Wednesday, November 29, 2006
There's been plenty of tributes flying around the comics blogosphere for Dave Cockrum since his untimely death. The lads and lasses at the often annoying, always entertaining Scans Daily have been particularly on the ball about this, especially this 'un: Cockrum's lesser spotted Doctor Who illustrations from Marvel USA's reprints of the Pat Mills/John Wagner/Dave Gibbons stuff from their UK branch.
Cockrum was always essentially a science fiction artist, his best work was his short stint on the Legion in the early seventies, and his first run on the X-Men usually involved them finding themselves off-planet for one reason or another (battling Sentinels on space stations; Professor X getting it on with aliens; Cyclops meeting his space pirate daddy and his Star Jammers; fighting the Legion-analogue Imperial Guard).
This lovingly rendered Davros and The Daleks piece again shows his obvious enthusiasm for the genre.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
...been dipping in and out of it all week (ooh err, missus - shut yer face), and as tribute to the undying genius of Jamie Hewlett, tomorrow I'll run some scans from my all-time favourite, seldom seen, never reprinted work of his, CAPTAIN PYRATE. Just as soon as I'm sober enough to climb the ladder up into the attic, that is.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I know absolutely nothing about this band, for all I know they could be a bunch of evil bar stewards or somethin', but I like this. Very much.
Listening to it right now. Bloody great. Doing a cracking job of making the over-familiar sound new and fresh: can't say I remember Hey Jude ever having such a groovy bassline, for starters. I reckon LOVE 'll end up being the soundtrack for this Christmas.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Like everyone else who's made the move over to Blogger beta, I'm finding it a blessing and a curse. Some things work all the time; somethings work some of the time; and some things are infuriatingly absent. The blog is looking increasingly how I want it to look, yet agonisingly not quite what I want due to some bugs in the w.y.s.i.w.y.g. layout editor. And some things are a complete friggin' mystery. Look at the little picture of me in the right sidebar. See how it says "Northern Ireland, GB" beside it? It's doing that entirely of its own volition. Last time I checked, Northern Ireland was still in the United Kingdom, but has not been part of "Great Britain" since the Ice Age. So that's, what, 15 thousand years out of date, then?
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Back from three day bender: and thanks to DRAWN! for pointing out something that'd passed me by - that Tony
"Riot" Wright has started
a blog. Groovy. Seeing those old caricatures from the defunct, much missed, Melody Maker was something of a blast from the past. Riot, of course, went on to draw Tribal Memories in 2000AD.
And if you're feeling nostalgic for cartoons by people who worked for the music weeklies back when they were good, howzabout some Carl Flint, then?
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
After last year's moan about the UK Music Hall of Fame, and watching tonight's show on Channel 4, I've decided to make it a tradition. This year's whinge? Bon Jovi. Bon fuckin' Jovi?! As the kids on Bebo say, WTF?! Now, I know the show's corporate paymasters will want to kiss up to whatever big American acts are touring the UK while the awards are on (see also: the annual game of "spot the Brit" at The Brit Awards), but this is beyond a joke. God, at least James Brown, Brian Wilson and Prince merit their awards, and have been meaningful influences upon UK musicians. Bon Jovi, however, are an act who are meaningless in terms of influence upon UK music, an evolutionary dead-end of bad songwriting and worse haircuts.
Ah well. At least this year they've corrected their previous Led Zeppelin faux pas.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
...is just as feckin' great as I thought it'd be. Seems to me, there's two ways used to rehabilitate lost titans these days: the sympathetic producer with the carefully selected repetoir of covers/originals (Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Solomon Burke) or the duets album (Tom Jones, Ray Charles, etc). This project manages to balance the two approaches, with largely rocktastic results. Woah, baby!
Jerry Lee really had two separate careers, the rockabilly years and the country years, and this album's got both shades in spades. Most duetists have the sense to lie back and compliment Lewis: I think most had the good sense to realize there's no upstaging this explosive, exhibitionist, talent - the man remains in amazing form as both a piano soloist and a vocalist. This atmosphere of deference brings out some great performances. Head on over to iTunes and download Rock And Roll with Jimmy Page (with a great, pure Jerry Lee moment of improvisation, "let me get back, let me get back, let me get back, ... to Louisiana!") to get a sense of how vital a form he's in here. And if you're a sucker for a good bittersweet country ballad, pick up Couple More Years too (with Willie Nelson). After those two, I'm pretty sure you'll want to buy the entire album.
Of course, a duets album is only as good as the consistant standard of the collaborations, and it is the notoriously mercurial The Killer, so it's gotta dip into the stinkin' trough of inconsistency at least a couple of times. And this time? Murdering Van The Angry Little Man Morrison's What Makes The Irish Heart Beat with Don Henley (Don Henley is from Texas; Jerry Lee Lewis, Louisiana). Plus, sentimentality and nationalism make poor musical bedfellows, and there's a knocked out Ol' Glory with some geezer called Toby Keith I've never heard of (though a quick Google of his name seems to imply the guy's some sort of infamously immense asshole). Jerry Lee could probably do a cracking version of Honky Tonk Women on his own, but the one here is ruined by Kid Rock shouting over it like a drunk biker. I'll blame him for bringing along the barking backing vocalists on the track, too.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Just noticed zombie king Sean Phillips ran a hastily knocked-out email of mine praising CRIMINAL #1 in the lettercol for ish 2. I stand by every word. Yay me -it's my first published letter since I gave up my career pestering the editor of The Guitar Magazine - I stand by my word there too. Steve Vai sux!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Long time no writey 'bout comics. Every month, a box of great comics slaps down on my doorstep, every month I'm on the verge of endorsing them from my humble soapbox, and every month that familiar wave of lethargy washes over me. Nah, I think to myself, reviewing comics is a game for people who buy their comics weekly, not monthly. Guys like Jog, and Chris, who when he isn't cracking us up with his funny stuff, produces a weekly roundup I never miss 'cus he reads a lot of bad comics so I don't have to.
Here's another weird and wonderful thing about comics - I can tell when a new package is about to arrive from my comic shop of choice, because those shitehawks at Amazon* decide to bombard me with a ton of items I'd ordered months ago and forgotten about. The sequence usually goes like this - it's a couple of days before payday. My current account is getting low. Bam! Amazon email me to tell me they're sending me those long-lost books. Eek! They've debited my account. A few business days later, some of those familiar Amazon packages get jammed through the letter box. Then, just as my "to read" pile starts tottering precariously, Ace send me a jumbo box of stuff, to push things right over the edge.
Anyway, the moral of this story is: I've just fallen in love with Liam Sharp's art all over again, thanks to Akedah, the first collection of the series TESTAMENT. Liam started at 2000AD in the late eighties, with a lovely fresh style which I thought reminiscent of the long-underrated John "colourist of WATCHMEN & KILLING JOKE" Higgins. This developed into a tight illustrative style, and he became a regular Dredd artist, with the recurring PJ Maybe storyline (recently collected by Rebellion). Then he pretty much disappeared off my radar, working at Marvel UK, Verotik, Heavy Metal and Image, I believe (none of which were venues I frequented, barely reading comics at the time). His name expanded, like Barry Smith before him, and he became Liam McCormack-Sharp, for a while. From what I can tell, his work during this period had a tendency to fall a little too much under the influence of the great Simon Bisley. This is hardly unforgiveable - Bisley was a revolution at the time, melding the anarchy of Sienkiewicz with the muscular charisma of Frazetta. Every upstart British artist was grabbing his brushes and acrylics at the time, and abandoning his faithful 4B. I won't list them all, but most only reached maturity when they returned to pen and ink: like Duncan Fegredo, Sean Phillips, and Kev Walker.
Sharp re-emerged on my radar when I returned to reading 2000AD after a few years break: he did an arc of Pat Mills' A.B.C. Warriors that was bloody awful. Looked like he drew it with a muddy stick. I lamented his decline. Then I came across the excellent anthology he produced, EVENT HORIZON. I've written about it before, but I remember hesitating when I first heard about it. I thought it sounded a little bit too HEAVY METAL for me. The gala list of contributors eventually swayed me, and Sharp's own contributions (the hilariously named Fucking Savages) again were a little bit more-Bisley-than-Bisley. That said, it was well-crafted, slickly painted, and at least it wasn't muddy stickulous.
Which brings me to TESTAMENT. I've often been guilty of that crappy critical standby, the cheesy simile, (artist X) is like (artist Y) meets (artist Z). Hey, it's not like I'm the only one. But as I read this trade paperback, a whole gamut of names came jumping at me. Sharp has developed a new style that has a lot of the old him in it, but which simultaneously reminds me of greats like Quitely, Manara, Moebius, Bernet, Kubert, Druillet, Crumb, Corben...
It really is great to see an artist fulfilling his early promise, and who's really clicking with some great material. Bravo.
*Oh, and buy NEXTWAVE.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
After some indecision on my part, it looks like I'll be buying the first in Neil Young's archive series, CRAZY HORSE AT THE FILLMORE 1970, after all. Like Neil's last few records, it'll be available in an edition with a DVD, with some groovy added content that has made up my mind. This time, the music will be reset to a montage of Joel Bernstein's fabulous photography. Jimmy McDonough made a fair point in his book SHAKEY - why hasn't anybody stuck out a great big hardback monograph of the guy's work? Y'know, someone like the geniuses at Genesis Publications?
Anyhoo, there's a trailer up for the DVD, showing Young and Bernstein's process for putting the project together, here.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
A few times a week, I come across a story or two that I make a mental note to blog about (and yes, blog is a verb, too, dammit). About half of these I routinely forget. So here, belatedly, is a link to Mark Gatiss's excellent tribute to the late Nigel Kneale, one of my three favourite television writers of all time.
Oh, and happy 79th birthday to Steve Ditko.
Remember John K's video for Tenacious D's ever-so-tasteful ballad, Fuck Her Gently? Yeah? Then you'll dig this - his video for the new D track, Classico.
Oh, and the first six minutes of PICK OF DESTINY? Right here. Features Meat Loaf at his best since ROCKY HORROR, and Dio at his best since MOB RULES. Though if yer the kinda dude who thinks rhyming "rock" with "cock" is kinda dumb, don't bother clicking on the link.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Marty made a cracking doco about Bob Dylan last year, NO DIRECTION HOME; photographed the highly influential concert movie THE LAST WALTZ; and according to The Round Boy, he's now kicking off on a Stones movie. Marty, of course, is responsible for the best ever usage of Stones tunes in cinema already, anyway, notably in MEAN STREETS, GOODFELLAS and CASINO.
Wonder if it'll include any of Robert Frank's COCKSUCKER BLUES footage? Or are Mick'n'Keef still scared shitless by it?
According to this handy little device, it turns out it was Slade, with Cuz I Luv You. And on my sister's birthday, it was Creedence Clearwater Revival, with Bad Moon Rising.
No wonder we turned out so damned cool.
...make no mistake about it.
If, like me, yer living in the future with a gigantic, high def, digital telly, maybe you've been using your little red button to access the BBC's Electric Proms coverage. Some great stuff, especially The Who's set that's been on since yesterday. I keep saying it, but I'm gobsmacked at how vital a live entity they've become again. Pete's guitar playing was particularly ferocious, with some Jeff Beck-y flourishes that tell me he's stopped resting on his laurels as a guitar player. It used to be genuinely sad to see a band touring under The Who's name, with horn players, backing singers, and some old wreck who looked kinda like Townshend strumming unconvincingly at a Gibson acoustic, while sessioneers played a watery pastiche of his style. This is looking like the most Lazarus-like reanimation in rock since Neil Young sneaked out the El Dorado e.p. in Japan.
Anyway, non-UK residents, and those backward primitives getting by with analogue television, can access some of the set here, until November 5th. Along with highlights of The Who's set, there are also full sets by Billy Bragg, The Raconteurs, The Good, The Bad and The Queen (not as bad as you might have heard - I loved 'em) and many others (doubtless Daltrey's internetophobia is again to blame for the curtailment of his band's web presence).