Propaganda has a good, long read of the Tripwire Annual 2008

Published On September 23, 2008 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, General, New arrivals, Reviews

Tripwire Annual 2008

Joel Meadows & Gary Marshall

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(Tripwire Annual 2008 – look for the gorgeous Tommy Lee Edwards cover at a store near you)

Although Tripwire may have started out in 1992 as a comics magazine, it’s evolved into something far more substantial and all-encompassing than that. Since ending the regular magazine in 2003 editor-in-chief Joel Meadows has successfully re-imagined Tripwire as an annual magazine with a design brief to cover genre work of all kinds, whether in print, in film or on television. The new 2008 Tripwire Annual is available now from all good comic retailers and comes packed with interviews and features in a beautifully designed 146 page magazine that should be gracing your coffee table for weeks to come.

Meadows’ decision to move away from a news based comics magazine towards a much more satisfying and substantial features based publication is both welcome and timely in this age of immediate Internet news. If you want the latest news in comics, movies or TV you go to a news site. If you want to settle down for an intelligent, informed read on a variety of subjects, choose Tripwire. Not having to battle each month with a crushing deadline allows Meadows time to accumulate a great range of exclusive interviews with some of the biggest names across many industries. This time around the big draw interviews are with Heroes creator Tim Kring, Matt Groening and David X Cohen on The Simpsons and Futurama and the great Michael Moorcock on his life and work in books and comics.

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(One of the feature interviews of Tripwire 2008: Matt Groening and David X Cohen)

As well as interviews, Tripwire is positively bulging with articles on all aspects of genre media. The Tommy Lee Edwards Doctor Who cover leads in nicely to an exhaustive look at not just Doctor Who, but a host of great British genre TV series including Primeval, Life on Mars and Ashes To Ashes. The Doctor Who section is particularly strong, with a well written piece by good friend of the FPI blog Matthew Badham on the Timelord’s history and Robert Cave taking a good look at the Doctor’s comic strip adventures. Plus a lovely double page illustration by Jeff Carlisle that you really need to see full size to appreciate:

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(Jeff Carlisle’s double page piece to introduce Tripwire’s Doctor Who section)

Despite leading off with film and TV, Tripwire never really forgets it’s roots and Meadows supplies plentiful comics commentary, often very cleverly associating articles and interviews with his feature pieces. An interview with Bill Morrison concentrates equally on his work on Futurama and his tenure as ed-in-chief at Matt Groening’s Bongo Comics, the Moorcock interview is full of comic references and mini interviews with Walter Simonson and P. Craig Russell discussing the artistic responsibility of adapting Moorcock to the comic page. It’s this clever way that Tripwire seamlessly integrates a mix of media into the features and articles that makes it such a rewarding and entertaining read.

The comic articles include a very informative look at Superman at 70, together with an interview with new Superman writer James Robinson. There’s a career retrospective and interview with Posy Simmonds, a look at Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and it’s translation from comic to film and a great article on the most important year in the history of Marvel Comics; 1968 by Andrew Coleman. (Also, a perfect excuse to slip in a Steranko Nick Fury cover).

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(Steranko’s 1968 Nick Fury, Posy Simmonds’ Tamara Drewe and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis; just a small example of the nice breadth of material featured in Tripwire.)

There’s an informed and well reasoned “15 Graphic Novels for Regular Readers” which  highlights comics you can recommend to people who don’t read comics and includes a lot more variety than usually found in these sorts of lists, covering everything from Raymond Briggs’ Ethel & Ernest, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Mawil’s excellent We Can Still Be Friends at one end of the spectrum to Daredevil: Born Again and Starman by James Robinson at the other.

The Behind The Screens section is a great example of what makes Tripwire so good. I had very little personal interest in this section, with visits to Pinewood, George Lucas’s ILM and an interview with storyboard artist Martin Asbury but the pieces were so well written and interesting that I thoroughly enjoyed them despite initial releuctance. Finally, tucked away at the end is the comics section, with short strips from some leading lights in comics, including Jamie McKelvie, the ever wonderful Roger Langridge and one of FPI’s faves, Declan Shalvey (on which note, watch this space for an appearance by Declan in the very near future – Joe).

Special mention must go to the magazine’s design. All too often a good package is ruined by excessively flashy, deliberately ultra cool design work that goes the wrong side of cutting edge and descends into unreadable mess. Not so with Tripwire. It’s obviously been designed for the reader to easily and comfortably get the most out of the content. There’s an awful lot of good use of open, white space on the pages, photos and art are well placed and where a design flourish is used, it’s used effectively and simply. It’s an object lesson in how to do things the right way.

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(Two pages from Tripwire showcasing that simplicity of design adds so much to a reading experience. No day-glo backgrounds and lime green fonts here, just a rewarding read.)

That could really be the entire overview of Tripwire Annual 2008: An object lesson in how to get it right. The annual has more than enough variety to ensure something for everyone, is packed with well written, highly readable and entertaining material and is beautifully designed. And the good news is that you won’t have to wait another year to get the next Tripwire Special as Joel has planned a Superheroes special with more on Heroes, Joss Whedon interviewed and a good look at Marvel and DC in the aftermath of Final Crisis and Secret Invasion. It should be out in February 2009.

Joel Meadows has his own blog: Walls & Bridges (with Tripwire specific posts here). Joe Gordon here at FPI recently sat down for an interview with Joel covering Tripwire and Joel’s excellent book of photography Studio Space. The Tripwire Annual should be available from all good comics shops and you can, of course, find it in the FPI online store.

Richard Bruton often confuses TV, comics and real life, which explains why he tried to fix a loose roof slate with a toy sonic screwdriver. Fortunately Mrs Bruton settled him down in his favourite chair with a cuppa and his copy of Tripwire.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

2 Responses to Propaganda has a good, long read of the Tripwire Annual 2008

  1. Joel Meadows says:

    Richard,
    thanks for all the kind words. I just wanted to make one small correction (and it doesn’t relate to the main text). Studio Space isn’t a photography book but an interview book with some photos in it…

  2. Pingback: Tripwire Annual 2009: classy, classy magazine. As expected. | The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log