The Art of Control

I’ve just finished playing through the rather excellent game, Control, by Remedy Entertainment. When I first saw the initial publicity for the game, I wasn’t that bothered, but as the release date grew closer and I saw this trailer, I became much more interested:

Without giving away too much of the story, the game contains elements of all sorts of strange events, conspiracy theories and Government cover-ups. In fact the whole game is set within the headquarters of the fictional(?) Federal Bureau of Control, a top-secret Government organisation responsible for the the containment, study, and control of paranatural phenomena. The so-called ‘Oldest House’ is in Manhattan but can only be found if you’re looking for it and, amongst other things, houses a collection of everyday objects with strange powers - a wonderful nod to one of my favourite tv shows that nobody’s ever heard of, The Lost Room.

It was the fact that the whole game was set inside a single building that bothered me the most - I tend to like games with a strong visual identity and that let me explore strange, new, worlds, meet alien races (and kill them in most cases :) But I shouldn’t have worried, the FBC HQ is not like other buildings…


Although we start off in what looks like a pretty conventional, if slightly retro, looking office, things soon start to get weird and we realise that the normal laws of physics don’t apply here.


There’s a risk that everything could look a bit samey, but the designers have done a fantastic job of differentiating the areas using colours and lighting.


As well as housing the usual assortment of offices, cafeteria, post room etc. that you’d expect to find in any office building, there’s a power plant, a furnace (although nobody knows who installed it or what it heats) and even a quarry!


The more you explore, the more of the back story is revealed as you find research reports, inter-departmental emails (some of which are pretty amusing) and videoclips.


And by the time you reach the end of the game, you’ll have visited some very strange and uniquely memorable locations.


I really enjoyed playing Control a lot more than I thought I was going to. It was a feast for the eyes, great fun to play - especially as your character gets more powerful as the game progresses - but, more importantly it had it’s own sense of self. It’s nothing like any other game I’d played and it revels in its own weirdness - and that’s a good thing in my book!

I’ll leave you with a quote from the game:

We live in a room, and there’s a poster on the wall. We stare at it and we think that’s the whole world. The room... and the poster. The picture’s something nice - a landscape, a famous person. Like in that movie... what is it called? The prison movie. The room’s a cell, and the picture, it’s different for each of us. It can be beautiful or terrible, but we’re all transfixed. But it’s all a lie. Something to distract us from the truth. They’re lying to us. We’re lying to ourselves. The room’s not the world, the world... is much bigger, and much stranger. There’s a hole hidden behind that poster that leads to the real world. We all feel safe in that room. But sometimes... sometimes something crawls out from behind the poster, and the ones that see it happen freak out, and try to forget what they saw.


About 50 years ago the first British comics Fanzine was published and David Hathaway-Price decided that this was an event that needed celebrating. So he asked some his friends who had been involved in the fan scene over the years (myself included) if we'd be interested in contributing to a commemorative fanzine.

I'm sure he was surprised (and terrified) by the scale of the response! Fanscene has just been released and checks in at massive 328 pages. It's a wonderful mix of articles, personal reminiscences, new or unpublished artwork and strips - basically a great big wallow in nostalgia for anybody that grew up loving comics in the 70s & 80s.

I contributed an article about my memories of publishing my own fanzine (Apocalypse) and also supplied three unpublished strips from back in the day, including my unfinished, illustrated version of 2112 by Rush.

I can't recommend this highly enough for anyone who has an interest in British comics (or even just a collection of great artwork) and since it's completely free, there really is no excuse not to download a copy right now.



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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2017

This year seems to have gone by quicker than ever... Globally things still seem pretty grim, but I hope you've managed to have a good year and that 2018 is better for all of us

New Year's Resolution: update the blog more frequently :)


David Bowie


I was cleaning out a cupboard this weekend when I came across this painting I did of Bowie that I'd completely forgotten about - it bought a little tear to my eye...

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I made an album...

Years ago, I made an album, then, apart from giving a few handmade CDs to close friends, forgot all about it...

But then I found the files and uploaded them to Soundcloud so everyone can listen.

It's all instrumental electronica, so you don't have to worry about my singing voice. If that sounds like your sort of thing, here's a link.

ps. the song titles are all related to the Final Fantasy series of video games...


Merry Xmas & Happy New Year 2016

Wow - 2016 was a bit of a rollercoaster wasn’t it? I hope you managed to get through it without being too traumatised and that 2017 is much better for all of us, and the world in general. And I hope you manage to have a wonderful Christmas break.