Thursday, August 31, 2006

Things that rocked my boat recently

1. George Lucas' state funeral on TIME TRUMPET tonight. Saw Boba Fett saluting the cortege and shot lager right out my nose.

2. New issue of MOJO: some great pieces on Tom Petty (always something of a guilty pleasure of mine), The Jesus & Mary Chain and Monty Python's recording career.

3. Checked Ed Brubaker's X-MEN: DEADLY GENESIS out of the library. It's a good read, but was again struck by the fact that every X-comic worth reading these days is, at a fundamental level, just a reiteration of the Claremont stories we loved as children - Morrison's "remix" on NEW X-MEN; Millar's best-X-MEN-movie-that-never-was in the first couple of books in the ULTIMATE series; and this deconstruction by Brubaker, which reminded me (in all the best ways) of The Red King Syndrome, book two of Alan Moore's run on Marvelman (Everything you know is wrong! All those smashing adventures you remember having as a young man are false memories covering up the tawdry, shitty, truth! etc). One note: the bar man in that Welsh pub Charlie Xavier was lying low in must have been Irish, Scottish or from Yorkshire. We all say "Aye" as an affirmative. The Welsh, however, say "Aye-Aye". As in "Well aye-aye my lovely, I've been out shaggin' sheep all night like. There's nice."

DRAWN! linking me to Jonathan Edward's website: loved his work since seeing his work in a kids book about birds and slowly realising he was also the guy who does all those cool illustrations for The Guardian.

5. Colin Wilson has resuscitated
his blog. Yay!

6. Just got the Leonard Cohen tribute album I'M YOUR FAN on Ebay. Brilliant - where's it been all my life?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Morons of the world: Rejoice!

"Excelsior, true believers! Fed up with smart-arses telling you to widen your horizons? I know I am, friend! So attach your best Spidey-Blinkers (!) and get marching on down to the new merry Marvel message boards! Make mine mediocrity!"


It's just been drawn to my attention by The Great Brendon Connelly, that Neil Gaiman linked to my interview with Brendan McCarthy on his blog yesterday. Groovy. Should bump up the hits nicely.

Monday, August 28, 2006

But hey, enough of my yakkin' - whaddaya say? Let's boogie!

Inspired by Stevie's insane looking Pikasso guitar, for everyone in The Guitar Gods, a decent spank plank blog: The Electric Guitar Review. Now, those are some decent lookin' guitars.

Kirby Day

Happy 89th to the King. Here's a link to a new Jackocentric blog: here's hoping it smartens its act up soon - so far so stoopid.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

last call for SOLO #12

Here's the end of the SOLO #12 preview pages. And I've saved the fan service to the end: it's the goddamn Batman. Versus a great big hand. Hmmm.

yet more McCarthy

Here's another SOLO #12 page to make up for the fact that I didn't post one yesterday. It's not my fault, I was on the gargle.
This one features his take on Johnny Sorrow, which apparently has absolutely no connection to the previous character of that name. This is fitting, 'cus for years, the character existed for me only as a groovy sounding name dropped by Jimmy Robinson of Earth One in STARMAN. And when Geoff Johns did introduce him in JSA, it was as a fairly crappy villain with a way-too convoluted backstory. Plus, when I look at this page, I can't help but think that McCarthy would be the perfect artist for any Jerry Cornelius comicbook Mike Moorcock might ever contemplate.

Feeling much better, thanks for asking

Back to the McCarthy preview pages: anyone who was reading British comics in the mid-eighties (2000AD, CRISIS, DEADLINE, REVOLVER) will remember Brendan's Artoons with some affection. Here's a page from SOLO #12 that'll remind you of that era, when comics were electric with experimentation, and McCarthy was leading the field in the UK at bringing fine art influences into the medium. Anyone lucky enough to have seen a copy of SWIMINI PURPOSE will also note the similarity of this page to the montages he and Brett Ewins produced at art school. The dialogue here, together with the other pages I've seen so far, tell me that this could be the most politically polemic comic I've seen from DC in twenty odd years. Every piece seems to be rich in one subtext: America's going to hell in a handcart.

hangover stops play

I love music, and I know you do, too. I'm probably well behind the loop on this, but this is my new favourite website. I stuck "Neil Young" into the search engine, and it started out with Albuqueque, my favourite track from my favourite album - good start - and has been playing a constant mix of great tunes ever since (in fact, its second choice was How I Wish by Keith Richards, another perennial favourite chez moi). And then explains why it played them. It's black magic, I tells ya. And it's great for hangovers.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Stan Lee meets..

Here's a new Marvel project that seems almost singularly designed to get my goat, "Stan Lee meets...". It's yet another way for the greatest self-publicist comics has ever known to take all the credit for characters he co-created at best. Look at the list: Stan Lee meets Spider-Man, Dr Strange, Dr Doom, The Thing, The Silver Surfer. Everyone of them, signature characters of Ditko or Kirby. And the annoying thing? Look at that two-page spread by Alan Davis, with the wacky Gene Colan style layout. It's gorgeous. This is a monstrous folly, a monument to the horrors of work for hire. But I'll still buy it. Damn you Lee! Damn you to hell!

more SOLO #12 art

Brendan's work has always been loaded with pop references, with The Beatles looming the largest in the McCarthy/Ewins/Milligan rock pantheon. The inside cover of STRANGE DAYS #1 rather spells this out with the sublime Lennon-Avoida. John Lennon, in Sgt Pepper regalia, avoids being assasinated by a star-spangled cowboy, with Lee Harvey Oswald, bedecked in Mickey Mouse ears, taking the bullet instead, while Paradax and Johnny Nemo look on (below). Here's a new page from SOLO #12 (left) that could be seen as something of a belated sequel to that work. Damn those crafty Blue Meanies!

Plus more subtle Bowie referencing: in the bottom right corner - "Live til your rebirth and do what you will"? I think that's a lyric from After All, on THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD. During Dave's Crowley phase, obviously.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

more McCarthy

The interview went live at Dogmatika early this morning, and can be found here. And here's another great image to go with it, featuring a dragged-up muscleman with a face eerily similar to a young Bob Dylan. When was the last time you heard a sentence like that describing the star of an upcoming DC comic? Umm, 1992? And to see more of Duke and his shopping spree. try Mile High Comics.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Starts tonight: a SOLO #12 preview cavalcade!

Hell has officially frozen over - I've made my glorious, Sinatraesque, comeback to journalism in order to interview Brit Cit art leg-end Brendan McCarthy for my homeboys at Dogmatika. It remains to be seen when it goes live at their site, but until then, DC's embargo on preview pages for SOLO #12 has been dropped today, so here goes. Over the next few days I'll be posting some cracking artwork here: the first one is something of a tribute to the artist who inaugurated DC's Silver Age, Carmine Infantino. With a healthy dose of Aladdin Sane, for all the young dudes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Greatest comicbook remix of all time. So far.

Kevin Church presents: Just Imagine Stan Lee's WATCHMEN! Bravo, sir. Bravo.

'I used to have a band, and now I don't'

Great little feature in The Guardian's G2 section today about the Pixies reunion tour and the upcoming documentary film about it, loudQUIETloud. While exposing the myth of how amicable the reunion of that famously fractious band was reported to be at the time, it simultaneously does the impossible - makes you feel a little bit sorry for the notoriously brusque Charles "Frank Black" Thompson.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

homeboy news channel

Here's to a new friend of this blog, Joanna Elizabeth Moore. Born yesterday, a full month premature, but weighed six pounds all the same. Mother and child both doing fine, according to proud dad Glenn.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Vague opinion piece. Certain magickal intent.

It's just struck me. The plot of The Who's new song cycle (kinda, vaguely) reminds me of that of Peter Milligan and Philip Bond's VERTIGO POP! LONDON miniseries. And great it was too. It involved an old rock star, a sort-of Ray Davies/Pete Townshend analogue, performing a body swap with a clueless young busker. Various and sundry Milliganesque complications ensue. Anyway, it raised several cogent points about ageism in the music biz, some of which I'm reading into WIRE AND GLASS as well, such as how one way to buck the "better to burn out than to fade away" myth might be to adopt a false, younger, persona. Even if that persona exists only within the work, rather than outside in the real world.

Can't believe this has never been collected into a trade, either: it's primo work by two great creators.

Friday, August 18, 2006

thanks an effing bunch, E4

God help me, for I've just witnessed something truly horrific. Girls Aloud covering The Kaiser Chiefs' I Predict A Riot. Just so wrong. I didn't know what to do first, pluck out my eyes or tear my ears off.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

RYAN ADAMS to produce next WILLIE NELSON album

...with The Cardinals acting as his backing band. Includes a cover of Laughing Lenny Cohen's Hallelujah.

In my house, this is big news.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Review: CRIMINAL #1

Comicbook sex god Sean P Phillips was kind enough to furnish me with an early copy of CRIMINAL #1 for review, and review the life out of it I jolly well shall!

For a comic that didn't exactly set the sales charts alight when originally published, the cult of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillip's SLEEPER has grown and grown. Its title proved to be some sort of horribly ironic self-fulfilling prophesy: a low selling comicbook, it soon became a critical cause celebre, and then went on to have a second life as a successful collection of trade paperbacks. It was one of those few mainstream titles smart enough to appeal to Comics Journal readers, and full enough of action-packed super-powered antics to appeal to Wizard readers. A bonafide crossover hit. So much so, that the new book by this creative team must be one of the most anticipated books in a long time to feature absolutely no spandex longjohns shenanigans.

That said, CRIMINAL #1 does bear comparison to SLEEPER to some extent. For a start, in both books, Ed Brubaker does a great job in making the reader sympathize with a cast of characters who are ultimately morally repugnant. In the case of SLEEPER, this meant quickly coming to care for a bunch of supervillains who were capable of yer actual evil. Yet still we cared when these people were betrayed. or tortured, or had their hearts broke. But we were never allowed to forget they were also violent, cruel, twisted. Basically, in the noir moral maze of SLEEPER, Brubaker played the readers' emotions like a violin. Mmm, mixed metaphor.

In CRIMINAL, this empathic leap is less extreme - these people aren't villains, aren't evil: they're career criminals. They've made careers out of stealing and lying, but aren't necessarily defined by those acts, anymore than any of us are defined by what we do for a living. Ordinary people, whose lives are complicated by the choice they've made: to live outside the law. As such, this cast reminds this reader of the small-time crooks who populated Brubaker's earlier indie comics. They don't thrive living this life, they survive. The anti-hero, Ivan, is the antithesis of your standard comicbook protagonist. He shys away from violence, he hates guns. His first instinct is always to run from confrontation, physical or emotional. I suppose in terms of crime comics, he's the Elric to Marv from SIN CITY's Conan.

The plot of the book then takes a turn for the expansive: the promise of a big score accelerates everything - we head into something comparable to Elmore Leonard territory. The stakes are getting higher, and a sadistic cliffhanger promises further, darker twists into the outer rings of a SIN CITY style hell. Hell, even the prominence given the "Frank Kafka, Private Eye" newspaper strip-within-a-strip would also tend to suggest there's even further layers of this onion to come. Dark, existential layers. Mmm, onion rings.

Of course, Brubaker's script would be unable to appear so nuanced without an artist like Sean Phillips. Phillips is a master of facial expression like few other in comics (I'd put his old pal Duncan Fegredo and Steve Dillon up there, too), so when his characters show doubt, we feel it. When they show guilt or despair, we feel it. We can see that glimmer of hope in their eyes, and we also see it when it's extinguished. And we feel all that, too.
So there ya go, that's the real reason comics aren't full of blathery exposition these days. It's because of the skill of artists like Sean Phillips.
He can do the big stuff, like the heist-gone-tits-up at the start, and the small stuff, like the care the protagonist Leo takes of his father's Alzheimer's-and-smack stricken partner Ivan (who's a great breakout character, by the way - here's hoping we see more of this old goat). The sequence where we're introduced to Ivan's friend Donnie is fantastic in its subtlety - Phillips' camera placement is immaculate. As we meet him prone, pretending to have a epileptic fit, the camera is above him, framed in a very Hitchcockian shot. As he proceeds to work the crowd with his begging act, we see a crowd shot, with a multitude of mixed emotions on the faces of his marks. Again, the panel is framed to perfection, with Donnie's supplicant hands reaching up from below (rather Eisnerian, that 'un).

I'm guessing those of you that preorder comics are already waiting for this - SLEEPER was nothing if not a blogger's comic. The rest of you: order SLEEPER on Amazon tonight, then prepare to march down to your Local Comic Shop in October and demand your copy of CRIMINAL #1.

Rammy on Skates

Over at his Flickr account, SCOTT PILGRIM uber-dude Bryan Lee O'Malley is hosting his first attempts with Corel Painter. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

two links nicked from Auntie Beeb

The Who are to debut the full version of their new song cycle at The Electric Proms. How apt. Damon Albarn and Paul Simonon's new band, The Good, The Bad and The Queen will also perform for the first time.

And, the new DOCTOR WHO "assistant" (God, that term is so bloody coy - but then, so is "companion"), Freema Agyeman, is interviewed
here. She's cuter than a three year old juggling kittens.

Dungannon Swifts man called up into Northern Ireland squad

Congratulations to David Scullion for making the U-21 squad travelling away to Romania. And to celebrate, here's a striking image of the Swifts' biggest, sexiest, fans.

Monday, August 14, 2006

One day, these people will make all my bespoke gifts

Rattle'n'Roll, a company I learnt of thanks to the good folks at Drawn.

Oh, and I've been messing about with my template in a late attempt at teaching myself some HTML. If anything stops working or goes missing, feel free to point it out.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

JUDGE DREDD: ORIGINS trailer worth looking at

Here. The dream sequence (brilliantly done by Kev Walker) and preview in last week's 1500th (!) anniversary issue of 2000AD got me all whetted up for ORIGINS, but this has pushed me right over the edge. Great Carlos Ezquerra art, tastefully photographed and animated in Flash, offering tantalizing peaks into the back history of Dredd's world, oft-hinted at and referred to, and now being made explicit. Hopefully the ever-dependable John Wagner'll hit it out of the park.

And go here for the auction Toof' is currenting throwing, and bid on some nice pages (just make sure they're not ones I'm bidding on). The money is going to
Draw The World Together, a charity that works with the most vulnerable and marginalised children in many of the world's poorest countries.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


It's the best SF on TV, and it's coming back.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

assorted original gangsta bidness

1. Kevin Smith's next movie isn't going to be a fart-gag comedy: it'll be a fart-gag horror!

2. Hayseed Dixie are playing Belfast again - anyone fancy making it another Bad Librarianship drink-up?

Monday, August 07, 2006

the links that time forgot

I intended to link to a couple of stories from AICN yesterday, but forgot. They included the first TENACIOUS D: THE PICK OF DESTINY trailer, and a script review for the first new FUTURAMA movie/miniseries thingy. Ah, well. Now today they've ran a story about the plot of the next HELLBOY movie. I'll probably forget to link to that, too.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

memory man

As I was comparing Laurence Campbell to Jean Paul Leon in the previous post, I was also struggling to remember the name of the book illustrator David Frankland, too. He's a guy who's work I come across a lot in the library these days, and I always make some time to appreciate his covers. Click on the link to see a great portfolio of his work.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

meandering opinion piece that doesn't really go anywhere

Look's like a lot of my favourite artists among the current crop of talent from 2000AD are getting gigs at Marvel - Andrew Currie is drawing the upcoming WONDER MAN mini; Laurence Campbell is drawing a WOLVERINE christmas special; and the great Kev Walker's NOVA mini-series has recently drawn to a close as I write (though Biff is yet to furnish me with a copy). The only problem is that none of these are exactly high profile breakout jobs that'll be seen by anyone other than hardcore Marvel zombies. Walker's getting regular employment at Marvel, but his work has been hidden is strange places: a short arc at obscure X-book EXILES, Chuck Austen's foul THE ETERNAL mini, then this tie-in to Marvel's other crossover. Not CIVIL WAR, mind - the other one, the one no-one's reading.

Campbell, in particular, has came on by leaps and bounds in the last year or two, his style maturing and growing bolder, to the point where his work recently did the impossible - made me enjoy a couple of Simon Spurrier-penned Dredds with his contrast heavy, Jean Paul Leonish work. All of these guys have been around for quite a while: Walker since the eighties; Campbell and Currie got their first jobs in comics in at least the mid-nineties, and Currie was Bryan Hitch's inker for a while on THE ULTIMATES. I've commented before on his Kyle Bakeresque powers as a caricaturist. That's his cover to the first issue of WONDERMAN: MY FAIR SUPERVILLAIN to the left. The guy has a way with facial expressions.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

blog worth keeping an eye on

Tom Brevoort is part of the geekistocracy at Marvel comics, and as such, his blog is quite an insight into how things work behind the scenes there. For example, today he posted a load of preview art I've seen no-one linking to yet, and some of it is nice stuff - Olivier Coipel, Steve McNiven (from CIVIL WAR #4, no less), etc. Most fanboys would give their right arm to ghost Brevoort for a day, so this glimpse into the work of the power behind the throne is quite revealing.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The best thing to come out of Bulgaria since... uh, ... since Hristo Stoichkov!

Alex Maleev is a damned fine comicbook artist, who I've seen getting stick on messageboards by idiots who don't know their arse from their elbows due to his illustrative style. And he's got a new website, full of great examples of his work, his landscape photography, and tutorials of how he takes a loose sketch through to a photorealistic painting.

Once upon a time, back when I thought the HELLBOY: WEIRD TALES series was perhaps Mignola's try-out book to see who could take over the art on the character's regular book, I thought that Maleev was head and soulders above the other contestants. Of course, since then, two other artists have been given the gig, and Maleev has proven to be a favourite with the powers that be over at Marvel (i.e. Quesada's golden child Bendis). But check out the sketchbook section to see what a good fit Maleev might have been. And someday, if we're all very good, the guy might get the chance to go back and do another run at Batman, now that he's fully matured as a great cartoonist.

also at YouTube:

Some guy with a banjo, playing the theme from STAR WARS. Almost unrecognisable until about 30 seconds in. It's all in his eyebrows.

new COMICS FOUNDRY out today

New issue of top-notch online magazine THE COMIC FOUNDRY up now. Including the groovy "I watched BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES for 16 hours in a row" and a thoughtful analysis of Alan Moore's soon-to-be-banned new book LOST GIRLS by big-brained Mike Carey. And check out the second of Tim Leong's witty little pieces of telejournalism from San Diego here. Inspired stuff, and check out the (great) first part over at YouTube.

Go. Root around.