Friday 13 June 2014

The Magic Hamster Carpet and Other Stories


The weather has been warm and in the depths of my frosty basement flat (now with a super ventilating ceiling hole) I have been churning out many a thing in lieu of having any bloomin' work. Here be some of those things:

Judicial personnel request for TP acknowledged.

Here are my three latest Dreddheads - the irrepressible Tom Baker, 90s sex icon Cornholio and loft-dweller Michael Stipe. I'm still immersed in my long requests list - and am on the cusp of tackling my one Tumblr request which is DEAD EXCITING. Before that though - here is a canine-themed clue to the next 'un

Here are my last two contributions to the Weekly Themed Art Blog (JOIN IN) - the first for "Captain Britain" where Jazz and I have dubbed him "Broken" Britain and I follow the "less brown shades" advice given to me from a colouring portfolio review TO THE LETTER. The second is a frickin' chunky tripod for "The World of H.G. Wells" - drawn in the entire length of the awesome Jeff Wayne album (not the new one *shudder*).

Here's a glimpse of a MASSSIVE pin-up I coloured for the next Professor Elemental Comic with art from the glorious Gibson Quarter - rest assured there's some browns in there as well. We'll be seeing the Prof at Glastonbury festival this year and I plan to bombard him with interesting but false tea-related trivia. For example: Wasps piss oolong.

Crabcake 6 - 2 by crazyfoxmachine

Also here is the latest part of my four-year-old space epic Crabcake although technically this is the prequally bit. See the whole thing to date (and marvel at the massive font) over here on Facebook.

My to-read pile is actually miraculously getting smaller - and will also soon be a feature of legendary British comics site Down the Tubes - ! Below I finish my Bristol 2013 stash, get through some prezzies & Kickstarter rewards, Melksham purchases and start on my haul from the Bristol Comic & Zine Fair.

Weird Planet (Water Closet Press) Richard Worth & Jordan Collver
Michael Chabon, Kavalier and Clay, Weird Planet

This thin sliver of a small press project from Ladies & Gentleman chaps Worth 'n' Collver might be one of my favourite con purchases of 2013. Being as it is a moderately portentous self-contained 8-page sci-fi tale adapted from a short story - it has a smack of early Trek about it  focussed on the human voyager meeting the vastly superior alien intellect... yet all is NOT as it seems. Collver's deeply organic sepia-washed art brings the story to life - every page being imacculately constructed and wildly inventive. Not sure if you can still get these physically but a huge A4 hard-back edition would be glorious. FOR AN EIGHT PAGER? Yes. It's that good - otherwise it's free to view on their website.

Lazarus Churchyard: The Final Cut (Image) Warren Ellis & D'Israeli

I was 13 when Lazarus Churchyard was reprinted in the Judge Dredd Megazine. I was far too young for it - it made no sense to me and was as brutal as it was bewildering. It spoke of a cavernously confusing future - of deep and terrible apathy - but I thought it looked cool as fuck. D'Israeli became my artgod - and his ruined and nasty characters and environents I longed to replicate. Reading it now 13 years later in a handsome Image volume (printed before its first Meg appearance in 2001) given to me as a birthday gift by my oldest friend Robbo - I find it's not as dense after all. The story, whilst slightly "it's 1991 and this is dark adult comics fuck all you guys" gratuitous, is still brilliantly inventive and entertaining - and D'Israeli's art - although not as polished as it is now is still startingly unique. He even manages to sneak Fishpaste in. Which I get. There's still an evil mystery to this distant future - these hidden edges make Lazarus's character shine through and it makes me yearn to dive into the hideously off future of Ellis' Transmetropolitan which shamefully I've read very little of. Very happy to own this. I think I now nearly have everything D'Israeli has done in trade form. ...soon I will build a half-man, half-graphic novel homunculus AND WE WILL TAKE OVER THE GLOBE.

God Hates Astronauts (Self Published) Ryan Browne

How exactly I fell into Ryan Browne's fabulously silly world I don't remember - but this was the first Kickstarter project I ever funded. I'm a sucker for those that offer affordable physical copies as rewards and are (shock horror) wholly finished and just want money for printin'. The campaign was a huge success and severals weeks later this handsome hardback volume found its way to me across the seas - packed with additional stretch-rewards, a bookmark - a sticker, some hilariously placed glossy bits on the cover. GHA started as a webcomic and is a shamelessly open love letter to the freedom of the medium. The story is stream-of-conciousness, the characters ridiculous, the horde of nonsense literal SFX is magical ("De-FENESTRATE" as a character flies from a window) - it is liberated from the choking continuity cake and posturing melodrama of mainstream superhero fare. What makes it even more compelling is Browne's skill - he's a ridiculously good colourist and a brilliantly solid sequential artist which lends everything a bizarre weight and legitimacy despite the surreal madness. In the back of the volume are eighteen or so two-page origin stories for the main cast, as well as a similar number of random pin-ups - all from an enviably diverse roster of some of the hottest and most individualistic artistic talents in modern American comics. Tradd Moore, Cody Shibi and Kyle Strahm particularly are art kings. There's a potted GHA history (basically: blame Darick Robertson), two brilliant 24 hour comics (one birthed GHA) and a smart reference guide.

The only issue (and it isn't one really) is that the subtitle "completely complete edition" has been rendered invalid by Browne being snapped up by Image for a new on-going GHA series. The infectious popularity of the world is a testament to its undeniable freshness - lovingly made clearly not giving a fuck and damn but that's fun.

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 11 (Rebellion) Various

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 11

This was a gift for me by one Miss Shepherd and is my only Case File actually (so far) - they're handsome volumes and all-on-one shelf is the glory of many a bookshop and 2000ad fan... THE SPINES. Wagner and Grant are on fire in this stretch of Dredd's history - taking place in the year of birth 1987 through to early '88. There's a rustling of PJ Maybe, a tussle with martial arts master Stan Lee, the dark early dawning of the democracy movement, some hilarious self-contained stories of mega-city one activity and the big daddy of late-eighties epics: OZ. The art throughout is extraordinarily strong - particularly showing off the monochromatic mastery of Liam Sharp, John Higgins and Steve Dillon. Brendan McCarthy's amazingly complex 'n surreal Oz pages are especially memorable.

My only criticism of the collection would be the darkness of some of the (originally coloured) 'centre spread' pages - some of which are so murky you can't actually read the credits box. A bit of contrast adjustment there needed possibly. Also in my copy there's a bit of a printing error and the first twenty pages are repeated in the back. WHICH IS FUN.

The Heavenly Chord - Part 1 (Self Published) Jon Lock & Nich Angell

This ultimate small press mash-up from perennial indie nice-guys Lock & Angell is a pleasing, if brief, foray into mixing their two chief universes (Afterlife Inc. & 7String). Lock deftly manages to mix them without bombarding the reader with continuity cake. Angell's art is nicely cartoony and very glowy - the animated kineticism of his fight scenes is hugely compelling. There's a tantalising glimpse of 7String's characters as drawn by Afterlife's Ash Jackson as well which sets the mind racing. And always a special mention to demon letterer Michael Stock who does a brilliant job here. 

Bought from the enthusiastic duo at the very enthusiastic Melksham convention in 2013 - it's hard not to be bowled over by the sheer exuberance of it all. The two clearly loved every moment of it - it doesn't matter that the free Heavenly Chord playlist you're directed to in the issue is maybe eighty times longer than it takes to the read it - the fact is they MADE A FUCKING PLAYLIST. There's a QR code linking you to it and everything. The UK small press scene would be a dark and hollow place without the spirit and passion of these two bonafide auteurs - long may it continue! In fact... a I type a teaser has just gone up for the incoming second issue...

Sentient Zombie Space Pigs (Disconnected Press) Liz & Conor Boyle

The subject of one of the finest Kickstarter campaigns I've ever seen - with a gloriously simple brief and a refreshingly tiny target - Sentient Zombie Space Pigs does what it says on the tin and delivers on the glorious promise of that long-ago campaign. The story by Lizzie Boyle is suitably dark - crammed as it is with Whitesnake lyrics and rambling rednecks - although whether it would have been more satisfying as a single self-contained tale is a matter of debate - although I'm perfectly happy to see this tale continue on. Conor Boyle's shadowy art is utterly brilliant throughout and his porcine portrayals are perfect - he even handles the lettering with no small skill. This porky volume from the Disconnected Press duo is a startlingly satisifying small press KS success story - and I've only just heard that the second issue (of a proposed four) will be out this August! OINK!

Hey, You Going to Read This, Chuck? I Got Places to Be & Things to Do (Freebie) David Ziggy Greene


This freebie was being handed out by master artist David Ziggy Greene (Private Eye, Time Out London etc) at the Bristol Comic and Zine Fair 2013 and is extraordinarily charming. Made up of six short cartoony stories that had largely previously been published in various French comics it is a fantastic promotional tool - Greene's art has a European animated feel to it and every panel - no matter how small - is a joy - full of life and character. The punchlines are fairly predictable but the ride towards them is fantastically unique. This brief booklet made an instant fan out of me and I got his book Where's North From Here without hesitation - I'll give that a review hopefully afore the next blog rears its ugly head!