Wednesday, February 28, 2007

2000AD PROG 1526

Subscribers got their issue a couple of days ago, it hit newsagents in the "mainland" today, and hits the shops in Northern Ireland tomorrow. And apparently I'm in it. And there's a free badge.

I bought a load of old progs on Ebay a few days ago, to replace some I sold at a Blue Peter Bring & Buy sale in 1980ish. I'll tell you more about that soon.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tons of FRANK MILLER news

Frank couldn't make it to the N.Y.Con due to some form of leg injury, but that hasn't stopped a ton of related news slipping out at his home town convention. Here, he slips some skinny on the direction his The Spirit screenplay is taking (bad news for anyone expecting it to have too much in the way of laughs, it seems). Here is the news that SIN CITY II is moving closer to the starting blocks, supposedly with some shooting in Austin in the spring (from this, it sounds like Weinstein mouthpiece Brendan Deneen isn't too familiar with Ava Lord or her wardrobe from A Dame To Kill For). And finally, in what is probably the biggest news for us comicbook nostalgists, is this: the news that he's collaborating with Neal Adams on a Batman mini-series, to be called ODYSSEY.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Non-UK readers, please click on links for some eye-popping artists you've probably never heard of.

Thinking about Garth Ennis writing Dan Dare just set off a huge chain of free associations in my mind. Like reading later Dare artist (and total illustrative genius) Frank Bellamy's GARTH strip in the Daily Mirror as a kid. How, jumping forward to the nineties, I despised Piers "Morgan" Moron for dropping the strip without one word of explanation in the paper at the time, so he could run strips by his then best friend, an Ulsterman at that. And so that's how I came to Google later Garth artist (and clear Bellamy acolyte) Martin Asbury's name to see what he's up to these days. And lo - turns out he's a big shot storyboard artist, who's worked on some cracking films (and some crap ones, but hey ho), including CHILDREN OF MEN, CASINO ROYALE and BATMAN BEGINS. Because I read LOOK-IN as a kid, he's an artist I'll always associate with a certain, post-THE EAGLE, pre-2000AD era of British cartoonists, alongside John Burns, Jim Baikie and Arthur Ranson (most of whom ended up working at 2000AD anyway). And at his website, you can see pages he drew for Look-In on strips such as BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, both of whom had completely different licensing deals in America (with great artists like Ernie Colon and Walter Simonson drawing Galactica for Marvel, and Howard Chaykin and Neal Adams drawing Steve Austin for Charlton).

So, yeah, if you're in the UK, click on the links for instant nostalgia (hey! them's Tom Frame's letters on those Six Million Dollar Man pages!). And if you're not, click on the links to see a totally alien school of cartooning you may get a hell of a kick out of.

Garth Ennis reveals all at NYerdCon

NOT a regular on the convention circuit by any means (though he was present at one of my first, where he scandalized a room full of idealistic Americans with stories about dumb, self-mutilating terrorists that probably ruined every sentimental misconception they ever held about Northern Ireland), Garth is always entertaining. Here he speaks about THE BOYS leaving Wildstorm, PREACHER's ongoing development at HBO, and how Dan Dare would be his dream project (woah!). That'd be brilliant - a natural fit (written by a product of post-colonial Britain, with all those subtle complexities that brings, but loaded with the military themes Ennis loves). I wonder who owns the rights these days? And can Ian Kennedy draw it?

N.Y. Con = big news weekend.

Sometimes, even Marvel can release an image that presses all the right buttons for a guy who grew up on Marvel's cosmic stuff in the late seventies and early eighties. Bug from Mike Golden's The Micronauts? Check. Mike Mignola's Rocket Raccoon? Check. Mike Golden/Steve Ditko's Captain Universe? Check. Steve Englehart's Mantis from The Avengers? Check. Chris Claremont's Deathbird? Why not? All soon to appear in a Keith Giffen Star-Lord comic, once my favourite Marvel character, due to his back-ups in Marvel UK's STAR WARS WEEKLY. My seven year old self found his "will they-won't they" relationship with his sexy sentient spaceship really quite exciting.

Which is why I was arrested for molesting a Ford Capri last week.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dude! Get a haircut!

The trailer for the second of Neil Young's archive live sets is up.

Happy days! It's got solo acoustic versions of Journey Through The Past, Love In Mind, and Dance, Dance, Dance on there - which means I can now take the Beeb's Neil Young In Concert offa my Sky +!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hellboy Versus Popbot

Did you know that if you Google Ashley Wood's and Duncan Fegredo's names together, there'll be a few entries from this blog turning up at the top of the list? Let's keep that run going with this, a sketch Fegredo did for Ash a while back. Groovy.

Warner Bros. in early stages of producing a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie

Eh, it'll probably never happen. Logistical f#cken' nightmare.

More here (man, those kerr-aazy Ain't It Cool News talkbackers...).

The, uh, long-awaited return of Robin Smith and Ramon Sola!

More 30th Anniversary previews from 2000AD. Looks like: a great cover and some underwhelming content. Hey kids! Yet another missed opportunity from Rebellion's house of not trying too hard!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Whilst lying about the house, doing little of note.

Not wanting to incense Bell Boy, but its another lunar month later, and another Observer Music Monthly. I like this fact, because it means I'm getting paid soon. And yes, it's another frustrating issue from that most hit-and-miss music publication on the racks. There's a big cover feature on a bunch of female artists who are considerably less important than the editorial team thinks they are (KT Tunstall, Natasha Bleedin' Bedingfield, Joss friggin' Stone), elevated and lumped together mainly because of that old chestnut, "they've conquered America". Ah, the British music press and its antique dreams of empire.

Yet, despite that misfire, there's a cracking excerpt from MOJO man Paul Trynka's mammoth new Iggy Pop biography, OPEN UP AND BLEED. There's also the most honest piece of music journalism I've ever read, by Paul Morley, pretty much putting the boot into the entire condition of his chosen form.

Also recommended from my quiet, cultural weekend - Zane Lowe failing spectacularly to bond with Nick Cave (and the rest of his "new" band Grinderman) on the BBC's THE CULTURE SHOW. Hilarious old coot. I'm sure it'll turn up on YouTube very soon.

Oh, and I made a trifle. It was delicious. Looked great, too. I should have taken a picture.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

COMICS INTROSPECTIVE - awful name, interesting sounding book.

Being Ireland's premier blogger about these sorts of things, I get a lot of press releases. But, being someone who worked in the saltmines of local journalism, I electronically bin them all out of spite. But here's one that slapped into the aul' inbox today that actually tickled my fancy.

TwoMorrows Publishing adds a new book series to their ranks this Summer with COMICS INTROSPECTIVE, editor Christopher IRVING’s outside-the-box approach to non-mainstream comics talent.

COMICS INTROSPECTIVE conveys what it’s like to hang out with an indy comics talent,” Irving states. “It’s done with a combination of original photography, multiple art gallery sections, and an introspective dialogue with each subject. Don’t expect a standard retrospective interview with these folks: these are in-depth, casual, yet often hard-hitting conversations that just happen to be documented in book form.”

Inspired by the energy of 2006’s Small Press Expo, Irving decided to take his experience as a historian and journalist (on publications like The Blue Beetle Companion and Comic Book Artist magazine, among others) to produce a series unlike anything being published.

“Too often, people are interviewed about what they’ve done, as opposed to who they are and why they’ve approached their careers and craft the way they have... as well as their theories about the comic book artform,” said Irving. “What I’m going for with COMICS INTROSPECTIVE is a real look inside the minds of these creators so that we can better understand where they’re coming from. Think of it as the book equivalent of kickin’ it at a bar with the likes of Peter BAGGE or Dean HASPIEL for a few hours.”

In fact, Volume One, to be released this July, spotlights Hate! comics mastermind Peter Bagge in his Seattle studio, and will debut at Comicon International: San Diego, to be followed by Volume Two on Billy Dogma creator Dean Haspiel in January. Cartoonist and animator Jay STEPHENS is set for the third volume, with more to come. Initial plans are for new volumes to be released at least every six months, and printed on glossy stock to maximize the impact of the art and photography. The US cover price for each 128-page volume is expected to be $16.95.

Publisher John MORROW noted, “We’re largely known for the mainstream talent we cover in our publications, but there’s a whole world of fabulous creators whose work goes beyond spandex-clad super-heroes. We really want to get to the core of each talent’s beliefs, and I can’t think of another journalist who could tackle this fresh approach better than Christopher Irving. We want this series to be as breakthrough as the innovators it covers.”

Since 1994, TwoMorrows Publishing has been celebrating the art and history of comics, with an independent spirit.

I was there at the birth of Twomorrows, sorta - I bought the first couple of photocopied issues of THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from Conquistador, and have been buying their product ever since. They're a great niche publisher - since the death of the fanzine in the internet age, they've exploited that gap in the market with some decent magazines and books. Good to see them widening their horizons to include comic book readers who don't all harbour a desire to see Neal Adams return to drawing Batman. Hey, that's what their old title COMIC BOOK ARTIST shoulda been called. NOSTALGIC OLD GIT.

That said there's two things about this press release that kinda get my goat. The capitalisation of all the surnames, and the phrase "kickin' it at a bar".

Kicking what? The cat?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Just saw HOT FUZZ.

I just wanted it to be better than SHAUN OF THE DEAD. If such a thing was possible. And it was, easily. It was the gun totin', male bondin' movie every SPACED fan would have wanted it to be.

I was going to list all of the films it was better than, but I decided to just go with a small sampling.

It was better than BAD BOYS II. It was better than POINT BREAK. Better than THE MATRIX. Better than CHINATOWN. Better than THE WICKER MAN.

I could go on, but dammit, it's late, and I've been babysitting all day.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

thrill power on your radio

Looks like 2000AD are publicizing their upcoming 30th anniversary in some interesting ways. Good.

you wait all day for a SIR DUNCAN FEGREDO story, then two appear at once...

Mmm, DARKNESS CALLS will be coming out soon, and I'm now officially the most excited about a new Hellboy project since CONQUEROR WORM finished. And so, to whet your appetite for Fegredo's debut appearance as Hellboy artist, here's a little sketch. Man, Duncan was born to draw this.

Every picture tells a story, don't it?

Yup, solicitations week is coming to a close, with Image last up of Diamond's Big Four. In the last couple of years, they've transformed themselves in my eyes from being the publisher of the gaudy tat of the nineties to the artist's co-op that publishes a great little line of comics (GODLAND, CASANOVA, ELEPHANTMEN, STRANGE GIRL, and now MADMAN ATOMIC COMICS). In fact, they're now probably my second favourite imprint after Vertigo. But more importantly, May seems to be British-themed than ever - with, amongst other stuff, Simon Spurrier and Frazer Irving's GUTSVILLE debuts, David Hine starts reprinting a remastered edition of STRANGE EMBRACE, but most tantalisingly, it's the month Duncan Fegredo and Sean Phillips' book INTERSECTIONS finally hits. I first mentioned this book last March, I think, and I've been awaiting it like Pavlov's Fanboy since. Here's the solicitation text:


"INTERSECTIONS
Art and cover by Duncan Fegredo and Sean Phillips.

Conceived during a repast of fine wine and nouvelle cuisine, Intersections is the meeting of two artistic minds. Sean Phillips and Duncan Fegredo play artistic ping pong with a sketchbook -- a drawn and painted conversation where punctuation is provided by the postal service.
Can you read between the paintings?

Intersections: A visual dialogue between Sean Phillips and Duncan Fegredo.

Intersections: The sequential conclusion to an excess of curry and beer."


And here's the cover: Groovy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Right off me Marvel

Whenever comic companies go into crossover feeding frenzies, I'm turned right off. I'm not interested in continuity, or universes, or wider mega-fictions. I'm interested in individual creators or creative teams producing signature work. So, yeah, I've been avoiding the DCU and Marvel recently, with a few notable exceptions (NEXTWAVE only, I s'pose). But this months Marvel solicitations are out, and there's some interesting items. And a couple of great covers. Such as...I've got zero interest in buying this comic, but that's a great cover by the lesser spotted Michael Golden - imagine a world where that guy could stick out 22 pages a month.


Another great cover, this time from a series I could countenance buying (or at least ordering from the library) - Adam Warren's Iron Man miniseries, HYPERVELOCITY. Note the Millar-baiting graffiti upon Captain America's mask. Everything Warren writes tends to be a hoot, with a dark technopunk edge that sets him apart in American comicbooks. He'd make a good fit on 2000AD, probably. If they could afford him.
Now, I keep hearing good things about the writer Jeff Parker, but the only thing of his I've read was a Free Comic Book Day copy of MARVEL ADVENTURES AVENGERS #1. I keep seeing his AGENTS OF ATLAS getting great reviews online - I'll have to order the trade for the library. However, I'll definitely splash out on this: "X-MEN: FIRST CLASS SPECIAL Written by JEFF PARKER Art by KEVIN NOWLAN, PAUL SMITH, MIKE ALLRED & NICK DRAGOTTA Cover by KEVIN NOWLAN From investigating haunted museums to dealing with lovesick dragon men, no mission is off limits for the original mutant heroes. See some of comics' top cartoonists take on Xavier's five!" That's a helluva line-up of artists. I'd show yer Nowlan's cover, too, only it's not that hot.
Okay, you twisted my arm.
That sure is a freaky-skinny Cyclops and Marvel Girl. Cyclops doesn't seem to have any package, either. Great Hank McCoy, though.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Turns out Brian Bendis is a Peter Cook fan...

Luke Cage: Power Man and Champion Cahnt Kicker-In-er.

Posterwire

Just came across this blog: Posterwire, about movie posters. Naaiice.

smut

Over at Nerve, it's "The Comic Issue". Featuring new work by Paul Pope, Jim Mahfood, Andi Watson (a bloody good three pager, tht 'un) and Chynna Clugston, plus interviews with Peter Bagge and Evan Dorkin. Amongst their usual smut.

SIMON FRASER and the Groovy Looking Web-Comic

Of interest to yer British comics fans: sex god Simon Fraser has started a web-comic, over at that hub of all-things-great and web-comicky, ACT-I-VATE. Read about the whys and wherefores here.

Groovy POV in the first few panels. Crackin' colours by Gary Caldwell, too. As always.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Review: PRIMEVAL

So first, the good bits. Dougie Henshall. Charismatic, with that lovely Scots brogue and those twinkly blue eyes (I was never confused). Hannah Spearritt, who plays her lizard expert with a twitchy, gimlet-eyed stare that I presume is a deliberate metaphor for her character's career choice. Plus, the glimpse of her Kylie-tastic arse in the trailer for the second episode. Tres magnifique. Ben Miller, who seems to have walked in from some live-action Gerry Anderson show from ITC (actually, not a bad reference point for most of the production - Gerry Anderson's Jurrasic X-Files!). Big dinosaurs to please the kids. A good looking cast and an indie-lite soundtrack to please the tweens. And just enough intrigue to keep the adults watching.

Yes, it was cliched, the script dropped a few leaden clunkers, and the entire cast seemed like a hodge-podge of nicked archetypes from other shows. Even compared to recent British SFtv, the effects looked a bit... gauzy. But I still liked it enough to hope it does well. 'Cus if it does well, ITV might continue on producing stuff like this, and eventually something great just might be the result.

And, yeah - Britain's dino-hellmouth is located in The Forest Of Dean. What would Dennis Potter think?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I was going to link to this a couple of days ago, but was too lazy to bother doing that, also. What a chancer, eh?

The funniest thing Charlie Brooker's written in ages. And the weird thing is, I love Macs, but I agree with just about everything he says about them. Stick around for the shit-flinging in the comments section, which begins, brilliantly, with Brooker returning for a mini-tirade against the sub-editor who worked on the piece.

I was going to link to this yesterday, but I was too tired and lazy

Mark Evanier to write Jack Kirby biography. Which is about as surprising as "James Boswell to write Samuel Johnson biography" must have been in 1791. That is to say, not very. Still, should be a cracking couple of volumes by the sounds of things.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Garth Ennis' THE BOYS gets its new publisher...

...and it's Dynamite Entertainment. Oh whoopdy-doo. Everything I've ever ordered by these guys has either been chronically late or failed to show up at all.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Race For The Prize

That said, you don't need an unlimited pot of gold to produce comics. Just look at these guys. They offered Egmont £150 for Roy Of The Rovers, and got 'im!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

2000AD - it's all about the benjamins

Paul Holden linked to this, and I thought I'd pass it on too: Dave Bishop's "How-to" notes on editing 2000AD, done when he resigned to become a freelance writer. As someone who occasionally day-dreams in the shower about how I'd go about publishing my own anthology if I won the Euromillions lottery rollover, I'll bear it in mind. Of course, with £70 million in the bank, budget restraints would be no problem. And nor would hiring goons to threaten deadline dodging freelancers. Whiners.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Peripheral vertigo

Interesting thread at The Engine. A bunch of comic pros ponder why their Vertigo comics sell so little. Gotta admit, my cure for the small-mindedness of the direct market is even more drastic. Start selling comics through the newsstands again, sale or return, like the old days. The public proved receptive to smart, adult comics before in America (just ask the ghost of Bill Gaines), and they may well again. The risks are greater, but so are the potential rewards.