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!
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!