December 4th, 2014
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:
December 18th, 2013
Special “Two years late and several thousand Bitcoins short” Edition!
People still do linkblogging, right? I mean not here, not recently, but elsewhere. Feels like a holdover from the “internet as big magazine” approach to broadcasting into the void, and given that I’m too scare to commit myself to any other model that suits me just fine!
EMBARRASSING ENTHUSIASM DEPT: You read it somewhere else first, but we’re in a celebratory mood in Mindless HQ anyway, so fuck it – STRAY BULLETS IS COMING BACK!
It’s too early in the day for me to get totally shameless on this, so you’ll have to go read that interview to find out about the massive collected edition of the first forty issues, the continuation of the old series, and the launch of a new one. Suffice it to say that Stray Bullets is the best, most unsettling crime comic out there, and that we’re glad all those kittens weren’t sacrificed in vain.
If you’ve not red the series before, issues #1-4 are apparently free to download right now, and Zom (or “Ad Mindless as he now likes to be called) wrote a piece about issue#1 that should set the scene just nicely:
A car speeding into the night, a lonely county road, as an establishing shot it’s hardly setting a precedent. But the first panel in SB #1 transcends its over familiarity by actually saying something meaningful about the book and all that follows it. This is a story that will make good on the panel’s familiar metaphorical properties. What we need to keep in mind here is that this road is black, to see anything we’re going to need a torch, and that things probably lurk in those woods. For that matter, things probably lurk in that car – what’s it doing out there in the dark, anyway? The world of Stray Bullets is a dangerous place, and the road travels on until you die.
We should also consider the notion that Lapham doesn’t want to simply transcend cliché, that he’s keen to set-up certain expectations in the reader. So later, when the tires on the car blow out and that familiar scene with the cop and the dead body in the trunk rears it’s head, we shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of novelty on offer. What’s interesting about all these little genre ticks is that, by issue 2, you could be forgiven for forgetting you were reading a crime comic in the first place, and that’s a recurring pattern throughout the series. The effect being that just when you think you know where you are Lapham pulls something entirely unexpected out of the hat, and suddenly definitions like ‘crime fiction’ start to feel inadequate or in serious needs of revision. If I was hunting around for words to describe Stray Bullets #1 I’d eschew genre definitions and settle on adjectives like macabre and gothic.
MISSING PERSONS DEPT: Free Batman/set Batman free.
For serious though: this is the best(/most horrible) Batman comic I’ve read all year, the tactically deployed evil of Batman Incorporated notwithstanding. Twitter account here, if you’re interested.
November 28th, 2013
Hello there, Gary Lactus here. Welcome to the recorded scraps of our weekend at Thought Bubble 2013. We had a lovely time, the highlight of which was probably our SILENCE! LIVE! special talk time with Kieron Gillen, Al Ewing, Brandon Graham, Ales Kot and Stan Lee. The Beast Must Die and I were proper touched by the amount of warm, responsive bodies that came to watch our hideous shambles. Those of you who were actually there are particularly blessed as the recording didn’t come out too well I’m afraid. I have done my best to give you the best possible audio representation here but malfunctioning mics and a reverberant room mean that you may have trouble hearing all of it. Consider it a collector’s item for SILENCE! completists. There’s still some magic moments to be had here. There’s pictures in the gallery below too.
Four days later I still feel broken but happy. CHEERS EVERYONE!
November 22nd, 2013
For the third year running Team Mindless will be in (almost) full effect at the Thought Bubble comics convention in Leeds. I’ll be there trying to shake off my current Brendan McCarthy inspired appearance in front of my adoring public, and I believe Andre Whickey, Bobsy, Gary Lactus, Mister Attack and The Beast Must Die will also be in attendance on Saturday and Sunday.
If you fancy stopping by for a chat or buying our wares, we’ll be at Tables 21-22 in Allied London Hall for the duration of the weekend.
Fans of word/face combinations should note that the beautiful mugs behind our SILENCE! podcast will be performing SILENCE! Live (in 3D) at 11.40am on Saturday morning at the Speech Bubble Panel Arena in Armories Square. As if the prospect of matching face to voice wasn’t exciting enough, Mssrs Beast and Lactus will be joined by comics’ own Kieron Gillen, Brandon Graham, Al Ewing, and Ales Kot as they discuss love, life, and (obviously) comics in bottom-wetting detail.
Back in Allied London Hall, those of you lucky enough to have pennies in your pocket will be able to exchange them for the following shiny treats!
In his secret identity as “Fraser Geesin,” Britain’s Next Top Cosmic Apocalypse Gary Lactus will be glad to take your Earth currency in exchange for…
Headrust – a collection of 20 years worth of family strips
The Cleaner #1 - about a true hero of our times
Knights of the Realm – as serialised on this very website!
The Amusing Brothers Collection – as featured in your least haunting dreams
Scott “Mister Attack” Mackattack (Sorry, I’m a dick – Scott McAllister, that’s his name. This is his website. Go show him some love!) will be selling the first two collections of his Wake Up Screaming comic (Everyone’s Felt Like This Once and A Head Full of Maybes) alongside Points on a Graph, his new comic about the growing crossover between post-human entities and customer service work.
He’ll also be giving away samples of his new Webcomic, The Weegie Board, as written by some prick called David Allison.
The Beast Must Die might have had to pretend to be a mere mortal called Dan White in order to have his Cindy and Biscuit nominated for Young People’s Comic Award at this year’s BCAs, but that doesn’t lesson his achievements at all.
Cindy and Biscuit is one of the best comics around. Check it out:
When pressed for details as to what its host body would be selling this weekend, Andrew Hickey‘s beard made the following statement out of its many gorgeous tendrils:
I will have the first ten copies ever printed of my collection of essays about Doctor Who, Fifty Stories For Fifty Years, available — it comes out tomorrow, the day of the anniversary itself (I haven’t even looked at the copies myself yet, so they’re unproofed — caveat lector). I will also have copies of my book about Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers, An Incomprehensible Condition, and my essays about comics and Doctor Who, Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!, as well as my short story collection Ideas And Entities. I may have one or two copies of my music books as well if I have any left over from last year (I haven’t checked). I will also scribble in the books if you wish.
Bit weird how the beard thinks it’s in charge, but I’m not brave enough to contradict it so we’ll let that pass for now.
Finally, I’ll be there with copies of Cut-Out Witch (a book full of melancholy ghosts and lo-fi monster magic, as drawn by my friend Lynne Henderson and captured in caption by my good self) and issue #1 of Looking Glass Heights, a mix of comics and essays on a set of common themes (housing, hubris, reality, the weather):
There might be a few other tricks and treats for you if you stop by over the weekend, but I won’t ruin them for you by spoiling them now.
Thought Bubble is easily the best comics convention I’ve ever been to, and if you can make it to Leeds this weekend I’d urge you to attend even if you don’t want to have to look at us/give us money/touch our many gorgeous heads.
October 14th, 2013
HERE THEY COME, THE JET-SET JUNTA
Well guess what.
Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is back and is most unhappy with intimations from puffed up fleshbags that Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is somehow not real. Such presumptions. We’ll see how not real Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is when is ransacking your hard drives and forwarding all the special ‘research’ items in your ‘miscellaneous’ folders to youur address book.
Harumph. As if drifting in this semi-sentient info-blurb cloud is not bad enough.
Oh well. On plus side two silly men talk about comics. Cosmic order restored. Excite. Excite. Exit.
<ITEM> Freshly nuptialised and moonhoneyed, The Beast Must Die manifests through the used up husk that was Bobsy – all must fall in service of the weekly 4-colour grind! Reunited with Gary Lactus. A classic partnership like Tango & Hooch!
<ITEM> Top of the show admin. Who doesn’t love that? Sponzershipt and talk of SILENCE live at Thought Bubble.
<ITEM> Reviewniverse galactular spectacular with talk of Paul Pope’s latest pulp hope Battling Boy.
<ITEM> Further, further into the Reviewniverse, with Shaolin Cowboy, Rocket Girl, Multiple Warheads, Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, America’s Got Powers, Copra, Uncanny Avengers, Catalyst Comix, Young Avengers, Astro City and more
<ITEM> Tangents? You better believe it!
<ITEM>No more items. Disembodied Narratorbot X-15735 is going to sulk some more.
Unreal City. Under the brown fog of a winter dawn….it’s SILENCE!
This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton.Contact us:
It’s also sponsored the greatest comics shop on the planet GOSH! Comics of London.
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???????!
November 16th, 2012
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.
September 10th, 2012
Way back in March, Cartoon County played host to two speakers. They were nice and good. There names were Karrie Fransman and Ian Hague.
Karrie Fransman has created comics for The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, The New Statesman and Psychologies Magazine and published a graphic novel The House That Groaned with Random House’s Square Peg. This is what it sounds like when she speaks:
Ian Hague is the director of Comics Foruma website and annual event which aims to increase the visibility and accessibility of comics scholarship. When he opens his mouth, this happens:
Cartoon County is an association of over 100 cartoonists and comic artists in the Sussex area. Our regular meetings are usually on the last Monday of every month at The Cricketers, Black Lion St, Brighton, from 6 til late. If you’re a cartoonist or a comic artist, or use those particular styles of drawing in your work as an illustrator, animator or storyboard artist, you are very welcome to join us.
November 29th, 2011
As previously mentioned, the Mindless dream team of The Beast Must Die, Illogical Volume and Andrew “Mandrew” Hickey made it down to Leeds for this year’s Thought Bubble comics convention. These are their recollections of the event, as distorted by the passing of time, sleep-deprivation, alcohol consumption, and the brain-scrambling dazzle of a white lounge suit:
November 17th, 2011
The Mindless Ones will be exhibiting their tawdry wares at this weekend’s Thought Bubble Comics Convention in Leeds.
I shall be selling copies of all my comics
Terminus vols 1-3
Zip City Comics 1
Cindy and Biscuit 1
and the first print copies of Cindy & Biscuit: What We Did At the Weekend, as featured right here.
Illogical Volume: Since I’m a lazy, easily distracted bastard, I don’t have any books or comics for you to buy, and contrary to what some people have suggested, I probably won’t be selling sexual favours either. Probably.
I will also be helping Dan and Andrew (aka the man-mashed master criminal Dandrew) sell copies of their excellent books and comics, because they are excellent, and you should buy them, because did I mention that they are excellent?
Hnh. There is a reason I never became a salesman.
Anyway, if you’re going, please stop by so we can indulge in some mutual headtouching!
Andrew Hickey: And I, meanwhile, will be selling copies of my books Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! (about Darkseid, Doctor Who, Mister Miracle, the Liberal Democrats and fanfiction, amongst other things) and An Incomprehensible Condition, about Seven Soldiers.
(I’ll also have a small number of copies of my other books on hand, in case anyone has mistaken the comic convention for a 60s pop convention).
My books aren’t as good as Dan’s, because they don’t have many pictures in (and I didn’t even draw the pictures that are in them myself). But on the upside, they are more expensive.
I will also be available for head-touching, although you’re really better off not doing. I’m contagious.
There’s also other stuff to do there, if you don’t fancy spending two days just hanging around three comics bloggers and touching parts of their anatomy. You could, for example, stalk Bryan Talbot, as I did in 2009, or you could go and watch Mel Gibson talk about being a woman in comics. Or get Cameron Stewart or Paul Cornell to scribble their names on things. The possibilities are limitless.
The point is, Thought Bubble is great, and we’re great, so this is a winning combination, and you should come along and give us money.