The Beast Must Die: So frazzled, bedraggled and maybe even bedazzled we all arrived safely back from this year’s Thought Bubble 2012 comics festival in Leeds, which once again proved itself to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience for everyone. It gets the tone just right – an even balance between mainstream and fringe, with the small press rubbing shoulders with industry pros. Girls, boys, seasoned fans, neophytes, kids, pensioners, cosplayers and the just plain weird, the TB crowd is diverse, good natured and one of the best aspects of the whole affair.

Attending something like Thought Bubble also reminds you first and foremost why you love the artform, a welcome shot of 4-colour adrenaline to enliven even the most message board weary fan.

The Mindless Ones were there in pretty full effect, with Andrew Hickey, Gary Lactus and myself  joined by Legendary Weapons Bobsy & Illogical Volume, as well as Mindless Cadet, Mister Attack and the living juggernaut that is Plok. We were positioned on the right hand side of the newly christened New Dock Hall. Andrew was selling his arsenal of wonderful music and comics books, as well as a new volume of his short stories. Lactus had the collected full colour beauty of The Amusing Bros and Andrew & Steven in Knights Of The Realm, and I was touting Cindy & Biscuit, including the brand new 56 page issue no.3. Mr Attack had his comic Everyone’s Felt Like This Once for sale, and Bobsy brought along a free comic featuring both the current PM and Lord Horror no less. Together we formed like Bruticus and set about ensnaring the public.

 

 

On a personal level I don’t think I could have had a better time of it. The reception that Cindy & Biscuit received was heartening, and I sold almost everything I took with me. What was especially gratifying was the breadth of customers I had – I sold a lot to kids this year, which was ace. It’s great to think of them reading mys stuff at home, and I just hope they were all appropriately thrilled, amused or spooked by Cindy & Biscuit. Lots of nice people said lots of nice things about it too, from comics pro’s to fans who bought earlier issues the previous year. All in all I was pretty damn chuffed.

It was great chatting to friend of SILENCE!, Al Ewing, whose gift to us was surely the best comic con exclusive that has ever been. He and his lovely friends were all most accommodating to our frazzled selves in the hotel bar on Sunday evening. It was as nice to see Kieron Gillen as ever, and I enjoyed talking to ace 2000AD scribe Rob Williams about Low Life. I was too nervous to speak to John Wagner, and certainly too nervous to ask him to say ‘I AM THE LAW’ in his stentorian Hibernian brogue. We happened to be on the table next to British comics catalyst  Paul Gravett, along with comics artist and scholar John Miers and his lovely partner Megan, who co-runs the Comica Festival with Paul. Paul was his usual enthusiastic self, and did the circuits with his usual charm and aplomb. John and Megan were also  excellent company, and truly sympathetic hangover buddies on Sunday. John’s comics are here and info about Comica is here.

Add to that the thrills of our ongoing experiment in listener alienation with our SILENCE! Thought Bubble special, the epic drinkery at the post TB Saturday night bash at the Leeds Corn Exchange, and you have a pretty full weekend. As I stated earlier, the atmosphere at Thought Bubble is open, friendly and enthusiastic. I can’t rate it high enough, and will certainly back next year.

But really, I hear you pretty much scream, FOR THE LOVE OF AQUAMAN, WHAT ABOUT THE COMICS???????!

Well…

For the second year running, the Mindless Ones will be hawking their tawdry wares at the Thought Bubble comic convention in Leeds.

We’ll be at table 46 in the recently renamed New Dock Hall, so feel free to stop by for headtouching and pishtalk if you’re at the convention!

Last year’s convention was generally agreed to be one of the best comics related gatherings that Team Mindless had ever attended, so we’re coming team handed this year.

Cick here to find out quite how many hands our team is likely to have!

Steven Moffat once said of Doctor Who that it “was a great idea that happened to the wrong people”. Some might think that this says more about Moffat than about Who (in my experience writers who think of ideas as ‘happening’ to other writers, rather than being produced by those other writers, tend not to have very many ideas of their own) but in some cases one can see what he means. The Three Doctors, and in general all the work of writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin, tends to be a case in point.

"You know how to play the recorder, don't you, Jo? You just put your lips together and blow"

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The Communist Bullpen

August 16th, 2011

So, it kind of started like this between he and me, yr ever-lovin’ Botswana Beast, the O-rriginal Eyeball, and there’s more but I’m fuctifano how to get all these trackbacks on the twtr, so look for yourselves, if you really want. Joel (that’s his tumblr) is a pwopa Marxist on the speed-dial and who knows; maybe he can diagnose and cure comics’ endemic corporate thievery better than a ragtag bunch of libertarians? My inclination’s to think this eminently likely.

Dare you look ahent the curtain, at a world inverted?! Come then, brave traveller, beneath the cut!!

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..IS OVER!

He was spotted in Nunhead Cemetery in South London at the weekend.

Looking Glass Hearts

March 24th, 2011

Being: an index to my recently completed series of posts on stories, mirrors and what happens when you mistake one for the other.

Since I botched the timing of these essays, I thought I’d link to them all in order, just in case anyone felt like humouring me and reading them all as part of the one big story:

Come on, take a dive with me – you might not regret it!

All of that blather aside, I’m pretty happy with this little essay series. It’s properly modular, just like Seven Soldiers wasn’t, but I also think it pays to read the whole thing at once.

Agree/disagree/tl;dr?

Please feel free to let me know in the comments!

Illogical Volume introview

December 5th, 2010

This is his face

illogicalvolume

Terrifying… but also sexy

Since Illogical Volume a/k/a his govt. name, David Allison, joined the Mindless Ones the comics interent has never been the same again (although, thinking on it, wouldn’t it be odd for things to be the same, the exact same again? I don’t know what date I’d go back to, but I’d defo be younger, maybe some time 1998, or 2002, or 2004?) Anyway, ya boy has been droppin’ bombs from such a height as to make said comicsinternet look like Dresden, c.mid-February 1945, and we would have got round to doing this when he’d his own blog Vibrational Match, and you want it. Yeah, you want it, you sluts.

Here it fucking is, then. Eh? EHHH?!?!

(I posted this over at  Milk The Cat, but I thought it was pretty cool, so I’m reposting it here…)

So my friend Lee worked on the set design for the new KICK ASS! movie, adapting Mark Millar and John Romita’s hugely successful comic. He very kindly used one of my images as a poster on young Dave’s (the hapless protagonist) bedroom wall. I donated the following delightful image:

zombiechick

I call it ‘rotten cheesecake’ artwork. Lovely.

Keep an eye for it in the film. I know I’ll be scouring the movie with eagle eyes for a fleeting glimpse of it.

Apparently it’s in the background here – you can make it out just in the far left corner I think. My friend Lee reckons it gets a nice shot in the film itself. Can’t wait to find out for myself…

So I can say that I worked on the design for KICK ASS! can’t I…?

Maybe not. But it’s still pretty cool huh?

An interesting aspect in the reading and long-term appreciation of superhero-comics, one of few nearly unique to the genre-medium, is the impact that a single image of a single character can have. Few sights are more potent and electric than the basic dramatis-persona mugshot of the steroidal spandexophile (popular in the early Image-era which took the dynamic far beyond the realms of mere absurdity), poised four square to the camera, and his name. Plot, narrative, dialogue even, can all to a greater or lesser degree be shed, and the key meaning of the superhero, the immortal appeal, remains undiminished. All that is required is a strong image and a strong name.

The enduring popularity of the A-Z Handbook of the X?X Universe books are a testament to this – the costume, the name, the paraphernalia, the ‘vital statistics’ (so porno), and the stripped-back plot recaps that the Handbook-style entries offer are the pure flavour, the total hot- drug effect, of the strongman funnybook. The superhero, a figure without a background, exists perfectly well, separate to the superfluous storytelling and other dimensions the comicbook medium affords. After all, if it’s all about wish fulfilment and fantasy-projection, the other stuff just gets in the way – just show me, in crazy colours and moody lighting, the bare (oo-er) image of the proud superthing, standing erect, and let me do the rest of the work myself (stop!) All that you need is a cool, tight image and a few terse syllables of context (of which the name, both descriptive and directive in its ideal form, is the concentrate). and you  can have that uncanny charge the trueborn superhero fanman is always chasing.

michaelhacker_cover2_front

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