I've heard lots of good things about Mike Weller's work over the last few years, but never actually got around to reading any of it. Well, more fool me. Fanzine Fiction weaves a multithemed narrative of small-press comics, societal decay, adolescent emotional stumbling, a broken marriage and life imitating art, centered around a boarding house in a retro-futurist contemporary London. Sounds pretty heavy? It isn't. It is challenging alright, but it's not confrontational. It's better than that. You read it. You think how good it was. You put it down. You wake up in the night thinking about it. Next morning, you have to read it again to see if you missed anything. And then you're still not sure, so you have to read it again after that. And maybe again, after you've had a little longer to mull it over.
MJ Weller, 3 Queen Adelaide Court, Queen Adelaide Road, Penge, London, SE20 7DZ. Text + spot illos, 24pp, A5, UKP1.
Perfectly Normal - Slight but amusing collection short strips. The best (and longest) details Bill Gates as he daydreams of his golden robot in the desert. There's promise here. Andy Stanton, 16 Francis Road, Pinner, Middlesex, HA5 2ST or email email@example.com. UKP1, 8pgs
NW2 - A man, a woman, a talking cat, and a shared domestic setting. Ah, comic (and indeed comedic) staples for generations past, and no doubt for generations to come. You've got to work pretty hard to do new things with those ingredients. Anna Chapple does work hard – interspersing humour with political rantings, using the cat as a kind of sarcastic Snoopy-cum-Greek-chorus and presenting it all with clear, neat artwork. Does she work hard enough? I can't help feeling it'd be easier to decide if these stories were all a bit longer than a page. Anna Chapple, Flat D, 145 Dartmouth Road, Willesden Garden, London, NW2 4EN. UKP1, 8pgs
There Goes Tokyo Presents #1 - Love The Monsters
There Goes Tokyo Presents #1 – Love The Monsters
I love this comic. Not because it's startling original, or because it looks shiny and fantastic – if I tell you it's about a shark researcher trying to come to terms with the after effects of a shark attack, you can probably guess the rest. (Although on second thoughts, while it's a regular theme for TV drama, it is pretty off-the-wall for a comic). I don't love it for shallow reasons like that. I love it because everything about it is right. The script is wqell-paced, and quite subtle, and doesn't have a snappy resolution. The dialogue establishes character quickly, reads well and never seems forced. The art is confident, clear and expressive. More please.
There Goes Tokyo..., 145 Clydesdale Road, Byker, NE6 2EQ. UKP1.50, A4, 24pgs
Sgt. Mike Battle + Watchblood
Posted by Andrew Luke
From Pier-C Comics, free with every copy of Sgt. Mike Battle comes 'Watchblood'. Graham Pearce admit that he did it years ago, thus countering the argument of its relevancy. Its more than competent at dealing with vindicating the pile of shite comics Pearcey must have read in the 90s. (The techniques of his subject have certainly been analysed). Through the character of best-selling cartoonist Rob Leningrad, Pearce's aim is simply egotist destruction. And through clever placing of irrelevancies he manages this. Not everybody's cup of tea, but it made me laugh quite a lot.
We read these when we got back from the pub and Guiness Paul said of Sgt. Mike Battle, 'highly how Americans view themselves. Yank troops in the Gulf shooting themselves blamed on Commie hallucination gas. Plenty of absurdities.' Lot's of un-pc stereotypes milked, it follows a Captain America-type if I remember rightly. The artwork doesn't really relate to any style of the times, that the writing presumably seeks to emulate. And as Paul implies, there are a few laughs and moments of conceit
So yeah, Graham Pearce, 10 Kingsmead Court, Yarmouth Gardens, Shirley, Southampton, SO15 5SF
About sixty A5 pages of this guy for around £2.
Bulldog Adventure Magazine #22
Bulldog Adventure Magazine #22
For nigh on 20 years, Winston Bulldog has loyally served the Queen, defending Blighty from vege-terrorism and war with the Vegenation. And more power to him. Jason's fun, adventure scripts have always attracted strong artists to illustrate them, and so always look rather splendid. This issue features some lovely work by Chris Askham (Tharg, sign him up today, please), as well as reprintingsome '94 vintage Manga-esque work.
It's not all Bulldog – BAM's now a fully-fledged anothology comic. Like all anthologies it's a bit up and down. The downs are Jim Cameron's illustrated text pieces – they're don't really seem to be going anywhere, and the jolly cartoony illustrations to gel with the darker tone of the text. Also they just don't read well, which is a suprise really given editor Jason's secret-identity job as an English teacher.
The ups though, are really, really up and worth the price all by itself – Garen Ewing's The Rainbow Orchid. Garen's been around the scene for a while, but has reinvented his drawing style for the '20s set serial. Garen's a big Tintin fan, and it shows in both story and art, but this is no mere pastiche. The characters are real, the setting is authentic, and this opening chapter hints at many plot strands. It's got depth, charm and real polish. Read it now, before he gets signed up by Casterman and becomes a big star in France.
It's £2 for 44pgs from Jason Cobley, 94 Elm Road, Wisbech, Cambridge, PE13 2TB or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rainbow Orchid preview at http://www.rainboworchid.co.uk/. Bulldog at http://www.bulldogcomics.co.uk/.