Latest for 2014

February 15th, 2014 by James 1 comment »

I haven’t updated my personal site for AGES, so here’s a list of things that have happened:

A Brief History of Time Travel
In late 2012, my occasional writing partner Seb Patrick and I crowdfunded our idea for an audio sitcom called A Brief History of Time Travel on Kickstarter. The campaign reached its goal, and so we spent most of 2013 writing, recording and editing six episodes as well as various extras including a tie-in book. It featured a special celebrity guest (Robert Llewellyn) and was finally completed in September 2013.

You can currently buy it from the official A Brief History of Time Travel website. We’re using a Pay What You Like model, although if you pay £5.99 you can get the extras too, which I’m very fond of. I’d also encourage you to look at the Facebook page if you’re into that.

Comic Book Resources
In November my first child was born, so I took that as a good point to wind up my position as a weekly reviewer for Comic Book Resources. I’d been there over five years and it was one of my first writing jobs, but after five years I was interested in doing other things with my time, not least of which looking after a new baby. In case you’re interested, I still write about comics over at Alternate Cover (which may be relaunching later in the year, depending on how things go).

Den of Geek
My stuff can still be found at Den of Geek, where I cover comic-related movies and write reviews of genre TV. Recent items include this interview with Iron Man 3 writer, Drew Pearce and a “25 Underappreciated Comic Book Movies” feature.

Script Reading
Since I now have practical comedy-directing and script-writing experience, I’ve decided (perhaps optimistically) to make myself available for script services. There’s no formal process yet but if you’re interested in having your script read, edited or even rewritten, email me using and we’ll work out a fair rate based on how long it’ll take. But I can guarantee a quick turnaround, at least. (If you know me and/or know someone who this might be relevant to, please feel free to pass on my details to them.)

That’s all for now. I’ll try and be a bit more timely in future.

12 for ’12

December 22nd, 2012 by James 197 comments »

It’s rare I manage to write actual blog posts these days, but I compiled this little list in my head and decided it had to go somewhere. So here it is. A track for each month of the year, and some tedious musings to go along with them just for a bit of context. These aren’t necessarily my favourite tracks in any given month (although in some cases, they are) but one way or another, they’re what’ll remind me of this year.

January: Metronomy – The Bay

I saw the video for this at a BUG show (that’s a recurring theme in this list) and spent weeks thereafter listening to it on a loop. Although it was actually an acoustic version from their Daytrotter session that I enjoyed most, maybe just because it’s interesting to hear the song with the production and electronics stripped out.

February: Vitamin String Quartet – Wake Up (Arcade Fire cover)

» Read more: 12 for ’12

What I’m Doing Now-ish

December 7th, 2011 by James 1 comment »

It’s clear to me now that the brief flirtation I had with keeping my site updated is long over, so I’ve decided to just put a post here that tells you what I’m doing and how you can get in touch. That seems like a pretty sane response, right? Right.

At the moment, I…

  • Write features and reviews for Micro Mart, including the weekly “Ask James” security column.
  • Provide reviews and features for Comic Heroes Magazine, Future Publishing’s bimonthly publication dedicated to the world of comics.
  • Am a staff reviewer at, writing weekly reviews of comic “singles”.
  • Contribute regularly to Den of Geek, writing features, reviews and interviews around Films, TV, Comedy and anything else I can get my hands on.
  • Make up one half of Alternate Cover, an independant comics blog.
  • Also make up one half of the Graphic Novel Book Club, a monthly podcast which examines graphic novels for their literary depth and craft. Almost as if they were real books, like. (iTunes link here)

As ever, you can find me on Twitter, and that’s the best way to get in touch. I keep my email address off the web as best I can (business-savvy, that’s me) but if you’re desperate, email james at this domain and it’ll reach me.


10 Essential X-Men Stories (SFX)
Celebrating the films of Matthew Vaughn (Den of Geek)
GNBC Episode 4: The Walking Dead (Podcast – right click to download)


February 6th, 2011 by James No comments »

It will come as no surprise to those familiar with my oeuvre (yes, oeuvre. How pretentious!) that I’ve spent the last few weeks writing about two things: Superheroes and technology. In the last month, I’ve written a round-up of products announced at CES 2011, a think piece on what the end of net neutrality might mean for the average Internet user, a set of 43 hints and tips for improving Windows 7, and an Idiot’s Guide to Jailbreaking. Of course, all of those articles are in Micro Mart, so you’ll have to go and buy the magazine if you want to read them. Trust me, they were all great.

I have, however, written a lot of stuff you can read online. And that’s what’s mainly about superheroes. Tangentally, if not directly.

First, towards the end of December I wrote two things about Edgar Wright. One a brief round-up of his back catalogue (and look ahead to his future work), the other a look at some of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them geek references in Scott Pilgrim.

Next, I did two pieces about how superheroes and video games relate to one another. The first an article on the process of adaptating superheroes to video games, the second a timeline of video-game superheroes and their evolution from derivative Superman rip-offs to moderm deconstructed superheroes.

And recently, I posted a couple of “comic geek’s reaction” articles discussion both Christopher Nolan’s choice of villain in The Dark Knight Rises, and the casting of Henry Cavill as the new Superman.

Finally, if you’re a fan of TV reviews turned around about 15 seconds after I’ve finished watched an episode, you can find my coverage of NBC’s recent Superhero Drama, The Cape. Reviews here of Episode 1 and 2, Episode 3, Episode 4 and Episode 5. Digest version: so bad it’s good, except when it’s so bad you wish the walls would spontaneously cave in around you so that you could stop watching. It’s apparently ending with Episode 10, so I’ll post the next 5 here too at some point, assuming my mental decline isn’t too rapid.

10 for ’10

January 2nd, 2011 by James 3 comments »

You know, I don’t write about music much, even though I write reams about comics, tv, films and webcams given half a chance. It’s probably because I don’t read much music journalism these days, and even when I did, I didn’t. Still, since I largely rely on the recommendations of others to guide me to music I like, here are some of my recommendations. The links are almost all to YouTube – I was going to make a Spotify list, but half of my choices aren’t even on there, so that’s a waste of time.

Also, the fact that Kieron Gillen’s latest indispensible (and, sometimes, indefensible) top 40 tracks of the year went up today is largely a coincidence – I wrote most of this before Christmas, but his going up today made me realise I should finish my own similar offering before 2011 gets too far in. Although, I was kind of pleased to share a couple of choices with him, since his musical taste is far wider and more developed than mine can ever hope to be, and I haven’t even heard of 90% of the bands on his, let alone listened to the actual songs. Still, without further disclaimer, here are my favourite 10 tracks from 2010:

1. Empire Ants – Gorillaz

I loved the last Gorillaz album from the get-go, but Plastic Beach burned more slowly. It’s a cut & paste affair, and the working title of “Carousel” accurately describes the way the album defies attempts to really understand it all in one go. It takes a few spins before you can really build a picture of what’s going on. The moment I knew I was going to like the album came in this track, seventh on the album, about halfway through the song. It’s one that, for me, pulls together all the themes of Plastic Beach, covering environmentalism, urban decay and isolation. Stick some headphones on, turn the volume up and give it a listen. You’ll know the good bit when you get to it.

MORE: Broken, Rhinestone Eyes (Gorillaz, Plastic Beach) / Revolving Doors (Gorillaz, The Fall)

2. Rainbow in the Dark (Anamanaguchi Remix) – Anamanaguchi / Das Racist (My Skateboard Will Go On Single)

Having grown up with my head nailed to a Commodore 64, I love chiptunes without any pretense. Good chiptunes are hard to find, but Anamanaguchi produce some of the best. Das Racist, meanwhile, embody my love of intelligent, alternative rap music. Admittedly, it does have its tongue so deep in its cheek that it’s a wonder they can speak at all, let alone rap, but their reference-laden, stream-of-consciousness style makes for a rewarding listen, particularly if you’re as lyrics-obsessed as I am. Full of swerves and fake-outs, this track works through such topics as Saved by the Bell, french cheese, Harold and Kumar and Donkey Kong Country, and directly references several other tracks on their album. Far from being a simple remix, Anamanaguchi’s new beat actually adds to the track’s context, being referential in itself. Brilliant.

MORE: Airbrushed (Anamanaguchi, Single) / All Tan Everything (Das Racist, Sit Down Man)

3. Celestica – Crystal Castles

Like many of my favourite records, Crystal Castles’ second album didn’t really click with me until I saw it live, but when it did – wow. Best gig I went to this year, easily. The one thing that hooked me straight away was Celestica, which was the first single and thus a bit more tuneful than its album-mates. It’s also unusually ethereal and sparse, and the lyrics have an almost expressionist, poetic simplicity to them. That’s what keeps it interesting for me, inviting interpretation with every listen. The whole album is good, but it’s this one I’m most likely to pick out for a solo listen.

MORE: Baptism / Empathy (Crystal Castles 2010) Not In Love [w/Robert Smith]  (Single)

4. 70 Million – Hold Your Horses!

Uhoh, look out! French rock music! I was introduced to this track through Adam Buxton’s music video showcase, BUG. The promo is based on a clever idea, and is brilliantly executed. In fact, it’s such a good idea I’m a little surprised not to have encountered it before (and it makes me wish someone would do a version using comicbook panels). Look out for my personal favourites, Caravaggio’s Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, and Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People. Does it bear much relation to the song? Not really, but luckily I like that too. It might be just because the lyrics are English written by French speakers, but every time I listen, I chip away at an interpretation. It’s like a puzzle I want to solve.

5. Ready to Start – Arcade Fire (The Suburbs)

The Arcade Fire are really good at songs containing barely-concealed subtext (See: Antichrist Television Blues off Neon Bible – working title, er, “Joe Simpson“) and I like getting the additional context that sort of thing brings. Want to hear the Arcade Fire deliver a message to their fans while they work out how to deal with their exploding popularity? Of course you do. The interesting thing about this song (and The Suburbs in general) is that it’s about twice as long as it wants to be – and yet it works, because that’s sort of the point. The whole album is about living in an oppressive cultural landscape, so of course it has to make you suffer a little bit when you listen to it.

MORE: We Used to Wait / Empty Room (The Suburbs)

6. Black Sheep – Metric (Scott Pilgrim OST)

If I was doing a top 10 films list for this year, Scott Pilgrim would probably place five times. Metric’s contribution was the high point of the film’s already strong soundtrack. I really want them play it live whenever I next see them, just so I can pretend, for one moment, to be watching The Clash at Demonhead. That said, there’s something about it, musically, which is just pure Metric. I think Fantasies saw them really grow into themselves as a band, and Black Sheep is like everything they learnt on that whole album distilled into one song.

7. Potato Cakes – mc chris (mc chris Goes to Hell)

More alternative hip-hop! mc chris (lowercase, no dots) does lots of things well, but his best songs are almost invariably the ones which translate relationship angst (in this case, highschoolers working at a fast food restaurant) into comic tragedies. It’s possible his sense of humour might turn you off. Or his cartoonishly high-pitched voice. Or his electropop beats. But if it does, that’s your problem, because I love it. Plus, it’s got an X-Men reference. How could I not like it?

8. Favourite Food – Tokyo Police Club (Champ)

It’s a long way from songs about robots enslaving humanity, or burying yourself alive next to your mother’s grave, but Tokyo Police Club’s second full-length album is original and imaginative nonetheless. The song itself is about aging, although at a level that Tokyo Police Club (or, indeed, I) have yet to reach, which is what makes it so good – it translates an experience I’ve never actually had into a song, and delivers it fully-formed into my brain. Also, opening your album with a song that takes this long to get going takes confidence, and I love it for that too.

MORE: Breakneck Speed, Bambi (Champ)

9. Tik Tok – Ke$ha (Animal)

Like about 30% of the music I’ve listened to over the last 5 years, this one started life in the “ironic” pile after I caught it on some godawful late-night freeview music channel, and slowly worked its way into my regular rotation. By the time the Simpsons used it for their intro, I was already enough of a fan to find it fucking hilarious, while other people were massively outraged (although, if you’re watching the Simpsons these days, massive outrage is the only emotion you should expect to feel anyway). Everything about this song (lyrics about partying, gratuitous use of chiptune, vocals that are halfway between speaking and rapping, vocoder/autotune, Lady Gaga-lite chorus, a breakdown that has NOTHING to do with the rest of the song, MOBILE PHONE REFERENCES) means it should be unambiguously awful, but for that reason, I kind of can’t resist its utter horrendousness.

MORE: Your Love is My Drug (Ke$ha, Animal) – but only so you can understand: I heart Drugs (mc chris, Single)

10. Ready to Go 2010 – Republica (Single)

BACK AND READY TO GO. STILL. As one of the few people stupid enough to be a Republica fan and buy their second album for full-price, I was glad to hear the band had re-formed to re-record their big hit so that it could continue to be re-mixed after the original masters were lost. Truly, there is no purer artistic reason for a band to get back together. I almost went to their sole London gig for old time’s sake / just to see what a fucking mess it was going to be, but it fell in a 4-day period when I was going to a Den of Geek Quiz, and to see MF DOOM and Crystal Castles, so I bailed out. God help me, I somehow acquired a bootleg of it though.

MORE: Please, no more.

Oh, and if you enjoyed this (or, at least, if you made it all the way to the end of this) you might also like to read mine & Seb’s TOP COMICS OF 2010 series.

Comic Heroes #4 on sale

December 16th, 2010 by James 8 comments »

It’s that time again! Comic Heroes #4 has been released, so I’m going to do a bit of plugging. Not much, but some.

In this issue, you can find an article entitled Ten Essential Thor Stories which, in the vein of previous works, picks out ten storylines that can prime interested parties on the appeal and history of Marvel’s top Asgardian before his movie hits cinemas soon. Frankly, it was a far more difficult prospect than picking out Captain America or Iron Man stories, but that’s only because Thor’s best stories involve things like Thor turning into a frog, or fighting an entire sentient planet. Don’t believe me? Buy the magazine and read the article then, you contrary git!

I have also done my regular Comics Preview feature, in which I serendipitously selected Nick Spencer’s Infinite Vacation as my Indie Spotlight comic. Serendipitously because the comic also comes with a preview of issue #1 in the Sidekick (along with some Jack Kirby postcards and a free copy of The Traveler #1).

As usual, the issue is full of excellent comic-related articles, and with issue #5 (released February 24th) it’s moving to a bi-monthly schedule. Which hopefully means more work for me. Hurray! As usual, more information can be found on Comic Heroes’ Facebook Page.

Tron Legacy Review + More

December 16th, 2010 by James No comments »

A couple of bits from me have gone up on Den of Geek recently, so I thought I’d do a quick round-up:

Tron Legacy Review – I recently had the fortune (good or terrible, depending on your perspective) to see Tron Legacy’s first UK showing, on the IMAX screen in Waterloo. Subsequently, I did a spoiler-free review of the film for Den of Geek. It’s fair to say that I liked it a lot more that most people, although I acknowledge its flaws, and cannot even defend it against many of them. If you do what I did, and approach it as a two-hour Daft Punk video first and a movie second, you’ll get along with it great.

Dave Gorman Stand Up Live DVD Review -  As a big fan of Dave Gorman’s work, I was looking forward to this, but it’s fair to say that this review is not filled with unreserved praise. I might just be too much of a comedy snob to enjoy straight stand-up anymore, but hey, the site’s called “Den of Geek”, not “Den of General Audience”. Short version: Gorman’s complete command of the stage props up otherwise weak material. There’s a lovely 20-30 minute set in there, but a 90-minute stand-up show? Sadly, not enough going on.

Also, just so you don’t think I was massively slacking over the last month or two, over on Alternate Cover, my co-owned comics blog, I did a “30 Days of Comics” meme, picking out 30 comics/graphic novels that have a special relevance or interest to me and writing about them. Seb’s doing his own 30 posts now, but you can find all of mine linked from the index post if you’re so inclined.