Neil Gaiman is one of the most charming and popular writers to ever escape from comics. Famed for his extended runs on The Eternals and Hellblazer, as well as for his transcendental novels Mirrormask and American Gods, Gaiman’s name has become a synonym for so many words that it’s threatening to replace our whole language: “dreamer”, ”storyteller”, “vainglorious tout”… all of these words and phrases are contained within him now.

Soon, no thoughts will be safe!

But all of this is as obvious as breathing and twice as much fun.  What can we tell you about Neil Gaiman that you don’t already know?

1. While everyone knows about the Dreamsqueezer’s massive contributions to 2000AD, the fact that he cut his teeth for DC Thompson is less commonly discussed or understood. Working under a series of bewitching pseudonyms and accepting payment only through a convoluted array of shell companies, Gaiman honed his craft, taking the staid comedy routines that had trapped characters like Oor Wullie for decades and transforming them into something strange, something other:

Gaiman is often hesitant to discuss his early work, but in the deep, dark woods of his infamous 2008 radio interview with Jonathan Ross, the bewitching Duran Duran biographer compared these early strips of his to “the very best of Kafka”.

Rumours abound that Deep Space Transmissions archivist Ben Hansom will be debuting a new website this summer that is wholly dedicated to unpacking Gaiman’s contributions to the DC Thompson line. When approached for a comment, Mr Hansom maintained a knowing silence while letting a smile eat his whole face.  Gaiman into that what you will.

Click here for more red hot Gaiman!

We met our fair share of dodgy fuckers in 2014′s comics, but I don’t think we’ve had anyone quite like this guy:

He’s the beard hunter. He hunts beards. His absence from our corporately mandated entertainment strikes me as being suspicious.

You got a problem with that?

Read the rest of this entry »

Rogue’s Review: Darkseid

October 1st, 2011

I don’t usually deal in the sort of criticism that tries to find the spirit of our time in this or that piece of pop culture detritus, but for the past few years I’ve felt smothered by four little words – THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE! – and every time I see or hear a variation on that theme, there’s only one face I see.

No point in trying to keep the bastard stuck in a corner anymore.  You can only fight him off for so long, you know?

It’s time to let Darkseid out of the box:

This is the way, step inside.

Rogue’s Review: Thunderwing

September 23rd, 2011

Awright troops, Illogical Volume here, with a bit of fine
imported basterdry for ye!

Like another recent guest post, this one started with a tweet from Bostwana Beast.

I’m not sure that aka the Original Eyeball intended to start a fight here, but he should’ve known no tae challenge a proper weegie baistart like my pal Scott McAllister, aka Mr Attack, aka The Boy Fae the Heed, because a man like Scott disnae back down fae fuck aww.

Well, at least not when there are Transformers involved. Anyway, that’s enough of my pish. Here’s what the lad Scott had to say about Thunderwing:

It’s another day at the office in Marvel UK in the late 1980′s. Creative license tells me that at this point in history, it would be dark all the time, and it would be raining. A package has been couriered over from Hasbro, and contains the latest information on new products that must be featured in future issues of Transformers. By this point, the engineering has gotten less interesting, and the toys can be changed in about two or three moves. Quite often these days, they are accompanied by a humanoid shell to contain them in, like a a sarcophagus with arms that can only rotate at the shoulders. A quick glance of the villains line-up reveals it looking more and more like the cover to an Iron Maiden single.

On top of that, with Budiansky departing the American book, it seems the personalities of the toys have fallen into the doldrums, with each character little amounting to endless variations of “he is so bad, so very, very bad”, “he is soooooo good it hurts”, “he is evil because he is mental and robots don’t do meds” or “he’s sort of a good guy, but if we’re honest he’s a bit of a wank”.

Now, if you’re one of the cartoon writers, you stare into the mirror, remind yourself you’re too good for this shit and that you’re only in it for the money, so you recycle the plot of some other show you wrote, and have the new villain you’ve been requested to début elect to secretly build some giant weather-controlling device, or hypnosis booth or some shite, and have him turn up at the end as the mastermind of it all, to get his ass kicked.

But, you’re not one of those guys. You are Simon Furman. Simon Furman only has one question in his head EVER. “How can I make this guy interesting so that he’ll be remembered long after I kill him to bits?”.

Wanna see a masterclass in how to make people give a fuck? Then click on dear readers, click on!

Rogue’s Review: Cybermen

September 9th, 2011

A woman’s fingers erupting from a robot’s wrist, a wet brain punctured by wires and encased in metal, animal hair sprouting behind a cyborg faceplate, emotions crushed beneath inhibitor technology.

Cybermen? It could be argued.

Body horror and cyber-strangeness after the cut

Rogue’s Review: Starscream

September 5th, 2011

“A Screaming Comes Across the Sky…”

They dared me to do this one.

“…It never ends.”

-Some writer

——

To be critically viable, you’d have to change more than a character – you’d have to change a whole world. But no matter what changes you made, a story without him in a major role – one of the largest roles – you’d be kneecapping yourself at the outset. He has always been, after all, one of the best of them.

 

Antichrist gets a Judas, too.
(Image by Guido Guidi)
 

Well, maybe best is the wrong word.

A Month of Bastards begins after the cut

The third of three posts looking at stand out appearances of the Joker

Part 1 here (The Killing Joke)

Part 2 here (The Dark Knight Returns)

I. Quiet in the back row

“It’s quite possible we may actually be looking at some kind of super-sanity here. A brilliant new modification of human perception, more suited to urban life at the end of the twentieth century Unlike you and I, the Joker seems to have no control over the sensory information he’s receiving from the outside world. He can only cope with that chaotic barrage of input by going with the flow. That’s why some days he’s a mischievous clown, others a psychopathic killer. He has no real personality. He creates himself each day. He see himself as the Lord of Misrule and the world as a Theatre of the Absurd.” ~ Dr Ruth Adams, Arkham Asylum

Strangely enough we’ll need to begin this critical excavation not with a Batman comic but with Morrison’s last true commercial failure for DC. Co-authored by Marky Mark Millar and drawn by N. Steven Harris, Aztek the Ultimate Man (ably assessed by my fellow Mindless, The Beast Must Die, here) was Morrison’s first ongoing superhero gig and his only man in pants book to implode in a mere ten issues. As the sales plummeted parachuting in big draw characters like Batman and the Joker must have been as much an editorially mandated necessity as a creative choice, but Morrison made it work and gave us a glimpse of a Clown Prince that wouldn’t be fleshed out for another decade.

joker-in-vanity

Go super-sane over the jump

The second of three post’s looking at seminal takes on the Joker. Part 1 here.

I. Super Creep

scary-monsters-n-super-creeps1

“Do you want lipstick, sweet guy?”

I was five years old when Ashes to Ashes went to number one but I vividly remember how much the video disturbed me and continued to do so right up into my teens. There’s an intensity to it that few big name promos before or since have even attempted let alone matched, and why would they? Loosely centered around Bowie’s clown and a troupe of Blitz kids dressed in high fashion’s answer to mourning dress marching along a solarised beach, followed by a bulldozer, the video has the feel of a funeral set on some faraway peninsula of David Lynch’s imagination. The overall effect is alienated, surreal and ominous, reeking of drug addiction and mental illness, and while fans will detect an air of deep introspection this does nothing to create a more comfortable space.

Coming into his teenage years and young adulthood during the 70s and 80s respectively, Miller would have been steeped in Bowie’s career and protean flight through his various personae – aesthetically driven fiction suits which the mega star inhabited both on stage and to some extent in real life – so it comes as no surprise that a writer with his sensibilities would have produced a Joker that seems to borrow, intentionally or not, from Bowie’s iconographic legacy.

IT ENDS TONIGHT! (over the Jump)