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.
It’s been a Film4 sort of a month, January, with a few pieces of mine going up on the recently-relaunched website, so I thought I may as well round up links to ’em all. First of all, there was a quick blast through the films of James Cameron – timed to coincide with the release of some new film or other – and then, split into two parts, a similar history of Pixar, which made for quite good fun trawling through the backstories of the various films. I also found the time to head over to the premiere of a documentary about Blur and spin out a few words on it. No swanky VIP journalistic privileges at said event (I think you have to be from Empire, or at the very least Total Film, to get that) but the band themselves were in attendance, which was nice. Graham Coxon has a very similar duffel coat to me.
Speaking of writing for websites, meanwhile, I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here, but it’s worth noting that at the start of the month we finally did the decent thing and closed down Noise to Signal. Time pressures (not to mention losing some writers) were simply the main factor in our not feeling able to keep up with it as much as we used to – and we felt that only having sporadic updates, particularly given how wide the site’s remit for subject matter was, meant it simply couldn’t establish and hold enough of a niche. We’re leaving the site’s archives open indefinitely, though, and our last article was of course a self-indulgent trip through our “best” bits. I was also sad to see, recently, that one of the main sites that inspired NTS’ creation, Off the Telly, is also closing (for the second time). One of the things that made me proudest of NTS was the fact that Graham Kibble-White was enough of a fan to include us in the “favourite blogs” sidebar, and the site (similarly staying up as an archive) is home to some of the best writing about telly on the internet (I suppose not that hard an achievement, given that there’s so little on the subject of true quality out there, but that shouldn’t be held against it).
In other news, I imagine there will be a fair few people reading this who probably have an interest in writing some Doctor Who one day… and so just in case any of those people haven’t seen Big Finish’s current new writers opportunity… well, there’s a link to it just there. I’m not sure they’re aware just how much bad fanfic they’re going to be leaving themselves open to, but… fair play to them. I’ll be interested to see what comes out of it.
Oh, and I’ve been thinking up slightly lame but (I think) amusingly nerdy t-shirt ideas recently, so I’ve decided to hell with it and started up a shop on Spreadshirt for them. The way I see it, even if everyone thinks they’re absolutely rubbish and no-one buys any, at least it doesn’t cost me anything (nor will it make me much, either, the percentage earned from each shirt sold is pretty low, but I’m not really bothered about that). But if you might be interested in shirts that slyly reference comic books and Ghostbusters and Weezer and font nerdery and Choose Your Own Adventure books and the like, then you might want to have a look.
And that’s all the weather!