BULLDOG ADVENTURE MAGAZINE #2
'BAM's back now,' announces editor, Jason Cobley, 'and I'm glad to report that British independent comics are back on course.' If nice thoughts and good intentions alone could deliver proof of a revival (?), then this anthology makes for a convincing argument. However, this is sterile stuff. Freshless as stale underpants, if BAM had a smell I imagine it would produce the faint odour of weak fart. Uninspiring stuff indeed.
The bulk of strips on offer are concerned with 'the Blightey Universe', and in the main provide tongue-in-cheek sci-fi tinged tales occasionally punctuated with jarring stabs at emotional depth, handled awkwardly and with almost parody-like misjudgment. There is however a degree of scripting know-how in evidence, and though at times signs of a struggle with page limitations are obvious, one senses a competent story-telling craft at work. Craft and know-how alone make not a diverting read, though. (That said, the near-relentless exposition of the non-Blightey offering of this anthology adds to one's appreciation of the skill involved in constructing those Blightey related efforts.)
For the most part however, the artwork is impressive, but betrayed somewhat by awful computer lettering, poorly applied. 'Duty', though static and stiff, displays some solid pencilling, ably inked. 'Spook Fog' desperately needs background detail and a cleverer approach to layout and composition, but offers a sound enough draughtsmanship; 'Oak' seems sloppy and rushed, but has about it an endearing gristly feel and occasional Wolverton grotesqueness; and 'Nippon'is cartooned with an easy energy that is both vibrant and fluent, and hand-lettered quite beautifully.
In essence, I guess BULLDOG ADVENTURE MAGAZINE smacks of the pre-Alan Moore eighties; when comics in general were simply crafted by pedantic hacks devoid of the will to produce emotive work; when art was everything, caricature was king, and an artist's strengths dictated the 'reliable' writer's ambition.
Yes, BAM #2 is past its expiry date, but passes the time. So, like, if passing time is your thing...
A4, 32 pages, available for 2 quid from Jason Cobley, 94 Elm Road, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire PE13 2TB. E-mail: email@example.com. Visit: www.bulldogcomics.co.uk.
(Review by John Robbins)