Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Up West

To town for bacon sarnies and a catch up with old pal Mr Wheatley. Then briefly to Orbital for a quick but very worthwhile nose. First up, into the alcove off the back issue section where the good folk of Shaking Street Gallery reside. Among the many fine examples of pop culture posters on offer were some very delicate looking Frank Frazetta posters from the '70s and a fantastic Japanese movie poster for Get Carter, where the grim streets of Newcastle have inexplicably been replaced with an aerial shot of 5th Avenue!

All very nice, but my favourite piece in the shop is this...

A beautiful old poster for the 1944 Captain America Republic serial. The three-figure price tag puts it out of my range, but by Bucky it would look nice on my wall! As would the various Shaky Kane pages on show in Orbital's gallery. Again, prices are in the three-figure range, but there's some lovely stuff on offer. A few shots for you...

Original art from Bulletproof Coffin

Classic Monsters of Movieland rendered in Fuzzy Felt!

£400 for the fuzzy felt monsters! If I had it, I'd buy it. Beautiful piece.

Love the Bulletproof Coffin art too. For those who haven't read issue #1, you really should. You don't even have to buy it, there's a free computer version HERE. It's gonna be a smash, I tell you. A SMASH!

Anyway, after admiring Mr Kane's gubbins, I foisted two of my favourite books of recent times on Mr W - Tales Designed To Thrizzle and Prison Pit. Then took my leave to mooch around the bookshops of Charing Cross Road. Found an absolute bargain on my travels - The Completely MAD Don Martin, for £30! This monster of a slipcase usually retails for £80 - even Amazon want £45 for it. Sadly, I couldn't justify the outlay, so left it sitting there for some other lucky punter to find.


Monday, 28 June 2010

As I Grow Pale And Thin

Someone sent me an email about two years ago asking me what the first comic I ever read was. I don't think I ever replied.

Very rude.

It's a bit late, (and I don't even remember who asked), but I'm going to attempt a vague answer today!

I say vague, because the truth is, I can't actually remember what the first comic I read was. It was probably an old Whizzer and Chips annual. One of my mum's workmates used to give them to me after her son had finished reading them. I also read a lot of a comic called Jackpot, which was in the same sort of vein as W & C, and had a strip in it called Laser Eraser about a lad who could zap stuff onto a spaceship with a pointy thing which he'd nicked off some aliens. That's all I remember. Of course there was The Beano and Buster and The Dandy, Whoopee and WOW! I read all of those at some point.

Proper big boy comics wise, I suppose it would have been Look-In or 2000AD - I was certainly reading both of those before I discovered American comics. I think the guy emailing me meant American comics though and, again, the honest answer is I don't remember my first. I do recall the first comic that made a nasty impact on my innocent mind though...

Ah, House of Mystery #304. I would've been 10 when I picked this up from the newsagent. Great Mike Kaluta cover, eh? I know it made an impact on me, because I vividly remember being shit scared by one of the stories inside. It doesn't seem very frightening to my jaded 38-year-old self of course, but as a kid? Yeah it was poo-your-pants grim.

So, here you are imaginary chums, not the first comic I read, but the first comic which I remember reading (all scans can be clicked to ramp up the spookiness)...

Sunday, 27 June 2010


Ever have one of those nights where you toss and turn in a semi-wakeful state trying to remember the name of the female co-creator of Swamp Thing, only to realise, upon waking, that she doesn't exist?

Fuck you, delusional sleep deprived brain, fuck you!

Anyway, in the moments when I was actually asleep last night, I remember dreaming that I met Stan Lee on Kingsland Road in Hackney. He was wearing an Arsenal jacket and couldn't stop to talk to me because he was in a rush to get to Marvel. I insisted that I must take a photo of the two of us together, but couldn't find my camera. There ensued a mad, panicky run up and down the High Street, with me looking everywhere for my camera. When I eventually found it, (chained to some railings), Stan had gone.


Unsurprisingly then, I feel like crap this morning. I have to go and meet my partner and our child outside the swimming baths in a mo. From there we will be going to check out Carter's Steam Fair in Clissold Park. I'll then be returning home to watch England v Germany in The World Cup and read reprints of The Doom Patrol...

Lord only knows what nightmares this will give me.

That is all, chums. That is all.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

sales and advertising

Couple of bits before I hit the sack after another day of gruelling World Cup and potty training action...

Firstly, you may have noticed the Amazon ads over there ==>
Yes, I've sold out.
From now on, any graphic novel that I recommend is going to get a link over there. If you think you might like to buy it based on my review, it would be great if you did so by using the link in the sidebar. I'll get a very small kickback for bringing in your business, which in turn will help fund my horribly expensive comic habit which, after nine months without a pay cheque, is becoming increasingly hard to maintain.

I should add that I'm all for folks spending their hard-earned in the comic shop rather than chucking at Amazon, but if you do find yourself wanting to order anything I've recommended from the evil online overlords, then please consider doing it through London Loves Comics. Ta.

Right, enough whoring. In other news, the mighty John Bishop has made it on to the Covered blog. Check out his piece HERE. Excellent work, as ever - although I was shocked to see one of the biggest Marvel zombies I've ever met covering a DC book!

John follows in the footsteps of fellow friend of LLC Lord Hurk, whose equally brilliant contributions to Covered can be found HERE

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

LLC recommends: Gravel

I've spent a very productive couple of evenings reading comics in front of the football. Magic!
Best of all I've cracked through the 10 issues of Gravel which I'd built up. Usually if I find myself getting behind on a title it's because I'm not enjoying it. With Gravel though, I just sort of let it build, knowing that I was going to dig it when I got round to it. And dig it I did.

For those who don't know, Gravel is a Warren Ellis and Mike Wolfer comic published by Avatar. It's a violent book about an ex SAS man, William Gravel, who happens to be a combat magician.

I've been guilty of falling into the the easy trap of comparing the book with Hellblazer in the past. I feel lazy every time I do this, but comparisons between the two are inescapable. Like John Constantine, William Gravel is a working class Brit with a black sense of humour who also happens to be a practicing magician. And, as with Hellblazer, Gravel is all about using magic, demons and ghosts as metaphors to examine issues of class, culture, politics and society in modern day Britain.

Gravel is a different animal to Constantine though - older, chunkier, more cynical and willing to resort to violence. While he's definitely an outsider he's also a climber. So where Constantine is keen to stand apart from the world he occupies, Gravel is determined to fuck over everyone to get to the top and change things from a position of power. At the start of the current series, Gravel is one of the Minor Seven, a group of British magicians whose job it is to deal with problems on the street level of British society. Above this group stand the Major Seven, an altogether more powerful bunch who deal with loftier matters. The rest of the series to date has detailed Gravel's efforts to destroy both the Minor and the Major Seven and create a new hierarchy with himself at the top.

Structurally it's a bit like an American gangster flick. Tonally it's more like a Brit noir crime story. There's certainly a bit of Jack Carter about William Gravel, that's for sure. Of course, there's also more than a hint of Warren Ellis about him and maybe a little of Bill Savage too. The point is, that he's a very British character and this is a very British book. It's full of English folklore, it touches on the history of immigration and industrial decline. Its big moments take place in clasically British pubs, docks and country estates. And, above all else, it concerns itself with the all pervading power of the British class system. Gravel is determined to beat that system, but the overriding feeling after 19 issues is that he may ultimately fail to do so.

If that is the case, then Ellis is delivering a pretty bleak message. Who knows, I could be wrong, perhaps Gravel will prevail. The series is at a point where it appears he might already have done so. But the forces of establishment Britain are lurking, making their presence felt, issuing warnings to Gravel not to get any further out of line, insinuating that bad things will happen if he goes too far.

It's good stuff. Not perfect by any means - I felt the second arc moved towards a conclusion too quickly for example - but very enjoyable. It is, as are most of Avatar's books, extremely violent, often disturbingly so. I guess it could be labeled gratuitous, but I'm willing to accept the gore as a vital part of the world William Gravel lives in. If you don't mind the frequent disembowelments and decapitations, then it's well worth a spin, (there are a couple of trades out I think), London Loves Comics gives it a big fat 8 out of 10!

My favourite camera phone snap

I took this photo four years ago, but it dawned on me today that I've never posted it here.
So here it is.
It's a tramp* with Einstein on his back.
I really like it.

*I suppose it would be more acceptable to describe him as a young homeless person, but I tagged it "Tramp with Einstein on his back" when I took it and I think that has a certain ring to it.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Future Cop!

I bought my son a fantastic Thunderbird Two at the Dalston car boot sale yesterday. He loves it!

Anyway, to feed his new found puppet obsession, I spent this morning searching for classic Gerry Anderson clips to show him on Youtube. At one point a link to the titles of a show called Future Cop popped up in the sidebar. Nothing to do with Gerry Anderson, and I've never heard of it...

The sound's a bit low, but crank it up and give it a watch. 70s Robocop! If it wasn't for the star names, I'd swear it was a spoof. Wikipedia says it ran for eight episodes which, oddly, spanned a two-year period.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Slick cover

World Cup. Disastrous attempts at potty training. Computer failure. Sickness. This is my life. There is little time for comics at the moment.

Still, did you see this?

Original cover HERE

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The Astrals Part Two!

Page Two of The Astrals is now for sale...

Go HERE to see it in all its glory and (if you've got the dosh) bid for it.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Two pics from today's trip to town

Can't believe I've never noticed this before. Right across the road from the original Denmark Street Forbidden Planet site...

Meanwhile, the people at Comicana are still trying to knock out Barack Obama comics...

Obama Crazy indeed. Sigh.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

LLC Recommends: Dungeon Quest Book One

The first volume of Joe Daly's Dungeon Quest is a surreal treat of a comic. Following the narrative style of a classic roleplaying adventure, but with American stoners instead of fantasy archetypes as the protagonists, this is a story which anyone who has ever dabbled with D&D and/or recreational drugs will love. It's also a beautifully drawn book full of absurd looking characters and rich, involving landscapes.

The star of Dungeon Quest is bored teenager, Millennium Boy, a curious chap with a light bulb shaped head and a passion for magic. With nothing on TV, he just ups and leaves his house on a D&D style quest. As with all roleplaying adventures, his first job is to assemble a party. He starts with his pal, Steve, a lazy dropout who finds it hard to get off the couch. Later they hook up with a sensitive jock, the fantastically named Lash Penis, and the silent but deadly (ahem) archer, Nerdgirl. As they move further away from the centre of their suburban town, the
boundaries between the world that we know and the world of the fantastic begin to blur into one. Where once everything was parked cars and paved streets, suddenly molemen and pirate graveyards jostle for space with the hobos and liquor stores of our reality.

It's this hazy crossing of the lines between the real and the imagined that makes the book so good. Suffused with sick, deadpan humour, graphic fantasy violence and more than a little pothead style mysticism, this is a comic that isn't easy to pigeonhole. It's fantasy, but it's also a classic slacker yarn which wears its underground influences (Crumb, Burns, Clowes) as proudly as it does its nerdier D&D/Tolkien ones. It shares certain similarities with C.F.'s brilliant comic, Powr Mastrs, but is more grounded than the trippy, alien world of New China that C.F. creates.

There's plenty of cool visuals and weird fun to be had here, but Daly's characters are the real entertainment. Vacuous potheads, hobo shamen and skeletal pirates - all of them (bar Nerdgirl who doesn't say anything) have distinct, funny voices. Daly really gets slacker speak and he revels in the joy that wasters take in discussing the banal. But of course this isn't Clerks, there are monsters to be killed, cool treasure to find and kick-ass weapons and armour to kit up with. So just as you're getting comfortable with the mundane BOOM! Daly smashes you in the face with the extraordinary. It's masterful stuff.

As an artist he rocks. Funny looking folk with fat heads and imposing bodies. Heavy skys. Thick black lines. A BEAUTIFUL fantasy-style map. It's comical, but it's got heavy body and real soul.These are good meaty pictures. Oh yes.

Book One ends just as the party are about to move into the foreboding gloom of Firebug Forest, intent on delivering the "Penis Sheath of Disturbance" to the mysterious forest hermit, Bromede! It's a cliffhanger and a half. Bring on Book Two!

Stuck for something to read? Click the LLC Recommends tag below for more of my favourites!

Monday, 7 June 2010

very briefly

I've been letting my imaginary audience down again.
I've just been too busy with life to find the time to post anything here.
Got precisely two minutes now, so here's some stuff...

COMICS: Brightest Day is really enjoyable rubbish, I must say. Finally read Captain America Reborn in trade. T'was OK. Lots of big action for Bryan Hitch to draw the heck out of. Obviously the MODOK squadron was a highlight. Still pissed about the price hike on the monthly Cap book because the backup Nomad story is piss. Currently reading Dungeon Quest by Joe Daly. It's a hoot. I'll put up some kind of proper review thingy when I have the time. Issue one of Bulleproof Coffin was fantastic too.
You probably don't know what I'm talking about.
Never mind.

GAMES: Playing Bioshock Two. Wicked. Those little sisters freak me out.

LIFE: Still can't get the lad to use the fucking potty, he just loves shitting in his pants so he does. Been applying for jobs. No luck. Might go back to uni or something stupid.

LINK: Mike Leader has gone and done a load of interviews with comic creators about cosplayers. It's here

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Astrals

This cool Kirby page just turned up on Heritage Auctions...

The Astrals never saw print, but I love the page all the same. Click the image to get a better look. If I had the money I'd be bidding.


Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Music and madness

I made a Spotify playlist of the songs I like listening to on my headphones when I'm pissed on public transport. Some of it's a bit naff, but I like quite a lot of naff music, especially when I'm hammered. I didn't include Mariah Carey's version of All I want for Christmas, although I do listen to that a lot on night buses at Christmas. You get Sabrina though, so it's not all bad. It's HERE if you want it.

In other news...

I went to The Museum of London to check out the newly opened galleries of modern London where I snapped this shot of Ronnie Kray's 1972 painting, The Crucifixion.


The Museum of London is Acearooney!