Friday, 18 February 2011

LLC Recommends Skullkickers!

Ah, Skullkickers - at last a comic which scratches my fantasy itch.

I'm a massive fan of ogres, skeletons, orcs, dragons and all that D&D, Tolkien-style gubbins, but let's be honest, fantasy comics and literature can be a bit of a bore.

All those characters with silly names doing ridiculous things with straight faces? Gaggh! Do me a favour! For something that's meant to be fantastical, reading fantasy is often a depressingly stodgy experience.

Not so Skullkickers!

First of all, no silly names! The two main characters don't have names. We don't even know anything about them. They're just there! Two mercenaries - a hulking human with a gun and a curmudgeonly dwarf with a thirst for booze and blood. Little and Large, Abbot and Costello, Penn and Teller - pick any comedy double act you like, the comparisons are there to be made. Forget the necromancers, taverns and goblins - this is your classic straight man/funny man duo and the reason Skullkickers works so well is down to the chemistry between the two.

They tool around an unnamed fantasy world, (which seems to be a composite of every other fantasy world we've ever seen), fighting stuff and getting into scrapes - and that's it! No pretentious overarching plot, (not yet anyway), just good, honest, blood-soaked shenanigans. It's fantasy which is a good deal closer to the hack-and-slash style D&D games you played as a thirteen-year-old than it is to the impenetrable 900 page epics that clutter the fantasy section of your local bookshop. Read it in 20 minutes, enjoy the bejiminy out of it and then move on. Magic.

Writer Jim Zubkavich is a funny man. There are moments when his story reads like a vintage 80s MAD Magazine-style parody of Hawk The Slayer. His script races along at glorious speed, gently poking fun at the fantasy genre while serving up generous portions of claret-drenched slapstick.

Pacewise it reminds me of Robert Kirkman's Invincible - all big, bloody, page turning action sequences. But even the most exciting battles are done with tongue tucked firmly in cheek - there's plenty of gore for sure, but the accent is always on laughs.

The art is stunning. I'm reading the series on an iPad via the Comixology app, and it springs off the screen. Misty Coates, (surely the greatest name for a colourist ever), drenches every panel in bright, rich colours that are a world away from the dark, brooding tones that are so often on show in fantasy comics. Her dynamic palette makes the tight pencils pop, not that they necessarily need help.

There's a Dragon's Lair sort of cartoony style to the art - shared by Chris Stevens and Edwin Huang - and it fits the tone of the book perfectly. The fight scenes are the obvious draw, but care and attention has been paid to every single panel of this comic. Indeed, the individual panels look like animation cells, a fact which only adds to my belief that Skullkickers would make a fine, fine cartoon.

The monsters are rendered really well and the town squares, forests, dungeons and grimy inns that act as a backdrop to the action are all beautifully detailed. Even the lettering is special - trust me, you'll laugh at the sound effects.

It really is a top comic and, although there's a trade due out next month, it's definitely worth considering reading on the Ipad, if you have access to one.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

American Trademark Designs

A nice Oxfam find t'other day - a 1976 survey of American trademark designs. Magic stuff. Pages of cool 70s design. Lots of familiar stuff, but some obscure beauty as well. Some of my favourites for you...

Triadex Corp
Don't know about you, but that screams 70s dystopian sci-fi at me.

'Grand Prix' for the John Frankenheimer film

Amazing use of motion lines. Love, love, love this design.

Information Science Inc


Parker Outdoor World
rogue lion in among the sports!

First Isaiah Corporation (a religious group from Philadelphia)
very grumpy religious lion.

Those are some of my favourites, but there are hundreds of other spectacular logos in this gem of a book. Got to love Oxfam.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Smokin' babe!

scan from Collins Girls' Annual 1959

Monday, 14 February 2011

NerDgasm Valentine's Special

I'm afraid I wasn't at my best last night. A couple of days on the sauce had left me rather fuzzy. Oh well, others were in fine form, witness this sensational MODOK sketch done by Mr Bishop (from memory). Marvellous.

Also, marvel at what happens to a flump when you put it in water...

That water was clear before the flump went in. Scary stuff.

Mr Joe Ewens and chum, (I've forgotten his first name, sorry. My memory for names is even worse than my memory for Sinbad films), playing some Magic!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


Last night I watched the Creepshow Two DVD which I won at Dave's Halloween Nerdgasm Quiz.
This is the first time I've watched this film since I was at school, largely because I'd been taken in by the lie that it's terrible.


Creepshow Two isn't terrible. It's amazing! I mean yeah, it's shit, but it's fucking amazing shit!

Three tales, all appallingly acted full of the worst kind of moralising you could imagine - teenagers getting fucked up for having fun, women knocking people down on the motorway because they're too busy thinking about orgasms, stereotypes of Native Americans that just shouldn't be allowed. It's total schlock! And because of that it's really, really close to the spirit of the comics from which it draws inspiration.

Love it. Definite time for a critical rethink.

Some fantastic holes in the plot too, especially in the second tale, 'The Raft' where a teenager somehow manages to magic two reefers out of nowhere when he's just swum out to a wooden platform in the middle of the lake with no clothes on. Later he gets dragged through the raft and into the water, leaving a massive hole in the wood which totally disappears in the very next shot! WTF?!

But the highlight for me was the nostalgic hammer-blow to the head that this inflicted on me...

Oh my God! I'd completely forgotten this catchphrase!

We chanted this like a mantra for weeks at school after seeing it. I can even picture Dave going up behind girls in the playground and screaming it into their ear! Oh how they screamed! Brilliant! What a trip! What a film!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Sales and quizzes

Sacked off yesterday's mart to spend time with the family. Not that the stinkers who roam the carpets of the Royal National aren't family of a sort, you understand, but sometimes a man must put his wife and child before Doom Patrol and Heroclix.

Mr Bishop was in attendance though, and he tells me there were bargains to be had in the 25p boxes where he picked up all four issues of Flex Mentallo for £1. Top score.

I will definitely pencil in next month for some mart(yr)dom. Been too long.

Oh, how I yearn for the smell of old comics and unwashed collectors!

In the meantime, there are bargains to be had at Gosh! Valentine's Day marks the shop's 25th anniversary and to celebrate, Gosh! will be knocking 25% off all trades AND reducing the price on all the back issues in their basement to 25p! That's immense, chums. Don't miss it.

In fact, if you can bare to wait until Sunday, you can pick up some bargains at Gosh and then head over to the Pillars of Hercules in Soho where Big Dave F is hosting a special Valentine's edition of Nerdgasm. It promises to be a lovetastic event full of the usual questions about horror, sci-fi and comics. AND, given it's Valentine's, Dave might get his cock out or something.

Romance chums, it's all about the romance.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Last night

Fine doings in a cheap pub.
No Hurk - for sadly he was away with the vomiting bug.
But drinks with Messrs Bishop, French, Wheatley and Dexter.
Very pleasant.
I admit, I sat in a corner and didn't mingle with anyone but those four.
I didn't know anyone and I'm not very good at the whole introduce-yourself-to-strangers mullarkey.
I did chat to Mr Salmond of Gosh! if that counts.
And I bought issue #1 of the Comix Reader - it's really quite good.
Unfortunately, I must also report that McDonalds marinated in lager, rum, whiskey and peach schnapps causes terrible shit fucks to the brain and arse.

Big Dave F