So the year draws to a close, and with it a roller-coaster ride of a career path, which has slowly made the transition from comics to film and television, while also moving me into the world of reluctant reader novels. I’ve made some new, amazing friends, reconnected with old ones and I’ve lost people along the way, but at the end of the day, I’m in a far better place than I was at the start of the year – and I wasn’t doing too bad back then.
2014 was the year of Change The Channel, and the amount of new schools I visited went up over 200%, with the bulk of this aimed at reluctant readers. No matter what happens in my life, I think I’ll always continue this tour in some way, as the ability to convince even one child to read a book is a gift, and to have a student tell me on a later visit that my talk turned their life around? I don’t get that many of those, and when I do? It’s something I’ll always keep close to my heart. I’m having to reduce the amount I’m doing in 2015, and already I’m working out how to squeeze the occasional extra day in.
2014 was also the year of changes – IDW’s Doctor Who license finally went across to Titan and my final trade came out on the very last day of 2013, so there was a little bit of bittersweet joy in knowing that I was the last ongoing story for IDW, going out on a high note – while at the same time knowing that I’d most likely never have the chance to do the same in the Doctor’s world ever again. And before you start that letter campaign, I don’t really want to write for Titan, the offer’s there for me to pitch if I want – but there are so many excellent writers moving onto the books now, I feel that it’s their time now, that my time in the world of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor was enough for me, and it’s time for me to move on to other things.
Comics took a backseat in 2014, at the start of the year I was finishing off Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck, and pitching for Steampunk Battlestar Galactica: 1880, the four parter that would debut later in the year. And apart from that I had my Messenger: The Legend Of Joan Of Arc GN come out, as well as two of the Ravens Gate series of adaptations – Evil Star and Night Rise. Booksellers rather than comic stores saw my name more this year. And in a way, I liked that, as I didn’t really have the time to take on an ongoing series. I had meetings, as ever – I saw DC and Marvel in January when I was in New York for the Baker Street Irregulars Dinner, and also again in November when I was back in New York for a few days. I also started working for another publisher – but that’s not been announced yet, so you’ll have to wait.
But most of the year has been based in the world of film and television, a world I’m still new to. I’ve been working with Alaina Huffman to turn our series Agent Mom into a television show named The Nest, and it’s been a learning curve. In February I met Andy Briggs for lunch, and the result of that was the movie Cartel, now being developed by Craig Fairbrass’s production company, with Craig set to star. (Andy and I are working on two other television projects, which by this time next year should be announced and all over the place.)
The Mild Bunch changed producers, had some substantial rewrites for the better and now has a director in the acclaimed form of Niall Johnson. With nearly all the crew in place and half the cast sorted, we’re hoping for a summer filming date. At the BBC TV Drama Writer’s Festival in July I met a producer I’ve been in awe of for years and, after talking to them on email we’ve started developing a television idea – but again, everyone I know in TV land has a project like this, so we’ll see how that one goes. In July I also ran a one day Graphic Writing course for Screenwriters through Raindance (I’m running another one in January 2015), and through that met a production company that first wanted to talk to me about creating comic content for a major budget film they were looking to produce, which then turned into being hired to re-write the screenplay from scratch, a screenplay that was so well received by the producers, they snapped up a second film screenplay of mine – In The Ring.
Now, In The Ring is an exciting thing, as it started as a joke. I’m lucky to be a fan of wrestling that, through a mutual love of comics knows several of the wrestlers I admire and watch on TV. One of these is Christopher Daniels, who in 2013 was awesome enough to write the intro to my The Gloom graphic novel, and we’d kept in touch, always promising to do something together, most probably a comic. But in mid 2014 we joked on Twitter about the lack of an ‘old school’ wrestling film in the style of Ready To Rumble or Body Slam. Wrestling movies are gritty now. Serious. We wanted to do The Wrestler meets The Hangover. The challenge was laid and I accepted. Within a week I’d come up with a framework and a concept, and both Christopher and his tag-team partner in crime Frankie Kazarian came on board.
A few weeks later Chris and Kaz were in the UK doing a series of events and I was going to see them in Stevenage – I mentioned this to one of the producers of the above mentioned-yet-unannounced project and was surprised to see that they were a long term and lapsed wrestling fan. I took them to the event, they met Chris and Kaz, and within a month my agent had an option enquiry from them. On Boxing Day, I sent the first draft to all involved, and with luck we’re looking at a 2015 filming schedule, with two of the main parts played by – you’ve guessed it, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian. More when it gets announced.
There are other things that bubble underneath – my creator owned comic Crash Landing started back up with Stefano Martino and Kevin Enhart, but we’re only now looking for a publisher. I have two other film scripts in varying stages of readiness, and a TV show pilot doing the UK rounds. But all of these are ‘next year’ things. The biggest writing thing for me by far this year were the six books I had released this year by Badger Learning.
For those of you who don’t know, Badger Learning write books for reluctant readers. And by that I mean seriously reluctant readers. People in their teens with a reading age of 7 or 8. What this means is that you can write stories aimed at a younger reading age, but with an audience far older, which allows more ‘mature’ themes. This year I’ve written three ‘Teen Reads’ novels – Jigsaw Lady, Stalker and Mister Scratch, two ‘Wow! Facts’ books, one on Sherlock Holmes and one on Vampires, and an even younger aimed book titled Doctor Jekyll and Little Miss Hyde, which comes out early next year. These books are something I take incredible pride in, because of the students I see in my school talks. It makes me happy to know that there are people like Badger out there helping them.
Convention wise, it was light this year – I was at the Gallifrey One convention in LA, had a brief appearance at the London Super Comic Con, I taught a workshop in the Birmingham International Comic Expo, and I fulfilled commitments to three missed 2013 conventions by attending The Time Of Angels in Heathrow, ComicPalooza in Houston and Long Island Who. But apart from that, I was convention free, with many of my usuals, including San Diego avoided for the year. Next year will be more of the same, a far reduced schedule for both conventions and school talks – purely because my workload is increasing. But ComicPalooza was a highlight for me, for two reasons – firstly, it was Tracy’s first one as a guest, and secondly we got the ‘red line’ tour of the Houston Space Centre (the President tour) with two Doctors, two Power Rangers and a Secret Service agent. Or, to be more accurate, the actors that play them. It’s going to take a big thing to beat sitting in the cockpit of a Space Shuttle, or sitting at the actual desks of Mission Control…
It’s been a busy year, and I’ve been rubbish at catching up with many people. I intend to change this in 2015. There are people who I’ve seen who bring me down – again, I intend to change this in 2015. But overall, I think 2014 was the year that I saw a goal that I wanted and actually went for it. Funnily enough, the last time my future was this clear to me was 2004, a full ten years ago, when I’d just moved into comics.
2015 is going to be ‘the’ year. I can feel it.