Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Everybody go get your shotguns...

...Sting's reforming The Police! Eat buckshot, varmint!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

spooky buggers

An abiding portrait of Mike Mignola over at Joel Meadow's blog. I bet that skull talks to him when there's no-one else around. "Avenge me, Mike! WoooOoooo!"

Good luck with the book, Joel - hope your problems iron themselves out.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Northern Irish comic news

This just in. DC imprint Wildstorm have cancelled Garth Ennis' series THE BOYS with #6, despite #7-10 having been already solicited. The rotters. This seemingly had nothing to do with the series (healthy, steadily rising) sales, and all to do with the books over-the-top content (once billed as "the book to out-PREACHER PREACHER"). This is a shame, though it looks like the creative team are looking to pursue other avenues together, regroup and continue publishing the book elsewhere (both Marvel Max and Avatar spring to mind as likely suspects). Buggeration. I wonder if this has anything to do with issue six's hamster gag? And what did DC actually think the book was going to be like anyway?

Monday, January 22, 2007

farming out the magic

Over at Film Ick, there's a script review I did for Rawson Marshall Thurber's adaptation of the Michael Chabon novel MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH. Note Brendon's humorous censoring of my potty mouth - "c*ck flavoured l*llip*p", indeed.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

This one is for Brendan McCarthy...

...and his fixation with Dr Manhattan's gigantic blue genitals. Get the higher def version of the trailer for THE FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER, freeze frame it at just the right moment... and wham! Right in your face! Chromed meat and two veg!

new OMM out now

There's a new issue of The Observer Music Monthly out today, the usual mix of quality music journalism and just-shoot-me-now embarrassment. And if, like me, you've ever wondered, "hey, whatever happened to Big Sick Ugly Jim Martin out of Faith No More?", they've got yer answer here.

ASK THARG

Over at 2000AD ONLINE, The Mighty One is asking for questions for a text feature in the 30th Anniversary issue coming up, uh, in about 5 weeks. So, if there's any burning issues you've ever wanted resolved, like "how's about reprinting Alan Davis' HARRY 20 ON THE HIGH ROCK in an Extreme Edition then, green bonce?", "what happened to John Lucas, the dude who drew VALKYRIES? Steve Moore's story was unfairly maligned by the puritanical elements in Toof's readership, and the art was uniformly bloody great", or "why do you keep recommissioning the abysmal BEC AND KAWL?", then now's yer chance.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

PAUL CORNELL excels himself

Great page from the current Marvel mini WISDOM by DOCTOR WHO writer Paul Cornell, and drawn by Trevor Hairsine. But then, I'm always an absolute sucker for Fabs mythologising.

Note to self - buy the trade.

FOLK HIBERNIA

Great docko on BBC4 tonight. I'm sure, what with the nature of digital television, it'll be shown over and over again, so do try and see it sometime. Along with some fine music, it also turned out to be quite the decent little social history of the last 50 years in Ireland. Definitely made me think about going over to Amazon and buying the first album by Sweeney's Men, anyway.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

interview: ALAN MARTIN

Every now and then, a British comic breaks big and becomes part of the national cultural fabric. In the 1950s it was THE EAGLE, bringing its fin-de-l'empire space ace DAN DARE to the masses. Then in the 1970s, it was 2000AD, with its punk era nihilism, making an icon out of Thatcher's boot boy JUDGE DREDD. And arguably the last time such a crossover occured, it was DEADLINE, at the end of the Eighties, when an emergent army of indie kids (yet to be labelled Generation E elsewhere, I suppose) took Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin's TANK GIRL to its heart. She was irreverent. Sweary. Moody. Self-indulgent. Promiscuous. Flatulent. A profligate substance abuser. A zoophiliac. But then again, who wasn't back then? Plus, she had cracking tits. Everyone loved her. It couldn't last. Besides, nothing can render a cool comic uncool faster than a botched movie adaptation.

So, Alan Martin, co-creator of TANK GIRL, HELL CITY, CAPTAIN PYRATE, HOT TRIGGERS, and PLANET SWERVE, has returned to the comic book fray. If you're a writer of comics, that list should make you sick with envy, 'cus it means he's worked with Jamie Hewlett, Phil Bond, and Glyn Dillon. And now to top it off, he's working with Aussie One Man Artist Corp Ashley Wood on a new TANK GIRL series for IDW. What a jammy git.

MC: Last I heard, Alan Martin was severely disillusioned by the TANK GIRL movie; quits comics; spends his Hollywood blood money on a camper van, and leaves to see the world. What happened next?
AM: We spent a year travelling around the British Isles ("we" being my then-girlfriend, now-wife, Lou) in search of stone circles and ancient sites. We landed in Wales, Cardigan Bay, and lived in some lovely places there for three years. The "Hollywood blood money" you talk of was really a pittance and ran out within a couple of years. So we lived pretty frugally, chopping wood to heat our central-heating-free house and joining wholefood co-ops with some hippy friends. It was a lot like living inside a Crosby Stills and Nash song. We now live on the Scottish Borders, Lou is a shop owner and we've recently added to our number with a son, Rufus Bodie Martin.

Cool name. Is your son named Bodie after Lewis Collins' character in THE PROFESSIONALS? Please say yes.
Yes.

So, you split up the band, so-to-speak, and Jamie continues on for a while without you. Then, nada. TANK GIRL shuffles off to that wardrobe of radioactive comic book characters ruined by bad movies (see also, Crumb’s FRITZ THE CAT). So when TANK GIRL returns, with you in tow, it’s got to raise a few eyebrows. Did you officially get custody of the character whenever Jamie decided to become a pop star?
There was never a conscious decision on my part to stop writing Tank Girl stories. I actually had scripts written for the second series in the Manga magazine, but I was "edited out" by the twat that was put in charge. He stuck some terrible Tank Girl strip in instead, I haven't read it past the first few pages, I find it as galling as the movie script. I burnt all of my unpublished stuff before I left Wales, I needed to purge myself of all that, lance the festering boil, if you will. As you can tell, it still brings about a touch of the red-mist when I talk about it.

I'm sure that a few eyebrows will be raised at our return sans Hewll, but I've just got to say to the nay-sayers, purists, and general grumblers that this is a character that I co-created, this is my life that it will be supporting, this is my best work that I'm putting out there for you, and if you don't like it THEN DON'T FUCKIN BUY IT! It's that simple. I know I won't like Britney Spears records, so I don't buy them. Does that make me a genius?
And remember, I'm not some Hollywood mogul, remaking you favourite Ealing comedy into a piece of shit directed by Ritchy Cunningham. This is me, I love Tank Girl, good and proper.

As for official custody, the publishing rights to the character are still owned by Jamie and myself. I run all of my ideas by Jamie first. He was very nearly the main artist on this project, but alas, someone goofed-up.

Did the time away change your perspective on the character; the comic book industry; the movie; or life, the universe and everything?
Nah.

Good. Does your re-engagement with the character go back to around 2002, whenever Titan started their programme of TANK GIRL reprints? I remember those books having a certain amount of new material, all originated by you, in them (text pieces, prose, scripts, etc). Then, for a while there, you were selling self-published TANK GIRL material on Ebay, weren’t you? What was that all about?
Yeah, I started to write her again in 2003, but I was banging my head against a brick wall, trying to get the stuff published. Eventually I thought I'd just have to do it myself, which, in a round-about way, brought about my meeting with Ashley and the rest of it.

And now, the hook-up with Ashley Wood and IDW. I was aware Ash was a big fan of DEADLINE, but how’d that come about? I’m guessing he approached you. Or were you actively seeking to bring Tanky back in comics rather than prose?
Rufus Dayglo introduced me to Ash. I had the scripts ready, just looking for another artist and Ashley instantly wanted to do it. When I got to see Ashley's art, there was no question in my mind that this was the man for the job.

What’s the difference between working on TANK GIRL with Jamie, and working with Ash? Does the division of labour change when the artist is a couple of continents away, rather than down the hall of the bedsit?
I've had to re-learn comic book writing so that I could send properly formatted scripts out to Ash. The old way of writing Tank Girl was to sit next to Jamie and fill in the panels as we went along with no real idea where it was going. Things are a bit tighter this time around.

One of the things I have the fondest memories of from the old TANK GIRL strips were the daft pop culture cameos. Ken Dodd. Tucker Jenkins. Jimmy Saville. The Undertones showing up in a tent with Barney. Can we expect to continue seeing this sort of thing, or does it become harder to do when you’re working with an artist with a completely different cultural perspective to your own? Or do the Aussies have Rolf Harris, too?
It would probably have been a little over indulgent to have continued with the obscure 70's references, so I've opened it up somewhat. F'rinstance, there's a two-parter about Booga and his obsession with a toy ray gun from the original black & white Buck Rogers films. But Ash is a well informed anglophile, his wife is from England and he's spent some time over here.

Along the same lines, I was re-reading the Titan edition of THE ODYSSEY and discerned you’re maybe a (water) closet DOCTOR WHO fan. Enjoying the new WHO at all, or are you more of a classicist?
I don't own a television set, so I haven't seen the new stuff.

F#cking hell.
As soon as Ash’s press release hit the internet, there was discussion about the project on the messageboards. Funnily enough, the bit that has caused the most instant controversy has been Tank Girl’s new look, dressed like a “high school teacher from the mid-eighties”. All your idea, or does Ash have plenty of input into this side of things? I’m guessing that Tank Girl was so of her time, had such an influence on the zeitgeist for a while (at the end of the Eighties, early Nineties), that this must have been one of the hardest decisions to make, creatively (plus, yer right - “punk chic” has been rightly buggered up by the f#ckin’ Yanks lately. Avril f#ckin’ Lavigne? Every other emo-lovin’ tosser hanging around every war memorial in every dreary market town wearing a Ramones t-shirt? Do any of those c#nts have a copy of TOO TOUGH TO DIE on vinyl in their attic? I don’t think so).
That's just great. It couldn't have worked out better. Tank Girl was always about upsetting people, and that's what we've done already, with just one picture and one paragraph! Fuckin' A! We thought about it long and hard, and the main part of the problem was the time that has passed since she was last seen, it's like she'd been frozen in some kind of 80's/90's mono-image, and she could never look like anything else. Back in the day, we would switch her dress nearly every page, so there was never any real "look" that you could pin down anyway. Y'know, we're not gonna dress her as a working girl throughout the whole thing, we're just fucking around here! I find it very amusing when Tank Girl becomes a topic for serious debate, it's quite a shock to see that we can attract a serious readership with such frothy dross.

Ashley has a great handle on the humour of the characters (aside from having great style in his art and choice of garments). This comic is about getting a certain sense of humour across to a certain kind of reader, and I have ultimate confidence in myself and Ash as a team to do that.
My brother has got my copy of Too Tough To Die.


When I look back at the old TANK GIRL strips, I always think that it was barely influenced by other comics. A little Brendan McCarthy here, a little 2000AD there, but mainly it’s Chuck Jones’ ROADRUNNER cartoons, the MAD MAX movies, pop music, references to old T.V. shows, etc. Did you even read comics before falling in with Phil and Jamie? Do you read any now? Plus, what music can we expect to see feeding back into your work now? The same old stuff, or have you fallen for any new bands?
I'm not a big comic fan, I used to read The Freak Brothers when I was at school. I was pretty blown away by Milligan, McCarthy and Ewin's stuff in Strange Days when Jamie introduced me to it, that was the coolest comic I'd ever seen, probably still is. Nowadays I read Daniel Clowes, that's about it.
No new bands, just some very, very old ones.

I see Ash has your old PLANET SWERVE mucker Glynn Dillon contributing some work to the next issue of his art mag (and I don’t mean that euphemistically) SWALLOW. What’s he up to these days? His is a name I often see bandied around affectionately whenever someone starts a Where Are They Now? thread on any comic book message board.
Glyn shares studio space with Jamie at Zombie Flesh Eaters. He has become one of the most talented storyboard artists on the planet. As you can imagine, having such a prolific job, his art has taken some quantum leaps forward.
We have been working on a new idea for some time that will hopefully see light of day this year. It will also feature input from Jamie, Ashley Wood, Philip Bond, Brendan McCarthy and Pete Milligan. I can't say another word on the matter (I'll probably get my wrist slapped for revealing what I have!), but I'll let you know more as soon as poss.

Along those lines, what do you think the odds are of Jamie ever returning to the medium of comic books in the future? Is he lost forever to pop, animation and hanging out with Mark Kermode?
I can't answer for Jamie. And I don't know who Mark Kermode is. Does that make me lucky?


Possibly. Alan Martin - thank you and goodnight!

Monday, January 15, 2007

KEVIN SMITH worries about PREACHER offer

Apparently, Kevin Smith had a fairly typical reaction when asked by Mark Steven Johnson if he'd like to direct an episode of PREACHER - fear.

"Yeah, he asked me if I wanted to direct an episode of 'Preacher'; which I thought was pretty kind of him; but, I don't know if I'm up to that. I love that book so much, and being able to translate one of those books to the screen, I don't think that's me. 'Cause you don't want to be the guy who f**ks it up, and so I was like, 'Well, I don't know, we'll see.' But I'm certainly not committed to do it, only as much of I don't want to drop the ball 'cause I like it so much. But if it was some show I didn't like; I mean, I've never really directed TV anyway, so it's kind of difficult getting my head around it, but since it's an hour-long drama, presumably, I'd be more keen to directing a movie rather than TV – I don't know, maybe, maybe. The thing that would keep me from doing that would be I'd be afraid of ruining what I like so much about 'Preacher' – so we'll see if that happens."

I dunno - Smith could probably direct a fairly decent episode of Jesse and Cassidy sitting in a bar talking shit. That's pretty much Smith's whole career as a film-maker, surely?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I am a red-hot animator

Never let it be said that I was unproductive today. Because today I animated a little army of dancing Supermen, inspired by Grant'n'Vince's ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #6. All my own work, but thanks to Drawn! for the link. These little Superoos sure like to move it, move it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Strewth, mate.

Christ love a duck. Ashley Wood has just announced on his blog that he and Alan Martin will be relaunching Tank Girl at IDW in May. Woah. That news certainly came out of nowhere. I suppose I won't really know how I feel about this until I have the first issue right here in my hands. At least Ash is a proper Australian, but Tank Girl without Jamie Hewlett? That'll take a bit of getting used to. But right now, my inner seventeen year old is feeling pretty stoked.

Monday, January 08, 2007

new, faster-acting BITS OF BAD LIBRARIANSHIP BUSINESS.

1. Big night on telly tomorrow. The best ongoing show on British TV, Paul Abbott's SHAMELESS, restarts on Channel 4 (with a second episode debuting straight after on E4), while the best ongoing show on American TV, Ron Moore's BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, restarts on Sky 1. And if you're that way inclined, the last series of THE O.C. kicks off on E4, too. Anything's better than SOAPSTAR SUPERSTAR, right?


2. No plug shall go unreciprocated. ALL THE RAGE new boy Steve Saunders is a fellow 2000AD nut, and has shaken things up nicely in his first couple of columns for the venerable old gossip warhorse. And he likes this blog, so you know he's got good taste.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

review: The Art Of Brian Bolland

When I was a young man, I may have signed a particularly nefarious Faustian pact with Aul' Nick. I can't really remember, and I've drank a hell of a lot since then. I think it went something like this in the end: "Sure you can have big glossy art books by three of your favourite artists, Mark, but you'll have to wait until you're in your thirties until they come out... mwuhahahahaha!". Bastard.


I thought I was buying this book for, duh, the art of Brian Bolland. Yet for any comic art fan of my nationality and age, ironically, what might end up leaving the greatest impression about this book (and I assure you, it's a big, heavy slab of a thing - if I decided to use it as a weapon, it'd make a hell of an impression) is the text. Bolland's narrative is one part confessional; one part sentimental journey; one part social history; to one part backstage memoir, with all the juicy titbits about his days at 2000AD and DC a comics groupie could want. It tells us a lot about the man, his background, and the industry he's chosen to work in. It even serves somewhat as a family album. You wanna see Brian Bolland at Stonehenge? Check. Bolland in Red Square? Check. Kevin O'Neill at his desk in IPC Towers, circa 1977? Check. Dave Gibbons smoking a big cigar in a fancy restaurant? Yup.


I say "chosen", because with talent like his, he could easily have strayed from comics - there are plenty of examples of his advertising work (though he clearly didn't have the temperament to stay in that world), and plenty of covers for TIME OUT here, too - but chooses instead to continue in the field he clearly loves. That said, he does have a hell of an inferiority complex about comics, which he touches on often without ever really attempting to analyse it. From the blurb on the back cover and onwards throughout the book, he creates or mentions scenarios that suggest a certain discomfort or embarrassment with comics; his lack of fame outside a small subculture of fans; and the lack of understanding when he has to explain to non-comics fans (Hock! Spit!) what exactly he does for a living.


The cynical, working class, no-nonsense, Irish part of me would suggest that Bolland should just bloody get over it - he's pre-eminent in his field, he's produced a gorgeous body of work, he's loved by that aforementioned subculture (who may be small but are damned influential). Of course, the comics fan in me also looks at the latter half of the book and wistfully wishes he'd do more sequential work. Though he may have convinced himself he's a cover artist these days, every opportunity he gets to draw interiors he absolutely belts it out of the park (his BATMAN: BLACK & WHITE short, through to his current crop of Mr Mamoulian strips in NEGATIVE BURN to his chapter in the FABLES hardback 1001 Nights Of Snowfall). The chapters showcasing his work drawing covers for THE FLASH and various BATMAN titles do suggest a deep discomfort with the whole process of being a "superhero cover artist" and working within the whims of editors and colourists an ocean away. I say come back to what you know, Brian. Draw some comics. Be happy.

I heart Phil Bond, pt2

Elsewhere on the 'net, a while back, I was discussing the merits of an American artist with a penchant for drawing big monkeys. This turned to someone opining how he'd probably do a good ANGEL & THE APE. I demurred, adding that any new Angel & The Ape series should be done by the team that did the last mini at Vertigo, namely Howard Chaykin and Philip Bond. This then turned to my mentioning Bond's great pop art Sci-Fi turn in DEADLINE, Cheeky Wee Budgie Boy, and his most out there work of anthromorphicism, DOGMEAT. Of course, both these references drew blanks. Tsssk. Kids today.

Basically, CWBB was where Bond transcended his earlier work, Wired World, for the first time, showing he could do so much more than just cute girls wandering about their flat in their knickers. Dogmeat, however, showed he could also do cute girls wandering around with no knickers at all. Any ever-so-mild whiff of Crumbian misogyny was completely undercut with a gonzo sense of the absurd, meaning no-one in their right mind could take offence.


So, purely in order to educate the masses, here's the first episode of DOGMEAT, from DEADLINE #57. Which, as I said is out there dude, meaning utterly not safe for work. Filthy boy.

page 1

page 2

page 3

page 4

page 5

page 6

New Year, new haircut


Eczema attack thanks to a couple of days on the claret.

Liam Sharp gets all wistful

...about the boomtime at Marvel UK. I'm largely oblivious to this era of Marvel UK (at this stage in my life I was at college, and the only comics I was really still reading were 2000AD, DEADLINE and DC's LSH V4), but Liam makes it sound like a lot of fun was being had.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

networking, and other stuff

This is ComicSpace. This is my ComicSpace page. It doesn't seem to be able to do much yet, but it's always good to keep your hand in.


Just watched BBC4's docko on The Old Grey Whistle Test and remembered... The Sensational Alex Harvey Band were fuckin' great. Must see if I can get some of their work on CD - I used to have a compilation record and a live album on vinyl way back when, largely thanks to the influence of my hippy sister and her biker friends.


Oh, and my New Year's resolution? To stop using the adjective "great" so fuckin' much. Really. It's getting out of hand.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I heart Phil Bond, pt1


Oh yeah, baby. The cover to the 30th anniversary issue of 2000AD.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy new year!

Wahey! Happy new year to all my new friends I've made through this blog, and to all my old friends who've been using it to keep in touch. I'm about to pass out ove r## my keyboard folks, but gawd bless us, every friggin' one ..

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