This 2006 anthology of work by John Henry Hart contains a selection of his comics work from the preceding three years, the oldest that I can see being dated 2003. One has to wonder if Hart felt that he needed to clear out the backlog of his comics before moving on to new work.
This is not to say that the stories contained in Insipid Candy are not without merit, but there is a certain rough, unfinished quality to many of them, as if they are trial runs for something bigger. Indeed, Hart includes the first three pages of an abortive application to the Centre for Cartoon Studies as part of the comic, and one of the first strips features an inspirational poster adorned with the word ďPROCRASTINATIONĒ. That said, there are some beautiful moments to be found, especially in the final strip Puzzle Piece, and Hart has a pleasingly simple drawing style that is very immediate.
Insipid Candy feels like a starting point, not a destination. The journey should be an interesting one to watch.
$2.00 and all the postage you can muster, I expect. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the sixth issue of The Mighty Skullboy Army, and at this time the army has grown to precisely three, including Skullboy himself, a petty would-be despot with the face of a skull. Imagine Doctor Doom in playschool and youíll get the idea.
This is a pretty funny little book. Cabotís art is slick, and while splitting four panel strips up over four pages may not be the greatest format, the package as a whole is pleasing, with nice spot illustrations between each strip. If there is a problem it is that the characters cry out for a little more room to breathe, and Iíd like to see them in a longer story sometime. Of course, wanting more isnít that much of a problem, all things considered
No price on this one, but thereís a website address, of course. Nip on over to www.beetlebugcomics.com and have a nosey around.
Everyone loves robots. At this point itís in our blood. We canít get enough of them, whether itís Transformers or Cybermen or Brassneck or whatever, we canít help ourselves but love them.
Thatís why itís so jarring to read Break-up Bots, in which our love since we were children heartlessly dumps us, over and over again. 52 images of robots telling the reader that itís over, in no uncertain terms. The comic is drawn in a clean, precise style that you canít help but warm to, and the robot designs are inventive and strange enough that youíll be able to look at them more than once.
In some ways this could be seen as a cold kiss-off to childhood. A stern reminder to the reader that they have to get their heart broken if they want to grow up. As an idea itís as mechanical and heartless as the robots themselves, but it is executed with a great deal of charm.
$4.00 American from In Absentia Press at www.breakupbots.com
Donkey Head is a comic about the junction between memory and dreams and the space that mystery inhabits. Itís also a great read, and features a great big vacuum cleaner toward the end. Comics need more enormous vacuum cleaners, and this doesnít fail to provide.
The comic charts the dream journey of Eric and the mysterious donkey-headed man of the title who appears in his bedroom one night, while contrasting this story with that of the disappearance of Ericís father. Baker uses a neat layout trick to tell the two stories; running the tale of the disappearance along the bottom quarter of each page. This has the effect of presenting the two parts of the story as explicitly linked, although we as readers do not know why as yet. Itís a neat trick, and one that works well. We are constantly awaiting the point where the stories intersect, and canít help but search for clues. Although there are hints here, we will have to wait for future numbers for the links to be made explicit.
Delicately drawn in a pleasantly simple style, this is a great beginning for what promises to be an intriguing series, wherever it goes. If I have one complaint itís that Daniel Baker doesnít have his name anywhere on the issue. It should be there Ė this is something to be proud of.
The intrigued reader can visit www.donkeyhead.org for further details.
Back when I was seventeen, I arguably spent far too many afternoons curling up with the latest underground titles from Birmingham's Ar:Zak Press and their counterparts across the Big Pond, such as Gilbert Shelton's Furry Freak Brothers and Marvel's short-lived Comix Book. Whilst much of the material touched upon elements of the so-called Drug Culture, its creators used them merely as one colour on their palette, rather than an end in itself.
If the majority of those involved with the stoner-oriented Northern Lightz are aware of this rich heritage, they appear to have forgotten it amidst a haze of skunk smoke. Across page after page, we get a one-note symphony: guy rolls a joint, guy gets his brain fried, all's well with the world. It's like being bludgeoned to death with a throw cushion, and thrice as tedious.
There are exceptions: Dave Alexander's three-pager "A Game of Two Halves" has echoes of Shelton, early Steve Bell and even a little Bryan Talbot in his Chester Hackenbush days; better still, there's a rudimentary plot, a handful of mildly amusing panels and the residual thought that you wouldn't mind seeing his three weed-fused protagonists on another occasion. Similarly, Paul Van Linden's Chronic the Barbarian can scarcely be considered innovative, but the two-pager "White Widow" is at least colourful and fairly stylish, something you couldn't say about the slew of monotone mediocrity and increasingly desperate wordplay ("Ganja Fest Auto", "Squint Eatsweed", "Buck Roachers in the Plenty Spliff Century") which makes up the bulk of this mostly tiresome anthology.
Much as I hate to quote a certain former First Lady: just say no.
Summer 2003 issue (dated August 2003)
Northern Lights Publishing; 34pp; £3.75
Address: PO Box 25285, Glasgow, G2 6WE
SUBJECT : Reviews of minis by Dan Lester, Peter Beare, Jenika Ioffreda and Roger Langridge.
I've gathered a backlog of samplers and mini-comics from the Brighton Expo. the UK Web and Mini Comix Thing and from Caption. In lieu of missing these reviews and lacking website reviews I may try and combine the two. Heres a few :
"Monkeys Might Puke" by Dan Lester is a comic with its own eponymously named website and a series with the first three issues in print. If the sampler I've just read is anything to go by it could present some banal mindless hilarity and chuckles of the surreal. "Fidel Castro and his dancing monkey" is A7 or A8 vee small, 20p, eight pages fits in pocket - quite funny and i mostly don't know whats going on with it ! Recommended. Dan Lester@www. monkeysmightpuke.com
(These syntactically engineered weblinks really screw up the adspider's craniums !)
Another A8 8-pager picked up is untitled : two cat-like creatures reading a book and discussing alternative opinions, perspectives and feelings within illustrated speech bubbles. After wowing Caption Arts goers with his biblical tablet and Chaucerian "The Chavette's Tale" there'll sure be a few folk checking out his webcomic home - www.dangnabbit.com
Peter Beare - remember that name and associate it with great comix.
Over at www.neptunefactory. com Jenika Ioffreda presents "Cynderella", an alternate take condensed into a 16 page A6 booklet which allows the black and white and greys the exhibition of looking extremely detailed. Its also filled with illustrations of sex qhich I felt I had to hide from my background-roaming mother !
Jenika's work is a lot bolder than expected and she makes a good craft of lighting through grey placement and depth levels. Classy, erotic and very funny, and a really memorable comic book.
Look for this and Jenika's other works including "Vampire Free Style" at your next comics festival or online for more details write to info@ neptunefactory.com
Roger Langridge's "Henry Plibs Got Two" is slightly bigger than A6, and the eight pages devoted to an amusing rhyming tale of a man with multi-members. Great fun, I've not seen much of Langridge's work - does well like Woodrow Phoenix in that tastefully stylish Nickelodeon cartoon rounds were the language in narrative just doesnt seem to be in keeping and is all the better for it. More goodies I imagine at www.hotelfred .com
Frontline is an excellent introduction to the British small press scene - more clearly, British comics : title reclaimed. The opening news sections professionalism in its specialist information to match any trade magazine found in the newsagents and makes other sources (for locality's sake, Comics International), look like a very feeble joke, (its the way they tell them)
Interviews by Isambard Kingdom Brunel Shane Chebsey with the likes of Gary Northfield, Paul Rainey and
Matt Smith cater were interested and are written in a fine manner at just the right length to avoid frustrated reading. The London Zine Symposium review by Paul 'O Connell is a little twee around the edges but otherwise holds the standard well following on from Chebseys clear review of the UK Web and Mini Comix Thing.
Terry Hooper turns in "Crimson Cowl", an uninteresting five page comic strip were a figure resembling 'Moon Knight' erm..beats up some crooks. Its unappealing, uneventful and been done far better thirty years ago. A poor and bad choice poorly executed, and surely Hooper knows way better. Not sure what happened here. Dal Worrow writes a two page article on shopping his comics around various comic book stores in England, equalling "i got on a bus, i gave the comic book store some comics, I went for a pasty, I got on another bus for another comic book store, and....". Perhaps the final transmission before comics distribution in Britain goes through its next major industrial age. There are shorter pieces by Anneke Van Staun and Joe Butcher which entertain and attract to much amplified success.
Incoming rounds off with a six page reviews section were Graham Mogford reports on 13 comics hes read. This too, is twee around the edges and foolishly leaves off postal addresses. Otherwise, they're well written from study and consideration, and accompanied by illustrations, which always helps.
Incoming #6 is 32 pages with a colour cover and new UK format. (which as I understand it is about 86%A4 or 86% of A3 during the construction process) £2.95 from Shane Chebsey at Smallzone, Subscriptions@£18 for six issues or £24 for overseas readers. Available from 10 Cleveland Avenue, High Ercall, Telford, Shropshire, TF^ 6AH or shane@smallzone- comics-shop.com
One of the things that came out of the Remixing Comics Criticism panel at Caption was the changess going on with Bugpowder and TRS2. If you're serious about comics commentary or criticism, you have a home here and are welcome to publicize or divert traffic of a comic through a review.
Over the next year, I want to continue to uninvolve myself from reviewing comics and fade into other areas of interest. To this end, we're recruiting reviewers. If you're interested please get in touch, here.
We have a few new reviewers posting soon. If you want someone to make some remarks on your work you should get your comics to :
33 Scott Road
I'll be continuing to review my backlog, and theres some of that coming up this week.
A full colour, pocket-sized glossy with a print-run of 15 thousand, The Shiznit is a polished anthology of comic strips distributed throughout Ireland and, courtesy of some bong, bikes and gaming advertisements, is free, gratuit and frei to the general public. With mass-market ambition then, editor/publisher Bob Byrne abandons the uncompromising approach of MBLEH! and despite the occasional processing sheen, instead manufactures a tone of subversive-like mischievousness.
Amongst the satire and the stand-uppishness, the social and political commentary and the gag-fuelled funny, this issue's standout strip is Brian Kenny and Bob Byrne's Count Curly Wee. A biting expose of Irish attitudes to immigrants and the footholds allowed them, it's cleverly presented as pastiche of the newspaper strip of the same name, complete with rhyming couplets. Paddy Hickey's disarmingly simple/genius Web Pharmacy sees an over-the-counter exchange given the SPAM treatment, to hilarious effect. (Some "Vigagra" (sic) with your lozenges, anyone?) Harvey Richards: Lawyer For Children offers wit on top of its durable, funny conceit, and Caught Short by Phil Barrett is another perfectly realised (minor-) gem from an ever-reliable realiser of gems.
There's much else on offer in The Shiznit #3 (from Bif and FrankP, Ruben Bolling and Paul Rainey, from BrenB, Cian Hallinan and Robbie Bonham), and though at times gags seem familiar and are hindered by deliveries that lack invention and originality, it's a derivativeness that won't register with its target audience, and which fans of humour comics probably won't mind either. And anyway, who could resist the bastard child of Oink! and Viz? It's no money well spent.
Download The Shiznit #1 & 2 at Clamnuts.