Monday, 21 November 2011

Santa & his Christmas Cola truck

Wandered through town on the way home from ThoughtBubble and look who was there! Santa and his CocaCola lorry, gee gosh darn it. It really is very impressive and festive in person; everyone was taking photographs all round it. Really cool to see.

ThoughtBubble 2011

A post to reflect on how fantastic ThoughtBubble was. If you've never heard of it before, ThoughtBubble is the UK's largest comic convention and it's in my own fair city of Leeds. To give you an idea of the quality of exhibitors/stalls, some of the creators there this year were- Tim Sale, Adam Hughes, Gail Simone, Jeff Lemire, Bryan Talbot, Mike Carey and a whole lot more. Having never been before, and not knowing what to expect, I decided to get tickets for the Saturday instead of a weekend pass. To put it simply- it exceeded any expectations I had- it was brilliant. You know the day's going to be good when the first person you meet is Batman :)

Both Savile Hall and the Royal Armouries hall were full and I had to stop myself buying every Batman print going- twas difficult. Having checked the programme, I thought I knew everyone who was making an appearance, so it was a the greatest surprise to see Ian Edginton and Matt Brooker (Disraeli) there at a little table. Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a bit obssessed with Ian and his work, and I'm afraid I may have embarrassed myself by coming over all fan-girly and saying nonsenseical things. Never again will I scathingly insult those who want to meet people they admire. Ian was very lovely, politely ignoring my wittering and signed his adaptaion of The War of the Worlds for me (which I had been looking for everwhere). Undisputed highlight of the day.

Some stuff I picked up (must save more money for next year):

Batman ring and frankly awesome T-Rex necklace from Tuckshop by Lynn

Batman print by David O'Connor

Humanity print, postcard and stickers by Rembrand Le Compte (who was just so nice) of Beardfluff

And the cherry on the cake :)

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Amateur critics, recent reading

So, in case you hadn't noticed, I buy comic trades and collected editions. My earliest exposure to comics was The Beano and Dandy at school when I was 7 and then the comics at the library, which are, of course, all collected versions. To be honest, I didn't know they existed in issue format until a lot later. I much prefer reading a whole story arc together, instead of waiting for 10 pages to be delivered every 2 weeks (if they're shipped on time). I suppose the downside is that not all good comics are collected into a trade book.

Anyhow, I've never been out of things to read, and the Internet is pretty useful in that way because of the amount of blogs and sites where people write about what they've read. Robot 6 has a pretty interesting series of articles about reviews and criticism and how the proliferation of digital media has changed these. For me it's straightforward- I read reviews in order to gain a better idea of what something is about- film, book, whatever. Whether the review is positive or negative is secondary. There are certain things I like to read about/watch: aliens, monsters, dinosaurs, twisted fairy tale stuff, crime noir- so if any of those elements are present in a concept I find interesting, I'll go for it. And that's that, really. I dont' know, maybe I'm a weird kind of sociopath who's not interested in people's opinions, but if something looks interesting to me, I'll go for it regardless of what other people think. Ultimately, it's all very subjective.

Some recent additions (haven't got around to reading them all):

Habibi by Craig Thompson

The Facts in the Case in the Departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman, Ocean by Warren Ellis
Green Manor vol 1 by Fabien Vehlman and Denis Bodart, Morning Glories vol 2 by Nick Spencer
Forty-Five by Andi Ewigton, The Clarence Principle by Fehed Said
Fish & Choclate by Kate Brown, Cradlegrave by John Smith
Astro City: Life in the Big City and Confessions bu Kurt Busiek

I've read a lot of praise about Kurt Busiek's Astro City superhero series and deservedly so. You know when people say such and such is a 'realistic' take on the superhero? Well, this is genuinely it. For example, someone with abilities like Superman would just never be able to stop- there are always more and more problems that are going to need solving. How do you choose which ones to address and which to ignore? Do superheroes make the place they live in safer or more of a target? Simply amazing books- sad, unique and uplifitng all at the same time.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Riddick 3 concept art

Pitch Black was the first Vin Diesel film I saw and is still one of my favourite movies. Ever. It's just an excellent example of a genre movie done very well (it helps that it's my favourite genre). Although the sequel,  The Chronicles of Riddick was released in 2004 I still haven't gotten round to watching it, mainly because it seems very different from the original film -more galactic space war/saga then alien movie- which put me off. However Vin Diesel is pushing to get a third movie made and shared this concept art on his facebook page a while back, which got me excited as it looks closer in tone to Pitch Black. By which I mean it appears to involve Riddick being bad-ass and fighting a shed-load of aliens. No release date or anything as yet.

The FOC'ers

I read Frank Cho's blog quite regularly as I wait patiently for the next Liberty Meadows book, so when he posted about a group of people on his Apes and Babes message board setting up their own sketch blog- the FOC'ers- Friends of Cho, I ambled over to have a look. The bare bones of it is that somebody comes up with a theme each week and everyone produces a piece of art on the subject. For someone who struggles to draw a straight line with a ruler- genuine truth- it's incredibly impressive. If I could choose to have one talent, it would be drawing. 

My favourite theme so far has been Lovecraftian monsters:

By Blair Shedd

By Axel Medellin

By Steven E. Gordon

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice skate uphill

The ONLY vampire from any mythology that I can abide. Mainly due to exceedingly high levels of bad-assrey. Also file under: the only person fictional or non, for whom it is acceptable to wear sunglasses anytime, anyplace.


Reading lots of different things at the moment, one series which I've finally managed to get around to is Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' truly excellent crime series. Perfect example of one of the type of comics I love- colour art, fantastic crime noir stories with intelligent characterisation. If you're thinking of whether to buy them- do.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Gerard Rancinan

Photographs by Gerard Rancinan

A girl in a scarf walks into a bar. . .

Lats Saturday, my sister and I stopped by the Leeds Alternative Comics Festival after watching Warrior (still not happy with that ending). It was my first experience of going to a 'convention' and I'm glad to say it was a positive one. I did feel a little awkward initially- the only bar I've been in is the student bar and I don't believe that really counts, but everyone at the tables I stopped at was really friendly. I managed to come away with some stuff, too:

It's nice to meet people whose work you're actually aware of, Jim Medway, who contributes to Comical Animal (which I love) was there- the Garden Funnies comic is his. I bought the 'I Cashed a Dead Man's Pension' from Ben Clarke's table, although he wasn't there- I left money, I swear!- and really loved it. He's just drawn them in pen and stapled them together himself, but it works so well, and the last page is gold. Also picked up this sci-fi comics newspaper, I gather it's well-established, but it's not something I'm aware of.

My favourite buy was this print by Steve Tilltoson, he said he was trialling them at the festival and from what I could see, they seemed to be selling well-

It was nice to be at a place where you could take your time at each table and talk to the people there, but I do like to get lost in things, so I'm really looking forward to Thought Bubble. Will need lots more money though!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The genre wheel- sci-fi, noir, steampunk

2000AD is a sci-fi/fantasy publisher I've never really paid much attention to. I know it best for Judge Dredd, which I 've never been able to get into. After reading Leviathan, which (I believe) was serialised in 2000AD, I went on the lookout for more of Ian Edington's work and bought the above 3 books for a mere 7 quid on Ebay. Th1rt3en is by Mike Carey, one of my favourite comic writers ever, and the other just looked interesting.

Been meaning to buy this 1999 crime noir book  by Ed Brubaker for ages, but it's been hard to get ahold of a copy that wasn't at least 20 quid. Managed to get this for a tenner on Ebay (where else?). And more Ian Edington! Dude is on my list at the moment. So, quick rubbish post over, off to weekly road rage lesson

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Batman's poker face

New comics, photos of new comics, incompetent clerks and bonus cute kid

Yes, so more pictures of new books, because words are hard. Or, good words are hard. And I don't know about you, but I love seeing pictures of what books other people are reading/buying. It's why I try to take at least one picture of the inner pages of the book so the art is visible, becuase that's usually what swings it for me. This week, I got two books which have been on my radar for a while- Jonathan Ross' and Tommy Lee Edwards' Turf and Return of the Dappermen by Jim McCann and Janet Lee.

I ventured into town last week with the explicit purpose of comic-purchasing. I really wanted the new collected edition of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the above titles. They didn't have TMNT in Travelling Man due to some American distributors issues, but they suggested I try Forbidden Planet instead. So trotted along to FP, and was glad I did, as there I was a participle (I don't know if that's right, shut up, I'm ranting) in quite possibly the most enlightening conversation with a comic clerk ever:

Me: Hi. Do you have the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ultimate collection?
Comics Clerk: Ummm. .  I dont think so. . um, what's it called?
Me: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection.
CC: Let me check on the system for you.. . . . no, we don't have it.
Me: Oh, okay. Do you have any of these comics- I couldn't find them on the shelves. 100 Months?
CC: No.
Me: Return of the Dappermen?
CC: . . . what? dapper. . . what?
Me: Dapper MEN.
CC: No.

And it went on. Came home, took tablets, ordered Turf and Dappermen. Took pictures-

Abu intrigued by Turf.

Abu pawing Turf.

Abu kicked out due to uncontrollable behaviour.

Inside pages of Turf- art looks great.

A different kind of vigilance: this photo made me laugh- I love Jonathan!

What to say? This is why I'll never turn to digital comics. The workmanship and art you get in books is irreplacable. Very brief synopsis of each book for anyone interested (I'm yet to read them both).

Turf: Set in New York, 1929, involevs gang wars, aliens and vampires
Return of the Dappermen: Set in land where there is no time- in existence or concept, and a world full of children and robots, the status quo is disturbed when 314  grown men come from the sky.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Eid Comics

Ramadhan is over, which means- Eid! Or it did mean it- it was about two weeks ago, but laziness must. I made sure to get some books from my family this year, mainly by standing over them while they were at the computer and clicking the mouse for them.

Scarlet Traces by current favourites Ian Edington and D'Israeli, Gingerbread Girl by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover ( bought purely for the cover).

Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew, Parker: The Outfit by Darwyn Cooke.

Locke and Key volumes 3 and 4, already read- truly, really excellent. I swear.

Also, had a rather good Eid. Came as a bit of a shock to me also. Low expectations are the way forward.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Hellboy Library Editions

As much as I would like to, I can't bring myslef to shell out for these ridiculously overpriced 'absolute' versions of comics that publishers put out. I mean, the Absolute Dark Knight for £70? Absolute DC The New Frontier for £50? Am I missing something or are these not just two comics put together in an oversized hardback version, with a couple of sketches slapped in the back? For £70 I can buy 7 hardcover comics- it's sheer nuttiness (It should be mentioned DC seem to be the main perpetrator here).

I don't mind spending money on something like this though- the Hellboy Library Editions. Simply put, it takes two of the Hellboy trades and binds them together in a beautiful black hardback cloth cover with gold lettering and one of Mike Mignolia's awesome watercolour's of Hellboy. It's quality, and at a reasonable price- for £22 you get two oversized trade comics that would probably cost you at least £7 each in normal paperback format, and a healthy section of Mike's sketching processes and notes at the back too. And you know, the stories aren't too bad :) I only have volumes 1 and 2 so far, so much to buy and so little money to go around!