Saturday 8 June 2013

Achilles Last Stand

Yeah I'm back to doing titles that have bugger-all to do with the blog itself, what of it?!

Here we go - my page from a multi-artist story written by Chris Mole for the second Professor Elemental Comics. I was following the absurdly brilliant Jennie Gyllblad and being followed by the ridiculously amazing Neil McClements. So... no pressure. The script called for a "psychedelic eye" and I couldn't get the 13th Floor Elevators out of my mind.
Yes that's Billy Gibbons. Gibbonsyes.

Above is the winner of the May 2000ad Forum Art Competition - the extremely talented and ridiculously ridiculous Jon Taylor. The nigh-on twentyfour entries we got in May are literally all fantastic and can be seen over on the FB group here. June's new competition is here
Here's a chameleon in a hat from a Jimmy Baker Animal Hatmaker story I'm drawing for small pressers Massacre for Boys masterminded by mssrs. Denton & Denton. I'm in love with chameleons, and have been for some time. I used to dream of having a house with glass walls in which chameleons would live. Which is as practical as it is feasible. 

Finally here we go... I'm still getting through my reading pile this week actually snuffling through things I bought at Thought Bubble last November. Phew! Still got a way to go.

Town Mouse (Zine) Graham Johnson
A pleasant small format zine biographically documenting the author as a mouse 
on holiday in Much Wenlock. Charming and meandering the art is bold and honest.

The Un-Manned Manned Craft (Zine) Nick Soucek 
Easily the most narratively clear and the funniest of the four full Soucek comics I've read yet still very melancholic and otherworldy. Cleverly told and featuring my favourite of all subjects: TIME TRAVEL!

Afterlife Inc. - Near Life and Other Stories (Self Published) Lock/Jackson/Tempest
An absurdly slick and confident volume - a profoundly readable and 
open world full of stories and characters. Lock has managed to deftly lasso an 
absurd amount of talented creators, whose varying styles all fit into his 
brillantly realised world perfectly. Irresistable.
 - Writing -
Jon Lock is a versatile and enthusiastic creator. His stories are brimming with
 imagination and crucially he's able to turn out both long and short scripts of high quality. His
 conviction to his creation is what makes Afterlife the treat it is.
 - Art - 
Ash Jackson is the star of the volume, with vibrant well-coloured cartoony artwork of great consistency. A bit of a coup to get him for so much of it. On the Dead Days story where he's inked 
by the brilliant Nadine Ashworth you can see the possibilities if he chose to reign in his pencil lines.
Jade Sarson provides a lovely cityscape in Dead Days but her colouring is
 markedly rougher than others in the volume
Mark Pearce's clean kinetic art is hugely edible - I recommend his RONIN DOGS comic 
completely - he works a dream in this world I'd love to see him do more
Warwick Fraser-Coombe's Dead Days art is arguably the brightest gem in here - reminiscent but distinct from of a good handful of the most striking 2000ad artists - Siku, Jock, Cam Kennedy... bold intricate and beautifully coloured. WHERE IS HE FROM, SPACE?
Grant Perkins has a fantastically individualistic style of art and is a perfect match for 
Temperance. Nadine Ashworth's colouring works particularly well here - and again is deployed
 brilliantly on Ochroid's story.
Jack Davies is quite chunkified artwise but the subtle flat colours give it a nice nineties air and it's reminiscent of Marc Hemple's work in The Kindly Ones (Sandman)
Will Tempest's sombre realism works brilliantly in the final Dead Days - and makes the
 "real world" quite a stark one. I wonder what'd be like if all the real world was drawn by realistic
 artists and everything on The Empyrean by bright cartoony ones? 
Sean McSorley's intricate indie art is a dream here - and another bold and clever stylistic 
interpretation of Lock's world. The first page alone is a masterpiece.
Jack Tempest is the perfect foil to Ash Jackson's bombastic Afterlife world - and his flat 
simplicity heralds doom in the final tale of the book... I really can't wait for more of this
- Lettering & Design -
Michael Stock deserves much credit for his consistent and solid 
lettering and bold book design. A treat to read.

Disconnected Vol. 2 (Disconnected Press) Various 
A thoughtful and melancholic short anthology featuring dark and moody tales of "small towns" - 
every story is perfectly illustrated and the standard is incredibly high throughout. All stories lettered 
by the superb and peerless Jim Campbell.
- Cover (Matt Soffe) -
Masterfully handled by the magnificent Soffe, like issue 1's Timson cover it is bleak 
and mysterious. On the heavy card stock it's practically edible. 
- All Roads Lead to Hell (P.M. Buchan & Martin Simmonds) -
A satanic road trip - the realistic art is breathtaking and the Buchan's story strikes a bleak 
parr with Jon Lock's as the most chilling of the issue. 
- Plans (Alexi Conman & Nadine Ashworth) - 
Afraid this one left me rather cold - despite reading the story through a few times I just didn't seem to get it - and despite being a fan of Nadine Ashworth's colouring her mangastyle artwork left it all feeling rather flat. A change of pace perhaps but not for me.
The versatile Neil McClements who's ironically produced some amazing dark and shadowy stories for me over the years gives a remarkable turn as a bright and breezy cartoonist in this hilarious centrepiece written by Matthew Craig. It might seem utterly out of place surrounded by the contemplative and eerie but I think that only serves to enhance it. Brilliant.
- The Remarkably Normal Man (Jon Lock & Sarah Jones) -
Transcendentally dark greywashed horror from Lock & Jones - the art is incredible
 and the story is bottomlessly creepy. Provoked a strange mood - which is a good sign.
- No Sign of Nathan Keeler (Liz Boyle & Conor Boyle) -
A rather open ended story but atmospherically realised by Boyle & Boyle. Conor Boyle's art continues to climb steadily into the realms of greatness, the bleached colours are incredibly effective.

Futurequake #22 (Futurequake Press) Various
A strong issue with lots of variety - my favourite small press anthology and absurdly consistent. 
Edited by Dave Evans & Richmond Clements, two of the most passionate people in the small press - 
they know what they love and it shows in everything they do. 
- Cover (Jim Lavery) -
Jim Lavery's cartoony style looks a little stretched and rough across A4 here and the colours are very basic. Not the best cover Futurequake's ever had but bold enough.
- Incarnation Shift (Dirk Van Dom & Jim Lavery) -
            Dirk Van Dom's script is caption-heavy but smart and the Lavery's art works much 
better here - solid and shadowy. A well constructed spin on time travel. 
- The Ndoki (Alec Robertson & David Broughton) -
Alec Robertson's script is cumbersome with terms and the ending is a little flat but Broughton's bold art pulls it through and makes this a striking little tale of rural African mysticism. 
- X=21 (Alec Charles & Neil McClements) -
Alec Charles' script is dark and ponderous and only very slightly different from an old Alan Moore Time Twister from 2000ad. It's brought to life by Neil McClements' (this time with his serious hat on) outstanding layouts and bold graphics. I love that man.
- Evolutionary Psychology (Alec Charles & Jared Souza) -
This second Alec Charles script, on the other hand, took me completely off guard. 
Very cleverly structured short intricately illustrated by the brilliant Jared Souza. 
- Spike (Derek Hammill & Jon Taylor) - 
Derek Hammill's Spike is a straightforward sci fi invasion tale and made stunning by 
Jon Taylor's remarkably detailed artwork. A large splash of his partway through would've worked 
wonders as a cover - simply breathtaking.
- Self-Psych (Virgil Yendell & James Evans) - 
Generally wonky in both art and story - could've done with editor Bolt's
 fine lettering (which is on all other stories in the issue) 
- The Day the Earth Struck Back (Paul L Mathews & Jim Lavery) - 
Jim Lavery's art is again solid here and Mathew's script is full of chunky retro sci fi (Captain Swagger is a brilliant protagonist name) but I'd anticipated an entirely different ending - the one here seemed a little flat.
- Love Is Hell (Alec Charles & Bruno Stahl) - 
The third Charles story in the issue is slightly heavy handed (the Morrison & Millar gag groan) but the setting is original and atmospheric - ably brought to life through the demented and gloriously characteristic art of the marvellous Bruno Stahl. 
- And Death Will Have His Day (Ed Berridge & George Coleman) - 
Berridge's straight-up noir thriller is a remarkably strong change of pace and works brilliantly. 
Helped in no small part by the flawless, insane, incredible art of George Coleman - one of my favourite artists of all time, let alone the small press. Colours on the back are mine.

The Last Days of Man (Omnivistascope) Scott/McCaffrey
Absurdly professional - this is a compilation of Scott & McCaffrey's work from the peerless 
Omnivstascope. I'd learned from Keegan Jask that Scott's writing was dense and brimming with character - and coupled with Paul McCaffrey's outrageously stunning art it makes for an absorbing and unforgettable read. Highly recommended.

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