Sunday, May 28, 2006

Thoughts and Portents

Alex Toth died yesterday, at his drawing board no less (which is kind of inspirational, and brought a smile to my face). Alex was a professional cartoonist. He began his career in comic strips and comic books but is best known for his animation designs for Hanna-Barbera throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His work with Iwao Takamoto included Superfriends, Jonny Quest and Space Ghost. Toth's work has been resurrected in the late-night, adult-themed spinoffs on Cartoon Network: Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Sealab 2021. (sourced from Wikipedia)
Alex Toth has never been a creator I have followed that closely, but I have a few friends whom have really been influenced by his work over the years, especially his material on Space Ghost. I wish I knew more about his work so I could give you an honest appraisal, but alas I cannot read everything, and I would rather be honest and say I don't know enough about the guys work.
If you want to leave condolences to the family, you can here

Just about to read Grant Morrison's early batman story "Gothic", it's 16 years old now and it will be interesting to see how it holds up. I thought I should check this out before his forthcoming run on Batman, see how his grasp on the character has varied over the years from this, to Arkham Asylum and his JLA run.
Sometimes you get a clearer idea where artists are going to go if you see where they've been.

"52" is good, 3 issues in now and I am really enjoying it. I know a few comic shops are struggling to shift the book, with its curious marketing strategy / selling point being "No Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman" - who are the three DC characters that most people want to read about. thankfully, our customers and quite clued in to good creators and the DCU. So cheers guys for having good taste.

"Scott Pilgrim" vol. 2 was ace, just read it this morning and it had me laughing out loud at some points, which is very rare, it never ceases to impress me how much I have grown to like this book.
If you still havn't read this book, let me know and I will try to get some more of the FCBD specials in store.

Curious selling point (for me anyway) on the new "Family Guy" comic series from Devils Due, the art is partly handled by one of my all-time favourite indie creators: Rich Koslowski, who you should all remember from "3 Fingers" and "The King" (both available fromTop Shelf). Just thought it warranted mentioning.

More indie comics spotlight. Matt Boyces second book "More Humiliation / Robots in Love" is avilable in store now, kind of a double A side this one. Featuring more stories from the "Man wih the hole in the head" and "Dave Nosferatu escargo". Check out for more details.

"Monkeys Might Puke" is another of my favouriote indie books, a small humour anthology published fairly sporadically by some UK creators. In many ways its shit, but they know its shit, which is why it works and tit makes it kind of endearing. The creators really can't draw, and there is no thought behind each issues design WHATSOEVER, but the humour in it is good, offbeat and fairly original.
£1 an issue buys you "Junkies in space", a strange ongoing tale abouts lamps and cheese and in more recent issues the Itchy and Scratchy parody "Einstein vs. That Danish Guy". Good fun stuff.

And finally, time to pimp my own stuff, I have been going on about my writing on the site for some time now but haven't really offered any for people to read. Until now. So, if you are at all interested, check out my three-part prose short "Horrorscope", by clicking here.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Neil Gaiman Superman Article

If you're like me, you probably think everything Neil Gaiman writes is worth reading, so here you go:

Find It Here

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's a love / hate thing.

So what do Transmetropolitan, Planetary and Authority all have in common?
Other than Ellis?

The common link is the first time I read any of them I didn't like them. In fact, Authority I downright hated, finding it irreverant to my superhero sensibilities. I thought Planetary was insipid and found Transmet to be irrelevant gibberish.
But then again, there was a time I didn't like the band Faith No More, so what do I know?

Yet these three books I now look upon as being books that changed the industry. Transmet was an important socio-political cautionary tale which (along with Ennis' Preacher) set the tone for finite series in an ongoing market, with emphasis on long-term bookshelf sales rather than single issue market dominance. Authority was two fingers up to the establishment, putting the spotlight on everything right and wrong about superhero comics in a way which made the entire industry stand up and pay attention (even the cynics, as Millar pointed out in the final issue). Wheras Planetary is the subtle rediscovery of the superhero idiosyncrasy, putting the wonder and marvel back into comics after generations of pointless watered down "super"-hero spin-offs have slowly diluted the pond.
I mean, whats so Super about believing a man can fly if everyone in the entire shared universe can? A point which Earth X and Kingdom Come hypothesised.

Scott Pilgrim is a book which has the capacity to change the industry, and I already know some comic shops to whom it's there best seller. Not best-selling quirky indie title, but best selling comic. Ever. Above 52, Civil War, Age of Apocalypse, Spawn, Malibu, Valiant variants, Watchmen, V for Vendetta or Dark Knight Returns. Yet in my shop its an incredibly hard sell. Why is this?
Partly because we are so crammed with stock its difficult to make little Scott Pilgrim stand out, needing a case of less is more to focus peoples attention on this great little gem.
Partly because its not super-hero, yet its definatly quirky and its anything but dull. To coin an already out-dated phrase, it's part Fight Comics (TM Warren Ellis) part romance comic, with a healthy dose of pop-culture adrenalyn injected directly into its heart.
Scott Pilgrim has the capacity to change the industry because it IS bringing in new readers, whom are both young and of mixed gender. No industry can survive without new blood which is something that mainstream comics and video games are feeling the sting of, by refusing to cater to anyone other than the hardcore established niche.
It's a small, attractively priced package yet dense with material and re-readability. It has a clear cut purpose with Scott's mission being to fight all his girlfriends evil ex's, one of whom it has been implied was a girl.
Its the perfect size to lend to a mate without it coming back trashed, you can read it on a train, slip it in your pocket, will even survive a hardcore gig.

Like any industry, the real progressive changes in comics are made in the dark corners where the consumers aren't looking. But you know who is looking? The industry professionals, many of whom will try to emulate Bryan Lee O'Malley's stylistic content to lesser effect in there own books, but it will come off cheap and stilted. Why settle for the rip-offs when you can be there at the begining? You might think you don't like it at first, but I guarantee in time you will see why its such a great book.
And you know what, if you don't like it straight away that's fine, because you know you wish your mates read comics but you're too embarrassed to lend your mate the X-Men or Teen Titans? You can bet they'd get a chuckle from Scott Pilgrim. If they have a soul.

You know what comic I've just started reading? Howard Chaykins American Flagg,
it was a comic being made in the dark corners of the insutry during the birth of the direct market that no-one noticed, no-one except all of todays most prolific creators.
Although, to be honest so far I can't say I've overly impressed.
I can't wait to tell you how much I love it in a few months.

Silver Surfer Week

How dissapointed was I?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Brokeback Mutant

My weekend has been spent on/with:

Absolute Batman hush - A silly, action packed Bruckheimer paced Batman story, good fun.
Samurai Jack Series 3 - Samurai Jack, Yes!
Every Time I Die Live - Crazy Hardcore Mosh fun.
New Super Mario Bros. - A new 2D Mario game, this is truly the best Mario game ever, the true sequal to Mario World is here after 14 years

Friday, May 19, 2006

Daredevil - again

Seriously, I don't care if you can't afford any more comics, cancel all of them if you have to, just start getting Brubaker's Daredevil run. It's so, so good.

MM/DD is still in prison, and so is Kingpin, and the two of them in a prison together create a powder-ked just waiting to explode. So what happens when the Punisher turns himself in to get inside the prison?
Featuring an excellent supporting cast of Ben Urich, JJJ and Turk, with some excellent characterisation, dialogue and continuity which makes this isolated prison drama feel part of an entire comic universe.

This is comics at there very best people.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bristol Comic Expo - The closest I will ever get to winning an Eagle award.

We had an unnoficial Guitar Hero tournament in the same room as Mark Millar's various Ultimates volume 2 awards. These fine people write on this website.

This is me winning at Guitar Hero against Carlos.

And this guy actually beat me. The only person who beat me at anything all night. No-one could touch me for the rest of the night though, on this or Thumb Wars. I was ace. I even beat two people at the same time at thumb wars.

And this is the recreation that Carlos and friend did using V masks, presenting "B for Brokeback".

Bristol Comic Expo - People Who Dress Up

It's been a long standing comic convention tradition that if you dress up, you get in free. So, in a desperate bid to save £12, some people do indeed dress up.
But not many.

You had a group of people dressed as Manga lolita's as part of a promotion for one of the manga companys that isn't Tokyopop, so they don't really count. [Incidentally, the head of Tokyopop sales department fears me, I asked him what's happened to Battle Royale shipments lately and he shat himself and started acting really defensive and submissive, whether he has been beaten up by a rabid Battle Royale fan before or not, I have no idea. And people say violence in comics doesn't affect people].

I really need pictures of Bristol.

The Best 3 people who dressed up at Bristol were:

3, Bloke - Actually, I have no idea who this guy was supposed to be. He was about 6 feet tall and 100lbs of boney aenemic skin, topless (which was disgusting) wearing a long black trenchcoat and cowboy hat. Anyone got any ideas? The only reason I think he was dressed up was because he was hanging out with #1 all weekend. Maybe he was a really bad white Blade?!?

2, Ash from Army of Darkness - Another 1oolb bag of flesh. But at least this guy made the effort and came both days in full get up. Including ripped shirt (featuring exposed white-milk Cadburys Button nipple), blood splatter, cardboard chainsaw, shotgun back-pack (boom-stick) and glasses. Amazing.

And the Winner...
1, Shit Spider-man. God, I wish I had taken photos of this guy. He was fat and mental looking, wearing: faded blue pyjama bottoms; a red pillow case over his head with shades underneath the cut-out eye holes (reflective shades, just like Spidey's mask); a homemade top with a homemade Spider-man logo redesign (I have recreated it, and it is scarily accurate, pictured below);
and because he couln't find the appropriate footwear, he wore bandages over his feet, you know, like the ninja do.
But the best thing about shit Spider-man? The walk. Man you could tell he'd practiced that, it was a half lean forward stomp, almost as if every pace he took could be the one were he fell over, but he just manages to stomp the foot in front of himself to regain balance.
It has just occured to me this could be his ACTUAL WALK, which is so much funnier.

If anyone, anywhere has pictures of shit Spider-man, I want them.

Bristol Comic Expo - MAM TOR

Like last time, most of my time at the Comic Expo was spent hanging out with the fine folks at Mamtor. If you don't have at least one Mam tor book in your collection I am shocked, because as well as the excellent Event Horizon anthology series (the Award winning series none the less) Matt Boyces Humiliation series is part of the group.

The ethos of Mam tor and Event Horizon is a noble one: "We're dedicated to producing creator driven works that might not ordinarily find a home on the bookshelf - their being too niche, radical or unquantifiable - despite the evident quality and commitment they display. Mam Tor™ has not been created as a commercial venture, but as a forum for subcultural, underground, science fiction, horror or fantasy artists. There are no fees for the work produced, nor are there the usual editorial restrictions."
Not to mention the even more noble goal of "Have fun". And that's why I like these people, they are creative, indipendant thinkers who arn't afriad to think outside the box (or in the case of Ali Pow3rs, don't realise there is a box) and have a good time. Most of Friday night was spent in the bar watching the Mam tor crew get hideously drunk, and Saturday night, and I imagine this trend continued throughout Sunday after I left too.
And yet in the day they still had time to sit at a table and sketch for fans [completely free sketches I might add]. Examples of all their work can be found at, i recomend you check them all out.

I didn't meet Geoff Johns, I missed all the important panels and juicy news and I was elsewhere during the ill-fated Fastball special attempt. But what I did do was have a really fun time with some increibly talented people, many of whoms work not only caught my eye, but also the eye of DC's Vertigo imprint.
Good luck guys... ...and MAM TOR!!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing to do with Bristol

Scheduled to reach stores in October
Writer: Steven T. Seagle
Artists: Becky Cloonan; original cover artists: Frank Quitely and Joshua Middleton
$9.99, 112 pages

Bristol Comic Expo - Bob Wayne Hates Me

3 reasons why Bob Wayne Hates Me (or "Why DC will never, ever hire me")

1 - The first time I met him I told him Catwoman and Constantine [movies] looked God awful.

2 - Then I told him that DC's Free Comic Book Day offerings were balls.

3 - This weekend, a drunk Simon Bisley and I asked if we could do a new Lobo series, where Lobo is a rapist.
He didn't say no. He just walked away.

If you don't know who Bob Wayne is, he's like the third most important person in the DC heirarchy.

More to come from Bristol. In the meantime, check out Rich Johnston's column for a video file off two comic fans trying to perform a Fastball special.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Internet Bastards

Well annoyed.

I wrote a massive blog yesterday, and when i went to upload it blogger wasn't working, so I left it. Turns out we had a power cut in the night and I hadn't saved it, and timesave didn't work either, so I lost everything. Damnit. So, to summarise:

FCBD = Great

Batman Thrillkiller: Shit
A History of Violence = Great
Scarlet Traces = Great

Casino = Average
Mean Shit = Shit
Final Fantasy Advent Children = Average
Spirited Away = Great

Video games
Gradius V: Great
Guitar Hero: Great

And Comic Showcase in London is closing.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The importance of FCBD.

A Profile of IDW's FCBD offering. Red bits are by me.

NAME: IDW Publishing
FCBD BOOK: The Transformers / Beast Wars Special – FCBD 2006 Edition
What's Included in your FCBD 2006 comic?

By Simon Furman, EJ Su, & Don Figueroa. This special Free Comic Book Day issue celebrates the return of the Transformers! Fans can get a look at the Transformers revival, "Infiltration," courtesy of writer Simon Furman and artist E.J. Su. Then, on the flip-side, experience Transformers: Beast Wars—"The Gathering," also written by Furman and featuring the art of Don Figueroa. This special flip-book also includes sneak peeks at the upcoming The Transformers: Stormbringer and Transformers Evolutions: Hearts of Steel.

Why is it important for you to participate in FCBD?

This year it is important for IDW to provide potential readers a look at what we are offering with our Transformers titles – including our current running titles and our up and coming titles such as Transformers Evolutions: Hearts of Steel and The Transformers Stormbringer.

Why do you think FCBD is beneficial to the industry?

There are a lot of different titles out there competing for the comic book readers’ hard-earned cash. With publishers offering samples of their titles in the form of free comic books it gives readers an opportunity to perhaps try something different that they normally would not.

So, Why didn't you bother to ship the book, knowing how important it was and how many fans would come out for it, seeing as you've been advertising it since like, February and this was one book with mass-market appeal outsiode of the comic-book field, y'know, hitting the disposable income bracket age group?
Especially since we went to the trouble of getting Transformers scribe Simon Furman signing in our store on the day.
I mean, Jesus, this was essentially just a reprint book anyone, featuring nothing that wasn't going to be available anywhere else, so it wasn't going to be too much hard work was it?

Well, c'mon IDW, we are waiting for an answer.

Superman Returns Trailer - At your convenience

Friday, May 05, 2006

Me of little faith.

I should never have doubted.

About six months back the first issue of "Book of Lost souls" shipped from the Marvel Icon line. As far as I can tell this line of comics is purely Marvel printing comics that they don't want to print, that way no-one else can print them. It's a way of keeping excluisve freelancers happy such as Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack. The line flies in the face of everything Marvel as a company produce.

"Book of Lost Souls" was a no-brainer for me, it's written by J. Michael Straczynski - whom I'm sure you know is one of my many heroes and influences - with art by Coleen (A Distant Soil) Doran, an artist whose work I wasn't too familiar with. Still, I bought it because I buy many comics as is my want, and promptly filed it away in one of my many coffin boxes marked "to be read".
Six months pass, and with it six issues, which usually means a good chunk of comic to be read. I didn't really know what to expect from the book to be honest as I have adopted a trend of avoiding all publicity for books that I am definitely going to buy, but if I had really been looking forward to it like I did Rising Stars or Midnight Nation, I would have read it straight away. So I guess it was with a slight amount of trepidation that I sat down to read it.

Its amazing. The only comparison I can really make is with the early Neil Gaiman material, where you weren't quite sure why the writing was so important, but you ultimately knew it was. This is good stuff people.
The concept is purely a quiet battle between good and evil, where its not the Saints and Demons who are the deciding factor, but the people inbetween who have the real power, for they are the people who can sway the tides. It's an allegory for the voting system in a way, any American politician can quantify the votes of the public, x amount of people will go Republican, x amount of people will go with the Democrats, but the new voters or people who don't usually vote have all the power, if only they would step up to the plate and choose - it doesn't matter what they choose; as long as it's not apathy.

Its a book full of great questions, moments of choice and brilliant metaphors. This is everything I know JMS to be capable of as a writer, but unfortunately some people write him off as "that sci-fi TV show guy" or "the dude who made Gwen Stacy a whore".
There is a quiet power inherant in the man JMS (I had the good fortune to meet him, over ten years ago now), and it's that same quiet power I see in this book.
This could be the Sandman for the 21st century, it could be the flagship for a line to rival Vertigo, or it could be our dirty little secret. You can help decide.

Faith manages.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


You know what really sucks, fucking bank holidays. If it wasn't for the bank holiday I would have been able to read Infinite Crisis #7 and Civil War #1. IC is one of the best crossovers I have ever read, and Civil War has had one of the most intriguing build ups to a crossover ever.
Then just one week later, we have DC's "real-time" epic 52. It's a good time to like comics.

I Love Comics

Okay, yeah, you may have already realised that, but I havn't been as excited about comics as I am right now in a long time.

Its not just Marvel and DC either, there are some great books on the indie scene too. Titles like American Virgin, DMZ, Local, Mouse Guard, Beast Wars, Fell and Planetary offer up a variety of alternate genres to this once blinkered industry.

Even kid's seem to find a way into this industry lately, with sales of Sonic and Simpsons way up. And Free Comic Book Day won't do anything to hurt this progress either.

We are spoilt rotten ourtside of comics too, with movies like Superman Returns and X-Men Last Stand right around the corner and the release of nearly every WB animated series like Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited and the new Marvel animated movies.

Despite a lot of faults, such as overpriced Tpbs, late-shipping titles, the fatalistic approach to back issues some shops employ and constant re-boots and ret-cons, its a fantastic time to be reading comics.

Just thought it would be nice to hear someone say that, rather than constant bitching.