Monday 24 October 2016

STEVE DILLON - 1962 to 2016

Sadly one of the most popular comic book artists Steve Dillon died today.

Born in Luton (England) in 1962 Steve Dillon began his career drawing for Marvel UK's Hulk magazine. His best known works, though, are 'Judge Dredd' and 'Rogue Trooper' drawn for the 2000 A.D. comic.

He has also contributed to the Dr Who magazine and 'The Punisher' as well as being the co-creator and artist for the 'Preacher' series.

Steve Dillon died today in New York City aged 54.

Tuesday 18 October 2016


Included in the new Indie Collection anthology Spectacular Tales 111 is a short story titled 'The Quarantine Zone'.

This is a story that has evolved over time - in fact sometime around 2000 to 2005.

Back then I wrote a story called 'The End' where boy meets girl after an unnamed apocalyptic event. Girl loses boy who rides off into the sunset after telling her that he wasn't about to play Adam to her Eve.

As a simple one thousand word piece it did a job of a kind. About three or four years ago I did an edit while I was with the writers group in Felixstowe. This did expand on the original idea but read out loud there was still something lacking.

I was about to delete it from the computer when I was asked if I had anything that could be used in a sci-fi anthology. I should have said 'no' because I didn't think that the story was really fit for purpose but the theme rather saved it.

The boy became a 55 year old man and the girl changed to a 21 year old rebel. They meet up in the same location in the aftermath of a devastating plague in an opening that has a 'western' flavour to it.

As 'Red Moon Rising' it was published in Spectacular Tales 11.

The Quarantine Zone is set in London and introduces three new characters and throws a different light on the plague. This time there is a Polish nurse, a girl shy security guard and a streetwise teenage boy - just three of the survivors trapped inside the fenced off grounds of a hospital.

That story is not 'the end' though for within a couple of days of completing that story I started on a third that would bring another character to life.

Even as I write this a plan is afoot to add some more stories. A bunch of short stories that will all link up to create a whole. An idea very much inspired by Hunter Davies 'I Knew Daisy Smuten'. This was a collection of short stories by various writers with Hunter Davies providing the finale. Add to the mix Howard Hopkins 'The Dark Riders' a western where the hero has to work out how to kill a gang of outlaws who refuse to die.

I have learned that sometimes stories don't work even though the plot idea sounds good. Near enough a decade on and it has taken on a life of it's own. Simple message there is never give up - when the story is ready it will come.

Thursday 6 October 2016

CHANNEL DASH by Terence Robertson

During February 1941 the German battle cruisers 'Scharnhorst' and 'Gneisenau' just disappeared. They had got past the Home Fleet's patrols through the Denmark Strait and into the north Atlantic where over the ensuing months they had sunk around 300,000 tons of Allied shipping.
This caused some disruption as the Home and Mediterranean fleets were depleted to provide escort along the shipping lanes. While, at the same time, trying to hem in both the 'Bismarck' and 'Tirpitz' in their Norwegian bases.

Eventually, by chance the two battle cruisers were found to have reached Brest where they had docked along with the heavy cruiser 'Prinz Eugen'.

Hitler was convinced that Allied forces were getting ready to make a possible invasion into Norway so he looked to Admiral Raeder to find a way to get the ships in Brest up to help with the defence. After much deliberation a plan was hatched - one that was so daring that many dismissed it as impossible.

However improbable a scenario it represented the Allies had long put into action 'Operation Fuller' that would be implemented should the threat become reality.

On the night of 14th February 1942 the R.A.F bombed Brest Harbour twice - on neither occasion were any of the ships hit. After the first raid photographic evidence showed them at anchor.
At 9:45 pm that night the three ships slipped out of the harbour and disappeared into the night.

A British spy tried to make contact but failed. The British submarine 'Sealion' that had been on watch had to dive in order to recharge the batteries and so missed their departure.

So began the hunt for the German warships as they steamed their way up the English Channel right under the Allied noses.

What followed was a series of blunders that would cost the life of Eugene Esmonde (who would be given the Victoria Cross) and his squadron of Fairey Swordfish as they attacked through unrelenting fire in an attempt to destroy their targets. Not so long before Esmonde and his squadron had distinguished themselves against the 'Bismarck'.

As the German fleet approached Dover on the Kent Coast the task of halting the dash fell into the hands of the man behind the successful evacuation of the British Army from the beaches of Dunkirk - Admiral Ramsey.

For the Germans it was a victory - for the Allies it was just a bewildering mass of confusion, bungling, mis-communication and disbelief by some.

It had Churchill demanding: "Why?"

Terence Robertson's book attempts to answer the question but it does boil down to a plan that was made for a contingency that no one really believed would happen. The drama of those twenty four hours comes vividly to life in this book - and for those who don't know about this episode from the second world war then this book is a good place to start.

Monday 3 October 2016


After entertaining the folk of the silver mining town of Conejos Blancos the travelling Mexican circus moves on.
Yet while the audience had watched the death defying skills of the knife and trapeze artists, so Roger Hart is assembling a small army to take over the town and steal the silver in a well thought out plan of action.
No sooner has the circus left than Hart's gang ride in. The sheriff is killed and the townspeople are taken hostage. Still the best laid plans do not take into account the ingenuity of children two of whom escape the outlaws net to fetch help.
It is the circus performers that they turn to; people with the skills to bring the outlaws down.

Armed with a strong cast of characters the story flows with lightening speed that takes it into 'unputdownable' territory.

Ross Morton is a writer who entertains and knows his craft (check out Nik Morton's book "Write A Western In 30 Days"). There will be those who will think of a certain movie and there is a tip of the hat to it but this is not the major element as events encompass more 'heroes' than the title suggests.