Monday, 21 December 2009

[Comic] The Meals Of Sin

The Transformers: Mosaic project is a fan-based project to get artists and writers working together to create fancomics.

After a lot of serious, sensible pieces, I threw a real curveball and produced The Meals Of Sin, a bizarre comic featuring McDonalds Happy Meal toys having an ultra violent fight in the style of Sin City. I was hoping it would upset and confuse people, but people seemed to really really like it. Oh well!

For those of you not experts in the field of Transformers fast food toys (shame on you!), the hero of our tale is the valiant Under-3 and his enemy is the evil Rally's Rhinox, lovingly known by the fandom as Rallnox.

Due to the immensity of the challenge, Mark Kuggeleijn assisted me with writing duties, and  Andy Turnbull locked himself in a cave, shunning all human contact for ten years in order to truly capture the feel of the art.
Click the image for the big version!

[Comic] Blackest Night

The Transformers: Mosaic project is a fan-based project to get artists and writers working together to create fancomics.

Blackest Night is another of my one-page Transformer comics, and one of the most popular to date (currently it seems to be neck and neck with Voice In The Dark). It actually isn't anything to do with DC's Blackest Night, but it features all the black repaints up to no good, the pun was just too good to resist.

See if you can name all the characters in it, of course if you're not a die-hard fan, not realising who anyone is shouldn't spoil it in any way. At least that is the idea. Some of the characters in this were black repainted keyrings from Japan, see if you can spot a keyring loop in one of the panels!

Like with many of my other pieces, I wrote and coloured it, Jake Isenberg did the art, and Mark Kuggeleijn did the lettering.
 Click the image for the big version!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Secret Diary of Generation 2 Jazz

The below torrid tale appeared in the TMUK: 25 Years Of Transformers magazine available at the 2009 Auto Assembly convention. It is reproduced here by kind permission of the mag's editor, Andy Turnbull. Pictures are by the wonderful and crazy Ari.

March 2nd 1993
After years of peace, our worst nightmare has come true - Megatron has returned!

It was another quiet day on Cybertron. The Last Autobot was telling us about the time he scored the winning goal in the 1966 World Cup (he is such a liar) and Hot Rod wouldn't leave that Primus-damned noisy Cybernet space cube alone. Just as I was about to insert the space cube into Hot Rod in a new and exciting way, the alarms sounded. It seems Megatron survived the destruction of the Ark, and teamed up with a ruthless terrorist organisation named COBRA. Luckily another ruthless terrorist organisation known as GI Joe was on hand to feed us intel from the scene.

Megatron is now a sweet green tank. He's painted his face purple and shouts 'Megatron Attack!' a lot.

Since the end of the war, Optimus had been much less visible, retiring to a life of peace and calm. When he saw the reports however, he grew agitated, jumping up and down and demanding his own voice unit. I think he may currently be painting his trailer black. An elite team has been dispatched to take out Megatron.

Monday, 7 September 2009

[Comic] The Final Lesson

The Transformers: Mosaic project is a fan-based project to get artists and writers working together to create fancomics.

Below is my piece, entitled 'The Final Lesson' featuring the super-duper obscure character The Student from the Marvel UK comics. Of course, it is written from the point of view that the reader will have no idea who he is, so all the information you need is there.

I wrote and coloured it, Jake Isenberg did the art, and Mark Kuggeleijn did the lettering. And I think it came out really well. Check the bitchin' moustache at the end!
 Click the image for the big version!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Auto Assembly 2009

Last week was my birthday! Was I going to have a big party? No, I was in fact off to the biggest ever European Transformer convention, Auto Assembly. Go me!

In my defense, I'd been super excited about this for months. I'd been to conventions before, but not a Transformers one on this scale - a record attendance (over 500 people) and for a full weekend, it would at least be unique. There was also a load of people I knew that were attending, being the perfect chance to catch up with them. And for those that didn't go, shame on you.

Friday night was mostly a 'getting to know you' event, with various people milling about. I met up with various people as planned, and took a look at all the wares on the various stalls. They were all set up on Friday night, but couldn't start trading till Saturday morning. And given some of the rather insane deals, predictions of a rush to get in were well founded.

Who likes Pretenders? Me! Me!

Foolishly I volunteered for the 'fan dub' event. This was a good idea in theory - namely get some people on stage to do voiceovers for an episode. Unfortunately the episode in question was 'The Rebirth' with its six million characters, and no-one really knew what was going on. I shall never look at that episode ever again (and for some reason, all Nebulons go 'MIMIMIMIMIMIMI' instead of talking normally, who knew!). Most people then left for a trip to see Revenge Of The Fallen at the cinema again, but I didn't. Because I don't hate myself that much.

Saturday came around, and I got to the hall early, for weekend attendees got in an hour earlier. Or would if the hall opened on time (I'm told this was an issue with the hotel) and there wasn't a gigantic queue. Annoyingly the queue snaked round to the bottom of the stairs, and then started again on the balcony which meant that once the doors opened, there was a mass push of people to get in, and those queuing longest got in last. But that is a minor quibble, it isn't like there was much processing at the door.

The main highlight for me was the dealers. Toy dealers of all types had flocked to Auto Assembly to flaunt their wares. And most of them had amazing deals on offer. Best of all was the Toy Fu stall which I was helping out at. A guy called Nick, known as Kayevcee on the TMUK forums had decided to run a stall with all profits donated to charity (Mary's Meals , for those of you interested) By the end of the weekend, he has raised £1,309.06 in profit to donate. That is a staggering figure!

Enough Menasors there?

Most dealers were just selling modern stuff. But Nick had managed to amass an insane selection of figures, from multiple G1 combiners to complete Pretenders, two Overlords, three Starsabers, two Victory Leos, a sealed Return of Convoy figure, the list went on and on. And his prices were very very good. Needless to say a large chunk of it had gone in the first few hours of Saturday. I managed to resist a lot of the goods on offer, but most of my hard-earned cash was indeed given to Nick. I then spent the rest of the convention helping to sell everything that I wanted to buy so I wouldn't have to spend any more!

Saturday night's entertainment was a combination of alcohol, a script reading and the band Next Of Kin. To be honest I wasn't that enthused about any of that, the social aspect was the most important to me and it is generally hard to chat over the noise of a rock band. Despite that, and despite the hall opening half an hour late (due to people constantly interrupting the band's sound tests I am told), Next of Kin actually managed to win me over. They played a decently long concert, over a few hours and covered most of the classic songs from Transformers the Movie. It was nerdtastic.

That night I managed to miss the last train home by approximately 4 minutes, so was relegated to using a taxi. Which then drove me several blocks past my house, with me screaming "no no stop oh god stop!" One day I will get a taxi driver who can understand me.

Next Of Kin had impressed me the night before, but on Sunday they decided to undo all that good work. Some things sound like a great idea in the heat of the moment, and I imagine 'lets have an impromptu hard rock concert at 11am on Sunday whilst everyone is nursing hangovers' was one of those. Apparently it was also important for the band to turn their speakers up so loud that the room was literally vibrating with pain. That was the only duff point in the whole convention though, and I'm sure someone liked it!Insane toy collection

I can't really talk about Auto Assembly without mentioning the amazing collection from the Transformers At The Moon site owners. They own nearly every rare Japanese Lucky Draw Transformer in existence, most of them costing thousands of pounds each. And there they were by the stage, in all their chromed glory.

Lucky Draw figures are probably a whole other topic for another day, but it was genuinely exciting to see all these rarities in the plastic, as it were. To me, the most interesting ones are not the gold/silver chromed figures, but the ones in odd colours such as Green Unicron and Pastel Energon Prime, all of which were also out for viewing. I am told that transforming these figures for pictures is a very very scary task indeed. And you can't even mash them together shouting 'BOOM BOOM BOOM'!

There's a Nick Roche in there somewhere

The guests were all pretty ace. There were a lot of them that even I couldn't name (and I am an uber Transformer nerd) but they were all pleasant. One of the revelations was Greg Berger, the voice of Grimlock from the original cartoon. Usually I can't really get too excited over voice actors, but he was incredible, enthusiastic and generally funny. Nick Roche deserves a special mention, for being not only down to earth, a huge trooper (the line for seeing him was about a 3 hour wait) but because I managed to completely forget who he was just 30 minutes after he said hello to me. Sometimes I worry myself.

One thing that I hadn't really seen at Transformer conventions was the sheer amount of people dressing up as robots. And all of them girls! (Apart from the one man who got on stage with the rest just wearing a crude Megatron mask. Well not JUST a crude Megatron mask). There were seekers, cars, and even Frenzy. Or Rumble. There was a lot of shouting on that front. Some of the costumes were pretty impressive, and made me think that maybe dressing up as a space robot wasn't that socially awkward. Others made me question my feelings towards the seekers and Autobot cars :(

Caption competition time anyone?

All in all, Auto Assembly was easily not just the best Transformers convention I'd been to, but the best convention overall. There were some minor niggles, but then not everything is perfect. What struck me was the sheer energy behind the entire affair, how there managed to be enough to fit in a whole weekend and leave people wanting more, but perhaps most importantly how nice everyone was. There was a huge social buzz and strangers were just walking around talking to each other like they were best friends. That is something missing from life today generally.

"But Matt" you may ask. "What did you spend all your money on?" In the end, I got the above motley collection. Factor in that five of those figures are Botcon exclusives, and you are looking at a pretty penny. But then again, everything I bought was fantastic value. That Sky Lynx for example? £20! Flak? £25! There were dealers in the room by Sunday trying to sell the Ratchet and Ironhide reissues for £15 the pair. But I didn't bite because really, Ironhide?

I nearly saved a whole load of cash, but on the very last minute of the convention, just as Nick was packing up his stall and putting the remaining Botcon figures away, I sprung to my feet and declared "no, I shall buy Elita One!" And so I did. And then Nick sold me Razorclaw at the same time, because he is a demon like that! No regrets though, no sir-ee!
If you met me at the con and want to say hi, e-mail or MSN me at . And yes I know I’m opening myself up for a lot of junk mail, that is just how great I am!

Exciting Links!
Auto Assembly - Homepage of the convention. Next years will be even better (so they say!) so keep checking it out!
TMUK - UK based Transformer message board and my online hangout of choice. It is a nice forum full of tea and crumpets.
Mary's Meals - The charity supported by Toy Fu.
Xybertoys - One of the dealers there who was extra friendly and pretty awesome to boot.
Special thanks go to everyone who let me use some of their pictures. Since I was a fool who didn't take a camera at all.

Friday, 21 August 2009

[Comic] Up Is Down, Black Is White

The Transformers: Mosaic project is a fan-based project to get artists and writers working together to create fancomics.

Below is my piece, entitled 'Up Is Down, Black Is White' with art by the fantastic Bryan Sevilla. Seriously, how good is that art!

Click the image for the big version!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

[Comic] A Voice In The Dark

The Transformers: Mosaic project is a fan-based project to get artists and writers working together to create fancomics.

Below is my piece, entitled 'A Voice In The Dark', featuring the very obscure characters Sky High and Submarauder. Submarauder isn't even named, which is a deliberate choice on my side. I wrote and coloured it, Jake Isenberg did the art, and Mark Kuggeleijn did the lettering. And honestly, it is probably my favourite piece yet, which frustrates me because however much I try, I can't write anything better!

Click the image for the big version!

Super Robot Transformable Tomas

Like most kids my age, I grew up reading the delightful Thomas the Tank Engine books by the Rev W V Awdry, and watching the accompanying television series narrated by Ringo Starr about the adventures of the scampish train Thomas and all his friends.

Thomas would have adventures where he had to deliver some cargo, or had to deal with a nasty carriage. But there was always that niggling thought - what if Thomas the Tank Engine had not been developed in rural England? What if it had been created in Japan, and Thomas, Percy and James merged at the end of each episode to form an unstoppable robot engine of destruction to crush their enemies?

Enter SUPER ROBOT TRANSFORMABLE TOMAS. A good friend of mine, Mark, was working in Singapore and decided to earn a thousand Brownie points by tracking down this marvel of modern science and sending it to me for my birthday. I will post you off a brownie later Mark. When I can catch one.

SUPER ROBOT TRANSFORMABLE TOMAS is of course a knockoff. I am sure the estate of Rev W V Awdry have not yet licensed Thomas transforming into a giant robot though it can't be that far off.

The package is quite delightfully kiddy, with little clouds and trains all over it. The back promises me trains on fire, Thomas and friends smiling as they perish in burning agony. Sadly you can't actually set the toys on fire, if you do that you just melt the plastic and create toxic fumes. And of course no-one would be stupid enough to do that (apart from me I guess).

James is a Really Useful engine. He can transform into a giant robot.

Now for the main event, the figure itself. I'm not sure what figure it knocks off, though it looks like it could be a Brave toy, with the heads added of course. Let me know if you have any clue. Being a knockoff the plastic quality is bad, and it make me cry every time I had to push a peg into place or pull one apart. It stands up okay though, and doesn't fall apart at the slightest touch.

Make no mistakes, this figure is cheap as hell. But I have had worse, and let's face it, the reason this is awesome is not because it is a quality figure, but because it is Thomas and friends combining into a super-robot. Interestingly, note that Thomas is just an arm and James is the main body. Originally Thomas was just another character, Rev Awdry only later being forced to make him the main focus of the books by his publisher. Perhaps this is the toy makers paying tribute to this notion, having Thomas not be the focal point of the figure. Or perhaps they just threw whatever colours they had lying about into the plastic vat.

In my head, this guy has the voice of Ringo Starr.

As a Transformer, the figure is pretty lacking too. The various trains don't have their individual robot modes, just the combined form. They also each separate into 2-3 parts and plug together, rather than fold in any clever way. But again, I have Masterpiece figures for clever transformations. Masterpiece Megatron doesn't look like the Fat Controller after all.
Here are Thomas, Percy and James in all their glory. They all look pretty decent, though Thomas and James have got the wrong colour bands behind their heads (other versions have this band painted black, I guess they ran out of lead for the paint pot). James is also called 'Daisy' Which I imagine will give him some issues.

The three can also link together in train mode, so they can shuffle off as one and have adventures! Choo choo! Choo choo!

All in all, this is a brilliant set, wonderful in its sheer insanity. When I was little I didn't have a Thomas the Tank Engine toy - I did have a blue train which my mum stuck a smiley face sticker onto the front so I could pretend it was Thomas. If I had this, it would have made my world! Until I chewed the paint and died from lead poisoning I imagine.

Research  has shown there to be even more Super Change Tomas toys. Take a look at them here.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen Review

I've seen the new Transformers film, so what do I think?

For a start, it measures up (or down) to the first film. Nothing in it particularly surprised me which was a shame, but there was nothing that had me wanting to gouge my eyes out either. The pace is faster than the first, and there are less 'boring bits' but at the same time there's no genuinely rousing moments, such as the 'Arrival of the Autobots' from the 2007 installment. The plot is wafer-thin, an excuse for the characters to go chasing around the world and shoot things. I shan't spoil it since I don't really believe in spoilers, but there's also not that much that can be spoiled. The Decepticons and Autobots both want a doo-hicky, the Decepticons also want Sam, they have a fight in the desert, the US Army is awesome, join the army.

The titular Fallen is an interesting character choice. He was created by Simon Furman for his miniseries The War Within 2, where he was an ancient Transformer battling both Autobot and Decepticon, and constantly on fire. He was a good villain there, but in this film his role is slightly muddled. Here he is still one of the original Transformers, but instead he is the ancestor of the Decepticons, and sits about in his base plotting with Megatron and calling him his 'apprentice' whilst Megatron bows to his ‘master’. Yes, they've recast Megatron as Darth Vader and the Fallen as the Emperor. There's nothing wrong with that, it is a new continuity after all, but I can't help but feel it could have been more interesting. The problem is this: Megatron and the Fallen have pretty much identical roles as 'chief villain'. Neither do much, nothing separates them in motivation and it all feels a bit generic. Still, it is nice to get a chief bad guy who isn't Megatron.

Oh, and he doesn't burst into flames even once!

The human contingent is still present, but not nearly as annoying as in the previous movie. Sam Witwicky makes a strong showing as the lead, Megan Fox is back as Mikaela Banes and is as interesting as a brick wall (with a terrible sub-plot about Sam not saying he loves her, oh god) but oddly enough, it is the return of Agent Simmons which is the most welcome development. As an Evil Government Agent in the first film he bored me to tears, but now he operates out of the basement of his mum's meat shop and actually gets character development and everything. In a Michael Bay film no less! Of course, once he outlives his plot usefulness he completely vanishes from the film which was a shame since that was one of the threads I was most interested in.

There's not much I can say about the Autobots to be honest. They're just there for most of the film. We don't really get reintroduced to any of the original movie characters and there are some new guys who get namedropped and are very briefly seen. Mostly they all stay in the background and turn up to fights to help the military shoot stuff. The main heroes are Bumblebee and the twins, Mudflap and Skids. I use the term ‘heroes’ loosely since they don't actually do a lot apart from follow Sam about. The twins as the 'comedy relief' aren't as terrible as many are dreading but they're not exactly fantastic either.

Jetfire and Wheelie are probably the two best characters in the film. I know that's not saying much, but both have interesting back stories, and actual motivations. Of course, they too vanish for long stretches of the film.

This is one of my main criticisms with the film - the way it deals with characters. They duck in and out of the narrative seemingly at random. If someone's plot is done with, then they simply vanish. Midway through the film, Megatron declares all-out war on the entire planet, and then for about 45 minutes we don't see what the Decepticons are actually doing, apart from news reports about 'terrorists'. The Fallen touches down on Earth at the halfway point and then vanishes till the finale. Is he killing things? Making more videos? Chilling out? We don't know. Jetfire sends the good guys on a mission to Egypt, then promptly disappears until the end. Wheelie gets a meaty role and then - yes, you've guessed it, he vanishes.

There's just too many characters in the film, and the writers don't seem interested in letting the viewer keep track of them all. A case in point are the new Autobots. Arcee is (barely) mentioned and vanishes until the end. Apparently she is one robot with three bodies, though there's not even a throwaway line to explain that. Jolt is apparently one of the new Autobots - he is in one driving shot in the beginning, and then magically appears at the end when the Autobots need a hand.

The Decepticons are even worse at this, there isn't a solid 'crew' as in the first film, but instead mostly nameless generics. Do Sideways or Detour or Dead End appear in the film? I have no idea, perhaps they are part of the attack at the end, but the Decepticons look so generic that I couldn't tell them apart. For a film about alien space robots who all look completely different, that's pretty lousy.

Decepticon-wise, Scalpel is rather cool (but yes, vanishes halfway through), Starscream and Megatron actually get some interaction but that's about it. Ravage appears throughout the whole film and Soundwave gets a good 'coordinator' role. No one really does anything that interesting, they just stand about and shoot each other for the duration.

The dynamic of the first half of the film is probably the more satisfying to me. The villains are clearly defined - Soundwave is in space leading his bunch of guys over the world. There are some interesting ideas, such as Wheelie, Ravage, the 2-dimensional Decepticon and the Pretender (I love Pretenders!)

Then Megatron comes back to life and Decepticons are popping back and forth like nobody's business. In some respects, I think the increased budget was a mistake. The small cast of the first film forced all the Transformers to be more defined (if barely). The increased cast here has only really led to the Decepticons becoming easily-killed cannon fodder. Do you remember how Bonecrusher popped up in the first film, took a shot at Prime and promptly got stabbed in the head? That's pretty much the fate of every Decepticon in this movie.

Depending on how you look at it, this isn't a bad thing, but I like my evil space robot villains to feel a bit tougher and give me time to invest in them as characters before Optimus Prime punches through their chest and crushes their face.

My main criticism though is the length. At two and a half hours this is a very long film, and not even a ton of explosions can justify it. I'm sure it could have been easily cut down to a more manageable two hours and perhaps have a faster pace. The strange thing is, for the incredible length of the film it seems to end in a huge rush. Devastator doesn't really do anything before he's taken down easily, and the fact I only think to mention him now cements in my mind what an afterthought he is. Lastly, the final epic confrontation that the entire film builds towards seems to happen in under a minute.

Even though it is a wafer-thin plot, there are several plot holes that niggle me. Without giving too much away, the main one revolves around Sam searching for a device that can bring a Transformer back to life, even though he carries around a shard of the Allspark, that is used through the film for the exact same purpose! Even a throwaway 'Oh no you can't use the Allspark to do that!' would have satisfied me. Secondly Jetfire informs us that the Fallen told him the device is located in Egypt, yet the Fallen is shown to have Decepticons scouring the globe for it. Maybe they just fancied a holiday?

How do I feel about this film then? Honestly, I'm not sure. The visual spectacle is amazing and it is worth a watch just for that. You can actually tell what is happening on screen this time around, which is a bonus. There's no attempt to portray any of the Transformers as anything but ciphers and cannon-fodder which is a huge shame, and there's no real stand-out moments. On the other hand, there are not really any terrible moments. It's frustratingly average in everything but special effects.

If someone gave me a Chinese burn, and forced me to rate it, I'd probably give it three stars out of five. Worth seeing, but it isn't anything to write home about.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

[Turtlewind] The Turtle Moralises

My previous attempt to have sex with the last girl who sent me an email forward failed after she found out how to block my messages. Now, however, I have completed one of her challenges with responses so nakedly honest that she will have no choice but to be filled with a desire to gaze on my naked honesty...

You've just cooked dinner for your four friends, when disaster strikes and you drop the chicken on the kitchen floor. Before you can stop him, the dog dashes in and licks it, but you get it away before he can do anything else. You have nothing else to cook. Do you own up, or do you serve the chicken up for tea? You're vegetarian anyway.

My ‘four friends’? ‘Dropping the chicken’? Is this a question about playing with yourself? That sends you blind, you know. Oh, apparently it’s just about food. The answer here is quite simple. The dog has ruined the dinner, therefore the dog must replace it. I would give it half an hour to prepare a scintillating repast, or else it would be Fido fricasée for the acolytes of the Mysterious Mr Turtlewind. Some would call this casual cruelty to animals, I call it natural selection.

You're in the supermarket car park, when in a momentary lapse of concentration, your shopping trolley scrapes somebody's new Mercedes down the side. Nobody appears to be looking. Do you own up?

The Turtle must have no fear. There’s no point in indulging in wanton vandalism without glorying in your handiwork. Accidents are for spineless cowards. So I would go back and carve the sign of the Turtle into the car, with the shopping trolley.

You're out with your mate, who starts chatting up a rather fit bloke/bird. It's obvious that said bloke/bird actually fancies you. The feeling's mutual. Who do you go home with?

A bloke/bird? It is true that I yearn for a meaningful relationship, with boobies and everything, but I like to think that I might draw the line at hermaphrodites, unless I’d had rather too many sweet sherries! However, there are also the feelings of my friend to consider. Most of my friends are actually already married (David and Jamie) so I’d heroically take the bullet and pull the shemale, then indulge in extremely naughty carnal acts at a high volume in my friend’s garden, to remind him what a good mate I am to prevent him commiting adultery thusly.

One of your employees does a fantastic piece of work, which your boss has seen. The boss comes over to congratulate you, but seems to think you did it. Who gets the credit?

I call no man ‘boss’. Mine is a lonely path. If, however, I was on another deep cover mission that required that I appear subservient to a flaccid middle manager, I suppose I would point out the underling that had so impressed him. Although Barry and I would be waiting in the car park with Mr Stabby later to impress upon the whelp the importance of putting your name on things in the first place.

You're walking along the high street and an old lady drops a bundle of 20 pound notes on the pavement. You're broke. The gas bill needs paying and you wanted some new shoes for Friday night. What would you do?

Please bear in mind that I am a God-like figure, and so must be judged by higher standards than you. For mysterious divine reasons I would take the money, stick it in my sock along with a large amount of sand, catch up with the old lady and smack her round the head with it (this is important, as if detained by the nice men at the Police Station, I could claim I was ‘returning’ her money ‘enthusiastically’). Then I’d go through all her stuff to see if there was any more cash. After that, I’d scamper down to the canal to get a lift on one of my favourite getaway barges. Teehee. Oh, and I’d steal her shoes as well, so I could save the cash to use on scoring some smack.

You're skint. No going out for you this weekend. You'd like to have enough change left from your groceries, though, to buy a bottle of vino with which to console yourself as you watch dire weekend TV. If you don't buy your usual Fair Trade tea, coffee and the like, you'll just about scrape a bottle of plonk. Do you?

Those tree-hugging Fair Traders might act nice, but they were terribly rude to me when I offered them the opportunity to endorse my stinging nettle soap. So I’d get the wine, and kick down the coffee aisle, which is surprisingly easy to do if you know what you’re doing...

You are an inmate in a prison camp. A vicious guard is about to hang your son who tried to escape and wants you to pull the chair from underneath his feet. He says that if you don't he will not only kill your son but at least one other prisoner. You know that he means it. What do you do?

Now this did actually happen to me once. Not as an inmate, because to have a son you have to have, you know, ‘naughty-bumpy’. But my earliest memory had a certain ‘noosey’ quality. As I recall, I soiled myself. On my father’s head. The noble and paternal Mr _____________ said something bad, which the guard took as a gesture of defiance... ‘Dangling infant becomes sole survivor of Hypothetical Camp inferno’ is the first clipping in my scrapbook.

A man who has threatened to explode several bombs in crowded areas has been arrested. He has already planted the bombs and if they go off, many people will die. He won't say a word, and the only way to make him is by torture. Do you do it?

This is a silly question. Torture is wrong. There are always options. For example, I find it very effective, when eliciting information from reluctant sources, to whisper gently into the suspect’s ear: ‘Listen son, there’s no specific law that says I can’t piss in your hair.’

You're a therapist and one of your patients has just told you that he intends to kill his wife. You don't think he's fantasising. What do you do?

Oh come on! The whole reason I BECAME a therapist was to hear that kind of gossip! I’d be straight down the pub to sit in front of a rapt audience of concussed tramps and say things like: ‘Well, looks like there’s trouble in paradise THERE, who was it said they’d only give them six months?’ I’d get so much respect that if the patient stumbled in just before last orders with blood soaking into his light blue shirt, I’d even buy him a pint. OK, a half.

(There is a lot of detail in this last response. That’s because I have a vivid imagination and have never done anything like this. If you wish to argue, please bear in mind that there’s no specific law that says I can’t piss in your hair)

Your best friend tells you that he has committed a particular crime and you promise never to tell. However, you discover that an innocent person has been accused of the crime and will be spending several months in prison unless your friend confesses. You plead with him to give himself up but he won't. What do you do?

A friend is someone who will be there when you need them. A true friend is someone who helps hide the bodies. If I had many friends, I’d expect them all to frame postmen to keep me out of jail, so it’s the least I can do for one of them. Whatever happened to loyalty?

I hope this will help show you the way next time you are in a quandary. Just think to yourselves, 'what would Turtlewind do?' More often than not, everything will become clear.

Happy times and places
Your friend, the mysterious Mr Turtlewind, Esq

Turtlewind Index

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

[Turtlewind] Turtles go to a BETTER place. Than you

After the rapturous reception received by my warning against the dissembling nature of McDonalds, my scorpion buddies and I decided to reward you foolish lay people with another glimpse into the fascinating world of the International Turtle of Mystery. I was drawn to this heading because it involves laughing at death, which I like to do most weekday evenings, hiding at retirement homes until the hearses arrive when I leap out giggling at the funny boxes.

In any case, the opportunity to make fun of death and misery in a socially acceptable fashion was more than I could resist. So, come the day when the Turtle must soon hang up his scorpion whip, what will my eulogy be?


My friends, we are gathered to celebrate the life of the noble yet mysterious Mr Turtlewind, who died in such a characteristically mysterious way last Tuesday afternoon.

While there will be much speculation on exactly how Mr Turtlewind managed to entice three nuns into pistol-whipping his oiled, naked body, there is little doubt it is the way he would have wished to die.

Well, that's not quite true, as the activity of the FOURTH nun at the time of death suggests that he might have been even happier to die just a few moments later.

But we are not here to discuss what might have been. Rather we are here to celebrate the past of this heroic figure.

Born Nathaniel Terrapinbreeze, this fine man was reputed by some to be the illegitimate child of the Earl of Rochester. The details of his early life remain suitably mysterious, but we do know that at the age of five he was trapped in a landslide for a week, following torrential rain in his native Dagenham. This terrifying ordeal was to have a very positive effect on Turtlewind, as it introduced him to his favourite food, the quintessential snack, Tarte a la Boue. Mud pies remained his staple meal for the rest of his life, although this happy culinary relationship was soured following a suicide attempt in the early 21st century.

Having proudly shared his recipe for happiness with the members of a charming online community, Turtlewind was driven to try and hang himself after several members jeered at him, claiming that 'mud pies aren't a real recipe.'

But we digress. Turtlewind had many fine friends throughout his life, some of whom were not entirely imaginary. Our thoughts today are with absent friends such as Barry the Scorpion (unavoidably busy with charity work in Leicester), Harold Pinter and David Beckham. Although Beckham and Turtlewind never spoke again after our hero buggered Posh live on Parkinson, the bald, half-dead former footballer is understood to be 'saddened' by the news of his death.

Fast food chain McDonalds also send their condolences. Their love and support for Turtlewind was an endless comfort for a lonely old man over the last ten years. This respect, of course, was due to Turtlewind stepping in at the last minute to save the company he had sworn to destroy. He was worried that the Giant Wasps he had trained to eat all the McFlurries could turn on him, and so blasted them back into space. In return, McDonalds pushed the frontiers of science to imprison and donate a friendly ghost (that of Fidel Castro) to Mr Turtlewind. Castro is particularly welcome at this memorial service. Or at least he has been since we cudgelled the priest into a coma with Mr Turtlewind's HUGE WANG (preserved according to his worryingly clear wishes).

But what did Turtlewind actually do? Obviously, his primary work was in scorpion whispering and rehabilitation. Scorpions Against Barbiturates are still reeling from the loss, and the remote Amazonian village which worshipped Turtlewind as a deity have planned mass suicide for next Thursday afternoon. Incidentally, Turtlewind's will makes it quite clear that all beneficiaries must undertake the arduous trip to the village in order to hide in the bushes and giggle at all the coffins.

Because that's the Turtlewind that we'll all remember. Behind the angry child who heard voices; behind the randomly cruel young man that sacrificed goats to Les Dawson; behind even the suave scorpion tamer who spent his weekends spitting on hobos and catching butterflies in his teeth - behind all these things, it'll be the laughter we remember. Shrill, girly laughter with a worryingly intense timbre, admittedly, but laughter nonetheless. Remember his guffaws when the White House was blown away in a cyclone to reveal George Bush masturbating? His childlike tittering when Malta spontaneously combusted? His endearing little giggle every time a small child tripped over the savage scorpion hounds he kept tethered in his front garden? So many happy memories.

The mysterious Mr Turtlewind was many things to many men. And even some women, before the drugs wore off. Torturer, chef, raconteur, vigilante, God, moth farmer, lover, scamp and friend. He has touched us all and the world can never be the same again.

I am amazed that a man with so many different personalities can fit into one small coffin, particularly after we filled it with his coathanger collection as he requested. And now, let us take a few moments to laugh at his desiccated corpse.

It's what he would have wanted.

Your friend,
The Mysterious Mr Turtlewind

Turtlewind Index

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

[Turtlewind] "I Am The Bad Turtle. I Create Myself"

It has been a scary few months in the life of your friend, the Mysterious Mr Turtlewind. I was so drained by the tedium of completing some unesteemed fool's challenge in my previous epistolary masterpiece that I allowed myself to be abducted by the Anti-Matt, a universe-shattering Mini Cheddar-addicted demon. Who lives in a garage in Harwich.

Anti-Matt has always been a lower-level nemesis, a former housemate who turned against his mentor after a nasty argument about the gas bill while clearing rebels out of Suffolk in the '98 Calpol War. I'm still not quite sure where he got his unnatural powers of mould generation and universe shattering, but I think it might have been in the car park toilets where men do things to each other's bottoms.

I was dangling from the ceiling (there was a chair but you couldn't get round the battered white Ford Escort to sit on it) for about a week while Anti-Matt revealed his evil schemes. Well, he talked a lot about being a homeless orphan and things, but then his parents came round to see his new flat, so I was left on my own for a bit.

It was around this point that I realised Barry was still in my trouser pocket, in fact he was reminding me of his presence in a somewhat flirtatious manner, the scamp.

"Not now, Barry," I said. "All naughty-bumpy thoughts have been pushed from my mind with all the mild anxiety of dangling over this Ford Escort. Fetch help while I grapple with philosophical issues."

The armour-plated little whelp gave a scorpion-like cackle and scuttled off under the garage door. The little chink of light under that door was driving me half mad with its prospect of freedom, bringing with it the ripe odour of a fresh, unburned tramp just yards away.

I was cracking up. I had to think about something else. And what better than the eternal question of Creation vs Evolution?

Clearly, I reasoned, it all comes down to beards. Evolutionary crusader Mr Chaz Darwin had a pretty impressive beard, but would it win in a fight with the facefuzz of Creationism's most popular supporter, the Beard Daddy himself, God?

But this is a flawed line of reasoning. If God is infinite, then His beard must logically also be infinite. So he's frankly going to crap on Chazza Dazza to such a huge extent that the whole argument would never have arisen in the first place. Only by recruiting the esteemed Mr Brian Blessed would the lizard-bothering explorer hope to prevail. And that would be cheating.

Even the well-worn philosophical test of whose Dad is harder falters in this case, as God the father is also God and, therefore, also infinite. Bobblehats.

These thoughts were interrupted by Anti-Matt, who was taking a crap in the broken washing machine by the door. Spreading his demonic wings, which did look a little like a mouldy grey duvet, he marched forwards.

"Creationism is the only explanation for the development of humanity," he smarmed. "At least that's what I say when I want to touch Christian girls."

I smiled. "Ah, my mendacious little foe, how naive you are. Treading blindly in the path of religious dogma banishes all mystery from life. And that is why the Mysterious Mr Turtlewind, Esq. will always win."

You may note, dear reader, that I was sounding somewhat smug. This is because I had heard sounds of rescue from the other side of the garage door.

Sure enough, the door burst inwards in a shower of wickedly sharp wooden splinters. A replica of the A-Team van thundered into the garage, sending Anti-Matt and the Ford Escort rolling into the far wall.

"Barry!" I squealed with giddy glee, assuming that the venomous little tyke had fetched these heroes to aid my mysterious escape. My ardour was only slightly dented when the Guild of Essex Craftsmen committee piled out of the van.

Tony the treasurer laid down suppressing fire at the washing machine while Betty the events secretary untied my wrists from the ceiling.

"Did Barry send you?" I asked, rubbing my sore wrists.

Betty shook her head. "No, lad. Not many people need craftsmen these days in Essex, so we mostly cruise round crashing into people's garages so we can repair the doorframes afterwards."

Quickly recovering from my recent ordeal, my eyes lit up. "Sweet! That's an even better scam than selling moles as otters to wildlife sanctuaries!"

"Er, no..." Tony looked a bit confused, and I wondered briefly whether he had a day job at Langdon Nature Reserve. "We don't accept payment. The Guild of Essex Craftsman is a noble organisation. We are spiritual and selfless and… shit."

As the Guild drove me back towards Turtle Grange (Celia was driving and muttering things like "I pity the foo' who doesn't use an accredited French polisher"), I questioned Tony about his spirituality. It turned out that he was a firm believer in a God who loved all His children, but that the theory of evolution was a rigourous scientific hypothesis that may have helped lift the veil on some of the Creator's mysteries.

He went a bit quiet after that, possibly as he couldn't hope to win any debate following my counter-argument that his theory was gay hippie fence-sitting crap.

After the Guild had crashed through and then repaired the garage doors of Turtle Grange, with James Merriot taking a few hours to paint a specially commissioned watercolour of Posh Spice's bottom, I returned to my thoughts concerning the development of life as we know it.

Evolution makes a lot more sense. That we developed from a simple primordial slime explains so much. My fondness for tarte a la boue, for example, and how would I have such kinship with scorpions if we didn't share a chromosome or two way back in our genetic heritage?

Quite apart from anything else, my experiments on the tensile strength of grey cats had long ago demonstrated how living things adapt to their surroundings (in the cats' case by tearing down the middle in a messy fashion). And the Anti-Matt could only have been created due to a freak cell mutation or several.

But so many people on America, the Comedy Continent, keep banging on about God and stuff. They're clearly talking crap, but they won't shut up, so we have to sort this out once and for all.

So, God or Darwin? Who's better? As my esteemed colleague Mr Harold Hill would say, "There's only one way to find out... FIGHT!"

A month later, Barry and I had set up the boxing ring at the bottom of next door's garden, and we'd almost convinced the Guild to stop whittling the owner's apple trees into fragile sculptures of butterflies. We were just waiting for our two champions, when the Turtlephone rang.

"Hi Purplewing," said the familiar voice of David Beckham. "Think you've got a problem. Sky Sports turned down the Pay Per View deal and Darwin and God are both dead."

"What?" I squeaked in my manly baritone. "Since when has God been dead?"

"Some German bloke called Neat Shirt reckons it's been a while," opined the mulleted muppet.

Clearly, it was back to the drawing board once again…

Another month later, I'd reassembled my boxing ring with two brand new pugilists. In the red corner, Mr Patrick Stewart (who is really a crime-fighting evolved mutant man in a wheelchair according to the documentary X-Men 3), and in the blue corner, Mr Phil Collins. David Beckham said we should get him because he used to believe in Genesis even when no one else would heed their words. He tried to tell us what he thought about creationism, but I deflected his argument by slapping him gently about the kidneys.

As the two Champions came down from their chloroform high, I took the microphone and addressed them sternly.

"Patrick 'Evolved' Stewart and Phil 'Creation' Collins, we're looking for a nasty, messy deathmatch to settle this thorny theological debate for eternity. I want to see plenty of gouging, goolie-mauling and nose-biting, so we can put them on the DVD in slow-motion."

I though the two combatants would be a little more reluctuant, but apparently Mr Phil had spilled Mr Patrick's pint in a pub in Godalming in 1973 and there was a score to be settled.

"In just another round, you'll be in paradise, wanker," snarled Captain Picard.

"Yeah? Come here and 'make it so', bitch," spat Phil Collins.

Phil started well, with a flurry of upper-cuts to the chin of the RSC's finest. But once Patrick unleashed his steely stare of Quality Drama, there was only one way the fight could go. I must confess, lame reader, that I lost my concentration briefly and found myself doing the Robot with Patrick in a pool of Phil Collins's entrails.

I couldn't be seen dancing in such an unesteemed fashion with a 90s science-fiction icon, so I quickly converted my funky stylings into a patented Turtlemoonwalk. However, I slipped on Phil's liver and found myself flat on my back, staring up at a blinding sun.

The sun was blotted out by a sinister shape as Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra struck up an ominous theme (they do keep following me around, they have even less to do than the Guild of Essex Craftsmen), and a curiously ill-defined hand pulled me to my feet.

"That's some f**d-up dancin', you crazy son of a b****," said the newcomer.

"Naughty words give you cancer," I recited solemnly, as my diseased canal-cervixed whore of a mother used to tell me. "Who the f*** are you?"

"I'm DD," said the soldier of fortune.

"Ew, man-boobies!" I crowed. "I'm barely an A-cup! But what's your name, and which is better, evolution or creationism?"

"Ah shucks man, I just came here to see that Collins b**** get iced by the Stewster. I ain't doin' no surveys, they suck Mormon a**! The way I see it, you've got evolution, based on empirical evidence compiled by clever dudes with an education and an open mind - or creationism, based on the ramblings of mad f***ers with a 2,000 year old book and a single-figure IQ. I know who I'd kick out of my mother-f***ing balloon, a**hole."

Behind us, I heard another voice. "Yeah, you scorpion-sexualising wonga!" There was more, but it was muffled by the owner of the voice vomiting into Phil's open chest cavity.

I picked up Barry with a dignified flounce, and wandered back into Turtle Grange, away from the bizarre newcomers who had spoiled my philosophical epiphany.

That night, I updated my blog ('the adventures of the lonely boy who made them all PAY') and added the following thoughts:

'Evolution is so obviously a rational and sane way of looking at the world that anyone who says differently should be laughed at, committed and drop-kicked into a plague pit. The bloody wreck of Phil Collins proves it. So why do we continue to even pretend to take weirdo fundamentalists at all seriously when they're obviously talking s***? And who is this bizarre newcomer DD who has burst into my life, upset one of my giggling schemes and got me talking in asterisks? I feel this chapter is not yet closed...'

Until next time, dull readers, happy times and places

Your friend
The Mysterious Mr Turtlewind, Esq.

Turtlewind Index

Saturday, 11 April 2009

The Eastenders Death-Fest

When I was told that for the second year in a row, the BBC’s soap Eastenders would have as its Easter plot a man being buried alive, I scoffed. “Of course not!” I said. “That would be ridiculous.”

Last year housewife Tanya was bored, and so decided to bury her husband Max (Kill-Crazy from Red Dwarf) alive in the woods in a coffin. Max then dug his way out and rose from the dead, and now a year later they are living together as a happy loving family and I haven’t a clue why (apart from the fact that the writers seem to think middle aged balding men are irresistible).

But last night, Phil Mitchell (another irresistible middle aged balding man) had the villainous Archie Mitchell in a pit whilst he stood above him with a cement mixer laughing away evilly. Archie is a classic soap villain in that his sole motivation is ‘he’s evil’. Of course we don't get a cementy death in a pre-watershed popular drama, so instead Archie just gets water hilariously poured on his head. Then Phil’s mum (played by Barbara Windsor of Carry-On fame) throws him out of the house for not being a murderer. I wish I could make this stuff up.

The sheer amount of deaths and attempted murders in Eastenders recently has made me cast my mind back to those we have lost. Come with me on my journey through Eastenders-Land and my favourite horrible deaths!

Danielle Jones
You are never allowed to be happy. Ever.

Poor Danielle. In one of the soaps more interesting twists, she was revealed to be the long-lost daughter of regular character Ronnie, who was forced by her evil father (the aforementioned Archie) to give her up as a baby.  Danielle returns to find her mother, and does she tell her?

No. She decides to tell her, wanders over to Ronnie’s place, then chickens out and goes back to the train station. Once or twice would have been fine, but this went on for an entire sodding year. Eventually Danielle worked up the courage to tell Ronnie but instead bumped into Evil Archie.

Evil Archie had told Ronnie that her baby had died. So in order to get away with that little lie, Archie decided to try to murder Danielle. Since being found out for a lie is far worse than killing someone. Thankfully Danielle escaped by wandering back to the train station.

Eventually she did tell Ronnie who didn’t believe her. So Danielle ran away to the train station again. Ronnie caught up with her, told her she believed her and that they would at last both be happy...

...and a car comes out of nowhere (driven by Eastenders' regular murderess Janine Butcher), running over Danielle in order to be as contrived and depressing as possible. The camera then pans slowly out on Ronnie crouching over her daughter’s body, screaming “NOOO!” in her best Darth Vader impression. That was just last week!

Moral: If you’re adopted never go looking for your real parents. Especially if they live in the East End.
Steve Owen

To me, the golden years of Eastenders where when Steve Owen was around. Played by Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet fame, he strutted about the nightclub he owned (the E-20) to the tune of Gold, which was played often. They kept trying to make him a villain, but he was just too darn lovable and often he fought epic battles with his enemies, the immortal Phil Mitchell and Dan ‘I was in Cliffhanger’ Sullivan.

On Valentines Day 1999 his crazy ex-girlfriend tried to kill him and so in self-defence he smacked her over the head with an ashtray, killing her. Rather than take the CCTV to the police which proved he was acting in self defence, he buried her body in a shallow grave in Epping Forest.

As an aside I did attempt to put together a book range in which Steve Owen would operate out of the E-20, fighting robots, dinosaurs and zombies with his trusty ash-tray, but I guess it was an idea too far ahead of its time.
After various fires, kidnappings and extortions, Steve finally decided to try to take on Phil Mitchell and for some reason decided to steal Phil’s baby and drove off with it. Steve then promptly crashed into a wall and after getting the cute kid to safety, his car exploded into a huge fireball, killing him.

Pauline Fowler
Here’s a confession – I never liked Pauline Fowler. At all. Eastenders has a habit of taking attractive actresses from the 60s and 70s and strutting them about as old, bitter wrinkly prunes so that when we watch old episodes of Are You Being Served or Carry On we want to vomit.

Pauline Fowler had been around the square forever, sitting in her cardigan and scowling. Ten years earlier her husband Arthur had died (eerily predicted by the Eastenders / Doctor Who crossover ‘Dimensions In Time’) and so the character had nothing left to do but be depressing. If I wanted to watch old ladies in cardigans hang about a laundrette I’d just get out the old binoculars and stare out the window, thank you very much.

Finally they decided to kill her off, and so her character ‘turned heel’ to use a wrestling term, and became evil (her new motivation: she was evil). On Christmas Day (merry Christmas Britain!) she was pushed through a fruit bowl and died.

It later transpired that Pauline’s death was actually caused by her new husband Joe hitting her with a frying pan, causing a brain haemorrhage. Rather than be crowned a hero by the public for this act, he instead leapt out of a window to his doom.

Dirty Den #1
Den Watts was one of the most popular characters in the soap’s early days. The Christmas Day special where he served divorce papers to his wife was watched by over 30 million people in 1986. Obviously this was a simpler time. Nowadays, that storyline would have had the divorce papers explode or something.

Den was the original bad boy owner of the Queen Victoria pub (other owners have included Frank Butcher, Steve Owen, Phil Mitchell and The Rani). Den was very naughty, and famously got his teenage daughter’s best friend pregnant.
It's like Terror Of The Autons all over again

All villains must die however, and Den finally met his end on a canal towpath, being shot by a bunch of daffodils.

Dirty Den #2
14 years later Den returned from the dead, revealing that when he was shot and fell into the canal he... somehow survived. He spent 18 months wandering about the Square being villainous before a cabal of the shows female characters tried to kill him. Rasputin-like, he took quite a while to die, before he finally succumbed and was buried in the cellar of the Queen Vic pub. Get out of that one Den!

Barry Evans
Barry was in the show for ten years, and no-one was really sure what to do with him. Was he a villain? A lovable goof? Clinically stupid? Whatever he was, his character somehow had lots of money from a car lot empire that spanned one entire car lot.


It was not to last however, for he fell into the clutches of Janine Butcher, the black widow of the square. This dumpy femme fatale decided she wanted all his money and so married him, thinking he was dying. It turned out he wasn’t, but then she made sure he did by pushing him off a cliff. It is one of the few soap crimes that someone has actually got away with, so if you want to kill someone ladies, make sure that they are fat and ugly.

Stella Crawford
Eastenders went through a period of characterising all women as insane delusional monsters obsessed with children. Ladies man Phil Mitchell’s wife, the professional lawyer Stella Crawford was revealed to be an insane, child-abusing psychopath who leapt to her death off the roof of a factory wearing a wedding dress and tiara, calling her husband ‘daddy’.

May Wright
In an attempt to further show that there is no such thing as a professional woman who is not insane, the character May Wright (who was a doctor) attempted to kidnap and drug little Dawn Swann so she could rip her unborn baby from her womb.

May was foiled in this plot and didn’t go to jail. Instead she returned a few months later wielding a crowbar and attempted to steal Dawn’s child again. This time though she was foiled when she blew up Dawn’s house, killing herself in the process.

This happens an awful lot

Johnny Allen
"Nya ha ha ha"

Eastenders had a macabre fascination with gangsters for a good while. One of the last of these was Johnny Allen, who inherited the title of Chief Gangster after murdering the previous Chief Gangster, Andy Hunter. (Andy was killed the same night as Dirty Den was killed for the second time. It was a big week for murders). He also had popular character Dennis Rickman killed, the monster.

Johnny isn’t on this list for how he died but how he lived. In his short time on the square he was involved in many ridiculous plots, from murder to arson to attempted murder to more murders to running a nightclub. Running the Square’s nightclub is pretty much a death sentence in this show, so his days were always numbered.

If this were a drawing, I would make fun of his hilariously small hand. As it is, I haven't a clue!

All this culminated in what was hilariously officially referred to as “Get Johnny Week” where the poor man’s Bruce Willis, Phil Mitchell and his similarly balding brother ran about in the woods for a week after Johnny, waving guns. This somehow ended up for Johnny going to jail for all the millions of murders he had committed.

Johnny shuffled off this mortal coil after the evil Shaun Slater (his motivation was that he was evil and crazy) shouted at him in jail, causing his heart to explode. It was a rather poor death, but even in death the murder train could not be stopped, since his last words of “Get Jake Moon” were interpreted by his cellmate not as “get popular recurring character and friend Jake Moon to me” but instead “murder Jake Moon to death”.

Eastenders hasn’t really had any gangster storylines since then.

There’s hundreds more deaths and I could be here all day talking about them. From more knifings to explosions to the humiliating ‘they were killed off-screen’, Eastenders has had them all. And hopefully will have many more to come!

The BBC website has a rather amusing death map that you can check out here if you want to learn more about the most dangerous place to live in Britain.