Wednesday, February 15, 2006

It's back: "Assorted crap I've read recently" returns to thrill the nation!

Hell, it's a good long while since I've bothered reviewing anything. I'd like to point out all the genuine reasons for this, like "I couldn't be arsed", and "it sounded like too much effort". So here's enough opinion to choke a donkey: a giant donkey rearing up on it's hind legs to attack Japan!!

JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE #242: This is, by-and-large, a ticking-along issue between the seasonal big pushes, but still features a few noteworthy items. The main Dredd story, "Warzone" continues to reach towards a point - last issue's firefight in the ruins of an ancient civilization was an obvious Iraq analogy (well, both sides in that conflict will insist on blowing the shit out of Sumerian world heritage sites). This time, we have a woodie rebel intoning straight to camera the anti-imperialist message "one day they'll learn, they can't govern us from light years away".

And hey, anyone my age has got to love Gordon Rennie & Carlos Ezquerra's Kursed Earth Koburn: it's Major Eazy in space! Okay, not space, but you get my drift...

As ever with The Megazine of late, the real juice is to be found in one of the text pieces. The rumour that The Meg is soliciting unpaid work by various small-press creators has caused something of a storm in a teacup in certain circles (check here to see onetime contributor Roger Langridge getting on, then quickly getting off, his high horse about it). This issue features a major state-of-the-union feature on the nation's small press scene, presumably to soften us up for future developments along these lines. I, for one, am all for this. In fact, I'm quite excited by the prospect.

For a start, it'll provide a popular forum for fanzine-istas and self publishers missing from the newsagents of this country since the death of Paul Gravett's ESCAPE magazine, which gave first breaks to all manner of nascent talent (off the top of my head: Eddie Campbell, Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, James Robinson, Jamie Hewlett, Phil Bond, The Pleece Brothers, all those FAST FICTION guys like Phil Elliot, Glenn Dakin and Ed Pinsent), all of whom went on to bigger and better things.
So, small press creators: worst case scenario, even if appearing unpaid in The Meg didn't turn out to be your big break, you at least might sell sell a few more fanzines than otherwise. Plus, the obvious benefit for us readers being that Rebellion saves a few quid and doesn't have to resort to scraping the barrel with more reprints, and also runs a few strips you mightn't have otherwise heard of, into the bargain - everyone's a winner!

SWALLOW #2: The second issue of
Ashley Wood's pet project at IDW, is less a magazine, more a compendium of all that's great in comic art today, with text and interviews pared down to a minimum, and the actual art content boosted to large, portfolio chapters dedicated to displaying each artist's work to maximum effect. If anything, this issue's line-up is even better than #1's: Glenn Barr, Jim Mahfood, Frazer Irving, James Jean and Kent Williams are all personal faves of mine anyway, and Jo Chen's covers on (my guilty pleasure) RUNAWAYS are always excellent. What I really liked about this, was the way it steered me towards a couple of great artists I'd have merrily continued to be oblivious to otherwise, such as the two French youngsters, Bengal and Nicholas Nemiri. They both show a Claire Wendling influence, but filtered through something of a Masamune Shirow style manga futurism. A really f*cking cool book.

I'm tired now: more tomorrow (if I can be arsed). Should include my mind-numbing nostalgic rambling about how I came to love Will Eisner.

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