April 24th, 2024


At last! It’s time for The Big Pivot! Welcome to the SILENCE! Sportscast! All the Action! All the balls! More kicks and hits than you could reasonably kick or hit! Who’s winning? YOU!

Unfortunately the sports chat gets somewhat derailed by talk about gigs and the 90s before Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die get sucked into The Reviewniverse where they find Joe Wilkinson: My Autobiography, Elf Quest, Cerebus, Viz (Gary’s got a strip in it!) and Proustian comics in general.

Following that, there’s a lovely bit of SILENCE! (Because The Film’s Started) in which The Beast Must Die has seen The Flash.

All sport is finally forgotten as the hosts reckymend Comfort Blanket, Allan Quartermain and the Spear of Destiny (Jesus fucking Christ), Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson and Gary just won’t stop going on about his Patreon. At this point in the blurb we usually say, “AND MORE!”.



[email protected]

You can support us using Patreon if you like.

SILENCE! has not been sponsored by the greatest comics shops on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton and GOSH! Comics of London for years but we still love them.

Welcome back, Jolly Whackos, to The Mighty Crusaders Number Four! It’s time for the third ultra-page of sequential narrative so get excited!

Listen to The Mighty Crusaders Number Four Supplemental at

Send your correspondence to [email protected] for all your questions and comments. 

Transcript and pictorial reference below for all true monkey winners.

Read the rest of this entry »


February 27th, 2024


Somehow climbing out of a river of turds that flows from broken window in Hell, Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die convene to just try and have some fun for once. It’s all here! Talking! Life! Poor sound quality! Fraser Geesin’s Patreon! Cats knocking over microphones! Excuses! Comics! Great news inside!

Covered within this soup are such titles as Monster Fan Club, The Green Lantern, Guy Gardener: Warrior, It’s Lonely At The Centre of the Earth and more!

Oh, and if you weren’t aware, we lost a good friend. Help provide support for his family here



[email protected]

You can support us using Patreon if you like.

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton. It’s also sponsored the greatest comics shop on the planet GOSH! Comics of London.

As some of you might have already read, Mark Stewart – our own Amy Poodle and a member of the Diane podcast crew – died unexpectedly last month. There’s a crowdfunder running to support his partner and son, and I’d urge you to contribute if you’re able.

Most of the Mindless were able to attend Mark’s funeral last week. It was a raw day with howling weather to match the sense of rage this sort of loss can provoke, but the funeral ritual performed its dual function, showing us how much Mark there was out there in the world by prompting us to share memories, tributes, wild stories. The man’s thoughts were catchy like a cold, so it’s no surprise that variations on the phrase “he rewired my brain” were used so often on the day – looking at this site, everything from the naming conventions for contributors to the faces of The Amusing Brothers has Mark’s trace on it.

Mindless readers will know that Mark is the best writer about Grant Morrison comics to have ever put his thoughts out there, so we were moved to see an acknowledgement of Mark’s passing from Morrison in their newsletter:

A moment’s silence for Amy Poodle, AKA writer and critic Mark Stewart, who died last week. Mark was one of the first young readers to completely grasp the underlying metaphysics of The Invisibles, and his breathtakingly erudite and distinctive interpretations of mine and other stories were a highlight of the Barbelith Forum and the Mindless Ones blog back in the day. I loved reading his work, I always learned something, and I’m very saddened to hear the news that he’s passed away at such a young age.  

Our deepest condolences to Mark’s friends and family, and to his partner Clare, and his son Dale.

Flame on, brother!

As Morrison notes, Mark’s writing on the sadly vanished Barbelith forums pulled the pin on public understanding of The Invisibles, and his subsequent explorations of the series for The Comics Journal still freak my nut out to this day, to get bit Danny Dyer about it. The following passage from Bomb Light in Faraway Windows has been haunting me today as I considered how to write about such a multifaceted person from my perilously limited vantage point:

Because in fiction characters aren’t bound by their pasts, they’re not fixed in place, and if their creator wills it they can be a violent super-ninja freedom fighter, a successful, totally harmless horror writer and a dimension hopping agent of Chaos simultaneously, their “true” self located only in whatever overlapping sites of meanings the reader cobbles together from each cover story, forever hidden in the gaps.


Mark was talking about imaginary people there, of course, but I’m aware that tributes like this can risk turning people into easy fictions. The “real” Mark couldn’t be sketched out by any one account, least of all one that focuses on his writing like this post will, but together we can strain our eyes to see a more multifaceted impression of the man, just as his work allowed so many of us to trace things we might otherwise have missed when we looked at stories and the world. As our Botswana Beast put it in a recent email:

my sort of banner points is – as much as you might be into something, and I already thought All-Star Superman say was unbelievable, but to experience Mark enjoying something – the best comics already anyway – to experience that made it 10x better *at least* (in a fashion that sometimes made me feel my own mundane eyes were basically just adequate) – I think what characterises his criticism, or indeed what he defined in our little sphere of comics criticism, was to be almost entirely – except where Mark Millar was concerned – additive (there is stuff in his All-Star write up that’s so exciting and you can feel this Quitelyesque world bubbling up around you; incredibly immersive)

Even stuff I might be mildly leery of; Dan Slott, or the MCU, or Immortal Hulk say – basically if Mark liked it I would too because I knew someone was into it in a way – swirling, psychedelic, extrapolatory – that I could only vaguely imagine.

The description of Mark’s writing as being “additive” has been echoing around my head since I read it. There was real magic to the way he could tune you into something only his equipment had picked up, whether he did it with a quick bit of absurd language – “runce” on Barbelith, “Blackest NICE” and “bulk meat” here – or by taking the time to light a story up from a previously inconceivable angle. The Muppets never looked the same after I read Mark’s post on how Crazy Harry exists at

the point where the madness reaches such a fever pitch that the show turns itself inside out, kermit green giving way to grey, where wacky fun collapses into its abject… Where the stage lights finally go down on all that colour.

I’d never considered “The Darkness when everyone has left the theatre, and the thing waiting for you in it” or at least, I’d never acknowledged the fact that these thoughts might be troubling me. We’ll break through to brighter horizons in a minute, but Mark had a real gift for lighting up the subterranean world, as anyone who read his Batmannotations or listened to Diane must surely know. I doubt I’d remember Daredevil #9 by Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera if it wasn’t for Mark having wandered through that comic with a torch, talking about how the monsters lurking unseen in the dark caves of that story were an example of

Nostalgia veering into dread… From a certain angle the monsters look dumb and kind of friendly, but those ‘creepy cartoon eyes’ would make you sick if you were confronted with them anywhere outside the comic page.

Look again: was he wrong? do you want him to be?

Let’s double back a bit because this is not a moment for subtlety: like Botswana Beast above, and like Daredevil in that story, a lot of the time I was just registering the caves until Mark made the rest of it clear to me. There’s a real power in Mark’s ability to suggest the shape of dangers and worries we’ve not fully understood, but like a lot of people my intoxication with Mark’s work also had a lot to do with the way he could tune you into frequencies that seemed to come from a better reality.

Back when I was reading Mindless Ones dot com instead of contributing to it, Mark’s Candyfloss Horizons posts seemed to me to contain all of the possibility of this magazine and the culture around it in its most potent form. Part 1 set the scene, and let us know that the scene would shift every time we looked at it, but Part 2 was the real trip. These posts found a way through superfiction to a world of abundance, a world of fluid images and meanings and sexuality that has little to do with the value that Disney and Discovery, Inc see in these fictional realities. On brighter days, I think that some of this explosive plurality may yet survive the cinematic age.

If we’re talking about hope, well, the Beast already mentioned Mark’s write-up of All Star Superman in his comment, and I’m not joking when I say that I think about it every time I’ve been beaten into a rut and need to imagine a way out of it.

Here’s Amy Poodle, talking about the expansive possibilities of ASS:

Most of us, if we’re lucky, will experience a time in the future, perhaps an extended time, maybe a moment or two, when we’re really taken out of ourselves. When the grey scales fall off our eyes. It could be at our child’s birth, it could be falling in love, it could just smack us in the ennui one day when we’re walking down the street, and this is the atmosphere, the internal environment, that All Star Superman is trying to reflect and catalyse in us – the best days of our lives (as THE ADAMS sang), when, as I said above, everything’s soft (because the boundaries between things needn’t be so rigid anymore), fairytale (because everything seems primal, mythic and illuminated with significance), permeable (because we want to interrogate, explore and know more) and malleable (because we’re an integral part of the whole thing). With this in mind, have a look at the landscape of ASS again. It’s all those things: Bric-a-brac colour schemes that lap at the eye; balloon-skin thin line work; an illustrative style that summons up bedtime and “Nan, can I see the picture…?!?”, a gentle three dimensionality rotating softly within and around itself. If Morrison’s preceding works have aggressively shoved the reader towards the kind of…err… magickal awareness he wants to provoke, then All Star Superman is a far subtler beast. It doesn’t rely solely on didactic screeds, or narrative thrust, or belligerently zany page layouts to make its point – it’s all just loaded into every panel, the mise-en-scene, the general tone. Superman’s got there already, and all he wants us to do is catch up, because sometimes it’s lonely on that cloud. The book is truly a collaborative effort. I’ve made every effort to include the artists in this little eulogy as much as I’ve included Grant, because everyone working on it contributes to the fiery nimbus that surrounds the piece, either by accident or design. It doesn’t matter. The spell just worked.

Sometimes it comes steam engines. Sometimes it comes All Star Superman time.

Reading back through pages of Mark’s writing today has been rough going. I’ve cried a couple of times, gutted about the fact I won’t get to hear from Mark again, grateful that I ever got to hear from him at all. Everything in Mark’s work seems to point me away from where my head’s at today, whether it’s his thoughtful approach to the evidence of our passing in Ghost World, the giddy thrill of Zenith showing that comics can broadcast from the edge of their moment, or the depictions of a virtual overlay of neglected physical spaces in his Batman 666 scripts.

As I get older I find that both hard times and days of real joy and comfort make me want to draw my world close around myself, to treasure what I have and hide from what I can’t control. These impulses are understandable on an individual basis and maybe poisonous socially, allowing those of us who can afford to minimise our exposure to the world and its horrors to do so. The best of Mark’s work asks me to be less of a shitebag than all that. It’s full of portents of what’s wrong [in/out] there for sure, but it’s also always reaching past itself after the next possibility, carefully tuned into the ways the world might yet bend into a new shape upon contact.

Ask yourself, in the dark of the year, under your duvet, sat bright by the TV screen, submerged in a bath of comics, out in the world, navigating by stars or streetlight, wherever you are – can we do less?

SILENCE! Christmas Content 2023

December 24th, 2023

Welcome to the SILENCE! Seasonal Scrapings! Gary Lactus, has cobbled questionable content from the contents of our Patreon, namely Gary’s Com Dom Corner, a new venture in which he reads and reviews a comic suggested by members of C-Unit. The three Com Dom Corners here feature Legion Of Suprheroes, Wildcats: Trilogy #1 and Nth Man The Ultimate Ninja. But before that, Gary runs down his Best Of 2023 list.  Have a big Christgasm everyone!

SILENCE! To Astonish 2023

November 25th, 2023

Here’s the recording of SILENCE! To Astonish from Thought Bubble 2023. Gary Lactus, The Beast Must Die and Al Kennedy put Al Ewing, Rachel Stott, Lucy Sullivan and Not Caspar Wijngaard to the test. 

You can tell I’m not the real me from the fact that I didn’t know this book existed until I tripped over Tegan O’Neil’s review in The Comics Journal. As a lifelong Eddie Campbell enthusiast and someone who enjoys Tegan’s criticism, I would have been anticipating the book’s publication and would have read Tegan’s review the day it went up.

The fact that it took almost two weeks to catch up can only mean one thing: I’m not me. The author of this blogpost has been replaced.

The Second Fake Death of Eddie Campbell comes packaged together with 2006’s The Fate of The Artist, another autobiographical comic in which the author has gone missing. Back when it came out The Fate of the Artist felt like a big development in Campbell’s artistic style, with its watercolour textures and shifting art styles. Here’s Dirk Deppey writing for The Comics Journal at the time:

Campbell’s latest work, The Fate of the Artist, is a logical step forward. Using a moment of artistic doubt suffered by Campbell as a springboard, Fate weaves the lives of forgotten artists and artisans, autobiographical anecdotes in which the author is portrayed by an actor, faux comic strips, fumetti, and concludes with a faithfully adapted O. Henry short story starring Campbell himself. The work is as collage-like as Snakes and Ladders, but here the juxtapositions are between scenes rather than images. None of the individual parts ever fully connect to their surroundings; instead, each segment slyly comments on the implied message of others, building thematic inferences rather than a narrative storyline. Graphically The Fate of the Artist is more subdued than Snakes and Ladders, yet its conceptual underpinnings are more daring than anything its creator has ever before attempted.

In 2023, The Fate of the Artist looks like a work from the traditional side of Campbell’s career. An artist with a classically appealing style, all hand-scratched lines and careful depictions of light and posture, Campbell has spent the past couple of decades restlessly experimenting, often with the aid of his computer. In the past ten years he’s added digital colouring to the immaculate Victorian picture making of From Hell, written a book about sports cartoonists, and put together an anthology of odd romance stories with his wife Audrey Niffenegger.

The autobiographical work that followed Fate, 2012’s The Lovely Horrible Stuff, saw Campbell integrating photography into his hand drawn and painted art to uncanny effect. In keeping with Campbell’s experimental impulses, the book’s style wasn’t always as pleasant to look at as the artist’s earlier work, but none of that discomfort was wasted. The Lovely Horrible Stuff‘s subjects – the bonds of cash, the bonds of family, the power of abstraction – demanded an approach that constantly disturbed the reader’s sense of what was familiar and what was strange.

High on this sense of uncertainty, in my review of the book I speculated that nothing in the story was true:

Once the illusion of Yap fell away from eyes, I started to see everything else more clearly.  You see, there’s no “Eddie Campbell” either, that’s just a pseudonym Alan Moore uses when he wants to get away from ideaspace for a while, a secondary life he pretends to have lived, inky li(n)es trailing off into nothing like the hair on his face. The people you see in the book, claiming to be Campbell’s friends and family? Actors, all actors, and as such there’s no reason to worry about their drama being traded in for the cold taste of coins.

If you think that seems a little too giddy you might be on to something. In the end, this feeling was so intoxicating that I started to doubt my own existence along the way:

Me? I don’t exist either.  All of my financial worries are fake – did you really think it possible that I could propose to live off my thoughts alone if I lose my job?  Thankfully, Illogical Volume is just a work-in-progress, a computer programme designed to vent words and neurosis on an irregular basis. This blog is a dry run for deliberately useless AI; thank you for participating in the beta test.

Which brings us to Campbell’s most recent autobiographical novel, which I would have known about in advance if I was really here. The qualities that were uncanny in The Lovely Horrible Stuff are now the baseline of Campbell’s reality, worn proudly on the artist’s face in one sequence:

Campbell has Niffenegger comment on this shift in style in the body of the comic (“It’s like he’s trying to find a way of faking it. He’s even sneaking photos into his drawings, hoping no one will notice”), and discusses it in his afterword in the dazed tones of a man who has only just remembered his crimes (“But on casting my eyes over aforegoing pages, I see the laptop everywhere in them”). The absence of Campbell’s hand-scratched letters provides an opening note of dismay in O’Neil’s TCJ review (“I have now felt that same shock of utter betrayal. I have cracked the spine on Eddie Campbell’s latest and found computer lettering staring back”), but her later comment on where she places the book is more revealing:

Ugly as sin, yes, but so is a great deal of Chris Onstad and Jerry Moriarty. Which is sort of where I’d place Campbell right now: halfway between Jack Survives and Achewood, as far away as possible from the meticulous penmanship of From Hell. Never sitting still, our boy.

Like O’Neil, I suspect, I’d rather be frustrated by a favourite artist than bored, so while I find myself missing certain effects of light that Campbell used to conjure from a haze of ink, there are moments where I find new pleasure in his work. Like this bit of business with a cat:

Or this sleepy fantasia, the first in a series of dream sequences that punctuate the story, and the first in a series of scenes depicting some sort of covert skulduggery:

This second image is a bridge back to Campbell’s past: its looseness is new, but in conception it winks at the “Honeybee” newspaper strips that cut through The Fate of The Artist. The sequence where Campbell wrestles the cat has a different feel to it, or rather, it gives fresh form to something Campbell’s long been after. It doesn’t have the sense of the air he’s traditionally sought through painterly effects, but it conveys the same sense of life in the moment as some of his earliest work in The King Canute Crowd. I’m thinking of the way Campbell catches the soft bends of the body in this bar scene:

If that seems too restrained in comparison to what the cat’s doing in the new book, consider those moments in the earlier work where Campbell tried to catch the movement of a pub brawl:

Of course, the world in which Campbell made his earlier works no longer exists, so maybe a shift of technique was required. The Second Fake Death is, as its subtitle points out, “a pandemic graphic novel”, and when I read the new book for a second time down the pub, a comics artist of my acquaintance expressed equal surprise at the change in art style (“It’s like looking at David Hockney’s iPhone drawings!”) as he did at the way Campbell was drawing himself (“Does he look like that now?”). He does, as this video interview will attest!

This shift in technique isn’t limited to line, lettering and colour, any more than the new haircut represents the limits of how much “Eddie Campbell” has changed in this story. From The King Canute Crowd to The Lovely Horrible Stuff, Campbell’s autobiographical work has shown a tendency to the poetic and the anecdotal. Chapters that trace the way people move around in moment-to-moment detail have tended to be matched to sequences where the text provides the through-line of a tall tale, with the images highlighting key moments or providing literary or humorous counterpoints. The hand lettering Tegan O’Neil mentions is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Campbell’s work, and the accompanying narrative voice is right there with it, from “Alec MacGarry never forgets things said” to “And then he’ll replace the old maxim with a new one: MONEY is TIME”.

The Second Fake Death is unbothered by such narration. Its dreamtime fantasies, trouser-related misadventures, pop art detective stories and tales of pandemic life are all drawn in their own unique way and dominated by different voices, but they share the same real time rhythm. There’s a sense of shrinking scope here, the ultimate expression of which comes in scenes where characters sit and talk to each other through carefully individualised masks:

The above example is particularly extreme, but the overall effect is to create “real world” discussions that feel a lot like blether between social media avatars. “I see the laptop everywhere,” you might say. I worry that my description risks making it sound like the book is an anti-lockdown rant, when part of Campbell’s technique here is to track the way that physical constraints of lockdown living are matched by an increased sense of futility, a sense that railing against the forces that allow the pandemic to thrive is a hopeless task.

Campbell’s skill for arrangement is a clear point of continuity between The Second Fake Death and his earlier work – as O’Neil puts it in her review, “Campbell is clearly trying to draw lines between diagrams” – and it’s in the way the different layers of the story interact that 2023’s Eddie Campbell can be found. The Fate of the Artist was constructed as a paradox, mocking Campbell’s tendency to search for some grand unifying principle while also fulfilling it through grand, playful collage. If its many detours often seemed to lead the reader down the garden path, the digressions in The Second Fake Death hit roadblocks from the get go. The story about the wife commissioning an investigation of her husband – an echo of an earlier Campbell/Niffenegger collaboration – is presented as being one of Campbell’s stories within the text, and even then it’s called off halfway through the book. The dream comics are entertaining diversions, but we see Campbell declaring that “the idea of a book of them isn’t going to work” a mere two panels after they’re introduced. As for the “Covid’s-19” strips, the Eddie Campbell of the main plot is even more scathing about those, calling it “another one of my failures”.

In the end, it all adds up to something though. The light never quite goes out on the “Royler Boom” detective strip, and its hunt for a missing artist (the real Eddie Campbell) and climactic chase through traffic have their corresponding parts in the top level of the story. There’s also a punchline in there about what happens when the years no longer have pants, heavily trailed throughout the book, but it’s better to let you trip over that one yourself. The bit of real world detective work, in which Campbell, Niffenegger and @BarnaclePress work out the identity of the artist behind “Lucy and Sophie Say Goodbye”, reminded me of the way Campbell changed the ending of How to be an Artist for the Alec omnibus. In the updated version of that story, The Comics Journal printing another artist’s work in its obituary of Stan Drake is used to suggest that posterity might not have much interest in your grand artistic journeys. The Second Fake Death is less depressing: despite ending with the “real” Campbell meeting death after he’s been uncovered, there’s more weight to the idea of another artist being uncovered after his death.

Which brings me to a question: given that it’s the story of creative and social life that has been scunnered by circumstance, why does The Second Fake Death of Eddie Campbell by Eddie Campbell end up feeling more cheerful than the book it’s coupled with? Well, to get there, we’ll need to get lost on another of our wild tangents.

One thing that stuck me while rereading The Fate of the Artist is that the photograph of Campbell walking Monty is no longer waiting for you at the end of the book.

If memory serves – and it rarely does – Campbell once claimed that this author photo was the last panel of The Fate of the Artist. In this light, the book had a happy ending. Campbell was home and happy, out walking the dog, perhaps even cured of his need to turn life into story. Of course, given that we read this in the form of a story… well, perhaps it wasn’t quite as settled as all that, even with that lovely picture of Monty at the end. This note of disharmony brings me to Chloe Maveal’s typically excellent interview with Campbell for Gutter Review, during which the artist looked back on his earlier work:

But you know, sometimes I look through some of my older books, or like The Lovely Horrible Stuff or Cul-de-Sac, which I did for a Humanoids anthology, and I think “This is monstrous! Is that really who I was? Who I used to be?”

That’s a pretty intense way of describing it! Monstrous? What’s monstrous to you about it?

The acceptance of— well…hm…I guess the anger. There’s an anger there almost all of the time. Usually it’s an anger about money. Looking back now, now that I’m out of that, I managed to — for two decades — I managed to bring up a family as the breadwinner, somehow. We were never delinquent. Everything came out right and everyone came up right. There was never any embarrassment about the car being repossessed. The bills were paid on time. And I think…why was I so angry all the time? Everything was pretty good. Everything came out alright in the end. I don’t know why I was so angry. I would have been a much happier individual if I had just taken a second to notice that everything was working out. Or as my wife had said — “I don’t know why you worry about this stuff all the time! It always comes right in the end!”

Somehow it all comes right in The Second Fake Death in a way it doesn’t in either version of The Fate of the Artist. To quote a recent “anti-memoir”, M. John Harrison’s Wish I Was Here, “All anxieties contain their own mirrors, and you’re always looking for some space to inhabit between the two.” The Second Fake Death exists between anxieties: that Eddie Campbell is still here but in a reduced form, or that he has been replaced. This sounds like a downer but by playfully tracing the flux between these possibilities, Campbell finds a strange freedom. His hybrid aesthetic creates a space where jokes, daft ideas and family members can all breathe easily. If there’s a better description of a comfort in the current moment I’ve yet to hear it, and it’s as good an argument for Campbell’s ever-shifting style as you could ask for.

I would say that though. After all, I’m just another digital phantom.


August 24th, 2023


Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die are back to play whilst the cat’s away, listen now as happily they squeak about things such as how  Cindy and Biscuit is doing, (no idea), Andrew O’NeillDuncing, Passiondale and Small Press Day before scuttling into The Reviewniverse

Here we find Handlebar Gumbo, Friday, Torse, Jack Kirby’s 2001, Spider-Men: Double Trouble, Looshkin and Evan Dorkin’s adaptation of Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey.

WARNING: Contains two songs for the self indulgent hell of it.



[email protected]

You can support us using Patreon if you like.

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton. It’s also sponsored the greatest comics shop on the planet GOSH! Comics of London.


July 19th, 2023


Gary Lactus and The Beast Must Die are tired and they want you to know it. Thankfully our heroes catch a mighty wind of South London Comic and Zine Fair and before you know it, they’re plugging their own Duncing and Cindy and Biscuit and soaring majestically into The Reviewniverse

Chloe Green’s A Crying Shame, Bizarre Boys, David Ziggy Greene’s Jam Bookshop, Garbage Pail Kids, Dan and Sam and Blackest Night get talked about. There’s also tribute paid to Chris Reynolds.

It’s a good episode, see what you think.



[email protected]

You can support us using Patreon if you like.

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton. It’s also sponsored the greatest comics shop on the planet GOSH! Comics of London.