Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Late night wittering at the end of the year

Anyone else feel like they need a new liver? 

I have to say I'm pretty relieved that tonight will be the last where I'm required to drink large amounts of booze, as I honestly don't think my blubbery mess of a body can take much more punishment. Hey-Ho, I'm getting very old.

Anyway, new comic day today (strange day to have it) and I might try and slope away to Gosh for an hour or so before the mandatory alcohol poisoning resumes. Didn't pick up my books last week and still haven't read the ones from the week before that, so I'll have a tidy old pile to get through once things calm down.

I suppose I should do some sort of best of 2008 thing since it's almost over and all. To be honest I haven't spent much time thinking about it, but here are a few comic related highlights which spring readily to my addled mind...
  • Amazing Spider-Man: I never liked married Peter Parker anyway so I was glad to see Spidey rebooted. Frankly I found all the bitching about the whole deal with Mephisto thing funny - seemed like a fairly routine sort of thing to happen in a world full of people who can fly and fire laser beams out of their eyes. Whatever, even the haters seem to like the new book. It's fast, fun and on occasions downright brilliant, particularly when it's drawn by...
  • Marcos Martin: Honestly imaginary web chums, I usually pay a lot more attention to the words than I do the pictures, but when I pick up an issue of Spidey and see one of this fellah's covers, the old nerd juice starts leaking out. Martin's art is SWEET. Not only does he draw a great, lithe, graceful Spidey which nods respectfully in the direction of Steve Ditko, he also does fantastic things with his page layouts and nails the look of Marvel Manhattan. I wish he could draw every issue.
  • Green Lantern: Not everyone's cup of cha I know, but for me GL is still my number one spandex based read. Lots of cool looking aliens flying around in space fighting. The obligatory Geoff Johns nods to DC history and continuity undoubtedly turn a lot of new readers off, but get me juiced. 2008's Sinestro war finale and retelling of Hal Jordan's origin have been ace.
  • Walking Dead & Invincible trades: I can see a day when people get fed up of Robert Kirkman's stuff, it's very soap opera and it's very manipulative, BUT who cares? The man writes a mean page-turner. I read his top two books in trade. Get them -  gobble them up. Instantly want more. Do it, you'll see.
  • The End League: Grim, derivative muddle of a comic from Rick Remender which I'm enjoying the hell out of. 
  • Conan's grandad: I've always had a soft spot for Conan, but his grandad is way cooler. He looks a bit like Phineas from The Freak Brothers and chops up werewolves and slavers. Yay! Artist Rich Corben owns every other fantasy artist out there as far as I'm concerned. He should draw the main Conan story as well.
  • 11 O'Clock comics:  Four American blokes getting drunk and blathering on about comics for an hour and half or so. My favourite podcast. Go listen. Also, check out Around Comics and Comic Geek Speak. They're getting slicker as time goes by, but there's still something pleasingly punk about all three shows. I kind of like the I-Fanboy podcast too, but their ultra professional "let's do this for a living" "keep your voicemails to 30 seconds" lickety/split rush to keep the show on schedule turns me off slightly. I like my podcasts to sound more like chaotic audio fanzines. 
  • Having said all that, I do like me some Word Balloon. Host John Siuntres is the David Frost of comics, a PROPER broadcaster who know his subject inside out and has established a great rapport with several of the biggest names in comics. Of his 2008 interviews I'd say the Chuck Dixon, Ed Brubaker/Matt Fraction and mammoth Brian Bendis chats stand out. If you have any sort of interest in the medium, then you really should be wading through his catalogue of creator interviews. Essential listening.
  • War Comics: I've read a lot of good ones in 2008. Storming Paradise is probably my favourite.
  • Final Crisis: Crappy event comics. Yeah, but I've enjoyed every minute of it. Even love the tie-ins. 
  • Blogs: Oh God, I read far too many blogs. All of the ones in the sidebar>>> are worth reading. Go look.
Yeah, that all tailed off a bit towards the end, but I'm v v tired and can't force any more brain farts out. No doubt I'll think of some more stuff I've enjoyed over the course of 2008 tomorrow. 

When I'm a bit fitter for purpose I'll also bring you some exciting photos of Portuguese super-hero murals from LLC reader Diogo AND a quite remarkable development on the Sea-Monkey front that would have been better suited to Easter than Christmas. 

For now though, I really must crawl off into a corner and rest. Happy New Year chums! 

Monday, 22 December 2008

Merry Christmas

From Doomlord Santa* and London Loves Comics

This blog is now on holiday until next week. xxx

* For a bonus Doomlord adventure from the LLC archives clickee HERE

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Bits and bobs

It's v v late. I'm too tired to do coherence. Here, have some bullet points
  • Noooooooohttp://www.aintitcool.com/node/39508 I'm the godamned Twiki
  • I asked the French chap in Gosh if comics were going up in price. He said "No...but maybe next week" At which point the owner of the shop surfaced from the depths of the manga section to put him right and tell anyone listening that comics are not going up this or next week or at any week in the near future. I felt bad for getting the French bloke in trouble, but glad to hear the positive news on pricing.
  • I've now read Batman RIP. Have to say, knowing the twist before I started helped A LOT. If I'd gone in cold I'd probably have put it down after two issues worth of confusion. BUT once you know what the big secret is, well...it all makes perfect sense. More than that, it's beautiful fucking comics baby! Wowzers!
  • Hellblazer #250: Dave Gibbons script pencilled by Sean Phillips! + there's a new Delano story. S'all you need to know.
  • Phonogram Singles Club #1 has gone to a second print and they've made it blue! Blue?!? This comic needs to be pink I tell you! PINK!!!
  • Some of the Google searches that have brought folks to London Loves Comics today: 

What can I say? 
It's an honour to have you all pop by. 
Nighty, Night chums old and new!
Sutton Cunt

Friday, 19 December 2008

festive shenanigans

Got utterly shit-faced at the office Christmas Party yesterday. Vaguely remember shouting at the DJ to play Ghostbusters, pissing into the Thames and falling onto a night bus, but the moments in between are all a bit of a blank. Odd that I feel so chipper this morning then. No doubt I'll get hit with a bout of the DTs later. Ho-Hum.

The all day booze up meant that I missed new comics day. No bad thing really. What with the increasing number of books switching up from $2.99 to $3.99 and the rumour that with the pound continuing to nosedive UK prices might go up even further, I'm currently reassessing my comic buying habits. 

Obviously I'm not considering giving up the hobby altogether, but I might have to make the dreaded switch from weekly buyer to Amazon trade waiter. Sad, but it's beginning to look like the sensible option. There's always illegal downloads of course, but I still can't deal with comics on a computer screen. Tried reading Batman RIP like this, but it just doesn't work for me. Even if I did enjoy digital nerdery, I'd still want paper books as I do the majority of my reading on the bus to work.

Don't feel ready to make the switch to Amazon and the world of collected editions just yet though, so I'll be strapping on the old nerd sack this afternoon and shuffling over to Gosh where I plan on buying the following...

CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #6 

HELLBLAZER #250 

SUPERGIRL #36 NEW KRYPTON 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #581 

THOR GOD SIZED #1 

FEAR AGENT #25 


Not exactly a massive week, but a solid one. I'm going to give Hellblazer #250 a look as it's a special issue featuring a raft of Hellblazer creators from the past. Fraction's take on Thor has been ace and the rest you know about. I was going to write a little bit about each one, but to be honest I've started to feel a bit ropey and might have to retire to my stinkpit for an hour or two. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Ghost of Christmas Comics Past

Ho fucking Ho chums. Have I got a treat for you. 

Yes, dragged from the back of LLC's moth infested wardrobe I bring you an example of yellowing yuletide badness...

This abomination is what passed for Eagle's Christmas edition back in the bleak midwinter of 1982. It's jam packed with mediocre British talent burbling on about the festive season and engaging in grossly unfunny high jinks...



Yes, back in the day, comics could get away with filling their pages with shots of C celebs in shite Santa outfits decorating trees with other c celeb ornaments. What the fuck were kids meant to make of that? 

If The Game for a Laugh team weren't depressing enough for readers who had really turned up for Dan Dare, then there was always unfunny duo Little and Large to spoil things...

Click for a terrifying list of abysmal pantos

Festive Fun my arse. Not as annoying as ubiquitous 80s sports type and all round smug cunt Daley Thompson though. 

Thompson was HUGE in the 80s and appeared in The Eagle every bloody week prattling on about his tedious training regime. The Christmas issue was no different, although he did at least pull a Santa outfit over his Adidas top before proceeding to to bore the kids with talk of orgies and self-sacrifice...




My heart bleeds. 

To be fair, it wasn't all dull personalities. There are a few strips to be had including a sort of Bad Santa prototype done as monochrome photo story... 




Billy Bob Thornton it ain't. No point boring you with scans of the whole story, suffice to say the bloke dressed as Santa steals loads of toys from the department store he works in but eventually gets fucked over by the real Santa who loads up his sack with so much stuff that the crook falls down the stairs and is forced to give the majority of his swag away to needy children so that he can get out of the building. 

Yeah, made no sense to me either.

Apart from that there are some house ads for IPC's other depressing celeb based Xmas comics... 


I bet Ian Botham's "Cricketer's Christmas" was a bundle of fun eh chums? 

The only saving grace in the whole issue is the Dan Dare story which features an awesome panel of The Mekon relaxing in a giant goldfish bowl of nutrients... 

It has precisely nothing to do with Christmas which in the context of all the other gubbins makes it even greater than it actually is.  But the joy is short lived and we are quickly back to the festive theme with Eagle's ridiculous ideas for party games...



What a fucking elaborate wheeze eh? My mum would have looked at me blankly had I asked her for that lot. Bah Humbug! No wonder I was so quick to turn to the slick world of American comics whenever the chance presented itself. 

Monday, 15 December 2008

Lord Hurk goes to War!

LLC favourite Lord Hurk has been busy...

Click for a massive scan

The man is SERIOUSLY good, no?

Oh, and while we're on the subject of Lord Hurk, check out this fantastic blog which he links to from his site

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Interlude

Been too busy looking after my lad and attempting to write successful sports betting tips to bother with spandex. 

Thanks to the fellah who filled me in on The Pipettes.

Thanks to the Comic Gods for another excellent issue of Final Crisis - that centrespread man!

Still haven't done any Christmas shopping or sent any cards.

Have to go to work. 

S'laters


Thursday, 11 December 2008

Who the fuck are The Pipettes?

HEY! Phonogram The Singles Club has kicked off.

If you don't already know, Phonogram is a comic about Phonomancers - magicians who make magic through music. Phonogram The Singles Club is the sequel to Phonogram and will follow a bunch of different Phonomancers over the course of one evening in one night club.

Issue #1 is the story of Penny B who uses dance magic or something. She's very pretty, a bit of an airhead and likes The Pipettes (whoever the fuck they are).

I'm telling you about this dear chums, because unless you've heard of it you probably won't have noticed The Singles Club. See, it has this incredibly girlie cover which is most likely invisible to the majority of men seeking comics about other men in leotards. For those who can see it, I say pick this book up! It's the best pink covered comic I've read since Alpha Flight #12

SPOILERS! no one dies - but people do dance! They're all very beautifully drawn by the very talented Jamie McKelvie, and given witty things to say by the equally excellent Kieron Gillen. Mr Gillen also writes two supplemental short stories which are ably illustrated by Lauren McCubbin and Marc Ellerby.

All you trade waiters should be aware that the Phonogram chaps have jumped on the back matter bandwagon that makes buying the floppies essential. Not only will those backup stories be omitted from the collected version, but you'll also miss out on Gillen's lively text pieces/rants.

You don't want to be buying this in trade anyway. For a start it's called The Singles Club (clue's in bold chums) and if that doesn't convince you then just take Glllen's word for it that every issue will work perfectly well as a stand alone story. I believe him.

As ever some knowledge of the bands referenced in the story is useful but not essential. Personally I'd only heard of Blondie, and was surprised to learn that any club where they play The Tide is High can still be considered cool.

As someone who last attended a night club when Guru Josh was in the charts, I'll have to defer to Gillen an McKelvie on this one. Frankly the club in their story looks like a bit of a hole in the wall to me, but it's populated with young and beautiful people who appear to be enjoying themselves, so I'm willing to accept that this is the kind of place where hep young magicians go to partay these days.

I'm too old for it of course, but I liked issue #1 a lot. It's smart, snappy and above all very nice to look at. I can't claim to have understood everything about it (I have no idea what band Laura is quoting for example) but I'm damn sure that Gillen hasn't wasted a word in the telling of his tale.

At £3 it's a bit on the pricey side, BUT you do get all that lovely back matter. Believe me that elevates it beyond the usual five minute read that you get for £2, PLUS you're totally going to want to go back and stare at McKelvie's drawings for another half hour after you've read it anyway.

LLC definitely recommends.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Hellblazer - the missing trades

I've had the last couple of mornings free and should have done something useful like Christmas shopping or hoovering. Instead, I've mooched around in my pants reading comics and watching shite DVDs until it's been time to go to work. Truly I feel shamed by my indolence. 

At least some of the comics I've wasted my time on have been good. Finished the fourth Hellblazer trade Family Man and started on the next, Rare Cuts. Sadly, this is where my mission to read Hellblazer in order goes tits up. For some reason whole wadges of the run are uncollected and I've now hit a point where, if I want to continue reading the series as it was meant to be read, I have to wade into the world of back issues. I've no problem with that per se, but the OCD side of my brain wants to line the entire run up on my bookshelf in order.

I could go down the route of buying the back issues and having them bound, but that would surely be too sad even for me. Binding has become quite the thing to do among certain sections of the comic collecting community though. Over at Comic Geek Speak there's even a forum devoted to it. I can see the attraction, but to be honest a lot of the books pictured on that forum look like textbooks from a university library to me. 

Even if I did find the binding attractive, I'm still crazed enough to listen to that whining little voice in the back of my head that tells me that binding my comics will render them worthless. Given that the majority of them are worthless anyway, this is of course a ridiculous argument. But, that voice is a persuasive little fucker and might get unbearably loud were I actually to go ahead and start binding floppies.

So yeah, not sure what the solution is here. I might write to DC/Vertigo and find out if they intend to collect the missing issues at any point. If they do, then I'm prepared to wait. You'd think it would be worth their while, I mean surely they can shift a bunch of new Hellblazer trades. They'll probably go ahead and collect it all in omnibus format at some point anyway, but now I'm started down the road of paperbacks, I want to get to the end. 

Who said comic collecting was easy eh?

For anyone still awake and interested in the collected Hellblazer, there's a full list of what IS reprinted in this excellent Wikipedia link

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Oliver Postgate

Oliver Postgate, the man who gave us The Clangers, Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog and Ivor The Engine has died at the age of 83.

If you're British Generation X then you know what a giant this man was. Few things remind me of my childhood as much as this title sequence...



Another powercut? Three day week. John Craven. The Bay City Rollers. "Mum, can I stay up for It's a Knockout?"

I can almost taste the Cremola foam and Spangles. 

Ah, the '70s isn't it?

RIP

And now, a picture of a grown man and his dog dressed as Green Lanterns

um yeah, I think they might be kissing. 


Courtesy of LLC approved fetish site Spandexman.com

Monday, 8 December 2008

A reader writes

Got an interesting e-mail t'other day...

Hi Dominic,

 
I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and really enjoy it. I'm a comic collector (living in London) who gave up the hobby about 10 years ago but have recently rediscovered it. I just thought I'd drop you a note because I read your comments a while back about Final Crisis and thought I'd ask your advice on the best way to catch up on the series until now and for understanding it. Can you recommend what comics I should look out for? 
 
I picked up issue 1 and 2 of the main series but it seems like there are plenty of gaps where it must be covered elsehwere in these spin offs I've seen. Is there a guide of what to read out there anywhere? I've also read Rage of The Red Lanterns (I've always primarily been a GL Corps fan - part of the reason why I gave the hobby up around the time Kyle Raynor replaced Hal) but haven't so far had much of a sense of what is going on with the main storyline in the DCU. I don't want to skip all the background and just read Final Crisis 1-4 if there's actually a lot more out there worth picking up (aside from GL stuff which I am already picking up)...
 
Cheers,
 
Tom

Thanks for writing Tom. Blimey, Final Crisis eh? Well, the comic blogging glitterati would have you believe that anyone who doesn't get what's happening in Grant Morrison's epic is some kind of imbecile, but I have to say that unless you've spent the last 20 or so years memorising everything that's ever happened in the DC Universe then you're going to find this mega-event somewhat confusing. But you know what? That's OK! We live in a world of interwebberey and message boardery where everything can be made clear to anyone willing to do a bit of supplemental reading.

Strangely, the spin-offs from Final Crisis won't actually fill in the gaps. Rogues Revenge, Legion of Three Worlds and the other offshoots have all been excellent, but none of them are necessary to understanding what's happening in the main title. If you're struggling with that, then I would suggest rereading each issue in tandem with The Final Crisis Annotations website OR downloading Comic Geek Speak to your Ipod (presuming you've got one) and checking out Adam Murdo's excellent walkthroughs of each issue.

On top of that, and for background, I would strongly suggest reading Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers series which isn't directly connected to the events of Final Crisis but which does set the scene for much of what's going on. If you're really keen (and have a bit of dosh to spare) then you should also go all the way back and check out Jack Kirby's Fourth World books all of which have been reprinted in beautiful omnibus form COMPLETE with old style matt paper. Seriously good looking items that form the foundation for everything Morrison's riffing on in FC.

There's more of course - you could check out the original Crisis on Infinite Earths or (and I don't recommend this) depress yourself by wading through the sludge that is Countdown to Final Crisis. In the end, it all comes down to work! Yes, if you want to understand Final Crisis then you've got to work baby! It's not easy reading, it doesn't all make immediate sense and it's dripping with sticky DC lore. This is what makes FC and indeed most of Morrison's other work so rewarding. He writes puzzles that demand a lot of the reader. If you want things easy then go grab Secret Invasion, it demands very little effort, you'll have read it in five minutes and once you've finished it you'll never have to pick it up again - which is fine. It's good in fact. I LOVE disposable comics, but I don't want to be spoon fed all the time and that's why I think Final Crisis is worth the extra effort.

As for Rage of The Red Lanterns. Well, to be honest just because they've stuck a Final Crisis logo on the cover you shouldn't be fooled into thinking it has anything to do with Final Crisis proper. In reality it's the latest chapter in Geoff Johns' superb run on Green Lantern - a bridge between The Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night. If you want to find out about those then I would suggest reading Johns' run on the title from the beginning. You might also like to pick up the Green Lantern Corps series.

There you go. Hope I've helped. Enjoy!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Small moments of real rage

A so called friend of mine just used his Facebook Status update box to blabber about a major plot point in The Wire. What a cuuuuuuuuunt! I'm only on season two and he's just completely ruined things for me by needlessly telling the world about the death of a major character. Gahhhhhh!!!!!! I AM SO FUCKING ANGRY! 

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The greatest e-mail EVER

Anyone who reads my bilge with any sort of regularity will have been party to my recent Sea-Monkey failure. To cut a long story short, I bought some of the fabled undersea creatures from Woolies, they lived for a few days and then they died. Or at least I thought that they had died until I received this e-mail...

Dear Dom: Read your sad blog about the passing over of your Sea-Monkeys®.

They do not actually die but they time travel in a non-corporeal state, leaving their empty ectoderm behind.

As you know, they are telepathic and come into our world to beam images and seminal thoughts into our minds regarding the state of the world environment and the oceans.

They probably felt that you were receiving the messages so they left and returned to the vast & secret undersea world where they rule.

Please send me your mailing address and phone number and I will send you a new set for you to start another band of telepaths.

Deal?

Loved the little shrine and thank you for the kind words about Sea-Monkeys®

Adios, G

George C. Atamian

Transcience Corporation

Creators & Owners of Sea-Monkeys®

President Brand Management

& Business Development

2315 N. Laurel Ave

UplandCA 91784


Seriously folks, that's the coolest e-mail I've EVER received AND it comes direct from Sea-Monkey HQ. God bless you Transcience Corporation! God bless you Sea-Monkeys! 

Check them both out HERE


Sickness and The Sun

Is it just me or is everyone ill? I've had this hacking cough for almost two weeks now, my office sounds like a TB Ward and, despite a course of antibiotics and numerous visits to the doctor, my 15 month old is still sick too. Grim fucking winter lurgy bollocks, bring back summer I say.

So, given that the boy is not well enough to leave the house for our weekly trip up to Gosh, there'll be no new comics for me today. Never mind, I've still got most of last week's floppies to read anyway. Had intended to plough through them on the journey to work yesterday, but got distracted by a copy of The Sun which someone had left on the bus. Terrible rag of course, but I can never resist a read if there's a copy to hand. Yesterday's edition actually had some pretty decent bits and bobs in it. Honestly. There was this...

This...
and err, this...
Nothing funny about forcing yourself on equine stock of course, but you have to hand it to the wag at The Sun who chose to protect the victim's identity...

Genius.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Death

Tis a dark day at LLC HQ today chums. Yes, the flag is flying at half mast and the curtains are drawn; for sadly, I have to report that my Sea-Monkeys are dead! 

See the Tank of Doom! Woe, woe! For three days they burned brightly, dancing happily in their watery world. Then I fed them, the tank grew murky and the Sea-Monkeys died. I feel empty chums, empty.

And yet, I know that my undersea pals would have wanted me to carry on. And so, I shall fight back the tears and continue to blather on about comics.  Comics such as Curtis and Terrorist, by Oliver Lambden, an eight-page effort which I picked up at Comiket.

In these days of Interwebbery when punters can read all the online indie comics they want for NOWT, you need to go that extra mile if you want folk like me to pay you for your comics. That's what the boy Lambden has done with this little book, wrapping each copy in a cardboard cover featuring an original drawing. No two copies are the same. Here's my cover...

Very pretty, I'm sure you'll agree. As is the comic itself. No story as such, just a little peek at a silly terrorist as he goes about his business - sort of Mr Men meets Al Qaeda...

I like the art. The jokes made me giggle and you can't beat the unique cardboard cover. Check out more HERE

Elsewhere, I got my hands on some new graphic novels courtesy of my mum and stepdad who made the journey to Gosh! with Christmas wish list in hand (Quote from stepfather: "I thought it'd be full of little kids in there, but they were all grown men"). 

Obviously I wasn't meant to look at any of my new pressies until the 25th, but I'm not very good at waiting, and I've already cracked the seal on a couple of items. Most notably, Mythos by Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera. Man that's a beautiful book! I'd already read the Captain America story in single issue format, so I knew what to expect, but that Rivera lad can paint. 

For those who don't know, the Mythos series retells the origin stories of Hulk, The Fan 4, Ghost Rider, The X-Men, Captain America and Spider-Man. The hardcover collection reprints the lot in oversized format on lovely glossy paper. Jenkins does a stand-up job on the writing, but I think even he'd admit that Rivera is the star of the show here...

I know there are those fans who hate to see painted art in their comics, it doesn't always have the dynamic feel of pencils and inks and can slow a story down, but for these classic origin stories it works because these aren't straight up action stories, they are the most famous moments in the history of Marvel, a series of set pieces and modern day legends that deserve the slavish, reverential paint job which Rivera provides. 

If you like Marvel comics then you really should get this book. If you're absolutely loaded then you should also do some of your money on Rivera's paintings. If I had a spare $10,000 knocking about I'd buy THIS to hang on my toilet wall.

Monday, 1 December 2008

It's Monday!

Let Conan's grandad ease you into the start of the working week...

This depressing reminder was brought to you by His Imperial Majesty Richard Corben and can be enjoyed in context within the pages of Conan The Cimmerian #5

Friday, 28 November 2008

LLC Recommends: Love Story From Nation Of Silence

Well, I still have head full of green stuff, but I do feel a bit better and have managed to read a few of my purchases from last Saturday's Comiket at The ICA.

My favourite of a generally enjoyable bunch of Indie goodies is Takayo Akiyama's charming tale: Love Story from Nation of Silence, Daisy and Violet Siamese Twins.

Clearly influenced by the likes of The Mighty Boosh (several of the stars from that show make cameo appearances in the comic) this is a quirky story about co-joined pub singers and a bar full of strange creatures. It's a surreal little comic, full of gentle jokes and beautifully detailed panels which only the most serious of souls will fail to enjoy.

There's some adult humour, (principally involving the efforts of one of the twins to get a Yeti into bed), but it's nothing that you'd call shocking, and while the book is aimed at the adult reader, there is much about it that I think children would enjoy as well. Indeed, I think Akiyama has the germ of a kids classic on her hands here. Sure it would need tweaking before any publisher would consider marketing it to a young audience, but there's enough to look at in this comic to keep most kids entertained.

Akiyama is a VERY talented artist who is able to pack her panels with a huge amount of detail. I spent a good time soaking up some of the scenes, and I'm sure that kids would return to the book to enjoy multiple viewings of panels like these...


CLICK IMAGES TO ENJOY THE DETAIL

That's not to say this book is of no interest to adults; if you appreciate 70s kids shows like Mr Benn or Bod or, like me, still get a kick out of reading Where the Wild Things Are, you'll love Akiyama's stuff, it's magical, crazy and a lot of fun to look at. She's clearly bursting with ideas and she has a special talent for loading up those ideas without making a mess of the page.

Some of her dialogue is a bit muddled and there are several spelling mistakes in the story, but with a judicious editor those problems could be ironed out easily enough. Even with the mistakes, the story moves along at an entertaining pace. The main characters, Daisy and Violet, are well fleshed out and, while they are meant to be adults, would work equally well as children. Yes, you'd have to get rid of the references to sex and alcohol if they were to be truly kid friendly, but that wouldn't compromise the comic in any serious way. In fact I think it would make it more enjoyable.

Perhaps I'm doing Akiyama a disservice here then, but I really think she should aim the future adventures of Daisy and Violet squarely at a younger audience. I believe she has a real eye for childrens storytelling and illustration and it would be a shame if some of the more adult themes in the book were to prevent young kids from getting their hands on Akiyama's stuff. As it is, I'd still be happy to give my son Love Story From Nation of Silence to look at, I'm sure that like me he'd get a lot of pleasure from it.

You can read a web version of the comic and order print copies from Takayo Akiyama's website. She also designs clothes! Check her out HERE

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Briefly

I'm a snotty sack of sickness, so is son - hence lack of updates. Will return to blathering about comics when I can stop couging.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Comiket 2008

I made it to Comiket a little later than I planned, which meant I just caught LLC reader Bruce and his missus as they were leaving. Was nice to meet you both though and hopefully we can sort out a drink sooner rather than later. Also present was Mike Leader who was lashing what little cash he has on a selection of the huge amount of small press comics on sale. He's just made the move to London and is struggling for work at the moment, but is a talented writer who I'm sure will make it as a journalist sooner rather than later - check out some of his excellent stuff HERE.

And so to Comiket itself. I had planned to take some photos, but my usually trustworthy camera phone has packed in. All you need to know is that there were a LOT of young (and some not so young) indie creators there hawking their wares. Among those I recognised was Jamie McKelvie of Phonogram fame, and Mr 2000AD Prog Slog - Paul Rainey who as well as reading the Galaxy's Greatest in chronological order also makes his own comics (one of which I bought).

Apparently the chaps behind LLC favourite The Sound of Drowning were also around, but while I located their table, they themselves were nowhere to be found. Shame really as I would have liked to have met them.

Most of the other creators were new to me, and with more new comics on offer than I have seen for some time, I have to admit I was overwhelmed. In the end I picked up seven comics ranging in price from £1 to £8. I've already read a couple and will have a bash at reviewing them all over the next week or so.

I'll certainly make a point of attending future independent comic marts. There's a lot of good stuff out there.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

A (possible) visit to Comiket at Comica

Due to work and childcare commitments I've been unable to make any of the events at this year's Comica, but I'm planning to head down to The ICA this Saturday and buy some independent comics at the Comiket market. 

I say "planning" because I'm still not 100% sure that I'll be able to make it (son's been ill, Missus was going to go visit friends with him, illness jeapordises that, ergo my plans to wallow in a weekend of comics filled sickness hang in the balance). Assuming I do go though, and assuming that there's anyone else out there reading this who also fancies a trip to The ICA, then hey, let's meet up! 

The London Underground Comics folks are selling their wares between 1 and 7pm. I'd probably aim to get down there between 1-2pm, buy some comics and then retire to the bar where we could talk briefly about Marvel Team Up or something, before lapsing into a painful period of prolonged silence.

If that sounds like your idea of a fun afternoon, let me know either by contacting me at the e-mail address in the bar on your right>>>,  or by leaving a message in the comments section of this post.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Look what I got....

Yes, SEA-MONKEYS! Purchased at Woolies for a fiver. Oh man, I am so excited. Nothing, and I mean nothing, blew my mind like those old Sea-Monkey adverts they used to have in American comics when I was a lad....

Obviously I chose to ignore the small print and believe that Sea-Monkeys looked like the creatures in the ad and not the frankly unimpressive pieces of floating debris that they actually are. This made it quite disappointing when I finally got my eight-year old hands on some.

Nevertheless, I convinced myself that if you were to put them under a microscope these dull looking plankton would actually be revealed as grinning fleshy sea people. Imagine how distressed I was when I came home to find my dog had drunk them. Dark days chums, very dark days.

No matter, I have a chance to erase those painful memories with my new set of aquatic pets. The water is purifying as we speak. Tomorrow I give them LIFE!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Ghost Rider v The Orb

So, I keep hearing that Jason Aaron's take on Ghost Rider is D@ BOMBZ! 

Fair enough, Mr Aaron is indeed a very fine writer of comic books who, from what I've been told, has come up with a suitably high-octane dose of Hell-fired moto-madness.

But tell me, is there really anything in it to compare with that time that Johnny Blaze beat the shit out of a stuntbike riding eyeball?





Props to artist Bob Brown for making an eyeball look scared. 

Scans from Ghost Rider 15, reprinted in Essential Ghost Rider volume one

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Fantastic Realm

NOTE: This shop closed in October 2009

To Finsbury Park to check out Fantastic Realm, a comic shop which I had heard some good things about...

view through the front window of Fantastic Realm

Tucked away on a side street behind the tube station, Fantastic Realm is a relatively new shop which is worth checking out if you're ever in the area. They do the bulk of their business online, but also maintain a bright, clean and well organised B&M store.

The focus here is firmly on mainstream American comics. There's no small press, manga or books for children, and you'll probably be out of luck if you're after some of the more leftfield non-spandex stuff from the States. If however the big two are your bag, you'll be well catered for here.

To your left as you enter the shop is a HUGE wall of new and recent releases...


while in the white bin in the middle of the shop there is a small, but well priced selection of older back issues.

On the right, behind the till, the shop keeps a good sized collection of variant covers (not my bag, but if you like that sort of thing they seem reasonably priced) and a few nice looking silver age books...


The back of the shop is taken up by a healthy selection of super-hero trades. For anyone interested, there are also trading cards and a small selection of toys and statues to be had.

The staff are extremely friendly and very keen to ensure repeated custom. They dug me out a couple of recent books I'd missed, found me a signed copy of another book I was looking for and, after just one visit, offered me the chance to take out a weekly subscription with the promise of a 10% discount. Setting aside the fact that I'm slightly put off by the lack of Indie books in the shop, I have to admit that this is quite a tempting offer which would probably net me 5 or 6 free comics every month.

For those living outside London without easy access to a comic shop, the mail order service (which also offers a 10% discount) could be an option. The shop's website isn't very impressive, but if you root around you'll find all the info you need to start a postal subscription. It can be accessed through THIS LINK

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Tales from the nerd sack

I feel like I've spent a lot of time moaning about comics lately, which is a shame really because leaving aside the rising prices, frustrating delays and execrable Secret Invasion style crossover muddles, there are actually some damn fine books on the racks at the moment.

I admit that since the birth of my son I haven't had as much time to read them as I once did, but when I do manage to slip on the old smoking jacket and relax with my tottering To Read pile, I'm often amazed by the quality of some of the comics that are coming out.

Take the new Rick Remender book Gigantic, for example. Wow! What a fucking great read. Giant Robot ACCIDENTALLY attacks San Fransisco in a thrill packed blaze of exploding buses and toppling skyscrapers. What more do you want? Well, how about some sci-fi satire on our obsession with reality TV, a healthy smattering of evil aliens and a nice afterword from Remender himself?

Folks, this is a top comic. Perhaps the colour palette is a little too muted for such a fiery spectacular, but the art itself is excellent. Well worth a look, ESPECIALLY if you're the kind of person who makes this sort of thing for a living...



Yeah, if LLC chum Mr Wheatley doesn't like Gigantic, I'll eat my run of Rom!

Final Crisis: Resist is almost as good as Gigantic, particularly if you miss Greg Rucka's Checkmate. I've enjoyed all the tie-ins to Final Crisis, but as a fan of Checkmate, I have to say this is probably my favourite so far.

Story? Well, basically you've got a beefed up revamp of Snapper Carr teleporting around the world blowing up Darkseid's bases, shagging cat women and getting into post coital scrapes with Gorilla Grodd (Mmmm post coital scrapes). Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mr Terrific figures out that to save the World from the Anti-Life equation he's going to have to sacrifice the woman he loves to free the Omac nanites in her body so that they in turn can release the latent Omac population of earth to do in Darkseid! Whew. I realise that this will make no sense to most people, but trust me, it's great.

As is The Unknown Soldier. Josh Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli's re imagining of the classic DC property is set against the bloody backdrop of Northern Uganda, where Moses Lwanga, a pacifist doctor working in the refugee camps of his wartorn country gets possessed by the spirit of the Unknown Soldier and finds himself compelled to turn to violence as a result.

Dysart went out to Uganda to research the comic, and his righteous anger at some of the atrocities being committed burns brightly in this story. Occasionally this works against him, as some of his characters sound like they're quoting statistics from a UN report rather than speaking their minds, but mostly it makes for an entertaining and informative read. Ponticelli's art is SENSATIONAL - bloody, sweaty, dusty and violent. His style reminds me of Eduardo Risso (of 100 bullets fame) and that's a big compliment.

Funnily enough Mario Alberti's art in X-Men and Spider-Man #1 has a similar feel to it, perhaps with a bit of Marcos Martin thrown if for good measure. Set in 60s Manhattan, this Christos Gage penned tale will probably draw comparisons with X-Men First Class. It's a light frothy take on the early days of Marvel, which I enjoyed a lot. Gage's script is snappy and fun, but the real star here is Alberti who captures the spirit of the 60s perfectly. He makes Gwen Stacey and Mary Jane look like groovy chicks and Peter Parker look like the slightly awkward (not quite ready to leave the 1950s) teenager that he originally was. It's beautiful stuff. Oh and he draws a mean Blob.