Hey chums! How goes it? Thought I'd pop in and say hello. I'm three weeks into this course now and it's wrecking me! Intensive doesn't even begin to describe it. Almost dropped after a week, but remembered that it had cost me three grand and thought better of it. Anyway, I'm broke and tired and still gutted that I've had to cancel my standing order with Gosh! Truth is I have neither the funds or time to be reading comics at the moment, but fuck my old boots I'm missing them. Course ends in late January. Hopefully I'll get some work soon after and be able to resume my expensive comics habit. Until then...
PS I seem to have been hit with a rush of spam posts in the comments section of late so I've decided to opt for the password protected comments from now on. Not something I want to do, but I'm a bit tired of all the meds and porn crap that keeps getting posted.
A fine time yesterday! I hit up the mart early and garnered the usual mounds of tat. Then an afternoon spent mooching around EVERY single one of the West End's comic shops INCLUDING the Used Record and Tape Exchange on Berwick Street. Great stuff.
From there I met up with John Bishop for a bit of Chinese at my favourite China Town restaurant, Mr Kong's and then to The Pillars of Hercules for Dave F's NerDgasm 7. In attendance beside me and John B, were Mike Leader, Joe Ewens and hitherto unknown LLC reader Dexter who also bought along his pal John, a man who knew fuck all about comics or SF but did answer a WWF question that nobody else knew - Top men both of them. Great to meet you lads.
We came second winning a pack of Star Wars Top Trumps and some Star Wars pants which we gave away to the team who donated me the Spider-Man aftershave at the last event.
Now, to the not so fine news. I apologise to all those who were expecting a more detailed mart or quiz report, but today I started a full-time course of study which is going to take absolutely all my time and energy for the next five months. It's highly likely that this blog will get a wee bit wheezy in that time. I don't intend for it to slope off and die or anything, but I'm pretty sure content will be LOW. Sorry about that, but I have to hit the books harder than the comics for a while.
Normal service will be resumed some time in January.
Following my little review of Burlesque Paraphernalia, (which made it onto the Fantagraphics blog), the good folk at The DeMoulin Bros Museum have been in contact to thank me for the publicity. They are also sending me some DeMoulin freebies in the post! Magic! This on the back of the copy of The Sound Of Drowning, (another great issue by the way, go order your copy HERE), which I received from Paul O'Connell the other week.
Even the spamlords who plague the comments section have been in benevolent mood. Why, only yesterday this appeared under my old post about the comic shops of London's West End: Viagra Online said: "Gosh is my favourite one...I've been going there for quite a wile (sic) now and I have a good time there, the shopkeeper is a very nice man and most of my friends go there, and I've made friends there too."
Good old Viagra Online, a valued Gosh customer!
This new, engaging form of spam comment is cropping up more and more, I had another Viagra one the other day claiming to have a Green Lantern poster on its wall. Mike Leader of Wild Tyme has also had some pleasant feedback from the blue pill pushers. Odd.
I'm pretty sure that I've told you to visit his site before, but now seems like a very good time to remind you of the excellence of Colin Simon's fantastic "Too Busy Thinking About My Comics" blog.
I realise that I may sometimes come over as ever-so-slightly anti-intellectual, but I like a good bout of chin-rubbing and deep analysis as much as the next emotionally retarded man, and nobody does thoughtful, intellectual comics analysis like Colin.
Many's the long train journey I've passed reading his articles on my iphone, marveling at the stuff he spots in books which I just plain miss. He gets deep into character analysis, highlights themes that I never realised were present and generally treats comics with a critical eye that has traditionally been reserved for loftier forms of art. In short, he's a marvel and I'm made up for him that his amazing work has been recognized by a publishing company who have given him the green light to write a book about the work of Mark Millar.
Nice one, Colin! Richly deserved. I look forward to reading it.
From The Comica website: "Sunday 7 November brings the next Comica Comiket Independent Comics Fair, teaming up with the popular, long-running National Collectors Marketplace at the Royal National Hotel, Russell Square, and taking over the (Warren) Ellis Room from 12-5pm. A limited number of exhibitor tables will be available at affordable prices and there will be several special events and surprise guests throughout the afternoon."
Truly, this promises to be a titanic collision of two very different types of comics fan. I'll be lining up with King Stinker and his crew to smash those Phonogram lovin' gaylords to bits! BRING IT!
Thanks to Mike (Phonogram lovin' gaylord) Leader for alerting me to this extraordinary news.
If you're into this kind of thing then there are a bunch of nerds meeting up to read their comics in The Crown, New Oxford Street, just round the corner from Gosh and Comicana. They'll be there at midday, thumbing their copies of Scott Pilgrim and looking stupid. Someone will probably beat them up.
Frankly I like to read my comics in private. I'm too old to be enjoying them and I know it, so why the fuck would I want to attract attention and ridicule by getting them out in public? I'm a 38-year-old man for fuck's sake, if I read Spider-Man in a pub, then I deserve to be laughed at.
I'm not sure why comics fans feel this desperate need to legitimise comic reading anyway. Honestly chums, let's keep this embarrassing secret to ourselves.
Just a stone's throw from The Crown is the Bloomsbury Street Oxfam bookshop. I was back in there the other day buying more decaying early 80s tat - some Avengers, some Defenders a bit of Power Man and Iron Fist. All overpriced at £1 a pop, but hey, by buying them I'm doing my bit for Pakistan, so it's all good. There are still a fair few comics left in there. Get yourselves down if you have the chance - maybe buy a water-damaged copy of X-Force to read in public, that'll impress the grown ups.
UK Comics legend, Dez Skinn has posted a shitload of old fanzine images featuring hitherto unpublished art by the likes of Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Frank Bellamy and even Jim Steranko! Best thing I've seen on the web for yonks, it's HERE
I've been waiting on the publication of The Weird World of Eerie Publications for ages. Sadly there's still a few months to go until this survey of the schlockiest publisher in the business hits the shops BUT as a member of the Facebook group devoted to the book, I've been treated to a regular look at some of the many great covers which will be reprinted inside. Today's was a total treat...
Wow! This is such a great example of the art of schlock horror. Not only is it a horribly gory image, not only does it feature Dracula, The Wolfman AND (a vulcan eared) Frankenstein, but the artist has gone for COMPLETELY the wrong facial expression on the mutilated victim! To quote the Facebook page: "Man the victim looks PISSED that her legs are being eaten in front of her!"
Magic, magic stuff.
I really, really, REALLY can't stress just how excited I am about this book.
From the company that brought you the appalling comic bios of Princess Di and Stephenie Meyer (yes I own them both. Yes, I am ashamed)...
The solicitation notes: Female Force goes overseas for a special edition featuring former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Writer John Blundell has known Dame Thatcher since 1970 and she recently commented that he 'has been one of the most effective champions of the free-enterprise economic model which has delivered progress and prosperity around the world. Therefore he is very well placed to explain to Americans the beliefs and principles which underpinned what became known as Thatcherism.'
I get the feeling that this isn't going to tell the whole story.
Burlesque Paraphernalia and side degree specialities and costumes. Not exactly a name that trips off the tongue. But if you see this Fantagraphics book on the shelves of your local comic shop or book store, then at least give it a look.
It's not a comic but, if like me, you love vintage comic book ads, then this will appeal to you. It's not a book of comic book ads either though (bear with me), Burlesque Paraphernalia is in fact a reprint of a vintage catalogue of machinery and costumes designed to be used in the initiation and hazing ceremonies of early 20th century American fraternities and secret societies.
At the turn of the last century, some 40% of American men belonged to these societies. Organisations such as The Woodmen of the World and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks provided a place for men to get together, fraternize and, err, play pranks on each other!
Taking their inspiration from more serious groups such as the Masons, these clubs often adopted quasi-ceremonial initiation ceremonies and, as unlikely as it sounds, an industry sprang up supplying such groups with the equipment needed to make their ceremonies as authentically weird and scary as possible.
The undisputed leaders in the invention and supply of this bizarre paraphernalia were the DeMoulin Brothers, three fairly earnest looking Victorian men with a taste for sadistic pranks and the capital required to put their Heath Robinsonesque ideas into practice.
Burlesque Paraphernalia and side degree specialities and costumes reprints The DeMoulin Brothers 1930 Catalogue. It comes with an introduction from David Copperfield, who sets the tone by recounting the time that he had a hole burnt in his arse by an antique gunpowder charged spanking paddle from the catalogue. From there we get two lengthy essays on the history of early 20th century fraternities and initiation ceremonies before catalog no. 439 is presented in all its bonkers glory.
What to say about catalog 439? It's a crazy-arse thing, full of richly illustrated intricate drawings of smartly dressed men torturing each other with ridiculous devices. There are electric carpets, exploding mallets, vats of boiling lead, spiked pathways, cages, boxing rings, spiky blocks and branding irons. All items come with gleeful descriptions of the terror which they can inspire in the minds of prospective and unwitting fraternity candidates and detailed illustrations of the gadgets in action. Here's an example of the kind of thing on offer...
De Moulin also sold the costumes for these ceremonies. Along with the devils and goats there was a selection of "Race Costumes" available, all of which are illustrated in the catalog. It's an offensive section which nonetheless provides a fascinating insight into the prevailing attitudes of the day. If looking at the racial masks leaves you with a nasty taste in the mouth, then you can always cleanse your palate by flipping back for a look at some of the mind-bendingly weird initiation gadgets.
With its electric canes and exploding cigars, the De Moulin Bros catalogue was clearly a source of inspiration to the novelty item manufacturers who plied their trade within the pages of the American comic books of the 50s, 60s and 70s. All those joy buzzers and whoopee cushions are after all just shrunken down versions of the prank machinery on display in catalog #439.
What you get with this book then is not just a fascinating glimpse into a little known corner of American social history, but the template for many of the ad pages from the silver and bronze age comics that so many of us comic collectors love. I really enjoyed it and, although it isn't about comics, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of comic book advertising.
For more London Loves Comics recommendations, click the the LLC Recommends tag below.
Snagged this in the Oxfam shop on Bloomsbury Street on Thursday...
Classic cover from an issue that I used to own before my comic collection was used as wallpaper. One of my favourites. Not exactly breaking the fourth wall, but threatening to, if that makes sense. Certainly would have jumped off the newsagents shelf back in the day.
Like I said yesterday, I've been uber slack on the four colour fun front lately. It's been a couple of weeks since I went near a comic shop and I haven't even been making up for that by chiseling away at my teetering "To Read" mountain.
I have made some effort to cut back on my pull list, so a three week backlog doesn't look half as bad as it might once have done. Amongst the titles to go from my regular order are House of Mystery, Northlanders and Secret Warriors. Don't get me wrong, all good books, but I'd fallen way behind on all three titles and decided that I wasn't enjoying any of them enough to merit stockpiling them any longer.
To be honest there are probably several other titles on the shopping list below which are also going to get hit with the Sutton axe. Which ones? Read on chums, read on.
Brightest Day #7 and #8
I'm actually enjoying this quite a bit. The regular release schedule makes remembering what's going on nice and easy, there's enough mystery about the whole premise to keep me interested and the art is generally pleasing. Geoff Johns haters will point to the trademark violence and bouts of purple prose as evidence of bad comics, but while his tropes are all too evident here, I still think Johns writes a good superhero book.
Bulletproof Coffin #3
Ah, this is so good. Like Eightball and an EC comic all smooshed up into a lovely comicy ball of yumminess.
Captain America #608
I am really close to dropping Cap. I don't read the Nomad back-up and while I haven't fallen behind on the main title, it doesn't fill me with the same comics joy as it used to. I can't quite put my finger on why I've gone off it, it just seems to have lacked energy for a while now.
Falling behind on Chew is a sin. Considering some of the bilge I keep up with, there really is no excuse to have lapsed on a book this good. I think I've got like five issues or something to catch up on. When it gets to that stage I might as well be saving dosh and trade waiting.
Emerald Warriors #1
More milking of the Green Lantern cash cow. Like the sucker I am, I drink it up. Mind you, I think this will have to be super good for me to stick around.
Green Lantern Corps #51
There are times when GL Corps is actually better than GL. I'm not saying that it's an essential read or anything, but it satisfies a childish need of mine to see aliens fighting in space.
Iron Man #29
Said it before - Fantastic story, terrible art. I can just about ignore the pictures, but it is difficult at times especially when you get those panels where the artist really can't be fucked to draw a background so he either leaves it out altogether or just sticks in a photo. Poor.
OK, so we're sixteen issues in and this series is still meandering through the second act. No matter, it's still a decent superhero title with some enjoyable shenanigans. I particularly like the demon bounty hunter who is as cool a new villain as I've seen in a long time.
Definitely on a downward turn. It's not gone shit or anything, it just doesn't have that grand space opera feel to it that made it so good during the whole Starro story.
Not sure if this is visionary excellence or pretentious bunk. Somewhere in between I suspect. I think I stopped understanding what the hell was going on somewhere in the middle of issue two. If I could remember where I'd put it then I'd give it another read before picking up #3.
Showcase Presents The Doom Patrol Volume Two
Sweet Tooth #12
This is such a fucking good comic folks! If you aren't reading it, then you're really missing out.
Thor The Mighty Avenger #3
I get the feeling that this is a book which has been heavily influenced by Jersey Gods, which, given the quality of that book, is no bad thing. The first issue was fabulous, as good a set up for a new book as you'll see. The second issue? Not so much. Still, I really like the fact that this is an all ages title which still packs enough of a punch to appeal to older readers. I'm hopeful that it'll get back on a hammer-wielding track with issue #3.
Been a bit quiet round these parts hasn't it? Truth is I've been busy with other things: my son's birthday, the start of the football season, multiplayerBioshock II on the XBox. So wrapped up in this non-comics business have I been that I haven't even made it to Gosh for two weeks.
I'll be heading down on Thursday to pick up three weeks worth of bumph. I had planned to grab the latest issue of The Sound of Drowning, but SOD supremo, Paul O'Connell was kind enough to send me a comp copy. What a gent. Haven't read it yet, but I'm going to give it a look before bed tonight. Unsettling dreams sure to follow.
In other Southern English indie comic based news, friend of LLC, Lord Hurk has an art show in the offing. I'm a huge fan of Hurk's work and have big-upped his stuff a few times before on this blog. You can check him out via his website here and find out the details of his show here.
That's it for now chums. More when I'm finished my househusbandry and tire of being killed by annoying teenagers in multiplayerBioshock II.
Remember that link to the Who's Who entry for War Wheel that I posted last week?
Well, it turns out that the fella who wrote it has written brickloads more about Who's Who and it's all just as brilliant as that War Wheel post. Some of his analysis is wee-your-pants funny, some of it is the kind of thing that will have you rubbing your chin sagely as you mutter, "ah yes" in a scholarly voice. Cracking stuff. Link HERE.
Back in Blighty, I was very happy to see that Paul O'Connell, the man behind The Sound Of Drowning, has happened across London Loves Comics. He commented on the Tiny Texas post I shoved into the ether a couple of days ago, which very much made my day. I've recommended The Sound of Drowning before, but I'm happy to do it again because it's as good a comic as you'll read - check it out for nowt HERE and if you like it - buy it!
I forgot to mention that I scored another cheap issue of The Crunch at last Sunday's mart. It's full of the usual Crunch magic, (click the label at the bottom of the post if you want to read more Crunch related posts), but there's one panel which really stands out from the crowd...
I think that might be the most graphically violent panel I've ever seen in a British kids comic. Perhaps I'm forgetting something really obvious. Anyone remember anything more shocking than this?
Anyway, hard on its heels comes this panel...
...which is what I'd call "High Crunch"
Scans from "Kill The Hit Man" which appeared in The Crunch #50, December 29, 1979
So, the mart then. It's been a while since I went. I've missed it.
Arrived nice and early for my return to the fetid fray, largely because I was meeting Tam who had very kindly offered to donate me a full set of Paul Jenkins' run on Hellblazer. Top score. Thank you sir.
Anyway, picked up huge plasi bag of Hellblazer comics and watched as the early arrivals filed into The National. No fucking about for me as I headed straight for the 25p bins in search of gold. Didn't find any, but I did dig up plenty of nice tat, including Dazzler and Power Pack number ones, a bunch of Iron Man Armor Wars issues, a couple of very beat up silver age comics and a terrible issue of The Flash which features a villain called Ubermensch. Ubermensch is a sort of Hank Pymesque figure who knocks his missus about...
She leaves him for The Flash (yes really)...
so he injects himself with shitloads of steroids...
and dons a special suit to become a super-powered wife-beater...
On the way to The Flash's house he kills a horse...
and runs into a wall by mistake....
What an utter loon.
When he eventually gets into The Flash's gaffe, he's completely blown out his eyes smashing into stuff, but he still manages to grab his missus from Flash's bed and jumps out of the window; at which point The Flash delivers this immortal bit of dialogue...
I don't have the next issue. I don't want it. This is the perfect end to the story.
Apart from that I got the first three issues of Warlock, the 80s Fighting Fantasy magazine. I bought these as they were coming out and this was a purely nostalgic purchase for me. They were a bit pricey (£4 for number 1 and £3 for the other two) but they will keep me warm in my old age. Ah.
Afraid the speculator in me took over when I spotted this in mint condition for £2...
I know, it's worth fuck all, but I did see other stalls at the mart knocking it out for a tenner, and you can sometimes get a fiver for it on ebay, so errm, you know.
and this was a beautiful cents edition for £2! So I had to have it.
From there I scored four very tatty copies of early 2000AD issues and wandered around idly looking at freaks before my eyes fell on the day's big prize - a complete run of the 1980s DC Who's Who + the updates for £11! Not in the best of nick, but what a treat - 31 issues of encyclopedic goodness. Less scholarly than the Marvel equivalent (which I also love) but even crazier and suffused with a sort of disco colored light that gives them a trippy camp vibe. Magical stuff.
I remember reading Who's Who as a lad and loving the entry for War Wheel. Obviously it was the first entry I flipped to in my newly acquired set. Still a thing of glory, so it is. I was going to write about its wonderfulness, but someone has already beaten me to it and frankly there's no way I can do better than this.
So happy was I to have found that War Wheel entry after all these years that I wittered on a lot about it to John, Tam and Nell in the shit pub outside The Royal National. They listened politely. We had a nice chat. Good times.
Later on, as John and I finished our last drink and watched the depressed dealers packing longboxes of unsold tat into their vans, King Stinker (who I have mentioned before at the end of this mart report) loped into the pub. His T-shirt was stained yellow by months worth of sweat and he was hauling a heavy sports bag of comics behind him like a ball and chain. As he moved from table to table drinking the dregs of leftover pints and eating bits of food from long since abandoned plates, it became clear just what a terrible state he was in - utterly mad, mired in squalor, a deranged tramp. I felt momentarily awful for taking his photo all those months ago. Let's face it, I've taken the piss out of this tragic fellah. Not nice. Not nice at all.
As I was experiencing this rush of guilt, two lads got up from their table and started snapping pics of him. They laughed and I felt even worse.The guilt didn't last. See, I'm still a cuntish teenager at heart, so I'll go on taking photos of him and the rest of the oddballs who attend this strange get together. I really am fascinated by them. Morbidly so. They'll be gone soon. The marts will be gone soon. Someone has to record them in all their stinking glory. Might as well be me.
Been away for a week, hence the lack of updates. Managed to squeeze in some reading while I was on my hols - the latest Walking Dead trade + the first two volumes of 52.
All good baby!
I'm hitting the mart tomorrow - report will follow. Yeah!
In the meantime here are some pics that have been clogging up my phone...
A sad sight/site to begin with...
The empty premises of what up until recently was the excellent Playing Games, a board and roleplaying game specialist just round the corner from Gosh in Museum Street. No idea what has happened to them, I just decided to pop in for a shufty on my last visit up west and they were gone. A real loss. I bought a couple of boardgames from this shop. The downstairs section was a real treasure trove of obscure stuff.
A happier sight...
Spidey Skates! Spotted at a car boot. I didn't buy them, but they are things of beauty and as such I felt it was my duty to take a photo.
Also, from a junk shop in Green Lanes, a fab old box of VHS cassettes. Don't have a video, so no point buying anything but, as with the skates, I felt bound to take a pic of the fantastic Caine cover...
I'll be at the mart on August 1st. If any of you are going and fancy a drink in the shithole of a boozer adjacent to the foyer of the Royal National let me know. We can compare our comic finds before lapsing into an uncomfortable silence and leaving.
I'm not the biggest comic news reader. Don't have the time. It's read the comics or read the news about comics. What you gonna do? As a result, I was largely unaware of the big Superman news until Mr Kirkham alerted me to it. To summarise, after a year or two when Superman hasn't even appeared in his own book, he's back, but instead of smashing up meteors and burning stuff with his eyes, he's walking across America.
The man who flies faster than a speeding bullet and leaps tall buildings in a single boundis going for a gentle cross-country stroll. Ridiculous. It wouldn't be so bad if during that stroll, Braniac landed on earth and smashed Supes over the head with a red kryptonite hammer, but apparently there aren't going to be any super-villains in this story.
Instead, Superman is going to chat to people. That's right chat. Chat and, (these are actual plot points from the first installment, by the way), fix cars, burn drugs and comfort suicidal women. OH MY GOD!
Now, I understand that I'm sounding like some precious, entitled fanboy by slating this nonsense without even reading it, but come on! This is Superman! Why on earth would anyone want to read twelve issues of a Superman comic in which he strolls across America having mundane conversations with a bunch of nobodies? It's a stupid idea!
Not that it should surprise us given that the whole concept comes from the mind of J Michael Straczynski, the man whose most recent stories include an arc on Thor where he put Asgard in Oklahoma and had Thor eat pancakes with pensioners - or something like that, I don't know how it turned out, because after two issues without Thor hitting anyone with his fucking hammer, I gave up.
I don't have a total downer on Straczynski. He's done some good stuff (be nice if he'd finish The Twelve). Who knows, this might even be good. I've heard a few people say that Thor got better, so maybe I'm doing it a disservice. But honestly, Oklahoma? Walks? Chatting? This is the kind of bollocks my two-year-old-son comes up with. He's always pitching me this one Spider-Man story where Spidey goes to Sainsburys to buy some pasta and cake for a party at Rhino's house. Straczynski would probably nick that idea if he could. It sounds more exciting than Superman's walk, at least it's got a villain in it.
So yeah, I'm less than enthused about this thing. Part of me wants to read it to see how bad it is. But it probably won't even be "funny bad", more likely it's going to be a bunch of earnest claptrap - Superman discovering the soul of America. Christ. I know there's a place for this sort of thing, but Superman's been shit for a while now and the last thing the character needs is to slow down. What's wrong with LexLuthor blowing up The Fortress of Solitude or Bizarro kidnapping Lois Lane? Why do we need introspection in a Superman comic? Alright, a little bit perhaps. But a whole year's worth? I say thee nay!
Been a while since I've bored you about what I'm buying hasn't it? I know you need to know, so matchsticks in eyelids and let's go...
Conan The Cimmerian #22
Few issues behind on Conan. It doesn't matter. Conan's easy stuff, he never changes. Chopping up guards, mercenaries and sorcerers. Nicking off fat merchants. Shagging ladies who wear no bras and floaty tissue paper instead of knickers. Yeah, minimum brainpower required, I'll catch up over a flagon of mead some night.
What happened to Batman when he was dead, or something. I like all the Morrison Batman shit. Well, most of it - Batman 700 was a bit wank. Rubbish pin-ups, average story. Hope this will be better. Don't mind Tony Daniels' art at all. So there.
All the Starro shenanigans are done and we're into this new arc about interplanetary racism and planet sharing. It's still pretty good, not stunning in the way it was during the early Starro issues, but funny and left enough of centre to keep me buying.
Strange Science Fantasy #1
I know nothing about this, but it's clearly some sort of homage to EC and that's enough for me to buy it. Hopefully it'll have lots of saucers, ugly aliens and ray-guns inside.
Bulletproof Coffin #2
Weird, exquisite mish-mash. Only issue #2, so too early to say it's something special, but it really looks like it could be. Has a sort of a Daniel Clowes vibe about it - that's what I thought anyway. First thing I'll read.
Behind, behind. Not feeling the same need to read this as I did when it first came out.
Invincible Iron Man #28
If it weren't for the art, this would be the best superhero book out there. This new arc is the flipping business! Tony Stark trying to rebuild Stark International from the ground up while Justin Hammer's relations set about moving in on Tony's territory with Tony's own tech. Yeah, it's another spin on Armor Wars. But it's a fucking good one!
Night Business #1 -#3
I heard about this odd little set of comics ages ago and made a mental note to pick it up if ever it should land in Blighty. Hey presto, Gosh got some copies in last week. A tribute to 1980s exploitation flicks, this looks right up my alley. Read about it here if you want.
Rain pattering on the window, couple of hours to kill - time to sift through old comics. What a fine evening of solitary nostalgia it's been, chums. Just me and the long boxes, oh yes!
I've read a bit of vintage Teen Titans, some classic entries in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, some old Spidey, a little Strontium Dog and a beat up copy of Marvel Fanfare #9 from June 1983 which includes this beauty...
Click to enlarge
Top stuff. Editor-in-chief Jim Shooter riffing on some of Marvel's most iconic characters, trying to boil them down to their essence and then trawling through the archives to find the moment when that essence was distilled in a single panel. That's dedication!
And don't forget, this is Shooter at the high point of his reign of terror, striding the corridors of Marvel, slamming his collection of "Perfect Personality-illuminating panels" down on desks, hammering home how the icons should be done. I love it.
Eldica, which is hidden down an anonymous little side street off the Kingsland Road in Hackney, isn't a comic shop, but it's such a beautiful little treasure trove that I thought I'd give it a plug. The good folk who inhabit this Aladdin's Cave are primarily vinyl nuts, but they also sell vintage magazines, board games, the odd comic and a fair bit of random tat. I picked up a lovely old Bionic Man game from them for a fiver a few months back, and I make sure to pop my head round the door for more goodies every time I pass.
I admit that I haven't bought anything since then, (to be honest, records aren't my bag), but I still love the vibe about this place. There's always cool funk or old soul playing, sometimes there's a bit of incense to sniff as you pick your way through colourful old magazines and yellowing paperbacks to get to the counter. It's just got a magic about it. This is the kind of place that eBay is wiping off the map, yet it's still here, clinging on. Got to love it.
So yeah, Eldica, well worth a visit if you're passing and an absolute must if vintage vinyl is your bag. It also has a great website where staff and regular customers have compiled lists of their favourite old records. There's even a downloadable mix of some of the rare tracks you can find in the shop, I'm listening to it as I write this. Brilliant.
If you're in Dalston, check them out. The address is Eldica, 8 Bradbury Street, London N16 8JN.
My useless humming heap of a computer gave up the ghost, necessitating a mindwipe of its hot, malfunctioning brain. Now I'm trapped in the fiery depths of machine hell.
I backed up all those precious photos and my music before the electro lobotomy. But now I find that while the computer works, my scanner will not, that photoshop has disappeared forever and that my cuntwallah of an iphone won't sync. It's all wank. Annoying wank.
So I can't put any scans up on the blog, which makes the whole thing pointless, because what use is a cunting comics blog without pictures of comics?
My fracking computer has turned up its cyber toes, which makes blogging a bit difficult. This update is coming to you live and direct from my mobile phone. Shit, these keys are small.
Briefly then, Caught up on Fraction and Larroca's Iron Man last night. The new arc is arms dealingtastic! An absolute treat, EXCEPT for the art, which is a pretty big except. I'm not as down on Larroca as many, I can usually live with his photo referencing. In the case of New Universal, I even thought it was a good thing. But in Iron Man? It's not working. Tony Stark is basically just Sawyer from Lost with black hair. Pepper is Nicole Kidman. Frankly, it's damn distracting! Backgrounds are often a blur, or just photoshopped in. Panels are repeated. Figures strike unnatural, rigid poses. It's not good. Not good at all. Which is a real shame, because Fraction's script is as savvy as you are going to find anywhere in a Marvel or DC book. Honestly, it's brilliant - really sharp, relevant, political and exciting. AND it's rooted in classic Iron Man. Needs a new artist though. Sorry.
There was a mart at The National yesterday, but I couldn't make it. This left me blue, because the need to shove my fingers into disintegrating boxes of tat is strong.
To be fair, I did get a mini-mart fix on Saturday. I'd planned to look in on the Dalston car boot sale anyway, but when friend of LLC, Mr John Bishop sent me a text to tell me that he'd already got there and that there were comics, I was out the door instantly.
John mentioned that there wasn't anything special to be had, so I was slightly surprised to pitch up to the comic stall and see this staring back at me...
Yup, in a plastic ring binder envelope, its colours gradually bleaching in the Hackney sun, a pretty damned decent looking copy of Amazing #39! Now, let's be honest chums, this is the kind of shit we saddos dream about. My heart jumped into my gob, I yelped, I grabbed...and then I saw the sticker on the envelope - £85!
The old man on the stall smiled at me
"Yeah, I looked all of the comics up in a book" he said, "I know what they're worth and I'm still selling them cheap!"
A quick look at his other "cheap" comics revealed various late Micronauts issues at £3 a pop, some early Defenders for a tenner apiece and a beat up old copy of Tomb of Dracula #7 at the "bargain price" of £7. I couldn't be arsed/had no right to tell him that he had no chance of selling any of them, but I did ask him to take Spidey #39 out of the shitty plastic and keep it away from the sun. He nodded sagely and stuck it right back on top of the pile.
Anyway, it turned out that John had missed this stall entirely. The one he'd visited was nearby and a good deal more reasonable. I picked up all six parts of Kraven's Last Hunt, Emerald Dawn and Marvel: The End. Eighteen issues for £9. Hardly the bargain of the century, but some solid comics that I'll enjoy reading.
I ploughed through Marvel: The End yesterday afternoon. What to say? 2003 bumpf from Jim Starlin. It's part cheesy shitfest, part high Starlin cosmic magnificence.
I enjoyed it.
Here's what it's about...
There's this source of energy called "The Heart of The Universe" which these alien dudes keep in a big spaceship. An old pharoah gets zapped up to their ship and is filled with the heart of the universe. This turns him into a bonkers Space Pharaoh...
He pitches up on present day earth, KILLS most of the superheroes, nailing them up on floating pink force field crucifixes...
He then transports all the World leaders to his space pyramid...
and, emerging from what appears to be an Egyptian ladies public toilet...
...informs everybody that he now rules the earth.
It's not all bad though...
Not nice enough for Doctor Doom though, or Thanos, both of whom want the heart of the universe for themselves! Doom sets out to fuck up da pharaoh by travelling back in time to shoot him...
while Thanos recruits the Defenders to launch a raid on the spaceship that contains the heart of the universe...
It's all a bit mad. Mad, but beautiful, because this is where the Starlin magnificence comes in! My shitty scanner can't do that double page spread justice, but when you've got it in your hands! WOW! It's truly, truly gobsmacking - all that spaceship, all those stars, the beams of energy shooting out the various funnels. Topola!!! And it's one of a TON of gorgeous cosmic splashes in this six-parter. Gold baby, GOLD!
Anyway, while Thanos and Doom are plotting their attacks, the various gods of the Marvel Universe get together to form a plan to stop Space Pharaoh. It's at this moment that we realise just how powerful the dude is, because he gets wind of this and fucks all the gods up on the spot!
I say total, but he's not completely successful as Thor and Zeus escape to recruit Infinity and Eternity.
Told you it was mental.
Meanwhile, Thanos and The Defenders get scrapping with the aliens on the big phallic Starlin spaceship. While The Defenders are all busy smashing aliens and robots, sneaky Thanos dives into the heart of the universe, absorbing its power and becoming numero fucking uno power in the whole Marvel U!
He travels back in time to where Doom is about to get fucked over by the Space Pharoah (who, it turns out, knew Doom was coming and has travelled back in time to stop Doom from assassinating him by assassinating Doom - headfuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!!!!!!!!!), and, after a classic no-but-yeah-but-no moment...
...new improved omnipotent Thanos whips Space Pharoah off and turns him into a butterfly, (honestly), before travelling even further back in time to track down the aliens who originally tracked down the heart of the universe and destroy them before they could find it, thus ensuring his place as the unquestionable, all-powerful king of everything.
It's very confusing and, to be honest, once the Space Pharaoh's out of the picture it all gets a bit slow and metaphysical. Which is fine I suppose, but the fun sort of withers away. There's still time for a couple of awesome Starlin double page splashes of Thanos getting ready to engage EVERYONE in the Marvel U, (they all come back to life once Thanos changes history you see?). Then Adam Warlock turns up in the void and (blah-de-blah) convinces Thanos to see the error of his ways. Thanos destroys himself and woop-de-do, everything's back to normal.
Like I say, quite a fun little mini series, even if it does disappear up its own trippy arse towards the end. Worth picking up (if you see it cheap) for the Starlin art which is spectacular in places. Plus, you know - SPACE PHAROAH!
Oh, and it's got Hulk Smash in it too, which is always infinitely preferable to intelligent talky-talky Hulk as we all jolly well know.