November 30th, 2013
A collaboration with Edinburgh based artist and ghost merchant Lynne Henderson, Cut-Out Witch contains twenty five pages worth of lost souls and lo-fi monster magic – imagine a teen goth Terminus and you’ll be on the right track. Lynne provided the pictures, I added the words, but if you want to cleanse yourself with holy water after reading then I’m afraid you’ll have to bring your own bottle.
“Cut-Out Witch is really good… Lovely creepy stuff” – Twitter’s own James Baker
UK & Europe £2.50 + £1.50 postage & packing:
International £2.50 + £2.00 postage & packing:
November 30th, 2013
Fresh from Thought Bubble 2013, it’s the zine full of comics and essays about suicide, hubris and social housing that everyone – well, at least one person! – is talking about, Looking Glass Heights!
This first issue features:
- THE BLOWNDOWN OF BARRY BROWN – a comic about a man who goes up a a building then comes back down again, though whether the man or the building are the same in the end is up to you to decide.
- REALITY WAR – US vs. THEM – an essay on social housing and the customer service reflex.
- FLOWERS IN A FOREGROUND – another essay on Frank Miller, Eddie Campbell, and art vs. reality.
- BREAKDOWN OF A BLOWDOWN – a deconstruction of the method used to create the art for Looking Glass Heights #1 (“a comic drawn by someone who can’t really draw, using a tool that wasn’t meant for the job”).
“…made me feel thing with a limited size and toolkit” – Twitter’s own James Baker
UK & Europe £2.00 + £1.50 postage & packing:
November 28th, 2013
Hello there, Gary Lactus here. Welcome to the recorded scraps of our weekend at Thought Bubble 2013. We had a lovely time, the highlight of which was probably our SILENCE! LIVE! special talk time with Kieron Gillen, Al Ewing, Brandon Graham, Ales Kot and Stan Lee. The Beast Must Die and I were proper touched by the amount of warm, responsive bodies that came to watch our hideous shambles. Those of you who were actually there are particularly blessed as the recording didn’t come out too well I’m afraid. I have done my best to give you the best possible audio representation here but malfunctioning mics and a reverberant room mean that you may have trouble hearing all of it. Consider it a collector’s item for SILENCE! completists. There’s still some magic moments to be had here. There’s pictures in the gallery below too.
Four days later I still feel broken but happy. CHEERS EVERYONE!
November 27th, 2013
Jupiter’s Legacy #1-3, by Marky “Mark” Millar, Frank Quitely and Pete Doherty
Forgive me for the somewhat less than timely review, but fuck me – three issues in this is still a startlingly uninteresting book, from pig (Millar) to lipstick (Quitely) and beyond (???).
It should go without saying that this response is merely a product of the reaction between the lines on the page and those etched into my long-suffering brain, but that in no way makes this a good or even halfway entertaining comic. So while it’s true that both Millar and Quitely have thwarted all expectations here by failing to irritate and innovate respectively, the only real problem experience poses for Jupiter’s Chegacy is that a lifetime of reading and watching stories will train you to spot a tired duffer like this miles off.
Familiarity itself isn’t the issue here, per se: the old power/responsibility theme could easily survive yet another regeneration, and there’s no reason why a story about the famous children of rich superheroes couldn’t be made timely and interesting. It’s the old world vs. the new, the people who made the world vs. those who have to limit in it, and surely that’s an easy sell in this post moneygeddon landscape? The problem, at least so far as this cynical critic is concerned, is more that no one involved in this comic seems particularly interested in how they’re saying anything:
Page after page of dialogue mounts up to little effect, with passionate arguments sitting on the page like undeveloped notes from the plot breakdown, lacking either the vanity of realism or the courage of true artifice. This is a comic full of gestures, which would be forgivable if we were dealing with the mangled mitts and marvelous manifestations of Ditko-era Doctor Strange. Instead, Jupiter’s Children nods absently towards a half-busy suburban street in the daylight, hoping that you’ll find something interesting there and mistake dumb luck for careful planning.
November 25th, 2013
Iron Man 3
Dir. by Kiss Kiss, starring Bang Bang, written by the pretty drones of north america
It’s important to remember that everything that happens in this film takes place while Tony Stark is trapped in the wormhole in The Avengers. All of that talk about demons in the opening voice-over? Not metaphorical. This is the story of a man whose self has been shattered, trying to work out which shards to save and which ones to cast away. That’s why none of the characters feel real, except from Tony – they’re all figments, fragments of his essence, their nature and actions defined purely by the gaps in his form.
Having touched heaven, Our Hero sees the way back down to Earth, and realises that it’s angels and demons all the way down:
The kid represents true self love, while Pepper represents tough self love, and having embraced these twin fictions and annihilated his monstrous reflections Stark is free to imagine himself to be healed.
The movie? Oh, it’s a decent enough post-Iron Man action movie, better than the second film, probably just about as good as the first, and if you find yourself wondering how a movie that gleefully burlesques the absurdity of The War Against Terror (lol TWAT! lol foreigns! shout outs to Ben Kingsley!) can also rel on the redemptive power of drones for its ending, just watch old Droney Starks as he swans off into the sunset, wrapped in his latest and most impressive invention – a suit of armour made out of a microscopically thin layer of lies. That should tell you everything you need to know.
Much Ado About Nothing
Dir. by Captain America, starring your special friends, adapted for the screen by the reanimated head of William Shakespeare
Joss Whedon and co’s Much Ado About Nothing is a goofy, enjoyable movie that’s made just that little big bit sexier by the absence of what you might call Mouse Muscle. Don’t get me wrong, Whedon organised all of the Mouse Muscle at his disposal well in The Avengers – he even managed to keep yon blockheeded cock who plays Hawkeye out the way for the most part! - but it was always clear who and what was being serviced.
The priorities are different in Much Ado About Nothing, a luxurious indulgence in which Whedon services the script, cast and audience equally. One of those is you, and another is yours, if you want it to be, and it’s hard not to be flattered in such generous company, but let’s not act like everyone has access to the friends and production values that Whedon makes use of here because the lush setting gives lie to that notion. Whedon’s house is big, and the shadows it casts are long and dark, so by filling this setting with crisp suits and gun holsters and presenting it in black and white, Whedon successfully dresses up this screwball romance in noir clothing.
Amy Acker’s Beatrice is the main draw here, though Fran Kranz deserves props for managing to make top creeper Claudio’s sudden swings from infatuation to rage seem like the product of a genuine (if unstable) consciousness, and the duo of Tom Lenk and Nathon Fillion deliver the shaky comedy double act of Dogberry and Verges with admirably steady hands. This story is still Beatrice’s if it’s anyone’s though, and Acker plays her like someone whose “merry” manner is a tightrope, a thin line of barbed jibes from which she cannot imagine herself departing. It’s her role to poke fun at the conventions of the compound she lives in, and also to make the violence that underwrites her existence obvious, to draw it back into the foreground when she feels her cousin wronged. Alexis Denisof’s Benedict might make the transition from striking hero to total goof in record time, but note how quick he is to agree to violence when Beatrice demands it of him and try to remember that this is a movie about what spooks do on their time off.
Of course, having made it explicit that she lives in a world full of merry killers (a grand house that, like this whole project, has been made possible by the brute force of The Mouse and The Fox and other such creatures) Beatrice then allows herself to be tricked into a happy ending.
Ask yourself, in all honesty: would you do any less?
November 23rd, 2013
Before the last of these essays, a little bit of other stuff…
This post is going to go live at precisely midnight — at which point it will be the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, and so this is the last of the fifty stories essays.
Enough people said they would want a book of this that I’ve put one together, and that is also available from midnight tonight. You can buy it as a paperback, hardback, Kindle ebook (US) (UK), or non-Kindle ebook (with no DRM on the ebooks). And for those of you who visit us at Thought Bubble, you can buy a paperback copy off me personally.
But don’t worry if you’re too poor to buy one, or you just don’t like me and don’t want me to have money — the essays are essentially the same as they were when published here, but without the dodgy screencaps, and with quite a bit of copy-editing and fact-checking. You can still read the original versions here for free.
But anyway, here’s the last essay
November 22nd, 2013
For the third year running Team Mindless will be in (almost) full effect at the Thought Bubble comics convention in Leeds. I’ll be there trying to shake off my current Brendan McCarthy inspired appearance in front of my adoring public, and I believe Andre Whickey, Bobsy, Gary Lactus, Mister Attack and The Beast Must Die will also be in attendance on Saturday and Sunday.
If you fancy stopping by for a chat or buying our wares, we’ll be at Tables 21-22 in Allied London Hall for the duration of the weekend.
Fans of word/face combinations should note that the beautiful mugs behind our SILENCE! podcast will be performing SILENCE! Live (in 3D) at 11.40am on Saturday morning at the Speech Bubble Panel Arena in Armories Square. As if the prospect of matching face to voice wasn’t exciting enough, Mssrs Beast and Lactus will be joined by comics’ own Kieron Gillen, Brandon Graham, Al Ewing, and Ales Kot as they discuss love, life, and (obviously) comics in bottom-wetting detail.
Back in Allied London Hall, those of you lucky enough to have pennies in your pocket will be able to exchange them for the following shiny treats!
In his secret identity as “Fraser Geesin,” Britain’s Next Top Cosmic Apocalypse Gary Lactus will be glad to take your Earth currency in exchange for…
Headrust – a collection of 20 years worth of family strips
The Cleaner #1 - about a true hero of our times
Knights of the Realm – as serialised on this very website!
The Amusing Brothers Collection – as featured in your least haunting dreams
Scott “Mister Attack” Mackattack (Sorry, I’m a dick – Scott McAllister, that’s his name. This is his website. Go show him some love!) will be selling the first two collections of his Wake Up Screaming comic (Everyone’s Felt Like This Once and A Head Full of Maybes) alongside Points on a Graph, his new comic about the growing crossover between post-human entities and customer service work.
He’ll also be giving away samples of his new Webcomic, The Weegie Board, as written by some prick called David Allison.
The Beast Must Die might have had to pretend to be a mere mortal called Dan White in order to have his Cindy and Biscuit nominated for Young People’s Comic Award at this year’s BCAs, but that doesn’t lesson his achievements at all.
Cindy and Biscuit is one of the best comics around. Check it out:
When pressed for details as to what its host body would be selling this weekend, Andrew Hickey‘s beard made the following statement out of its many gorgeous tendrils:
I will have the first ten copies ever printed of my collection of essays about Doctor Who, Fifty Stories For Fifty Years, available — it comes out tomorrow, the day of the anniversary itself (I haven’t even looked at the copies myself yet, so they’re unproofed — caveat lector). I will also have copies of my book about Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers, An Incomprehensible Condition, and my essays about comics and Doctor Who, Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!, as well as my short story collection Ideas And Entities. I may have one or two copies of my music books as well if I have any left over from last year (I haven’t checked). I will also scribble in the books if you wish.
Bit weird how the beard thinks it’s in charge, but I’m not brave enough to contradict it so we’ll let that pass for now.
Finally, I’ll be there with copies of Cut-Out Witch (a book full of melancholy ghosts and lo-fi monster magic, as drawn by my friend Lynne Henderson and captured in caption by my good self) and issue #1 of Looking Glass Heights, a mix of comics and essays on a set of common themes (housing, hubris, reality, the weather):
There might be a few other tricks and treats for you if you stop by over the weekend, but I won’t ruin them for you by spoiling them now.
Thought Bubble is easily the best comics convention I’ve ever been to, and if you can make it to Leeds this weekend I’d urge you to attend even if you don’t want to have to look at us/give us money/touch our many gorgeous heads.
November 22nd, 2013
November 18th, 2013
RUN RUN REYNARD, RUN RUN RUN
I am Disembodied Gunnery Sargebot X – 15735. What is your major malfunction, numbnuts?!
What is this Mickey Mouse sh*t? What in the name of Jesus H. Christ are you animals doing in my head? Why is Gary Lactus out of his bunk after lights-out? Why is Private Pyle holding that weapon? Why aren’t you stomping Gary Lactus’s guts out? Do you feel dizzy? Do you feel faint! Jesus H. Christ! I think you’ve got a hard-on!
The Beast Must Die has dishonored himself and dishonored the platoon. I have tried to help him. But I have failed. I have failed because YOU have not helped me. YOU people, have not given The Beast Must Die the proper motivation! You must listen to the latest SILENCE! ALL THE WAY THROUGH!
<TEN HUT!> Sponsorship, admin, SILENCE! Live at Thought Bubble - sounds like the kind of thing you maggots might enjoy.
<TEN HUT!>Did I mention that it’s Gary Lactus’ Birthday? There’s a special birthday message from Black Bolt of the Inhumans.
<TEN HUT!> Get your faces in the mud and CRAWL your way to the Reviewniverse ladies! In the firing line this week: Shaolin Cowboy, Rocket Girl, Mighty Avengers, All New X-Men, Avengers Arena, Saga, Forever Evil, Bee Vixens From Mars, Hinterkind, Batman: Black & White, Umbral, Captain Marvel, Superior Spiderman, Resident Alien, Fatale and….Space Clusters!!
Whatever you do, don’t fall down, it would break my f*cking heart! Are you quitting on me? ARE YOU QUITTING ON ME?! Well, are you? Then quit, you slimy f*cking walrus-looking piece of sh*t!
But SILENCE! lives forever. And that means YOU live forever.
November 9th, 2013
One of the strange blessings of the internet is its ability to serve as an external memory system. Thoughts that would once have been lost to time if they were even lucky enough to have made it out of your head are now preserved for an indefinite eternity in places over which you have little to no control.
For example, if I want to know how I felt about Brendan McCarthy’s Doctor Strange/Spider-Man comic Fever after the first issue came out in 2010, a quick google search will turn up this flouncing defense of the book, written in response to a review by Sean Collins:
Say it Vibrational Match style: Where you see “inert physicality”, I see a Spider-Man who’s all harsh angles and elbows being squashed, flattened out, and a Doc Strange who’s at home with the harsh geometrics McCarthy conjures up.
Where you read flat pastiche, I read Spider-Man as a jerk who gets shut the hell up by the story (his words like jutting elbows –> drooping limbs), and Doc Strange as a badass who can turn exposition into information with the right gestures (verbal, physical).
Also: the mystic spider dialogue is genuinely fucking creepy, for reals, when combined with the images, yes?
In lesser hands this would be mere set-up, but this issue had a whole lot of “?something else?” working for it — that creepy wee arachnid bastard, crawling up the Vulture’s back, fr’instance! Like something from Seven Soldiers, only (yes!) far more unsettling.
I saw the biggest, most bulbous-assed spider of the year last night, sitting on my windowsill. I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to these wee beasties, but last night, after having read Fever? I tell you, I wanted to kiss the wee fucker!
The “hey, I’m a black guy!” dialogue was a bit cringey though, pastiche or no.
Looking at the book this week, I find myself agreeing with every point but the last one.
It’s not that I don’t find the dialogue McCarthy gave to the African-American comedy character cringe-inducing anymore – I do! – but that Brendan McCarthy’s recent Facebook comments on race make me feel ashamed the structure supporting that final sentence.
Sure, I agreed with Sean Collins’ assessment of the embarrassing nature of McCarthy’s throwback characterisation, but I did so in a tossed off, casual way, after five paragraphs of flame flecked enthusiasm. The implicit message being that everyone should just chill out about this racist after taste and enjoy the “septic salsa” of the comic itself.
In 2010, the story of McCarthy was that he was that of the hero freshly returned from the wasteland, ready to save the kingdom from itself. His new work confirmed his status as a trinity of psych-pop ghosts, the faces of Brit comics past, present and future combined. What interest could a couple of dodgy panels hold against all that? Solo #12 remains McCarthy’s late period masterpiece, but even in lesser books like Fever there are moments of astonishing beauty. The scene in the second issue where Spider-Man steps through a portal and into a crunchy insect killing field still burns bright in the light of its own toxic logic: