Tuesday, 29 December 2009

About The Books: 2009 Review of the Year

With a sharp change in emphasis from the Soc Med focus of 2008, this year has been all about the books – not only finishing my own (and throwing it out to the ether to see where it landed), but helping sell other people’s.

In his post on signings, Jim C Hines argues the case for such events being a waste of time – low turn-out, poor sales, bored staff – and yes, we’ve had our tumbleweed moments. I’d be lying through my teeth if I denied knowledge of how that feels.


As Borders glubs finally below the surface, it’s the industry’s responsibility to keep book sales afloat – and that means (for my part) taking the ‘bored-bloke-with-Sharpie’ signing and kicking some life into it.

Cue Dave Devereux’s ‘Eagle Rising’ signing last January – publishers, authors, marketeers, bloggers and retailer all joining forces to rip up the rulebook and defy the ‘why bother’ trend – the event was massive and the subsequent publicity for all was off the scale. Suddenly they were – quite literally – all the rage. As we said at the time, ‘everybody wins’.

In April, another first – asking China MiĆ©ville to read, live, from The City & The City; Joe Abercrombie came in a month later for a similar event.

Forbidden Planet is a hub – it’s a brand that Makes Shit Happen. I can’t claim that every signing has been a screaming-teen success – but if you make the effort, this stuff snowballs.

And that’s where the Soc Med gubbins learned last year comes back into its own.

During 2009, membership of Twitter has increased by well over 1000%; business identities now form 40% of FaceBook pages. In a struggling climate, success is all about communication, about visibility and Customer Service - and these are the tools we now take up.

Whether your signing is a success or not, that’s only the investiture of petrol money and a sandwich. The point is that those signed books, that Soc Med coverage, that interview, that blog post – they’re all about public visibility. I’m better Mister Hines had more people read that post than turned up at the signing in question.

In order to turn Soc Med’s now well-oiled wheels, you need the event – the trigger, the spark, the gimmick, the kick-start for the momentum to roll. Hubspot have a lovely piece on Dominos – one Brand that’s made it happen.

This year has been all about re-invention – about the personal re-invention of my own random scribblings… and about completely re-visualising the traditional concept of ‘signing’.

And with the economic climate as it is and the industry under so much pressure, that re-invention has a name.

2009 is less ‘So.Me’ – and more ‘So.Everyone’.

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Sunday, 20 December 2009


Every so often, a film comes to the cinema that dazzles your senses, that forces you against the back of your seat though you want to be sitting on its edge, that takes your skull and blow your mind and leaves your smoking boots on the auditorium floor.

AVATAR is not that film.

The 3D’s pretty, don’t get me wrong (delighted that he avoided any monster-coming-out-of-the-screen shit) – but if you take the story from The Abyss and the marines from Aliens, chuck in two scoops of Titanic tragedy and an eight-foot blue elf with tits that don’t quite show, then you end up with a flick that epitomises the phrase ‘style over substance’.

A grating script – cringeworthy in places, a predictable narrative, acting that was better done by cgi beastie than paid professional, and a environmental message that should have been a subtle suggestion and was more like something out of South Park (pause and breathe). I get spectacular, I really do, but the irony of the film having three dimensions while the characters barely managed two was not lost on me.

Oh, and WHY does every director ever born think you can use a longbow as a quarterstaff? Bugs me EVERY time!

Back to the point – it was spectacular. The cry that it has revolutionised the format is absolutely true – if any film is going to put a shot of shiny-elf-light into the fading arm of British Cinema, then this is the one, and as such I will forgive it all.

Though it does strike me: the reason you have to see it on the big screen?

Is because if you see it on a small one, it’ll be stripped – right down to the Emperor’s New Clothes.

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Friday, 18 December 2009


Yes, it's finally happened.

The flaming horse, the huge firearm, the gigantic sword, the almighty demon - not to mention comics legend Joe Madureira - are all coming to Forbidden Planet in the new year.

On Thursday evening, 7th January, for the very first time in the UK, you can get your mitts on THQ's epic 'DARKSIDERS' (for PS3 and XBox) at FP London. Joe will be there to sign the game and talk about his work, plus we'll have pods right there so you can get up-close-and-personal with the Four Horseman.

This is a first for us - kicking off a whole new decade with a whole new kind of event.

Go on...

...go Mad!

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Thursday, 17 December 2009

Blood Drinker?

There are times when a piece of promo-merch really hits the spot. In this case, the bloodspot. Yes, just in time for your Yuletide tipple, the TRU BLOOD drink is available in a handy four-pack carry-out or as a single bottle.

If you need to freak your Christmas rellies, it’s pretty convincing, – the 14oz glass bottle is an exact replica of the one seen on the show, featuring a rich red stain and the Tru Blood lettering in both English and Japanese Kanji. Even the carry-out box is authentic... almost.

The difference? This one's blood type is blood orange.

It's slightly carbonated, slightly tart, slightly sweet, slightly naughty... and just begging for a double vodka depth-charge. Go on - leave one out for Santa!

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Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Ultimate Geek Gift

Somehow, Christmas is always associated with films by Tim Burton - maybe it's the 'snow' theme, or the annual resurgence of Jack Skellington - he's become as seasonal as looking forward to your stocking on Christmas morning.

And this year sees the release of 'The Art of Tim Burton', the ultimate insight, an astounding, definitive compilation of forty years of the master's artistry. Containing over 1,000 illustrations from his personal archives, it follows his passion for humanity’s oddities and misunderstood monsters through 434 pages of fascinating, beautifully showcased artwork - furnished with the thoughts, anecdotes and insights of his many friends and condifidantes.

Also available is a Deluxe Edition that comes with a hand-signed and numbered lithograph (1,000 in total). Each of these rare and collectible books come in a fabric-wrapped slipcase through which the dramatic, spiral cover will still be visible.

Ideal to ensuring you have no nightmares before Christmas!

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