Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year, everybody...

...I'm off to hit the hard stuff. See you in 2008, with my mission statement, and a goodbye to 2007.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Port and Stilton powered End Of The Year ramble-ogue.

So, my big end of the year list. My highlights package. The greatest hits album. My götterdämmerung. God, I enjoyed typing that - ümlauts röck. Set phasers to Fluff - let's go!

5. Probably the number one highlight of this blog, this year? The return of TANK GIRL. I've been coasting ever since.

4. My favourite film this year? I'm essentially a low brow guy, so I'll go with HOT FUZZ.

3. T.V. highlight of the year? Not DOCTOR WHO, not BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but series three of THE MIGHTY BOOSH. Glorious, with The Board Of Shaman's beefed-up part being a major factor to the show's exponential improvement, alongside a hell of a step up in terms of both production values (someone working on this show is a fellow Brendan McCarthy fan, I'd guess), and the tightness of the scripts (now edited by the great Richard Ayoade).

2. Well, if I didn't include Paul Pope's PULP HOPE here, I'd be some kind of mental case, right?

1. As Tammy probably once sang, sometimes it's hard to be a country music fan. If you're an American music fan, presumably everyone expects you to like that awful shite I only ever glimpse at on the CMA Award show, that dreadful stuff that sounds like '80s hair-rock only with pedal steel and fiddle dubbed over it. If you are an Irish country music fan, it's maybe worse, as I suppose you can't admit it without everyone expecting you to admit a shameful love of all that dreadful sub-Jim Reeves crap we're known for churning out. If you are a masochist, and somehow curious about what exactly I meant by that statement, feel free to click on this link and listen to a Hugo Duncan radio show.

And weep.

Yet, from this unholy tradition came my favourite record of 2007. An album that had all kinds of virtues usually missing from "Country and Irish". Sure, it's a country record that comes from the north west of Ireland, but it has not an ounce of spare sentiment, the genre's usual failing. Instead, there in its place is a morbid black humour. The lyrics reveal a literary ambition - it's a concept album, for God's sake. And the concept is a particularly Garth Ennis-ian one: an illiterate, violent, Ulsterman gets press-ganged into the German army; various picaresque antics ensue; ultimately leaves a catalogue of autobiographical songs behind that are "discovered" and recorded for a new generation. The instrumentation frequently reminds me of nothing less than BLOOD ON THE TRACKS: muscular acoustic guitars drive things on, illuminated occasionally by Burtonesque electric guitars or pedal steel, often layered over a blanket of swirling hammond organs. The singer, rather than striving to sound like George Jones, sings in a native, gruff, Northern Irish brogue, with a tone reminiscent of Green On Red's Dan Stuart.

This doesn't help you, the reader, much, I know. This is an album that's going to be hard for you to find, without some specialist Irish backstreet record store to help you obtain it. It's an album I only even came across by listening to an obscure local radio show during a fortuitous ride to work. And even then, I probably only listened closely because the record seemed to name-check new friend-of-this-blog Dan McDaid.

It's THE RAMBLINGS OF DANGEROUS McDAID by P.P. Slaggart, and if you only ever buy one Irish country record based on a tip by a blogger this year, make sure it's this one.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

Saw some preview pages tonight, and they brought a recurring thought back up. I really can't make my mind up about Si Spurrier's writing at all. More often than not, I find it a cross between the worst tendencies of John Smith (characters spouting non sequiturs and techno-drivel like there's no tomorrow) and Dan Abnett (puns, puns, puns). And then, along comes this page from SILVER SURFER: IN THY NAME #3, which makes all of Marvel's previous Silver Surfer-as-Messiah analogies look subtle. In the words of Tufnell, it's a thin line between clever and stupid, and for the life of me, I haven't decided which this is. Still, I'm paying for this with my own cash money, so he can't complain.

Bloody good art, though (by Tan Eng Huat). And a great cover, too (Pope's).

Wrap yer eyes round these: new-and-unseen Brendan McCarthy art.

If you've picked up issue two of Virgin's DAN DARE comic, then you'll have been rather knocked out by the glimpse of Brendan McCarthy's variant cover for issue 3. Here's the image, care of the artist himself, sans any annoying copy over it. I'd almost forgotten Brendan had a certain amount of history with the character: on the doomed ATV series-that-never-was.

Fecken' groovy, eh? And while we're on a theme here, let's have a glimpse at another comic-that-never-was by The Subliminal Kid: a rejected but still-brain-jangling DOOM PATROL cover from the Morrison era.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Having a good one.

I wasn't intending to go a full week without at least some updates, but there ya go: life does tend to just get in the way around this time of year. Before I head off to play with all the great toys my nieces have gotten this year, here's one more artist's Christmas card for you: Edmund Bagwell's. And sometime soon, my ultra-surprising (even to me, as I wrote it) Best Of 2007 list. It's a shocker.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Warwick Johnson-Cadwell

A while ago I did a post about illustrators I've came across in other fields who'd easily cut the mustard in comics. One of said illustrators, Warwick Johnson Cadwell, has emailed me to say he's just started a blog of his own. Here's the link, and do check it out - he's using it this month to tell a complete Christmas story in 24 parts, which has a real inspired, freewheeling, lunacy. And ambition - got to love that.

At this point, I usually say "Editors take note!". Some of the buggers just might be lurking, you know (I see Tharg's just gave one artist I've been championing for ages a series in the new year).

"It's beginning to look a lot like Fish-Men"

And the Christmas cheer keeps coming: just got this in my inbox from Duncan Fegredo, who says "Heres a little something I did for Guy Davis in lieu of an actual Christmas card, enjoy!". Pretty sweet, eh? And good to see Duncan taking a crack at the B.P.R.D guys.

Marvel solicitations, and there's a couple of books of interest...

...for a change.

First up, Brian K Vaughan and Eduardo Risso - how's that for an all-star Vertigo team-up? - sign on for... get this... a Wolverine mini-series. Whoop-di-friggin'-do. Should be more proof that the Big Two don't know what to do with real talent ("Hey Bob, I've got Moebius on the phone!" "Great, ask him if he'll do a Batman miniseries!").

One project that sounds a little bit fresher is WAR IS HELL: THE FIRST FLIGHT OF THE PHANTOM EAGLE, which is the first of Garth Ennis' mini-series "reimagining" various classic wartime characters. It's for the Max imprint, so expect cussin', gore and maybe even a nipple or two. Especially if I told you the art was by Howard "Frilly Knickers" Chaykin.

He's making a list, he's checking it twice...

What makes me feel as warm and fuzzy as an empty stomach after its first beer? Well, receiving Christmas greetings from a comic book legend, for starters. And what makes me feel just as warm and fuzzy? Howzabout a Christmas card through my letterbox from a comic book legend-to-be, Dan McDaid?

Monday, December 17, 2007


The theme of this month's solicitations from DC is "About time!", as several products elicit that response, as well as a healthy dose of "f*ck, yeah!".

DAVE GIBBONS wins this week's "Eric Clapton lookalike competition".

Dave Gibbons enjoying himself on a visit to the WATCHMEN set.

A plea for work

Apparently Peter Jackson wants Andy Serkis to play Captain Haddock in the TINTIN films. NOOOO!!! Doesn't he know this was the part I was born to play. In fact, I'd do it for nothing - except whatever per diem rates it takes to shlep around New Zealand.

(Me, after hearing the bad news)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Comics to get you in the Christmas mood.

After a nice pre-prandial drinking session with my old mate Stevie, I'm feeling (a) kinda spacey, and (b) a little bit Christmassy. In this regard, here's a link for ya. THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, A Strange Tale Of The Season, by Mike Mignola and Guy Davis.

WB will probably close this down in a couple of minutes, so be quick...'s the IMax prequel to BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT. It's like THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123 of superhero movies, or sumfin'.

Dunno how I missed this...

...basically, it sounds like Tharg gets it just about right, in regards to digital distribution of his comics (via FPI's blog).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

DOCTOR WHO speculation season to start again in earnest.

After this, it's bound to go rrrright off the hook. As the kids today all say. Innit.

It's a Christmas Cracker from BRENDAN McCARTHY.

And now for some proper comics news, fresh from my inbox: here's this year's x-mas card from Brendan McCarthy.

Whaddya mean that's not news?!

Friday, December 14, 2007

That bootlegged BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT trailer WB made YouTube take down is still available....

...if you know where to look. *Ahem*

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: RAZOR to premiere in the U.K. next week.

It hasn't been terribly well publicized over here in the UK, so I'll pass it along here: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: RAZOR is on Sky One at 9pm next Tuesday. Hell, I wouldn't have heard of this myself except I saw a short but sweet (shiny old style Cylon centurions!) trailer during JOURNEYMAN last night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

James without front ears.

I was reading THE SPIRIT #11 the other day, loving it and ruing the fact that soon I'd be without my just-about-monthly dose of Darwyn Cooke. Then tonight I read this, and now I don't feel so bad.

I liked Ike.

If you, like me, have grumbled "Ike was right" under your breath every time you've been forced to hear Tina Turner caterwauling through Simply The Best, this is for you.

Paul Pope on an old chestnut...

..."comics as literature", or in this case, comics with literary qualities. I'm pretty sure this is a little self-serving, a little solipsistic, and that there's a lot more of it about than he reckons. You don't have to think long or hard to come up with plenty more examples.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My big top 100 of everything, ever!

As I've said here and elsewhere before, I usually hate lazy list journalism. But even so, isn't it still a bit early for an end of year list, especially on the internet? Anything I attempt on the subject, which will probably be a list containing just one item, will probably hit between Christ-on-a-bike-mas and Hogmanay.

National ELF service.

Hey, you used to have to pay to see James Kolchalka's AMERICAN ELF daily web strip/journal/thingy, but now the archives are free. That's a good thing - Kochalka is one of those rare individuals steeped in natural comics talent, so if you don't know his work, check it out.

(whistles theme while typing)

More on the IDW versh, grey market, DOCTOR WHO comics. Sounds like the writer has a decent handle on it.

I'll call this blog entry "Dark Horse solicitations for March, 2008". Yeah, Catchy.

Dark Horse solicitations are out, and include not one, not two, but five items with lovely new Mike Mignola covers, the best of which may well be this, from the hard to type B.P.R.D.: 1946 #3:
I'd be entirely remiss if I didn't mention to all you trade-waiters out there that pet subject HELLBOY: DARKNESS CALLS is coming out in a lovely sturdy bookshelf format. Like most Hellboy collections, it's coming out with a new epilogue drawn by Mignola - but dig this, and this is something of a new development for a Hellboy universe book - a second new epilogue drawn by Fegredo, which I'll take as a tacit approval of my theory that the developing synergy of Mike and Duncan has really proven to be a bootlegged vitamin shot in the arse for this franchise. Of course, I'm no trade-waiter, and all those lovely new pages mean I'll have to buy this again. And then probably yet again when it's out in a cloth-covered oversized hardback in a couple of years. Cheers!
Oh, and here's another groovy Buffy Season Eight image. Dig that werewolf, especially. As Warren Zevon might say, Aarr-Oooh!

Patience, young Jedi.

I first mentioned Joel Meadows' book STUDIO SPACE here back in September 2006, and I've been hoping it'll come through its travails ever since (plus, note how my prediction about its eventual publishing date has came true, I'm one prescient muthaluvva!).

Now that Image have been announced as its publisher, Joel has been drip-feeding excerpts to those nice fellas at Newsarama. Try these for size: Tim Sale, Mike Mignola, Funtime Franky Miller.

Hot dog!

I spent a goodly portion of the working day today, hungover, browsing the internet for reviews of the Led Zeppelin O2 show, and have spent a goodly portion of tonight streaming clips of said show on YouTube. And you know what? They were tight but loose. And they looked like they were enjoying it. Important, that. Bodes well.

What doesn't bode well? Hangover on a Tuesday.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Hangover cure: hair of the dog and chinese food.

I'm starting to straighten up after a three day birthday bender, so thanks to everyone who's helped me celebrate or sent well-wishes over these last couple of days, via e-mail or MySpace. It's appreciated. The only problem is I have to go out again tomorrow night, to a "gourmet night". Here's hoping my rather delicate stomach can recover in time, for what sound like a potentially punishing experience. I'm off to bed, to read SCOTT PILGRIM GETS IT TOGETHER (which has, unbelievably, laid unread here for a couple of days, thanks to my pressing social schedule) and sleep it off.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More Ennis/DARE hype hits the Norn Iron mainstream.

I'm always a little bit confused that the local media doesn't make a little bit more of "our" Garth Ennis. We love a Northern Ireland boy made good on the big stage, and here's a guy who's a world beater in his chosen field. In this era when the superhero movie is king, he's had two heavily based on his works (even if CONSTANTINE and THE PUNISHER are hardly exemplars of that genre), and has an HBO series in development based on his creator-owned property (though it's a long time since anyone's heard anything new on the PREACHER front).

So it's nice to see The Belfast Telegraph sitting up and paying attention to his work on DAN DARE. The piece touches on how Northern Ireland's, uh, unique qualities have shaped his work, though as we all know, there's a lot more could be written on the subject. Hell, there's a book in it, if anybody could be arsed paying me to write it.

Krafty trademark bypass alert.

Automated Keats, eh? Is Mr Wood trying to navigate a return for a much-missed modern cult classic, sans Wildstorm?

Paul McCartney is my guitar tutor.

While doing my Christmas shopping of late, I had an evil brainwave. My eldest niece (6) wanted a guitar, and I've promised to teach her (in fact, I've already gave her some rudimentary lessons, albeit on a guitar that's far too large for her, and she should pick it up quickly enough - she already has the one thing you just can't teach, and that's a good right hand). Then it came to me in a blinding flash of genius: buy her sister (3) a drum kit, and drill them mercilessly in the ways of rock. I'll be the new Peter Grant (some might say the physical similarity is already striking), and they'll be my golden ticket to untold riches! Sayonara, suckers!

Anyway, while contemplating this scheme, I came across this rather spiffing website via the Beeb's Entertainment news section. Who better to teach you a song than the artists themselves? (Answer: Wolf Marshall, but let's not go there)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

...And I mean that most sincerely, folks!

If you only buy one magazine this month for its free cover-mounted CD, make it the new MOJO for the f*ckin' tasty Stax compilation.

EASTENDERS Cybermen better than DOCTOR WHOs.

'Nuff said, true believer.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I'm in a "Kirby draws Superman as a Holbein-style King" mood.

I've no idea what this was for. A cartoon maybe, or a toy line. But I'd love to see this inked by Mike Royer. Hell, I'd love to see an Elseworlds mini-series based upon it. Make it so, Diddyman!

Trussed up like a rubber chicken.

Dat fule Quint at AICN reckons this Batsuit is "a departure" but one he's "really starting to dig". Way to s*ck WB's corporate c*ck, ya nonce. Hope that next on-set quiche chokes ya. It's just another crappy rubber suit, in the same crappy rubber suit tradition that goes right back to Tim Burton's.

As longterm readers know, I am a deranged zealot who will accept nothing less than an Adam West style grey woolly suit under a black leather cape/cowl/shorts combo, with proper whited out lenses in the eye holes. Oi! Lindy Hemming! Just go look at the Eduardo Risso or Paul Pope Batsuits and go "D'oh! That's how we should have done it!" But that would have involved research ("Read a comic? But I work in movies, lovey" *spit*) wouldn't it? And heaven forfend that any of the artists working in comic books could understand these characters better than the sodding geniuses in the film industry.

When in doubt, here's a simple rule of thumb. No-one has ever looked menacing in rubber and nylon, but dudes in woolly long-johns have always scared the crap out of me. Just remember Lee Marvin in PAINT YOUR WAGON or Jason Robards in THE BALLAD OF CABLE HOGUE.

Every single red pore, man.

More lovely new content from HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY up now, over at their website.