Tuesday, July 31, 2007

WARNING!

If you bootleg Led Zeppelin, Peter Grant can no longer come 'round to your gaffe and beat seven shades of shit out of you. 'Cus he's dead. But Jimmy Page himself will follow you to the ends of the Earth (ie: Scotland) and prosecute you to the full extent of the law. And probably engage you in psychic warfare, Crowley-stylee, while he's at it.

Mmmm, a free Porsche, you say?

Eh, que sera sera.

College days

Anyone who's ever lived in any shared, communal environment will tell you: there's always one asshole there whose sole purpose in life is to make everyone else's unbearable. *cough* Jim Black. So yeah, this rang very true when I read it. Very funny, bitchy in a way only men can be, but also very painful.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

"Thank you so much for this excellent contract renewal opportunity"

This year's Eisner Awards feature a lot of decisions I can get behind, but especially the well-deserved one for Mark Buckingham. He's the British Steve Rude, I keeps telling ya!

Just don't let Jim Mazzeo draw it.

Here's official confirmation of a rumour I ran with a long time ago: Vertigo to publish a graphic novel based on Neil Young's underwhelming eco-rock opera GREENDALE.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Why comics and guitars are the opposite of politics.

I love guitars and I love comics, and right now, it's the epicentre of the news season for both. The two biggest trade shows for the two industries are, by some wacky coincidence, going on simultaneously: NAMM and SDCC. As such, there's plenty of stories leaking out from each catching my eye. Like this and this. Mmm, sparkly purple.

That said, Newsarama's Steve Fritz has given Doctor Who's history in the comics quite a mangling there. Eh, whaddyeh expect?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Iron Man - Verdict:

Yeah, I can live with that.

Ben Caldwell and the Deathly Hallows.

So I dropped friend-of-this-blog Ben Caldwell, an illustrator with something of a history with Harry Potter, a line with a friendly enquiry about whether he'd enjoyed THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. His reply was quite comprehensive, so I'll run it verbatim as a second review of the book. He makes some great points. And then drew some kick-ass pictures. Check out more of his art (including more HP-inspired work) at daredetectives.com.

"Hi Mark!

I did indeed read hp7, it was great! I was actually surprised at how
good it was -- not that Rowling is a bad writer, but when she
introduced the whole horcrux angle in hp6, and then the hallows
angle here, I didn't think she'd be able to tie it all together, and
there would be
some limp Stephen King ending.

And while Voldemort was a pretty stereotypical villain in the
beginning, these last two books really fleshed him out as maybe
the best villain since Dracula. When you think about similar
villains like Sauron, Dr. Doom or Darth Vader, both their motives
and their "evilness" have a certain abstraction to them.
Voldemort's drive is so visceral that you could picture a real
person in his mold. And his casual murders (chapter 1) are
much more intimately disturbing than the general threat of
goblin hordes or clone armies or doominators.


I think that quality in the books is the true secret of their
success -- Ihave friends who barely read fiction, let alone
fantasy, who were really wrapped up in these characters and
their lives. It's hard to imagine any-one
wrapped up in Legolas, as cool as he is.


I didn't expect it when I started the series, but I think
collectively these are really the great fiction classics of our
age. People are used to thinking of "classics" as serious,
"realistic" books where nothing happens -- which flies
in the face of thousands of years of the Odyssey,
Beowulf, Dante, Moby Dick andthe like -- HP shows how
broad a field great literature can be. I don't know that
Rowling is a particularly elegant writer, which I used to
hold against her, and of course a huge chunk of her
material was done before by other people, but there's j
ust no escaping the overall quality of the stories.

Anyways... here are some doodles I did after reading
hp7. I wish Flitwick, who is a total sissy but also a
master wand duellist, had done some
crazy stuff in the end. Oh well."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Martian leitmotif.

If anyone comes here and thinks, "wow, Mark writes about this Paul Pope character a lot, what's with all that?", well, here's a decent little piece that'll pretty much bring you up to speed, and might make you want to check his work out (recommendation - if in doubt, go to your local library and request HEAVY LIQUID and 100%).

Monday, July 23, 2007

panzer division

Being a nosey bastard and a Google detective of the highest order, I thought I'd share this link with you: some great Rufus Dayglo/Ashley Wood pages from TANK GIRL: THE GIFTING #3. I enjoyed #1 tremendously - Alan Martin has rather miraculously stepped right back into his groove with the character. I suppose I shouldn't have been as surprised about that as I was, kinda:I realised Alan had the same deep connection to the character, the same sense of humour, back when I interviewed him. And as much as I loved Ash's work on the book, adding Rufus to the mix makes it look just that little bit more old school DEADLINE.

Everybody: just take a deep breath and relax.

As we all know, comic book artists are a bunch of miseryguts. They hang about in poorly-lit corners of attics and basements, day and night, chained to their easels, drawing insane acts of violence, with only the voices in their heads and abusive text messages from editors for company. These unique pressures can make them lurch to their Macs and make suicide threats on their blog, or even weirder cries for help.

Now, imagine the state of mind of a poor freelancer, already driven to the edges of sanity by recent disappointing contact with the thronged mass of humanity outside his door. He hears that one of his peers, a taller, ridiculously successful and acclaimed one at that, has announced a new project that sounds not completely unlike his own. What would happen then when he hears that yet another publisher has announced another similar sounding variation on the theme? Would he crack? Would he fly to California, strap an I.E.D. around his chest, and march right in to the San Diego Comic-Con making barely coherent threats? I'd like to think he would.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

go yank yer CRANK

Oh, and saw CRANK on Sky Premier, Saturday night. It was the first movie I've seen expecting nothing, and knowing nothing about, but really loving, since CABIN FEVER. I heartily recommend it - it's the POINT BLANK for the GTA generation.

Finished

Did you see Joanne Rowling on THE JONATHAN ROSS SHOW a couple of weeks back? She wasn't lying - it's a bloodbath. I read the first few chapters at work yesterday, and kept 'hilariously' updating my workmates in the style of the BIG BROTHER voice-over man. "Chapter one, and already another member of staff from Hogwart's is dead", I'd intone in a grave Geordie accent. "Chapter two, and it looks like Harry's owl has taking a rather explosive turn for the worse". Poor old Hedwig. She never really seemed content with her lot in life. And Dobby! Poor, poor, Dobby. I never thought I'd be so moved by some unwanted comic relief taking a knife to the chest. When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than to have some masked cartoon bandito gut Scrappy Doo. But not Dobby!

Well, that's the last HARRY POTTER out of the way, then. Long-time readers will remember that I was one of the first advocates of the "Harry is a Horcrux" theory, but I won't crow about it. They'll also know that the complaint I've made about these books since the end of GOBLET OF FIRE is that Rowling should have abandoned her set-in-stone formula right then, with the resurrection of Voldemort. Instead she kept the formula going for two more novels, only really knocking it on the head with this one. Even then, one still sees something of the skeleton of her previous set-in-stone structures: the scene with the Dursleys, the passing of the seasons, the Christie-like mysteries, a scene near the climax where Dumbledore shows up and explains everything, equal parts Gandalf and Poirot (this time, in a rather David Lynchian afterworld). That said, the all-out war I wanted to see erupt in book five of the Potter books only comes in the last hundred pages or so of this one, but when it does arrive, it is immensely satisfying. The problem with these books (since the books started becoming unwieldy with Goblet..., anyway) has been that Rowling has had problems balancing her great set-pieces with unwanted, prolonged, expository sequences of utter tedium. It's the same story for this book, for the first half, at least. She finally strikes the right tone again here, from Harry, Ron & Hermione's return to Hogwart's, and onwards. It's her most sustained period of good writing in any of this series.

Plus, being a puerile twit, I loved Ron's potty mouth (this has been something I've watched develop with each book - it culminates suitably and trimphantly with his use of "effing" and "two-faced bastard", though he fails to drop the c-bomb on Voldemort, dammit), lashings of under-age drinking, and rather liberal wand-based innuendo from Rowling. Good girl!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bored, bored, bored.

I have a very real sense that I'm just marking time until I start reading HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. I may just go climb aboard the Liquid Time Machine (see above image for details) so I wake up in tomorrow that little bit faster (if with a slight headache). I suppose I won't get much blogging done in the near future, then.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

Over at The Engine: Andy Diggle wants to publish his creator owned comics through Image. But when he's a little too honest about wanting to pitch these ideas simultaneously at Hollywood (and let's face it - everyone is at it these days, comic creators, movie makers, even actors: to name two hooked up at Image - Seth Green and Rosario Dawson), he gets rather defensive about a perceived slight by Si Spurrier and jumps right down his throat. Fortunately peace breaks out quickly (or, for the zoologically minded, beta dog Spurrier rolls over after alpha dog Diggle bares his teeth - you decide).

Mark Millar's original pitch for CIVIL WAR...

... is here. It's as over-blown as hell, he throws everything and the kitchen sink into it, includes everything you ever heard rumoured at any time to be in the book (the return of Thor, the tie-in to PLANET HULK, the "death" of Captain America), and is approximately 2.8 times more entertaining than the (ultimately, anti-climactic) final product.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

note to JACKO

You'll like this. Not a lot, but you'll like it.

Now stop reading, and press "play"!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"6 Questions The Last HARRY POTTER Book Better F#@king Answer"

Here. I laughed out loud a few times.

But then, I'm a Harry Potter nerd.

do you LOVE METAL? do you LOVE THOR?

'Course you do!

Hoisin sauce.

Marvel solicitations are out: normally I'd buy any comic by Ty Templeton and Juan Bobillo. But HOWARD THE DUCK? Without Steve Gerber? Why do they keep pulling these f'ckin' strokes?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Putting my money where my mouth is.

As Mr Advocate For Digital Publishing, I should point this out: the lovely folks at Twomorrows and their decision to publish their magazines in lovely augmented PDF format (their magazines are usually in black and white, their digital editions will be in colour). Hope this experiment goes well for them, they do great work (I've been getting The Jack Kirby Collector since #1).

"You can now download our July issues: Alter Ego #70, Back Issue #23, Draw #14, Write Now #16, and Rough Stuff #5, in PDF format, for only $2.95 per download. Just go to www.twomorrows. com and click on the "Digital Editions" link on the left-hand side of our homepage.

These files are in FULL-COLOR, and available before the printed copies hit stores. And if you're a subscriber to our printed editions, you get FREE access to the Digital Editions while you're waiting for our printed copy to arrive in the mail. (Subscribers should have received an email notice telling them how to download their free digital edition; if you didn't, you need to send us your email address along with a request to twomorrow@aol. com.)

This is a six-month test, to see what the response is, and how it'll affect our print sales. So please don't share the digital files you download; we rely on the sale of every copy (print and digital) to keep our mags going!"

second sighting for BATTLING BOY.

I've mentioned before how being a fan of Paul Pope brings its own frustrations, mainly how he'll announce half a dozen fantastic sounding projects, go radio silent, then turn up with something unrelated. Well, after first mentioning it here, we've finally gotten another sign that work on his book for First Second, BATTLING BOY, ("It's a kind of a fairytale kid Beowulf, or a Peter Pan with teeth. It's set in a mythical city called Monstropolis, a city the size of a continent that's overrun with monsters") is still ongoing. Here's a great image from the project that Pope is releasing as a promo card for the San Diego Comic Con. Love the designs, esp the big looming head of Battling Boy's dad at the back. Kinda reminds me of the P Craig Russell's Elric helmet. With Batman's nose. And Joe Dredd's chin.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Aaargh, it's Giant Planet Eating Guy With A Tuning Fork-Shaped Helmet

A while ago, I had a running debate with the ever-charming Brendon Connelly over at his blog about how to make Galactus work in the confines of the FANTASTIC FOUR movie franchise. He thought a straight adaptation of Kirby's character design would look awful, I thought SF/fantasy movies have a great tradition of giganticism (King Kong, Godzilla, LOTR's trolls, Balrogs, etc) and could look amazing if done properly. I've just read what the artist Eric Canete has to say on the matter at his blog, and I'll consider it the final word.

"I heard that in FF: ROTSS, Galactus is a cloud. And that the argument for this is because the people in charge of making the movie thought having a giant planet eater guy with a tuning fork-shaped helmet would look ridiculous. I guess... maybe. But the chrome man flying around on a surfboard, or the big man made of orange rocks is...not as ridiculous? It's entertaining how subjective taste can be, yeah?"

more NEW GODS blogging

DC Direct's range of cute NEW GODS dollies. These actually look a bit Kirbyish, for a change (via Wizarduniverse).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

national celebration of mediocrity, pt XXIV

I see Popbitch are reporting that Journey's Don't Stop Believin' is number one in Ireland thanks to an appearance in the last episode of THE SOPRANOS. Well, the last episode isn't showing here until next Thursday, so if this track is number one, it's just because the Irish have uniformly awful taste in music (see also: the entire careers of Boyzone, The Corrs, Westlife, Daniel O'Donnell, Hugo Duncan, Horse It Into Ya, Cynthia, etc).

Friday, July 13, 2007

land of a thousand lagers

Crappy, metallic-tasting piss Colt 45 have a new website teeming with Jim Mahfood artwork here. It has a make your own strip feature: here's mine.

Armagideon a new guitar

Loving Fender's mini-site for their Joe Strummer Telecaster. And yes, what an awful Clash pun. First spotted, via the Electric Guitar Review, here. And then, more here.

Hope Glenn's reading this.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

file under "completely unnecessary"

I love Sergio Leone, too, but did anybody actually want a comic based on The Man With No Name? Nah, me neither.

SAMURAI JACK Fowler.

Spend more time thinking about cartoons than a grown-up really should? Then you'll like this rather good interview with Fred Seibert. Chances are, he's produced a lot of stuff close to your heart.

R2-D2 plays back The Message. By Grandmaster Flash.

How often do you go to a website and have to turn the crappy music off? pretty often? Well, here's a site that is the opposite entirely, a site where you actually want to listen to the background sounds. Love STAR WARS? Love hip hop? Get over to JAKe's Star Wars subpage, turn your speakers up, and listen to Obi Wan lecture young Luke on the ways of the DJ. And while you're there, check out his George Lucas endorsed (!), Phil Bondesque, artwork.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Tagged?! Oh shit!"

Well, there's been a meme going around a lot of blogs I read: name eight random things about yourself. First I saw it at Redhead Fangirl, then at Walls & Bridges, (edit: and Rab, of course) but then Ig went and bloody tagged me. Doesn't he know I hate writing about myself, and regularly delete in a cold sweat anything I write that might be considered personal? Y'know, I'm deep in denial about way too much shit in my life. It's not for nuthin' that my sidebar profile used to feature the words "This isn't one of those touchy-feely blogs either - as far as you're concerned, I'm a robot with no squishy human emotions, right? If you want to hear about some stranger's rich inner life - move along! ".

Goddammit, Ig! If I give anything meaningful away, this could set me back years!

1. I'm not a qualified librarian. Both my degrees are for literature. That said, nearly every book I read in my second year at college has been wiped from my memory thanks to alcoholism. Fortunately, I'm a happy drunk. But I can drink a lot. I'll go so far as to issue a blanket challenge: I bet I could drink any other comics blogger under the table. Hollow legs, Irish genes. Boo ya!

2. I've hinted in the past that I've sold comics on Ebay to the great and the good, but never exactly named names. So here's the big one. I once sold a complete set of IDENTITY CRISIS first editions to Paul McCartney.

3. I'm the only person in my family who doesn't like beetroot. For me, it's still all about the Marmite, baby.

4. The greatest influences on my listening habits during my developing years were my sister Les, my cousin Geoff and my mate Ali. God bless 'em for all the great music they've turned me on to over the years. Bonus fact! After a few drinks, my favourite Stax singer is William Bell.

5. I have a fundamental belief that all the best bass players are either female or fat men. This is because they respond differently from skinny dudes to low resonant frequencies, for separate physiological reasons. Women, due to their dish shaped pelvic bones, and lardys due to their extraneous wobbly matter.

6. Twice people have tried to insult me by physically comparing me to Tony Soprano, which is pointless, 'cus I'll always take that as a compliment. Dude's a god. That said, I have significantly more hair than James Gandolfini. I always joke that the guy who should play me in the movie of my life is Mark Benton - doughy, pasty, proved he can do the Ulster accent.

7. When you see me walking down the street, chances are I'm humming John Williams' Imperial March. And yes, I'd like it played at my funeral. With the pallbearers in stormtrooper costumes.

8. I hate internet memes that don't involve drawing Batgirl.

Phew! I think I made it. And that took a helluva lot longer than I'd have liked. It aint easy being superficial!

cosmic dread

Like every other red blooded comics blogger, I love Jack Kirby's early Seventies output for DC. So when I see this over at Newsarama, my heart fills with dread. And not just because it's called THE DEATH OF THE NEW GODS: it's 'cus even though I admit to liking COSMIC ODYSSEY, that's purely down to seeing Mike Mignola having a blast with so many Kirby designs. Its author, Jim Starlin failed to get his head around the New Gods spectacularly (famously getting entirely the wrong end of the stick about Darkseid and the very nature of his pursuit of the Anti-Life Equation). He's not the writer to bring these concepts to a fitting end. Hopefully there'll be an announcement at San Diego that a more fitting imagination, someone with a mind on Kirby's wavelength (okay, I'll come out and say it - Grant Morrison) has further plans for these classic characters.

Monday, July 09, 2007

robotik lovah

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA series four spoilers/speculation. Some of this sounds interesting, some less so (Cylon centurians gaining sentience - yay! The final five immortal Cylons - gah!). Seems like Apollo wasn't hallucinating at the end of season three's finale, though.

DC announces webcomics imprint

Zudacomics. So this is DC dipping its toe into digital publishing? I reserve judgement.

(updated - more here - DC seem to want to use this medium as a talent search rather than to break new formats).

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Next!

And to further my claim to be Ulster's number one Tom Jones dissing blog: here's how to do it right: The Sensational Alex Harvey Band wring every ounce of absurdist drama out of Delilah.

Apologia

In sincere apology to everyone scarred for life by some of my recent really bad music selections, here's something soothing. The wicked Wilson Pickett taking The Beatles' Hey Jude back to church.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

long wait for INTERSECTIONS nearly over

Looks like Image will be shipping three books next week that I've either pre-ordered or have in my Amazon basket. So, go here for previews of MADMAN GARGANTUA, INTERSECTIONS (a project you may remember I first mentioned here in May 2006), and GODLAND: PROTO-PLASTIC PARTY, amongst others.

for Nelly.

While we're on a musical/YouTube tip: here's the pinnacle of Country & Irish culture. A video for Conal Gallen's Horse It Into Ya, Cynthia.

more totally accurate predictions from the Nostradamus of rock

I've read a lot of reviews of Frank Black: 93-03 recently, and a lot of them suggest that his solo output was pretty much a wasteland between TEENAGER OF THE YEAR and DOG IN THE SAND. This is, of course, bollocks. When the real story of his career is written, many years hence, I'll stick my neck out and predict that the eponymous first Frank Black and The Catholics album is re-evaluated as something of a power pop classic.

So there.

murder on the dancefloor

I sort of promised this, so here goes: leathery orange tory Tom Jones and Joe Perry, absolutely slaughtering the Arctic Monkeys I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor. Bloody criminal.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Who he?

Spent a lot of this evening reading (and enjoying) extracts from Pete Townshend's autobiography-in-progress, here. Even if he did get my goat slightly with his performance at Glastonbury a week or two ago.

Catherine Tate returns to WHO.

Y'know, the BBC really are to be commended for the way they handle DOCTOR WHO's publicity. When the show is off air, and in production, they keep the show in the media spotlight by drip-feeding the tabloids a steady pulse of news, rumours and speculation. This latest announcement came as something of a swerveball (directly contradicting another rumour I always thought didn't hold much water anyway), and is sure to split Whovians down the middle between those who trust the current team and will hold judgement, and everyone else who hated her rather broad performance in The Runaway Bride.

Link for Rab

Free the future! Grab it now!

Gorillaz in our midst.

Remember: Damon and Jamie's Excellent Adventure, tonight, BBC1 - times may vary regionally.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Russell T Davies - spinning it around.

I read this at work this morning and I suppose I shouldn't let it lie. DOCTOR WHO producer reckons "series three has gained outstanding reviews"? Um, yes and no. The run from Human Nature to The Sound Of Drums received outstanding reviews. Everything else got a mixed response, to say the least. So that was five good to great episodes out of thirteen. That's less than half marks. Sure, having all the best episodes coming out in the second half of the run ensures going out on something of a wave of euphoria, but still - that's a low hit rate. Series four has got to do better, frankly. God knows what the Christmas special will be like, but the teaming of three national treasures (Doctor Who, plus little Kylie, plus Kylie's bottom) certainly ensures seismic levels of mainstream media attention. Anyway, here's Kylie's first, rather memorable stab at SF.


But loaning Martha Jones to TORCHWOOD for a few episodes is a good idea: it certainly ups the likeability of that cast by a good 75%. By the last episode of their first series I was praying to Pazazu that at least three of them would bite the bullet.

let's get digital

It's good to see this week's Lying In The Gutters has a piece by Rich Johnston pretty much reiterating everything I've ever said about the need for a legal downloading service for comics. Groovy - as I keep saying, creating a standard for an "iTunes for comics" could be the tipping point that turns comics into a mass media again.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

David Hine interviews Paul Gravett

Part one. Wish there was a title like ESCAPE on the stands today. Part COMICS JOURNAL, part RAW, but more approachable and populist than either of those. I loved it.

Would Mike Mignola have ever scripted the words "Hellboy confronts an army of undead soldiers" if he was still drawing it himself?

Would he bollocks! Fegredo is drawing his heart out on every page of this book, and the synergy between the two creators is crackling. Mignola is clearly having a ball writing this. Not having to draw the book seems to have been a liberation of sorts.

Pope On Mars

A recurring theme of this blog is my manly, hetero love for Paul Pope. And over at his blog, he's delighted me again, first by calling the iPhone "a retarded Mother Box", and secondly by announcing a new THB, to come out in the summer. This is an old tactic of Pope's, announce countless new projects that bloody never show up, then slip out a new issue of his over-arching gesamtkunstwerk to relieve the frustration.

I bet that you sound shite on the dancefloor

You haven't laughed until you've heard Tom Jones and Joe Perry (that's right - the pretty one out of Aerosmith - I was never confused) lasciviously murdering The Arctic Monkeys' I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor. It's shoot-your-dinner-out-your-nose funny. Hurry up, YouTube.