Thursday, 31 July 2008

Happy (belated) Birthday to The Beano!

70 last Saturday! (Not that I knew)

Anyway, Happy 70th! There's only one way to celebrate...


Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Quick stuff

  • Why isn't EC Archives Weird Science vol 3 available on Amazon or The Book Depository? It's been in the comic shops for a few weeks but no sign online. Please don't tell me that the big e book sellers have given up on Gemstone! I can't be paying full price for my EC Archives.
  • Conan the Cimmerian #1 is a fantastic comic. Not only has it got a variant cover by Joe Kubert (drawing Conan for the first time by the way) it's got interiors by the legendary Richard Corben, who draws a fantastic story about Conan's bad-ass grandad! My favourite single issue in ages. Well worth a look.
  • IFanboy have a decent little promotion going on with Simply follow THIS LINK sign up and get 50 free downloads. You have to give your credit/debit card details, but you can cancel your subscription as soon as you've downloaded your 50 freebies. The site doesn't have the most extensive of catalogues, but there's enough on there to keep most people happy. You don't have to download the Ifanboy playlist by the way.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Your adventure ends here...extended edition

Regular readers will know that I like nothing more at the end of a hard day's bagging and boarding than kicking off my shoes and relaxing in the warm nostalgic glow of a good fighting fantasy death. The likes of Jackson, Livingstone and Dever sure did know how to warp the imagination of their pre and early teen audiences with their tales of spiked pits and man-eating trolls. Yet these masters of the macabre didn't only open up minds to death, occasionally the discerning Fighting Fantasy fan was forced to confront a different kind of end, an end with no end! Here, for your delectation, are a few of these rare non-fatal FF finishes...

Magic stuff.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Method Man review

Flipping heck, the folk at Hachette Books actually sent me a review copy of Method Man's new comic! This despite my admission HERE that very few people read my blog. The fact that Hachette don't seem bothered by that means that they're either very kind or very desperate; either way I'm in a frenzy of free comic based excitement. So thanks Hachette books, here's what I thought of Method Man...

Let's get this straight, I know next to NOTHING about rap music. I occasionally hear it being played through tiny mobile phones by irritating schoolchildren on my bus to work, but ask me about blunts, bitches or Hennessy and I'm lost.

I was aware of the Wu-Tang Clan, but aside from hearing vague rumours that they ain't nuthin ta fuck wit, I couldn't really tell you very much about their music. Apparently at least one of the Wus is a fan of comics though, and much like Guy Ritchie, Dave Stewart and Jenna Jameson at Virgin, Method Man has put his name to a book. And you know what? It's actually quite a lot of fun.

Honestly, I was sceptical, but the rap star's comic has a sparky energy about it that makes it well worth a read. The concept is gloriously ridiculous. You've got this P.I (the fabulously named Peerless Poe) who also happens to be a renegade member of the Order of the Sacred Method. Now get this, The Order of the Sacred Method are (and I quote) "The direct descendants of Cain, a near-fanatical religious elite order of disciplined murder-priests who use their abilities to attack unholy threats on a global scale."

I may not be up on my rap, but any comic about murder-priests who can trace their family tree all the way back to the world's first killer is alright by me. As for those unholy threats? Well, we're introduced to them early - seven pages in as it happens, when Peerless Poe gets into a ruck with a man-eating sewer dragon...

Rap stars chasing monsters around sewers while calling them bitches. Truly this is comics excellence.

Anyway, we soon find out Peerless has been kicked out of the order, but that his old Sensei needs him to track down some Monster Queen or other called Lilith. They climb in a spaceship and head for Stonehenge (naturally) and all sorts of demon killing ensues.

Writer David Athcison keeps the whole thing zipping along at a frenetic pace while Sanford Greene's pleasing hybrid of comic book action and graffiti style art lends the book a suitably street feel. The fact that the art is in black and white might put some people off, but it works, giving the whole project a rawness that suits it well.

The fight scenes (and there are a lot of those) crackle with energy, using jagged panels and dark slashes to create a speedy blur of movement...

...while the dialogue is punchy and often very funny. Perhaps the supporting cast could have been fleshed out a bit more, but in truth it doesn't matter that we don't really get to know them. Method Man isn't trying to be deep after all, it's a gods-honest beat 'em up book where axe-gun wielding rap ninjas take on flying demons in a fight to the death. If you're up for that kind of thing then I'm sure you'll enjoy Method Man

Wu indeed.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

The Wrong Door!

My good friend Mr Wheatley has a telly programme coming out. It looks AWESOME!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

I'm drunk again... you'll not get much sense from me tonight, except to say that War Heroes by Mark Millar is pish. You know, I normally defend the fella, but this really isn't much cop. There you go, Heroes has got a lot to answer for. Never mind, I'm still enjoying Kick-Ass and even the Fantastic Four which everyone else seem to think is a steaming pile of excrement. Mark Millar, you're alright son, but War Heroes?...not so much.

What else? I am saddened to hear that Mr Wheatley failed to write me a trip report on his recent jaunt to the comic shops of LA. Bah, no excuses sir! Also Dave F where is your replacement article for the one I couldn't use! Gah! Get on with it.

As for the rest of you? Psssh. Silent lurkers. Damn your eyes!

And sleeeeeeeeeep.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Hellblazer: Fear Machine

I finally finished Fear Machine, the third Hellblazer graphic novel. It's a trifle flowery and muddled in parts, as all Delano's early stuff is, but overall this is an excellent arc. The story sees John Constantine mixed up with a bunch of new age travellers who attract the attention of a shadowy defence contractor which is keen to get its hands on a young psychic traveller called Mercury. She's kidnapped, Constantine investigates and a plot to raise some nasty old demon is uncovered!

As with the previous two trades, Fear Machine is going to be of most interest to those folks who remember what Britain was like when the book was being written. If you were around at the back end of the 80s then you'll recall that the police were beating the shit out of new age travellers who were doing nothing more threatening than going to festivals, playing the bongos and generally refusing to conform. At the same time, Thatcher and her cronies were pushing through Clause 28 which prohibited the "promotion" of homosexuality, and investigative journalist Duncan Campbell was raising hackles by exposing the existence of a complex surveillance system called ECHELON. Pretty soon Maggie was going to fuck herself by trying to push the Poll Tax through, but at that moment she thought she was invulnerable. It was a depressing time and Fear Machine captures the mood very well.

The good guys in Fear Machine are the travellers and homosexuals, the investigative journalist and the policeman who refuses to give in to corruption. Ranged against them is a shadowy corporation which is seeking to usher in a new age of order through the use of fear and the repression of individuality. There's no doubt whose side Delano is on, or that the corporation represents the repressive right. As their agenda is gradually uncovered, Delano exposes a complex conspiracy involving everyone from government ministers to royalty and the Masons. He's pissed off with the British elite and Fear Machine is his two fingers to them.

Perhaps the message gets in the way of the story. It's a bit loose in the middle and the end feels hurried and rather unsatisfactory. Delano is keen to explore alternative lifestyles, but could have told a tighter tale by spending more time on Constantine and less on the Scottish Pagans whose story takes up much of the second half of the book. His eagerness to explore the dynamics of late '80s Britain is what makes his run on Hellblazer so fascinating, but it does sometimes result in an uneven pace of narrative.

There are also problems with the art in Fear Machine. Mark Buckingham (of Fables fame) handles a lot of it, but this is not the polished Buckingham that we know. The layouts can be confusing, and some of his faces appear oddly distorted. His style and the more photo realistic art of Richard Rayner (who also worked on the book) occasionally jar with each other. All of this lends the art a disconcerting and slightly uneven feel. In some ways that helps create the unsettling mood that Delano is aiming for, but at other times it is slightly distracting.

So, the art isn't brilliant and the story could have done with a good trim, but Fear Machine is an interesting historical piece and as such well worth the effort. It's edgy, uncomfortable horror with a point to make. It's also very British which makes its appearance in an American comic book all the more remarkable. That's true of Delano's entire run. In fact, the more I read of Hellblazer, the more I marvel that it made it past issue 20. You can take it as a straight horror story, but the targets Delano was taking aim at must have seemed very alien to the bulk of the book's American readers. Apparently they enjoyed it well enough though. Fair play to Delano for slipping such a peculiarly political British book under the radar.


I've driven myself mad trying to write about Hellblazer again. It's now 2.25am, I've been at it for two hours and I've crapped forth an absolute pile of steaming shit. Bah! I'm giving up!

Here have a great moment in rock n roll history instead...

Sunday, 20 July 2008

A few links

Hey! I know what'd be good, a picture of Judge Dredd carrying a starving Ethiopian!

No food citizen?
The sentence is DEATH!

Personally I think the expression on that skull's face says it all, but if you think this Ron Smith effort is in fact a heart rending and worthy work of art then you can buy it HERE


Apparently everyone who knows anything about comics is already aware that Jack Kirby wrote and drew a Prisoner comic. Well fuck me! I had no idea until yesterday...

Check it out HERE

Read about it HERE


Teeside Tintin. Patchy? Yes. But it does have some genuinely hilarious moments. Epsiodes 1 - 25 below....

More on Youtube if you can cope.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The runaway children of the universe!

scan from Midnight Tales #6, published by Charlton Comics, November 1973.
Art by Wayne Howard.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Bolland BFI ad

Picked up this ad for the BFI's season of comic book related movies today... that new Bolland art? I don't recognise it, or the character.

The BFI's festival has been on for a couple of weeks already, but it runs until the end of August. A full programme can be found HERE.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Dressing as Dredd

A couple of pics from the 1986 2000AD Annual

Given that these photos are in-house, they leave a lot to be desired. I mean, crash helmets and wellies!? Very poor.

Of course you can have all the props in the world but if you've got the body of the nine stone weakling from those old Charles Atlas ads then you're still going to look daft...


Which makes you realise just how good THIS BLOKE is.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Sex and violence

If nothing else the title of this post should guarantee a few more hits for this blog. I'll need them if I'm to review Method Man's exciting new comic!

The rapper's publicist contacted LLC to see if I'd give the book a look. Naturally I said I'd love to. Method's PA then asked me,

"Would you happen to know your site's monthly uniques?"

To which I replied,

"Err, I think my mum looks from time to time. Then there's my friend Ben and the bloke who works at my local comic shop. Will that do?"

I haven't heard back. But I'm confident that the former Wu Tang Clan man will be blessing me with his sequential debut very soon. In the meantime I'm planning on inserting random words like blowjob and pissflaps into my posts to boost hits!

ain't nothing to fuck with!

While I wait for my review copy of Method's opus, I've been contenting myself with more conventional spandex based shenanigans. Finished Bullet Points, which was totally worth it for the climactic battle with Galactus. That Tommy Lee Edwards feller can draw the bejiminy out of superheroes. His art makes Bullet Points worth a look, although the Staczynski story feels overly contrived.

I'm having similar thoughts about Wonder Woman at the moment. The latest arc has left me cold story wise, but Aaron Lopresti's art is top drawer. Usually I'm a story first art second sort of person, but sometimes the pictures are so good that they make up for an average script. Having said that, I've enjoyed Simone's previous couple of WW stories, so I'm not about to desert the title just because the last one was a bit of a duffer.

Enjoyed Conan The Cimmerian #0 so I'll be picking up number #1 this week. I read most of the previous Dark Horse series as it came out. Good stuff which did a stand-up job of adapting Howard's stories. I'm all for that and everything, but it would be nice to see a bit more of the Arnie spirit in the new run. Conan was on the telly last night, hadn't seen it for a while and had forgotten what a fine film it is. This moment in particular deserves a comic book adaptation...

llama fucking followed by camel punching! Now that's what I want from my barbarian books!

Monday, 14 July 2008

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Space Western #44

So let me get this straight: you're telling me that this comic involves a cowboy leading a troop of Space vigilantes on a mission to Mars to fight the Nazis?


Friday, 11 July 2008

Thursday, 10 July 2008

If This Be Doomsday

I'm whacked. I had it in mind to read a lot of comics this evening, but I managed just one before I had to retire to the sofa and vegetate in front of Celebrity Masterchef. Such is life when you have a tiny infant in the house. Still, I've dosed up on pizza, pretzels and red wine and now feel ready to bore anyone who happens upon this page with some inane rambling.

Earlier in the day I dragged myself to the comic shop on five hours sleep and spent far too much money. Every week I make it my mission to drop a few titles and every week I pick up new ones, for shame. I even ended up buying the Final Crisis tie-in Requiem for a dead Martian or whatever the fuck it's called. So much for my plan to stick to the core Crisis mini series.

Weakling that I am, I also allowed Gosh!'s Andrew to foist his latest recommendation on me. Damn your eyes sir! To be fair to the man he hasn't given me a dud yet, and his latest pick Joker's Asylum: Penguin by Jasons Aaron and Pearson is indeed a fine comic. Great riff on The Penguin, insane Batman cameo and The Joker doing his best impression of EC's Crypt-Keeper. KERCHINNG! Aaron digs as far down into The Penguin's psyche as you can in 22 pages, while Pearson's Romitaesque pencils are lent a nightmarish quality by Dave McCaig's dark colours and the artist's own deep inks.

So anyway, that's the only comic I've read today, but I bought a LOT more. Ah well, at least I managed to resist the temptation of spending £50 on the HUGE Heroclix Galactus in Forbidden Planet. It's calling my name though, and I'm not sure if I can fight its Man Toy advances for much longer. Dirty fucking Devourer of dosh!

"I'm hungry for your hard earned Sutton!"

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Streams of conscious mess

In a desperate attempt to catch up with the HUGE pile of unread comics that I've accumulated, I'm reading three trades (Jack Staff volume 1, Hellblazer: Fear Machine and Bullet Points) at the same time as the first volume of Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus.

Kirby's Fourth World stuff is (surprise, surprise) absolutely bonkers. There's a fucked up idea every three panels, and the whole thing is written in bizarre hipstereese: "like wild daddio. Dive in my Boom Tube and groove on over to the Fear Factory".

Nice package though. DC have chosen to reprint the comics on matt paper which lends the collection an authentic air that the glossy Marvel Omnibuses don't have. And you know, even if old Jack was a 50 year old trying to sound like an LSD loving hippie when he wrote these tales, the pages still have that Kirby crackle about them.

Bullet Points is a bit "myerr". Nice art by Tommy Lee Edwards (obv), but there's nothing particularly exciting about Straczzzzzzzzynski's What If style story.

Fear Machine is top. I'll write something more detailed about it when I finish it.

Jack Staff? Well, anything that features a vampire hunting Steptoe and Son is immune from criticism. Great stuff.

Obviously I'm also ploughing my way through the backlog of single issues, listening to various comic podcasts and stroking my Devil Dinosaur Heroclix whenever the mood takes me.

On the single issue front, I'd heartily recommend Marvel Mythos: Captain America by Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera. It's a poignant retelling of Cap's origin which features some incredible art by Rivera. I liked it so much that I made enquiries about buying a page from the comic, unfortunately Paul Jenkins has already snapped up the one I wanted. Gahhh!

Podcast wise I've been impressed by Alex Fitch's show, Panel Borders. It's a bit like John Siuntres's American Podcast Word Balloon, except with a British slant. CHECK IT OUT. I recommend starting with Alex's excellent interview with Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen.

Elsewhere I've been listening and reading with interest as comic fandom in its many guises pays "tribute" to Michael Turner. Has there been one podcaster or blogger who hasn't prefixed their tribute to the man with the words "His art wasn't to my taste, but..."?

Honestly, a lot of people had a real downer on the man's work, me included. I just don't understand why some of those people now feel it necessary to mark his death with tributes that contain provisos. Better just to say nothing isn't it? Except, of course, I just have. Bollocks. Oh well, RIP Michael Turner, his art wasn't to my taste but...

Monday, 7 July 2008

The Phantom Shield of Oxford

And so, after a couple of days spent wandering around Oxford with my ten-month-old son, I return to London and the piles of unread comics that await. Nice place Oxford. If you ever find yourself there make sure to check out the Pitt Rivers Museum, a dark treasure trove of bizarre objects including this beauty...

A tribal shield from Papua New Guinea featuring none other than The Phantom! Apparently The Phantom worked his way into Papua New Guinean consciousness via the comic books left by American soldiers fighting the Japanese along the coast back in the '40s. The books eventually made their way into the interior of the country and the phantom started popping up on shields some time in the 1960s. Presumably the tribesmen who painted the images came into contact with other superheroes, but The Phantom seems to be a favourite.

There are lots of New Guinea Phantom shields knocking about. If you have a spare $7000 you can even buy yourself one HERE. Much better than that Spider-Man costume you were thinking of wearing to your next comic convention eh?

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Evil Swamp Thing

Torn from the calcifying pages of the 1979 2000AD annual here are a couple of Brett Ewins panels from the short story FOOD!

That man-eating alien looks familiar.

I think DC might have had a decent case against IPC here.

No updates from me for the next few days as I'm out of London for a short break.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Comics, a serious business

This photo from the recent Women in Comics panel at Wizard World Chicago cracks me up...

Not one to show to your friends the next time you're trying to convince them that comics deserve to be taken seriously.

Photo lifted from this report

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A visit to London's monthly comic mart

Sunday's mart was an even shabbier affair than usual. Those dealers selling expensive bronze and silver age comics wore the look of desperate men. Several of the more established faces have ditched their expensive comics altogether, joining the ranks of stallholders knocking out tatty books for 25p a throw. Those that have gone down that route were busy, but everyone else seemed to be struggling to drum up any business. I saw a couple of blokes in their 40s handing over ridiculous amounts of money for Claremont Byrne issues of The X-Men, but punters like that are disappearing fast. After all, who really needs to pay £40 for a book that they can get for a fiver on e-bay or read as part of a £10 Showcase or Essential?

So what did I spend my dosh on? Well, 25p comics of course. I picked up a stack of beat up old silver and bronze age books including Strangest Sports #13 which I scanned in yesterday, this Bob Haney/Jim Aparo classic from 1974...

And this copy of World's Finest #159...

Alright so both copies are dog rough, but for 25p I'm happy.

Elsewhere I bagged a few issues of the late '70s Marvel puzzle magazine Fun and Games which feature some rather pretty mazes, including this beauty...

and this Dr Strange effort which I like a LOT...

Both images are worth clicking for the big scans.

I also lashed out £5 for a Devil Dinosaur heroclix, which makes me something of a sucker I suppose, but hey, it does look mighty fine on my desk.