Sunday, July 30, 2006

Nick Stakal

The blog of Nick Stakal. He's drawing the comic STRANGE GIRL for Image, written by the impressively alliterative Rick Remender. I like his work. He may well go places, with his moody goodness. Downside? He doesn't update his blog too often.


Avuncular literary correspondent Mike Moorcock writes: "Le Grand Prix de Jack Trevor Story, otherwise known as the Jack Trevor Story Memorial Cup was voted on by a panel of judges meeting at the traditional brasserie, L'Horizon, rue St Placide, on the last Friday in July. Judges included Jeff VanderMeer, Jean-Luc Fromental, Martin Stone, John Coulthart and Michael Moorcock. The cup and the cash prize of $1000 will be sent to the unanimous winner, who can best be relied upon to meet the condition of the prize that it must be spent in a week to a fortnight and the author have nothing to show for it, Mr Steve Aylett." This is to recall Mr Story's famous reply to the bankruptcy judge who enquired where a substantial sum of money paid to him for film rights had gone -- "You know how it is, judge. Two hundred or two thousand, it always lasts a week to a fortnight".

I was terribly touched by this - that's one hell of a way to both celebrate a friendship, while providing patronage to the arts (and let's face it, hostelry). That said, inflation means that a serious hellraiser should be able to clear a grand in a night, never mind a fortnight, these days. Hell, lead me to a restaurant with a decent wine list and I'm sure I could find a couple of vintage ports that'd take me most the way there, never mind the hookers and coke.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Proper Dredd sketch

Okay, so you've seen my five-year-old niece's sketch of Joe Dredd (with a little help from me, admittedly): here's Ash Wood's. Ash did some illustrations for Toof as a younger, lesser artist. It's juvenalia, frankly. In fact he'd probably be embararassed to be reminded of it. But dammit Ash! Turn the friggin' comments feature on at yer blog*! How the hell am I supposed to kiss yer arse all the time otherwise?! Open another window, cut and paste yer email address, and blether on?! Too much like hard work, mate! Bloody aussies!

*and no bloomin' "told you so" comments from PJ Holden, either, thank you very much.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

See the ULTIMATE AVENGERS 2 preview, if you could be arsed

The first ten minutes and twenty two seconds of the ULTIMATE AVENGERS 2 direct-to-DVD animation are available here, a sort of Bebo-ish site. And guess what? It's even worse than the first one. Oh deary. In a way, it's a textbook in what was wrong with the first one. I could go into a rant here, but that'd be too much like hard work for a truly undeserving subject. Suffice to say, THE ULTIMATES was a comic where Marvel's flagship characters were reinvented as a blockbuster movie. The script was smart, funny and cynical, like Shane Black (even if I cringed every time writer Mark Millar included an action movie cliche like "lock and load" or "bring it on"). The spectacle was big and overblown, like ILM working overdrive for Tony Scott or Michael Bay to fulfill Joel Silver or Jerry Bruckheimer's every tasteless superhero fantasy. Artist Bryan Hitch even drew A-list stars into roles in the book, famously basing Nick Fury on Sam Jackson, but also giving the shape-changing alien villain, Herr Kleiser, the visage of Bobby Carlyle. The cartoon has none of these virtues. The script is dull, the direction dull, the voice cast dull. Just watch and shudder at the missed opportunities.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Genius - gen-i-friggin'-us

Click it. Click it NOW!

Found that film thanks to Dave Bishop's blog. Where I also found news that the essays he wrote detailing the long history of 2000AD are being compiled and expanded into a book for the 30th anniversary of the comic (next February). Just as I said they should be, last December.

Ah, I'm tells ya - I've got special mystic powers that allow me to see the future! It's a gift, but sometimes a curse!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

masterpiece theatre

Spent large portion of today taking part in v. important collaborative art project with Ciara.

She didn't want any "boy's stuff" in her sketchbook, pretty much only butterflies, cats, and flowers were allowed - but I kinda cheated by inserting pictures of Judge Dredd and The Hulk. It was made clear these would only be tolerated by a technicality. If they were smiling and holding flowers.
So there you go: Judge Dredd and The Hulk. Smiling, and holding flowers. By Ciara, 5 & Mark, 34.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Frank Miller's next job as a movie director... adapting Will Eisner's THE SPIRIT. Such a crazy move, it makes my brain itch a little.

WHO do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler?

So I went to my venerable old local record store to see if they had the new The Who single, Wire & Glass. They didn't, mainly because it wasn't out yet. Cheeky cunts. But being an impatient sod, I went and downloaded it from iTunes anyway. And the good news is: it continues the good form shown by the tracks Real Good Lookin' Boy and Old Red Wine from a couple of years ago. The first track, Wire and Glass pt1, reminds me in places of QUADROPHENIA, and in others WHO'S NEXT: all faultless touchstones (and infinitely preferable to reminding me of, say, FACE DANCES), with the sounds and instrumentation of classic Who. The real revelation is the change to Pete Townsend's vocal style in the sections he takes the lead in: if Roger Daltrey no longer has quite the range and leonine roar he once had, then the guitarist's always reed-thin voice has assumed a Keith Richards, Bob Dylan style gruffness.

The second new track, Mirror Door, is arguably superior to its A-side, a chest-thumping anthem in the great Who tradition, and far better than one could hope to expect from a band of th-th-th-their generation. Especially a band who, over the years, have lost by the wayside their greatest asset, their peerless rhythm section. None of their contemporaries can come this close to touching the form of their classic years - here Townsend and Daltrey have made such a feat seem effortless.

Holy shit!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

2000AD news of a sadder kind

Andy Diggle is reporting over at his blog that the great Tom Frame, comic book letterer, colourist and noted Rolls Royce owner has passed away. I can't find a decent synopsis of his lengthy career anywhere, though click on the header for a link to his wikipedia entry. Suffice to say, 2000AD without Frame's lettering will seem quite different, he's been the archetypical UK comic book letterer for as long as I can remember, the default setting in my head when I think of any famous Tooth dialogue - "gaze into the fist of Dredd" (on the t-shirt, above)? That's his, as integral to the work as Wagner's words and Bolland's art.

I hope editorial at Rebellion choose to keep all Dredd stories lettered in whatever computerised fonts based on his hand lettering Tom has left behind.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Some links nicked from AICN

1. Woooh! The TENACIOUS D movie! Sounds like an extended episode of their HBO series, and that's alright by me.

2. Watch the entire THE AMAZING SCREW-ON HEAD pilot online now! Mmm, Mignolalicious.

3. The first 24 minutes of A SCANNER DARKLY can be seen here, now. Remember: this is my favourite Phil Dick novel, (or is it? I keep imagining I can remember a world where THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE is my favourite. But then it passes, and I get on with my life) so here's hoping it's all as good as this looks.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I Colin Wilson II

I Colin Wilson

Of course, that Dredd page was by Colin Wilson, an artist held in high regard by all 2000AD fans of a certain age. He has had a remarkable career in comics: he turned up on my radar in 1981, where he did a sterling Dredd, and proceeded to be one of the definitive Rogue Trooper artists, after Dave Gibbons and before Brett Ewins and Cam Kennedy. His work, like Gibbons, had a definite Jean Giraud influence (scratch that - Wilson's was Giraud, Gibbons' was more his Moebius alter-ego). This clearly didn't go unnoticed in France, and Wilson was hand-picked to replace Giraud on the YOUNG BLUEBERRY westerns.

Wilson pretty much disappeared off the radar of Anglophone comics for many years at this point, reappearing fairly recently at 2000AD during Andy Diggle's reign (I think - Tharg works in mysterious ways, and it might have been The Bishop), in 1998. His style adapted to fit the look of contemporary 2000AD, with his pinnacle of this period being the Mike Mignola influenced work he produced for the Judge Dredd multi-parter Relentless. Since then, his work has been more regularly seen both sides of the channel (working on other westerns after Charlier's death pretty much ended his Blueberry stint, some sci-fi, and most recently his crime series DU PLUME DANS LA TETE) as well as more work for 2000AD, and increasing taking more jobs in the U.S. for DC imprints, drawing the Wildstorm series POINT BLANK, some work on Diggle's THE LOSERS for Vertigo, and now drawing Garth Ennis's BATTLER BRITTON. This is Wildstorm's revival of the old IPC character, and I've just read the first issue. It reads like a less foul-mouthed version of Ennis's WAR STORIES comics, and is none the worse for featuring a rather traditional protagonist. Wilson's work has again adapted slightly in style, presumably to fit the rigour of a 22 page a month, 5 issue commission: it has a certain looseness about it that reminds me somewhat of Jock (understandable, considering the kind words Wilson has had to say about THE LOSERS at his website). Well worth seeking out, though given Wildstorm's track record, I'm sure this'll be collected in trade paperback format shortly after the mini-series ends.

The illustration in the following entry is the cover to an Aussie (I think - maybe Kiwi) fanzine WORD BALLOONS that recently featured a career-spanning retrospective interview. Wilson has packed a hell of a lot into his career, yet much of it elusive to the Anglophone comic buyer - thank god for, eh?

Got more money than you know what to do with?

Then visit Rufus Dayglo's website selling original art by various British comickers, ARTDROIDS.CO.UK., and buy, buy, buy!

It rocks.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Another day, another artist, another blog, another girl, another planet...

Thanks to DRAWN for pointing this out: the blog of Eric Canete. He's another artist whose first love seems to be comics, despite receiving more regular work and more dough in animation. No-one in American comics draws better robots than Canete (Barry Windsor Smith doesn't count, 'cus he's English), but I've noticed a certain simplicity and fluidity entering his work of late (might have came from working on Bruce Timm's JLU so much) which is making him a more versatile, less aggressively stylistic, artist. He's returned to the comics fray this last year, getting work as a cover artist, but I'd love to see him getting a nice juicy job on a high profile comic. And the cat has a great self-deprecating prose style that's highly entertaining, never mind all the pretty pictures.

So Eric, great blog, just wish you'd scan the images in a bit larger. Remember, I'm as blind as a friggin' bat.

On that subject...

How to get juicy quotes: start a thread over at the John Byrne Forum called "Fall Of The House Of Ideas", slagging off Marvel.

Light blue touchpaper, and retreat. And check out the dedication on this Thing sketch!

the internet is for... ass-kissing

Mark Millar always strikes me as a nice enough guy (never met him, mind, this impression was gathered from interviews and such), though I've wondered out loud to various folks before about the wisdom of starting internet forums with your name on them: Millarworld, and the Warren Ellis Forum before it, always struck me as breeding grounds for all kinds of strange, insular behaviour. Cliquey often, elitist occasionally. Sometimes just plain barmy.

Anyway, Millar was on network tv tonight, on Channel 4's RICHARD & JUDY SHOW, and he was terrible. He looked scared shitless, sweated profusely throughout, wore an ill-fitting shirt and barely got a word in during a round-table discussion (about upcoming sensationalist C4 docko THE CURSE OF SUPERMAN), thanks to professional talking head and comics nerd Paul Gambacinni. But it's heartwarming to see his little cultists circle the wagons and offer a big cyberspace hug for the man during the event. Bless.

I was somewhat hoping that the guy would be on beligerent top form, and Richard and Judy would end up featuring one of his graphic novels in a later iteration of their book club: preferably WANTED, RED SON (for the Superman connection) or THE ULTIMATES (rather than the God-bothering CHOSEN, anyway). For non-UK readers, R&J's bookclub has the same sort of clout in our booktrade as Oprah's in the U.S., and getting a slot on the list can turn a book into a massive popular success, and as such is hugely coveted by publishers and authors. Just the sort of thing we need to help comics go overground.

Drinking Harp, eating Potato Bread, that sorta thing

It's the Twelfth Of July, and I'm spending it like every good disaffected liberal Protestant, ripping my backlog of CDs to MP3, and updating some iPod playlists. Now, it can get kinda boring doing this, so I've been doing some web browsing, too. Which is where I came across these: the greatest range of t-shirts ever devised by humanity. And, as I'm sure you've figured out by now, I never exaggerate.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wish You Were Here

Funny, but I've been thinking of Syd a lot recently, hearing his name everywhere, and then this today: the BBC OMNIBUS documentary; the revival in interest in The Floyd, post-LIVE 8; the references to him throughout Tom Stoppard's new play ROCK'N'ROLL; David Bowie showing up a couple of weeks ago at a David Gilmour concert singing Arnold Layne.

In the pantheon of rock, there were no sadder myths than that of Syd Barrett. He was its Icarus, then its Fisher King. I hope his later years, spent free of the black dog that is the music industry, painting and gardening, were peaceful ones. Let's all adjourn and listen to THE PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN and THE MADCAP LAUGHS, and remember him as the wellspring of inspiration that created an entire branch of rock music.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

WHAMMY! Three links!

1. The script to the once much-touted SUPERMAN/BATMAN movie, here. It's nuthin' special.

2. The new issue of online mag COMICS FOUNDRY: always full of diverting stuff.

3. The "kinda speaks for itself" FAT WONDER WOMAN BLOG! Heavens to Betsy! Here's hoping this one runs and runs.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

more assorted BAD LIBRARIANSHIP business

1. If I could afford to spend five grand on an instrument I can barely play, then this would be it - Premier's Picture Of Lily drumkit.

2. I can't remember, did I vow to have more or less cricket news here? Anyway, R.I.P. the great Fred Trueman.

3. The script for the upcoming WOLVERINE solo movie has supposedly been leaked and reviewed. See it for yourself here and judge for yourself whether you believe it's kosher or not.