the pub - and watch their eyes, see if I've got them hooked. What's the worst that can happen? I figure it's easier - and cheaper - for Hollywood to just buy your story and change it than to steal it and risk a lawsuit, right?

But this is such a good idea, I'm not gonna risk it. This idea's gonna put my daughter through university.

And it's got a great title.

I'm not gonna tell you that either. You might steal it.

Backtrack a little. I keep a list of random story titles in a Word document, add to it whenever I get inspired. A good title's worth it's weight in gold. (I still wish SILENT DRAGON was called HAMMERHEAD, or ZETSURIN, or SHURIKEN). And most of the time I have no idea what these titles might be for - they just hang around, waiting for a concept to attach themselves to.

And my absolute favourite of all these unused titles just happened to fit this new idea perfectly; so much so, it was as if my subconscious had known it all along, and was just waiting for the rest of me to catch up and put the pieces together.

I also like to keep a file of whatever random story ideas might occur to me; often little more than "what if" premises. Most of them are too thin, too one-dimensional, to grow into a fully-fledged story. They're just dry seeds, unfertilized. But occasionally, two unrelated concepts floating around in the murky depths of my subconscious will suddenly glom together in a completely unexpected way, and something magic happens. They fertilize each other. Two one-dimensional ideas suddenly combine to form a three-dimensional whole; greater than the sum of its parts.

I love it when that happens. I wish I knew a way to control it. (Alan Moore probably does).

And that's the very next thing that happened. The idea inspired by the object on my desk, the great unused title, and an old idea that I hadn't known what to do with ("What if a hitman didn't actually kill his victims?") all suddenly fused together into a little cracker of a story. It had a great hook, structure, mystery, action, twists and reversals that come out of nowhere and yet make complete sense in hindsight, making the audience hungry for answers and drawing the protagonist deeper and deeper into a strange and dangerous world.

And unlike some of my movie ideas, it would be cheap to film. Real cheap.

I was so excited, I couldn't stay in my chair. I ran downstairs and cornered Angela in the kitchen and babbled at her for a full fifteen minutes. I was hopping. I couldn't stand still.

Then I pitched it to my new manager. She was kind of "meh."

I don't care. I'm writing it anyway.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Brian Wood's DMZ

Brian Wood's DMZ
When I first heard about this and saw Brian's map of Manhattan Island designated "Sniper Heaven", I had that little sting of jealousy - "Damn, I wish I'd thought of that." New York as Kosovo. This looks like my kinda comics.

Go check out the preview.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Front Toward Enemy

Stuck in a dead-end office job? Looking for something to while away those endless stretches of mind-numbing, soul-crushing tedium between cigarette breaks? Then why not build your very own Claymore Antipersonnel Mine from everyday office stationery supplies.

You know it makes sense!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Losers Update

THE LOSERS # 30 cover art by Jock
Get a load of Jock's cover to THE LOSERS # 30. One of my favourites so far.

Meanwhile, here's the solicitation copy for THE LOSERS: CLOSE QUARTERS, the fourth trade paperback collection, due in stores 9th November:


Written by Andy Diggle
Art by Ben Oliver and Jock
Cover by Jock

The fourth volume of Vertigo's explosive espionage thriller THE LOSERS collecting issues 20-25 of the hit series. An unpleasant but informative reunion with the traitor Roque in the Company-created bank Cayman Credit Internationale then leads them to a cargo ship just off the Azores - and a discovery that raises the stakes higher than anyone could have guessed...

On sale November 9 | 144 pages | Full Color | $14.99 US | MATURE READERS

Monday, August 15, 2005

Close Quarters

It's official: Close Quarters, the fourth Losers trade paperback collection, is due in stores on November 9th. Hurrah!

More details as I get 'em.


The Losers has been named one of the "Best Comics of the First Half of 2005" over at Buzzscope:

"Hollywood Blockbuster done right. The A-Team with a Three Kings edge, Andy Diggle writes intelligent action entertainment better than anyone, and Jock's jagged, bombastic artwork evokes the hyperactivity of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. This is my high-octane, not-feeling-the-least-bit-guilty pleasure every month."

So many people have said my comics read like movies, I'm starting to wonder why I don't just write movies. Hmm...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

You Don't Know Jock

BATMAN cover by Jock
Jock's just done a cool little interview with Comic Foundry to talk about the process of creating his covers for Batman and Detective Comics

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Al Swearengen on George W. Bush

Al Swearengen from HBO's DEADWOOD


"What else, Neddie asks, are we to make of the intelligence eructed in Monday's Washington Post, wherein Hooplehead Bush declares -- more or less accidentally, just off-the-cuff like -- the equal intellectual standing of Darwinian science and cocksucking Creationism -- that the two should be presented side-by-side, let the student decide the relative merits. Thus in one fell (and I do mean fell!) swoop, 150 years of science, during which enormous exquisitely balanced, peer-reviewed and battle-tested biological wedding-cakes of scintillating scientific discovery were erected to the wonder and admiration of educated people everywhere, are placed, willy-fucking-nilly, in direct competition with a retrograde piss-take of a brain-dead idea that was laughed at by serious thinkers a hundred years before Darwin ever heard the word Beagle!"

There's more. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

On The Ball

My mate Iain has a new blog, so why not head over there and laugh at his enormous moustache?

Strange Days, Take 2

Adam Strange: Planet Heist now has a listing on Amazon. Although I guess it's better for the comics industry if you it from your local comic shop instead.

Close Quarters

Although a publication date hasn't been officially announced yet, Amazon Canada have a "placeholder" listing for the fourth trade paperback collection of The Losers, provisionally entitled Close Quarters (geddit?).

You should take most of the information listed there with a large pinch of salt - it's all likely to change - although it's interesting to see the book's already been allocated an ISBN number: 1401207197

This volume will collect issues 20-25, featuring "London Calling" illustrated by guest artist Ben Oliver, and "Anti-Heist" illustrated by Jock.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Playing It Safe

Am I the only one who thinks the current bout of arse-covering and playing it safe being displayed by NASA is a little bit, well, unmanly? Space travel should be a bold adventure, not a bland commute. It's supposed to be dangerous, dammit!

I mean, fair enough, a record-breaking spacewalk to do repairs is kind of cool. But when the "repairs" turn out to be pulling a piece of junk the size of a credit card out from between two tiles, I can't help feeling like, "Is that it? Damn, how would these guys cope if the negative power coupling needed replacing... ?"

This is what happens when you let the bureacrats take over. It's like - they could build a functioning heat shield back in the 1960s. Did they forget how?

And now they've delayed the landing by 24 hours because the weather is "a bit cloudy". What would the steely-eyed missile men of Mercury and Apollo make of that, I wonder... ?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Punishing Schedules

Now that my DC Comics exclusive contract has come to an end, I'm doing a Punisher Christmas Special for Marvel Knights. I just wrote the first nine pages yesterday, and I'm happy to report that I haven't had this much fun on a script for a long, long time. There's something about writing a completely stone-hearted, irredeemable, psychopathic fuck like Frank Castle that just brightens up your whole day.

The story's not as out-and-out comedic as some of Garth's later Marvel Knights stuff, but it's nowhere near as dark as his wonderful Max stuff either. Somewhere in between, I guess. It's a 32-page one shot, illustrated by Kyle Hotz, who did The Hood with Brian K. Vaughn.

Of course, if I was smart, I'd have waited until I'd finished writing The Losers and Silent Dragon before taking on any new work. But clearly I'm not smart. As it is, I find myself in the unenviable position of writing three different scripts simultaneously, feeding five-page chunks to Jock, Leinil and Kyle in rotation. As a working practice, I really wouldn't recommend it. Still, all three projects should be wrapped up within the next couple of months, at which point I'll be able to concentrate all of my time and effort into--

Oh wait, that hasn't been announced yet, has it?

Nation Building For Fun And Profit

The Principality Of Sealand
I occasionally get interesting questions from readers, and I thought it might be fun to share some of my answers on the blog. First up is Jacob Esselstrom, who asks about Max's grand plan, as revealed in The Losers # 26 - so beware spoilers if you haven't read it! - and the Ukrainian ghost-town of Pripyat...

First, did you ever read G.I. JOE (or Action Force reprints maybe?) #40 & #41 from 1985 where Cobra tricks the Joes into bombing a fault line, causing a seismic event that raises "Cobra Island", giving Cobra a sovereign state and all the benefits?

Nope, never did. I guess the inspiration for Max's plan came from various different sources, including the concept of "data havens" from Bruce Sterling's ISLANDS IN THE NET (which I haven't read) and Neal Stephenson's CRYPTONOMICON; The Principality of Sealand, a thinly-disguised version of which appeared in The Losers # 21, and which coincidentally featured on the BBC show How To Build Your Own Country earlier this week; and, believe it or not, Lex Luthor's cunning plan in SUPERMAN THE MOVIE. "Otisburg...?"

Let's face it, all the really nasty shit done in the this world seems to be done by nation states, not individuals; so if you really want to be a world-class shithead, you need your own country, right?

Second, I have to assume that you have seen this site:

Yep, that is indeed one of the links I sent Colin Wilson for visual reference of the real-world Ukrainian ghost town of Pripyat. In fact, it's referenced in The Losers # 26 (albeit somewhat obliquely) when Roque's henchman says the intruders might be "those bikers again."

There are a couple more good Pripyat sites here and here ; and an amazing panoramic cityscape photo of Pripyat here.

I'd never even heard of Pripyat until my good friend Rich McTighe told me about it and suggested it'd make an excellent location for a Losers story. And he was right! Cheers Rich!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Endgame For The Losers

Well, the cat's finally out of the bag - The Losers will officially be ending with issue 32.

Jock and I owe DC big time for supporting the title right through to the ending we always had planned for it. We designed it as a finite story which, as I said in an interview with Heidi Macdonald back in 2002, would take "two or three years to tell."

Jock spilled the beans in an interview he's just given at The Pulse, so head over there and check out his beautiful Batman and Catwoman covers!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Andy @ Newsarama

I've just done an interview with Newsarama, talking about the origins of Silent Dragon.

Action Schmaction

Ain't It Cool News just called me "easily the best action writer in comics today". Crikey!

The reviewer does say he wishes there was more action in the first issue of Silent Dragon, though.

It's funny - I've always tried to throw as much wall-to-wall action as possible into The Losers - and as a result, a few readers have said they'd like to see a bit more character development in there. With Silent Dragon, I spent most of the first issue setting up the characters and their relationships, and now people want more action. What's a poor writer to do... ?

But don't panic; the action is coming. Boy, is it ever. Silent Dragon has far and away the most dynamic action scenes I've ever written. You just don't see very much of them in the first issue, any more than the first twenty minutes of Die Hard or Aliens could be described as a "white-knuckle thrill-ride".

Silent Dragon is the first story I've consciously written "for the trade". That's not to say I haven't designed the story to work as a monthly; quite the opposite. I've very much tried to use the kind of pacing and cliffhangers that drive a monthly book. But I'm also acutely aware that the first issue is only Act One of a six-act story... and I'm deliberately saving the best - the most spectacular scenes - 'til last. And if you think that means the story's just gonna end with Reizo/Renjiro going head-to-head with that samurai droid, think again. That's just the warm-up act.

Writing for the trade doesn't necessarily mean glacial pacing and lots of padding; at least, not when it's done right. It means you write in acts which build up into a cohesive whole, but still work as stand-alone chapters. Hey, it worked for Dickens, and what's he got that I haven't got, right? (Kidding! Kidding!)

I'm sure there'll be some people out there who'll whine about it. But that's okay. The reality is that each issue is on sale for a month, whereas the trade collection will hopefully be on sale for years. The vast majority of people who read Silent Dragon over the course of its lifetime will read it as a trade paperback, and to pretend otherwise would be folly.

So don't panic. The action is coming. Don't believe me? Then check out Leinil's issue three pencils above...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Strange Days

I just got my freebie copes of the Adam Strange: Planet Heist graphic novel this morning, and I must say I'm really pleased with how good it looks. Nice thick paper stock that really brings out the colour work, and no fecking adverts on every other page! It's also a nice fat read, weighing in at 192 pages.

There doesn't seem to be a listing on Amazon yet (it's not due on sale until Wednesday next week), but the ISBN is 1-4012-0727-8.

Silent Dragon @ Buzzscope

Silent Dragon # 1 gets an A-grade review at Buzzscope:

"In this modern age of decompression, where most first issues do little more than introduce the cast and maybe a plot point or two, Diggle offers up a veritable buffet of a story that demands you return for seconds, setting the stage for what appears to be yet another exciting action adventure tale on his impressive resumé..."

Aw shucks, now I'm blushing!