Sunday, 31 May 2009

Larfleeze stole the World Cup

Here's a panel from the latest issue of Green Lantern. It shows Orange Lantern Larfleeze and his gang on the run with a bag of intergalactic swag. Acearooney!

Check out that trophy they've nicked.
It's The Jules Rimet Trophy!

Heh! That one will have gone over the heads of most Americans.

For those who don't know, The Jules Rimet trophy was the original World Cup. It was retired in 1970 after Brazil won it for the third time and were allowed to keep it. Four years prior to that, it was nicked from a display cabinet during the build-up to the 1966 World Cup in England. Luckily it was recovered a few days later when a dog called Pickles found it in a garden hedge!

Saturday, 30 May 2009


Classic Mike Zeck Cap cover

Double A+ Steve McNiven homage

Scan A: Cover to Captain America Annual #8, 1986

Scan B: Panel from Wolverine (Old Man Logan) #72, May 2009

Friday, 29 May 2009

Shopping list

There you have it, the soon to be contents of my nerd sack. Note that this week's list comes with a bonus telephone number for a Brighton hotel. Give them a ring, ask about their Spider-Suite and be sure to mention that London Loves Comics sent you.

So what have we got? Not much really. To be honest, I'm still so buzzed from Uzumaki that I can hardly summon the energy to pick up any spandex based sequentialism. Ach well, I'm sure I'll settle back into the leotard fuelled groove soon enough.

I promised the new shop that I would wait for them to get my copy of League 1910 in, despite the fact that I knew it was at Gosh. Bought a copy for a bloke at work from Gosh, but dutifully waited until today to get mine from new shop. It better flipping be there.

The last of DC's Final Crisis Aftermath minis, Ink, kicks off this week. I've enjoyed the first issues of the other three (Run, Escape and Dance) and was about the only person on the planet who liked the Tattooed Man one-shot Submit during FC proper, so I have high hopes for this one.

Northlanders #17 is a standalone story spotlighting Viking weaponry in the style of Warren Ellis' Crechy (that's what writer Brian Wood says anyway). I was a little disappointed with the conclusion to the last arc of this series, but enjoyed the stories which came before (for my thoughts on those go HERE) and loved Crechy so I think this will be right up my street. Worth a shot if you haven't read any Northlanders yet I reckon.

Bit behind on Superman and Wolf-Man. Up to speed on Spidey (and convinced we're heading towards a Doc Oc gatecrashes Aunt May's wedding style story in ish #600. They've got previous REMEMBER). Glad to be getting back on track with Millar and McNiven's gloriously silly Old Man Logan story (although the Jason Aaron fill-in issue was very inventive). Green Lantern? Ach, you don't need me to say anything about that. 

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


Imagine that HP Lovecraft, Franz Kafka and David Lynch had been born as conjoined triplets. Imagine that this three-headed abomination somehow survived and grew into an adult. 
Imagine that gradually the three heads merged into one single Japanese head. Now, imagine that the creature started writing and drawing manga. This one super-head packed full of the weirdest, most horrifying ideas for stories ever dreamed up would be called Junji Ito and it would have spewed forth Uzumaki, the remarkable and disturbing horror manga charting the descent of a small coastal town into lunacy. 

I have a bad track record with manga. I just haven't ever got on with it, but with Uzumaki I've finally found a manga book which I love. This three volume series, collecting stories initially published within the pages of the monthly book Big Comic Spirits, is as creepy a comic as I've ever read. The title, Uzumaki means spiral, and its creator Junji Ito has crafted a story which tells the tale of what happens when an entire town becomes obsessed and eventually possessed by spirals. 

Told as a series of short stories, which taken together build into a satisfying whole, the book is a gory, surreal ride through the dark side of human nature, a series of cautionary tales and a masterpiece of sequential storytelling. It begins when high-school students Kirie and Shuichi become aware that Shuichi's father is behaving oddly. He's ignoring his work, getting ratty with his family and spending more and more time with his hastily acquired collection of spirals. Over a short space of time, his obsession with this collection overwhelms him, driving him into a spiral-fuelled descent towards lunacy which only ends when he himself becomes part of that collection. His demise presents the reader with the first and arguably most shocking moment of the entire story, as Shuichi and his mother return home to find Shuichi's father squeezed into a box, his broken body rolled into a horrific spiral. It's a chilling tale which sets the tone for what is to come. 

Shuichi's father is merely the first inhabitant of Kurozo-Chu to fall prey to the spiral. Like him, all those who encounter it will be overwhelmed, transformed and ultimately destroyed by its power. In telling this horrific story, Ito takes the opportunity to provide a series of closely observed commentaries on the weaknesses that we are all prey to. Shuichi's father possession by the spiral is manifested in his obsession with his work to the detriment of his family, later on the vanity of two teenage girls provides the platform for the spiral to wreak havoc through hairstyles at the local school, and the slothfulness of a teenage boy sees him transformed into a snail.

These are cautionary tales in the tradition of Shockheaded Peter, and it's arguable that, (until the last volume, when the story becomes more linear), they work better as stand-alone stories. To take them as a whole, the reader needs to suspend their disbelief somewhat. After Shuichi's mother is also overwhelmed by the spiral for example, we are asked to accept the fact that Shuichi, who is still a child, continues to live by himself in the family home with no intervention from any outside body. Similarly, while their classmates are dying in increasingly horrific and bizarre ways, the children of the local high school continue to attend class as if nothing is happening.

Really though, none of these anomalies matter. As the reader you can either tell yourself that the absence of sensible reaction to the unfolding horror is part of the spiral's hold on the town's collective consciousness, or, you can decide that believability is unimportant when measured against the surreal beauty of Ito's vision. 

And it is an awesome vision. As a writer, he continually hits the beats that good horror comics demand, building the reader up to a series of beautiful pay-offs, speeding the narrative up at points, slowing it down at others, bringing elements from the opening chapters back into play at later points in the story and finishing the whole thing up with a Lovecraftian piece of brilliance.

But none of that would count for anything were it not for his skill as a draughtsman. Much of what turns me off a lot of manga has to do with the art. All those snub noses, wide eyes and gaping shouty mouths seem to work against the artist to me, squashing originality and encouraging a uniformity of style. Again, as someone who knows very little about manga I may be missing the nuances of the artform, but as a layman I would struggle to tell one piece of manga art from another. This is not true of Ito's work. His painstakingly drawn pages display an intricacy of form and emotion that elevate the moments of horror to twisted heights of brilliance. The physical and mental decline of a whole town is written on the increasingly pinched and desperate faces of its inhabitants and the foreboding presence of the spiral in everything from the trees to the sky is drawn subtly and convincingly throughout.

Ultimately, the origin of the spiral which decimates the town is left open to question, but the effect that it has on the characters in the book is clear. Uzumaki does not have a happy ending. The spiral wins. Humanity loses. It makes for a disturbing and fitting  climax to a fine piece of horror. Without a doubt, Uzumaki is one of the best comics I've ever read. A classic which deserves to take its place on any list of comic book greats.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Bits and bobs

Wotcha! I'm feeling a bit groggy this morning - too much sunshine I think. I'm constantly slapping sunblock on my son, but never bother with it myself and feel a bit dizzy today after a Bank Holiday spent soaking up the rays. Time to shake off my torpor, stop staring into my Sea-Monkey tank and focus the mind with some comics based blathering. Away we go...
  • My submission to Dateline Silver Age made the cut. Huzzah! Check it out HERE. What a site. I'm mildly embarrassed that I failed to notice those little floaty balloon things which pop up when you hover over pics, and basically said the same thing in my comment as they'd already said in aforementioned floaty balloon, but never mind.
  • Jonathan Ross wrote a very good piece in Saturday's Times. It's part review of the recent book about Joe Shuster's little-known Tijuana Bible style Superman fetish art, and part comic history lesson. Whatever, Ross really knows his stuff. He takes his comics seriously and THE ARTICLE is well worth reading. What a life he leads buying job lots of Tom Sutton art and giving away rare silver age books to holidaying rap stars. Oich! I am jealous.
  • The LLC read pile continues to grow, but I'm taking action to reduce it (ie reading). Lots of decent stuff in there. One really good issue which you might've missed and is worth your time is Marvel Mystery Comics #1. Released as part of Marvel's 70th anniversary celebrations, this one shot is written by "old-timer" Tom DeFalco and drawn by "up-and-comer" Chris Burnham. It's a retelling of a classic golden age story, which is notable for some beatiful art from Mr Burnham and some refreshingly fun storytelling from Mr DeFalco. Honestly, I'm all grittied out by mainstream superhero comics at the moment and it's fantastic to read something where no one gets disemboweled, swears or talks like Jack Bauer. Good fun, old style comics, complete with giant Nazi robot and flashing swastika eyes...

  • Away from the American stuff, I'm halfway through volume two of Uzumaki at the moment and loving it. I'm going to wait 'til I've finished the final volume before saying any more about it, but trust me, if you like weird horror you want to be reading this book - it's flipping ace!
That's it for the moment, I'm off to stroke my newly purchased Starro Heroclix. Thanks to everyone who expressed an interest in the Thursday meet-up which I mooted in the post below this one. I'm thinking of trying to organise this for a few weeks time - I'll give you plenty of notice/time to make your excuses before it happens.

Saturday, 23 May 2009


In the comments for the post below this one, Den mentions the possibility of a Thursday meet. This is a nice idea. There is a decent (ie cheap) boozer round the corner from Forbidden Planet called The Angel where I have, on occasion, gone for drinks with Mr Wheatley and Big Dave F after buying comics and man toys. Only trouble is that I look after my son all day Thursday and wouldn't normally be able to get down to the West End until 7.30ish. However, if things were planned far enough in advance I could arrange for someone to look after him until the missus got home and get to the pub for around 6.30. 

Anyone else up for it?

Let me know in the comments 

Friday, 22 May 2009

Shopping List

Oh baby, I've got my nerd on and I'm gonna spend some of that disposable income before it burns a hole in my bum bag! Here be my shopping list...

The eagle-eyed and downright sad amongst you will notice that I've replaced last week's star rating system with a simple exclamation mark to indicate the items which I MUST have above all others. New League (natch), Invincible vol #10 (Trade waiting magic) and Tales Designed to Thrizzle as recommended by Graham Linehan (of Father Ted writing fame) and Mike Sterling (The internet's finest blogger of comics). 

I'm also quite hyped for Spidey after Mark Waid livened things up with a couple of wisecracking issues, and Uzumaki Vol#2 which I've still not read despite telling you how ace volume #1 was.

I suspect that quite a few of those titles will necessitate a visit to Gosh, which is always nice. While I'm in the West End I might try and pick up those two Starro JLA comics I was on about yesterday, which will of course mean visiting Comicana and Orbital AND Since I'll be in the area it would be rude not to give the role playing games in FP a poke with my Rod of Nostalgic Ruin. Yay!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Today's top search result for London Loves Comics...

is a grim and gritty new take on Kirby's Boom Tube...

London Loves Comics, first for Super Hero Fuck Tubes

Starro obsession deepening

Dreamt about Starro last night. Think I am developing a bit of a crush on this tyrannical space fish. Slaves of Starro Heroclix are in the post and I am definitely picking up these two issues at the next mart...


Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Top Fives

The football season is drawing to a close and that means work is getting quieter. This allows me to spend my evenings in the office scanning ebay for MODOK Heroclix, reading comics and wasting time on social networking sites. Huzzah for the summer!

To be fair, I'm wasting a huge amount of my free time at home on the internet too. I've got particularly hooked on the Top Five app on Facebook. Like all the cool kids, I was annoyed by this silly thing at first, (If you know Facebook, then you'll be aware that you're constantly getting bombarded with other people's tedious top fives), But once you start doing them yourself, they become horribly addictive. Here's one I did in the early hours of this morning...

Note: I use the valium as an anti inflammatory not to calm any anxiety - although obviously,  I do like to pop a pill or two before handling the Swiss Army knife. 

Anyway, there are lots of comic book related top fives to be done, all of which I find very difficult. For example, trying to nail down my five favourite heroes or villains is pretty much impossible. I gave up on the heroes and eventually settled for this list of villains...
  1. Red Skull
  2. Starro
  3. Sinestro
  4. Joker
  5. Judge Death
I think those are my five faves, but it's difficult to say for sure. Starro wouldn't have been on the list last week, but I've gotten a little obsessed with him/it/her over the last month or two thanks largely to the excellent DC book REBELS. Judge Death probably doesn't even qualify as a super-villain, but he's on there anyway as he's by far and away my favourite British created villain and I had to get one Brit in. Sinestro is Green Lantern baddie #1 and Green Lantern is my favourite book, so duh! Joker should be on everyone's list because he's the mother lovin' Joker for cripe's sake! and The Red Skull is Nazi numero uno! But what about Doctor Doom, Green Goblin, Braniac, Kingpin etc? Gahh, PANIC ATTACK!!! Quickly, show me the calming picture of the Starro and the Slaves of Starro Heroclix...

Ahhh! tis better again.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

17 limitless possibilities

Old computers are ace!

Scans taken from Analog, February 1968

Monday, 18 May 2009

Dull Lists

Didn't make the mart yesterday. I dunno, I work on Sunday afternoons, and to get to the mart I would've had to get out of the house quite early and leave the missus holding the baby for even longer than normal. She was knackered as it was, and it felt a bit out of order to go rifling around for old comics under the circumstances. Maybe next time.

There is still quite a bit of stuff I want to get which I'm hoping will turn up at the marts. I'm determined to read Hellblazer in its entirety from start to finish without resorting to torrents, but am rapidly finding that the issues which haven't been collected are quite tricky to find. Issue #27 (the first in my list of untraded issues) is a Neil Gaiman one shot and seems to be ridiculously expensive. Bah! I'll find it for pennies in the end. Then there's the 10 missing copies of Uncanny X-Men (95, 100-107 and 137) which I need to complete my run from #94 - 200. The five missing copies (1, 2, 4, 5 and 9) of Perez and Wolfman's first run on Teen Titans, and the four issues of Crisis (46-49) that collect Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell's Young Hitler story.

On top of that, I'd like to finish up my run of The Crunch, pick up issue 3 of Dice Man and find NM copies of the Deluxe Marvel Handbook (13, 14 and 20) which would complete my near pristine collection of that particular 80s classic. Of course I also have an eye open for issues of the Fighting Fantasy mag, Warlock and am four issues away from completing my run of Scream (the issues which I have were all bought by me at the time of their release by the way). 

So there you go, there are many reasons for me to attend the next mart, but family life does impact on my nerd time. So it goes.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Thursday, 14 May 2009


Scan from Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! #1

Shopping List

Another heavy week, another scan of my grubby shopping list. You'll note that I've added an exciting new star rating to the single issues. This is to show you how much I'm looking forward to reading each comic - See, always thinking outside the box!


I've also added a handy list of stuff I won't be buying this week. Obviously there's a lot of stuff I won't be buying, but this is the notable stuff I won't be buying. Here's why...

Back Issue + Alter Ego: I've done a lot of money on these expensive mags over the last couple of years. Occasionally I've enjoyed them, but more often than not (and this is especially true of Back Issue) I find myself wondering why I've shelled out my hard earned to read a series of articles where the author usually does little more than recount the plot of his favourite run of comics. If I want the "In issue 9 of Amethyst Princess of Gem World, Amethyst fought the Troll Women of Labiya. In issue 10 of Amethyst Princess of Gem World, Amethyst destroyed the wicked wizard of Kok-Suk" sort of article, I can go to Wikipedia

To be fair, there are some good interviews and rare pieces of art interspersed with the bilge, and the fact that this issue features interviews with Alan Davis and Jim Shooter means that I might buy Back Issue after all. Alter Ego is a definite no though.

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1: I'm not buying this because I don't need to. It's not that I don't think I'd enjoy it, because I most likely would, it's just that I have to take a stand against these silly mini-series which seem to be clogging up my life at the moment and this seems a good place to start.

The Ultimates Vol 3 TP: Issue one of Loeb and Madureira's Ultimates run was so fucking bad that I vowed never to look at another issue. Now this is out, and I'm sort of tempted to buy it just to see how bad it is as a whole. But no, I've reread why I hated issue #1 so much and that's enough to jolt me back to my senses.

Secret Wars II Omnibus: Ridiculous! Secret Wars II was so terrible that Secret Invasion looks like The Watchmen in comparison. For the life of me I can't understand why this is getting the Omnibus treatment, let alone fathom who in the world is going to pay the £75 RRP! I fully expect this to be the first Omnibus to end up in the 50p boxes at Orbital.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Dateline: Silver Age

I have this very day submitted the following important news to DATELINE: SILVER AGE...

whether they consider this staggering occurence worthy of inclusion in their archives I cannot say, but I thought that you, dear readers, should be informed. May God have mercy on all our souls!

Scan taken from Green Lantern #30, July 1964

PS I hope someone at The Journal Post lost their job over their choice of picture. I mean, July's Science Journal goes with the big shot of the marauding pterodactyl. Obvious choice! The "Rangers Aghast" shot in the journal just isn't going to shift the copies that a genuine dinosaur snap could. Terrible journalism.

Monday, 11 May 2009

I must write something!

I get hit with waves of guilt and paranoia when I don't update this accursed blog. Guilt, that I'm somehow letting my imaginary audience down, and paranoia that those few people who do take the time out to read this bilge will desert me the moment I get lax with the updates. Ridiculous emotions which provide yet more evidence of my fragile mental state. Anyway, I haven't updated much lately because I've been too busy to do so, but the feelings of guilt and paranoia have become too much to bear, sooooooo...

Bought an LED clip-on lamp to read my comics by at night. It throws out a sickly blue glow which gives me a headache. Disastrous purchase.

Found a couple of great books in a charity shop:  

Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman which reprints TONS of Herriman's daily and Sunday strips going right back to 1912! 223 pages and a real treat from an artist who I had vaguely heard of, but never taken the time to check out before. Got a feeling my two-year-old son is going to love this book in a year or two.

Bye Bye Birdie by Shirley Hughes I was amazed to find this as it was only released last month. The copy I found has a press release in the back, so it's clearly a review copy that someone decided they didn't want. Anyway, wow! Hughes is an 82-year-old lady from Liverpool who has been writing and illustrating children's books for many, many years. Now, at this late age, she's decided to turn her hand to graphic storytelling for adults and the result is well worth a look. Bye Bye Birdie is the story of an Edwardian chap who meets a mysterious woman, who subsequently turns into a vicious man-eating bird! It has no words, but that doesn't matter. It looks beautiful + there's no real reason why children shouldn't love it too. Well worth checking out, although it is a quick read/look - a fact which may work against it given that it has a RRP of £12.99. Not that this bothered me, as like the Krazy Kat tome it was priced up at 50p. Absolute bargain. Such a bargain, that I felt guilty and insisted on paying the shop £1. Felt good about myself - for a nanosecond.

Really liked Flash Rebirth #2. Impenetrable DC nonsense it may be, but I just love that Geoff Johns fellah. I don't know, I just enjoy his unashamed continuity whoring and refusal to compromise his love of DC history. If you came to any of his books cold, you'd be like: "What? Who? Huh?" But I vividly recall experiencing those feelings when I picked up random issues of The X-Men or Teen Titans off the newsagent shelf as a kid. Quite enjoy being lost and having to go back to find out what's going on.

Friday, 8 May 2009


Before I drag myself down to the comic shop, a couple of plugs:

Firstly Den Patrick has asked me to let people know that his blog is two years old, (Happy blogday sir), and that to celebrate he's having a bit of a competition. Check him out, win a prize! DETAILS HERE

Secondly, big up to Mike Leader for landing an interview with Neil Gaiman. Go read it HERE
Check out more of his journalism HERE

Right. Ta-Ra!

Shopping list

Absolutely ridiculous week. So ridiculous that I can't be arsed to type everything in. Here's a scan of my list then...
That's 14 floppies this week + three that I missed last week + one item from Gosh that I've got no chance of getting at the new shop + two hefty trades from Amazon* AND a side-order from Pete at work. 

Sickening stuff. 

Probably the heaviest week I've ever had, made even more shameful by the fact that I've already spunked £9 on issue #2 of the new UK version of Wired and its American counterpart.

To be honest I'll probably end up buying the new New Mutants as well. Horrible. I hate myself.

* ADD: I had assumed that The Cerebus Archive was some mighty omnibus-like slab collecting a huge wadge of Cerebus. Apparently it's not. Excellent news, I won't be buying it, and can therefore feel a tiny bit better about the inevitable New New Mutants purchase.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Detective Comics

Esteemed comic book purveyor Mr Salmond takes issue with the quality of lettering in yesterday's Crunch scan. Well, I say forget the fonts Salmond, feel the power of this detective work...

Sherlock Holmes eat your heart out!

God Bless The Crunch!

Scans taken from "Clancy and the Man" which appeared in The Crunch #8, March 1979

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

What not to wear

Undercover Nazi hunters take note: The coat with the exposition on the back is a basic wardrobe error.

Scan taken from "Hitler Lives" which appeared in The Crunch #8, March 1979.

Monday, 4 May 2009

A nice find

To the Hackney Car boot sale...
...a snapshot of Second World Britain where shitty tat abounds on rickety tables and dirty old blankets.

As ever with these things, I entered convinced that I'd find Fantastic Four #1 for 10p. No joy on that front I'm afraid, but never mind, because happily, (while I increasingly leave jumble sales and junk shops empty handed), today I returned to my comic lair loaded down with a nerd sack full of disintegrating SF mags. Yay

Yes imaginary web chums, for just 20p a pop I procured a bunch of old Street & Smith's Astounding Science Fiction and a healthy wedge of Analog. There are some cracking short stories inside, some great bits of pop culture history (including a rather fine piece from the 60s reflecting on the first season of Star Trek) and some beautiful illustrations. But, let's face it, I bought these things for the covers. BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL COVERS particularly the Street and Smith stuff...

At Death's End

Thinking Machine

Martians, Go Home

What's Eating You?

Boy, they sure did like to cup their chins in their hands and look thoughtful back in the 50s and 60s. Actually, I originally thought I'd only scan the chin cupping covers, but I couldn't resist putting up that Death's Head - Ace isn't it? It's the work of one H.R. van Dongen, a prolific SF illustrator about whom I can find little info on the net. van Dongen,  Kelly Freas and a fellah called Emsh seem to have knocked out thousands of these covers - the three of them are responsible for the ones I've scanned in - and they are all top, top quality pieces of fantasy art.

There you are then, just a small sample of the many pretty books I picked up today. Super score!  There's a peculiarly satisfying feeling that comes from finding a stash of cheap, vintage tat in the wild that I just don't get from trawling ebay. Huzzah for the dying world of jumble sales! I shall return for more yellowing goodies next week!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Free Comic Book Day

Yes, today is Free Comic Book Day. I can't take part. Boo! Go to a comic shop and get some free comics. Buy some comics while you are there. If you are at Gosh meet Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill.  Enjoy comics. Message ends.

Bonus feature: Relive the glory of Free Comic Book Days Past.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Moore and O'Neill at Gosh tomorrow

I'm gutted that I won't be able to get down to Gosh tomorrow, because not only will those who go be able to get their hands on the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic BEFORE anyone else in the flipping World, they'll also be able to get their copies signed by none other than Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. Like I say, I can't make it, but if you're free and able to get down to the West End, you really should be there. Full details on the Gosh website