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Changing media over the last decade

About this time of year people typically post things about what they’ve done over the last year, or even the last decade. I thought about it, but decided not to do that. I could list some of the TV and films I’ve watched but there’s too much and picking out favourites is difficult. Instead I’m going to write about how I think the different mediums have changed over the last ten years and my rambling thoughts on it all.

TV and Film

The short version is we are in a golden age of entertainment. In the last 10 years I’ve watched some of the most engaging TV shows of my life. I’ve seen films that have amazing spectacular visuals, that make it worthwhile seeing on a big screen with surround sound in a giant room. Those films are just not the same on a TV at home no matter how big the screen, it can’t compare and for that and other reasons I think cinemas will always be around. Games (computer and console) have also leapt forward, with new consoles with better graphics, three dimensional characters with interesting relationships and there again more thoughtful  and intricate stories as well as lots of explosions and FPS which I also enjoy. I’ve recently been replaying Half Life 2 again and it’s been lots of fun. Sales of some console games leave films in the dust because they are so popular and have such a huge following around the world.


I think MMORPGs are not dead, not exactly, but I think their heyday has definitely passed when 20 million subscribers was the norm. I can be engaged by a game for a few hours but sometimes I just want to play something for 20-3o minutes and not have to pay a monthly fee to do it. Maybe a new MMORPG will come out and hook me again but I doubt it as I’ve not played WoW in years and prefer to dip in and out of other things, or play a game until it is finished and then move on to the next rather than constantly be stuck in the second act of something that has no end. People play a lot more games on their phones and ten years ago this didn’t exist. I see more of that in the future and more free games with micro-transactions.


I don’t think a lot has changed other than to say there’s a lot more to choose from as well. In the SFF arena, the number of books being published each year has increased so there are always books I’ve missed, authors I’m vaguely aware of that are popular and favourites among some readers, and other authors I’ve just not heard of before. People will be aghast and say you’ve not heard of X?? But that’s just because there’s too much of everything to stay up to date. And, people are constantly battling for attention on social media so the flood of information never stops 24×7 which means you can blink and miss it.

So because of all of this I’ve had to become more selective. Some TV shows I was previously watching out of loyalty but not really enjoying, I’ve dropped and don’t miss them. Social media has changed a lot in ten years. Widening it to include stuff like YouTube, as that feeds into what people watch, there’s definitely been a shift. I have some friends with children who only watch YouTube, or 90% of their content comes from YouTube as they consider that TV and their celebs are people on Twitch channels or YouTube personalities. I’ve found myself watching more in the last 2 years, following people I previously knew from elsewhere (sports people, TV stars and a couple of celebs) who have gone on on to develop their own channels. I also follow channels about hobbies I’m interested in but I’m not interested in watching someone else play games. I’d rather be doing it myself.


I think comics is the least well adjusted medium for 2020 and beyond. Waiting a month between single issues, especially on ongoing series with no definitive end, isn’t something that can continue. It’s too slow, it’s old fashioned, it doesn’t work any more and the number of Wednesday Warriors gets smaller every year. Even with the best writers and artists I’m just not reading as many ongoing titles. I’ve shifted to a digital trial and if it is good I’ll get it in trade. If it’s a mini series or similar I might read it all digitally or trade wait. DC has had a bit of shift, creating Black Label with top creators producing shorter series, as well as launching DC Ink and DC Zoom for younger readers and I think that’s a great step in the right direction but more needs to be done to bring in a lot more younger readers and, more importantly, keep them reading year on year. The temporary boost of big named creators, or a new issue 1 on a big title doesn’t work long term, and I still think a significant change needs to be made.

In comparison to DC, Marvel seem to have just given up on attracting younger readers. They license most of their biggest characters to other publishers to write stories for kids and the YA audience. A lot of young people know Marvel and DC characters from animation, games, movies and even TV shows, but not the comics themselves which is a huge shame. I think many people in suits in Hollywood still view comic books as nothing more than cheap R and D. The glory days of Image comics and even the Kirkman Manifesto are gone. Bar a couple of huge successes like the Walking Dead, Image comics isn’t what it used to be. Also making a decent living just on creator owned titles isn’t possible any more. There are always exceptions but many creators work in multiple mediums, across Big2 books and their own in order to make a living.

What’s next?

I think out of all of the mediums, TV is adapting the quickest to keep up with the times. More paid subscription services are popping up every day. People will begin to swap around, chasing TV shows they like the look of, cancelling one and moving to another for a few months at a time. There’s so much diverse content out there. If you can’t find several shows that you enjoy then you’re just not looking hard enough.

There seems to be a bit of a shift with films. There are few small films being made and by that I mean 20-50 million dollar movies that are not part of a massive franchise. Watching those films at the cinema are few and far between, or you are blink and miss it with one week at the cinema and then the next day they appear on Netflix or Amazon. So there is a place for them to be made, but I think some should still be viewed on a big screen and just won’t get a chance. I don’t think every single film at the cinema will be a franchise of some kind but I think that wave will continue for a while.

E-sports will continue to grow until it starts appearing on more mainstream TV channels. Social media ‘stars’ are also on the rise and I think that will keep going. We’ve now reached the point where some TV shows feature them in order to try and attract a new audience, even on the BBC. Previously such institutions would have ignored such people but the number of followers they command means more crossovers in the future.

Books. They’re a weird one in some ways. I think we’ll see more adaptations, partly because platforms are desperate for content and there are already a dozen or more SFF TV shows in the works based on big series (LOTR, Wheel of Time, Witcher, Kingkiller, GoT prequel, Expanse, Wildcards etc) and I think there will be more going forward. If this then makes people go back and start reading the books between TV series then it’s a win win situation.

For me comics is the biggest unknown and where it goes is the most difficult to predict. I’ll be keeping a close eye on it and I have some ideas of my own but we’ll see. I couldn’t have predicted some of the shifts we’ve seen since 2000 in terms of media development and I think the next ten years are going to be even more unpredictable.

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Filed under Books, Films, Games, TV, Writing

Writing questions for April

This is going to be a short post with some questions that I’m hoping those of you who are following this blog, and anyone else who sees it, will respond to as it will give me a better idea of who is reading this, and also, why. I have a feeling that a lot of people who pop in here are writers, but I will see what the results show.


1.  With so much information out there now readily available via the internet on blogs, vlogs, social media, author websites, as well as attending events and courses, are there any parts of the publishing process that are still a mystery? And if so, which parts?

2. Are you a writer aiming to, one day, get published? And if so, how far along are you with your current work in progress?

3. Are you struggling with a particular part of the writing process? If so, which part?

4.  If you’re not an aspiring writer, are you  fan of fantasy? Science fiction? Both?

That’s it, short and sweet. Let me know in the comments.


Filed under Books, Writing

One Man Army

When I was growing up it seemed to me that there weren’t that many interesting books to read. Looking back, I know I was wrong. Obviously. However, at the time, I read fairly   the fantasy genre and I went through pretty much everything I could find. Now I now read across several genres and non-fiction too, but if I just read fantasy novels there is no way I could keep up with the number being published. For starters I’m not a fast reader and although I love fantasy books and love reading, I do want to do other things with my spare time. So, now more than ever, whether it’s novels or comics or TV, it’s important to find your voice and stand out from the crowd.

Last week I read this tumblr article by comic book writer Gail Simone about brutal tips on breaking into the comics industry. It contains a lot of hard lessons, and some might whinge and say she’s just being mean, or she wants to discourage people from even trying. Yes, you have to be utterly realistic, but to be honest, if mean words and a harsh dose of the truth puts you off then maybe you should try something else. Or maybe you’re just not hungry enough. The most thought provoking part for me was her Step Three: Find Your Voice, Dammit. What do you bring to the table? What is unique about you and your view of the world? It’s something I’ll come back to in another post at some point.

For the longest time my parents have known I’ve wanted to be a writer, but even from a young age my dad impressed upon me the importance of a good education and good skills to get a good job. Writing was the passion, the dream, but it wouldn’t pay the bills and I had to be realistic. It didn’t kill my dreams, but it kept my feet firmly on the ground. I have those business skills now, and a good job and nice home, and although the road to get here has been a lot bumpier than I ever anticipated, my head is now in a good place and I can spend more time contemplating the creative. But, as Gail Simone mentioned, you need to be a sales person, so once again, and now it’s happening more times than I can count, I’m using my business and marketing skills as part of my creative endeavours. It’s something I honestly never thought would be needed. The article mentions being a good sales person, and you really need to be. You need to be able to talk convincingly and with passion about your work, about what it means to you, and what it is all about. See a previous post (Ok, but what is it about?) for more info on that!

As well as being a positive sales person you also need to be quite outgoing and approachable, because no one wants to work with or be associated with an arsehole. Ever. Find the worst or most obnoxious person on the train, or in your office, or on the street, and imagine that person wrote a book, comic or TV show you really loved. Now try and read it again with the same passion. I’m not saying you have to become someone else, but a friend of mine, Barry Nugent, is actually quite a shy guy, but in public you would never know it. He’s been podcasting longer than me, he’s written novels, hosted panels at events, and now he is running his own comics empire. He’s grown a thicker skin and the nerves that previously required liquid lubrication before being in public have faded. He’s a professional and he gets it done.

Whether you’re an author, comic book writer or any other type of creative person, you need to be able to navigate the online channels, be tech-savvy enough to know the difference between Facebook and Twitter, attend industry relevant events, get yourself interviewed, post articles on a blog or website, and basically create as much noise as possible about your work. Because although there are people that will help, and many more that work behind the scenes that most people don’t know about, you will have to do a lot of it for yourself. The work doesn’t stop when the novel, comic, or TV show is written. You need to make a splash, you need to stand out, you need to make your voice heard. There are exceptions to the rule, very successful authors, celebs and comic book writers even that never go near social media, don’t have a blog or a website. Good for them I say. But they’re pretty uncommon. For the rest of us, it’s necessary and very important. I saw some grumbling last week about people self promoting. Of course you have to do it and you should be. End of story.

If you’ve built up any kind of online following then those people are there for a reason. They like something about you and not telling them about your work is shooting yourself in the foot. Equally if you only fill your social media streams with self promotion posts and nothing else, then that is also shooting yourself in the foot.

In today’s crowded world, where there are more distractions than ever before across a multitude of different media, a creative person needs to be seen and heard, and you must be both business minded and bursting with imagination.

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Filed under Books, Comics, Writing