Obscurity Unlimited #9
Posted by Andrew Luke
Obscurity Unlimited #9 Aug 2001
Ian Shires is the publisher and editor of Obscurity Unlimited, a networking vehicle which operates perhaps like a very early days Bugpowder, albeit with quite a different set of linguistic values. A co-operative attitude which formalisation of activities organising (and vanity) tends to get in the way of. In other words. While there's waffle and space-filling tactics, Ian's writing style is maturing noticeably. The mag as well as good design in place has a hefty news and reviews section. Ian looks content to put his time and money into this, so long as that attitude assists, his recommendation is that small press cartists utilise what hes offering.
For more details on what that is, point your browser to http://www.dimestoreproductions.com
Ordinarily, $2.00, but first copy is free from Dimestore Productions, 6733 Erie Avenue, Madison, OH 44057 or by openning a line to OU@dimestoreproductions.com
Obscurity Unlimited is A5, 28 pages, mostly text, lots of passion
Hardcore Bikini All Stars #1
Posted by Andrew Luke
From Stuart Luke, a brief review of
Hardcore Bikini All stars #1
£1.50 by Nik Holmes, 38 Coleton Gardens, Ingleby, Barwick, Stockton on Tees TS17 0YA
Born from a love of B movies, comes the first issue of what looks to be an exciting comic. Very well produced and professional right down to the envelope it was sent in. Funky characters drawn in a style that remnds me of early Generation X. However there's a distinct lack of bikini's.
With three of the main characters being blokes, lets hope none of them actually don a bikini in the next issue ! All behind a nifty colour cover. An enjoyable read.
Stuarts gotten it right. Bikini All-Stars is steeped in breaking down the fourth-wall characters know they're in a comic stuff which gets to my nuisance at times but theres so much animation illusion that it is quite a fun read 'n' view. The artwork is so Brendan that bloke offa Gorillaz McCarthy and capable not by the hands of sops, and it comes wrapped in... it comes wrapped in a gorgeous day-glo orange cover with the words 'Hardcore Bikini All-Stars' emblazoned more luminescence. Mighty Gosh!
Windhead's Dogs #7
WINDHEAD'S DOGS #7
The bimonthly Hawkwind tribute zine (that this non-Hawkite struggles to recognise the point of) hits a seventh issue and rekindles in me renewed hope that I might at last stumble upon its raison d’être...
Nope. Even after viewing Hedwig and the Angry Inch I continue in vain to glimpse a semblance of coherency in WINDHEADS DOGS on-going strip Ledge of Darkness! In fairness, it looks a lot of fun, is competently drawn and, at times, meticulously inked, but possibly requires a stoned understanding to prompt appreciation. It seems to be aiming for a kind of Rocky Horror/Spinal Tap barminess but delivers not a science fiction, double feature, but a science friction double dutch! Far too esoteric for a non-Hawkite audience, methinks.
Also wedged somewhere between the adverts this issue are 'Jack and the Herbstalk' - a two page argument for legalising cannabis told through a modestly realised cartoon that lacks a humorous punchline; and 'Once Upon A Time' - another two pager, this one offering sound take on 'The Prisoner', capturing the feel of the cult TV series with spot-on dialogue and genuine glimpses of the likeness of actor Patrick McGoohan. (Occasionally betrayed, though, by the Kirby illustration style's penchant for fat heads!)
I remain pretty much frustrated by the elusive contents of this publication, and by the fact that it has a tendency to be over before it's begun. But still, WINDHEAD DOGS #7 has its moments, and is just as free as previous issues, so whether or not "the alchemists of British psychedelia" are your thing, this impressively printed title might just prove no money well spent.
A6, 20 pages. Send SAE to the rather unlikely address of Zephyr, P.O Box number 6, The Village (Liscard), Wallasey, North Wirral, CH45 4SJ. Tell 'em 'the General' sent ya!
(Review by John Robbins)
More Than We Seem #
Posted by Andrew Luke
More Than We Seem #3
No college deadlines immediate, I should have reviewed this comic some eight months ago. Forgive me.
So with that, I dash through eighteen pages of 'Trojan'. The first few pages, I deliberate upon the art, the Expressionist style with lods of queer shaped borderlines of variant gradients of wash. It might take me hours longer and I would certainly be more importing, if I reached for my six-pack of hardback. While I do respect the style employed, it does not instantly appeal to me... and exploration in this area is going to be somewhat limiting.
I read it. What do you know? 'Trojan' is a superhero strip and that my acquaintance, is what the folks at Deva Comics and I want you to forget. For ignorance of publicity is bliss. The story contents with the most functional of spells, lore of fields, resonates falsely. Here's an example of what I mean,
And the rest of the page be just as sweet and bitter. The wide cast in this bathroom-sink drama are most so walk-on, walk-off, and Betts and West's extension, the protagonist or ****rhe** is relegated to third featured character. No mention of ambiguity or enigma construction, just a semblance of relatability and ludicrousness to make this a very warming read.
That I can speak of the visuals, these are similar to the Other Art styles of a 130 years ago, subverted impressionism or Neo-classicalism almost, mixed-media and multi-technique with a geogrammetrycal primary, if you know what I mean. The inks, variant addition I mentioned, can be a bad light contrast at times (for example, the use of a speckle affect which rather than creating body creates an impression of eraser laziness of just bad judgement): the volume over-fill at times can be so off that it would have you reach for the towel. In essence, 'Trojan' lacks a dynamism for form over style. On rare occassions when a style is settled on a modern noir is evident, although the manipulation of glazes to the 'aspects' of flatness, leave me thinking that Dave West has overdone this. With pardon, it's too experimental. Although I feel better for taking the time to dislike this.
'Of no fixed abode' is five pages of photo-ply and art-room re-use featuring a traveller, big worry and a blueprint o robot. Its too short and insubstantial a piece (even in its adequate service) to comment on. With a visual experimentation more accomplished than Trojan, it lacks all of the sparkle and balance of enjoyment and amusement. It projects procession a depression: it's 'of genre', bleak and on an emotional level, does not provide diversity or escape in these already messed times.
'Out of Time', the other main feature is the tale of a war veteran, this issue's installment opens with the current thematic surrealist painting. A pastel effect in evidence, watergrays, delighting sketches and the hinted at plot plus character development of advncd tickcology and *upe******* capablities. The central abstract subject....is much the same as 'Trojan', substituting it's feedback of fun for a more informal group of conversational pieces, is a short treat: the artworks are much more in bloom, of balance and substance.
Spite this tome's flaws, the contrariness is that this is exactly the sort of ****rhe** book I wish I'd done. The Deva dudes love the genre with a preferrence to (the genres) 'sneaking up on' facet. Reasonably unassuming certainly experimental, and an absolute bugger to review. Goodnight, and thankyou.
More Than We Seem #3 is 36 pages, A5 and is of reasonable monetaries at £1.95. It's available? from Deva Comics, 2 Mill Lane, Holmes Chapel, Crewe, CW4 8AT. Theres also a Deva Comicswebsite, which has some well good gear on it.
The Surgeon #1 and #2
The Surgeon #1 and #2 (of 2)
Formulaic stuff, this. A group of disparate characters find themselves trapped in an enclosed space with an evil entity on the prowl. And get this: it's bent on their destruction!
"Based on the screenplay from Parade Films", THE SURGEON is a comics adaptation of a film that hasn't yet happened. With its join-the-dots plotline and attempt at establishing another iconic horror figure, it has play it safe stamped on every cliche-ridden scene throughout. The artwork, however, mixes Talbot with Lloyd, and with a lucid enough scripting, it's not terrible; just derivative beyond maintaining consciousness. (Unless you're 15 or under.)
Pretty much a poor kind of Prince of Darkness then, THE SURGEON is just as appealing as the majority of mainstream titles to be found on your local specialist's comics rack; and no less original or dead-bodied than the recent Jeepers Creepers. US format, glossy painted cover, B/W interior, two pounds. Check availability with Rough Cut Comics Limited, 129 Langmuirhead Road, Glasgow G66 5DL, Scotland. Or/and visit www.roughcutcomics.com.
(Review by John Robbins)
Posted by Richard Barr
The Lupus Issue 1
65 South Grove
M33 3AR 20 Pages
“Second Hand Misery” is a nice example of melancholy humour. The script is a lucid affair verging on the drab, but the writing coupled with the illustrations conveys a true faith in the hopeless, which is fundamental to the protagonist Bix’s life. Muffin Arse and the list of Floodies habits add a secondary humour to it, but the depiction of an insomnia demon is an especially nice touch, with some very deadbeat dialogue to finish the strip. On the outside cover at the back Floodie appears giving his personal view of “Second Hand Misery”. Puts me in mind of those movies with one of the characters giving some sort of half arsed soliloquy over the credits. Very Good.
Now Johnny Crucifix by Tom Oakes and Tommy Oxo is one of the funniest strips I’ve seen in a long time. Apparently on of the things people say about this strip is that the art is really awful. But with these strips I have here the illustrations fulfil their needs. The two drug-dealing nuns at the start of the first strip have an over the top funnies strip look about it, which is maintained through both parts of the story. The background inking has a somewhat throwaway messy look which when you consider both the dialogue and the character art doesn’t really matter. Something that really attracted me about the dialogue was the Mexican accent, which is communicated well by Oakes. All three strips make for issue 1 of The Lupus a book to look out for.
(Review by Richard Barr)
The Best Kind Of Comedy?
THE BEST KIND OF COMEDY?
It's difficult to criticise humour when it achieves its ambition of prompting laughter. Usually adjectives such as 'formulaic' and 'derivative' are bandied about in an attempt to muster some semblance of resistance to a work which, though funny, provides nothing unexpected. After a while one even recognises the mechanical efficiency of a Harry Hill, or an Eddie Izzard, then suddenly reaches the tired conclusion that 'yeah, they're funny, but so what!' The Far Side rarely fails to amuse, but for the most part it's the same few gags remixed to fit constantly changing situations. But then, be it Max Cannon or John Callahan, Glen Baxter or Sam Henderson, that spark of originality that prompted fevered word-of-mouth reaction fades with prolonged exposure. The stuff remains funny, but so the fuck what?
Toby Tripp's THE BEST KIND OF COMEDY? provides a version of a humour in which I have long ceased to indulge: those gentle, po-faced slants on the mundane that strive for odd-ball poignancy. You know the kind - toilet-rolls that have lost the will to live; the nihilistic judge who spends his court time laughing. Tripp offers no added ingredient, but with inventive verve and screwball precision, he produces some quality examples of this kind of comedy at its best; and in doing so, alerts me to the fact that I had tired not of this humour, but of this humour done poorly. Tripp persuades me to take another look, and the results are both fresh and close-to-inspirational. This the kind of stuff to which one dampens jocular response, convinced that so obvious are these gags that you yourself must previously have thought of them. (I think it's called jealousy!)
My favourite cartoon is a three paneller in which a girl informs her boyfriend that if he really loved her he'd kill himself. By final panel, boyfriend having skidaddled, said girl is alone but in resilient mood: "There's someone out there for me - I know it," she says defiantly. Tripp then offers post-strip title: 'Impossible Demands of a Lover'. (er...You had to be there, I guess!)
THE BEST KIND OF COMEDY? is a collectable booklet with hand printed cover. Its mostly primitive cartooning is not developed beyond doodles, but, with Russian-doll figures, offers a childlike charm hard to resist. Ultimately however, it's the cartoonist's firm grasp of design that affords the work an attractive quality, and with hefty infusion of genuine laughs, makes for an appealing purchase.
Probably containing some of the funniest cartoons I've seen since David Shrigley's The Beast is Near, THE BEST KIND OF COMEDY? is A6, sixty-four pages, and costs £3.50. Check availability and reasons for non-guillotined edge with Toby at firstname.lastname@example.org; and/or visit www.feelwelcome.co.uk.
(Review by John Robbins)
One I picked up at Caption, enticed and sold by the A6 format. A card folded with front and back tidily pasted on, and by paperclip a decorated button lay, later to dangle, from the lower staple. Well honestly, how could I refuse?
Following cats by rubber stamp, a six page (one panel on each) dialogue between two friends in comfort debating marital issues. Emma Jane-Connolly depicts mostly with a fine liner where perhaps a more dominant pen would have played a more boasting functional. As such her brief scrawls (yet built so) make this almost too slim a viewing. The result too is a much more expressive piece, rather than controlling, and allows for a quick easy and wholly welcoming outlook. Somewhere around the stylings of Jeremy Dennis perhaps, this minicomm has a special and intimate quality about it.
The back cover tells that this is taken from the forthcoming small press comic ‘deshabille’, a very apt word for descibing Emma’s application to page. The sampler if an omen is even better and I would dearly like to see the finished product. In the meantime, I make do with the 12 page happiness a pound bought.
“DESHABILLE #1 should be hopefully out this side of christmas
(unfortunately Claudine was an extemely limited edition though the strip shall feature in
For more details on ‘Claudine’ and ‘Deshabille’ contact email@example.com or write to Emma Jane Connolly, 6A Station Rise, Tulse Hill, London, SE27 9BW
(Claudine reviewed by Andrew Luke)
Sick Happy Idle #24
Sick Happy Idle #24
Non-comickzines don’t come through to TRS2 often enough, but when they do it makes me happy. It’s 1950 for spyboys and action girls. Thom Yorke’s computer justification expl(oratory) explauditory literature, lore. The montage mosaic cut and paste clip art hyperinteractivitybooklet ™. To order this is to receive a chart drink kick.
U n I q u e
When I’m writing reviews for TRS2 I try to (and pride) view a publication until I am Staedtler Blue in the face. But to do SHI justice, here I only find myself of the ability to read half of it. It’s church- a page or two a day grants Andrew laughs and ponderings but five pages in one day – fug awf! My past experience with SHI has found it to be best read in times of lows, doubt: crammed full of thick substance.
Got five minutes before the bus? The A6 format pocket size really is mighty gosh.… designed for the pocket! This clothing accessory should take you ages to wear out, and should be worn out over ages. It’s a redeeming stitching, a call to the new you, it’s worst moments will make you happy to be who you are! (Oh, and it’s a big con job as well!) Just don’t leave it in the washing machine, okay?
Price tag: £1.50
Measurements: 56 pages, A6
Designer: AR Shaw
Warehouse: 25 Redwood Avenue, Royston, Barnsley, ST1 4JP
Given to mood swings of elation and depression, young Dylan Wilson displays no ambition to establish a foot-hold in society despite his mother's encouragement. But Margaret has seen the difference in her son since the arrival of third year cultural studies student Hannah. Unfortunately, this beautiful lodger is not interested, and Dylan's obsession with his recently discovered copy of Seventh World War Comics deepens...
The giant globe has been blown off the Earth Corporation's headquarters; the Eight Guardians of Life and Civilisation need to choose a new band of Cosmic Crusaders to fight in the eternal war between good and evil; an Angel is sent to earth to call the new team. There comes a sharp knock on Dylan Wilson's front door...
But why bother to do anything? The working classes are being mentally prepared to accept a war that has been made up by a Prime Minister full of zap words and a catchy turn of phrase. Surely this was how Capitalism worked: packaging things to make you want to buy them. Isn't the world in a terrible enough state?
Meanwhile, the 'Crusaders' require a name change to avert offence, and Satan's agent on Earth Michaeal Spearate continues to go about his business...
Mike Weller occupies the space between the "known" world and the "other" world. Little doubt of this remained when, at the recent CAPTION event, Weller grabbed 'Madeline' by the scruff of the neck and wrung vigorously till every semblance of emotion drained from her pages and found translation through the startling facial expressions of an intense performance. I later concluded that this 'reading' had undoubtedly been channeled from 'elsewhere'.
FANZINE FICTION offers a less exhausting experience, but maintains that transcendental quality that pervades much of Weller's work. Here the tone is playful as Weller mixes fact with fiction in a delightfully composed, character-driven piece of prose that, with socio-political subtext and uneasy reflection of current affairs, still succeeds in being a thoroughly fun read. I kid you not - I smiled from start to finish.
Comics readers will glimpse their escapist selves in FANZINE FICTION and it will tickle, that's for sure! The thing is engaging, accessible, and in some respects echoes the irresistible charm of recent cinema release 'Together'. ("Together? What's that? Is there killing in it?") Don't miss this one, huh?
Check ordering details for this 28 page, A5 card covered booklet with: Well...er Publications, c/o 3 Queen Adelaide Court, Queen Adelaide Road, London SE20 7DZ. Or/and visit www.thescribblers.co.uk or/and www.indigogroup.co.uk/llpp/visual.html .
(Review by John Robbins
Posted by Andrew Luke
From two perspectives:
Burp ! #2
£1.50 By Dave Morris. 235 Sturminster Rd., Stockwood, Bristol, BS14 8EW
A collection of thought provoking strips from various publications. Dave’s artwork is as fresh as ever, clean inking throughout the book.
His newspaper style (tofu twins) strips read well. As ever good storytelling, and use of open space within the panels in some of the stories. However I can’t help thinking BURP #1 was a more exciting read, partly because this issue contains more hard hitting subjects. Are we seeing an angrier side of Dave Morris ?
Not enough dick and fart jokes for my liking.
(Review by Stuart Luke)
Anybody previously familiar with the work of Dave Morris (which includes much much more than Burp#1), shouldn’t need this review as it’s existence, listing details are enough and I become lazy confirming a sale.
However for the sake of those of you who came in late to class…Morris is one of the finer UK Renaissance men, the signs and shapes he casts upon the page with evidence of one who to repeat something merely because it works is boredom. On the rare instance he does this in the strip. “Criticism” it is embellished with mixes, the juxtaposition of prose and protagonist’s agonising maps a path.
These cherishable tales collected from Morris’ great generosity scattered throughout numerous publications and as such his traditional cartoonist style of broadwidth strips and more standard format boast a positive feeling of gain in me; yet Mr. David Morris never once obscures harsh-truths or dodges the issue. Indeed his grim comms in the Amnesty International strips and “New Aesthetics” loom like Black Cloud. I come out educated yet dislike the (existence of) the strips that bring this.
With brilliant manipulation of the pupil too, the abundance of tremendously administered dip pens and brushes and the light helium-effect Mr. Morris brings to this work is most resonant making it the perfect gifts for friends. Aromatherapeutic.
Burp#2 is A5, 24 pages @ £1.50 from Dave Morris, 235 Sturminster Road, Stockwood, Bristol, BS14 8EW.
This leisurely eye-stroll through the affairs of the small press community offers relaxed read and refreshing lack of pretentious hyperbole. Both the mildly amusing six panel strip of Tim Brown and the innocence of the publication's 'Let's Make Comics' catch-phrase set the tone and provide sound indication of this title's direction.
The issue in question sees the ego-massaging treatment of interview worthiness dished out to Martin Eden of 'O-Men' fame, 'Cheronna' creator Richard J Smith, and the uh, legendary Dave Morris. It's all unassuming stuff, confidently handled and fluidly presented. Though a little doting at times and lacking any semblance of profundity, all are strangely comforting reads, easy on the brain.
Also on offer are two pointless short pieces: one, a convention report that is not so much a record of events as a laughably self-involved step-by-step guide to manipulating professionals into sketching characters you've created yourself; and the second, a wishy-washy well-meaning instruction on maintaining creative endeavour that seems targeted towards an early-teens audience.
TRS2 finds itself in the mix aswell, Andy Luke lending a much needed critical edge to the publication. And the two page 'Creator Contacts' provides opportunity for like-minded creative thinkers to devise ways of promoting their skills. A worthwhile service, methinks.
A kind of one-man-and-his-dog Comics Journal, then, IMAGINEERS quietly celebrates the stars of small press publishing and delivers half-hearted rummage through their behind-the-scenes lives. Though some design tweaking is required, and perhaps a less flimsy, less subdued approach is essential for credibility, Shane Chebsey and friends non-the-less provide that which no other paper publication provides: a warm glimpse at the dedication and ambition of striving small pressers seeking only to be recongnised in a creative context.
A5, 28 pages, available for a pound and a half from Shane Chebsey, 10 Cleveland Avenue, High Ercall, Telford, Shropshire, TF6 6AH. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit: www.smallzone.co.uk.
(Review by John Robbins)
Bulldog Adventure Magazine #2
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)
Love The Monsters
LOVE THE MONSTERS
In her haste to shrug off a recent trauma, a capable young woman refuses the struggle to reconcile her ideals with actual events, fails to acknowledge her vulnerability, and chooses to repress rather than to confront the monsters within.
Visually resembling yet another hack-like entry for the '24 Hour Comic' waster-log, this publication contains an artwork that smacks of disinterest and that has 'chore' scrawled with blunt felt-tip marker across every A4 page of actual-size drawings. With talking heads to the fore, this art offers nothing by way of sequential inventiveness, and though obviously churned out by a capable source, provides glimpses of a pleasing quality only when the influence of Carol Swain is in evidence. Effortless and disposable, really.
The story itself, however, proves a modestly ambitious piece of writing. Charged with undertone of tense cathartic urgency, and lacking the abundance of exclamation marks always associated with our for boys comics medium, this mostly understated parable owes more to the punch of the prose short story form than to the vacuous entertainment of powerful types either in or out of costume. It's a read that appeals to one's empathy, and though hampered somewhat towards the end by its unrelenting focus on specific elements of the story (rather than on a more general, a more universal emotional source with which we can all relate), it non-the-less succeeds in both engaging and affecting the/this reader.
Not for the average comics affectation fan, then. But for those who prefer Atom Egoyan to Joel Schumacher, LOVE THE MONSTER delivers a substance over style drama that is flawed but worthy. Check ordering details with Leonie O,Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org; or/and visit www.angelfire.com/mt/comic.
(Review by John Robbins)
Life and Adventures of Fleshwound Minor #1
When I asked Shane Chebsey at Caption what he absolutely definitely positively had to recommend if we joined in sado-masohistic ritual, he looked at me like I was a fucking freak. Then he smiled, and reached forth a copy of The Life and Adventures of Fleshwounds Minor #1 It's later, and I've just not got goto read. Instead, I got this other bloke to do my work for me. (everything they say about students is true>
The Life and Adventures of Fleshwounds Minor #1
Though uncluttered, a poorly designed cover presents two font styles at odds with the other and manages to lend the title logo insignificant role. This lack of focus continues throughout the publication as a half-baked pseudo-Victorian pretense is not consistently maintained, leaving one slightly disorientated and vaguely irritated. However, these criticisms are reduced to mere quibble when considering the effort and skill devoted to the production of this enjoyably diverting magazine.
Though pockets of gleeful editorial writings bookend this publication, two pieces account for the bulk of material on offer: 'Welcome to Fleshwounds Manor', a ten page comic strip; and the eight page presentation of the opening chapter of 'Tales of the Forever Pilot', a text story "cunningly presented as a tome from the library of Fleshwounds Manor".
A little indulgent space-wise, with it's average of four panels per A4 page, the strip at least manages a pacing that sets the scene and casually establishes both protagonist and antagonist. Childhood alienation and the suffocation and dysfunction of family life for Fleshwounds Minor are well captured, and oppressive mood is released through the effective scrawlings of an impatient art style. A touch gag-led perhaps, 'Welcome to Flesh...' (ahem) is insubstantial but spirited.
'Tales of the Forever Pilot' is derivative pulp-ish stuff, but so expertly realised that one's resistance is swept away by brisk pace and seductive prose. With playful tone that yet manages moments of suspense and intrigue, it proves a thoroughly entertaining read, faultlessly crafted. However, the abrupt ending of this chapter offers neither semblance of closure nor cliff-hanger, and leaves one with sudden dissatisfaction and sense of betrayal. Still a damn fine shot of cheesy popcorn to the vein, though!
THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF FLESHWOUNDS MINOR #1 has its faults, but strives to establish mannered identity with infectious exuberance, and in doing so provides sound escapism rooted in Poe-like atmospherics. So sure fuck it, why not sample the ambience? Just one pound entry at the door of 'The Trouser Press' - check first for available seating with email@example.com and Smallzone
(Review by John Robbins)
Now that I've finished my first history assignment, it's back to some more regular reviewings. This first by my good pal, John Robbins. Johnview.
A striking yellow day-glo cover sees the good doctor in hunched, damaged pose; his goofy grin etched with boyish psychosis; his hair a shock of nefarious invention. The promise of bloody surgery and awkward hair waxed from unhealthy hole seems certain to be realised. I all but get the pong of hardened faeces in month-long tangle...
Sound lettering, inventive layouts and a cartoon style caught somewhere between Ted McKeever and Jamie Hewlett combine to lend this comic a polish not alien to mainstream publication. A competent grasp of pacing and expert use of 'camera' angles further mark creator Chris Askham as an artist capable of achieving a financial stability among 'professionals' should he choose this route to his eventual demise. (I still await my cognitive therapy!)
The writing however is less impressive. With suspenseful, well crafted opening six pages in which the arrival of one 'General Synod' is eloquently captured in cinematic 'Mad Max' mode, the sudden scene-switch and plunge into the zany, mad-cap territory of Doc Sponge is all the more irritating. Here the mood is turned on its brain; when a deluge of witless dialogue takes over, and the doctor gleefully subjects his patients to a variety of physical and mental tortures. Funny? I nearly smirked between exasperated sighs!
However, that's not to say that this script does not flow, or that it does not exude appealing ease of reading. No, the only blunder of which Askham is guilty (in my eyes) is in his choice of subject matter - he chooses that which demographics proves is most likely to sate fan-boy tastes.
Not really my kind of thing, then; but technically impressive and skillfully realised, DOCTOR SPONGE is definitely recommended for the British mainstrem audience.
Check availability with Chris Askham, 9 Balmoral Grove, Colwick, Nottingham, NG4 2GB; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.