Monday, 17 February 2014

2014: The Busy Year

It's been a while since my last blog - and this is because right now my life is busier than a busy beetle busying its business along a branch.

For one: I've got a job. My stunningly unproductive stint as a freelancer left me with less money than a horse with no money so I've gone back to the trenches of archaeology and all is muddy and busy. It's the perfect weather for that kind of thing. Digging big holes below sea level in the South West of England is a GOOD IDEA RIGHT NOW.

I've managed to squeeze in some activities though in the last month and a half and here be some of them:


Two recent Dreddheads - that being my annual Santa Claus and Ash of Evil Dead fame. Catch all of them on the tumblr there and yes you can request one but bear in mind the next one I'm doing (clue) is a request from the end of 2012 so that's how slowly I'm getting through them!


Here's a Scott Pilgrim commission I did recently - it was for a chap called Theo hence the "the" in the K.O. there. I'm still taking commissions if you want anything drawn - drop me a line for a quote.

Logo

In the autumn of last year I coloured Smitten - which is now live over on the New Haven Comics website. Two new pages every week! It's a rollicking manga tale with giant robots and magic schoolgirls and guitars and all that sort of thing. It was written by New Haven's Aaron Walther and Sergio Apodaca who also pencilled it and the whole thing was inked by Jesus Salas.

Crabcake 6 - 1 (Captain Cosmos) by crazyfoxmachine

Oh yes and Captain Cosmos is back in the first of the ... sixth bit of Crabcake. WHO IS CAPTAIN COSMOS I hear literally nobody asking apart from those capital letters just then. He's a superhero from a story I wrote in college a decade ago - and I'm tying his whole bullshit nonsense into Crabcake because CONTINUITY IS GREAT. 


Embarrassingly several years ago I took it upon myself to read the Cosmos story out loud like an idiot. The prelude will be the first time I've actively drawn it - just what the world was waiting for. How will that ridiculous tale weave into the Crabcake tale though? Hmm?!


Drew this house thing on the train through the crazy crazy damp countryside the other day - I may give it a bit of a digitizin' if I'm in a mind to further down the line. The tree-bound pub is called "ye olde tree".


But where was that train going to, eh? LONDON. I went to see Swedish stonerkings Lowrider and Dozer which was a blummin special gig actually - the two had played at Desertfest last year but had both been plagued by sound problems and the dreaded "truncated set for a festival" syndrome. Meaty English foursome Steak supported - and the small amount I caught was grand. Lowrider pulled out some new(ish) songs (some of them older than their lone 2000 release) - it had me longing to hear more from them really as they were clearly having a whale of a time. Their sound was atrociously flat at Desertfest so it was amazingly good to hear their riffy tunes played louddddddd. Dozer were something else - and crowd were euphoric throughout which made for an unforgettable bit of jumping about. Even a great few moments of happy stoner moshery which is always welcome. They overran by a bit and you could tell that even when they finally finished they were ready for more. I had a train to catch so I couldn't stick around for afterparty. Lets hope these two groups don't stay quiet for quite so long after this!


Oh yes and I drew a Lego version of Deadwood which is the best television series there has ever been. Will probably do up some prints of it in the future. All tinned peaches go to Rob "Sol Starr" Phillips and Jasmine "Seth Bullock" for the ideas and assistance.

Right - my small press pile has benefited greatly from time away from the blog - so there are quite a few reviews to get through - 

Ladies & Gentlemen #2 (Water Closet Press) Richard Worth & Jordan Collver
Curse of the Were-Hyena and Other Horrible Hybrids
The second Ladies & Gentlemen is a huge step up from the first - with both Worth & Collver in stupendously confident form throughout. There are a few playful narrative techniques used and the two of them are clearly having a ball - the amount of attention & effort gone into the composition on some pages is genuinely breathtaking. Storywise, it takes the form of straightforward thriller, heavy on Victorian derring-do but solid characterisation and good pacing prevents the appearance of some well-tread tropes from lingering on the mind and disrupting enjoyment. It's a profoundly solid comic and easily one of the best American format small press books I've seen - if you're a fan of Victoriana or absurdly well-drawn action comics then this is for you. Here's hoping their new anthology can continue on from this strong start.

Porcelain - A Gothic Fairy Tale (Improper Books) Read/Wildgoose
Porcelain made a bit of a buzz at Thought Bubble '12 due to an enormous amount of free samplers gushing like a flood from the Improper Books table. It's a tactic that paid off as I don't think I saw a single person that year that wasn't wielding one - it was a mesmerising little booklet thanks mainly to the beautifully fluid artwork of Chris Wildgoose and the delicate muted palette of colourist Andre May. Even without the intriguing setting and the haunting white porcelain automatons it would be a buyer. They didn't have any copies there though and it wasn't until the spring after at Maidstone's Demoncon (the fifth one) that I snagged an issue off of Chris Wildgoose who seemed alarmed that it was such an easy sell. It easily justifies the hype - and as a statement of intent for new publisher Improper Books it is thoroughly convincing. A stand alone story in a mysterious universe - writer Benjamin Read wisely sticks close to the main characters and allows only slight peeks at the world outside the walls of the house where lives the only man who can make Porcelain move... With a boisterous cockney urchin as our guide the narrative rattles along at a brilliant pace to a startling conclusion. The heavy-handed "a gothic fairy tale" subtitle is perfectly apt as this is just what Porcelain is. An absorbing and thoroughly professional-looking book with not a panel or speech bubble (cap permanently doffed to letterer extraordinare Jim Campbell) seems out of place. I was sat opposite Improper Books at the Thought Bubble after - and their endless tide of samplers this year was to promote Read & Wildgoose's next offering: Briar. Even without reading the freebie I'm thoroughly sold.

Ann and The Majestic (Self Published) Karoline Achilles
I got ahold of this little book from a "Laydeez Do Comics" event in Bristol last spring. It's by a local art student and I was taken with its loose expressive style. A rather sparse story centered around Ann - a small girl that lives at a hotel. It was put together and illustrated over a single 24 hour period and its rough simplicity is nicely evocative. An effective short comic and an artist to watch.

Britten and Brülightly (Jonathan Cape) Hannah Berry
Another purchase from the Bristol "Laydeez Do Comics" event last year from speaker Hannah Berry. This, her first graphic novel, is a dark noir following a morose private investigator (Britten) and his partner who is a talking teabag (Brülightly). There is an underlying absurdity that pulls the gritty and twisting mystery into a unique and appealing world. Visually it's stunningly rendered and has a palpable physicality - Britten resembles a character from Chomet's Triplets of Belleville (and is frequently mistaken for being French presumably as an acknowledgement of this resemblance) - the moody greytones never quite spill over into full black-and-white and some of the more rainwashed scenes are breathtakingly atmospheric. The lettering is all freehand as well - and mostly works well although Britten's inner monologue is in a fussy joined-up handwriting that is sometimes difficult to decipher - and also the placement of occasional passages go against the reader's eye. This doesn't occur frequently however and it is not enough to prevent it being a thoroughly absorbing and remarkably unique graphic novel that marks Berry as a name to shout about. Her second book, an out-and-out horror called Adamtine, is going straight on my to-buy list.

LOAf #1 (Self Published) Various
LOAf Magazine: issue 1, for big kids and little adults.
The last thing I bought from the "Laydeez Do Comics" event - by the first speaker Rosie Faragher - co-creator of LOAf which is an arty anthology zine aimed at kids. I'm a sucker for anthologies and this sturdy thickly-papered and nice-smelling (underrated comics quality that) little comic was impossible to resist. Filled as it is with condensed sequential tales by a wealth of children's illustrators. There are some puzzles as well - mazes, spot-the-differences and other kid-friendly fodder and also, most pleasingly, two pages dedicated to three stories conjured by children themselves. The theme of this first issue is "Fears" - so there is a fair amount of "under the bed" type stories but the standouts are:
Joff Winterhart's opener about his scary Thatcher teacher which is wonderfully fluid, Mike Smith's hilarious and beautifully simple silent two-pager consisting of tiny boxes, Dawn Cooper's lovely "comfort zone" image which has a wonderful message, Becky Palmer's "Speed Demon" which is enthralling and brilliantly drawn (I'd read a full book of that), Melissa Castrillon's "Through the Night" which is enchantingly lovely ending with a bedsheet transforming into landscape, Daisy Hirst's hilarious "Lesley and Marvin and the llamas de meurte" and the hypnotically detailed "Magic Manfred's Earth Park" which is more of an activity than a story.
Some stories fall into the category of obscure symbolism or "hipster pretentiousness" that a lot of DIY zines/comixs sometimes dip into - it's not something I dislike particularly but it would certainly be beyond the comprehension of most child readers if not childish adults like myself. Some stories just simply don't have endings which frustrates me - and it's something the three young contributors ("Sebastian, Summer and Elizabeth") manage so there's really no excuse! 
Overall though it is a strong comic and a bold piece of art - the fact that it's aimed at children and promoted heavily through public workshops is incredibly admirable. Their second issue "Friendship" came out shortly after although I'm yet to purchase it. With this and the face-blisteringly incredible Phoenix the children of 2013 were utterly spoilt!

Amala's Blade #0-4 (Dark Horse) Horton/Dialynas
I won a signed copy of the zero issue by random chance by liking the Facebook page for Amala's Blade. I ordered the rest of the issues from my local comic shop - without even reading it really - I just dug the look of it and you can't get stronger incentive than that really (winnings aside). Amala's Blade is about an island nation separated into two warring factions: the "Purifiers" (Steampunk) and "Modifiers" (Cyberpunk). In the middle is the mercenary Amala - literally haunted by the ghosts of her past that hang around her. The five-issue miniseries is a nice self-contained story that whips along at such a breathless pace that it sometimes leaves you swimming - but there are some strong characters and some very memorable set-pieces. This is all very much helped by Dialynas's outrageously vibrant art - with a strong sense of movement and an amazing feel for colour - the atmospheric intricacies of every panel evoke a hand-drawn point-and-click adventure. Mr Dialynas is a serious talent - and the comic is a keeper for the extraordinary art alone - never mind the immersive world it ushers into your brain.

What is odd format-wise (and bear in mind this is the only Dark Horse "monthly" I've ever picked up so I guess I'm just not used to it) is that in the back of most issues there is dedicated maybe two or three pages just to the author Steve Horton replying directly to the lavish praise that's been piled on the series. Which just seems... off to me. 

"HI THIS IS BARRY GOODMAN, RENOWNED US COMICS WRITER, I JUST WANTED TO SAY THE PROMO COPY OF ISSUE ZERO YOU SENT ME WAS GREAT." 

"WOW, MR GOODMAN, THANKS FOR SAYING THAT - IT REALLY HAS BEEN FUN TO WRITE. STEVE".

Just... seems like something that should be in private correspondence really. Seeing all this just after you've read the issue makes it seem like Dark Horse think "if we don't put PRAISE in there the reader won't know WHAT to feel about it!" It's not that I don't like hearing behind-the-scenes babble from the creators, I just like having the thing stand for itself and then CHOOSING whether or not to seek out other people's opinions. Call me a nutter. Go on.

So as I decide where to put my other prize (a giant glow-in-the-dark poster on awesomely thick card) I must say I don't regret following the competition through to the product and getting involved with it. It's a beautiful comic and I'm very happy to have read it. Although I'm also now very much aware that I'm not the only person who feels that way...

Broadcast: The TV Doodles of Henry Flint (Markosia) Henry Flint
Markosia's astounding collection of Henry Flint's nonsense scribbling is an absolute must-buy and a no-brainer when I spotted it and Flint himself sharing a table together at Bristol 2013. Cy Dethan's well-judged commentary is fluidly constructed and self-aware enough to avoid coming across as purely sycophantic or overly leading and Sharman's stark design is wisely unobtrusive and lets the doodles speak for themselves. Really though the star of the show is Flint - one of the most visually striking British artists and easily one of the brightest talents from the already-blinding pages of 2000ad. His transcendentally cluttered inky confusions are appealing in the extreme - even some of the most abstract have some minuscule anchor into logic that makes them instantly accessible and endlessly absorbing. His collaborations with his daughter Rosalie are a joyful highlight - but the whole book is outrageously good. Markosia have done a grand thing putting this out and it's the pride of my bookshelf. Just knowing that at this very moment Flint is likely drawing up a storm somewhere makes me absurdly happy.

The Goose (Self Published) Daniel Bell
The Goose
The second of my Bristol 2013 haul is a moderately successful attempt to merge kitchen sink drama with superheroics. It follows the solo adventures of The Goose, a psychic female superhero from "The League of Powers" which as I understand it was another small press book by the now-defunct Underfire comics. A lot of the weight within this story relies on you having read these adventures before and the single "see League of Powers" caption within doesn't really do the job that maybe a paragraph or two of backstory in the inside front cover would have done. As such it's a slightly confused read and lacks the punch of a real ending. It's not without charm though - particularly with some strong visual moments from Bell and the essentially likeable central character. The contrast between her mysterious (for me anyway) superheroic past, her mundane day-to-day and the sinister machinations of the background antagonist is compelling and I'd definitely pursue the story if it continues - although Mr Bell is currently busying himself producing some truly epic viking pages for Time Bomb's "Defiant" which should occur later in 2014

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Festive Blog

My one concession to the midwinter season is THIS
 

Bah wotsitbug. It's been a very busy and long time since I last blogged and I suppose the biggest news is that I've decided to go freelance - so I've been busying away on commissions and suchlike. On a completely unrelated note this is probably the most impoverished I've ever been at Christmas so I'll be eating coal and giving the gift of laughter. Huzzah!


Flaubert St Cloud XXVI by crazyfoxmachine

This is the latest part of Flaubert St Cloud (Goat) a sprawling saga that will likely go on until the end of the world. It is written by my partner in crime Geoffery Crescent and you can see the whole thing HERE.

Commission for Neil - featuring the UNLIKELIEST SUPERHERO TEAM.Karl Marx, Dredd, Neil’s brother & g/f, Batman, Grimes (Rick) and Omar Rodriguez Lopez of the Mars Volta

One of the aforementioned commissions for a Mr Neil. It features an unlikely superhero team composed of (L-R): Karl Marx, Dredd, Neil's brother & girlfriend, Batman, Rick Grimes & Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of the Mars Volta. I'd actually very much read a comic based on this team's exploits. I can't even imagine what their base would look like... would it be a caravan?


A similarly odd roster is that of the Great Lakes Avengers which I drew for TAB. The idea is from Geoffery and they are an odd bunch. L-R: Mr Impossible, Dinah Soar, Flatman, Big Bertha, Doorman & Squirrel Girl. There have been a few comics with these fellahs in, and doubtless they are marvellous. 


Above is one of the most amazing things I've been involved with: Colouring Mick McMahon. The 2000ad legend did these images as pencils and Neil "Bhuna" Roche took it on himself to ink them and requested I give 'em colour. We decided to do them as a treat for the 2000ad forum advent calendar - where the boardfolk present creative outpourings every day of December. It's one of the best things about the forum and is always mind-blowingly brilliant. With McMahon's blessing we put them up and all was well - it also got shared about by 2000ad itself which is a bit magic :D All in all - one of the more satisfying things I've done recently!
Sadly this month saw the demise of Blam - a local comic networking group that I started in the early summer of 2012. We regularly met at a good local pub and we had many many larks. Much was doodled and drunkenly discussed. Out of the boozy ashes will spring a new thing in early 2014 but that's still in development. It will take the form of, initially at least, an art centric jammy type drawing thing in my favourite ever Bristol drinking establishment - but more of that later. For now... farewell sweet Blam.

Above are the latest Dreddheads : Barnabas Collins from the cult soap Dark Shadows and the bard of Ayrshire Rabbie Burns who is my first ever "Cal-Hab" judge - without the fabulous stony helmets that they have in the comics and... uh, I was going to put a union jack beneath the lion like the Brit-Cit armour but I think I'll keep from rustling that hot haggis topic. Next Dreddhead CLUE.

Everything has slowed down since going freelance - and my ever-neglected "to read" pile of small press comics remains as lofty as ever. It seriously towers. If that thing collapsed on me I'd be a goner. Anyway - I did manage to get my chops around two of them in the last month. The first is my last from Cardiff 2013 (so... like, March) and the second from just after. 

Zarjaz #17 (Futurequake Press) Various
The most appealing element of any anthology is variety - and although this March 2013 issue of Zarjaz is mostly concerned with a four-part Flesh Extinction story this is stretched between some of the most striking one-offs I've ever seen in the legendary fanzine.
Cover (Nigel Dobbyn)
I'm a huge fan of Mr Dobbyn, and the brilliantly relevant Robo-Hunter wraparound cover is a knockout. I love the sharp colours on it, and the spectacular rendering of interior characters is brilliant. Zarjaz's covers are easily the best in the small press and this fits easily alongside their amazing others.
Judge Dredd: All the Wrong Moves (John A Short, Alex Paterson & Bolt-01)
It's a bit of a cliche in a Zarjaz review to say "this could easily be in the prog" but this fun and absurdly well-illustrated Dredd tale wouldn't bat a reader's eye if it they found this in there. Alex Paterson's art is phenomenally good although there is a slight problem with the reduction on it - some of the more intricate details of the artwork are fuzzy or pixellated. Which is irritating, because otherwise I'd say it was the best in the issue!
Flesh Extinction: Extinctionville (M.J. Howard & Chris Geary)
I'm a huge fan of the idea of Flesh Extinction (Flesh's Transtime head forward to the distant ravaged future Earth rather than backwards) although apart from Claw Carver I don't recall any of the characters from before so a lot of this was lost on me. Chris Geary's art is nicely sparse, some of the action scenes are confusing but the copious character moments work well,  the intriguing "porpo sapiens" look quite silly and the colouring on the center-spread is very basic. Geary's lettering throughout is exceptionally good - some of the bigger FX looking absurdly impressive. Extinctionville is not terrible but it lacks the immediate context to justify filling the majority of the issue with a big finale - perhaps the interesting "found material" collage on the first page could've been a big simple "previously on Flesh Extinction" type thing. Either way I'll endeavour to go through my back issues and re-read this.
Shakara: Loose Ends (David Withers, Matt Herbert & Bolt-01)
Easily the best story in the issue, the excellent Matt Herbert draws up a storm and for a six pager it is packed with iconic moments - a one-page fight is extraordinarily well rendered and the whole thing really needs to be seen to be believed. It's not easy to give an actual thrill a run for its money but Withers & Herbert have managed it here!
Robo Hunter: The Best Man (Paul Thompson, Cuttlefish & Bolt-01)
Quite a weak story here, accompanied by cartoony art that misses the mark. It's an enjoyable enough caper and nice to see Sam Slade in the issue, but it doesn't really have a proper ending. The art doesn't help, being confusing and far too blocky. Stogie in particular is distractingly off model - it's an admirable gamble giving Robo Hunter to such a stylistically bold artist but it doesn't pay off.
Artie Gruber's Electric Dream (Don Franco)
A nice bit of art and a solid little story - really good to see Harlem Heroes making an appearance although a strong bit of sequential is always preferrable. 

Ladies & Gentlemen #1 (Water Closet Press) Richard Worth & Jordan Collver
I bought a copy of the first and second issues off of artist Jordan Collver at a Bristol creators event in Spring '13 and since then Water Closet Press have been busy compiling a weighty anthology of in-universe stories which I bought at the most recent Thought Bubble (so I'll  get around to reading it in March 2091 most likely). Ladies & Gentlemen is a essentially a penny-dreadful. What helps enormously in this illusion is the lavishly physical artwork and lettering of Mr Collver. It is beautifully kinetic and sells the book instantly - I could go on about it for hours. In terms of story there is a nice group dynamic between the central protagonists although most of the issue is wisely dedicated to progressing the story rather than giving general exposition. Here's hoping the aforementioned anthology fleshes them out further and adds more weight to the world and characters. My only complaint really is some jarring advert placement towards the end of the book that disrupt the flow of the story somewhat. So - in conclusion - Ladies & Gentlemen #1 is a solid piece of Victoriana that, thanks largely to the unique and stunning artwork of Mr Collver and an interesting cast of characters, stands out in the saturated small press steampunky market.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Aces Weekly, Bruce Lee, A Dwarf & Razarhawk


The biggest news in the past few weeks is that I've got the immense privilege of colouring the fantastic Santa Claus vs the Nazis for David Lloyd's Aces Weekly. I've taken over from the hugely talented Miroslav Mrva who's coloured the majority of the book. It's a brilliantly fun tale that does what it says on the tin AND HOW - written and lettered by the amazing Ben Dickson and illustrated by bonafide artgod Gavin Mitchell. It's currenly running THIS VERY MOMENT over in the seventh volume of Aces Weekly which is cheap as chips and chock full of hits - http://acesweekly.co.uk/shop


Above is my Bruce Lee Dreddhead - the first (that I know of) "Sino-Cit" version of the Judge uniform. Based on this bit of Dredd continuity cake. *Shudder* Apologies for the Millar, not sure if the look was designed by artist Paul Marshall or whether Millar in a fit of stereotyping madness scrawled it on the back of a greasy napkin. Either way, canon it be. I hope I get the chance to adapt some more world judge uniforms soon, the next one will hail from Collinsport.


I have drawn a dwarf - needless to say the central idea came from confirmed fantasynut Geoffery Crescent - but the theme was "weaponry" so a heavily-armed dwarf was called for!  This will show up as a print at Thought Bubble and beyond so if you fancy this on a bit of card then hunt me down and harpoon me through the face with coins. Over half a year ago 'twas the mighty Cardiff con - that sadly it was recently announced wouldn't return in 2014. Which is a shame and it'll be a much-missed date on the calendar. Either way - I'm still working my way through the small press stash I got there so here's another review...


There was a lot of buzz already surrounding Razarhawk before it launched at Cardiff '13 - the story having been in development and teased long beforehand. I snapped it up without hesitation. What you get is a solid bit of likeably punchy small pressery - that is deceptively simple on the surface. It manages to tell an engaging story without filling you in on any background details whatsoever, which is a difficult trapeze to walk but Razarhawk #1 manages it admirably. The action is well-handled and it rattles along at a brilliant pace, but here's hoping Issue 2 (still deep in my to-read pile) fills in some of the gaps and gives this fun and open start a bit more weight. It's not perfect however; Dean's constant use of "shit" falls on the wrong side of funny repetition and becomes irritating quickly - also a few irksome memey manga moments aren't to my taste like using action words in asterisks in dialogue *cringe*. Abram's art is a great fit, being refreshingly straightforward and also brilliantly emotive at once - the sense of movement and expression seems effortless and make it clear there's an animator at work here. There is a problem with line-thickness though that make some locations particularly look a little too clumpy but nothing is unreadable or unclear which is an enviable skill. The colouring ranges from the subtly shaded to the flat, and I much preferred the panels with shading than without - the most striking images being the ones with harsh or bold lighting. Dani's lettering is solid, managing a range of effects smartly and using a neat squarish box for dialogue although SFX instead of boxes for the screams of some pedestrians may have fitted better. It's printed with a nice thick cover and there's tons of space on the inside front, inside back and back that could've been used for exposition or explanation but instead leaves three nice big canvases for Dani to doodle on at conventions! A solid and likeable read from Matthews and Abram - I'm greatly looking forward to getting further into Kitty Hawk's world.

Friday, 25 October 2013

October Goings-On


Pictured above are my two latest Dreddheads - Maurice Moss of the IT Crowd and a rather bruised and unconvincing looking Gene Hunt from the BBC's time-travelling-cop-turned-sappy-romantic-supernatural series. Can't win them all! Here's a clue to the next one. Apologies for the Millar.


It was the Lakes Comic Art Festival last weekend in Kendal and very memorable it was to - I'll do a full report on it and who was there and what we did etc etc on the Psychedelic Journal blog in the next few days. I will say this though - the legendary Carlos Ezquerra did say "ciao" to me which is probably the highlight of my life. I've also added to my teetering pile of comics to read - the two reviews below mark the tail end of my Thought Bubble '12 stash and the beginning of my Cardiff haul from earlier this year. So we're getting through it - very, very slowly.

Zarjaz #16 (Futurequake Press) Various


2000ad is the best anthology comic on the mainsteam market - and its fanzine Zarjaz is the best anthology comic in the small press. This issue is another worthy addition to their absurdly consistent canon and although it isn't their latest it'd be worth seeking out alone for it's nice roster of unique stories. It manages the fanzine art of telling nice one-off stories that could easily slot into 2000ad's world whilst still maintaining a unique difference from the prog itself. Richmond Clements & Dave Evans are worthy small press avatars for the Mighty Tharg!

Cover
The Slaine-ified logo is perfectly done - :EDIT: Mr Clements has informed me that it is the fabulously talent Michael Carroll who designed this. I can also vouch first-hand for his logo-making talents as the Dr WTF logo was by him The Haward wraparound cover is amazingly good - due in part to the wonderful shine of one of my favourite colourists Nigel Dobbyn. A striking image and a perfect cover - TMO should get these guys on a prog cover together!

Slaine: Night Moves (Richmond Clements, Jon Haward & Bolt-01)
A fun little Slaine battle penned by the ever-lovin' editorial Clements and although Haward is a bonafide droid and could easily relax in the small press setting his art here is more intense and detailed than I've ever seen it. The splash page warp spasm is breathtaking. This could be in the prog easily - with the exception of a spelling mistake or two in Bolt's otherwise brilliant lettering.

Judge Dredd: Sleepers Awake (Tom Proudfoot, David Broughton & Bolt-01)
Split into two over the issue (not sure why) - this Dredd tale has got some nice continuity cake and some solid visuals from the small press ninja that is David Broughton. The splash page of Mayor Ambrose block exploding is brilliant. Was nice to see the now-absent murderous Megmayor appear in Zarjaz. 

Bad Company: Krool Intentions (Mark Pexton & James Newell)
A nicely manic Bad Company story - with dark and complex art from James Newell. The lettering is tiny - but adds to the claustrophobic feel nicely. An effective strip.

The Hills of Hellfire, My Love (Mick Cassidy)
Perhaps the highlight of the issue for me - Mick Cassidy weaves a spellbinding Helltrekkers tale that's evocative and irresistible. His art is loose, cartoony and utterly perfect. I'll remember this for a long while after putting the issue down.

Flesh: Future Shock (Andrew Cheverton & Dave Frankum)
A fun nostalgic tale that fits perfectly into Fleshlore (perhaps a little neater than recent excursions to that realm in the prog itself). The art by Dave Frankum is hypnotic, even the smallest panels containing mountains of detail. It's unique and enthralling - and gives the story a brilliant clarity.

Tales of the Genetic Infantry: In the Zone Part 3 (Michael Carroll & Bolt-01)
Doing multi-part stories in small press anthologies is always a risky business but the script from bonafide droid and Dreddgenius Carroll is sharp and the art solid and ::UPDATE:: I've been informed by Bolt that you can find the first and second parts online here and here

Sinister Dexter: Doctor Maybe's Museum of Death (Tony McVeigh, Chris Askham & Bolt-01)
A neat SinDex story that perhaps could've been a little cleverer (I was expecting there to be a twist but there wasn't) but the stylish and stark Askhamart is grand.

Anderson PSI Division: I, Death (Lee Robson, Dunk Nimmo & Bolt-01)
The most easily progworthy of the lot in terms of both art & story - a very solid Anderson caper (I haven't seen one of those in a long time - I'd almost forgotten she could be in good stories) flawlessly drawn by Dunk Nimmo whose confidence with solid blacks is astounding. More of this sort of thing. And I don't just mean in Zarjaz!

Whatever Happened to Sancho Panzer? (The Emperor, David Broughton & Bolt-01)
I've not actually ever read the original Sancho Panzer - which is one of those rare and basically unforgivable gaps in my progknowledge - so this tale's context and deeper meaning is lost on me. I miss the Emperor though - where did he go?! Broughton is on amazing form here I don't think I've ever seen him this inspired - everything crackles with energy and detail. It's not easy to follow on from the Living God of Art that is Henry Flint but Broughton gives it an admirably good shot.

Copperopolis #1 (Swansea Comics Collective) Various

A remarkable achievement from the absurdly well-organised Swansea Comics Collective - having run a city-based comic group I know how difficult it would be to get something like this off the ground with a group of mates and it's amazing that this volume is as coherent as it is. Ricky Webber & Adam Wilmot's story is compelling although less mythologising and more general world/character-building would have benefited it enormously. The two pages written by Kevin Rahman-Daultrey in the middle is a little jarring and not hilarious - but when the story resumes afterwards it seems more together and rattles along sharply to a nice cliffhanger. The epic beginning is served well by the bold-if-not-a-little-rough art of Lee Phillips although it screamed for colour in certain points. The general story art by Taylor & Trantor is solid and cartoony - perfect for the funny bits, maybe a bit much for the more serious segments. Artwise I longed for a bit more of Mark Hughes who draws the fun 3-page separate story "Bard Ass" scripted by Pete Taylor. The lettering throughout by artists Taylor & Trantor is solid and serves the story well - with a good use of blambot fonts which is a damned good resource that a surprising amount of small pressers unwisely ignore. A strong and admirable effort for a comic collective and a bold comic in its own right - I hope it's not too long before #2 appears!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Summarizing September


Above are a yearworth of Dreddheads - A lot of good requests and I've still got mountains more to do! I've done a bit of a redesign on the basic look and the second year of it is going to have more detail and the size of the heads is going to be far more consistent. Hurrah. 
New template for year 2 - slightly more detailed :S

Here's the new template with the first of Year 2's lot - Arnie. Next up - a redesigned Brit-Cit uniform and the first ever Sino-Cit judge - ! Remember all the doings go on most visibly on the Dreddhead tumblr.


Here's the latest page of Geoffery Crescent and I's Flaubert St Cloud (Goat) saga - now on it's twenty-fifth page. I hope that while the journey is slow moving it's also worthwhile. It has an end, there is a plan and more bizarre and unsettling characters litter the purgatory trail ahead... You can read all of it up to now here.


Announced recently at New Haven Comics - this manga webcomic I've been colouring called Smitten is coming very soon. Co-written and pencilled by Sergio Apodaca - co-written by New Haven honcho Aaron Walther - inked by Jesus Salas and coloured by me. There's some Kaiju there's battle suits and explosions and it's been very fun to colour - !


Above is "Flight of the Ostrich" written by Geoffery Crescent and featured in the sixth issue of the Bear Pit Zine - a local Bristol comix featuring the great and good (not including myself) of the local area. You can find out more and buy copies online here - http://bearpitzines.tumblr.com/zine


The last weekend gone was the Bear Pit Zine Fair in the centre of Bristol and Geoffery and I went along to peddle our wares - the above photograph was taken by Ruth Garner at the very beginning of the show when we were fresh-faced and happy. I'll write more about it who else was there and other matters over on the Psychedelic Journal blog shortly. But first... some comic reviews and *ahem* yes they're both still from my Thought Bubble haul nearly a year ago!

Western (Cinebook Ltd) Rosinski/Van Hamme
Dark and melancholic self-contained western tale beautifully drawn by Grzegorz Rosinski and written by Jean Van Hamme - the duo behind Thorgal. Interspersed by stunningly beautiful paintings by the artist.

Who on Earth Was Thaddeus Mist? (Accent UK) Various
Compiled and edited by Owen Michael Johnson this is an absurdly entertaining and darkly engrossing Victoriana anthology of interconnected tales. Each separate encounter with the titular character is told by a different artist/writer team and they vary from dashing adventure to dark melancholy. Each artist's style is unique but it hangs together very consistently due in no small part to the solidly brilliant lettering of Jim Campbell, the incredibly intricate editing of Owen Michael Johnson and the in-between tales reappearance of the sparse and beautiful art of Conor Boyle. For fans of gothic Victoriana and intelligently laid-out themed anthologies. A unique and unforgettable volume.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Late August

Well it's been a very hectic fortnight - jobhunting, conventioneering and generally buzzing like some manner of busy bee. Here are some recent things -


This gentleman is a bastard. Pure and simple - for encouraging a growing violent anti-LGBT movement in Russia by enforcing nonsensical hate laws. Boycott the winter Olympics, the companies that sponsor it and encourage our unelected Dave when he's not warmongering to actually ask Vladimir what the fuck he thinks he's doing. *breathe* Pride and peace.

 

So my Dreddheads have been getting a bizarre amount of press recently. Most alarmingly from Comic Book Resources of all things! Whilst I was at Melksham someone saw a Dreddhead on my table and accused me of plagiarising myself which is a first... The one above is of course LeBrock from Bryan Talbot's amazing Grandville series. I've heard the magnificent Mr Talbot himself liked it, even so that's my decade made. Remember if you like them to support the petition for another Dredd film and keep yer eyes out for a continuation of the film in the Judge Dredd Megazine this month.


Here's the latest and last page of the fifth part of Crabcake. You can catch up with the whole long saga here - now we're going to get deep into the continuity waltz and I'm going to wrap up the series by weaving it into a short story I wrote a decade ago. Why? Because why the balls not. 

Here's another off my to-read list which is only getting bigger and bigger thanks to glorious cons like Melksham (keep an eye on the Psychedelic Journal blog for stash dissection and coverage). Nearly at the end of last year's Thought Bubble hoard - and it's nearly time for Thought Bubble again :O 

Thorgal 1 - Child of the Stars (Cinebook Ltd) Rosinski/Van Hamme
Engrossing collection of short strips revolving around the youth of Thorgal - borrows heavily from mythology and reads much like a great historical fiction itself. Beautifully drawn - another gem from Cinebooks - a company whose back catalogue alone I could spend forever in.

O