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:

 

Who could argue against that sort of artistic firepower? Not me back in 2010, apparently. Click here to see how I get on in 2013!

CINDY & BISCUIT in ‘PESTS’

October 8th, 2013

Here’s a brand new Cindy & Biscuit strip for you. I’m doing these on a semi-regular basis here on Mindless Ones. Check them out here.

Also, Cindy & Biscuit no.3 has been nominated for the Best Young People’s Comic award in the British Comics Awards, amongst some very talented company. I am, needless to say, extremely chuffed. Cross your fingers, toes and everything else people…

Also, also…don’t forget to get yourself a copy of the brand new 56 page  Cindy & Biscuit no.3 from my shop at Milk The Cat. You can pick up my other comics while you’re there.

 

Here’s a brand new Cindy & Biscuit strip for you. I’m doing these on a semi-regular basis here on Mindless Ones. Check them out here.

Also, don’t forget to get yourself a copy of the brand new 56 page  Cindy & Biscuit no.3 from my shop at Milk The Cat. You can pick up my other comics while you’re there.

A brand new Cindy & Biscuit 1-pager for all of you. Enjoy, and head over to Milk The Cat if you want to buy their comics…

This one was done for the programme of this year’s wonderful Caption Comics Festival, a truly unique and wonderful event – part comics symposium, part ramshackle village fete, it’s a real treat. I was on a panel talking about Cindy & Biscuit this year, so thanks to Alex Fitch for inviting me!

CINDY & BISCUIT and MR ANDREWS

August 11th, 2013

A brand new Cindy & Biscuit 5-pager for all of you. Enjoy, and head over to Milk The Cat if you want to buy their comics…

Read the rest of this entry »

EXPOSITION: From the first few pages onwards it’s clear that this is one of those LA stories, an everyday apocalypse in which a strung out and savvy cast of screenwriters, rappers, astronauts, agents and cultists collide against a genre-mashed backdrop; the prophetic screenplay that drives the story is modeled on The Last Boy Scout, but Richard Kelly’s media-frazzled sci-fi meltdown Southland Tales seems the more fitting tonal counterpoint for this story of a city stuck on an apparently endless cycle of destruction.

You might remember reading about all this in the early hype, but if not you can always obtain the first issue for free online and get a flavour for it yourself.

The main characters in CHANGE are lost and ambitious souls, tilting after people and projects like a set of modern day Don Quixotes, struggling to find their way to an imaginary elsewhere that might just resemble home if they can stick the landing.

If there’s a criticism to be raised here it’s perhaps that the women in this comic tend to be framed at the centre of the madness, while the men are given more active roles as explorers.  Richard Doublehead (“the Virginia Woolf of screenwriters”) and rapper turned movie producer W-2 and find themselves instigating the plot and exploring it respectively, and in their dueling roles both men are spurred on by the loss of their partners.  Charlie Kaufman style maverick screenwriter and surprisingly competent car thief Sonia has a more active role than either of the female love interests, but her ability to write what’s about to happen still positions her as being somehow in tune with the madness where her fellow protagonists affect and are affected by it:

Thinking about Sonia’s character, I keep coming back to Angela Carter talking about her experience with the surrealists:

…I had to give them up in the end. They were, with a few patronized exceptions, all men and they told me that I was the source of all mystery, beauty, and otherness, because I was a woman – and I knew that was not true. I knew I wanted my fair share of the imagination, too. Not an excessive amount, mind; I wasn’t greedy. Just an equal share in the right to vision.

If Sonia has anything, it’s vision, but somehow her goals seem less tangible those of her male counterparts; for all that her voice is the most purely entertaining one in the comic, I still can’t help but feel that her arc is also the least satisfying.  Even the astronaut, who spends most of his page time cut off from the other characters, finds himself on a journey to be reunited with them and with himself:

Click here to see if I can bring this post down to Earth safely.

 

Here’s a brand new Cindy & Biscuit strip for you. I’m doing these on a semi-regular basis here on Mindless Ones. Check them out here.

Also, don’t forget to get yourself a copy of the brand new 56 page  Cindy & Biscuit no.3 from my shop at Milk The Cat. You can pick up my other comics while you’re there.

CINDY in ‘NOT WAVING’

May 14th, 2013

Here’s a brand new Cindy & Biscuit strip for you. I’m doing these on a semi-regular basis here on Mindless Ones. Check them out here.

Also, don’t forget to get yourself a copy of the brand new 56 page  Cindy & Biscuit no.3 from my shop at Milk The Cat. You can pick up my other comics while you’re there.

Here’s a brand new Cindy & Biscuit strip for you. I’m doing these on a semi-regular basis here on Mindless Ones. Check them out here.

Also, don’t forget to get yourself a copy of the brand new 56 page  Cindy & Biscuit no.3 from my shop at Milk The Cat. You can pick up my other comics while you’re there.

BISCUIT in ‘PRIORITIES’

April 24th, 2013

Here’s a brand new Cindy & Biscuit strip for you. I’m doing these on a semi-regular basis here on Mindless Ones. Check them out here.

Also, don’t forget to get yourself a copy of the brand new 56 page  Cindy & Biscuit no.3 from my shop at Milk The Cat. You can pick up my other comics while you’re there.