Bridlington Comic Con – Panel Side View

What a triumph Bridlington Comic Con was last weekend!  After two great Hull Comic Cons I was once again proud to emcee the guest panels!  I’ve not seen much written about them, but thought it worth a mention as lots of cons now seem to just have signings rather than panels and Q and A’s.

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The District 14 Team at Bridlington Comic Con 2016

Harry Potter Death Eater,Jon Campling.  The only guest that gets to appear on his own has become a much anticipated part of District 14’s events.  Opening proceedings with as much vigor as Status Quo opening Live Aid, Jon is a true star, but with the closest link to his fans in the audience.

For john’s session I created the “Wheel of Jon” – a no expense spared CGI spectacular which dictated the questions for Jon to answer.  All were discussed in full with only the mysterious cheese question left for future events!!!

Our comic book artists have become one of the most popular parts of our events, and quite right – it is a comic con after all!  Russ Leach (Doctor Who Adventures, Draw the Marvel Way), Rachael Smith (Titan’s Doctor Who, Lumberjanes) and Russ Payne (Jack Kirby Museum) talked on a range of subjects ranging from copyright of Marvel characters to their views on drawing hands.  Out of interest Russ Leach’s opinion was “don’t”.

Rachael’s “Well you have two of your own!!!”

and Russ Payne’s “Buy Draw the Marvel Way by Russ Leach”

One of my biggest joys of meeting these guys has been the opportunity to buy one off commissioned art work, and I was happy to invite them to promote their wares to the audience.

A happy audience hit was Sarah Louise Maddison.  The performer brings to life to the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who. Despite being silent and covered in makeup, she had a raft of questions from an army of fans, and among other things we learnt that she was scanned for the Weeping Angel action figure, she can pick herself out of a line up of Angels in publicity photos, Peter Capaldi buys Watercress in Waitrose and despite wearing a mask on screen, she has been recognized in Lidl !

After two amazing events with Norman Lovett in Hull, it was great to gain our second Holly in the shape of Hattie Hayridge.  Hattie gave us some great stories about her time on Red Dwarf and certainly pleased a lot of Red Dwarf fans of all ages.

My final panel of the day was my true highlight as I met two actors who had been in my favorite film Star Wars.  David Stone was only an actor for a short time, but managed to be one of Joan Collins’ Studs, worked with Brit Ekland, was directed by Monty Python’s Terry Jones and was of course in the biggest sci-fi film of all time!  After this joyous folio of films, David started running Holiday Homes.  Having now retired from hospitality David is surprised to find that despite his small role in Star Wars (The Alien who buys Luke’s Landspeeder in Mos Eisley) fans want to hear of his time on set.  But why wouldn’t they! not only did David perform with Alec Guinness and appear in the famous Cantina scene, he was also Mark Hamil’s double for long shots, or as David says “Shots were it was cheaper to use him than fly Mark Hamil in!”

David’s stories often started to venture to telling us a little too much, but luckily he was kept in line by Tina Simmons.  An actor who not only appeared in Return of the Jedi as a Rebel Technician, but has also appeared in:Roger Rabbit, The Dark Night, Superman, Super Girl, Bourne, four Bonds and totally wowed the crowd with a Bridlington exclusive that she’s just filmed scenes with Benadict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange!

Tina told us how Billy Dee Williams stole the spotlight on set for ROTJ, and confirmed that Harrison Ford is a very serious chap!  Tina started her career in an early episode of Doctor Who with William Hartnell and said that Star Wars and Doctor Who were her career highlights.

Tina and David weren’t just a joy on their panel.  When I introduced myself, they were so happy to show me photos and press clippings of their life and career and actually thanked me for their experience at the con.   I couldn’t have more respect for Tina and David and the unique stories they bring us from the world we love.

District 14 events go from strength to strength, and it’s a joy to be on the team.  If you love films, comics and TV I can’t recommend these panels enough.  I’m spoiled to be able to talk to these people and I hope you get to see us at a future event.

The stunning image featured on this blog shows a member of fund raising group The Sentinel Squad in the Bridlington sea taken by TK-2804  @thesentianlsquaduk

So Farewell Leonard Nimoy

By REV. edited by F.I.B

Stripped of emotions and human constraints, Star Trek’s Chief Science Officer, Mr. Spock, became the easiest catalyst for us to understand the simplicity of a peaceful life. Indeed, his good friend Captain Kirk said of all the souls he met, Spock was the most human.

It would be very easy to spend this post discussing the sad loss of the iconic Ambassador from the Star Trek universe and his amazing adventures and times on the Starship Enterprise, but it would be illogical as Spock has not died. Leonard Nimoy – actor, writer, director, poet, husband and father – has died.

He gave his life to playing Spock, for better and for worse, loving and hating the character in equal parts at the same time – his two volumes of memoir “I am not Spock” and “I am Spock” demonstrating this. His commitment to the character has grafted it into popular culture.

I can say little that other blogs, articles and obituaries won’t be saying. But, to me, Leonard is one of those actors who became fascinating to see, as he was as quirky and interesting and as eccentric as himself as he was Mr Spock.

I chose to remember him here, not with a clip from Star Trek, but with his song celebrating another fantasy creation which always, always makes me smile. I wouldn’t want to try and be clever so, like many other blogs, articles and obituaries, I say – Leonard Nimoy. Mr. Spock. Live long, and prosper.

Charley’s War Angels

Charley’s War and Titan’s Tenth Doctor Who Comic #7 Preview

By Who Wars – Andy
Edited by F.I.B

Back in the hazy days of the late 1970s and early 1980s, twentieth century pocket money accountancy happily divided up into sweets, comics and, to please your Mam, saving a bit!  I have to confess, my sweet account expenditure was transferred to the comic stream to allow me extra indulgence to feast on glorious art work and jokey high jinx rather than Mojos, Black Jacks and Cola Bottles!

I was very much into the fun comics – The Beano, The Beezer, Nutty and Hoot – from the great Scottish publishing empire of DC Thompson and Whoopee, Wow and Buster from Fleetway, based in London at Kings Reach Tower!  But Fleetway was also home to developing a more sophisticated, serious school of comics, bridging the gap between childhood frivolity, and the more serious real world that hits us with the coming of adulthood.

With 2000AD soon leading the way with its gritty and grim outlook on the future of society through the eyes of no nonsense law enforcer Judge Dredd, it owes its inception to a raft of stories set in the more recent world, which emerged in titles such as Action and Battle Picture Weekly.  These comics pushed the boundaries so much that Action became part of a high profile campaign by the UK’s major newsagents to stop the title or they would not stock any comics from the publishers! The campaign was successful and the title ended.

It left a legacy though, that there was more to comics than jokes and whacky adventures.  One of the most inspiring things I have experienced in any form of Media is a strip that featured in Battle Picture Weekly.  The strip is set in the Trenches of World War One and is called “Charley’s War”.

Charley’s War tells the story of Charley Bourne, a 16 year old London lad, who enlists in the British Army and goes off to the Western Front to fight in the battle of the Somme.  The story was written by Pat Mills who would go on to create 2000AD and illustrated by Joe Colquhoun.

Charley’s War is interesting in military based comics, as it doesn’t glorify or trivialise the hardships and reality of the politics and day to day life of the Western Front.  In fact, Mills is pain staking in his research, and doesn’t hold back at the terrors of this very sad and tragic time of 20th century history.  Colquhoun himself brings some striking images to the page with firsthand knowledge of war serving in the Navy in the 1939 to 1945 conflict.  One of his illustrations for Charley’s War is an image of a horse in a gas mask on a battlefield misted in Mustard Gas.  Even without having the picture in front of me, it still sends cold shivers down my spine.

Charley remains a voice and point of contact from the duration of the strip, which moves to the Second World War through its six year run.  Mills left the comic before the Second World War story began and it was cancelled soon into its run under the authorship of Scott Goodall.   It was the poor health of the inspirational artist Joe Colquhoun that signalled the end of the strip, a man whose art, along with the words of Mills, depicted the true horrors of war and, to this day, is an exceptional grounding and history of one of the most horrific episodes of modern history.

And here we are into the second year of the centenary of World War One.  A widened awareness through public events, education and multi platform media and news is now in full flow.  No coincidence then, that the time is right for comics to examine the 1914 conflict once more.  This time there is a different slant, in that Titan Books have decided to publish a Doctor Who comic set in the trenches.

Initially, one might think this could be a trivialisation of the War, by adding the tongue twisting, in your face and enthusiastic tenth Doctor, as portrayed on TV by David Tennant.  But what must be remembered, is that one of the main directives from Doctor Who, creator Sydney Newman, back in 1963 was that the show should be educational and should teach about the past.  This was done by pure historical adventures such as Marco Polo and the Romans.

The popularity of the Daleks, however, changed the direction of the show to pure Sci-fi and historical episodes from the mid 60s on tended to have an alien element added.  This is what we have in “The Weeping Angels of Mons” (guess the monster folks!) The Mons of the title is an actual town in Belgium where the first British missions of defence took place during the Great War.

The artwork in this comic by Daniel Indro is sensational and, like Charley’s War, truly reflects the landscape of the time, really pushing the comic book format with a great combination of double page art and micro frames, as well as more traditionally laid out pages.  Unlike Charley however, due to the wider age audience,  much of the more graphic descriptions are left to the imagination and the story by Robbie Morrison, who has researched as in depth as Mills before him.

Of course we also have the tenth Doctor travelling with a new companion, Gabriella Gonzalez, and the Weeping Angels in the mix – as frightening, if not more so, than the TV versions.  Issues six and seven of the tenth Doctor comic are an excellent introduction into this world of time travel, the sequential art way, with a close enough feel of the series, and the very well executed, traditional, but clever, comic format.

It has to be said that, coming into the second issue, the more historic elements simply become the visual backdrop for the story and the drama and character driven aspects take over.  I’m certain this will be readdressed next issue though, and we’re going to finish with an excellent little bookended, fantastical tale with its feet in reality, to my mind, the best kind of fantasy.

#7 of Titan Comics – Doctor Who (tenth Doctor) is available from February 4th 2015

Charley’s War Volumes are available at Amazon

Tenth Doctor #7 Cover Art

Tenth Doctor #7 Cover Art

Tenth Doctor #7 Interior Art

Tenth Doctor #7 Interior Art

Lynda Bellingham – 1948 – 2014

So farewell Lynda Bellingham.  A lady whose death has affected a large part of the population; a wide range of people who all see her as something different.  To some, she was a presenter on lunch time chat show Loose Women; to others, a mummsy veteran of sitcoms and of course, to millions, as the star of one of the most iconic advertising campaigns ever!

If you’re a reader of this blog, then you, like me, probably know Lynda as The Inquisitor – one of Gallifrey’s most powerful Time Lords – who presided over the trial of the sixth Doctor in 1986’s  Doctor Who adventure – Trial of a Time lord.

Now, to me, Lynda always will be The Inquisitor and that’s what she’s most famous for in my particular world, but what’s really surprised me is a certain amount of snobbery by some about the different Lynda facets.  Although Lynda herself hated the Oxo adverts, they entertained and made millions of people smile for a good fourteen years! Yet I’ve seen people on social media belittle the advert lovers for not realising all of the other amazing things she did other than some “cheesy” commercials.

Well, I say remember lovely, kind and funny Lynda however you want, and for whatever projects of hers you loved.  Instead of going on further about Lynda and her involvement in Doctor Who, I’m going to recommend you listen to Toby Hadoke’s fab interview with her, available at the Big Finish website.

You can also donate to Lynda’s charity Action Cancer here www.actioncancer.org

Time Travel for the Discerning Rock Fan

Over the last five years, I’ve seen Folk revivalist band Bellowhead seven times.  Twice in the last two months.  The first time I saw them was mind blowing raw lively bedlam.  No wonder they were described as the best live band since The Who (another band of whom I have multiple live experiences)

Now however with a number of lavishly produced albums under their belts and a raft of awards, Bellowhead have become slick, well oiled and their songs familiar from being featured on the Radio Two playlists.  Apparently gone is the sweat, graft and obscure rambling folk fusion sound collages of their early days.

As I’ve followed Bellowhead from their inception, I’ve been running in tangent with their own personal timeline.  This week however I took an ear opening temporal trip when I listened to “Queen live at the Rainbow 74”  

For a long time now Queen have been my favourite band, and at the point I entered their time line, they had released two live albums with several more to come.  All have a similar structure in set list.  A mixture of classics, with depending on year of gig a smattering of tracks from whatever the latest album was.  But Brian always sings love of my life with his acoustic guitar, and does his long multi layered guitar solo, the shows start with we will rock you (fast version), and end with we will rock you and we are the champions.

The exciting thing about Queen live at the rainbow, is that it doesn’t follow this structure, as these songs had yet to exist.  How strange to hear Freddie Mercury say We always finish with  Liar.  Not We Will Rock You.  Brian’s solos are there, but the sound is much more traditional rock than the unique distinctive sounds we would come to recognize as Queen’s in house style.

It was totally refreshing to hear an early version of Queen before they became a well oiled machine of hits, and this album is for far more people than Queen completest and uber fans.   Queen still go out touring, currently with American Idol star Adam Lambert on vocals.  Of course it isn’t the same without our sadly missed Freddie, but it doesn’t mean the others are no good and not worth seeing.

I would really love to see a non hit recreation of these early gigs.  It worked well for Status Quo (another band I have a long live relationship with).  Over the last couple of years Quo have successfully put their original frantic four line up back together and wowed crowds with their loud dirty rocking blues, but not a sign of Rocking all Over the World!

It’s well worth dipping into the Timeline of a band, just as we may well dip into the different eras of Doctor Who or James Bond, depending on what we fancy.  It’s refreshing to hear where they’ve been, and knowing  where they’re going.   What’s more in an age where routine, systems and apps can control us it’s good to take a random step into a timeline and immerse yourself in all that it is.  It’s good to want to break free!

Guardians of the Galaxy

The thing I love most about a Marvel films is how they all have their own unique identities be it in the music or the visuals yet they all co-exist in the same universe.    Guardians of the Galaxy always had hints that it would be different,  with Disney even showing a few nerves.  and why wouldn’t they.    After having their universal craving fingers burnt when they distributed 2005’s Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and perhaps wrongly titled the sadly under rated John Carter (2012) The House of Mouse have been looking for a Sci Fi hit.

With Star Wars VII on the horizon it looks like Disney are about to do the same for Sci Fi as they did for superhero movies, because Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing short of incredible.

Marvel have created a fantastic extension to their Avengers universe with a completely different feel.  It was the fullest first night I’ve seen at the local cinema which suggests that a wider audience has now been smitten with the MCU.

spoilt for me only by the loud and noisy people behind me who seemed to think the whispering loud would render their annoying comments inaudible.  The only good thing was they left before the post credit scene.  Their parting words “There won’t be a special end on this, its not like it’s a proper one like Thor!”

More fool them – the post credit sequence was one of the best.  I do hope it’s not the last we’ve seen of ………. well I’m not spoiling it.

Rev and the New York Adventure Part 4: Bricking It!

The day started by being awoken by the hotel fire alarm and sprinkler system going off, and the rooms being evacuated.  Although a rude awakening, it was exciting to see five New York Fire Trucks in attendance to thankfully what turned out to be a false alarm. However the  excitement had ignited one thing!  A day of action and adventure was called for!

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Stood staring at the gigantic statement that is the Rokefeller Centre is only surpassed by turning your head to the right and seeing the miniature gigantic statement that is the model of the Rokefeller centre in New York’s Lego shop.  Rokefeller is famous for its art collection, and many of the sculptures are lovingly recreated to sensational effect in the Lego shop.  Various displays and models attract the eye including a familiar looking time lord!  and an amazing Lego logo made from mini figures!

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Purchases were made of models which are a bit pricey in the UK, but taking advantage of the current exchange rate meant the Ghostbusters and Back to the Future kits have a new home.  A mini Empire State Building – again from a deluxe architecture range in the UK was a bargain!

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The bargain buying continued with a visit to New York’s Flagship Toys R Us store.   It is very true what they say about America – they do everything big!!!  No surprise then in their four floor Toys R Us they have a fully functioning Ferris Wheel!   The displays in the various toy brand areas didn’t disappoint either .  If a full size animatronic T Rex from Jurassic Park doesn’t excite, the intricacies of the amazing Lego models is surely a wow factor.

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Mini versions of many of the buildings experienced on the legendary architecture walk including the Woolworth building and Empire state complete with King Kong, made jaws drop and eyes pop!  the temptation to touch one of the thousands of bricks is soon stopped under the watchful eye of the life size model of the Incredible Hulk!

lego r us

Well the Hulk leads us nicely to the next venue – The Discovery Centre, to see props and costumes from Marvel’s New York based film Avengers Assemble.  This involved having to become an Agent of SHIELD, and unfortunately no photos could be taken due to the secret nature of the organisation.  I can confirm however that they did infect me with Gamma radiation!

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SHIELD was a small devotion before the Lego fun picked up a pace with a visit to The Art of the Brick Exhibition.  A collection of art works made entirely from Lego by Nathan Sawaya.  A serious lawyer who needed to unwind from the stress of his job started to create with Lego, lawyer no more this great artist really does show what is possible with a tiny plastic brick.

Although clever, his initial reproductions of famous works of art and antiquities are nothing compared to the sculptures which explore humanity and emotion.  Absolutely thrilling.  it’s as if he sees the brickular angles that could daunt some people as fluid creating sensual forms and shapes that provoke as much thought if not more than any Anthony Gormley!  Everything is indeed awesome!

lego expo

http://brickartist.com/

Rev and the New York Adventure Part 3: Park Life – who, hatters, bagels & beasts!

Some of the surrealist and most pleasurable experiences in New York happened in the sensational green spaces.  It’s easy to forget your in a wild city when you stroll in central park, with just the sudden glimpse of a skyscraper to remind you.  It’s also easy to forget that Central Park itself is one of the greatest manmade structures within the city, constructed on reclaimed marsh land.

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After the long architecture ramble, A walk in the park felt just the ticket to refresh and reflect – however at 2.5 miles in length and over 6 miles in area – it was going to be another quest to find the places we wanted to see.

without taking a map, from memory of watching Doctor Who: Angels Take Manhattan on the Plane I decided to find the key locations.  I gave up on the rocks that the Doctor, Amy and Rory had a picnic on, because – well there were lots of these rocks.  I claimed one anyway as Geologically they’d been in Doctor Who!

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obviously not a rock from Doctor Who!

Due to certain paths being cut off we had to navigate “the ramble” in order to get to the Bow Bridge which was featured so prominently in some of the most moving scenes of the episode.  Again one end of the bridge was blocked off, so it took quite a while to get to the spot were Rory the Roman was taken by the Angels.  A stunning fountain at the Boat House with the Queen of all angels in it’s centre – I didn’t blink thankfully!

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The ramble allowed us to see some native critters! two photo friendly Racoons and a lake full of Turtles.   On top of this gangs of dark furred squirrels and New Yorker birds as friendly as their human equivalents.

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As well as the Doctor Who pilgrimage, another important fantasy icon was essential.  José de Creeft’s  1959 statue of Alice in Wonderland.  A wacky fun bronze statue which you are encouraged to play and interact with.  And depending on height there are many surprises hidden all around it.

alice

Two other parks featured in the trip, and it has to be said these ones really did revive the feet and energy needed for trekking around the City.  A visit to Greenwich Village allowed a different look at a more laid back and traditional area of New York.  Washington Square Park made it easy to forget this was America, and could easily have been a public space in Brighton.  The time spent there was aided by a band of buskers with a wacky combination of instruments, so right up my street.  The delightfully folksy Eli August  and The Abandoned Buildings played Banjos. clarinets and mandolins combined with guitars and fun vocals.  Thanks for the CD guys, will be spreading the music.

Eli August Website

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For the final afternoon in New York, there was nothing I wanted to do more than sit in Bryant Park.  First discovered at the beginning of the fabled architecture walk, it is the ultimate public space – lunch time bagels (of which I had a fab peanut butter one), salads and lemonade, plenty of seats and tables, socket for laptops, a book case, the days papers, iPhone charging tables, it’s own diner and a cinema! what a beautiful space.  It might be the city that never sleeps, but it knows how to chill!

Rev and the New York Adventure Part 2: Monster Fun

As a total Pizza nut, I couldn’t wait to get to a genuine American Italian and bite into a thin and crispy infusion of flavour!  So following the guide book suggestions a suitable establishment off Times  Square was selected and the destination reached in record time!

Imagine the surprise to find the genuine family American Italian appeared to have the music style and volume set to Ibiza.  Making a fast retreat, it was noted that the restaurant was in the heart of Broadway – time for theatrics and fun!!!

Sometimes something happens that you have to do a double take at, that you can’t believe.  It was that feeling when you pass a shop window and see something that is “so you”  you just have to have it, it’s as if it was made for you!  But this was no novelty Objet d’art or a T-shirt with a quirky slogan.  This was a restaurant!

Classic Horror and Steampunk are very high on a list of likes for me – and here in front was a restaurant called The Jekyll & Hyde Club.   Outside was a small man with a hunched back, an ill fitting top hat and a dubious accent.  “Come, Come” he said “if you dare!”

“Is your accent fake?” asked a glamorous local Kardashian type.

“What isn’t !” he quipped back with a raised brow

perfect – Horror, Steampunk and Witty Banter!!!  This is where tea (or supper or dinner depending on your geographic location) would be consumed.  You enter Jekyll & Hyde’s by crowding into a  phone box and speaking the secret password into the phone – the password “jellied brains”

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Through the phone box is  a haunted house style elevator full of mirrors – instead of your reflection however, you see your skeleton!!!  The elevator stops abruptly and Indiana Jones style spears start to descend slowly from the roof.  Lucky for us that a passing rat got stuck in the mechanism and saved our lives!!!

We were then greeted and congratulated on our survival  by a Pith helmeted explorer with further accent dubiousness.   We were invited to meet his grandfather.  The first of many exceptional animatronic  creations within the establishment.  He delivered a pun ridden greeting, but pointed out that the whole experience would be an exploration of our light and dark sides!

Once Grandfather had finished, the explorer ushered us into the lobby of the restaurant which was full of freak show specimens, shrunken heads, globes and suits of armour.  a small flight of stairs leads to the main restaurant.  A shockingly massive Victorian theatre.  A demonstration was already taking place on the stage with a mad scientist re-creating the experiments of Doctor Frankenstein.  The music was a range of quirky 1930’s vaudeville ditties and 1950’s grave yard bop, with black and white horror films being shown from the same era!!!

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The serving staff were a range of freaks and ghouls all with a story! – a forgetful vampire who was abandoned by has parents on a ship, a fez clad explorer – who on learning I was English said – “You know, you don’t have to serve all drinks hot in England – especially beer!”.  He was joined by an FBI agent and a freaky nurse who very kindly administered a syringe of medicine and said to make sure I swallow and don’t dribble!

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A wide range of animatronic cast members would spring into life sporadically.  A man stuck in a shark, a mermaid in an aquarium, a statue of Zeus and a sensational model of the elephant man! all with pre recorded banter and puns!  surprises around every corner literally.

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Well.  This is no food blog, but this was an eating establishment, and you may want to know if I got my traditional Pizza.  Well not quite.  The staff grafted hard flitting between being in character on the floor, and working the kitchens.  As a result the food was somewhat flawed.  The evening wasn’t however – the whole thing – entertainment, drinks and food costing just $20 per head, a sensational night of bespookey entertainment!

http://www.jekyllandhydeclub.com/home.html

Rev and the New York Adventure Part 1:Epic Architecture

I’ve just had a popular culture upgrade with a trip to New York.   It broke down into an exhausting romp of architecture, toys, comics, t-shirt conversations, horror and Lego!  So I’ve decided it’s legitimate for me to tell you about it here on the blog.

Buildings

My initial desire to go was to look at art deco architecture, which is an inspirational design style which runs through the history of Hollywood and beyond.  I do understand though that on a fantasy/sci-fi blog I’m edging my bets talking about it – so I’ve ensured the four main buildings I wanted to see are linked to certain films for the sake of the story.

1 – The Woolworth Building

In 1913 this was the tallest building in New York.  A stunning piece of Gothic Revival engineering.  It resembles the European style so much that it was dubbed “The Cathedral of Commerce”

Film wise the building is seen to be destroyed in home vid. monster romp Cloverfield.  It is also dramatically shown off in the early part of Baz Luhrmann’s  The Great Gatsby.

woolworth blog

2 – The Flatiron Building

In 1902 this was the tallest building in New York.  It’s striking shape means that it is one of the most well known and iconic buildings globally, but can often mean as bigger buildings come along it can (literally) be overlooked.

As a location this building is often spotted in films.  The one I’ve selected to get the recognition muscles going is Spiderman.  The Flatiron is used in Spiderman 1 -3 as well as cartoon and comic adaptations as the offices of Newspaper The Daily Bugle!

flat iron blog3 – Chrysler Building

In 1930 this was the tallest building in New York.  The absolute perfect example of Art Deco in one place – Gold, Chrome, Geometric shapes, lavish interiors – this is the building I wanted to see the most.  Still the world’s tallest brick building, it is unsurpassed as a style icon of the period, it’s famous gargoyles alone making the jaw drop and clunk!

It’s in loads of films – My pick is Avengers Assemble where it is the view from Tony Starke’s penthouse suite at Stark/Avenger’s Tower.  In Spider Man, the buildings gargoyles are used as a place for Peter Parker to reflect on the death of his Uncle Ben.

It can also be seen in Godzilla(98), Men in Black 2 and Armageddon.

chrysler blog

4 – The Empire State Building

In 1931 this was the tallest building in New York.  What an amazing icon.  Built during hard times by people in long freezing conditions long into the night, the emotion that strikes through this building i sensational.  I can still feel the texture of one of the roof top keystones on my finger tips.  Yes I loved this building – looking down on what looked like a land made of circuit boards, to looking up at the details on the mooring spire this was breath taking.

Not sure what films this features in……….Only Joking!!!!

Of course part of the thrill of going to the top of this building is King Kong (and going on the gift shop one of great income!) There is of course a very long list of films using this building, but I would also like to mention one of my favourites “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” where the mooring spire is actually used to secure a zeppelin!

In  Doctor Who the building was featured in the 1966 Dalek episode  “The Chase”, and in 2007 in “Daleks in Manhattan ”  In this episode, the Daleks were behind the construction of the Empire State Building to use as a lightening conductor to harness power.

empire state blog

The architecture walk also took in:-

The Bank of America

The W.R Grace Building (on which the Silver Surfer skids down its distinctive slope in Fantastic Four  Rise of the Silver Surfer)

The Rockefeller Centre which has some exceptional views of the surrounding buildings from the legendry “Top of the Rock” and on the subterranean concourse some of the most beautiful and lavish art deco details.

St Patrick’s Cathedral – another piece of European Gothic Revival looking  alienly but stunningly out of place in its sky scraper surroundings.   (used in Gremlins 2: The New Batch, and the underground ruins are used in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Grand Central Station – Mostly famous for the black and white photo of sunlight pouring through the three large windows.   It was also used to lavish and great effect in The Fisher King, and featured in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.

The final major building on the walk took me right back to my student days because it was one I had to study.  The Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  After an 8 mile walk across the city and a third of central park for this architecture excursion, a wall was hit with energies sapped.  But for the sake of ten more blocks it was worth the push to see a building from my own past (academically).  The Guggenheim looks as alien and out of place in this subtle more traditional area  of New York as St Patricks looked amongst the powerful structures of the business empires.  An amazing building from the Atomic design era lends it’s UFO styling to a scene in Men in Black.

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It’s easy to see how this city and it’s buildings has inspired and been featured in so many genre films.  From Gothic to future utopia and decadence to depression New York is a palate of themes and emotions, and a true superstar.