November 20th, 2015
I might have come away from the Thought Bubble comics convention with a terrible hangover and an overwhelming desire to have a proper rummage through the back issue bins, but I can’t say that I came back short of good zines, great comics and better memories.
Here are five of the most exciting books I picked up last weekend…
1. Jonathan Chandler – Another Blue World (Breakdown Press, 2015)
At last Saturday’s SILENCE! x Breakdown Press interview panel, Jonathan Chandler was discussed as an artist who had staked out territory similar to that which Brian Chippendale had occupied but who had got there before it became a trendy holiday destination for art house cartoonists.
I’m not familiar enough with the man’s work to debate these claims, but reading Another Blue World what struck me was how important Chandler’s elusive sense of space is to communicating this particular set of hostile environments:
It’s not so much that Chandler is limiting what the reader can see to a few tufts of grass or a short stretch of water around his characters that makes his work stand out, more that he seemingly feels no pressure to fill up blank space on the page.
In a Brian Chippendale comic we might find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by the amount of detail, struggling to distinguish signal from noise whether we’re faced with the tiny cramped panels of Maggots or the wider canvases of If’n Oof or Ninja. In Prison Pit we are confronted blocky horror after blocky horror, but we know that this grim escalation will follow proceed through the sort of absurd escalations that are Johnny Ryan’s speciality.
Reading Chandler’s work, meanwhile, we are confronted with an eerie silence. All around us, we find unreadable white space, all of it primed with danger. Forms approach, assaults are perpetrated, sex is weaponised, but we can never be sure whether things are going to get worse or just sort of hang there:
I might crave for something beyond this harsh replication of animalistic imperatives, but there’s no denying that Another Blue World makes them painfully vivid.
November 15th, 2015
Living legend David Wynne has commissioned me to write 500 words on this topic. Last night in the pub he teased me with the idea that I was going to be tasked to write 500 words on Frank Miller: Feminist Icon.
Having worked out my pitch for that one in the shower this morning (it’s actually really easy to read his work as an extended deconstruction of chauvinist tropes… so long as you just DON’T LOOK AT THE WOMEN IN HIS COMICS and only pay attention to the men – not an approach that’s conducive to feminist values, hence why this reading of Frank Miller is unlikely to catch on anytime soon) I now find myself face with a far more daunting task.
Five hundred words on “Hard Men with Big Truncheons: The Sexual Politics of Mega-City One”. I mean seriously: what can you say about this subject? What can’t you say?
November 15th, 2015
Yes, it’s another THOUGHT BUBBLE SPECIAL POST!
This is the first of two essays commissioned by James “patron of the arts” Baker, who has asked for five hundred words each from me and Bobsy. James wants me to talk about what Daleks mean to me.
It’s a difficult one, actually, because I grew up in the 1980s, when the Daleks were mostly being used for their recognisability, but being written by a writer, Eric Saward, who would much rather have been writing Cybermen stories. So while the standard iconography of the Daleks tends towards a combination of fascism and Frank Hampson space adventure, for me, the Daleks are all about body horror. The formative Dalek story for me was Remembrance of the Daleks, and so I think of humans being turned into Daleks, of Davros reduced just to a head, of dead bodies being processed for food.
October 29th, 2015
So once again the Mindless Ones will be at the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic Convention, Thought Bubble. You can find us at tables six and seven in New Dock (don’tmentiontheoldname) Hall on the fourteenth and fifteenth of November.
Bobsy, Andre Whickey, The Beast Must Die, Gary Lactus, and Illogical Volume will all be there (sadly Mister Attack, who has been with us for the past few years, will not be attending this year), and you will be able to buy Cindy & Biscuit and Terminus comics from The Beast Must Die, or the adventures of Andrew & Stephen or The Cleaner from Gary Lactus. And you will be able to see Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die doing a very special SILENCE!, and you won’t even have to give them any money for that (though you can, of course).
“But wait!”, I hear you cry, “there are FIVE Mindless Ones attending the convention, not two! What do Bobsy, Andre Whickey, and Illogical Volume have to offer me, other than their raw animal sexuality?”
This has, in previous years, posed a problem for those of us who are less obviously artistically gifted than the SILENCE! duo. We have previously attempted to sell my books, which don’t have any pictures in at all, with limited success, and to sell Illogical Volume, with even more limited success (he always comes back).
You will, of course, still be able to purchase some of my books, and we will still be entertaining offers for Illogical Volume, but this year, those of us who communicate only by means of text will be doing something different as well.
Have you ever wanted your own personal Mindless Ones blog post, written just for YOU? If so, now is your chance!
Throughout Thought Bubble weekend (depending on the vagaries of laptop battery life and the Royal Armories’ shonky wi-fi), we will be liveblogging on the subjects of your choosing. YOU, yes YOU! could have your own Mindless Ones blog post, custom-written by our blogging artisans.
For just a penny a word, we will write blog posts of any length. Have you a burning desire to be updated on the saga of Bobsy’s superhero underpants? Do you really want to read Illogical Volume writing five hundred words on why David Cameron is a great bunch of lads? Do you want to know who would win in a fight between the Thing and Darkseid? Do you want Andre Whickey to summarise his opinions on the pop music the modern young people listen to, with their Bay City Rollers and their hippity hoppiting, rather than that old stuff he writes about? Would you like a ten thousand word essay on the Clone Saga, in iambic pentameter?
Now you can have just that. Bobsy, Illogical Volume, and Andre Whickey will be tag-team blog-posting over the weekend. Short posts will be written by one of us solo, longer posts by some combination of the three. We will write words right in front of your astonished faces, and post them to the Internet for all to see.
We will be starting at a penny a word, but rates may go up (or down) depending on demand, so get there early. No refunds.
October 27th, 2015
Right then. It’s that time of year again when things get a bit spooky. In order to do our bit for the annual Genre Fiction Evening otherwise known as Halloween, we present to you YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE! Yes, it’s a solo Gary Lactus issue of SILENCE! where he tries to fit in some comic reading and reviews around a trip to do some comedy in Newcastle.
COWER at the background noise!
SHIVER at the limited insight!
TREMBLE at the shorter than usual length!
SHUDDER at the barely thought out opinions on Clean Room #1, Amazing Spider-Man, The Uncanny Inhumans, Karnak and Ant-Man!
QUAKE at the excuses
VACILLATE at the obvious use of a thesaurus!
WOBBLE to the song at the end, Crazy Zombi Party!
You can support us using Patreon if you like.
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.