Gene Colan. Others out there can write a good deal more articulate obituaries and summaries of the man's career. They have. Go read them.
He was obviously incredible. Grab yourself a Marvel Essential Tomb of Dracula - the fact that they are in black and white is good. The art is amazing.
I remember a couple of years ago when Colan did that Captain America special, Marvel offered the standard version and a black and white variant. I bought the variant, obviously. Given that he was an octogenarian with eye problems, some of it was predictably rough, but there are parts of that comic which were still incredible. Get a copy on ebay, it's worth a look.
Why Night Force #12? That cover. I picked it up from the newsagents back in the day - I must have been about 11 years old - because it was just one of the random haul of American comics which had turned up that particular month.
I had no other issues of Night Force, but the cover really unsettled me, so I bought it. It's the nutso second part to a story about The Beast from The Book of Revelations, rumbling through a 1920s funfair killing people. I always thought the cover was the view of someone stuck at the top of a ferris wheel. It stuck with me, and it was the first thing that came into my head when I heard Colan had died. Great artist. RIP.
Wasn't really in the mood for the stinkfest at the start of the day. I was knackered, it was pissing with rain outside and I've just got heavily into this online pinball game.
Still, I am nothing if not dedicated to tat, so off I trudged to meet Mr Bishop at the bus stop. There we boarded a 476 where we found this chap...
11.30am and unconscious. The smell of vodka hung about him. It was impossible to wake him up. We told the bus driver who stopped the bus and called an ambulance. This annoyed one lady who was more bothered about the fact that her bus journey had been affected than the welfare of this poor sod. Yay London! What a cuntwitch.
Anyways we made the mart. Given the weather we thought it would be empty and grim. Not so!
It was one of those marts where they open up the back room and fill it with British tat - and it was heaving. The busiest mart I've been to for some time. Not only that, it was LOADED with treasure.
First stall BOOM! I complete my run of Teen Titans for £2 and pick up the first few issues of Alien Legion for pennies. Mr Bishop scores a silver age Captain America for 50p. Further in more bargains to be found. Plus beauty.
Oh yes, real beauty...
Shrines to 60s tat!
Shrink wrapped 80s wank mags (under the counter, if you please)
Blurred British Annual stall - trust me it looked lovely
Original fucking Ezquerra 80s Strontium Dog pages - obviously the robber selling them wanted hundreds of pounds. But still they were lovely.
THAI HORROR FILM POSTERS!!!!
THAI HORROR FILM POSTER MAN!!!
He kindly agreed to hold my favourite poster on his amazing stall (Evil Dead II) up for me
What a nice man. What an incredible stall!
WHAT AN AMAZING FUCKING MART!
I bought heaps and heaps of good cheap rubbish. Even managed to score some reasonably cheap Heroclix off the notorious Heroclix robber.
All the dealers seemed to be doing pretty well. Absurdly high priced near mint silver age key issue man was there. I saw him sell five comics to one bloke for £1,100. "Shall I charge it to the usual account, sir?"
EC comics man held court. Krypton comics man smashed out his 25p boxes of filth. All was good.
In amongst the man throng, I caught up with LLC chum Tam, and then went for post mart drinks with Mr Bishop, Dex and special guest star Bruce - who had come all the way from Hitchin just to load up on 25p issues of Captain America. What a man!
The now traditional window seat was a fine place to compare our water-damaged, creased and torn treasures and to watch the dealers loading their boxes back into their vans. One of them dropped a box in a puddle, picked it up, wiped off a now wet copy of Valiant and shoved it back in the van.
I haven't been updating properly because I've got a new job as a reporter on a local newspaper. It's punishing and consumes all my time, leaving me exhausted - in my pants, on the carpet - every night.
Don't get me wrong, I love it. But basically, it's killing me and I just haven't had the energy to blog recently.
Oh, and my scanner's blown up again.
Anyway, I suppose I'm sort of still here. I do love doing this blog. But until I get used to this new life...fergedaboudit.
PS I am planning to do the mart next weekend and I WILL write a report. Promise.
Happy May Day, comrades! There's a mart today. Lovely day for it, too. Sadly I will not be in attendance. This pains me but I've got another appointment at 2pm, so any visit I did make would be ridiculously short. Part of me wants to go just to stick my head round the door and take in the bouquet - you know the one, the whiff of acid spewing old comic bags mingled with the sweat of King Stinker and his chums? Mmmmmmm. Breathe it in! I will not let myself be that sad, though. Next one! Yes. Next one!
Not that I need any more tat anyway. I've got humongous amounts of yellowing rubbish to plough my way through as it is. Even though I dropped my weekly comic habit months ago, I'm still faced with piles of unread comics. I have a feeling that I'll never read everything I own.
On a different subject, I went to see Thor the other day. I was meant to be doing the shopping, but there was Thor, looking all lovely and shiny on his poster, so off I went. Enjoyed it quite a bit actually. Saw it in 3D, which was quite odd. Never been to a 3D film before. Those glasses really bring down the brightness, don't they? The stuff with the frost giants looked really dark through my specs. Great special effects though, and lovely costumes. Loved the Destroyer and the Rainbow Bridge. I'm also a fan of black Heimdall - yes. Don't fuck with Stringer! Thought Volstagg was more like Gimli than Volstagg, but that's just a minor gripe really. Overall it was a highly enjoyable romp. I'm ashamed to say that the obligatory Stan Lee cameo made me laugh out loud. I'm too easy. Nice Odin from Hopkins - still think Brian Blessed would've been a braver/funnier choice. Natalie Portman was fairly fit. Loki's helmet was spectacular. And is just me, or does anyone else get an immense feeling of nerdish superiority watching people leave the cinema before the post credits extra scene? "Ha! You're leaving! Don't you know there's a secret bit at the end? You clearly AREN'T a proper comic fan type. Your loss, well adjusted normal people! Your loss!"
This is quite cool - a page from Denny O'Neill and Dick Giordano's 1989 retelling of Batman's origin, "The Man Who Falls."
It's a decent story which was published exclusively in the trade, "Secret Origins" alongside a bunch of reprints. Apparently it was used as a reference by David Goyer and Christopher Nolan for Batman Begins.
Anyway, that's not why I scanned in the page. I wanted to draw your attention to this panel...
That's Thomas Wayne rescuing young Bruce from a cave full of bats. It could be accidental, but I think Thomas looks like Joker here.
Purple coat. Green hair. No?
Scans from The Man Who Falls, by Denny O'Neill and Dick Giordano, colours by Tom McCraw. 1989
I bought a skipload of bronze age Captain America at Kapow. It's largely great. Just finished issue 227 which sports this terrific cover...
The plot here is that the Red Skull has taken over the SHIELD helicarrier, turned all the operatives on board into Red Skulls and taken Nick Fury hostage. He straps Fury up to some solar powered death ray which will incinerate Fury once the sun hits its mirror. Top stuff.
Anyway, Cap fights his way to Fury just as he's about to get roasted, at which point the Skull starts his inevitable head fuck speech about Bucky. That moment gives us this quite splendid page...
Click it to see it nice and large. My issue is a bit yellow, but I think you can still appreciate some great storytelling here. Tip-top job by Sal Buscema. Love how the panels flow vertically as well as horizontally. Brilliant way to show a lot of stuff happening at the same time while maintaining the sense of drama and urgency. Tick-tock-tick-tock - Know what I mean? And what about this panel...
That's eye-popping, face-stretching, spit-flecked horror for you there, folks!
Scans from Captain America #227, November 1978. Written by Roger McKenzie. Drawn by Sal Buscema.
PS - It's not really Nick Fury! He'd never scream in the face of death. It's a SHIELD 'life model decoy' (obviously!) which the Skull used to trap Cap into making a rescue attempt. Ah, this issue is so gloriously ridiculous.
There's not much left to say about Kapow. I'm very late to the after show party and you've probably read all you need to about the convention already. Still, here are a few thoughts...
The general vibe I get from those who attended was good. It wasn't perfect, but then I only say that because it wasn't quite what I wanted. Selfish git, eh? I would have liked to see less movie fluff and more comics. I'd have ditched all the video game nonsense and replaced it with 25p boxes of tat, and I wouldn't have let some of the shite awful indy creators past the front door. No offence to indy creators, I love a good independent comic me, but there weren't many good independent comics on show. Far too much floorspace was taken up by sixth form standard bilge -IMO. What about those jokers at the end of artist alley selling dog rough sketches of aliens for a fiver?! If you bought one of those you want incinerating. So yeah, fuck them off next year and either get some decent indy creators OR replace them with more purveyors of old tat.
I bought a fair amount of old comics BUT, I have to say, in the main there were not many bargains to be had on the vintage stalls. Same old problem, I'm afraid - the sellers seem to be in denial over ebay. NEWSFLASH: thumbing through your Overstreet guide, deciding you have a NM copy and then slapping an extra few quid on top of the guide price isn't good enough any more. If you want to sell your water damaged copy of Giant Size X-Men #1 then you're going to have to quote a sensible price! I'm sure the stalls peddling the high price silver age tat sold some of those comics on their wall, but only to mugs. I am not paying you £270 for a comic that I can get for half as much on ebay! You have to adjust or you WILL die! Sorry. I don't want to see you die, I am just telling you the truth.
Right, moans out the way - the good...
The people. I had such a nice time meeting comic chums. Really. I even announced this after a couple of beers, at which point Little Ad said I was just sucking dick! Well, Little Ad - not so sir! The people (including Little Ad) were the undoubted highlight of the weekend for me. From Dexter and John, who schlepped the floors with me, to Dave who tore up the cosplay and provided plenty of laughs in the pub. It was spiffing to spend so much time with like minded folk. I got to meet Pete Kirkham, have a chat with Mike Leader, a bit of a yarn with Mr Salmond. Marvellous. It really was very pleasant. Then there were the brief but - for me anyway -enjoyable chats with creators. Shaky Kane - what a lovely fellah. He spent ten minutes apologising for the fact that the free sketch he was doing for me was shit. It wasn't shit and even if it was, it was fucking free! Chris Weston - politely breaking off from some proper work to pose for a snap and chatting happily about The Twelve with me (nearly finished, apparently). A 10am chat with LeinilYu in a kebab shop. Nerdgasmic stuff. And what about the cosplayers? I saw a lot of this bunch in action because I spent a good proportion of the con following Dave around. Didn't talk to them, but enjoyed watching them doing their thing and got a little bit of an insight into the politics at work within their community. Some good soap opera there, for sure. Lesbian cosplay grooming FTW! Plus - Domino, PHWOAR!
Venue. Great place. Lovely and bright. Big high ceiling with natural light. Rooms for the panels (I only went to two) were spacious and air conditioned. Plus Upper Street is great for restaurants and pubs AND it's really handy for my house, which is obviously the most important factor.
Anyway, yes. Next year - bring it on! More cosplayers. More tat. Less video game and film shit. Reasonable prices. There's a chance HMV might go bust, so at least we won't have their wank stall. Tell that strange lot with the electric guitars and their rip off of Detroit Metal City to piss off, too. Or not. Whatever. I'll be back. The fact that it wasn't perfect doesn't matter. It's a comic convention! That's what I care about. It's in London. Tickets were fairly priced and those involved clearly put a lot of work into organising it.
Overall I give it a 7.5 out of 10. Really enjoyable weekend.
If only those Twisted Tales Comics hadn't had that banner take up a third of the cover! This Wrightson piece is good as it is, but if it had been allowed a bit of extra headroom (excuse the pun) it would've been even better. All they had to do was superimpose the title on the sky. Instead they slapped it on a bright orange background and cut off the top of the psycho killer. I bet there was a moon in the original drawing. Tossers.
Scans from Captain America #222, 1978 and Twisted Tales #2, 1983
I'm not that fussed by any of that. Sorry. The Mills and O'Neill thing might be worth a look.
I do want to get a few sketches from artists. Wonder if Mike McMahon and Dave Gibbons will be doing them. How much you think McMahon would charge me for a sketch of Dredd dragging Mean Machine from a chain tied to a Lawmaster?
Speaking of sketches - what size sketchbook do I need for one of these things?
Other than the sketches, I'm really hoping there are some 25p boxes of rotting tat for me to go through.
If not I will be sad.
But I am looking forward to seeing my comic chums! Let me know if you're coming and we'll have a drink! If enough people are up for it, we could even go for a curry on Saturday night.
This soap joke victim just looks so fed up. It's like the tosser who did this has done it a thousand times before and this poor person is just resigned to being the butt of yet another tedious practical joke! HeeHee!
1979 Fun Factory Ad, scanned from Daredevil #158 - Frank Miller's first on the book!
Here's a funny thing; for all the fuss Fredric Wertham and his pals kicked up about the pernicious influence of horror comics on the children of 1950s America, they never once complained about ads like this...
(click the ad to spark up the size)
*EDIT: As per usual, I don't know what I'm talking about. A quick Google search reveals that Wertham did mention ads for whips, guns and knives in his testimony before the subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency and Crime. Read what he had to say here.
He probably would have had a pop at this ad, too, if he'd seen it.
On the last episode of 11 O'Clock Comics, host Vince B was enthusing about a mid 90s Mars Attacks! comic from Topps. This got me thinking about one of those holy grail-type collectibles that I'd really like to add to my piles of decaying man-tat - The 1962 Mars Attacks bubblegum card set. Designed by no less than Wally Wood and Bob Powell, the final painted art for this classic set was provided by Norm Saunders, the same man who came up with this classic...
A quick google for Mars Attacks cards revealed a Boing Boing link to a rather lovely Flikr show of the English version of the set*. Check it out HERE. Truly stunning, eh?
I have to own these! Full sets go for quite a bit on ebay. Incomplete ones are pricey, but not totally out of my reach. Individual cards are very doable.
So it begins.
*The cards in the English version are smaller than the American ones.
Good God, has it really been seven months since I hit up a Royal National Stinkathon?
Ridiculous. I am ashamed.
Sadly, yesterday's affair was a bit of a let down on the comic buying front. I blame the noticeable decrease in 25p boxes. Mr Krypton, the cock who normally rules the 25p roost, had ditched his cheap tat completely, replacing it with one of his famous "50% off silver age sales." Lots of mylar. Not much value. It was ever thus. Bah!
I loitered at Heroclix man's stall for a bit, but his Man-Toy prices have hit absolutely insane levels. As pretty as it was I wasn't going to give him £15 for his Surtur figure - it's £3 on ebay you robbing little gimp! And what about those issues of Kick-Ass he had pinned up behind him?! £20 for number #1, tenner for the others? Is he melting his Heroclix down and smoking them? If anyone bought those they should be burned on the huge pile of money that they can clearly afford to set fire to!
I should have bought the 2000AD #1 that was going on one stall for £35, but I balked and bottled it at the decisive moment. It was a decent copy, and £35 was a fair price, but my days of paying £35 for a comic are behind me for the moment.
So what did I buy? Nothing much. An old 2000AD I needed for £1.75. A couple of Marvel Handbooks which I probably already have, a Captain America issue featuring MODOM for 40p and one of the three remaining issues of the original Iron Man Armor Wars that I'm missing for 50p. That's it.
No matter, for Mr Bishop was on hand to brighten my day with a stack of 2000AD doubles that he didn't need. For those that don't know he recently scored the first 300 issues for NOTHING on Freecycle. Ridiculous. Also in attendance were LLC readers Tam and Dex. We had a nice yarn about comics in the shitty pub next door, procuring a window seat from where we watched King Stinker rifling through the bins for food, and various miserable dealers packing up box after box of unsold tat into their comic vans. Heroclix man had the nicest motor. No surprise there.
Friend of London Loves Comics, Lord Hurk is one of several artists who currently has work on show at Orbital Comics as part of their Kaleidoscope exhibition. Details HERE.
Tom Pearce has requested a plug for the upcoming Pencil It! event at Westminster Library. It's on March 25th. Details HERE you'll have to do a bit of scrolling to get to them. Is 'graphic novel supremo' an official title, by the way?
Mr Wheatley sent me a text. It said: "Axe Cop...Wow!"