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Thursday, 18 September 2008

In Review: The Tripwire Annual 2008

Review by John Freeman

Joel Meadows has edited and designed Tripwire since 1992, and, as editor of the magazine and a freelance journalist for newspapers such as The Times, The Indpendent and various other titles, has interviewed almost everyone of import in the comics world, including Alex Ross, Alan Moore, Mike Mignola and more.

Despite his numerous other writing credits, it's Tripwire that remains his passion (that, and photography) and this passion is nowhere more evident than in the pages of the latest annual, wraped this time in a gorgeous Doctor Who cover by Tommy Lee Edwards.

With a remit that includes television, film and animation as well as comics, I'd best describe this as an essential snapshot of developments in those industries, something that magazine and books can deliver that the web, with its constantly changing flux of material, cannot. Readers could pick up this Magazine five years from now and get a feel for some of the cutting edge developments for key sectors of the entertainment industry in 2008, and still learn from the sheer wealth of material included.

This latest annual is elegantly designed by someone who knows the best way to present the visuals in a way that complements the editorial -- something many magazine designers, with their idiotic predilection for seeming hip, using white lettering on brash colours that make whole sections illegible for example fail to achieve. The title offers a fascinating, carefully chosen selection of material, presented in a way that will appeal not just to fans of an article's subject matter but also for those simply dipping into the mysteries of, for example, Futurama or the many worlds of Michael Moorcock, for the first time.

Features include interviews with Bryan Fuller about the Emmy award-nominated hit TV show Pushing Daisies; with Tim Kring and Jeph Loeb on the future of Heroes; a celebration of the "renaiassance" of British sci-fi, wirh articles covering Doctor Who (fronted by a stunning double page illustration by Jeff Carlisle), Life on Mars and Primeval (the latter highlighting design secrets on the show); an entertaining and informative interview with Matt Groening, David Cohen and Bill Morrison discussing the return of Futurama in the form of made-for-DVD movies as well as to TV; and a look at Pinewood Studios’ new plans.

For comics fans, the annual includes an enjoyable by Andrew Colman feature on the seventy year history of Superman; an interview with graphic novelist Posy Simmonds, author of Tamara Drewe and Gemma Bovary, who talks about illustration and her career; and a feature about the career of James Bond storyboard artist Martin Asbury; and a much fought over list of 15 grahic novels for 'regular readers', books the Tripwire team recommend for people who don't read comics such as Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs and We Can Still be Friends by Mawil.

Michael Moorcock also talks about Elric - a film starring the character is imminent - and Walt Simonson, Michael Whelan and P. Craig Russell discuss translating Moorcock’s vision to the comics.

There's plenty more, too: the magazine is a veritable cornocupia of visual and editorial delight for someone like me, rounded off with a small selection of short. sharp but carefully selected comic strips from creators such as Roger Langridge, Jamie McKelvie and Declan Shalvey, whose No Witnesses is "silent strip" perfection in terms of storytelling.

This is a truly excellent collection, taking full advantage of the beauty of print in presenting stunning visuals in a way that the Internet has yet to emulate in any meaningful way. Editor Joel Meadows has an instinctive feel for the advantages of print as opposed to the immediacy of the electronic medium and puts those skills to good use throughout.

The next Tripwire Special will be released at the end of February 2009 and will focus on Superheroes in comics, TV and Film and in the works are a Joss Whedon interview, a DC feature that chats to Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns about the current state of play in the DC Universe, a Marvel feature that chats to Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker and also a looks at Marvel in the wake of Secret Invasion. Look out for updates via Joel's Walls and Bridges blog.

• You can buy Tripwire from any good comic shop (or they should be able to order it for you via Diamond). The title will be available soon via online sales points.

Links

Tripwire Annual:
www.tripwireannual.com
In development as of 18 September 2008
Walls and Bridges: Joel Meadoews' Blog Tripwire Specific Posts (including layout examples)
• Read a 2008 interview with Joel Meadows, discussing his other 2008 project, and Studio SpaceTripwire on the Forbidden Planet International blog Buy the 2007 Tripwire Annual from amazon.co.uk which includes interview with Mike Mignola

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