February 16th, 2015
SARAH HORROCKS – BRUISE (self-published, 2014)
From the cool blue risotone colour to the grey static hiss of the prose, Bruise is heavy on the cyberpunk stylings:
The comic itself follows up on that initial promise, coming on almost like a young William Gibson who’s got too lost in the poetry of his own thoughts to ever force them to fit a form as traditionally satisfying as a “novel”. Actually, scrap that “almost” and focus on the real novelty here, achieved through jagged collage of familiar tropes. Include the squinting cool of the front cover and the miraculous map of the back (as you must) in the run time and you’ve got one hell of a joyride here:
November 20th, 2014
“Have you guys got The Best of Milligan and McCarthy in?”
“You know, the big hardback collection of Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy comics?”
“Peter Milligan? Guy who wrote Enigma and X-Statix and who totally didn’t touch winkies with Grant Morrison back in the 90s? Properly does that po-mo literary thing of trying to live on both sides of the limit of an idea, except when he’s writing rubbish X-Men stories. And he made loads of comics Brendan McCarthy, as in Solo #12, Zaucer of Zilk, that Dark Horse thing… Ditko figurework, tells the whole story with colours, he gave those Coneheads their cone heads – you know who I’m talking about, right?”
“I mean it’s a bit lazy to ask, sure, but I’ve had a look on the shelves but I’m just asking in case I’d overlooked it somehow.”
“You’re staring at me like the words I’m saying don’t make any sense right now.”
“Yeah, we don’t have it.”
“Okay. Cool. So could you order it then?”
“Could you maybe check for me at least?”
“It must have been a Forbidden Planet London exclusive.”
“Nah man, it was a proper release – you had it in this time last year, I remember seeing it on the shelves.”
“Nope. Must have been a Forbidden Planet London exclusive.”
“Look, I’m not trying to be a dick but it seriously wasn’t. You can get it in [REDACTED], or from Amazon, and… you’re really not even going to search for it on your system?”
“I can’t search for it because I don’t have a title.”
“The Best of Milligan and McCarthy.”
“That’s not a title.”
“The title of the comics is “The Best of Milligan and McCarthy” – look it up and you’ll see!”
“Can’t. It must have been a Forbidden Planet London exclusive.”
“Yeah, but like… I had it on order from [REDACTED] because my girlfriend worked there at the time, and then she got caught up in this big, stupid disciplinary with the company because they thought they had the right to read her dreams or whatever, so I never picked it up, then Brendan McCarthy said some stupid shit about race on the internet and I wrote a piece about it and then he pretended like people had taken the huff with his Spider-Man for like no reason whatsoever so I never bothered ordering it elsewhere but then I remembered that I actually really fucking want this collection because it’s got some of my favourite comics ever in it and I’m already weak and compromised, certainly feeble enough to read Brendan McCarthy comics again, I mean it’s not like this phone isn’t practically oozing blood and global sadness out into my hand right now, so… “
“We don’t have it and I can’t search for it without a real title.”
“Okay, so I guess I’ll just have to get it from Amazon?”
September 15th, 2014
August 28th, 2014
Do you think that he’d even know? I’m not sure. He’s always so busy, isn’t he? The character and the book he starred in are a perfect match that way.
I’ve been spending a lot of time round at Kirby’s recently, and my favourite Kirby is the chatty, energetic old guy who’s perpetually setting up a big picture with the intention of hinting at an even bigger one. I’m talking about the Kirby who’s always happy to sit you down, offer you a drink and ask how you’re doing before the trip so nighttown begins. You’ll find this Kirby in The Eternals, of course, as well as in his Fourth World stories, and it’s hard not to love the guy.
The Jack Kirby you meet in OMAC is every bit as sharp as that other Jack, but he’s forever on the move. You head round to his place only to find him halfway out the door. This situation poses no problem for Kirby: ‘Of course you can come along!’ he barks. ‘I’m about to grab a taxi down to the “Brother” Eye if you’re willing to take a detour?’
Before you even have a chance to say yes you’re jumping out of the taxi and into the “Brother” Eye, a dingy old man’s pub untouched by the smoking ban, the sort of place that’s packed full of cigar smoke and shifty characters. And talking about characters, did Kirby really just tell you that that girl over there is a robot? And what’s that he’s saying about a man so rich he can afford to rent out whole cities for his private parties? You’re sure that he just said that the most recent party had a more sinister purpose, but somehow Kirby’s over at the other side of the bar now, stopping a nasty brawl before it can properly get going. One minute he’s holding a man ten years his junior by the throat, the next they’re heading towards you, talking quite intently with each other about the “Sickies”.
Kirby slaps you on the arm, buys you a drink and introduces you to his new friend Bucky… no, wait, it’s Buck, sorry. Kirby starts to settle down; he stretches his back out, and it looks like he’s about to chat to you when he suddenly decides to throw a nearby chair through the closest window. You’re about to tell the old guy to chill the fuck out, but then he leaps clean through the window and chases a mugger off down the street.
A brief ‘Good to see ya kid!’ and a hastily written check to the bar owner later and Kirby’s off into the night, shouting ‘OMAC lives so that man may live!!’ as he goes. Shit, that was exhausting, you think. But hell, when was the last time you had that much fun with a comic book superhero?
Does OMAC know what’s best in life? I’m not sure, but the man who created him certainly did! Happy birthday, then, to Jack Kirby – still missed, still the only king I will ever bow to.
August 22nd, 2014
July 31st, 2014
I’m going to become quite unpopular among my friends, I suspect, when I say that I didn’t like Guardians of the Galaxy very much at all.
I didn’t *hate* it — it had an excellent cast, the effects work was as good as you’d expect, and there were a few good lines of dialogue (I was the only one in the cinema who laughed at the John Stamos line, as the only people who know about him in Britain are Beach Boys fans — and indeed there has just been a massive amount of drama about Stamos among Beach Boys fandom, which made me laugh a little harder than I otherwise would). Sometimes it’s a bit too knowing about the pop culture tropes it makes fun of (this is definitely a post-TV Tropes script), but it occasionally does interesting things (there’s one neat little twist when a very, very, obvious third act reveal straight from Screenwriting 101 *doesn’t* turn out to be true).
It also actually had some scenes with colours that aren’t orange or bluish-grey — not many, but a few. This is increasingly rare in the cinema these days, and is to be applauded. I’m sure I even saw a glimpse of yellow at one point.
But one of the reasons Marvel’s films have been so successful is that they have been *superhero* films. This one isn’t
March 16th, 2014
March 9th, 2014
Crossing the Rubicon : Mister Attack at the halfway point of Transformers: Regeneration One (#89-#90)
April 25th, 2013
Despite my seeming full mental breakdown after the first issue of Transformers: Regeneration One, I held on to my sanity well enough to continue buying it on a monthly basis. Didn’t take long for a feeling to creep in that, beyond the initial shock, things were maybe… Off the boil? I continued to buy it more out of a sense of nostalgic loyalty than any actual engagement. After all, who doesn’t want to see the creators of their childhood iconography still get paid, in this crazy work for hire world?
November 29th, 2012
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???????!