How I Spent June 2019

DorisJune19Well, naturally, the big thing this month was launching the Midnight Widows Indiegogo campaign. That’s something that’s occupying much of my mine right now, and will presumably do so for most of the next month. And before I launched it a few days ago, my mind was occupied with setting up the campaign in the first place. So, yeah. For me, this was the month of launching the Midnight Widows campaign, and I’m currently writing with a stomach full of butterflies.

Hmm. Looking over my blog, I notice that this was also the month that my first Doctor Who audio for Big Finish was announced. Was it really that recent? Crikey. Time and space really have been distorting for me in June.

Well, anyway. I hope that you’ll consider donating to my campaign, or pre-ordering the Doctor Who boxset, or perhaps even both!

Articles of mine published elsewhere this month:

Article topics for July and beyond:


Midnight Widows: Let the Crowdfunding Commence!


The time has finally come for Midnight Widows, the comic I’m working on with a team of lovely artists, to commence crowdfunding! Head on over to Indiegogo if you want to make a donation and help make the comic a reality.

The goal we’re shooting for is £3,300. So, if 100 people want to chip win with £33 each, or 50 people with £66 each, or 200 people with £17 each, we’ll be sorted. We’re offering both digital and print editions of the comic, along with original artwork, as perks for our backers, and we hope that you will consider it worth your while to chip in and help us to get this project off the ground.

On Amazing Stories Quarterly Issue 2

SecondSwarm2My series on vintage Amazing Stories magazine is still carrying on its way. This time I’m heading back to the sunny spring of 1928 to see what the second issue of Amazing Stories Quarterly has to offer.

The issue in question appears to be remembered mainly for inspiring the film The Amazing Colossal Man and for containing a story called “The Vibrator of Death”, but it turned out to be a pretty interesting read.

For one, the geopolitical anxiety shown by a number of stories is hard to miss. Whether it’s concern over a second World War, the subversion of capitalism by communism or the rise of dictatorships around the world, the stories offer an interesting snapshot of interwar fears about the shape of the world.

Also included is a very early example of space opera by J. Schlossel. I missed Schlossel’s work when I did my space opera archaeology series a while back, so I’m pleased to have got round to covering him. His story “The Second Swarm” is obviously dated today, but looked at in the context of 1928, it was very much ahead of its time. Meanwhile, “The Nth Man” by Homer Eon Flint manages to prefigure both American superhero comics and Japanese mecha manga!

Vampires Enter the Twentieth Century


The latest post in my year-long series celebrating vampire literature is now live at WWAC! This time, I’m looking at what M. R. James and Sax Rohmer contributed to the genre in the early decades of the twentieth century.

In case you haven’t read the earlier instalments, this series is a chronological overview of vampire fiction where I pick one story to represent each decade from the 1810s onwards. Here are the previous posts in the series:

Part 1: Two Centuries of Blood — John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” (1818); Cyprien Bérard’s Lord Ruthwen ou les Vampires (1820)

Part 2: The Feminine Touch — Théophile Gautier’s “La morte amoureuse” (1836); Elizabeth F. Ellet’s “The Vampyre” (1849)

Part 3: Deconstructing the Vampire — Charles Wilkins Webber’s Spiritual Vampirism (1853);  Paul Féval’s Le Chevalier Ténèbre (1860)

Part 4: Carmilla and Company — J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1871-2); Anne Crawford’s “A Mystery of the Campagna” (1886)

Part 5: Enter Count Dracula — Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)

Recursive Chucky


I’ve been to see the new Child’s Play. I thought about seeing it as a double bill with Toy Story 4, but then decided, no, the Missing Link/Pet Sematary twofer was enough tonal whiplash for one year.

Now, I’m not too keen on remakes. But I have to applaud the crew behind Child’s Play ’19: this is a rare remake that justifies itself. The bare-bones premise is the same – kid ends up with homicidal doll – but the film has actually taken the effort to come up with a fresh variation on the theme. The Chucky doll is no longer possessed by the ghost of a serial killer, but is instead a malfunctioning AI. And where his predecessor aimed to kill Andy by taking his body, the new Chucky has the opposite motivation: he wants to protect his new friend Andy, through any means possible. If someone makes life hard for Andy, Chucky will deal with them. And if someone gets in the way of Andy’s affection for the doll, then – like the ultimate in clingy, manipulative friends – Chucky will dispose of them too.

The original Child’s Play walked a tightrope. The idea of an animated, murderous doll has obvious potential to be unnerving, and the film was able to exploit this potential while Chucky was merely glimpsed. But the character’s wisecracking personality, gruff adult voice, and daft pseudo-Voodoo backstory made him inherently silly; whenever he took centre stage, the film worked only as horror comedy. Balancing the two tones is delicate, so it is no surprise that the sequels generally took the easier way out by using Chucky as a vehicle for grossed-out laughs; even 2013’s Curse of Chucky, which started out by placing the character in a more straight-faced horror film, ended up embracing gleefully Chucky’s inherent daftness by its close.

Continue reading “Recursive Chucky”

Midnight Widows Progress Report: June 2019


This is in all likelihood the final update I will make about Midnight Widows before the comic’s crowdfunding campaign goes live. Right now, all of the pieces are in place; all I need is to do is to sort out a schedule while perusing some “how to crowdfund” guides.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s helped me to reach this point: Marcela Hauptvogelova, the main artist on the series; Rosie Wigg, co-artist on issue 1; Jio Butler, who will be joining as colourist with issue 2; Delia Mihai, who provided the cover illustration you see above; and the latest member of our crew, Lyndon White, who provided our stylish new title graphic. He’s been working on some comics of his own, so check out his website here.

I currently plan to launch the campaign next week. So, watch this space, and I hope you’ll consider helping me to make 2019 the year of the Midnight Widows.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My First Doctor Who Audio Drama!


This September, Big Finish will release The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield Volume Five: Buried Memories, starring Lisa Bowerman as erstwhile Doctor Who companion Benny Summerfield and David Warner as an alternate-universe version of the Doctor. I’m proud to say that I scripted one of its episodes, having previously written a short story about Benny in last year’s anthology Bernice Summerfield: In Time.

I had the pleasure of working alongside James Goss and Una McCormack, who helped to get my script shipshape, and I hope that Big Finish’s audience enjoys the story.

Incidentally, David Warner’s Evil Genius in Time Bandits was one of my favourite film villains as a young’un, and I can remember drawing a comic strip called Ralph the Warrior which had an unabashed knockoff of the character as its main villain. I doubt anyone would have recognised him as such, given that my caricaturing skills were pretty rotten at age 7, but in my head that dude was David Warner through and through. So, I suppose you could say that in being given the opportunity to write a script for the David Warner, I’ve managed to fulfill a childhood dream…

Well, anyway. The boxset will have four episodes, and I’ll have the pleasure of joining Alyson Leeds, April McCaffrey and Lani Woodward on the writing team. They’re all newcomers to the studio as well, so give them all a big hand. Here are the official synopses:

 1. Pride of the Lampian by Alyson Leeds
Bernice Summerfield finds the last relic of a lost civilisation. One that the Doctor is worried may never have existed.

2. Clear History by Doris V Sutherland
The people of Civitas-G have retreated into an idyllic recreation of their homeworld. And they’re refusing to believe that it is now breaking down.

3. Dead and Breakfast by April McCaffrey
Bernice and the Doctor are trapped on a planet where people who are unusual have a habit of dying. They’re in trouble.

4. Burrowed Time by Lani Woodward
Centuries ago the Byrinthians were wiped out. Apart from one underground train which is still travelling the tunnels of this long-dead world. With a passenger on board.

The Martyrdom of Gareth Roberts


So, long-time Doctor Who scribe Gareth Roberts has joined Paul Gunn and Chuck Wendig in being booted out of a family-oriented media franchise for his social media conduct, having recently lost a position in an upcoming anthology of Doctor Who short stories. It currently remains to be seen whether — like Guardians of the Galaxy‘s James Gunn — he’ll eventually be allowed back into the franchise, or whether his time in the Whoniverse is over.

The root of the problem is Roberts’ opinion on transgender people, which prompted one of the other writers in the anthology to threaten to leave the book in protest if Roberts stayed. Let’s hear Roberts’ own summary of his thoughts:

Continue reading “The Martyrdom of Gareth Roberts”