Target 2012

May 12th, 2020

Paul Jon Milne – Guts Power #1-6

Dan Cox and John Riordan – Hitsville UK

The gospel was told, some souls it swallowed whole
Mentally they fold and they eventually sold
Their life and times, deadly like the virus design
But too minute to dilute the scientist mind

Wu-Tang Clan – ‘A Better Tomorrow‘ 

Spacing (notice that this word speaks the articulation of space and time, the becoming-space of time and the becoming-time of space) is always the unperceived, the non-present, and the non-conscious. As such, if one can still use that expression in a non-phenomenological way; for here we pass the very limits of phenomenology.

Jacques Derrida – Of Grammatology

Two comic book series, both started before the world ended in December 2012, both completed some time after the apocalypse.  So far so standard. What makes them both remarkable is how prescient they are about all the ways the world has continued to end and about how we might continue to live regardless.

To be brief: they reek not just of knowledge but of foresight.

The sixth and final issue of Paul Jon Milne’s Guts Power spends most of its time getting ready to go out for the party.  When I last reviewed this series, only the first four issues had been published but the mood of the comic was well established, its grimly eroticised kitchen sink misery distinguished from all the other neurotic indie comics out there by virtue of Milne’s seeping imagination:

I’m stuck on Milne’s style, on the use of that old fashioned alt-comix grossness not as a mode for outrageous straight white guy funtimes, but as a way to genuinely queer the Sex-Men experience.

With its tentative dance floor adventures, “Pepto-bawbag particles” and alluringly grotesque cast, Guts Power manages the rare trick of making one man’s whims, stray thoughts and fancies seem like a genuine delight, probably because the combination feels fresh and true; would that the same could be said of all such ventures.

By the time issue #6 starts, death and romance have already happened and everyone is gearing up for some sort of revolution.  You can practically feel the wee white dots form around you in the air, feel yourself being drawn back into the radiant possibility of a blank page, right up until the moment your cat farts and you’re left sitting on your couch alone with your own misery.

Having sprinted through enough dodgy deals, guilty secrets, Beatific visions and nazi incursions to fill 23 issues of a normal comic, Hitsville UK crosses the finish line of its seventh issues with a sense of perspective that’s bound to baffle all traditional metrics.  Last time I checked in on the comic, I found myself racing to keep up with its evolution, with the way that it had left my initial concept of the series as a referential but not reverential pop fun somewhere way off in the distance:

What I will say is that the issues of Hitsville that have been published since then have had an increased sense of urgency to them.  The boys may not have set out to create a fantasy of communal resilience in an age that seems increasingly under threat by undead attitudes, shambling zombie racism, and the endless monetization of your every passing daydream, but fuck me if they didn’t do it anyway!

The conclusion of Hitsville UK gives you some sense as to who’s pulling (or should that be playing?) the strings and some idea as to why.  We still don’t know why the world ended in 2012, or why it persists in this form, why even blogs have somehow been allowed to continue, but all of this prompts a question: why did the children of The Invisibles decide to persist in their endeavours, knowing that the end would come before anyone could finish their stories?

BEATS ME FOLKS! BETTER CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT!

For the ninth year in a row the Mindless Ones will be hawking our tawdry wares at the Thought Bubble comics convention, which is taking place in Harrogate this weekend.

None of us have cracked the secrets of eternal life, but the dadforce is strong in this group, and at least three of us are more handsome than we were back in 2011, where Andre Whickey tried to sell me for low low price and failed completely.

Will the gang manage to make some money off me this time?

Unlikely. Everyone knows my love is free.

But we’ll be more than happy to see you either at our stall – ComiXology Originals Hall, Table 16 – or at the SILENCE! to Astonish panel at Room A – Queen’s Stage, 2pm on Saturday!

Here’s the blurb for the panel:

Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die of SILENCE! and Al Kennedy of House of Astonish inflict daft games, badly researched questions and ill-advised impressions on a very special, hand-picked, crack group of comic professional victi-err… guests.

House to Astonish is Scotland’s longest-running comics podcast and has been featuring comics news and reviews for over ten years. SILENCE! is the world’s only comics podcast.

This year’s guests are: Giant Days writer and Steeple jack John Allison (not my uncle), Analog scribe Gerry Duggan, These Savage Shores writer Ram V, and word/art specialist and Breaks-smith Emma Vieceli.

Team Mindless will also be happy to savour the sweet, sweet taste of money in exchange for the products of our labour.

Here’s who’ll be selling what at our table…

ANDRE WHICKEY / ANDREW HICKEY

Dre isn’t selling any books at our table though you may be able to buy some off him.

GARY LACTUS / FRASER GEESIN

The big massive genius of his generation, Larry Gactus will be in the building with his latest misterpiece, Journey To The Surface Of The Earth #1.

Twenty pages pf A4 full colour and B&W goodness, Journey To The Surface Of The Earth was described as “a fittingly witty celebration of the mundane” by Broken Frontier’s Andy Oliver, who quite rightly asked us all to celebrate “the unique mindscape of this seriously underappreciated mainstay of the UK self-publishing scene”. DARE YOU DENY HIM?

Larry Leesin will also be selling a brand new micro-zine, Good Frence #1

Good Frence has new Amusing Brothers strips and what I’m reliably told by the postman is a full page, ham-fisted Brexit analogy. Andy Oliver might not have told you to buy it but I am, right here and now. Am I not good enough for you? Fair enough, but you still deserve Good Frence, for all your sins.

Gazer Freesin will also have copies of his phenomenal autobio comic The Cleaner, the world’s best Ikea comics anthology KOMISK! and a fistful of other treats for the faithful on the table too.

ILLOGICAL VOLUME / DAVID ALLISON

I’ll be there with Beyond Whiles, the latest in my series of comics about abandoned places and the people who live in them.

A leisurely walk through a glitchy environment in the process of rebooting, Beyond Whiles is also an attempt to turn cheek into currency – in this case, by adapting the works of Weegie author and mural-enthusiast Alasdair Gray into comics form.

I’ll also have copies of LGH and Labyrinths if slow explosions or hauntings are more your thing, and I’ve reprinted Cut-Out Witch, my 2013 collaboration with Lynne Henderson.

Praise for my solo comics:

Classic British indie small press pamphlet, and a sharp burst of mood and ideas. It’s very much comics as poem – it’s the sort of work that Douglas Noble has been known to do” – Kieron Gillen

A spooky zine… Liked this a lot. The writing is really strong and the art suggests just enough to make you uneasy – Sarah Horrocks

Praise for my comic with Lynne:

“Cut-Out Witch is really good… Lovely creepy stuff” – Twitter’s own James Baker

“You do seem to be able to dash such things off quite easily, I kind of wish I could do that…” - A Trout in the Circus’ very own Plok

Praise for you, praise for me – PRAISE ME!

THE BEAST MUST DIE / DAN WHITE

The mighty Beast is back with the second installment of his new horror anthology, Sticky Ribs!

Broken Frontier’s Andy Oliver, who you worship as a god, forsaking far less useful and productive deitys-in-waiting like me, had this to say about the latest release from the werewolf factory at Dead Light Comics:

This is prime White material with the juxtaposition of innocent, childlike diary entries and horrifying reality perfectly counterpointing each other and, through their contrast, making events all the more chilling. It’s Maurice Sendak by way of Cormac McCarthy, with wide-eyed innocence going hand in hand visually with a surrounding inescapable devastation.

He’s not wrong, this Andy Oliver. I can see why you’re currently building an alter for him, out in the woods, where you think no one can see you. I don’t approve of your methods but the impulse behind them… that I can get. Anyway, here’s a sneak peak of the horrors of the first story in The Beast’s latest:

As always, the ever-loving, red-eyed Beast will have copies of his astonishing kids comic Cindy and Biscuit to sell, and stories to tell that will add or remove hair to various body parts as required.

THRILLS / PAUL JON MILNE 

Paul will be debuting his new comic Hard Ships at our table this weekend.

In a move that will astonish and tantalize my fellow Miln-o-maniacs, Hard Ships looks deep into the muscle mysteries that are Milne’s muse and finds itself out there in space, exploring new frontiers of braw humour and shame.

Or at least, that’s what the postman tells me.

Milne will also have copies of  Grave Horticulture #1 and #2 for sale at our table.

Here’s what Sarah Horrocks had to say about that mulchy wonder for The Comics Journal:

Milne is an artist who can effortlessly land a fiery car engine on the neck of a musclebound maniac and you immediately understand what that’s all about. And unlike most writers today, he can give an origin story for a character in two pages or less.

The result is a tome of addled freaks, violence poets, and blood vegans who all feel coherent within a swamp of UK housing and geographic dilapidation.

Bobsy and Mister Attack will also be in full effect all weekend, dishing out love and violence to those who know how to ask for what. I pity the fools that use the wrong code words at the wrong time. Those poor souls. Those hopeless, shattered wretches. So hard to imagine their suffering. So hard not to want to be them.

So… where was I?

Yes. Thought Bubble 2019. Harrogate. Table 16, Originals Hall. See you there?

KOMISK! KOMISK! KOMISK!

October 1st, 2018

As debuted at Thought Bubble, KOMISK, the Ikea themed comics anthology, is now available from Fraser Geesin’s webstore!

Featuring strips by Geesin, Kathryn Briggs, Gareth A. Hopkins, Tom Mortimer, Paul Jon Milne and David Allison (that’s me – hi mum!), KOMISK exists at the point where mild domestic ambition blurs into existential terror and where novel shelving solutions seem to mock you in your dreams.

“Darkly humorous… really very, very funny”Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier

“Includes Fraser Geesin’s THE INCREDIBLE EVERYDAY, the best thing I’ve read all weekend”Colin Bell, Thought Bubble 2018

As a wee taster, you can download an alternative version of one my contributions to the anthology, Spegelvärlden, RIGHT HERE!

The finished version of the strip is shorter, less oblique and packed full of words cos yer man Geesin was keen on providing value for money for paying punters, but I still quite like this version and hopefully it’ll give you a flavour of the ruined good that await you in the anthology itself!

Daniel Furnace is the Devil’s Boy – Paul Jon Milne

The shaggiest of shaggy dog stories, which turns out to be the perfect excuse for a stroll through Milne’s aesthetic.

Craggy glam, baying crowds, dissatisfied parents – it all resonates on the same weird frequency.

Ida Henrich – Minor Side Effects

A paper paradox, this.

The cartooning is best when depicting the space taken up by demands, questions, queasy downturns and flailing spaghetti arms.  Somehow, this makes room for Henrich to lay out her thoughts on contraception.

Click here for review of The Wild Storm and The Ultimates!

There comes a point in every Mindless gathering where the correct amount of alcohol has finally been consumed for the conversation to turn to Final Crisis, with a special focus on the hastily squandered horror of the fifth issue.  Thankfully, we’ve started to bring friends along to help identify the reason for this boozy recurrence:

Yes, that’s right – the crushing banality of the morning aftermath is rank rotten enough to haunt its own bacchanalian origins, and when it does so it wears Darkseid’s face.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The spirit of this wretched, queasy moment inevitably seeps into the comics I buy at Thought Bubble when I try to read them on the train home.  This petty, remorse-tinged meanness tried to curdle my appreciation of the Decadence comics I brought home with me last year, but it struggled to find shelter in their sparsely populated mindscapes. The darkness found a more suitable hiding place in Spandex, Martin Eden’s LGBT-friendly, Brighton based superhero strip.

Like his previous serial adventure The O-Men, Spandex mixes everyday drama and garish unreality with ease. Brother Bobsy mentioned Paul Grist as an obvious reference point when he discussed the collected Spandex on SILENCE! and there’s definitely something to that: like Jack Staff or Mud Man, Spandex is humorous without ever seeming parodic, and it manages to generate a sense of low-budget romance from its seaside drama.  The debt to the X-Men is also undeniable, both in Eden’s commitment to chronicling the adventures of a group of emotionally combustible super-friends, and in his clean, brightly coloured artwork:

I’ve done a pretty decent job of burying my teenage X-Men fandom underneath piles of Eddie Campbell comics…