2015 has been an ‘interesting’ year for me an this Blog.
January brought the year in like a roaring Lion. The Judge Dredd Mega Collection from Hachette was released on 21st January 2015. I was fortunate enough to get Preview Pdfs of the first 10 parts. The embargos on these were very generous and I was able to get Preview articles out fairly early.
The spike this news caused in views of my Blog actually started in December 2014 when the news first broke. Interest in this Part Work rocketed and my Preview Articles gained massive hits for my fairly modest Blog. The five top read articles on my Blog for 2015 are about this series of books.
I stopped getting the Preview Pdfs, I subscribed so still get the books so obviously the spike in hits settled down. The new daily average of hits on the Blog showed that I may have gained several new regular readers from this.
I continued doing Previews and Reviews of 2000AD and Judge Dredd titles newly released (or re-released) by Rebellion of course. 2000AD and Judge Dredd are why the Blog exists after all. I also continued to Preview or Review some of the top Small Press comics. Several Small Press publishers send me Pdfs of their output. I only review things I like and obviously this arrangement has arisen through getting to know these publishers, mostly online but also in person, more about that later in this article.
As I said above, I only write about Comics. TV, Film, etc if I like it. That is important to remember, it is why my Previews and Reviews are generally very positive. I am however as unbiased as possible and give my genuine thoughts, so I keep criticism constructive but I do point out things I don’t like if required.
I’ve written a few articles about merchandise this year. Previously anything along those lines was limited to Planet Replicas. I don’t collect merchandise to any significant degree so in general I’m not that interested. Planet Replicas gained a special place in my interest due to their deep involvement with the Judge Minty fan film.
I decided this year though to support other licensed goods from time to time. This is because those licensed goods benefit the IP owners of the things I do really enjoy. First and foremost that is 2000AD and Judge Dredd. I may branch out on licensed products in 2016 – the first I have planned may become a semi-regular feature and it’ll be obvious why when I write that first article.
I continued to write about Royal Armouries and my friends Atkinson Action Horses. A true highlight of my year is always the Easter Joust at the Armouries here in Leeds. I was invited to an opening event at Royal Armouries this year, it was invite only and included a reception with light refreshments, a chance to mix with the Knights, a Squire or two and dignitaries from the Armouries past and present. There was a talk regarding the history of Tournament and a hands on display of some of the exhibits.
This year I took my eldest Granddaughter, Alexa, who was at that time Eight years old, to see her first Joust. She enjoyed the experience as did her Mother before her. My Son and his Fiance are my regular companions to this. Alexa enjoyed meeting the Knights and one, Andy Deane, did point out to her that she is the third generation of my family to watch him Joust – which seemed to make him feel old.
Atkinson Action Horses supply the Horses and Ground Crew for the Jousting. They also put on other shows at the Royal Armouries. They are great performers and I can personally say that the safety of those Horses is paramount. As well as live shows the team supply Horses and Riders to TV and Film productions.
Ben Atkinson is a bit of a rising star. Son of the founder of the team, Mark Atkinson, Ben doubled for Aiden Turner in Poldark and that led to articles on him in the press and celeb magazines. I only write about the Entertainment side of all this of course.
I also write about The First Musketeer, a miniseries available on YouTube co-starring Charles Barrett, one of the Riders with Atkinson Action Horses.
May brought Lawgiver MkII, a Judge Dredd convention. I help to plan the event and run some of the Panels. Each Panel involves the creators talking about Judge Dredd in some themed way, for example ‘who keeps an eye on continuity’, and my job is to keep the conversation flowing with questions and prompts. It is a Bit like Question Time but with fewer questions from the public. Or it is like a Chat Show. Lawgiver is small and intimate and a lot of fun to be involved in.
I wrote a few articles about Live Music. I don’t go to many live performances and I have never attended a big concert or festival, just Pub or Club events. I would like to do more of this but it is a case of finding the time to attend the shows – they are usually in the Evening and as I work Full Time I need the Evenings to write… catch 22, I can’t see the performances as I have to write but as I don’t see the performances I can’t write about them.
Through the year I also write articles on matters that I hold strong opinions. In this case I am not referring to TV, Film, Comics or Books. I mean ‘real world’ subjects. I’ve written about topics such as WWI executions, the exhumement of a Soldier who died at Waterloo, endangered species. These are often topics I do not like, such as those examples. They are topics that need discussion though.
Sport was a new subject for the Blog this year. I am interested in Formula One, Athletics and both codes of Rugby (Rugby League being my favourite sport). I very rarely mention Sport at all but a few things happened this year that changed that. Even still I said more about sport on the Facebook Page that is for this Blog and on my Twitter account. Highlights for me personally was of course Leeds Rhinos winning the Treble, all three Domestic titles.
Actually that last paragraph is incorrect. Jousting is a Sport and I have written about that on this blog for a while.
I’ve written a little regarding Cosplay this year. I did two features on Judge Dredd costumes that have been home-made. I have another article waiting to be written up, you will hear why at the end of this article.
Thought Bubble took place in November, this is to my knowledge the largest convention in UK dedicated solely to Comics. I love this convention and use it to circulate with fellow fans and also to meet and talk with creators, famous or not. I publish a small Reviews Booklet that I give away at Thought Bubble, I always get a copy signed by as many creators as possible. I also talk to creators I’ve never met and sample their wares.
Speaking of Creators I also carried writing some interviews with Comic Artists, a Film Director and Actors.
A few more personal comments now, one explains why some articles are delayed on this Blog.
Firstly I’ll mention an incident with my Son’s health. He has asthma that he mostly had under control. Mostly. He had a huge attack this Summer that led to him being rushed to Hospital where he stayed for three days. It was the worst he has been, in A&E tests showed that no Oxygen was reaching his blood – I shouldn’t need to state how serious that was. This happened at a show by Atkinson Action Horses at Royal Armouries and I am very grateful to Michael Collin, a Rider with the team, who too us to A&E after the show. Mike’s a great guy and a talented Rider, Actor and Singer.
Secondly, and the cause for many delays on the Blog, my Mental Health. It has been a bad year for that. I have Anxiety and Depression and have done since 1998/99. For the past few years I’ve had a period where this has become easier to control.
2015 saw me struggle. Hopefully this is a plateau in my progress not a backwards slide. I hardly wrote anything in the latter end of the year, July was when it really started to hit, there was an improvement in being able to write in August and September but October saw a decline that didn’t recover till mid December.
I wrote about this problem recently. That article has been shared by a few Mental Health charities, including Leeds Mind with whom I am connected. I hope what I experience can help others at least in a small way.
On a lighter note December brought Star Wars Episode VII: The Force A|wakens. I recently said, before the film was released, that ‘In 1977, for me, Star Wars was to Films what 2000AD was to Comics.’ In other words Star Wars fired my 10 year old imagination as much as 2000AD had my 9 year old imagination earlier that year. I really enjoyed the film and have written two articles about it.
Devember also brought a new BBC series, Gorilla Family and Me and repeats of all the earlier series of A Family and Me – the top read article on this blog, not this year but still of ‘all time’ is about A Polar Bear Family and Me. On a Blog mostly about Comics, of that mostly 2000AD and of that mostly Judge Dredd the TOP ALL TIME article is about Polar Bears. I love the diversity of my readership!
I will be reviewing many new (to me) creators of Small Press comics next year that I talked to at Thought Bubble. I will also be Auctioning a copy of this Year’s Reviews Booklet signed by a number of the Creators who were attending.
The Previews, Reviews, Interviews and Opinion articles will continue.
There is also the City Of Dredd, a resource book about Mega-City One that I am working on with Ivan Noel that we hope to Publish in 2016. Ivan has been hard at work most of the year, I’ve been slacking. Time to get my nose to the grind stone on that project.
I hope readers have enjoyed what they found on this Blog this year and come back again in 2016 for more.
Best wishes to all.