Untitled (Jeremy Dennis Weekly Strips)
Posted by Andrew Luke
Untitled (Jeremy Dennis Weekly Strips) 18 Hawkins Street, Oxford, OX14 1YD
This is a collection of 10/11 single page stories by Jeremy Dennis taken from her updated weekly website. Within, Tiny figure drawings of competency hint at a wild abandonment which the viewer may put together. The extremist absurdist, the pleasant quirkiness, Jeremy Dennis and her works are those things. A few examples, then?
Nothing Happened is a tale that sticks out, the form of introspection coupled with bleak humour and study of happily lost gets me for the same reason John Robbins stuff does. And the concentration is moreso! The tale of ‘the obscurest cartoonist of them all’ is replicated as a third page, tools used to explanative "Time Management" the second page is an illumination/illustration of futility and stance reclaiming.
The Panther Wrap -Tale of depressing experience in regimentalised consumerism that tugs on those cheek-strings, saddening them down: until that is, Jeremy and chum discover an eccentricity from the system, their trip redeemed. And the resonating narrative structure establishes a style strong, echoes must not be denied. Jeremy Dennis once again finds the auburn fluffy toy in a world of metallic hum and artificial weather.
Jeremy uses her tools to display all the things that are worth it about this life so much I imagine her presenting the proud announcement of the Phillips Radiograph range. Even her comics about comics avoid the anal and are only positive and upbeat. The artistical magic of ‘Method Cartoonist’ and the first panel of ‘Convention’ were illustrated Jeremy looks set to mutilate a pensioner who has no grasp of how a photocopier works. final strip Typo, ends this booklet well. I cannot recall why I liked it a whole lot yet still do. Check out Jeremy’s website or send her some money or send the money to me and I’ll spend it on cheeseburgers.
Jeremy Dennis! Neat! The 16 page, A5 collection costs a pound from the address at the top. Or check ‘m out now!
Obscurity Unlimited #7, #8
Posted by Andrew Luke
Could anybody who has sent any information for the trs2 weblog to my hotmail account in the last week, please re-send it? Either here or there
Obscurity Unlimited #7-8 (July-June 2001)
Multi Andrew-querying-organisation American zine put together by editor Ian Shires and a disaparate council. Shires appears to have his focus as something of entrepreneurial, and he is clearly learning on the job. The purpose and content of the mag are intertwined so I’ll relay, with my own uneased opinion.
On the third page of this zine is a notice/introduction to The Buyers Club. Like a half-distributor, offers readers the chance to send for comics, presumably in bulk, as the money is then sent to individual publishers whose responsibility it is to send the product to the consumer. Orders through The Buyers Club are then guaranteed should product fail to transpire. This facility permeates many attitudes of the zine, with the reviews section, and with Obscurity Unlimited’s subscriptions being dealt with through the TBC readers accounts. This seems a complicating networking system, dubious I am.
The magazine carries a number of services including Letters and a Small Press News Section, which are both the directionless and sociable. As one reader put it, “frank but friendly, friendly but frank”. Contributions are an indication of were this mags at, and are probably the best thing this mag has going for it. (More on this further) There’s an element of it seemed resigned to failure, most interested in ‘still cartoons’ than ‘comics and sequential art’, an off-putting amateur quality.
In the second half of the booklet, is ‘The POP Chart!’ a needless self-promotional exercise in the editor’s adaptability. Followed by a ‘Lost and Found’ section, a report on unfulfilled orders from The Buyers Club. The Reviews Section is really a brief listing of a handful of recent titles (from TBC) a surface-skim rather than any in-depth analysis. Looking rather than seeing.
Either I don’t understand American-English or perhaps the editor has set his aims too high. This zine aspires to do everything, and as a resource could be quite invaluable. Yet, it’s Force Resource. And for now, there appears to be very little here other than contact points and the occasional very clever suggestion afforded the same sort of point treatment as the padding. Although Shires has been publishing five issues monthly now, operates a free ads policy and a first issue of OU free of charge. Repeating, reader contribution is an indication that if steered in the right direction (incoming input) and if the editor’s enthusiasm remains so, this could be a strong zine.
Obscurity Unlimited is published by Dimestore Productions, 6733 Erie Avenue, Madison, OH 44057. The first A5 24page issue is free or contribute $1.50 plus p&p, or alternatively check out the website at www.dimestoreproductions.com
Crack In The Shell, A #2
A CRACK IN THE SHELL #2
I've no inkling with regards the source of inspiration for this title - perhaps a derivation best kept unknown - but I do know that Leonard Cohen sings of there being 'a crack in everything - that's how the light gets in'.
Un/fortunately the crack in this shell is minor and there is little on offer here of appeal to those who already subject day-to-day living to a revealing light through rejection of convenient ignorance and embraced myopia. However, for those obtuse beyond grasping a glimmer of pointlessness in their darkened reality, this publication may prove a gentle enough step on the road to enlightenment!
In the three page collection of 'Wage Slave' newspaper style strips, diluted themes of existentialism and helplessness in the face of societal expectation and enforced routine are played out by a once cuddly toy bear, now wearied with the cynicism of experience and a work/drink/hash prompted lethargy. (I added the hash bit myself, and dedicate it to the Barr bloke and sibling!) Sometimes purposely unamusing, these slice-of-life bursts aren't quite substantial enough to be satisfying, but are well realised and competently crafted. A touch more care devoted to the chore of lettering could further add the polish required for syndication.
Less worthwhile, but technically equally impressive, the one page 'dole mole' offers nothing new in its 'Buddy Bradley' tale of slacker inactivity, but succeeds well in quietly capturing the laid back resignation of a generation-x character with damning Beatles 'Let It Be' poster on wall.
Two more one pagers 'The Wankers At Work' and 'Gombeen' continue the powerless tone of the publication, this time shedding some light on boy/girl interaction with blunt blows of humour that work well; and the back page is devoted to 'Whelan's Indie Bingo', an observational text piece that logically draws parallels between bingo and night-clubbing at a certain Dublin haunt!
However, the bulk of A CRACK IN THE SHELL is taken with the flimsy prose short story 'Sam McMac's Love-Plan' and the ambitious comic strip 'Touched' - five and six page efforts respectively. Though reasonably well-crafted and vaguely amusing at times, 'Love Plan' lacks substance and so desperately seeks to be funny that it can alone be judged on its ability to prompt laughter in response. It fails.
In contrast, 'Touched' is an awkward kind of 'Ghost World' told through the Chris Ware time/space story-telling method. Gentle in its execution, yet impressively striving to achieve more than the easy option of a common, flat comics work, on the whole it is not exactly successful, but is deserving of praise for its attempt to provoke emotional response and resonance through the capture of mood and tone. And again with further exploration of the theme of what I often refer to as 'powerlessmess', makes for a shining addition to this mostly symbiotic collection.
Ultimately A CRACK IN THE SHELL #2 lacks the diversity of its previous issue, but possesses endearing focus and unassuming subversion, and for a pound is a sound purchase and cheap means of widening your crack!
Available from Phil at 141 St Declans Road, Marino, Dublin 3, Ireland. (Or first check ordering details with firstname.lastname@example.org or with email@example.com).
(Review by John Robbins)
Season X #2
Much like its premiere issue, this second installment of 'the reality challenged Starburst' crackles with a wit and exuberance that is hard to resist. Science Fiction/Fantasy reportage parody is the order of the day, and no popular cult show of those genres can escape the affectionate prods of the SEASON X tickle-stick. (Andy Luke guides my hand!)
Though at times seemingly no different in tone or content to the magazines it seeks to lampoon, and though this 'failing' is probably down to lack of subject matter knowledge on my part, the writing, anyway, is never less than fluid, and the kind of effortless it takes two rewrites to achieve.
That said, X2 is less trash-scholarly than its first issue, and as a consequence is more accessible to those, like myself, not quite fanatical about the shows 'discussed'. Ergo, that first issue's tendency toward overly long passages of text (to which I could not attach a substantial enough degree of parody to justify inclusion in the publication) is eliminated, and the humour less likely rendered redundant by trash-ignorance.
And yet, I suspect that those cunning writers of X2 continue X1's penchant for jocularly rewarding its prime target audience of Babylon-brained-Buffites with hidden extras. These fuckers can't lose!
Inventive, mad-cap in its convolution, and containing a wonderfully realised Seinfeld three-page strip that could easily pass as a still episode, X2 is daft as sandwich-spread and much deserving of an audience or two.
For this A5, 32 page veritable trash-carnival of a title, send your pound to Rik Hoskin, 1 Ravensbourne Road, East Twickenham, Middlesex, TW1 2DG.
(Review by John Robbins)
Eyeball on Windshield
Posted by Andrew Luke
Eyeball on Windshield
Sinuous markings make negative shapes by way of a dense radiograph use of crosshatch and cross-space. An ideology of expectation of jagged jokes is defied with thrusts and what appears to be the use of a ‘working copy’ in Malcy Duff’s tale of life, love and living with a corpse (and travelling community of insects). The story doesn’t so much as unfold, rather relies on reader-viewer interpretation, pushing to the brink an interpetation of Malcy’s impeccably in use lineguage. The drawing style is one that is of distinguishing, pedigree, yet despite it’s proportional challenge (for space) slips into camouflage set against the content of linear flashed with oddity and eccentricity. In ways is Malcy’s work similar with that of Jim Woodring: in ways it is not. It contains an ‘out of time’ quality, a distortion of scale, dimension-crossing and mumble panels. And that Duff revels in abstraction and gives the reader/viewer a leeway in between panels any cartoonist sequencers just can’t seem to manage.
Existence of a ‘working copy’ appears to be in evidence which allows Malcy to make best use of his time budget (view the comic for details) and allows for extensive use and reformation of single establishing shots for the purposes of say, background. The comics flaw (and it is a necessary) is that the visual language (lineguage) is at times impenetrable, causing me no end of fury! Indeed, is this his goal? To ensure I look at the pages again when I am ready. And then, out of the fucking blue, a very real chart of interconnected humour (with the backing singing sinister) building, like some fucked-up pre-school choir. It’s a SUPERB manipulative comic booklet about placement, and is undeniably celebratory. Like the previous work Cloud Dog Agency (and indeed Gunk), it’s new tone. It blows the guts out of any doubts I had about his abilities as a cartoonist, and gives a new success not only to Malcy’s portfolio but also comics.
Northern Lightz #4
Posted by Andrew Luke
A review of Northern Lightz #4
Is like the previous issue. Anthology of love, hemp thesaurus application production, grey so full it bares me. Like those times I sit stoned, with nothing to say, the evening is empty. Muzzle in place: happy place? I sit for a timef further, and go to speak. Whatever it is I say, perhaps the opening of my mouth has let in the existing paranoia and suspicion, and enters my brain and amplifies.
“Buck Roachers In The Plenty Spliff Century”, this is full of oh so underground traits: sex, nudity, greyscale providing weight to the blackness and murk: Grant, Stewart, Alexander and Quitely, where’s the funny? “Billy Weed” (featuring the Hash Street Skids): oh-so underground, oh so subversive. The drawing out-look is functional, yet the ending for the sake of a twist, kinda defeats the purpose and adds to the downer.
A shame because there are interludes of agreement: Jim Stewart’s Ganjaman tale has airs of realism and he’s quite capable of convince: a highly detatched scene of crowd ‘in action’, so dense that it almost becomes a piece of cross-hatching, but not just. However, so multi-movement wish is the content of Alan Grant’s middle of a tri-script, that I fear becoming lost in this forest of lasered sigils on pause. The toniing is a treat.
White-ing is provided on the exterior, delayed by ‘Dope Squad’, a thin on ink piece about two bunglers. Muckers, jobcosts who go undercover as rap stars! Shug’s work never pretends to be anything more than it is, modest cartoony full of cheeky fun (among the best kind) with a laugh every few panels.
Styx, Deadlarva, Nadaxed and Horney’s ‘Passage to Indicia’ more has that ‘pure underground’ look that annoys me about this mag. Hemping from all over the world yet it looks like it’s been drawn in the London Underground. OK, so this tale of British Imperialism isn’t all that bad and it isn’t all that good. I’m just whiney cos I’m stuck here with comic books piled high when they would be better suited…elsewhere. “Sir Real Vs The Smoking Pot”- a visual goal score of chequers with anthromorphics blurring to extra-dimensional unity. Like some more visible past-life regression. I’m not sure who the artist is on this. (It looks remarkably like Jamie ‘Hardly The Hog’ Coward but he denies all but influencing!): whoever the man is he is applauded.
I’ve lost my glasses and cannot read “Spliff Warz Episode IV : The Hempire Scores Back”. I’m all in favour of compacted comics, but these tiny panels just hurt my eyes. What little I can make out disinterests: the author’s continued reference to 5,000 Other Terms For Hashish bores. I return later and find little direction in narrative and a shimmering of vitality produced from the pencils, but the toner just appears to obscure, detracting.
Strangely it is the centre page feature “The Z Men” which renews my youth: yes, this is a mighty tulip. Jim Stewart’s drawings of “mutants”, which my colleague Richard Barr would agree with me, n’er has the term been applied more fittingly! These folks are hideous! The tone manages to be emphatically respecting, transmuting faithful with fan and hones in on the strengths in the same manner Emmett Taylor’s work does – making so light it wondefully defies gravity!
From that very funny stuff, the next is more and I’ve found my specs so is a real treat. Alan Grant and Dave Alexander’s “The MacTadger Connection” starring The MacBams, Scotland’s answer to the Freak Brothers. Shaping thick black areas, construction man-made and natural through pencils carbon and graphite with smudging configuration consideration (fecking stan, he’s everywhere!) One panel of Dave’s, a designer’s room is a big illuminative surprise, which I boast of him: his draughtsmanship is incredible. And delight in his page stratagem,!
Others include Smart Patrol, The Telejunkies Vs Tokemon both by Jamie grant, Curt Sibling’s Weed Finder General and Captain Zappa by Jake Miller. Miller is something of a smll press fixture, his sixteen panels a page and jagged lines and avoidance of grey. I can’t decide whether I love his works, or detest them. Perhaps I’m jealous. For John does with his tales what I failed to do with my own comicbooklet. He takes his immediate surroundings (usually his hometown of Lanark) and invests it with a dose of the fantastic: Lanark as New Genesis or Apokolips., raising social spots and local authority figures to the level of superhuman: pop magic! ‘Captain Zappa’ of course draws on John’s musical tastes. I regret to say I don’t know my Zappa so this strip is lost on me. Although not really.
Northern Lightz? Oh OK, skin up that envelope. £2.75 from Northern Lightz Publishing, PO Box 25059, Glasgow, G3 6WE. (Glossy colour cover, A4, 36 pages)
Andrew Luke's Comic Booklet
Andrew Luke's Comic Booklet
Yet further evidence that the investment of time and energy into the production of a small press publication is not necessary. Or rather: is necessary only if you wish to impress.
Half-baked and oh-so-disposable, this booklet seems to revel in its unattractiveness, providing eight pages of comics visually dissimilar to the work of Gary Panther only in their lack of design sense - the very element which makes Panther's doodles so irresistible. There is a tangible desperation here for the strips to come naturally, devoid of those dreaded Mainstream tools of craft and graft. Frankly, evidence of skill is in short supply; and considering the obvious effort afforded Luke's far superior illustration work on THE IMPLAUSIBILITY OF REASON, there is little excuse for the poor draughtsmanship in evidence here - beyond reflecting the lack of effort involved in perfecting his scripting skills.
Yes, the writing is no less immediate, and in keeping with the precious 'I thought it/I drew it, so it stays' approach to comics creation - after all, missing out the bulk of steps in the creative process gets the job done that much quicker!
This COMIC BOOKLET is not without its merits, though. True, the ideas are much more impressive than the execution, but with these quick bursts of ideas not being elaborated on to any great length, they come thick and fast - and some come thicker than others! (Though all offer, at the very least, a glimmer of amusement.)
My favourite strip is 'The Ice Cream Van' - an autobiographical story that echoes Eddie Campbell both in impotent tone and, to a lesser extent, page layout. It's subtle, unassuming stuff, really, and I defy anyone to find no humour in its resonant punchline.
All-in-all, ANDREW LUKE'S COMIC BOOKLET proves an amusing distraction that allows/demands the brief shut-down of those brain cells responsible for scowling.
ALCB is available from Andy Luke at 5 Stanley Avenue, Bangor, BT20 5EN, N Ireland.
(Review by John Robbins)
Implausibility of Reason #4
The Implausibility of Reason #4
'To look is to invent' some writer-type once wrote. What the fuck was meant I haven't the foggiest, but with IMPLAUSIBILITY I expect author Marcel Angel has a confused inkling, and is determined to keep on looking and keep on inventing no matter the probable legal strictures. Really, this publication should come with advisory label - 'strictly for parents only'- because while the subject matter continues to be bent on shocking, it is only through an audience of parents that this publication can succeed in achieving this goal. Teens on the other hand would lap this stuff up and just snigger it off.
Therein lies the crux of the problem for TIOR: it is caught between audiences. While the quick-fix per paragraph prose of the opening three issues panders to a juvenile audience with low attention spans, this latest installment offers a pacing that is less frantic and that allows the reader to catch breath and be lulled into a false sense of security before being bashed over the brain with another sudden atrocity. Though the story benefits from this, and the writer's developing craft is in evidence with assured prose and glimpses of a confident swagger emerging, the subject matter remains shackled to bike-shed readings and whispered giggles at the back of class.
The narrative this time teases readers rather than constantly pander to their perceived thirst for those situations of sexual perversion and anal violence. That's not to say that Angel does not deliver; he merely delivers when the context of the story allows for the greatest impact of delivery. Put simply: the structure lacking in previous installments surfaces here, eliminates the montage-of-incidents effect in favour of a slightly more composed story-telling, but ultimately is not always repulsive enough for teens and not always engaging enough for adults.
With four issues and six kittens in the bag, writer Marcel Angel must seek answers in order to progress: for what purpose is he looking; and for what audience is he inventing. The search for reason must continue; and meanwhile, punters could do alot worse than to finance the search.
TIOR #4 is available from series illustrator/designer-in-residence Andy Luke. 20p plus 1st class stamp to 5 Stanley Avenue, Bangor, BT20 5EN, N Ireland.
(Review by John Robbins)
Fantastic Fun Day Brochure
Posted by Andrew Luke
Fantastic Fun Day
Brochure from Jenny Linn-Cole and Martin Hand's mini-con to celebrate 60 years since the arrangement of lines and paints pressed that became captain America and the 40 years of Fantastic Four. Not the average festival guide, it runs to 36 pages with illustrations by Hand, Tony Lee, Ian Churchill, Steve Whittaker and D'Israeli. Quite colourful and if there was any similarities between this and Pete Ashton's BRUMCAB97, definitely has reflected the mood of the day.
With Steve Englehart the guest of the FFD, Guy Bateman has contributed articles on his runs on Cap and Avengers, with accompanies by Guy Lawley and Frank Plowright, plus a preview of Englehart and Santamaria's new Avengers series! Some of these articles are very 'Marvel Saga'-ie, yet a pleasing trip through memory lane: its associated parks, avenues and gardens. You want a fantastic fun day, right?
Postage and packing included in the £4 if you are to send it. Jennifer Cole, 8 Evenwood Close, Carlton Drive, Putney, London, SW15 2DA. Also available from Comics Showcase, Gosh! and 30th Century Comics.
To be put on the mailing list for next years Fantasic Fun Day (this years the second if recall serves), email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Andrew Luke
Talamander #07~ Killer cults, magical possessions, crazy women and wanton destruction. Yes, just another day here on planet Earth. Uh, Talamander.
I’m reading the story of the world of Brin, were there is a great reliance on history. The Journeys Of Brin have been in publication for around ten years, Brin himself is over 200 years old. This may not then, be the best time to begin reading Brin, however Rik Hoskin turns in a pop comic epic in the conclusion to the ‘Hymn Taking’ trilogy, one in which the story explodes and explodes and explodes. And it’s all damnable clever too.
With this illuminated booklet there is a joining of Tim Brown’s two styles, the freehand minimalist approach of restricted purpose found in opinionated and funny PART-TIME LIGHTS with TALAMANDER’S arranged-through-rigour scenes by fine attention. This highspeed shaping meets precision fitting is most visible in Brown’s figures, approached as portraiture, and these are beginning to grow on me. The traditional ‘mountain-building-river-shrubbery’ has yawned me a million times before. Yet when Brown puts these landscapes of epic grandeur into his comic…
The stylistic compromise for regular followers of Brown is all too frustratingly understandable, pathology. Tim is producing, possibly his finest work on Talamander, although I can’t help feel somewhat deadened when trying to gather a reaction. This is a very experimental installment, and that is both good and bad. If you can decide for me, send £1.25 to Tim Brown, 22 Woodborough Drive, Winscombe, Somerset, BS25 1HB.
I'm taking tomorrow off but if you miss me you can always read the first part of my Caption Piss-Up Recollection over at my weblog.
O Men #11
Posted by Andrew Luke
The O Men #11
Martin Eden, 35 Woodbury Street, Tooting, London, SW17 9RP
A5, 32 pages, £1.50
“Own Worst Enemy”is the title of this little story within a story, and again, Martin Eden centres in on another self-contained story that is written right up there with Buseik , David and Waid. Anathema, enemy of The O Men, is the spotlight of the entire tale, wandering in and out of the lives of The O Men, with nary a presence. This framer carries the story along from a step-back view, aided a sinister edge by Eden’s recent revelation that both Anathema and the readers are in the dark about many major elements of the story. And he’s done it a damn sight more convincing than any comic I’ve read since Grant Morisson’s Animal Man. Within this not as self contained as the last experimental issue’, every little detail is revealed through the central character’s necessity (eg. Self-mutilation). Anathema wanders through the scenes, undetected, at her weakest, yet still manages to soil any beautiful moment which may occurr. Every box corrupted with her presence. She is Strangers In Paradise with knives, chainsaw, strimmers, in fact just about every sharp implement. Whilst Martin Eden falls in with his influences, the Tori Amos-Neil Gaiman camp for sheer bloody horror , morbidity and those hidden gothic folk, he also shares with the a modesty, ahidden tenderness and calm, and state essence dialogue.
Art-wise, it’s the same new same brilliance. Theres a surfing reliance on parallel lines and crafted juxtaposed lines, crease-creating, revealing a steady and confident hand and making this more unique than a brilliant Paul Grist/Andi Watson rip-off. And the layouts are just as experimental. No, I can’t put it across any fairer than that. The panel and page layouts are experimental. And yummola! I wish I could draw comics like this one.
Pulp Kitchen #4
Posted by Andrew Luke
Pulp Kitchen #4
How do I do this? Anthologies are often the most time-consuming books to review and this one is among the bigger bastards. At s i x t y pages. There are strips so set in their own that is impossible to contemplate them. There are strips that are genuinely funny and immediate. Some interesting looking pieces kicking off with promise, playing with muddle. And some strips which are a waste of my time, like an author of merit who bothers not to get out his/her work.
I'm tempted to give up! But there are the chuckles I got from Kaminski's scenes from childhood mystery plays, and Favourite Crayon stories by Bear! His work is so full of youth, eager to pass on 'of footnote' observations, educations. It's mature and infects each time, with a desire to see more. Thankfully, these pages are part of Shareware Comics, thereby adding an extra access to hope: that a wider audience can direct to, as is Goodman's intentions work.
Yes, there's a lot I forget here. The works of Alderslade and McCarthy, written by Pearson, are of wrap in their own context. Quite pretty to look at, yet Geoff Pearson's sociological becomes to in no way engages with me : it grows not quick enough for the time, suffers from anthology status and as with many of the pieces in Pulp Kitchen, seems like hackwork or tribute gone wrong. Ugonna Nwosu turns from 'observations of the immature' and gets experimental , it doesn't work and the only puicture presented is one of the artist's poverty.Those four artists all do work I usually have enjoyed, yet I now find them to have been quite average of the mag. And McGee's 'Square Eyed Scribbles'? It's badly-drawn and should usually be on A6. But the panel arrangements completely offers new thinking! Gah, this honesty!
If I didn't get this far (reviewing is a trial), and if the Liverpool scene's co-operative wasn't so progressive, how would I be able to enjoy an arm restle with Nathan Webb? A very technically minded cartoonist, this work is both boring and uneasing, of intense study and marvel. Oh, I'm a sad promoter.
Go and buy this, it's A4 with t w o great colour covers, "SIXTY" (bi, u, all) pages. Don't read it all in one sitting. When you're finished with it, litter publicly according to were you believe it'll be most beneficial. At the end of the day, £2.50 and postage and packing is lesser this worth's work.
Pulp Kitchen, Hall Studios, 4 Wellington Fields, Wavertree, Liverpool, England L15 0EL
Pulp Kitchen website
This review by Richard Barr:
THE SURGEON: TIMELINES
£2.00 BASED ON CHARACTERS BY TOM CAMPBELL & CRAIG FORRESTER
PUBLISHED BY ROUGH CUT
A4 28 PAGES
Looking at the Surgeon Timelines, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s a high quality professional publication to be found on supermarket shelves, or clutched tightly in the hands of sweaty teenagers. Colin Barr’s immaculate illustration on a glossy cover makes this look like a well-presented publication with high production values. Inside there are two strips and a story accompanied by spot illustrations. The story, Toby Barstow: Boy Detective is a very tongue in cheek fable, which is surreal and humorous in good measure. A kind of piss take on Tintin and Scooby Doo.
Pit Stop has artistic elements of early 2000AD and Eagle. A completely visual experience with no dialogue and only a little amount of sound effects makes this an original well-executed strip.
The second strip, Running on Fumes is, by comparison, a dialogue heavy tale concerning two laboratory workers finding an operating theatre on legs with an array of surgery tools. The visuals are nothing new, but the story will keep you turning the page, and for this reason it is worthy of respect.
Lastly, as an afterthought, I thought the advertising space on the back was evidence of this team’s innovation in reaching out to advertisers and pushing up their production values, making for a quality product. Maybe something for other publications to investigate?
Posted by Andrew Luke
Paper Cuts #5 : (My review in prose)
I savour non-comics related zine,
I put this down
Under-accomplished and furnished I spublish
Book Of Shadows Of Morrissey Lyrics
Will he see me in court?
I’d like to see him try?
Tis better to be an ass on paper
If it’s away from you, it turns up the fader
‘Ah, a handbag?’
Under-considered and furnished
That’s all well and good yet
It’s in another room-la-la
I’d like to see him try
Paper Cuts #8 : My first favourite picture attempts to crush my hopes, control me, stop my physical and compatible development, take away my enjoyment of this zine.
Give me something beautiful
Give me something beautiful
I’ve given you something
Look, I’ve hanging myself
Paper Cuts seems to adhere to the ‘Star Trek films’ rule: the odd-numbereds are shite and the even-numbereds are an improvement on shite.. When Damo Reilly publishes poems like Loki’s ‘Seasons of Soul’ he raises the zine’s worth as does with the more concentrated efforts of his own ‘In A Nutshell’, an illustrated 400 word narrative, about a schoolboy who picks up litter. Overall, this zine is much too unbalanced, and for the most part of my opinion, of little merit. Damo is a thoroughly pleasant chap that wrote and I will be conversing with him. (Whether he converses with me, is unwritten.) Paper Cuts, A4 and 28 pgs is available in Bray Bookshop, Main Street, Bray and Forbidden Planet Dublin for £1.50 plus 50p postage. Damo can be contacted on email@example.com
Posted by Richard Barr
A review by Richard Barr,
VIOLENT COMICS, 9 GREENACRE ROAD, WHITCHURCH, BRISTOL BS14 OHL
This is my second foray into the Violent comics empire, and although the first one was a standard affair, this one (issue 3) has a batch of kick ass stories and some great visuals. The first called Live Bait is Deep Blue Sea meets a psychopathic Whale Shark. The art is standard enough, in that it has no sense of place. There are too many close-ups, and the reader is left using his imagination (not always a good thing) so he can muster a sense of place. Maybe if Paul J Holden were to employ his techniques from The Flatworm in Live Bait, then Violent comics would have a greater masterpiece on its hands.
By contrast Rabid is visually darker with a great use of shadows coupled with a dry, sardonic script. By far my favourite part of the strip was the scene in which Lord Tebbit that old Right Wing motherfucker was smoked. Although I haven’t seen the previous instalments of Rabid, I can tell that it is by far one of the more superior strips in this book.
Finally Mitch Molotov is something that caught my eye, simply because of its archaic comedy. This episode concentrates on the exploding minefield sheep, a continuation from last issues exploits. The script has a piss taking quality to it, and the montages we see in a number of the panels make this a high quality enjoyable read.
'Violent' is of course a direct tribute to one of the most infamous Britcomics of all: Action. Read more about Action here and here.
Posted by Andrew Luke
Gratuitous Bunny Comix, PO Box 382, Newcastle, NE99 1LT, UK
From the Gratuitous Bunny comes this the cuddling scene-sphere of Petra Dribble, sister of Jo. An attractive lover of fun, Petra adds to the lives of a small student company, she is the blend of mischief maker and angel. And needless to say, yes, scrapes and adventures.
I’ve been a big fan of Terry Wiley’s art through Sleaze Castle and despite absence of extranaturistical lifeforms, Terry’s conveyance of extra-rampant energies is as durable. And the ugliness! Oh! None of that SiP beautiful people hookers and guns bullshit, The Wiley One draws ‘the growth of specks’, not hiding behind perfects anatomy. Highlighting the beauty spots. And the front cover, simple and elaborate, I like it a lot!
Adrian kermode’s script captures the minute, commonly visible social and accompanying appliances with links galore! It’s quite physically facilitating, Any sweetly-sickly personal turmoil is coated with an edge from a laughter production manufacturing, which has a dual smart infection option. Petra Ecetra is £2 in the UK, $2.95 in the USA, and is of US size. It’s got 28 pages, staples, and lots of delicious delicious delicious delicious.
Sara’s Brand New Mobile Phone (A Favourite Crayon Story)
More of the earlier printed. Cute, concise, witty and knowledgable, it’s the tale of yet another primitive’s descent into 20th Century technology. There’s not a whole lot more I can say about this, and exceptionally, that’s one of it’s charms. Down-to-earth and it really grows on! Bear has picked a lovely format too, A7 I guess. It tries to surprise by appearing to be a bible-belt’s tract! Ha ha! It’s followed up by a plug for Pulp Kitchen, some respected comics websites and a message on recycling. “What If We Give It Away?” Indeed! As Ali would shout, “Respect!” Ask for a copy when ordering PULP KITCHEN. (A7,16pgs,SAE?)
Posted by Andrew Luke
NAMBANGA 2000: ISSUES 4,5&6
The strips that caught my eye from issue 4 were firstly Carol Wood’s Suicide. It is hard to know whether this is a darkly amusing or deadly serious tale. I guess it’s a bit of both. When you look at the last panel “They say 7 storeys is the minimum...maybe tomorrow” you can see how one could conclude that this is a comical farce. The story and art is simply OK. There are a couple of strips where the text is a little faded, but that is just a minor foible. There is a nice format where the telling of the story is concerned. The depiction of the blackout before the protagonist awakens in hospital, then there is the collection of what look like photographs showing the girl in hospital being treated for her depression. Saying all this though, there is nothing new here; the story is not an original one. The reader is left feeling disappointed but not entirely cheated.
Ralph Kidson’s Stick Legs has a blurb which is entirely right. At a glance it is easy to dismiss this. With the uneven panels and minimalist drawings there is very little to look at, but getting into the story you realise that this strip has depth. The tribulations of a loser spider struggling to cope with building a competent web and being blown away by strong gusts of wind allows the reader to see the human element in this story. This was a lot like an old spectrum game. Nothing much to look at, but very playable – or in this case readable.
ISSUE 5 Oljaca Mladen’s Very Close Encounter has some lovely art, very surreal, yet this is within the boundaries of a conventional type situation, where two people, a man and a woman, desperately want to talk to one another but can’t because of shyness and fear of embarrassment. The realistic dialogue between the two characters adds to the superiority of the strip allowing the reader to care for the people involved.
Satanic Death Cult by Ulrich Magin boasts an appearance by an ALF look-alike from that long forgotten 80’s TV show. The cartoon like art is quite enjoyable without being too over the top and the underlying religious satire will bring a smile to your face. While not being truly spectacular, this provides an enjoyable diversion.
If the truly surreal is what you’re after then Vision Girl by LSD fuelled Lee Kennedy is what you’re looking for. A girl starts having a number of weird visions in early childhood and this continues until her adulthood when floating heads and creepy Victorian women make an appearance, freaking her out. Although the images in this strip are top quality (gnomes doing a pharaoh dance among the batch) there is a sense that the story itself is a little disjointed to the point where you feel the whole thing is just a collection of episodes through a persons life. Still the quality of the art makes up for any narrative shortcomings so, in all, this is an enjoyable read.
ISSUE 6 The Neverlands Descent into Hell by Chris Crielaard and Marcel Ruyters is a visually impressive strip with an engrossing story. A skeletal man and punkess with one leg set off on a road trip only to have the man fall into a guitar shaped hole. Here they bear witness to a competition between dead rock stars trying to get out of hell. Superficial strangeness you may think, but this is fucked up tale with the visuals not letting this team down at all. The only disappointment for me was that there was no appearance from Jim Morrison or Joplin, either! A true story about a kiddie fiddler is the setting for Penny van Horn’s TRUE STORY title. Here is something that I wish I could’ve seen more of on the CD. It is presented in a montage of strange, dark images, complemented by funky music and a great voiceover. The story is the common tale of a man bringing two girls into the woods to touch them up. Yet as I’ve said, the presentation here shows that with the right kind of material and visuals the zine format could be evolving.
I loved the idea behind Mariano d’ Angelo’s The Dream. A man falls asleep, dreams he’s at a funfair and that he goes to meet a man who can tell him the meaning of life. Fair enough. The art has the right amount of space and depth to allow the reader to believe that the protagonist has plunged straight into a dream world. But the crux is the twist at the end. I won’t spoil it, but it is truly an existentialist tail.
That’s the second of Richard Barr’s two part review of Nambanga, a CD-rom which costs $29.99 or 2,999 Yen and comes complete with optional access to a number of password protected directories. (All six issues are on the one CD and the strips mentioned are only a small percentage of) It’s billed as “a bilingual introduction to the work of more than 60 creators from at least 23 countries,,,an essential thought-provoking and exciting anthology”. It’s suitable for MACs as well as PCs, although the Mac version is without one of the Learning Japanese courses. Course, the disc is full of other great ones to choose from. Richard and I couldn’t recommend this enough. Wholesale Distribution enquiries are welcome through Alexander Unginor,
firstname.lastname@example.org and Kelvin Lee, Kelvin@comicuniverse.net
(Review by Richard Barr)
Posted by Andrew Luke
BY STEVE AND CHRISTOS ,WARPTON COMICS, PO BOX 2110, SWINDON, SN25 4RQ, ENGLAND
This is one of the most professionally presented zine I have seen in a long time. With a glossy cover based on Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross it looks like a surreal, aesthetic treat. With the copy I got the pages are sleek glossy spectacles, and even the words in the speech bubbles etc look as if they’ve been engraved so as that you can run your fingers over each letter, feeling good. The script centres round a modern day messiah rousing his mother and dealing with his confusion over all things theological. Although the art is supreme for the first three pages I get the impression that Christos got a bit bored toward the end of the edition. The close-ups on the child’s mother, for example, in a number of the panels are rushed looking and not a joy to look at. Saying that the script evokes a realistic childhood inquisitiveness letting the reader immerse himself in the story. If Steve keeps writing to this standard (and the art reaches its full potential) this could be a title to keep an eye on.
(Approx £3?), 28 PAGES, A3
(Messiah reviewed by Richard Barr)