Due to the sheer amount of annual leave I've got to take before the end of the financial year, I've managed to get Thursday off work, so here's the call: every loyal BAD LIBRARIANSHIP reader in the vicinity, get on over to THE COBBLERS on Wednesday night and buy me a drink. No excuses. I'm gasping.
Free beer! Yay for e-commerce!
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Monday, February 27, 2006
Here's a news item aimed at regular reader Stevie Quin, who recently decided to deny the fact that he reads comics right here at this site. In that case, you've never been totally gay for Neil Gaiman, and will be totally disinterested to hear that he's working on a re-working of the old Jack Kirby series THE ETERNALS for Marvel, that John Romita Junior has been announced as the series' artist at the New York Comic-Con, and that here's a few samples of Romita's groovy character designs.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
So, there I was thinking long and hard about comic book covers that are all about the big knockers. And, with it being Sunday, I then went over to Kevin Church's blog to check out his semi-regular "Genius Covers Sunday" feature. Anyway, I ended up checking this out on his recommendation: a fan flick about the original gratuitously knockered Super-ladette, Wally Wood's Power Girl! It's Justice League International-tastic!
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I've been thinking of late how the respective big movers at Marvel and DC comics have been pursuing writers from other fields to write their wacky genre fiction. Crime writers, science fiction writers, movie directors, screen writers, bizarre social commentators. Anyone at all who can vicariously bring some respectability to the field, I suppose. Besides, it's hardly new: comics are a hybrid medium, built by a random assortment of con men, ex-pulp writers, ex-animators, failed illustrators, journalists, escape artists and assorted ne'er-do-wells.
So anyway, this train of thought continued: here they are, bringing in all kinds of writers new to the artform, some good, some bad, some I've never bleedin' heard of. Meanwhile, comic artists continue to jump ship as soon as they make their name in the medium, heading for the movies, animation, illustration, advertising, even pop stardom.
So, instead of fretting about bringing in new writers, what if commissioning editors also started trawling through the various bordering media to find new artists? Wouldn't that be cool? An outward sign that anglophone comics were a thriving, confident medium, rather than one content to ride in on Hollywood's disintegrating coat-tails.
Here's a guy who's work I first noticed doing spot illustrations for the Sunday Times Magazine, though these days I can't go into a record shop without seeing his work on the cover of another compilation CD - Jason Brooks. His work is certainly comics literate, though I note he lists much more thoroughly respectable influences on his site's bio. Anyway, the guy sure draws sexy chicks, and that'll take you pretty far in comics these days. Now this fella could definitely provide an editor with a cool, stylish cover without the leery sexism of your average Adam Hughes or Greg Horn piece (no really, as great as Dan Slott's SHE-HULK may be, could you really recommend it to a friend when it carries a cover like this? Yuk).
Just saw a link to this guy's website over at the always illuminating DRAWN blog: Robert Valley. He's done a certain amount of comic's work before (he's published the odd short piece in HEAVY METAL (which means they've been seen by approximately, uh, a dozen people), but he's working mainly in animation and storyboarding. Again, his work is cool and sexy: he reminds me of early, ABC Warriors-era Simon Bisley, with a bit of Mike McMahon's later extreme stylization. Check out the QuickTime movie on his site, MASSIVE SWERVE: it's about the size of a postage stamp, but still compelling.
As a librarian, my eye is often caught by an attractive book cover, or a well illustrated kid's book. Here's one such example: Warwick Johnson Cadwell, whose work on the book THE KING'S SHOPPING grabbed my notice. It's in a loose, sketchy style, which wouldn't look out of place alongside the work Oni Press or Slave Labour Graphics are publishing (after seeing it out of the corner of my eye, I did a quick check to see it wasn't actually by Simon Gane). A quick peek at his agency portfolio revealed he could even fit into the kind of Vertigo gigs that Dean Ormston might be offered but pass up. Plus, like Ben Caldwell before him, his name sounds a bit like mine.
And one more for the pot: Uli Oesterle, illustrator, web designer, editorial cartoonist, comic book artist, German renaissance dude. As far as I know, the guy's only ever gotten one English language gig (from Scott Allie, at Dark Horse), but his work is great. Again, I could see him doing some cracking work at Vertigo: he'd rock a John Constantine commission out of sight. I've tried and failed to procure a copy of his Hector Umbra book from German Amazon, so if anybody out there wants to do an English language edition, you're guaranteed at least one sale. And why wouldn't you? As far as I can tell, it's been reprinted in French, Dutch and Japanese so far.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
With DC and Marvel snaffling up talent onto exclusive contracts to such an extent that even newcomers no-one's ever heard of, let alone seasoned hacks, are being signed up, it was only a matter of time before people started taking the piss. And ripping the arse out of it.
Quite right, too. What next? "Tharg to sign exclusive contract with 2000AD"? Which reminds me. Multiple covers? Not on yer nelly, yeh green jessie.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
I've already blown smoke up the ass of the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA of late, so I didn't want to do it again so soon. But then I went and watched HOME, PT 2, tonight on Sky One. Great episode. Says a lot about the level of complexity of this series that we have to wait until episode seven of series two to get a sense of completion to so many plot threads scattered since the original mini-series. And also, to have a character actor of James "THE WARRIORS" Remar's chops turn up for what was essentially an unnamed, inconsequential cameo role? Impressive. Going by the episode guide floating around on the internet, it looks like these two trends (plots speeding up and resolving, big name guest stars) will continue until the end of the season.
Over at Ain't It Cool News, they've been moaning a lot that the UK got the second half of the last series of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED before the Septics did. The irony, lost on Knowles' henchmen, being that we hadn't seen the first half yet (verily, those choobs at Cartoon Network/Toonami couldn't organise a piss-up in the Bushmills distillery). Anyway, with half-term in full flow, they've been fixing that mistake, and my Sky+ box is filling up with plenty of Bruce Timm-y goodness. Good stuff so far? The Joe Kubert tribute in To Another Shore. The fleshing out of The Flash in Flash and Substance (the scene where The Flash, played by Michael Rosenbaum, sits down in a bar with The Trickster, played by Mark Hamill, was pure gold) . The look on Batman's face after he's realised The Deadman used his body to shoot Devil Ray in Dead Reckoning - now that's just getting how to write Bruce Wayne. That even a show that's ostensibly "a kid's cartoon" takes the piss out of Bush's defence policies in Patriot Act. How recasting John Stewart as a Lancelot figure in an Egyptian version of the Camelot myth expertly reconciles the whole Green Lantern/Hawkgirl/Hawkman (also played by James "THE WARRIORS" Remar, symmetry fans!) love triangle they've been setting up since the start (in an episode, tellingly enough, written by DC's resident continuity fixer-upper, Geoff Johns). The visual overload of the Legion Of Superheroes episode Far From Home - now that's how you do a greatest-hits style Legion that hits everyone's fanboy geek-spot.
So, easily the best attempt at televising super heroics, yet done so without anything like due acclaim or mainstream recognition. Like most geeks, I can't believe it looks like Warner Bros. are going to just disband Timm's production unit after this series and a Superman direct-to-DVD movie. Here's hoping someone like Pixar make the guy some kind of offer-he-can't-refuse the second he's out of contract.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Regular reader QUINNER writes to ask if I've read the whole HOLY TERROR, BATMAN! story over at The Beeb. The short answer is yes, it's good to see the mainstream media all over this like a rash, but to anyone keeping their ear to the ground on comic book gossip sites, this is pretty much old news (it's been rumoured without a denial since shortly after DKII). Anyway, here's a link you might have missed, seeing how it slipped out pretty much unnoticed at the time: Miller displaying some pages from the project (look at the size of the mother lovin' boards he uses!). It's the first time I've ever heard his speaking voice: kinda like Woody Allen's, of all people. The misanthropy, the sentimentalism about New York: it all fits now! Oh, and that picture above? Not from the new project, more's the pity.
Oh, and QUINNER: if yer such a regular reader, how come you never leave any comments?! And that goes for you, too, ED!
Sunday, February 19, 2006
From the (kinda self-important but not entirely annoying) people who brought you THE MAGAZINE over at MILLARWORLD: FRACTAL MATTER. Nice design, but suffers a little from the same dead linkage that The Magazine was prone to. Hilarious Todd McFarlane interview: Mark loves crazy people who refer to themselves in the third person!
Plus, that name reminds me of that dodgy riot grrl band I signed to Shite Hawk Records during my time as head of A&R there: PANTIE MATTER. Now, 'dem were some funny chicks!
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Just wanted to say that I read the collection of the first six issues of GODLAND by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli, "Hello Cosmic!", and loved it. I'm a bit of a sucker for what has come to be known as "Kirby as genre", and these two are past masters in the field: Casey wrote CABLE for Jose Ladronn during his Kirby-kribbing phase, and Scioli's entire past career is based on the blatent worship of The King's work. Despite being a sucker for it, I'm frequently let down by the "Kirby as genre" scene - it's usually the promise of Kirbyesque kicks with none of the follow-through, all the surface spectacle and artistic tics with none of the invention or wit. The true heir of Jack's style is probably the writer Grant Morrison, rather than any artist.
That said, this project isn't hampered by the flaw that usually kneecaps these type of projects: nostalgia. The characterisation, the dialogue (especially the solopistic villain, Basil Chronus, a floating skull in a jar who bores everyone who'll listen with tales of his drugs intake), even the wardrobe and familial dynamics of the series' protagonists, all clearly place the series firmly in the contemporary world. Even when the "secret origin" story at the series heart references Kirby directly (specifically, his under-rated work adapting 2001 for Marvel in the seventies), it does so in such a winningly cynical way that it elicits laughs rather than groans. Like Morrison, Casey knows that the way to truly capture a sense of Kirby-ness is to pile on the mind-blowing concepts and wacky new characters at least every few pages, and throws himself into the task with gusto. Scioli, while never my favourite Kirby ape-ist (that dubious honour still goes to Keith Giffen for his work on THE DEFENDERS in the seventies), has a great sense of design, and Casey wisely plays up to that strength.
All in, a groovy little comic I look forward to reading more of, and probably the best new series from Image since the debut of POWERS.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Y'know, a couple of days ago, when I said I'd post more reviews an' shit? Maybe tell the story about how I discovered the wonderful world of Will Eisner? Er, ...it's all on hold while I do some important research. Yeah, that's right! Research!
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Warren Ellis versus Joss Whedon for the soul of Johnny Cassaday. Scroll down to the comments section and watch the flaming begin.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
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.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
...and I'm on this like Ali Jackson on a turkey and stuffing sandwich: The Art Of Brian Bolland. "Often referred to as the "artist's artist," BRIAN BOLLAND has spent the last quarter of a century producing some of the most memorable and inspiring illustrations the comic industry has ever seen. This handsome volume is a retrospective of this astonishing artist's career and a look at the man himself". If this book is done even half right, it'll be sweeeet.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Saturday, February 11, 2006
...maybe you're a struggling comic book freelancer, yearning to work in a new golden age of romance comics? Well, in that case, maybe you should check this out: seasoned pro Barbara Kesel is looking to establish a line of romantic original graphic novels, and is welcoming submissions!
Friday, February 10, 2006
The aspect of running this blog I hope never to become blasé about? That would be the warm buzz I get when a creator whose work I've praised get in touch. Yes, in the immortal words of Mick Jagger, I'm a complete star f*cker. Of course, the opposite is true - when I slag off some bubble-headed local media star, and they get in touch to complain, I like that too. Hell, I usually fire off a sarcastic email in the hope that it'll provoke them into mentioning my blog in their newspaper column: after all, no publicity is bad publicity (no names, no pack drill, *cough*, Chr*st*ne Bl**kl*y,*cough*).
Anyway, to pull my pointless rambling into something cogent and resembling a point, the great Ben Caldwell emailed me today. But he didn't turn up at my digital front door empty-handed. Oh, no. He brought a hell of a lot of preview art for DARE DETECTIVES #2. I detected an undercurrent of embarrassment from Ben that the project is so late (approaching 9 months!), but this delay has clearly paid great dividends in one respect: his artwork has taken a hell of a leap forward. In fact, I can't think of too many artists who've ever improved so visibly between two issues of the same project. Anyway, any comic running this late needs all the help it can get (hell, it's bad enough being a fan waiting for the book; now imagine how pissed off you would be if you were the publisher of a book running that late?), so here's some preview pages. Man, look at the depth and richness of each panel: they look like screen grabs from some insanely expensive animated movie. Plus, Ben sent me so damn many preview pages, I think I'll start with a couple, and post a few more next week. In no particular order.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Sunday, February 05, 2006
So, after getting a mad attack of the fanboys on hearing Brendan McCarthy was doing an issue of SOLO for DC, I got in contact with the man himself for a spot of verification. He confirmed that yes, he's working on it now, and expects it to be out around August/September. Brendan dropped one tantalising hint about his research into the project and its influence on the possible (characteristically idiosyncratic) content: "Very much digging the 60's art of Curt Swan... I love his 'transvestite Jimmy Olsen' stories... Inadvertantly transgressive!". Can't wait for this - I'm guessing this project (like many artist's issues of SOLO so far) will be a real love-letter to the DC comics McCarthy dug as a kid.
Turns out Brendan's moved again, too: seems he's in L.A, where he's sold out of what few copies remain of SWIMINI PURPOSE at the glam Sunset Boulevard comic shop Meltdown Comics at $65 bucks a pop (now, someone tell me why doesn't this book have a U.S. publisher yet?).
And, in more Ulster-centric news, Brendan revealed he was interviewed by a Belfast radio station last week, but has no idea when it'll be broadcast. I'm guessing that'll be Arts Extra on Radio Ulster, just because I can't think of any other local radio shows that'd be up for this. Certainly none in the cultural vacuum that is local commercial radio. That said, a quick search of their site drew a blank. Dammit. If any of my local readers hear anything, let me know, pronto.
Friday, February 03, 2006
So, it turns out World War III will be started by a cartoonist. And not even a good one, like Steve Bell, Paul Pope or Jaime Hernandez. But some second rater at a no-mark Danish paper.
Who wudda thunk it.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
...DC's art director and editor of the great SOLO. Brill is always a smart cookie (his blog is here), but more importantly, Chiarello blabs about upcoming contributors to SOLO, which include... Brendan McCarthy! (In the immortal words of TEAM AMERICA: BRENDAN McCARTHY! FUCK, YEAH! Did I already mention I'm a fan of Brendan McCarthy? Mm-hmm?) Well, I suppose that more than makes up for Brian Bolland revealing in part two of his interview in the last issue of The Megazine (still in the shops folks, highly recommended) that he's pulled out of doing an issue, over a few copyright squabbles.
J.H. Williams III has posted over at the Barbelith forums that comic artist Seth Fisher has died. If accurate, this report is a real shame. Fisher was a fine artist with a great career ahead of him (please, check out his work here), and by all accounts, a fun guy.