Monday 31 October 2011

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 24 Oct - 30 Oct 2011


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits4394314884503934224643,087441
First Time Visits4184014584283864114432,945421
Returning Visits213030227112114220

Sunday 30 October 2011

Archive's Sunday Comics - Halloween Special

It's the season for ghosts! And we've got a bumper sized classic story this week with art by Steve (Spider Man) Ditko.

This week's Sunday comic is drawn by classic Spider Man artist Steve Ditko. As well as working for the giant New York City firms, like Marvel, Ditko contributed prolifically to the Connecticut minnow, Charlton. Dead Fire appeared in Scary Tales for July 1978.

Charlton's horror titles, euphemistically called "ghost" comics, had by the mid 1970s fallen on harder times. The company had abandoned its "All New" policy, and was reprinting old material alongside the new, probably to help the purchasing budget go further.

Scriptwriter Keith Chapman tells us, "Charlton had bought the script for this one two years before publication, but they took their time commissioning the art. I had only the vaguest idea of what was happening on the business side. The closest I came to the Charlton building was the logo that appeared on the envelopes in which they always promptly sent the cheques once a script was taken. (Maybe spell that c-h-e-c-k-s!) In the logo, the Santangelo family's US headquarters looked very clean of line, the setting kind of sylvan. Others have recorded that the reality was a little different – more forbidding, maybe even a little sinister. But too late to go see now. I'm told it was torn down years ago and replaced with a suburban strip mall."

The story of Dead Fire draws on Norse legends. Myth was a great source for stories about vengeful gods and the like, both in the pulp-magazine and later eras. Some writers, like H. P. Lovecraft, created entire mythologies of their own which other writers then adopted. Keith says, "Writer Edmond Hamilton, who also wrote comic-book scripts, used myth liberally – for example, in The Valley of the Gods (Weird Tales, May 1946) it's Mayan legend; in Twilight of the Gods (Weird Tales, July 1948) it's the great Norse myths. So for Dead Fire I was merely following a long established tradition for a story of my own, and had a lot of fun doing it."

The entire 9 page strip is embedded below - remember click on image for a larger version and find more Horror related Archive Sunday Comics by clicking this link HERE

Wednesday 26 October 2011

The Walking Dead - season 2, episode 2

Take last week’s cliffhanger and run with it, leaving us with an even bigger cliffhanger and that’s what this second episode does.

There’s an odd moment in this episode that worries me – it’ s as if the writers have lost track of Rick’s character and there is an entire subplot involving Rick that makes no sense. Rick’s son is lying shot in bed at a secluded farmhouse – he is being treated by a vet (well as Rick points out we can’t shop around for a surgeon) and Rick has to be on hand to provide regular blood transfusions if the boy if to live. What does Rick do? Well he wants to leave the boy and go off in search of his wife, knowing that the boy could die at any moment.  Rick has to be talked out of leaving several times and at one point even restrained by Shane. Why such a pragmatic man doesn’t send Shane or his newfound friends off to find his wife and the other survivors while he remains with his son, seems odd.

This episode is light on the walkers, at least until the excellent climax, and concentrates on character moments. Andrew Lincoln is excellent again, as are the rest of the superb cast. The writers seem to be using Daryl’s character for comic relief in this episode and whilst it works well here, one gets the feeling that too much of this could detract from the excellent character development we’ve seen thus far.

Overall another excellent episode with a nail-biting ending.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

XXX - The Orgy of the Dead

Low-budget auteur Ed Wood is best known for his work on such films as Plan 9 from Outer Space, Bride of the Monster, and Glen Or Glenda, but the director also spent a good portion of his career penning porno novels for seedy publishers. And next week, a collection of Wood's rare X-rated fiction will be on display in New York.

The info below comes from The Gallery Show

"The antiquarian mystique surrounding Edward Davis Wood Jr.'s career as an author of pornographic pulp fiction is legend. He wrote under a variety of pseudonyms, books were published and re-published under different titles, and occasionally under different author names. Multiple authors would share the same pseudonym, and the companies that published the titles weren't the kind of operations that kept any kind of records, nor paid royalties, nor really existed in the manner that most are to expect of book publishers.

The paperbacks are truly rare, even in an age of mass-searchable used book engines, and google ferocity. Ed Wood's sleaze fiction is also as strange, idiosyncratic and out of step with his times and mores as his infamous movies" 

Wood would write porn inter-spliced with lengthy philosophical, sociological and psychological discourse, he'd write first person narratives of life as a transvestite in the buttoned up America of the 1950's. He'd riff on psychosexual themes, and unleash his id, his ego and his superego in turn, sometimes in the same chapter. He'd write about sex and the human condition without veneer or filters, offering up the damaged and anguished voice of a desperately soul-searching drunk with a sense of self-worth that would stand in dichotomy to his self-pity.

Sherlock Holmes and the thoroughly modern affair

The second Guy Ritchie directed Sherlock Holmes movie doesn't hit cinema screens until December, but Warner Brothers have already confirmed that there will be a third movie from the same team. Warner Bros has set Drew Pearce to write Sherlock Holmes 3, continuing the Guy Ritchie-directed series that stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.

The first in the Guy Ritchie Holmes series was a huge success and seemed to please most film fans, but it received mixed reactions from traditionalist Holmes fans who see this new Holmes as too far from Doyle's original character. I enjoyed the movie myself, but I did feel that it more resembled a steam punk influenced Victorian action movie than a Holmes adventure. However the studio, at least, didn't bow down to political correctness and it was refreshing to see Holmes with his trademark pipe, unlike the BBC series, Sherlock which has the detective on nicotine patches. I applaud the makers of the movie in keeping the pipe, especially in these days of tobacco hysteria. At least they didn't make the mistake of the current producers of the James Bond movies. They've taken away Bond's dick and look what's happened to the world's favourite spy! James Bland, anyone! The current screen Bond is indistinguishable from any other screen hero, but at least Holmes in all his incarnations has managed to retain something of the unique character which made him such a success in the first place.

Because the BBC series is superbly entertaining and the pairing of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, works well, that the series is set in contemporary times doesn't really matter - after all several of the Basil Rathbone Holmes movies were contemporary. But at the end of the day the series isn't really Sherlock Holmes, just as Guy Ritchie's movies, entertaining in themselves, are not really Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes though continues to go on and on and as well as the new movie this December and  a second series of Sherlock early next year, the great detective is kept alive in print by new authors taking up the pen left by Doyle and continuing to add to the remarkable evergreen character. Holmes has been presented at one time or another as a boy, a woman and even a dog, fox and mouse. As well as everything else between - I once read a short story in which Sherlock Holmes was a motor car and his assistant was the loyal, Datsun.

So does it really matter how characters like Sherlock Holmes are presented? The variations on the characters and themes may not please the purists, but they might just encourage new readers to try the original canon - and that can only be a good thing.

"There is still more excitement and invention in the original tales than a thousand screen incarnations."

No matter how many actors, how many writers tamper with the creation, Holmes will never die and will always be out there, wearing that deerstalker and puffing on the pipe. The detective is a hard man to kill as even original creator, Conan Doyle discovered when he tried to hurl the detective over those waterfalls that I can't be bothered to Google the correct spelling of.

Hey spelling is so old Holmes...get wiv the program!

James Bland in Goldenbeard

Rumours surrounding the new James Bland movie are that Daniel Craig will wear a beard for most of the movie, taking the actor even further away from the true look of James Bond and that the budget has been scaled back considerably. The Sun newspaper recently reported that - "There's not so much flash hand-to-hand fighting, it's gone back to blowing stuff up – including London's Vauxhall Bridge."

Fleming described Bond as having a clean cut, classical looking face with a thick mop of dark hair, but the makers of the current Bond series don't really seem concerned with Fleming at all and the previous two James Bland movies Casino Royale and Quantum of Shit owe nothing to the original novels other than the name James Bond. 

Director Sam Mendes claimed in a recent interview that he is scaling down the action scenes to include more dramatic scenes and make the new Bond movie more Oscar friendly. This could be a disaster in terms of sales at the box office. Given that James Bland needs to make at last £300 million to break even.

Still who cares? The James Bond movie franchise is down the toilet and maybe it is time to call it a day - and that's the opinion of a lifelong fan of the Bond movies. But it comes to something when movies like Johnny English are more Bond than Bond himself.

Monday 24 October 2011

I hope I don't catch crabs!

Yesterday I spent an enjoyable afternoon at the Black Hills home of legendary horror author, Guy N. Smith – I was interviewing Guy for the first episode of Scary Motherfucker Radio which will go live this Halloween. It was a great thrill meeting Guy because I’d spent a great deal of my teenage years reading his novels – I mean what self-respecting teenager could resist a novel about giant killer crabs?

We covered a lot of ground in the interview – the paperback years, NEL Publishers, the rise and fall and rise of the horror genre and pretty much everything and the kitchen sink. I’m pleased with the way the interview sounds (I’ve just spent several hours editing it for consumption) and know it’ll make a great main feature for episode one of Scary Motherfucker radio.

So be here or be square and prepare for Scary Motherfucker Radio – available here and at iTunes.

It's all getting Weird

I've not been this excited by a sale in some time - I had an email this afternoon from Marvin Kaye, editor of iconic magazine, Weird Tales and he's bought a short story of mine, Back then our monsters were real, which I've written under my Vincent Stark byline.

How cool is that!

Weird Tales is an iconic magazine which has published everyone from H P Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard to Robert Bloch. Even Tennessee Williams made his first sale to the magazine. Later this year I launch my Vincent Stark name with the first in a horror trilogy, The Dead Walked and what better AD for the new guy than - VINCENT STARK AS PUBLISHED IN WEIRD TALES???

I'm not sure when my story will appear but the editor has given me permission to announce the sale prior to singing the contract. I've literally been jumping up and down since hearing that the story has been accepted.

The WIKI tells us - Weird Tales is an American fantasy and horror fiction pulp magazine first published in March 1923. It ceased its original run in September 1954, after 279 issues, but has since been revived. The magazine was set up in Chicago by J. C. Henneberger, an ex-journalist with a taste for the macabre. Edwin Baird was the first editor of the monthly, assisted by Farnsworth Wright The "sub-genre" pioneered by Weird Tales writers has come to be called weird fiction.

Keep reading for news of both my Weird Tales debut and the first in The Dead Walked trilogy.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 17 Oct - 23 Oct 2011 Project: THE TAINTED ARCHIVE URL: Summary Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg Pageloads 647 591 697 593 551 407 463 3,949 564 Unique Visits 464 450 495 436 426 301 361 2,933 419 First Time Visits 441 424 470 407 391 285 338 2,756 394 Returning Visits 23 26 25 29 35 16 23 177 25

Sunday 23 October 2011

Let's hear it for the Shat!!!


You can't keep a good hero down and bouncing back for his second Archive appearance is Rubberman - written by Archive friend and popular western writer Keith Chapman AKA Chap O'Keefe.

Comes the time when every crime-series hero finds himself arrested by the flatfoots! You know he'll break free, rout the real baddies, prove his innocence, and win back his friends among the boys in blue. But you read it all the same.

Jim Hollis, aka Rubberman (actually just one of the rubber men in Comic-dom), was a star of serial stories run in weekly instalments in Smash!, a groundbreaking UK comic of the late 1960s.  He was created for Odhams Press by writer Ken Mennell and (according to British sources) artist Alfredo Marculeta.

Mennell was a former Fleetway House script editor. Marculeta was a Spanish artist. Keith Chapman (aka Chap O'Keefe),  who wrote the script for the story here, believes Marculeta lived in France and suspects he's the artist named elsewhere as Edmundo Marculeta (1923-1989). His signature is at the foot of the first page of today's complete, four-page comic adventure which was published  in Smash! Annual 1968.

At the "Now Read This" website, Win Wiacek, reviewing the 1969 edition of the Smash! annual, says: "Christmas simply wasn’t right without a heaping helping of these garish, wonder-stuffed compendiums that offered a huge variety of stories and scenarios. Today’s celebrity, TV and media tie-in packages simply can’t compete...."

For another complete Rubberman story from Smash! annual, click HERE 

You will find the strip below - remember click on images to open a larger version in your browser

Saturday 22 October 2011

Wake up to Scary Motherfucker radio

The podcast will soon be live

Episode 1 will include an interview with horror author, Guy N. Smith, news on the zombie event of the year Vincent’s Stark’s The Dead Walked, some classic old time radio horror and enough chills and thrills to freeze the blood.

News here soon.

Website HERE

Halloween Movies - The Mist

There are two kinds of movies based on the works of the great Stephen King. There are those that simply suck and then there are those that are brilliant and do full justice to the author’s words – The Mist is one such excellent King movie. The movie of course was directed by Frank Darabont and it’s clear to see that he is a director who likes his actors – several of the actors appearing in this movie would go onto play main roles in the TV series, The Walking Dead.

This Mist at it’s most basic is a homage to all those 1950′s/60′s sci-fi movies but filtered through Stephen King’s fertile imagination.

What King did with his original story was to re-imagine those monster on the loose stories and give them a modern twist. What Frank Darabont has done with King’s story is film it with intelligence and a great sense of suspense, resulting in a fine horror movie. The director spends more time on creating believable characters than showing the monsters which only adds effect when the beasties are on screen, and there are such a lot of creepy-crawlie beasties on offer here. The ending, far bleaker than King’s original, is truly shocking. The first time you see this ending it leaves you stunned, which is not something you can’t honestly say about a lot of movies.

This is what horror movies should be like, and for genre that currently seems obsessed with torture porn, a movie like this is all the more refreshing. Anyone can hack off a leg or tear open a stomach, but only the best can bring truly imaginative works such as this to the page or screen.

One of the very best films based on the works of Stephen King.

Friday 21 October 2011

Halloween Movies - Creepshow

The three men had come together to discuss the possibility of making a movie version of The Stand. Stephen King, George Romero and producer Rik Rubinstein spent several weeks during the summer of 1981 talking about the pros and cons of adapting what was, up until that time, King’s most ambitious novel. George Romero had long been eager to work with King and had narrowly missed out on directing Salem’s Lot before the studio decided to pull the plug on plans for a big screen movie and go with a television mini series instead.
The three men realised that making a movie of The Stand would prove far too expensive and after looking at several other projects, it was decided to make an all original horror story based on the comic books that had influenced the young Stephen King – the project would end up being called Creepshow.

‘King was like a big kid,’ Rik Rubinstein commented during a documentary shot to accompany the special edition DVD of the movie. The author threw himself into the production and not only starred in one of the segments, as the moronic Jordy Verrill but also roped in his son Joe King (these days known as writer, Joe Hill) to play the young boy reading the Creepshow comic in the movie’s prologue.

The movie was made up of five stories plus the prologue and epilogue – two of the stories, The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill and The Crate were based on King stories, while the remaining three stories were written for the movie. All of the tales had something of the flavor of the old horror comics about them which was intentional although some critics seemed to misunderstand this point and found many of the performances over the top. King’s performance ( mouth agape and bulging eyes) in the Jordy Verrill story is perfect, even if the author does these days seem embarrassed by his acting. Sure it’s comic book and OTT but then the film’s meant to be that way – a celluloid version of a comic book and on that level it succeeds fully.

Creepshow is both a horror movie and an affectionate almost loving tribute to the tacky horror comics of the 50′s and 60′s. It’s not meant to be taken seriously but to be fun and it sure enough is.
The currently available two disc special edition DVD is superb. A rich clean transfer backed up by a wealth of special features, including a fascinating making of documentary as well as a commentary by George Romero himself.

Thursday 20 October 2011

The great Amazon rip off

Amazon have in recent months taken some criticism over the low quality of many of the titles published under its Kindle Direct Publishing platform - Online ebook behemoth Amazon has been fraught the last three months with a surge in book spam and eBook piracy. Many people are buying spam toolkits such as Autopilot Kindle Cash which can write and submit books at the click of a few buttons.

This issue was brought to my attention my Archive friend and editor of Black Horse Extra, Keith Chapman who received an article intended for The Black Horse Extra from fellow western writer, Greg Mitchell who tells of his own experience with eBooks. It was decided to run this piece here to highlight the problem Amazon are facing and need to address before they alienate customers.

And so over to Greg (article in italics followed by comment from the Archive.)

Recently I was given a Kindle and found the ebook a very convenient way to acquire a wide selection of books without leaving home. But lately I have twice fallen into traps by being a bit too trusting.  The comments voiced in the  September-November Black Horse Extra, "The Rights and Wrongs of Ebooks" were right on the mark when discussing quality and the lack of control.

I bought two ebooks recently. One covered the subject matter for about twenty pages and then went into a totally unrelated subject that comprised  roughly 90% of the book. The book was in total less than 15 minutes' reading time and only about 10% dealt with the subject in which I was interested. I could have learned more with a quick read of Wikipedia.  As the book was not expensive, I shrugged the matter off as the work of a self-indulgent nutter.

A couple of days ago I bought another book and was caught again. The authors were different, and so was the subject matter, but the presentation was the same. There were a few modern pages on the subject, which was the thoroughbred horse, but the bulk of the book was a 19th century book on general horse care that was outdated and irrelevant. The name of the author was not listed.

No doubt the copyright on the real book had long expired and the authors used it to pad out their ebook. In what appears to be a cynical effort to make money quickly, the same people have brought out similar books on various breeds of horses. If their information is so limited on what is probably the best-known breed of horse, the other books are not going to tell us much about some of the more obscure breeds. They are going to be as superficial and padded out as in the one I bought.

To return to the first book: my first thought was that some untalented amateur was trying their hand at writing. But when digging deeper I found that the author literally had dozens of books on Kindle. I have not read any more books by that person but the sheer number of them suggests the writer is churning out the maximum number of books with minimal effort.

So we have a pattern emerging, different subjects and different authors using what seems to be the same trick. And these ebooks are being churned out in series. In both cases, the writers appear to be working to some sort of formula at a great rate on material that would disappoint many purchasers. Quantity seems to be the name of the game. Forget quality.

If a synopsis was obligatory, readers might have some idea of what they are buying, but under the current system you take pot-luck.

I came away with the distinct feeling that I had been ripped off, because although the books touched lightly on the subject advertised, they promptly strayed elsewhere. I have refrained from naming authors, for fear of lawsuits. These writers are staying within the letter of the law, even if they allow intending purchasers to draw the wrong conclusions about the contents of their ebooks.

It is said that we have to be pretty dumb to be caught twice by the same trick so I cannot be too proud of my gullibility, but I hit back the only way that I could.  To their credit, Amazon will publish unfavourable reviews, so I wrote a couple of very nasty reviews which Amazon printed. I would urge others who have been disappointed by such books to write reviews that will cause future buyers to stop and think.

Greg, gentleman that he is, refused to name the eBooks in question but a little Amazon search of our own yielded fruit and we have pictured one of the offending titles above. Of course it would speak volumes if author, James Sinclair could comment to defend his title or even take part in an Archive interview. It is  of paramount importance that Amazon start a system of quality control regarding their Kindle Publishing Scheme - after all respectable authors will, through no fault of their own, find themselves tarnished with the same brush as the charlatans.

The Archive is fully behind Greg's idea and urges readers to leave bad reviews on Amazon if they feel they have been ripped off or sold a substandard product through the Kindle store.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Superheroes join the eBook war

any excuse to post a pic of the hot bird
Amazon have signed a deal with D C Comics - Amazon now hold the exclusive digital rights to a hundred popular graphic novels, including Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Sandman, and Watchmen.

That arrangement apparently did not sit too well with rival bookseller Barnes & Noble, which has an e-book reader it would like to see flourish. In response to DC's deal, Barnes & Noble removed the physical copies of the titles from its store shelves, saying that it would not sell books it did not also have digital rights to. Books-a-Million, another large bookseller, took the same action for the same reason.

Barnes & Noble Inc. said that its stores will not stock hard copies of 100 DC books that the Warner Bros.-owned unit is making available exclusively on’s Kindle platform — a direct competitor of Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader. Beginning with the launch of the Kindle Fire tablet Nov. 15, Amazon will have exclusive digital distribution rights for four months to books that include "Watchmen" and graphic novels featuring Batman and Superman. The deal gives DC’s books, which are being made available digitally for the first time, the advantage of being part of Amazon’s huge marketing push for the Kindle Fire.

Comic book fans paint all the players in this tale as villains: They accuse Amazon of turning its back on the graphic novel community, label DC Comics as greedy, and characterize Barnes & Noble as similarly uncaring and childish. Superman, Batman and the hot chick were unavailable for comment.

The law is back

Comebacks seem to be in vogue - Devine's Law by Ian Parnham is one of my all time top ten favorite Black Horse Westerns. It was originally published in 2004 and Devine screamed for a sequel but one just didn't seem to turn up. Indeed I wondered if we'd ever see the character again in  my original review of the novel HERE

Well Devine's on his way back and author, Ian  Parnham has the details HERE

The Edge is back

He's back again!

Just goes to prove you can't keep a good man down!

Who am I talking about?

Why Edge of course - that no nonsense half breed who carried a series of westerns that became my all time  favorite western series. You may remember I, together with the original author, made attempts to bring the Edge series back into print as eBooks and the first volume,Edge The Loner was published by Solstice Westerns. I was over the moon and am still mighty proud of my association with the Edge books. However sales weren't great and I became tied up with other projects, not to mention several months filming in Africa, the sale of the film rights for my own first novel, and a little project with that madman Vincent Stark.

Eventually it was decided to pull the plug. There was a film/TV project for the Edge character bubbling away in the background and when the gentleman responsible for the film pitch started looking at eBooks it was felt that given the low sales my Edge eBook project should be pulled to avoid stepping on the toes of any tentative multi media possibilities for the character. I still think things would have changed with several more volumes on the eMarket, but in all fairness I couldn't find the time that the project required. And so reluctantly, feeling that I was turning my back on the half breed, the Edge eSeries was pulled.

Now though thanks to western writer and friend of the Archive, Cody Wells, Edge is once again riding towards digital print...find all the exciting details HERE

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Amazon Black Horse Bestseller list

Charts, as always, from Black Horse Express

1. The Black Horse Westerns: Collection No. 1 by Abe Dancer, Dean Edwards, Tyler Hatch and Scott Connor (Kindle Edition - 1 Jan 2011)
Buy: £6.86

2. Gun Law by Lee Walker (Hardcover - 31 Dec 2009)
From £1.41

3. Battle at Gun Barrel Canyon by Wolf Lundgren (Hardcover - 31 Aug 2011)
From £11.33

4. Comanchero Trail by Jack Dakota (Hardcover - 30 Sep 2011)
From £12.28

5. Guns of Wrath by Colin Bainbridge (Hardcover - 30 Nov 2011)
Buy new: £13.25

6. The Drummond Band by William Durey (Hardcover - 29 Jul 2011)
From £8.98

7. In the High Bitter Roots by William Durey (Hardcover - 30 Nov 2011)
Buy new: £13.25

8. Kato's Army by D.M. Harrison (Hardcover - 31 Aug 2011)
From £11.37

9. Range War Hell by Ryan Bodie (Hardcover - 31 Aug 2011)
From £11.93

10. Hell Stage to Lone Pine by Jack Dakota (Hardcover - 31 Jan 2012)
Buy new: £13.25

The Walking Dead - season two, episode one

Contains Spoilers - It is difficult to think of another show in recent years which has been so eagerly awaited. Ever since the original six episode first season, viewers have been left eagerly waiting for t his full length season. The behind the scenes conflict that went on between seasons that saw the show's guiding hand, Frank Darabont sacked from the production didn't bode well. Would this groundbreaking series lose its edge? Well after this first episode it is too early to tell. Though Darabont's influence is all over this first episode - he did shoot most of this one before he was ejected from the show over an argument over the  budget.

When we left off last time our ragged band of survivors were back out on the road after escaping the inferno that was the center for disease control, and after a quick recap, we take up the story only moments after the first season ended. The set piece is an incredibly cinematic sequence set on a gridlocked highway. At first the place seems deserted and the survivors stop to mend a busted radiator, but then the walkers show up - at first one or two and then more and more and... Soon Sophia becomes separated from her mother and runs off into the woods, two walkers on her tail. Rik's off to save her but after managing to lead the walkers away from the little girl he returns to find she has vanished without a trace.

The show may have had its budget cut but that isn't apparent here and there are many gore filled gross out scenes in this sequence - for instance a zombie autopsy reveals that zombies eat woodchucks.
From there on in the story takes a relentless pace and end with another cliffhanger in which we may, or may not have, lost another major character or two.

An excellent start to the new season, but let's hope the quality of storytelling and visuals is kept up over the remaining episodes.

Monday 17 October 2011

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 10 Oct - 16 Oct 2011


 Popular Pages (Top 15)

Hits Page

Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Unique Visits4134345544624764154473,201457
First Time Visits3924225314394503864213,041434
Returning Visits2112232326292616023

Saturday 15 October 2011

Archive's Sunday Comics - and now the screaming starts

In 1984 a new comic was launched by IPC home of the mega successful 2000AD. In fact Scream was modeled on 2000AD, but instead of being SF based it would concentrate on the horror genre. There were only 15 issues  published before the title was canceled due to a combination of controversy over its horror content, and production strikes at IPC. The cancellation was at such short notice that the final issue's strips contained previews for the next installment.  

Scream! was absorbed by Eagle.

It's a pity the comic was so short lived and in memory of this great title we present a strip from the title's anthology series of stand alone stories collected together under the title, Tales from the Grave. Remember you can click on any image for a larger version and the entire 15 issue run can be read online HERE

THE WALKING DEAD: SEASON TWO - Let's munch those brains

It returns to US screens this Sunday night (UK viewers will have to wait an whole week) and anticipation is running high for this groundbreaking TV series, but will it continue the quality set during the first season?
The first season proved that movie type visuals could be shown on the small screen and the writers made good use of the extended time to tell their story, however there has been much trouble with the production during its time off screen. The off-season turmoil and ensuing shake-ups meant that  first the writers and then showrunner Frank Darabont himself, were ejected from the show.

This second season is in different creative hands, and historically when this type of thing happens the result is a severe drop in  quality.

Will The Walking Dead suffer the same fate?

Ashes to Ashes: James Herbert's new novel now in limbo

What’s happening with horror author, James Herbert’s long awaited new novel, Ash? First it was listed for 2010, then 2011 and finally a publication date of Sept 2012 was set.The novel was said to continue the story of David Ash, one of Herbert’s best loved characters who has appeared in two previous novels, and for some time now fans have been eagerly talking about the new novel on Internet forums and at conventions.
However publisher, Macmillan are now listing the book as – publication abandoned, leading to speculation on the author’s health.  Amazon are still listing the book for pre-order but the book’s cover has been pulled.

This was the press release issued by Macmillian last year – Macmillan is proud to announce a major publishing event. James Herbert is Britain’s bestselling horror writer – a position he has held ever since publication of his first novel, “The Rats”, in 1975, which now widely accepted as a classic of popular fiction. He is one of the world’s top two writers of horror or chiller fiction, along with Stephen King. He is undoubtedly one of our greatest popular novelists. In March 2011, Pan Macmillan will be publishing a new novel, entitled “Ash”, which features one of Herbert’s best-loved characters, David Ash, the sceptical paranormal detective, first encountered in “The Ghosts of Sleath” and “Haunted” both Number 1 bestsellers. Ash is investigating a mysterious and secluded stately home, deep in the countryside. There have been reports from locals about strange goings on, they think it might be haunted …What Ash eventually discovers is truly shocking. Prepare to be chilled to the marrow…

The writer who still enjoys the position of the UK’s bestselling horror author, has not released a book since 2006 which seems strange given that he still has a large and loyal fan base. And given the on/off status of the new novel there are many rumours spreading  through the fan base – some are saying the author has given up writing, whilst others speculate that he may be suffering from ill health. There have also been unconfirmed reports that Herbert has had a bust up with Macmillan over the electronic rights to both the new book and his backlist.

Whatever the reasons for the continued delay of the new novel it is strange that no official announcement as been made, given that Herbert is such a high profile name within the horror genre.

Europe leads the way towards a standard eBook format

The European Commission has taken aim at the ebook industry, calling for open standards and reduced taxes on electronic publications.

Neelie Kroes, vice-president responsible for the EU's Digital Agenda, told the Federation of European Publishers in Frankfurt that consumers should be able to read books bought for one ebook reader on another device if they chose.

“As the e-publishing sector develops, we may also have to consider how to deliver interoperability,” Kroes said. “That might mean, for example, that people can buy content for any device from any supplier, transfer that content between their own devices, and keep possession of it even beyond the device's lifespan.
“That could deliver openness, freedom and choice for the consumer - with benefits too for smaller market players like independent bookshops. Open standards already exist in this field, but take-up is still low.”

Another wider issue that's been seen as holding back the ebook market is the price of titles, and although this depends partly on publishers the price is elevated further by governments applying VAT on electronic titles, while hard copies remain VAT free.

Kroes called on governments, such as the UK that imposes 20% tax on ebooks, to change the rules to bring them into line with paperbacks, which are exempt.

“We should ensure that public policy, for example tax treatment, does not distort the developing market, does not 'play favourites' between different technological solutions,” she said. “We need to work to converge the tax treatment of digital content.

“I just cannot explain why ebooks and printed books are taxed differently,” she said. “For the moment, in the majority of member state responses to the Commission's Green Paper on VAT, we have detected a really disappointing level of conservatism on this point.”

Wales for the cup

Today Wales take on France in the semi finals of the Rugby World Cup - too excited to write anything else.

Friday 14 October 2011

W H Smiths Declare War on Amazon

They used to be one of the UK's most powerful High Street booksellers, but the chain has fallen behind in recent years. However they have made a deal with KOBO and are hoping to take the fight directly to Amazon -  WHSmith is to sell a range of  eReaders as it battles to counter the shift away from real books. The chain has signed a deal to stock two eReaders made by Canadian tech firm Kobo, with a starting price of £89. 

The deal will give users access to the largest eBook catalogue in the UK, with more than 2.2million titles and one million free books.The growth of Kindle and iPad poses a huge threat to traditional book sales, which at WHSmith are down by around 4 per cent on last year.

The eBook launch comes as part of a revamp at the chain and follows a strategy of cutting out products with low margins, such as CDs and DVDs, to focus on core areas of news, magazines, books and stationery, a move that impacted sales but boosted profits.Kobo already has five million customers worldwide and is the biggest eBook company in both Canada and Australia.

Profits from stores at airports and stations rose by eight per cent to a record £57million, though like-for-like sales fell as passenger numbers were hit by the tough economic climate.In the United States, retailers such as Barnes and Nobles already sell successful eBook readers. British book chain Waterstone's recently announced it was to launch its own eBook reader


Amazon's Kindle


6in screen
1,400 books





Number of titles
WH Smith's Kobo
£89 for basic model,
£110 for touchscreen
6in screen
2,000 books, expandable with memory card
2.2 million

Thursday 13 October 2011

Bag of Bones - promo

A promo trailer for Stephen King’s Bag of Bones TV mini-series is now available to view online Here
Several years after his wife’s death, novelist Mike Noonan (Pierce Brosnan) still suffers writer’s block. A dream inspires him to return to the couple’s summer retreat in western Maine, a lakeside house called Sara Laughs. Shortly after arriving, Noonan is caught in the middle of a custody battle involving the daughter of an attractive young widow and the child’s enormously wealthy grandfather.
Starring Pierce Brosnan, who really was a better Bond than Daniel Craig, the production looks suitably lush and big budget.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Library eBook rentals up 200%

Compared to last year, eBook checkouts at libraries have increased 200 percent in 2011. According to third quarter 2011 research from digital book distributor OverDrive, eBook checkouts from libraries are expected to be more than 16 million by the end of the year.

eBookNewser has more: “The company has also reported that almost 2 million new users signed up for the ability to check out books from libraries through the OverDrive network this year, which is about double last year. Interestingly mobile devices are accounting for 21% of all checkouts from the network, as more readers are checking out library books using their phones.”

The Funny business

In awe I watched the waxing moon ride across the zenith of the heavens like an ambered chariot towards the ebony void of infinite space wherein the tethered belts of Jupiter and Mars hung forever festooned in their orbital majesty. And as I looked at all this I thought - I must put a roof on this lavatory.   Les Dawson

Would be comedy writers are being sought by the BBC, so if you think you can come up with lines like the classic above then visit the BBC's Writer's Room for submission guidelines.

I needed a password eight characters long and so I used Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Nick Helm

Weird Tales under new ownership

Vintage issue of Lesbian Times
The famous US horror magazine Weird Tales, founded in 1923 and one of the most sought-after pulps of the Golden Age, has a new owner. He's Marvin Kaye who has bought the title from John Betancourt of Wildside Press.

Kaye is the author of 16 novels and six nonfiction books, in addition to plays and play adaptations. He has edited at least 30 anthologies, and won the World Fantasy Award for best anthology in 2006 for The Fair Folk. For Wildside, he has edited the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.

He is also an actor and in 1975 co-founded The Open Book, a reader's theatre in New York City, where he lives. The Open Book performed the 13th annual production of The Last Christmas Of Ebenezer Scrooge last December. Kaye adapted his own book for the play

SFScope ( says: "Weird Tales launched in March 1923, and launched the careers of writers including H.P. Lovecraft, C.M. Eddy, Jr., Clark Ashton Smith, and Seabury Quinn. It lasted 279 issues, ceasing publication in September 1954. Sam Moskowitz and Leo Margulies revived the magazine briefly in the 1970s, and then Lin Carter took the name for a series of paperback anthologies in the 1980s. In 1988, George H. Scithers, John Betancourt, and Darrell Schweitzer revived the magazine with issue #290. Warren Lapine's DNA Publications bought the magazine in 2000, and then sold it to Betancourt's Wildside in 2005."

One of the authors who will be writing for Marvin Kaye's Weird Tales is Archive friend and supporter Keith Chapman (aka Chap O'Keefe). He tells us, "I heard back today from Mr Kaye. He writes, 'I just read Dark Art in Vyones and think it is an excellent story. I definitely want to use it for Weird Tales, though I'm not sure yet which issue it would appear in. Do send us new material when possible.''

Keith is up to his eyes in preparing the next online Black Horse Extra and waiting for details from Robert Hale Ltd of the ten Black Horse Western ebooks they've said they'll be releasing in December. But he has every intention of accepting Marvin Kaye's invitation.

Archive readers who have enjoyed the horror/fantasy stories from Keith we've run in our Sunday Comics section know that more of the like in text form has to be good news!

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Living in the Material World - movie review

It's not been shown on British TV yet, but it was released on DVD yesterday and I, fervent Beatle fan, snapped it up on day one. Now I'm one of those people who has over the years watched all the films, read all the books, listened to all the bootlegs and it's almost impossible to find anything on the Beatles that is new to me and whilst I've seen much of the footage here on past documentaries, both official and unofficial, there was much that seemed new -  Most Beatle related documentaries tend to focus on Paul or John, but because this work was centered on George, the quiet one, sometime underrated genius, I found that even the overly familiar story of his time in the Beatles had a certain freshness about it.

Director, Martin Scorsese provides an highly detailed look at the life of a true legend, and is every bit as good as No Way Home which was the director's look at that other legend, and close friend of Harrison, Bob Dylan. It's just as detailed and it presents its story warts and all - the love triangle behind Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Pattie Boyd is spoken about by both Clapton and Boyd i and I did learn something new from this section. Clapton for instance still seems uncomfortably talking about this period in his life, whilst Boyd is still overawed that she inspired the song, Layla. Drugs, excess and midnight races across London are all covered in the first part of this epic documentary.

It is the second half - the solo years - that provides the most interest and where much of the rare and new footage turns up.

"I think we shared a lot of tastes - cars, guitar and ...women, obviously."  Eric Clapton

"In a lifetime you can be anything." George Harrison

The final years of George's life were the most private and it is when dealing with this period that things become utterly fascinating. And it's impossible not to be moved by the stories of Harrison's dignified death.


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