New World Disorder

And now, like the screaming after Brexit – but in a more immediate time frame – we wait. We know we’re going to be surprised. We just don’t know what form the surprises will take.

Ignore the pundits, the howlers, the hatemongers, and your fears. Live well. Do good. Love carefully but unreservedly. Above all: have fun. Always have fun.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 9, 2016 in Daybook


How Not to Get Your Story Selected

“The problem is in a pinch I can usually find something from ******** that’s passable after rejecting a dozen other pieces from writers for whom gibberish seems to be their first language.”

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 8, 2016 in Quotes


The Pen versus The Sword

I’ve always liked the quote “The pen is mightier than the sword”. However, I also qualify it in my mind with “But the sword has the advantage of immediacy”.

Now, I know that because of my writing, I do and view words in different ways to most people, but I am getting mightily ticked off by the “50 Dead in Orlando Gay Club Shooting.” headlines.

What the f*ck has ‘gay’ got to do with that tragedy? Fifty people died. Mourn fifty lives ended too soon. Their sexual orientation is of low import… Unless… Someone was going for the implicit “you’re okay, it’s just another minority being picked on” form of negative reassurance.

And what that is, is reinforcing divisions. A form of media manipulation, if you will. Every word you contribute to a public medium can have impact. Let’s focus on the inclusive, folks. The petty, stupid and scared are getting fractious. See that? That’s me categorising unfairly. Doesn’t matter if you agree, it’s divisive because I am not present to diffuse the negative aspects of my words with body language, humourous depreciation or contextual setting – or in this case, telling you I’m being unfair.

I have a friend who winds up with minor misinformation people for fun. Problem is, that sort of wind up, released on the internet, is divorced from his swift intervention to correct the induced misconception.

And that, my friends, is where our doom will come from… Not my friend! But words released without recourse to correction.

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but it is frequently less precise.

Please, think carefully about what you release into this virtual never never land.

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 12, 2016 in Life & Self


More Gods than Most

I’m a religious bloke, but it ain’t no-one’s business but me own. However, there have been expressions of curiousity, which I have been unable to fully meet. That’s the way of personal, eclectic polytheism. 🙂

Now, I have more gods than most, and powers abound from and beyond them. But behind them, far back in the mists generated by the destruction of Britain’s native religions, there stands a crone in a red skirt and a horned man in a homespun shirt. Two figures so indelible they must have scared the usurpers something fierce for them to wreak such havoc during attempts to erase their lore.

As (probable) manifestations of multi-aspected deities, we cannot do much more than guess at what they represented and how they were propitiated (and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying). So I, like many, walk an exploratory, subjective path in a world turned cold to the mass expression, appreciation and usage of the as-yet unquantified abilities collectively entitled ‘magic’.

I have striven for a while to formulate a decent answer to those aforementioned queries. But, in the end, I realised that song is better suited than any words I could assemble.

This track is as close as I can get to introducing the goddess who probably spends far more of her time being amused by my antics than any result I might prefer: the original version of Uriah Heep’s Lady in Black.

Blessed Be.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 9, 2016 in Faith & Magic


Polish Your Own Boots

It’s another long-overdue boot polishing day. 🙂

Or, as my great-grandfather occasionally termed it (when great-grandmother wasn’t about), ‘bullying the boots’. Not that I can find that slang translation anywhere these days.

Great-grandfather taught me how to work a decent shine in, smiling when he mentioned I’d not need ‘spit shine’ unless I joined up. Ever since he taught the demon that masqueraded as his eldest grandson how to do that, he started a legacy within me: things that a gentleman should be able to do, and not be embarrassed about.

Decades passed before a Peruvian bootblack on the streets of Lima showed me how to mix solvent and polish to redeem badly perished leathers. My work boots have survived twenty years, thanks to that.

For all the marvellous things I’ve been able to do, all the luck I’ve had and all the damn hard work that always seems to accompany good fortune, working a thorough shine into my boots still makes the young savage within me proud.

Cheers, grandpa.

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Life & Self



As you get older, you’ll discover parts of yourself that you don’t like, aren’t comfortable with, or wish were different. Chances are, many of them you won’t be able to change. All you can do with those is understand them, accept them if you can, and make damn sure the bad ones don’t get out unless you really need them to. But never fret over them. You’re no less for knowing your dark as well as your light.


Posted by on January 6, 2016 in My Father's Life Tips


The Strange Effect

Way back in my early teens, my great-grandmother used to walk everywhere with me. A mile or so from their home was a dim newsagent where she would reload with Player’s Navy Cut cigarettes to cater to her (doctor recommended) one-a-day habit. That shop stocked a lot of odd and only vaguely interesting things for a young lad, but one afternoon, as she chatted at the counter, I saw a huge comic:


It was priced at 50p, and a quick trot to the counter elicited an “are you sure?” comment, followed by a purchase in my favour. It got a crease in the cover from being stuffed in my coat pocket, but I didn’t care. It was big and bright and the stories just leapt into my mind. Then I encountered the centrepiece:


Safe to say, it blew my tiny mind to bits and reassembled it in a way that never returned to the way it had been before. (That centrepiece was done by Frank Brunner, but Doctor Strange was drawn by Steve Ditko, whose art in Doctor Strange is one of the cornerstones of my fantasy imagination, alongside the otherworldly fantasy of Andre Norton and the gritty fiction of Mick Farren. It is so fundamental to what I create that, like Norton and Farren, I can only see the melded influences in hindsight.)

Over the years, comics and I had an on-again, off-again thing. With the rise of graphic novels (a.k.a. trade paperbacks) which collected issues of comics and presented them without the wealth of crappy advertisements, I became more of a devotee of the comic format. Of course, access to comics requires money, and there was another stumbling block. That’s a sad tale recounted, in part, elsewhere on this blog, so we can move on with naught but a note that sometimes I had lots of comics, and sometimes I had vanishingly few, having sold most of ’em off.

New comic stars rose and fell, only some remained. But no matter what, my holdings of Doctor Strange increased steadily and quietly, tucked away on diverse shelves and in storage boxes, never really registering as a collection.

Just over a decade into the twenty-first century and things weren’t going terribly well. I turned to writing and it suited me. But it also changed the way I considered stories in all forms of media. Books, comics and films I had cherished for ages became tawdry. A half-dozen books I had sold off had to be re-acquired. A couple of films I had rubbished, likewise. Conversely and handily, a lot of stuff could be sold off at a time when I really needed the money.

Then, one afternoon as I unpacked in the little apartment I had ended up in, I came across the back of a huge comic:


My first Doctor Strange was still with me. It still had that crease, despite being stored flat for decades. I read it and properly rediscovered my sorcerer supreme – and the love of his life, Clea. Curious, I started rummaging about. As I was mid-process of putting stuff back on shelves, everything was out, either loose or in boxes.

A couple of hours later I had a stack – a real, nearly foot-high stack – of Doctor Strange (and a tidier apartment). After that, the part of me that loves complete stories drove me to research what exactly I had. Of course, from there it was but a step to list what I didn’t have. It wasn’t a simple step, as Stephen Strange has been around for six decades and appeared in many comics and reprints. Plus, I had discovered that I had no interest in his guest appearances, team roles or re-imaginings of his origins et al. I wanted pure, or only slightly diluted, Doctor Strange.

From then on, I kept an eye open for Doctor Strange works and picked up those I could afford. The stack steadily grew, until a news item caught my eye: Doctor Strange was about to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Which would make filling the empty slots in my collection expensive. If the film did well, the task would become prohibitively expensive, even for the lesser condition stuff I was accumulating. This necessitated a change of plan and pace, which, by and large, has been surprisingly effective.

I also found the need to assemble a sequenced reading list, which is when I thought of doing a blog post, as it might be of use to interested readers. Note that I used the cheapest way to get the tales, so there are many collections that do not specify which comics they include (If you need to know, consult the Wikipedia entry for Doctor Strange, it lists what is in the various collected editions).

  1. Essential Doctor Strange volume 1
  2. Essential Doctor Strange volume 2
  3. Essential Doctor Strange volume 3
  4. Essential Doctor Strange volume 4
  5. Doctor Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts #57
  6. Doctor Strange Vs. Dracula: The Montesi Formula GN
  7. Doctor Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts #63 thru #67
  8. Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes #33 GN
  9. Doctor Strange: Don’t Pay the Ferryman GN
  10. Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa GN
  11. Doctor Strange: Strange Tales GN
  12. Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #1 thru #53
  13. Doctor Strange Annual #3
  14. Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #54 thru #66
  15. Doctor Strange Annual #4
  16. Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #67 thru #90
  17. Doctor Strange: What is it that Disturbs You, Stephen? GN
  18. Doctor Strange: Flight of Bones #1 thru #4
  19. Strange: The Doctor is Out! GN
  20. Doctor Strange Volume 1: The Way of the Weird GN
    – due for publication in May 2016

I’ll continue to refine/maintain this listing as I catch up with the backlog of acquisition and reading.


Stephen Strange has come a long way from Strange Tales #110 in 1963. But I don’t think that 2016 is going to cause him any trouble.

Do go and see the film. If it keeps the promises of it’s concept art and intent, it will be spectacular, and may well be something far beyond the usual cinematic superhero fare – and that can only be a good thing.


Art from Marvel Treasury Edition #6: Doctor Strange is by Frank Brunner and Steve Ditko.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange; photos from Entertainment Weekly.
Used without permission.
Copyright remains with the original holders.

1 Comment

Posted by on January 5, 2016 in Life & Self

%d bloggers like this: