Comicking: March 2010

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.

Welcome to an occasional collection of comics art, news, snippets and stories of note. Once a month, I’ll bring the easter egg extras that don’t make it to my regular columns, but are a tasty treat nonetheless.
Last month, I wrote of BBC’s Eggheads’ revenge on comic’s creators, and Sean Azzopardi‘s appearances everywhere.
This time round, reviews of some comics I’ve enjoyed and themes of cinema and mental disorders. The times we’re living in…

First though, I enjoyed some great comics last night. Oliver East’s 2005 “The House of Fire To Black Hill”, a clever piece on hill walking and map musing. Richard Cowdry at Bugpowder writes East’s  “new comic is now online and free to read in your own time. It’s REALLY good.”

https://i2.wp.com/www.olivereast.com/files/gimgs/th-21_RS1cover.jpg

Believable.

Liz Greenfield’s “Stuff Sucks” also arrived in the mail. A neat little CD sized comic in a little CD sized slipcase. A bargain at only £4. Contact Liz on her website to find out if there are any left. Such pretty pictures!

bastardstag

Oliver Lambden was at the Angouleme Festival earlier this month with other British Artists Standing Tall And Reaching Distant Shores.Amusing and insightful blog report here.

Lambden’s BLOC featured the work of an artist at an evolutionary acceleration point. This usually bodes well as is. His new project is with co-creator ofThe Rule of Death and Master of Film-like Comics Douglas Noble.

noble lambden

I prodded the lads for further details. Douglas writes, “It’s a series of theatre reviews from the 1930s. It starts on Thursday. And, right now, that’s all you need to know.” My gut feeling looking at their combined output above is that this is going to be fantastic. Keep an eye to http://thesequential.com

Every time I turn away from Livejournal I miss something great. Usually though, when I need my fix of all that is great about the webs I turn to the Internet Monkey King, Benchilada.

There you can find Ben’s F*ckbrain Comix, an account of life within his “brainmeats” including Tourettes, OCD and Bipolar Disorder. It’s probably the worst drawn comic on the web and so brilliant, I’d like to see it in print form. Ben takes amusing photos of his toys in bookstacks and manages to make eating messed up weird food look genuinely entertaining in “So You Don’t Have To“. I might have a go at that.

Particularly eye-catching recently is his brother Nathan’s Modern Family series: eleven photographed reproductions of classic paints.

Most of all, what I like about Benchilada’s livejournal is the brilliant sense of community that permeates the gaff. Never a dull moment.

Darryl Cunningham, author of Psychiatric Tales received a disheartening email this week from someone who thought he was ‘making fun’ of mental illness. Oh right, this is a news column.Darryl Cunningham has produced a colour chapter for the second volume of Psychiatric Tales. The subject matter is Electroconvulsive Therapy, and it blends years of Darryl’s experience as a psychiatric nurse with his own problems and first-hand account of someone who has actually experienced the process.

Darryl will be attending the University of London Conference on Medical Narrative in Graphic Novels, along with Paul Gravett, Brian Fies, Marc Zaffran and Philippa Parry mid-June this year.

This week I made the mad dash into relaying my experiences with epilepsy through the 24 Hour Challenge. Check out Absence, I think it’s a great piece of work.

leekennedyLee Kennedy makes marvellous strips about weight gain, couch loafing and cinema dreams which revel in pride rather than wallow. I’m sure she’s screwing with our misplaced collective guilt. Although States-born, her style tugs at something reminiscent of trad British children’s comics Beano and Dandy. Recently, she’s been happy and audible over the acquisition of a scanner, so keep an eye on Lee’s livejournal over coming months for stuff like that opposite.

And if you get through that, there’s a huge archive courtesy of the folks at Factor Fiction
Worth hurdling the livejournal blockades for.

Oh yes, and EVERYBODY is about to link to Muppet Wicker Man. Check it out, before it vanishes.

If you have an area you’d like to see covered, or a story to share, I can be emailed at drew.luke(at)gmail.com on correspondence marked ‘Comicking’. I’m also on Twitter Facebook and right here on Alltern8.com My webcomic, Don’t Get Lost, is updated Thursdays.

Comicking: The January Ashcans

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.

Welcome to an occasional collection of comics art, news, snippets and stories of note. Once a month, I’ll bring the easter egg extras that don’t make it to my regular columns, but are a tasty treat nonetheless.

Black Books

Is an independent literary fair, part of the cultural regeneration of Northern Ireland, within NI Culture’s Out To Lunch festival. This weekend Paddy Brown will be manning a stand there, selling work from the North and South, now including Blackshapes’ Phil Barrett.

Keep a look out for special guests!

Eggheads
On Tuesday this week, Paddy completed recording at BBC Scotland for an episode of the knowledge based quiz show, Eggheads along with fellow Belfast comics creators on his team: Stephen Downey (CANCERTOWN) and PJ Holden (JUDGE DREDD) Eggheads features four rounds of specific knowledge followed by a fifth on general knowlege. Teams compete against an Eggheads team of boffs and brainiacs. (PJ’s photo from the BBC lobby here.)

When Eggheads had a cartoonist team appear on the show in October last year, a series of knock-outs and a tense tie-break resulted in a win for The Cartoonists. Could it be that the targeted recruitment of more cartoonists just several weeks after means the Eggheads are out for ink blood or yoke? Be careful guys! Downey confirms this edition of Eggheads had Jeremy Vine hosting, which means it will air over the Summer or Autumn.

(IMAGE MISSING)

Battlefields: Happy Valley is the latest wartime offering from Garth Ennis, published by Dynamite. An air squadron taking on The Third Reich in 1942, over the industrial centre of the Ruhr. Apparently the story made PJ cry.

A panel from Happy Valley is replicated in PJ’s short autobiographical comic drawn in an hour that’s got a great Eddie Campbell quality to it.

Oh Mr. Robinson and His Quango…
Belfast politics are in the news this week as it’s transpired MP Iris Robinson has resigned. She’s had some rather serious mental health issues, undeclared business contracts, lots of cash and the 19-yr old waiter. In the fall-out, her husband the First Minister of Northern Ireland has stood down from his post until the enquiry reaches it’s findings. Oddly, the region’s newspapers are mostly lacking selections from political cartoonists. Here’s some contributions from Stevie Lee on Tuesday, firstly with Peter’s replacement MLA Nigel Dodds and then with Martin McGuinness and replacement First Minister Arlene Foster

(IMAGE MISSING)

Announcing the dates of Derry’s 2D Festival, 2010 David Campbell writes,

“2D, although we are late on the go this year, is happening and will be on from the 3-5th June, in the Verbal Arts Centre and Sandinos, with a similar format to previous years. We are working on guests and contentat the minute and will be publicising the dates as much as we can from here on in, so any help with that is appreciated. Be glad to have you along as an exhibitor again if you’re up for it.”

There are few better ways to spend a weekend than in this real community event and rational for hedonistic partying. It’s the fourth annual festival and last year there was critical debate, Bryan Talbolt, David Lloyd, sketches and workshops for children, dancing and blurred vision. David, my answer is Yes.The 2D website can be found here.

On the subject of Irish political cartooning, do check out these lovely sketches on David’s blog.

There Was More Than One Gunman

Never far from critical clarity, Dubliner John Robbins ruffled a few feathers on the indy comix scene in 2001 with the release of Closing Shots From A Grassy Knoll. The tract explored the motivations of self-publishing cartoonists, and their agendas in product contents agendas through a short repeated question: “Why do you do it?” In many ways, Closing Shots strikes and cuts the small press in much the same way as Roland Barthes’ Death of the Authordeconstructed the culture of writing and the merit of the act when bound to coded referencing of other texts.

Shortly after publication, the text was carried at Bugpowder.com and for a while open to comments and criticism. It’s still a solidly articulate and insightful prose with a directed ire towards contemporary mainstream storytelling. Valuable for discerning reviewers, critics and mostly, thinking creatives on the scenes.

In November, a revised edition was uploaded. If the original on Bugpowder is the ‘Shock’ tract for thinking critically about the comics you read and create, the new edition is the ‘Coax’. Yet perhaps more damning, certainly more directed and appearing clearer: much more relevant to a generation online were alternative transforms to new mainstream.

“Oftentimes there is a misconception among small press creators that they are rebels with suppressed talent, struggling against the might of the inferior mainstream and producing work of greater substance. This romanticised view also alludes to a notion that any production of material beneath the small press umbrella is somehow underground in nature. ”

In requests I publish an interview on the piece, John has stated he prefers the work to speak for itself. John’s new website, Downright Bockedy, is here.

The Baillie Train
David Baillie, author of The Indiscriminate Device and Tongue of the Dead has been blogging from Hôpital Avicenne in Paris, were he and Daniel Goodbrey have been working on something interesting,

“Mr G had been approached by virtuoso architect Valerio Ferrari about a proposed art installation in a Parisian hospital. His  idea was that it would take the form of something like a web comic, but one that would be navigated by physically travelling through a space rather than clicking in a browser.”

More about it on David’s blog where he goes on to document his trip from Paris on Tuesday to a big important meeting at BBC Scotland. (Not for Eggheads, no)
Still, if you want conspiracy, I heard rumours of a meeting of other 2000AD types thereabouts….

The Beagle Has Flown
My stage directions for a renewed British Comics Awards ceremony featured on Alltern8.com last month. It met with confusion from editors and a resounding silence from readers who viewed it in healthy numbers. On the same day the piece saw print, it was to be joined by that of another high profile comics  journalist confirming that there have been developments in The Eagles story. Just before it was put on the back burner for verification purposes.

Escape
Last month, Paul Gravett announced the return of Escape. Here’s what he told me in an email on Monday,

“it is early days and we’re not planning many books to start with. There will be the Escape anthology returning for graphic short stories.”

Escape has a special place in British comics history. Indeed it featured a wealth of talent and over the 19 issues helped to launch the careers of Eddie Campbell, Dave McKean, Neil Gaiman and Jamie Hewlett among others.. Interesting times ahead: the story is here.

Oli Who?
Professional indy comics activist of London Underground Comics, Oli Smith, is writing Doctor Who. According to the recent official Doctor Who Magazine (DWM), an audiobook ‘The Runaway Train’, presumably voiced by Matt Smith and Karen Gillian may be due out this June. In fact there’s already an Amazon entry for it.  The following month sees the release of his first full-length novel, “Nuclear Time” as part of the BBC New Series Adventures. He’ll also be putting some of those comic scripting skills to good use on DWM.

Stalking Sean
I appear to be stalking Oli’s cohort, Sean Azzopardi, whose work ethic is off the scale lately. He’s contributed pages in the shape of “My Only Friend” (oposite) to ’69 Love Songs’ A strip blog interpreting songs from the album of the same name by The Magnetic Fields. (Amazon link) There are also some fantastic contributions by Hum “Lew” Davies, Ton Humberstone, Elizabeth Jordan and a host of others.  A wonderful find.
Sean has also been spotted taking part in the 100 Days project: a creative concept to create something beautiful to make the world a better place. Ahh, that’s nice. Sean is posting his creations at his Phatcatz website.

Oh, and you can read my review of Sean’s action fantasy story, Necessary Monsters right here on Alltern8.com

All this exposure, it’s an arrest waiting to happen.

Radio Resonating Comix
Over the last few years Resonance FM, a London community arts radio, has allowed comics journalist Alex Fitch to present his rather excellent show, Panel Borders. In that vein comes the Alternative Press Hour, a monthly show “dedicated to comix, zines and DIY culture” featuring Gareth Brookes and Jimi Gherkin. The first show features interviews with London Zine Symposium organiser Edd Baldry and Mike Lake, co-founder of Titan Distribution and Forbidden Planet. Broadcasts this Friday (15th) at 9pm and should probably be online by Monday.

Finally, it’s just been announced that Darryl Cunningham’s Psychiatric Tales is to be published in collected form in the US, by Bloomsbury. If you’ve not seen this, it’s worth a look and here it is.

If you have an area you’d like to see covered, or a story to share, I can be emailed at drew.luke(at)gmail.com on correspondence marked ‘Comicking’.

I’m also on TwitterFacebook and right here on Alltern8.com My loud new webcomic, Don’t Get Lost, is updated Thursdays.

Comicking is published most Tuesdays, except for next week as I’m taking a holiday.

(Archive)

Comicking: Necessary Monsters Collection

A re-blog from the archives of my regular column for Alltern8; Comicking.
THE OPENING OF THIS PIECE HAS BEEN LOST TO THE SPIDER. IT WAS LAST SEEN AT http://www.alltern8.com/library/comics_and_graphic_novels/comicking_necessary_monsters_collection/l-4697.htm

Necessarry Monsters 2009

Bodies in corridors, against-odds stand-offs, rogue agents, secret lairs and black helicopters.   Richard Bruton of the Forbidden Planet weblog has stated that he loves Monsters’ cliches. While it’s not high concept, to call it unimaginative or derivative alone would be just unfair. Scribe Daniel Merlin Goodbrey long ago staked conceptual turf turning out interactive comics on infinite canvasses, a villain whose self-insight rivals comics theorist Scott McCloud, and a guy with a planet for a head. Some, like myself, would even accord Goodbrey the same status in concept progression as Kirby, Crumb or Moore. His established web-comics commonly explore genres of horror and hybrid western, and are joined here by the monster and spy thriller. Happy anomalies break through: a chicken-head giant with a chain-saw, the inverted and chained Statue of Liberty and other idea gifts, or Merlisms. Fun? Yeah, more than a bit.

The protagonists as we know them seem softer than the ‘monster police monsters’ description given. In the case of the protagonists they’re as much ‘cop monsters’ as taking out bad guys out of altruistic motive. Certainly in the cases of Charlotte Hatred, a haunter of mirrors, and dream stalker Creeping Tuesday their positive humanity is prevalent. In some traits displayed by Jonathon Gravehouse and antagonist Thomas Harp, opposing rogue Watchers Council sorts, they both look human and can come across as not such bad blokes. Apart from the odd bit of within narrative slavery, murder, if you like that sort of thing. The cast is rounded off by downright dirty psycho-paths in the best Krueger/Jason traditions, gimp-masked Cowboy 13 and his arch nemesis, Chicken-Neck. The four members of The Chain are bound together by a chain, networky implants placing them under the organisation’s will and the story concerns Harp’s challenge to their authority. Which is all I’m going to tell you of the plot, because the soul of the series is in the journey, not laminated card battle stats inside some ludicrously priced board game.

This is much harder to write than it is to read you know.

Yes, Monsters’ attributes with Goodbrey’s other works appear. Traceable attributes are far-off from the most well-known output of artist Sean Azzopardi and that is Twelve Hour Shift. A graphic novel about Ed Someone, a night porter struggling to overcome the ritual working and draw his first graphic novel. This sounds a bit boring, which is just how real Shift’s recounting going through the motions is. Balancing the frustration, there’s quiet insights which excel alongside the artist’s poetic reflection and his draughtsmanship of tender visuals. Yet in Monsters’ the cinema is strong directed Western box office to the point were you can hear the grinding of chain-saws and blood spattered over your face while the local cult building spontaneously erupts in flames and your children bang on your windows with hedgehogs over and over until lamps and bookcases where you are sitting fall over.

Necessary Monsters is released in collected edition by ATR/Planet LAR “including updated  artwork across all five chapters and a brand new introduction by Kieron Gillen (Phonogram, S.W.O.R.D, Thor)” (One of these re-workings is the introductory visual at the head of this article) It goes out to comic shops in February for $12.95 US and you can be helped to track it sitting down or standing right now with Diamond order code DEC09 0641. It’s also available to order via Forbidden Planet in the UK  and via Amazon in the States.

Twelve Hour Shift can be purchased through Sean’s website, Phatcatz.org.uk for the bargain price £6.95 + £2.00 postage.

Merlin Azzopardi 2010

 

For more details see http://necessarymonsters.com/