As you may have read, this month’s SFX is a big one for our lord and master Dave Bradley. Issue 233 is his hundredth (ish) as editor-in-chief. All hail his mighty excellence.
To celebrate this milestone Dave wrote a blog about some of his favourite SFX covers from the time he’s been in charge. But there’s been more than just a hundred magazine covers while Dave’s been running things; there are also a hundred Ed Zone photos. You know the Ed Zone photos: those cheeky, irreverent images which accompany Dave’s introductions to the magazine each week.
I have to say the Ed Zone photos have always been a favourite of mine; getting my SFX each month I’m always amused to see what marvellous image Dave and art editor Jon Coates have come up with. Whether it’s Photoshop trickery that turns Dave into a well known sci-fi character or just having him inserted into the background of an iconic scene with a goofy look on his face, the photos are always great little works of art and they never fail to bring a smile to my face, and have on occasion generated the odd full on belly laugh.
I thought it would be fun to have a chat with Dave about these photos and maybe get him to tell us a little bit about a few of his favourites and why he likes them. So without further ado here’s Dave B talking about how and why the Ed Zone photos grace the magazine’s page each month…
Dave: “ Right from the start, when I joined in 2005, art editor Jon Coates and I decided we wanted my Ed Zone picture to be more than a simple portrait. The concept was simply this: that I love the sci-fi world so much that I become part of it, getting stuck in and immersing myself in it. How this manifests has changed a little over the years - at times I've been in the background of famous pictures, at others I've taken the place of Iron Man himself – but it's always been about having fun. The starting point is always the lead feature of that issue. If Star Trek is on the cover and is the biggest feature inside, we'll try to get a Star Trek theme going on the Ed Zone page too. Most of the suggestions for what I'll be doing come from Jon. I like to think I'm a good sport and I've let him put me in some crazy positions to get an amusing snap (balancing on a stool pretending to be on a horse springs to mind). Ultimately, if it makes us laugh, we consider it a keeper.”
So, that’s the background out of the way. Now it’s time for Dave to share his five favourite Ed Zone photos…
Dave: “Now I've done over 100, I look back and realise there are a load of them that I like (the Heroes season two one of me on a horse, for instance) so it's hard to pick just five, but here I go:
SFX 135 (2005)
Dead simple: my Clark Kent disguise. This was when we were previewing Superman Returns . All the clothes, even the Superman t-shirt, are mine. I've actually dressed like this as my costume at a convention. I recall that Jon snapped this picture himself (usually we take advantage of our company's photo studio) and that building behind me is SFX Towers itself in Bath, so this is not a complicated shot. But it came out exactly as we'd hoped and I don't look too crazy for once, so it stays on my faves list.
SFX 178 (2009)
The genius of Photoshop . Of course, I'm not really there. Jon manipulated a still from Dollhouse so it looks like I'm showing Eliza Dushku an old copy of SFX with her on it. Just looking at this shot makes me laugh because of the facial expressions. How creepy do I look? How perturbed does the actress look because I'm there?! The picture of me was taken at our photo studio in Bath. Photography is all about the lighting and the photographer studied this still from Dollhouse carefully to figure out where the light sources were and what subtle colours it had. I had to stand just right, as the lights were moved and moved until the highlights and shadows matched those falling on Eliza Dushku. Then Jon cut me and the others out and slid us together on separate layers in Photoshop .
SFX 191 (2010)
I was very sad to see the back of Being Human recently, so here's a picture from happier times. We celebrate the return of the show to our screens by turning me into... a dog? Obviously I'm supposed to be transforming into a werewolf. This was simply shot against a green screen at our photo studio, the wolf muzzle, full moon and graveyard scene are all stock images acquired from a photo library. Once again, Jon works his Photoshop magic.
SFX 201 (2010)
More Photoshop magic to celebrate the launch of The Walking Dead . The tricky part was not the lighting this time, although that's always half the battle, but the angle – because this time I’m actually interacting with something in the scene. We spent ages shooting me holding a door handle so that it would line up properly with the door handle in the scene. I'm not a trained actor so being asked to "scream with terror while not moving that left hand much" is a direction that took me ages to get right.
SFX 208 (2011)
By contrast, there's no trickery here at all. This is one that Jon didn't work on: the photo session was conducted by deputy art editor Catherine Kirkpatrick. We spent an afternoon shooting Matt Smith, Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan in a rented studio in London. They brought their own costumes and had an entourage of BBC picture publicists and make-up folk to help them. We had an exclusive interview, feature and photo shoot with them for the first issue of our redesign, and the afternoon was loads of fun. At the end, Catherine and I from SFX asked if we could be in the shoot briefly too, just to have a nice keepsake. Matt Smith was happy to stick around for a few personal shots. What tickles me about this snap is that he's cheerily grabbing me by the shoulders. When it came time to put the Ed Zone pic together we just asked the Doctor Who crew if we could use this one rather than mock anything up on our computers.
So, there you have it. After a hundred issues those are Dave B’s favourite Ed Zone photos. I’d have mentioned the Ghost Rider imaged from issue 218; those freaky yellow eyes really scared the bejesus out of me. And also the recent Bond gyrocopter image from issue 227, which was my last belly laugh inducer. (I think it’s the yellow helmet and the Mr Bean expression.)
But what do you think? Are the ones Dave picked out your favourites too? Or do you remember any other photo with particular fondness? Tell us which Ed Zone picture you liked the best. Who knows maybe we’ll pick twelve and have a Big Dave’s charity calendar one day…