WSC #304

“Would you like to write us a Liverpool fan’s perspective on Alan Davies’ comments re Hillsborough and the subsequent fallout?” they said. I did have a few things I wanted to say about the matter, so I said “Alright”, while also thinking “Christ, I hope he doesn’t end up reading it and shouting at me on Twitter, though.”

Anyway, I wrote it – sneaking in a Doctor Who reference in the process – and the magazine is now out in shops (as well as being available to order online). I don’t think I was especially hysterical or excessively critical, and I refrained from making personal attacks against Davies (who I think was misguided rather than downright evil) himself. Although I did sort of slightly, possibly, a little bit, compare him to Richard Littlejohn.

I hope he doesn’t end up reading it and shouting at me on Twitter, though.

Ooh, a few things to catch up on, here. So! To business! If you haven’t seen me posting about these things elsewhere:

Thing the first: Captain America!

I saw it! It was great! And I wrote about it for Film4, thusly:

It’s true that it doesn’t aspire to be anything particularly weighty or original – but at what it sets out to do, it rarely puts a foot wrong. Director Joe Johnston, in full-on Rocketeer mode, crafts a charming and entertaining period action romp that may never exactly hit an unpredictable beat, but is no less enjoyable for it.

Miles better than Green Lantern, not quite as good as X-Men: First Class, but about on a level with Thor. Splendid.

(Less splendid : Rotten Tomatoes posting the review, but not attributing it to me – just to “Film4” generally – thus meaning it’s missing from my scorecard. Booo!)

Thing the second: New podcast!

My regular collaborator/partner in crime/argument board James Hunt and I have launched a new comics podcast, via our website Alternate Cover. It’s called The Graphic Novel Book Club, and it does exactly what it sounds like – each month, we solicit comments from our readers/listeners on a different graphic novel or trade paperback collection, setting discussion topic questions but also looking for any opinions/insights/etc. that people might have – then we throw them into the mix with our own thoughts and sit there chatting about it all for three-quarters of an hour. The first episode is now live on Podomatic and iTunes, and we’ve already posted discussion topics for the second, which we’ll be recording in a couple of weeks. Have a listen! Some people say it’s listenable and entertaining even if you don’t know the comics we’re talking about. I couldn’t possibly comment.

(And yes, it does have a slightly tautological name. “The Graphic Novel Club” might have been better, but then it wouldn’t have been as clear that we were specifically using a book group/book club format. It would have just sounded like a club.)

Thing the third: When Saturday Comes #295!

I’ve written at unnecessarily gushing length in the past about how much of an honour it is to write for When Saturday Comes, so I won’t retread all that ground again. But! This month is quite special, because for years now I’ve read their annual season preview supplement – in which one writer for each club in the league answers questions about their opinions on the previous season and expectations for the coming one – and thought about what I’d say if I were doing the section on Liverpool. So it’s quite exciting that this year, those answers are actually in the real supplement. I actually did a little double-take when I got the email asking if I’d do it. No, really.

What’s more, in the issue itself, an article I did a little while back about the history and merits (or lack thereof) of the away goals rule has made it to print. It’s not quite as exciting a piece as I was hoping when I started it – I was hoping to go into more extensive details about the circumstances of the rule’s creation/introduction, but discovered surprisingly little readily-available information despite doing some extensive library-based research and everything – but it’s still a relatively fun skim over the rule’s history and musing on whether or not it’s still a valid method of settling draws nowadays. Er, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Anyway, the issue’s out in shops on Wednesday – I’d post a picture of the cover, but WSC haven’t put it on their website yet. But it’s issue #295, it costs £3.50, and it’s got Stewart Downing, Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson on the front. So, you know. Buy it, if you like.

wsc291… one that I keep forgetting to do a post about, and one that’s just gone up. So let’s do a post about both.

Firstly! There’s another issue of the fine and august publication When Saturday Comes out with something by me in it. Just a little something, mind – a sidebar piece for the regular “Screen Test” feature, in which old football-related VHSes are dusted off and written about. What did I review? Well, you’ll have to buy the magazine to find out, innit. But it’s something I used to own about twenty years ago, then recently remembered about, and thought “Hey, I should buy that off eBay and then write about it for WSC, shouldn’t I?” So I did. The cover looks uncannily like that picture on the left, and you can find out more about what’s in the issue here.

Secondly, last week I went to see the first of this year’s barrage of superhero movies, Thor, and then reviewed it for Film 4. And here that is. I didn’t make a single joke about how the lead character’s name sounds like someone with a lisp saying “sore”. I think that shows remarkable restraint and maturity.

I can never overstate how much of an honour it is to be asked to write for When Saturday Comes magazine. On the surface, it might not seem like much – one football magazine among hundreds, still very much a fanzine in spirit, and with sales that, while admirable for the scale of the operation (and I’ve been to their offices, having interviewed for a job there back in 2004, so I know how it’s run), don’t touch the likes of FourFourTwo. But to me, it’s a lot more than that, and has been for a very long time. My Dad’s been buying it for as long as I can remember, so I can actually remember ploughing through piles of old copies when I was in primary school (primarily, back then, I was interested in the cover gags and Dave Robinson’s cartoons rather than the writing itself, but still).

What it most represents to me is the perfect riposte to those (and plenty of my friends would be included in this) who claim that football is only for sub-literate morons. Just because there’s a large undesirable element within football support – and indeed within the football-covering media – doesn’t mean that we should all be tarred with the same brush, and there are plenty of us who take a deeper and more thoughtful interest in the game, its cultural and social elements, the ongoing struggle for smaller clubs to survive, the wider context of the global game, and so on. WSC, in its modest page count each month, caters for people like us. Its intelligent and considered editorial style is an antidote to most of the moronic nonsense that counts as football writing nowadays; although this shouldn’t be mistaken for pseudo-intellectual snobbery, as the mag never loses a sense of fun, of enjoyment of the more ridiculous aspects of the sport. And to this day, I still consider it to have published the greatest book review ever written.

Anyway. It’s a great magazine – my favourite magazine, easily – and so when I finally got around to pitching a feature on the vagaries of squad numbers (see? What other mag would publish an article about the fact that Australia once fielded three players with three-digit numbers on their backs?), it was one of my proudest achievements to have got it published. Recently, however, I’ve been asked back by the editor to write for them a couple of times, which is almost even better. I was asked to do a review of a book about Liverpool, which is in the issue now on stands; and today I’ve also had a piece – again about LFC, and specifically their manager – go up on the blog. So have a look, if you’re interested, and hopefully they won’t be the last things I do under the “Half-Decent Football Magazine”‘s banner.

In other news, James and I have relaunched our comics site Comics Daily, having finally acknowledged that we weren’t doing quite so good a job of being “daily” since we stopped doing single-issue reviews. So it’s now known as Alternate Cover – which the eagle-eyed among you may notice was the domain we were using for it anyway – and, ironically, as part of the launch James is kicking off by doing a one-post-a-day “30 Days of Comics” meme throughout October, which I’ll then be following up by doing it in November. Though I may also be contemplating doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, too. I haven’t decided yet.

Wired and WSC

What? Surely not some actual work news to report on my workblog? Yup, that’s right. This last week has been a pretty good one for my writing, as it turns out, so hopefully LJ readers will forgive this crossposted bit of indulgence as I plug Stuff What I Now Have In The Shops.

wiredFirst off, the new issue of the UK edition of Wired (cover right) contains something I did a little while back: a short interview with Rantz Hoseley, the creator of LongBox – a digital comics distribution platform that has been, predictably enough, described as a potential “iTunes of comics” (including, er, in my article). It’s a short piece, just half a page (page 67, to be precise), but it’s half a page of Wired, and that feels like a pretty big deal.

wscHowever, it must be said that although getting in Wired is probably the most high-profile thing I’ve done (apart from an uncredited “Classic Scene” in Empire once), it doesn’t feel like quite so big a deal as the other article I’ve got out at the moment – in the current issue of When Saturday Comes (left), page 33 is given over to my tediously rambling about football shirt numbers. It may not be the biggest magazine in the world (although, for its scale of production, it does alright – you can nearly always find it in nationwide outlets of WH Smiths) but I’ve been reading it for as long as I can remember (no, really – my Dad had loads of old copies kicking around that I used to pore over as a kid), and to me it’s an important publication that serves an important role, maintaining high standards of insightful and intelligent (as well as far-reaching in scope) football journalism that’s rarely matched elsewhere. As such, even though they may not have the stringent pitching and submissions process of a Conde Nast magazine, getting something in there feels like an honour; and I hope it won’t be the last time. And just to sate my ego further, the piece was spotlighted in the “In the current issue” section of the mag’s weekly email, and is also highlighted with an image on the contents page. Nice.

So yes. Things rolling along quite well at the moment, with a couple of other bits in the pipeline as well. Both mags should be on sale for the next three weeks or so, so feel free to check ’em out.