Monday, 30 May 2011

Comic and Film Wall Art

I painted my room cream (or Almond White!) a while back, the idea being that I would use bright and colourful accessories and decor to liven it up. I've been on the lookout for some wall art that would do the job (at the moment I only have an EH Shepard Pooh print) and found some pretty cool stuff online. There's a website called Imagekind which is fantastic, as it has people/artist submitting work, so you can get original prints/mosaics/photos etc on a wide variety of subjects.

I'm leaning towards the Reservoir Dogs and Batman Takeoff posters. Although I quite like the Shining print. . .

Invincible Iron Man from Imagekind, Batman Takeoff from

Batman from Whoartnow, I Wanna be Super Too from Imagekind

Reservoir Dogs from Whoartnow, The Shining from On The Wall

Thor Asgard and RetrospectiveTed both from Imagekind

Lunch Break from Imagekind

The genius of Robert B Parker

I've been wanting to write about Robert B Parker's books for a while. I've just read Sixkill, which I assume to be his last book as he sadly passed away last year, so I thought the time was right. I initially had a whole long-ass gushing post prepared, but I've tried to take example from the great man and pared it down to a few bullet points that highlight what's exceptional about his books.

  • Writing: It may seem starightforward, but the man could really write. Somebody once wrote about him that when he wrote not a word was wasted. It's the quality I admire most in his writing, not just the way he wrote- fluid, cogent, cohesive, manging to be literary without meandering into great woods of description, but his innate sense in knowing what to leave out. There's never anything unecessary included, it's just taut brilliance. It's best shown through his dialogue.
  • Genre: Parker's stories are essentially westerns transplanted into the body of Chandler's hard boiled private eye genre. They hark back to an era when even the villians had rules and codes by which they lived and were to an extent, men of their word. The men who feature in westerns and detective tales are not disimiliar in their charcteristics and values, tough, lone-wolf types, seemingly morally ambigious but with an inherent sense of right and wrong and Parker fused the genres effortlessly.
  • Ensemble cast: The Spenser books have one of the best ensemble casts in literature in my humble opinion. You have Hawk, Vinnie Morris, Martin Quirk, Frank Belson, Bobby Horse, Chollo, Bernard J. Fortunato, Teddy Sapp, the Grey Man. Writers often introduce recurring charcters in their books, but it's a testament to Parker's skill that they were almost always present in a narrative only when imperative to the plot, yet they never felt like cardboard characters, there's a sense of each personality. When they all came together in Potshot, it was unbridled awesomenss.
  • Ideology: Parker managed to weave in the threads of politics, gender, race and sexuality into his stories in an intelligent manner which never overwhelmed the narrative; the reader doesn't feel as if they're being preached to or being bludgeoned over the head withe author's thinly veiled ideology (*cough*Philip Pullman*cough*).
  • Hawk: There are no words to describe Spenser's best friend. Not to be mistaken for a sidekick, he is the id to Spenser's ego. Apparently in the USA  there have been a few TV movies made of the Spenser books, but in my mind there is no actor who could play Hawk, he's just bigger than that.

Sixkill is Parker at his simple best- witty banter, fist-fights and the marrying of psychology and morality. Spenser is hired once again by Rita Fiore to deduce whether an actor has actually murdered the girl he's accused of killing. Things get interesting when Spenser encounters the actor's bodyguard, a Cree called Sixkill.  Before he passed away, Parker stated his intention to introduce Sixkill as a regular character and with Hawk's absence from the last few books (it's been quite pointedly stated that he's in Central Asia), I can't help but think that Parker was building up to something. Regardless of whether you're a fan, this is a book worth reading. Parker was a writer of rare talent and consistency amidst a floatsam of mediocrity and I for one, shall miss him greatly.

'Oh ho,' I said.
'Oh ho?'
'Yes. Thats what you say if you're a top level sleuth and a clue falls out of a tree and hits you on the head.'
Hawk looked at Nevins.
'Honkies are strange people, Bobby'.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

It's Superinjunction!

The stuff that happens when you live in a society which lacks even the smallest shred of common sense.

Comics to try

"Comics will be the culture of the year 3794." -Salvador Dali

I ordered this book from the library because I always find it pretty interesting to see which titles are included in these best of compilations. I'm not one of those people who firmly believes that certain literature is classic and a must-read, in many instances I've picked up a book because I felt I should have read it- Catcher In the Rye, for example- and thought it was really nothing special. Ironically, a large proportion of the disappointment encountered when reading books like that comes from texpectaion garnered from their reputation It's all very subjective, but if nothing else, these anthologies introduce me to books I wouldn't even know existed otherwise.

I thought the format of this was pretty good- it gives you an indepth analysis of the comic with annotated reproductions of a few pages so you get to see what the art is like too. It then goes on to feature more books that are similar in subject to the one listed- a sort of  'if you liked this, you may like', which is rather helpful.

So I've managed to glean a few comics that I'd like to read from it (a couple of which I've been meaning to get but not got around to):
  • Scene of the Crime by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark and Sean Phillips: an ex-junkie private detective's case turns into murder when the missing girl he's eacrhing for turns up dead. Art looks good and it's written by Ed Brubaker
  • Rising Stars by J.M.Straczynski and various: pretty excited about discovering this series about a group of people who are born with special abilities after a mysterious light appears in the sky. Apparently like Hereos and it's available in a compendium. . .
  • Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo: I have heard (and read) lots about Akira but there's something about it that puts me off even though I've not read it. I do think I will have to give it a shot though, simply to see what the fuss is about. Set in Neo-Tokyo after World War Three (I think that's the bit that gets me), Akira is a young boy who has been drastically mutated by psychokinetic forces.
  • Criminal Macabre by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith: I love Ben Templesmith, he's a fantastic artist who manages to make his drawings atmospheric and gloomy without them being murky and impenetrable (hello, Arkham Asylum). This book is about a detective of the supernatural. which is my kind of thing- X-Files etc.
  • The Wipeout by Francesca Ghermnadi:I'm really looking forward to getting this one too- it looks crazy. The art appears awesome, kind of surreal vinatge cartoons inspired- really techni-coloured and bright.
  • The Princess Mermaid by Junko Mizuno: described as a dark re-telling of Hans Christian Anderson's already dark tale. I 'm curious to see how it translates into comic form- have a feeling it will be good.
  • Gemma Bovery by Posy Simmonds: Another one that's been on my 'to buy' list. Really like Posy Simmond's art and the way she mixes traditional panelled comics with off panel illustartions and text. 
-And may I just add, not a single Batman title in sight. How proud.

    Saturday, 21 May 2011

    Batman round-up: Tom Hardy as Bane and Batman Live tv spot

    WestEnd Theatre have put up a tv advert on Youtube for the upcoming Batman Live shows and I gotta say, it looks really good. So glad I have tickets!

    Also, the first image of Tom Hardy getting his Bronson on as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises has hit the web after an elaborate viral cipher was cracked. I have no qualm with the image, but I'm sick to my back teeth of the whole viral campaign thing. The slow yet somehow relentless drip-feeding of images, news and then trailer after bloody trailer is just incredibly annoying. By the time the movie actually releases, I've been through the anticipatory stages and back and feel I've seen most of it anyway. I'm going to try and avoid it if I can. Regarding the image itself, from what you can see- the mask and his physique, he looks fine. Obviously Nolan decided against having Bane's face fully covered in a skull-mask as he usually does in the comics, which is understandable. Picture below:

    Friday, 20 May 2011

    Hulk like rain. And Bats too.

    It's been overcast, humid and gloomy for a couple of weeks now. The heavens finally opened today and it poured. I love the rain. This picture by Coran Stone just sums up how it makes me feel; calm and content.

    The Link-up

    I'm sure there was other happenings in the comic world this week, but the only newsworthy thing I can think of is that Frank Cho is making more Liberty Meadows comics!

    I'm a huge fan of Cho's Liberty Meadows strips (the background comic strip of the blog is taken from Liberty Meadows). They've  been collected into four volumes so far and are about an animal preserve which is more like an animal rehab centre, run by the over-bosomed Brandy and hapless vet Frank. It's utterly bonkers but really hilarious and if you haven't read it I suggest you buy the first volume now.

    Thursday, 19 May 2011

    Birthday books

    The good thing about birthdays, people buy books for you. Although you get other stuff too, despite heavy promotion of your Amazon wishlist in the weeks preceding it. Ah, well. Here's what I got in terms of books:

    Tales of the Batman- in hardback, which is becoming my format of choice unfortunately for my bank balance
    At the Mountains of Madness- adaptation of HP Lovecraft's novel of the same name.
    The Umbrella Academy- by Gerard Way who has a band. Who knew people could do more than one thing? Illustrated by Gabriel Ba, with amazing covers by James Jean.

    Powers 9: Psychotic and Powers 10: Cosmic- I love Powers, especially the way Bendis is always trying new and fresh things within the format without it seeming gimmicky and pretentious. 
    Daytripper- One of the best books of last year apparently about a guy who writes obituaries and is having a bit of a life crisis.

    And I got a new mp3! I'm pretty brand loyal, I always buy Sony Ericsson phones and mp3s. They're really reliable and easy to use. I just needed one with a larger memory- never really seen the point of spending lots of money on an i-pod.

    Wednesday, 18 May 2011

    Lucy's comics

    More stuff from Lucy, who is on holiday in Amsterdam at the moment, while I am at work watching the bank opposite being robbed. Looked suprisingly easy. Just saying.

    No cats were harmed in the making of this comic. Honest.

    Tuesday, 17 May 2011

    The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn trailer and poster

    What I assume is a teaser trailer for Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn has hit the web. It looks awful.  I love Tintin, it was the first comic I ever read so this isn't going to change my feelings towards it, but if these slivers of celluloid are anything to go by, it's going to be an atrocious film. He doesn't even look like Tintin! And Tintin is the easiest guy in the world to cast! I refer you to Simon Pegg, otherwise known as the-guy-who-looks-exactly-like-a-quarter-of-all-comic-book-characters-ever. I just don't like motion capture, it makes everything look clumsy and ungainly- it really affects the movement of things and characters. Anyhow, trailer below:


    Monday, 16 May 2011

    Volkswagen Darth Vader advert

    I love this advert :)

    The Manga Dilemma

    Manga expressions
    I'm not a fan of manga. The form has blown up massively in the last few years so there's no escaping it if you're a fan of comics. Ive tried various titles- Fruits Basket, Naruto, Bleach, Case Closed, Ouran High School and others. My problem with manga is the whole 'huge eyes and head with absurdly disproportionate nose and eyes' style. I can't read a book if the art is in a style I find distracting or, you know, disturbing. I did some slap-dash research before writing this post to see if this style is a defining characteristic of manga and from what I could gather, it isn't. It's just a very popular and predominant style in whcih manga is drawn.

    While it may just be my exceptional denseness coming to the fore, when reading manga in this cutsie affected style, I honestly cannot tell the difference in expression, gender or age and therefore character. I realise some of this is intentional, but it's not really conducive when attempting to follow a narrative. Apart from the art, I dislike the soap-operatic nature of many titles- the long, overdrawn stroylines lend themselves to weak plot and charcterisation.

    I love reading so I continue to persevere with manga; the sheer number of books out there must mean there's something I can get into. So if I'm at work or in a bookshop, I like to go and flip through some books. I ended up buying a book called House of Terror Museum: Tomie. I'm not a peruser of horror as a genre in films or books, but it was one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book. It reads like a good Japanese horror film. It contains 9 stories about a girl called Tomie who is murdered on a class trip but turns up alive and well at school a week later. Tomie has something about her that leads to people killing her over and over, and yet over and over she returns.

    It's a really solid book- the characters are drawn out well and the stories have genuine scares. I was happy with the art too- you can tell when a character's angry, confused, indecisive. It also goes a way to adding towards the atmosphere, creating tension and dread. I'm not saying I'm going to rush out and buy manga in bulk, but it was the first manga book I enjoyed. So, hope :)

    Friday, 13 May 2011

    The Link-up

    Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns page is now the most expensive piece of comic art ever to sell- $448,125 if you were wondering-

    The good folk over at Bleeding Cool speculate as to what Dark DC is bringing-

    If you've ever wondered who would win in a fight between Batman and God-

    Kilowog, poozer!

    I had actually prepared a a review of a manga book to post today, after spending a lot of time yesterday writing it. I log onto Blogger today and it is GONE. Pissed about covers it. Too tired to re-write it today, so posting puff piece below which I had written earlier.

    I have only read Green Lantern: Rebirth and Recharge out of the whole mythos but I already have a favourite lantern- Kilowog.  He's the last of his race and his main job in the Corps is to train new recruits. He's a smart guy but mainly he likes hitting stuff, preferably people- just  like me! He also addresses people as 'poozer' which I shall begin doing immediately.

    But what really sealed my love for him was the clip of him punching Ryan Reynolds at 1:20 in the new Green Lantern trailer. And it is Ryan Reynolds, not Hal Jordan. Everyone knows Hal has floppy hair. I have to admit I'm actually kind of looking forward to watching this now. I think the green 'energy' the ring produces and manifests into objects looks cartoonish (see Reynolds with that gun) for something which is supposed to represent pure willpower but everything else looks promising.


    Wednesday, 11 May 2011

    Lucy's untitled comic

    I intend to resume posting with actual words soon, but this is a comics blog so pictures are equally important. Lucy, our librarian at work, also loves comics. I lend her Fables and Y and she tries to get me to read black and white comics with deep meaningful messages. I recently discovered she can also draw and am hugely jealous. In fact, I no longer know if we can be friends. Below is some of her comic art:

    I really wish I could draw! Lucy has very kindly let me use her drawings so I'm going to post the rest of this story next week, but you can check out her blog at : I must ask her if she wants to give it a title.

    Not A Marvel Team-up

    More brilliance from Sean and Brandon.

    Monday, 9 May 2011

    Shelf dust

    I find it really hard to just sit down and watch a movie at the moment. With work and travelling taking such a large chunk of my time, any free moments are spent doing other things.There's quite a few movies on my shelf I just haven't got round to watching-

    Inception, Moon, I'm a Cyborg

    How to make a successful genre movie

    You know how I knew this movie was going to be good? It has the Rock and Vin Diesel in it. 'Nuff said. So Fast 5: the lowdown (I feel dirty just having written that word)-

    Roof-top chases!

    Friday, 6 May 2011

    Good things come to those who can't wait- they're just a bit more expensive

    I'm really bad at waiting for new books to come out. A lot of the comics I read are American and are released in trade format over there first, which means they're available on Ebay a lot earlier, but for a higher price than if you were to pre-order them on Amazon. The following 3 books are ones I'm REALLY looking forward to but haven't been released in the UK yet. They're available to buy now on Ebay, but I've already exceeded my monthly book budget, so I won't be getting anything until June now. JUNE! That's so far away, right?

    Thursday, 5 May 2011

    Trust no-one, deny everything

    It's no Mystery

    Bad, bad mood. a) It's so bloody humid- just rain damn it! b) had a job interview that went horribly, I give bad interview. And I cant' remember c, I'm too busy being angry.
    I had reservations about this book as soon as I saw the cover. All that crap about not judging a cover only goes so far.

    The Crime Reader? When did this happen? I've read all of Kellerman's now umpteen novels with Alex Delaware as the protaganist and this is the first time I'm seeing him marketed in this manner. I don't know whether he's always been marketed in the US this way, but I've never seen it here. Bloody annoying. I can only presume sales were dipping so some fortunate twat in the marketing department was given the plum task of coming up with that atom of rabid genius.

    Monday, 2 May 2011

    The secret identity psychosis

    I know these have done the rounds lately, but I had to post them becuase they are that funny. Artist and writer Kate Beaton re-imagines Lois Lane's relationship with Clark Kent/Superman in a series of strips.

    Check out Kate's other strips at her site

    Why aren't you awesomed by me?

    The Impossible Astronaut/The Day of the Moon

    I held back from writing a full-throttle dissection of Dr Who last week because I thought it was perhaps unfair to judge the first half of a two-part episode on its own, partly because my feelings were negative.

    I thought it started well. The Dr has a little picnic and invites a few of his friends along. They're all lazing about near the lake exchanging witticisms when somebody in a spacesuit emerges from it and kills the Dr, leaving Amy, River and Rory aghast, distraught etc. Having the Dr die in a future time was a clever and inspired plot device. You get the drama off killing your main character, yet you can more than plausibly still have him present as he's a time traveller. It puts Amy and Rory in the unique position of knowing more than him for a change, which is also a good dramatic platform.