Saturday, 30 April 2011

Alagg is arriving tomorrow.

Alagg is riding in to this blog tomorrow.

It is the first of a daily web comic from the mind of Paul Rose who is also on art chores with a writing assist from myself.

As well as being on Never Iron Anything he is appearing over at Deviant Art along with all of Paul's other art.

Pop over and have a look

Below is a short prose piece that sets the scene for Alagg's stories.


Alagg walks under grey skies.  It has not always been thus.  On many a time his back has reddened under glaring yellow Suns.  He has felt it's heat as he strode the barren deserts of Glenedia, the loftlty rooftops of the Royal City of Altazar and the battlefields of Gornyire.
He has spent time as a buccaneer and felt the splash of water from many a sea and ocean.  Swords and damsels.  His life was never dull.
Only a short few weeks ago his life was full with adventure, riches and lust.
But the world is a changing place.  He had heard stories from wiser and older men than he.  Stories of quieter times where the ebb and flow of the fates had made peace commonplace.
Alagg was not sure that he liked Peace.
He had never felt more alive than when blood was in his eyes.  Never caring if the blood was his or another's.  His strong sword arm raised and his lungs full of shouting anger.
Now all he seemed to do was sleep.
And get nagged.
No more desperate raids, no more running battles, no more dangerous capers.
The world has become old and men have become fat, lazy and weak.
He has returned home to his village to home cooking, boring jobs and a swine of a wife.
A grin then played across Alagg's lips.
'One more visit to the brothel in the courtyard' he said to himself.

Alagg and Family

Make sure that you pop back tomorrow to see the start of the comic.

I promise that things will get pretty weird!


Friday, 29 April 2011

Alagg is two days away!

The Mighty Alagg is two days away!

The creation of Paul Rose with a writing assist by myself.

Make sure you book mark this page as it will be a daily strip!


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Alagg is almost upon us!

Run to the hills you craven worms!

Alagg is almost upon you!

Watch this space ladies and gentlemen.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

An Old Bingo Bonanza Strip.

Hi All.

Below are some pages from a story I did with the award winning manga artist Michiru Morikawa for the short lived title I wrote called Bingo Bonanza.

I was looking at some old files and remembered how great they are and wanted the world to have another look at them.

If you are interested in seeing the rest of the story and even fancy a read of the old three issue series I still have some left so drop me a line.

Page 1.

Page 2.

Page 3.

Amazing stuff as I am sure that you can see.


Friday, 22 April 2011

Spotlight on artist Adrian Hashimi.

It’s Easter long weekend so I have time to do a spotlight on another up and coming comics artist.  This guy hits all the right buttons and has an original and extremely interesting approach to the medium.

I first met Adrian Hashimi on a trip to a signing at Jim Hanley’s Universe in New York and in the company of a mutual friend and after many beers later found his enthusiasm for the medium extremely infectious.  I was quick to google his work and found an artist of incredible versatility and talent.

Adrian’s work crosses many genres.  He has worked in a sci-fi and fantasy discipline and in the erotic world in equal measure.  His work has a large degree of personalised style about it yet he retains a clear knowledge of anatomy and perspective.  His characters are larger than life in an eye catching way.  Much of his art focuses on the female form in a Manaraesque erotic extension.  Saying that he also crosses this with a little feel of the ‘New Underground’ to it.  Thoroughly original in his approach to the idea of a story that develops visually beyond a purely written word.

Much of Adrian's art is sensual and erotic.  Yet his female characters never seem to cross a line into a subordinate role.  They are all strong and seemingly controlling and couple this with being provocative and suggestive.  Themes and metaphors bleed from his pages and each read has a richness to it.

Adrian has an appreciation of poetry and classic literature and has shown a dedication to portraying such in a sequential art form.  He is keen on adapting work as can be seen from the interview below and his website

I was fortunate enough to get Adrian to answer a few questions about his craft.

NIA -  ‘Can you tell me a bit about your background? Did you go to art school?  Could you also tell us a little about your craft? What do you draw on and with?’

Adrian Hashimi – ‘Like most of us ‘scribblers’ I started drawing even before I could remember.  I got my art degree from the University of Kansas but I must say the most influential person on my art back then was my High School art teacher Mrs. Nemchock.  She really was the one who unraveled for me the secrets in thinking like an artist.  That has really helped in my ongoing journey of trying to be a real artist. During my early days as a professional illustrator,  I was pretty much a pen and ink guy.  I even painted in coloured inks back in the day.  Partly because it was the cheapest medium and the quick drying was a big bonus. Nowadays I pretty much do everything digitally.  I have my trusted Wacom tablet that I can’t live without and my two big-ass screens.  (Helps when you’re getting old with the large screens.) But occasionally I still do paint traditionally - water colours and / or acrylics on paper.  I do maybe about 3-4 of these a year.’

NIA – ‘Your style has a real Heavy Metal and fantasy based feel to it. Who are your influences artistically? Who have you enjoyed reading over the years. In some of the pieces on your website I can see a real Moebius style?’

AH – ‘Actually my 2 favorite artists when I was growing up were Herge and Lat (Malaysia’s great cartoonist). I also love the Asterix comic book by Gosciny & Underzo.  In my teens I discovered Robert E. Howard and then all of Buscema’s Conan.  Those guys are still my go to reference to this day.  I have always loved the clean line style of the European artist like Moebius,  Adamo and many many more.
I am also a big fan Goseki Kojima and writer Kazuo Koike.  Recently I am loving Luc Jacamon’s Killers.

NIA -  ‘With your comic The Vine you seem to be addressing a number of issues. It feels like an erotic tale that uses the natural world to interesting effect and the combination of that and sexuality to almost a spiritual / quasi religious ending. Was that the intention?’

AH – ‘Dang it! Was it a little too obvious?  First of all this was my second attempt in illustrating Robert Herick’s ‘The Vine’. I did a single illustration of it for Kiosk Magazine back in 1992. I found out later that it caused some stir with the local religious peeps in ol’ Kansas. They’d completely missed the point and beauty of one the great poems in the English language and just concentrated on the sexual aspect of it. I bet they didn’t know that Herrick was a Vicar!  In this version I wanted to portray both the pleasure and pain of unrequited love.  Most of us tend to go to the darker side when we fantasize whether we like to admit or not, hence the bondage-likeimagery.  But like all dreams we wake to find that reality and the natural world is usually very different and often crueler.’

NIA - 'Very few companies seem to be publishing Erotic comics these days (certainly in the UK and the US).  Do you feel that the time has come for that to change?'

AH - 'Yes!  I would love that.  I think there is a place for everything and there are many layers and genres of Erotica.  Most that I have seen are hardcore (which are great and some of the are brilliant).  A small few are more epic like Manara’s 'Le Opera'.  They all should have a place on the shelves and should not be shunned to the background or not at all. Even then most of the erotica here on the shelves that I’ve found are either from Europe or Japan.  I was recently told when I showed my idea for ‘Julia’ an erotica based on Herricks’ Julia poems that it was a ‘hard sell’ because it was ‘soft erotica’. Which prompted me to draw much ‘harder’ Janey’s School Days’ which was later rejected too. So go figure?'

(Editor's note.  Janey's School Days looks great - but is just a little bit XXX to stick on the blog at this time.  I am sure that if you contact Adrian direct he will let you have a look.)

NIA -  'What are you working on at the moment? What can you tell us?'

AH - 'I am kind of switching gears right now. I am illustrating a Sci-Fi graphic novel titled ‘Meti’ for writer Rania Ajami. We are heading to phase two soon. I am also writing and illustrating a slice of life/period piece
which working tile is ‘Tales from the Straits’. It is a series of shorts about the life during 13th century Melaka.  Melaka was the most important Port City and Kingdom in South Asia at the time and was the gateway between East and West. I guess I wanted to get in touch with my roots.'

There we have it.  Just a short Q and A but enough I am sure to make you want to hunt out Adrian's work.

The themes of Sexuality, Outer Space 1970s weirdness, Bararian violence and raw emotion make Adrian a one man Heavy Metal.  I have seen some pages from Meti (mentioned above) and it looks freaking amazing!  I am sure that it won't be long before a savvy publisher snatches up Mr Hashimi.  I am personally really pleased to be in at the ground floor for this promising and going places artist.

Adrian's art can be found at the following places.


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Up and Coming Artists - Part 1.

This is the first of another semi regular strand here on NIA, this one looks at an up and coming artist and attempts to examine his influences and style.
Today I am focusing on an English artist who has now settled in the Bronx area of New York.  It is fair to say that I have a predisposed fondness of this guy’s work as someone I have collaborated on some UK small press titles like the great Dogbreath (the Strontium Dog / 2000AD fanzine), Zarjaz and Bingo Bonanza.
Today we are looking at the work of Ed Traquino.  A long time comics creator of self produced titles like Evil Eyes, Butterball and Terriers.  His work always had a distinctively English style to it.  The tradition of his style could be found in comics like Victor and Eagle.  Anyone who has spent any time with Ed will recognize his frenetic personality within the panels and word balloons of his comics work.

It was when Ed moved to the states that his style really took a big leap.  Ed is now a much sought after storyboard artist and has been Emmy nominated for his work in this field.
I spoke to Ed and asked him a few questions about his craft.  I started by asking him a little about his background.

Ed Traquino – ‘I’m a British artist living in New York City. Back in London I was an editorial illustrator but storyboarding has given me an opportunity to flourish. I’m represented by Famous Frames who are one of the United States largest agencies for artists for TV, film and advertising.’

He has recently started publishing a web comic called Cee & Bee ( that follows the adventures (and misadventures) of a couple of female private investigators.  The first adventure sees the pair traveling to Italy and fumbling about in their quest to investigate a tubby stranger.

It is both written and drawn by Ed under the pen name Feliq.  I asked him what prompted him to get into a web comic as a personally produced project.

ET –‘I have contributed to numerous independent comics in the UK and US and self published about seven different titles over the past twelve years. Then at the start of 2009 I hit a brick wall creatively and decided to start from square one. I knew that I wanted to create a graphic novel length comic and the fact that it would take me several years made a site with regular page updates essential unless I wanted to disappear creatively.’

I asked him about the name Feliq as a pen name and Cee & Bee as a continuing series. What is it about? What are its themes and subtexts?

ET – ‘I wanted a non-gender specific penname and I stumbled across the name Faliq (Persian for ‘Little Elephant’ I think) when I was reading Michael Chabon’s, Gentleman of the Road. So I stole it, played around with it a tad and came up with Feliq. Liberating me somewhat from my creative history and its bothersome luggage.
The strongest theme in Cee and Bee is how many of us will embrace destiny’s we are neither prepared or equipped for in spite of common sense telling us otherwise.
For me the subtexts hinge on the fact the protagonist sisters, Cindy and Bianca are not particularly good at anything. With no power comes no responsibility.
Two of the early subtexts that became apparent were that there’s adventure in simply finding out what’s behind the next corner and anybody has the capacity to change anything. Exactly how these determine the development of this comic is not set in stone though. I also hoped to suggest that determination is the single most important thing when confronted with an overwhelming situation, whether you got there by choice or not.  I’m only half way through the story with rewrites and alterations up ahead so much of this will change.’

I find that Ed’s style on the new project really differs from his old style.  To me it has a taste of Herge’s Tin Tin mixed in with a dollop of The Hernandez Bros’ Love and Rockets.  Always a perfectionist his new work deploys a really interesting use of colour that lends itself to a European style.  Each page screams out a depth of field.  It has a real sense of place that improves on his past work.  A personal favourite of mine is on page six where the main protagonists visit their agent and sit at one end of a huge office that even has a plane hanging from the ceiling.  They wave across the room to get his attention.

I asked Ed about his change of style to a more European tradition.

ET – ‘I’ve always loved the European clean line style (Ligne claire) and at the start of 2009 I decided to finally embrace it. I wasn’t always a fan of my own art. It could seem uptight and insecure. Like the reader could tell I was desperately trying to constantly prove myself in an artistically adolescent way, “ Oh, look at my art. Don’t I understand drapery and anatomy well?” Also simple clean line, flat colour and simplified panel design make it so much easier to revise and edit. Offering me the creative freedom that prose writing seems to have. ‘

Since his move to New York Ed now has two feet firmly in the storyboarding community.  Now that he is an award nominated artist I was curious at how this job has caused his style to grow and influenced how he approaches a subject.

ET – ‘Three years spent trotting about Manhattan drawing for commercials and TV has not so much influenced my comic style as highlighted the liberating aspects of visual simplicity and embracing a style that encourages creative, fluid decision making.’

Being a huge fan of the printed product I was curious to see if Ed had any plans to produce Cee & Bee as a graphic novel collection.

ET –‘Ultimately yes. To a certain point Cee & Bee has replaced the traditional ashcan comic. With the page count hovering around one hundred pages a web comic keeps Cee & Bee out there, visible for all to enjoy and hopefully to stir interest in a publisher, distributor and at the moment, most importantly an editor.
I’m conscious that I need an experienced editor who understands what I am trying to achieve but I’d rather have no editor over the wrong editor. Around page fifty I intend to go through the comic and pull it apart. Redrawing and rewriting as much as is needed but I’m conscious that my ‘meddling” may cut out the quality meat along with the fat and grizzle.’

I thoroughly recommend you looking out anything that Ed has produced in the past.  His work is always interesting and he has got a great storytelling style.  The UK’s loss is a huge win for the USA comics scene.  Mr Traquino is definitely going places and is one to watch.


Ed can be found at the following websites

Or look him up on Facebook.

Feliq Did A Comic cab be found at Facebook at!/profile.php?id=100001411301199&sk=info

Cee and Bee can be found at

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Role of the LCS - A fans eye view.

‘We are literally a shop-window for the industry.’ 
 Derek Watson, Chaos City Comics, St Albans, UK.

Recently whilst attending a Marvel Comics panel at the KAPOW London comic convention a very commonly posed question was asked by a member of the audience.  He quite understandably asked about the possibility of same day digital and physical comics releases.  He professed to be busy at work and having to travel a lot.  For his ease he was curious, as much of his comics reading is done on an iPad.

As questions go at Comics Conventions this is not an unusual question and it is something that seems to be on many peoples minds at the moment.

It was however the answer that got me thinking.

Steve Whacker (who is currently in the editorial chair at Marvel for the Spider-Man titles) answered the query.  He admitted that the time may eventually come when comic stories are released on digital and in their physical format simultaneously.  What he did go on to say was that this is not currently in any form of a planning stage at his company.  And interestingly the main reason for this is that Marvel Comics value their relationship with comics stores and he referred to them as ‘partners.’

An interesting reply indeed.

We have seen some simultaneous releases recently.  (The Iron Man Annual last year for example).  But Mr Whacker claims that this was little more than an experiment.  I for one genuinely hope that this is the case for all the big companies.

All of the above got me thinking about the value of the local comic shop.  I make weekly use of my LCS and value the ease at getting the comics I read and the sense of community and involvement it supplies.

At the heart of this problem is the growing difficulty we can have at finding comics to read (the internet aside).  I have been reading and collecting for roughly 35 years and back when I was a kid I would cycle to the surrounding newsagents to seek out new issues.  Comics seemed to be available everywhere. You would go on holiday and find a pile for sale in a seaside shop or on a market stall.  I am the first to admit that there was a serious lack of continuity for these shops.  Sometimes a couple of months would go past without new deliveries however there would always be some somewhere.

So when did it all change?  Was it the dawn of the direct sales market.  Was it the growth of the internet and sites like DCBS and E-bay?  I remember finding my first regular comics shop by pure chance (Globe Comics, Ipswich Town in the UK).  It was a decidedly back street shop with a bit of a whiffy back room.  I became a young but loyal customer and would hang about bothering the owner throughout my mid teens.  The comics I bought there are still stuck in my memory.

But do comics shops think that they owe the comics reader / collector / nerd any kind of service at all (above and beyond the financial benefit of doing so)?

I have canvassed a few comics shops and asked their opinions on what they think their roles are with some interesting results.

Derek from Chaos City Comics ( ) in St Albans has a pragmatic approach to the subject and made the following point.

‘Comic shops are increasingly becoming the only place that you can buy the monthly issues (at least here in the UK). And, with the alarming demise of most high street book stores, we are pretty much the only place you can buy graphic novels from a physical location!’

This has never been truer.  We have seen the closure of bookshops all over the country.  Look at the demise of Borders for example.  They always gave the impression that they were backers of comics as a medium.  I know from personal experience that the Charing Cross Road branch in central London had a number of promotional events around graphic novels.  Sadly though Borders has now gone.  Could Waterstones be far behind?

But shouldn’t a comics shop offer more than the Graphic Novel section of a bookshop? 

Jared from OK Comics in Leeds ( ) makes the following point.  He seems to understand the personal touch that a comic shop can supply.

‘There's a comic out there for everyone, and I see it as my job to put the book and the reader together.’

To me there are a number of reasons that I value my LCS.  Reliability is most certainly one of them. I work long hours and often won’t be able to get in to the shop on the day of release.  Because of the service I get there I know that I won’t miss out on the books that I buy (as I have a pull list).  The shop owner know my tastes in comics and will put aside some of the titles that are more likely to sell out quickly and I might miss out on.  He also preorders titles for me, recommends new series I might like and brings my attention to things I may not have heard about.

Should a comic shop offer more than convenience when buying your weekly stack?

Derek from Chaos City Comics has the following to say.

‘Comic-stores also provide the focal point for the hobby as a whole. It's here that collectors can physically browse the vast selection of books and related merchandise that are on offer and, more importantly in my opinion, actually meet other collectors to share their love for the medium.’

It is clearly in the interests of the LCS to have a sense of community.  It is certainly something that I will seek out.  I enjoy the company of (most) regulars at my shop and look forward to talking about the product.  This personal contact is something that not even the most sophisticated internet message board can supply.

A good comics shop should and often does provide that sense of belonging that you get elsewhere from a good local bar, pub or a club.  The best comics shops that I have visited world wide are those that allow you to hang out, browse and chat.  Something you don’t get in a chain bookshop.

In an age of uncertainty regarding the future of the medium what does this mean for the LCS?  And what can be done to fight the decline?

Ooh what a thorny subject this is.  I should also be careful not to wander as this question also addresses in so many ways the industry as a whole.  We as an industry need to promote new readers and this translates to the comic shop more than ever.  What is the secret to this?  I am not a businessman so I cannot comment on the financial aspects but what I do know is that the quality of the art form has never been better.  Comics are better written, drawn and printed than they ever have been in the past.  But how do we get that message across to the general public.

If comics were bullets who would we fire them at?  Video game players? They presumably would have the visual imagination needed.  Do book shop regulars need to be pulled out of their tatty graphic novel sections and in to their LCS?   There are many answers to this question.   

With the wealth of comic related projects out there at the moment there has never been a time when the characters have been part of our collective consciousnesses more than now.  Millions of people have been to see The Dark Knight or Spider-Man but when did you walk out of your multiplex to see a table selling comics or even a poster advertising a local shop.  Education is certainly a good start.  On a local level who other than the LCS is able to help with this?

Maybe events are the answer.  Get a named writer or artist in and have them talk about the medium and maybe do a signing.  There is nothing that encourages me to pick up a title more than the creator talking enthusiastically about its origins and philosophy.  This sort of communication is infectious.  I recently attended an event where Mike Carey talked about The Unwritten and I straightaway bought and read the series.  How about linking the signing to something else.  Get the comics writer in who is also a writer for TV or a gaming company and link the two hobbies.  It can only be mutually productive. Kids will go to a Doctor Who or Ben 10 event but maybe not a comics event?  What do you think?

It is also fair to say that comics are currently seen as ‘cooler’ than they ever have been before.  So why are the numbers not higher.  It’s easy to blame the rise of the internet and the proliferation of the video / computer game but we still should be doing much higher numbers.

But let’s face it the comic shop is not to blame for the decline.  A change in how we consume media would appear to be the main culprit. But people being people we still on the whole crave that personal touch. A sense that we are not the sole person involved in the hobby. Sure most of us can be overly nerdy and the proprietary nature of each fans ownership of a character is often annoying and overbearing.  Fans and by extrapolation the comic shops that they attend can provide an unnerving experience to strangers (in many ways like the record shops that preceded them).  But this is slowly changing.  How long ago was it that you would never see an actual real to life female in a shop.  Now they are commonly catered for.

The over used phrase is applicable as ever ‘this is not a genre it is a medium.’  Many of the comics shops have grasped this fact and cater for all tastes.  Gosh Comics in central London is a great example of this.  It is situated near a big London museum and has a real art book shop vibe to it.  David’s Comics in Brighton (surely the heart of the cool and hip in the UK) caters to counter culture and the new underground comics scene.  It’s the knowledge of your customer base and the encouragement of them through style and product that seems to often be the key.

Comics are also valuable beyond the obvious.  They are often a valuable educational tool. Visual literacy is a hot subject at the moment and a reliable and useful teaching style.  Libraries seem to increasingly becoming supporters of the medium.  I have attended talks by Dave Gibbons, Mike Carey and Pat Mills at local council libraries over the last couple of years and at each talk there has been a table of products to buy from the LCS.  There are very few other local businesses that provide similar services.  So many things are now comics related (often without people knowing) so shouldn’t we be getting involved more?

Derek again makes a valid comment.

‘More and more schools are identifying the value of sequential art in terms of improving visual literacy, and because of this parents are also starting to see their educational benefits - of course, if the parents are already comic book fans their children already have the advantage! - but there still needs to be a place where parents can take their children to browse the books that may inspire them.’

Listen I am just a comics fan.  I have no real professional experience in the industry so all of my thoughts may be obvious conjecture to a hard working LCS owner.

What I am sure of is that the Local Comic Shop is a valuable asset.  It’s worth goes beyond the obvious.  Yes it is a place to buy and order comics, trades and related ephemera.  However it also has the purpose of being that needed focal point for the hobby.  To maintain an industry around the pastime it needs to grow the seeds placed in the local community.  A place to hang out, a place to talk up the industry (oh yes and bitch about it when needed).

I for one will continue to get most of my product in this way (the discount never hurts).  And continue to enjoy what it gives to me.

Long live the local comic shop.


Thanks to Derek and Jared at Chaos City and OK Comics for offering some opinions on the subject.  Both shops are well worth a visit if you are in their respective towns.

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Boy Wonder Reviews (Teen Titans 91).

The newest installment of an irregular series where my 13 year old son reviews comics he is reading.  Today he has decided to review Teen Titans 91.

Have fun.


Teen Titans #91.

Publisher DC Comics.

Writer - J.T. Krul.
Penciler - Nicola Scott .
Inkers - Doug Hazlewood and Scott Koblish.
Editor - Rachel Gluckstern.
Cover art - Nocola Scott and Doug Hazlewood.

In this issue the Titans fight Headcase, an information absorbing crazy person, as well as hundreds of genetically modified students.  The art is as good as usual and the fight scenes are brilliant.  Although slightly crazy.  One thing I found annoying about this particular issue was the story has the tendency to jump around to confusing points.  Though this may be because I am not completely up to date with this run of comics.  If you are going to buy this comic make sure that you know what's happening.  Kid Flash is my favourite character in the Teen Titans team.  He has really cool powers and a really interesting past.  I am going to continue reading this comic.  I think that the Teen Titans are my favourite team at the moment.  I liked the cover a lot but would not like to see it like this every time as I like to know what is happening in the comic.

Art - 9 out of 10.
Story - 6 out of 10.


There you have it.  My son's pull list at the Local Comic Shop consists of anything Deadpool, Generation Lost, Green Lantern, anything Blue Betle and the Teen Titans.

If you are enjoying his reviews feel free to leave us a comment on here.

See you soon.


Sunday, 10 April 2011

KAPOW BEGINS: A fan's eye view.

Before I begin you may notice that I have a snazzy new banner.  Thanks to Derek at Chaos City Comics for the design and technical issues well beyond my abilities.  Visit at
Kapow Begins.

What will hopefully be the beginning of a new series of comic conventions began yesterday with the Mark Millar sponsored Kapow.  ( ).

It was an attempt to bring the style of a San Diego or New York comic convention to the UK after a long awaited and unfilled gap since UKCAC ended.  (well at least in my opinion there hasn't been anything in UKCACs league for quite a few years.)  And on the impression I was given on the first day they thoroughly succeeded in such an attempt.

I got there early and waited in a local Starbucks for a couple of pals to arrive and as we sat there we slowly became aware that the group of people we could see out of the window was in fact a slowly growing line for the convention.  So once this realisation hit we quickly joined the end of the ever growing line (oh how I wish I'd realised that it was in fact Steve Wacker sitting at an adjacent table though!)  Saying that, the que was long but it moved quite quickly and we were soon in sight of the huge Green Lantern Movie image at the front doors to the Business and Design Centre in Islington where it was being held.

Entry to the hall was slick and easy and took only moments and it was once I got in that the whole 'American experience' was evident.  The lower level hallway was full with video game promos and the IGN stage.  Walk up a small set of stairs and you are on the main comics area.  Above was a surrounding higher level walkway that was a great place to view the hussle and bussle.

The place was after a while packed and we wandered the stalls and the signings.  I am pleased (on purely a selfish level) that it was not full of cosplayers and their figgin' papier mache swords or 'hug me' nonsense.  (but that may just be the grumpy old man in me speaking!)  The mood on the floor was friendly and just whilst walking around you found yourself bumping in to the likes of John Romita Jnr, Nick Spencer, TV and Movie actors or even good old (enough of the old) Dez Skinn.

There were loads of things to look at on the Convention floor from a small back issue area to a comics history art exhibition and some small press tables.  All the major companies were represented and I can see that if this event carries on through to next year (and I really hope that it does) that they might need some more space.

There was even a Tardis but sadly it seems locked (as Paul found out)!

Big hello to Paul Cornell.  Who as always gives his time generously to us comics fans.  I saw him a few times walking and chatting both on his own and with his good lady wife.  He stopped and spoke to us and enquired what we had been buying.  And this kind of meeting seemed commonplace for a lot of people in attendance. 

We all decided to dodge the crowd for the Jonathan Ross' Gameshow and made our way to Marshall Law and More with Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill.  The pair have had Marshall Law dusted down by DC Comics and were infectious with their enthusiasm for the project.  I have seen Pat speak before and he is extremely engaging and with Kevin next to him the two men kept the audience in chuckles.  Especially when they gave it away that they were not that fond of Tharg and the famous 2000AD letters column.  Another great story about Pat asking if he could have an Iron Cross as a freebie give away on a comic he was writing for at Fleetway.  Strangely this was refused as 'we do not want to attract that sort of reader'!  (not sure there is a large Nazi reading demographic out there?!)

If you get a chance to see these guys talk I can thoroughly recommend it!

After slipping off for a few beers at a local pub (who were woefully under prepared for the geek nation's drinking habits).  We headed back in to the hall and had a bit more browsing.  Good to see Dead Universe Comics there is full effect and I eventually plumped for the five for the price of four deal at the Cinebook stall.  Really beautiful stuff that is going straight to the top of my read pile.  Crusade Volume 1, XIII Volume 1: 'The Day of the Black Sun' and The Chimpanzee Complex Volumes 1 - 3.  (all for £21 - can you believe it.)  This company is putting out some really interesting titles that I have not seen before.  Pop over and have a look at their website to see what they have to offer.

The floor was full of great comics people doing signings.  I got a chance to see Nick Spencer again.  The last time I saw him was at a signing last September at Jim Hanley's Universe in Manhattan when Morning Glories number 1 had not long come out and he was quite newly in the comics spotlight.  His rise seems to have happened in those short few months and he is now top of the sequential table.  I look forward to reading all his future work, especially his upcoming three issue run on Secret Avengers.  A cool guy although I have to say he did look a little tired (let's call that jet lag and not over work?)
Also in attendance of course was the mighty John Romita Jnr.  I find it hard to believe that he finds the time with his monthly schedule of The Avengers and Kick-Ass 2!

We finally made our way to the Marvel: Pint O' CB panel that strangely didn't have C.B. Cebulski at!  Never mind, it was made more than lively with Nick Lowe and Steve Wacker carrying out the energetic hosting roles.  It was packed out and the heat in the room soon got to one of my comics companions who dozed off (must be a DC fan) and let out a slow gentle snore (you know who you are!)  For me this was a great panel with a couple of bits of news that I had not heard yet.

Rob Williams (who is a bit rubbish at doing impressions) spoke about his pleasure at taking the reins of Ghost Rider (if you see what I mean).  Nick Spencer was allowed to announce his writing of the new Cloak and Dagger series and there was much talk about the exciting year coming in the Marvel Universe including some plans for characters who have big anniversaries coming up.  What followed was a Q and A session that was very Captain Britain centric.  Nick Lowe seemed sympathetic to bringing the character back as he expressed what a joy it was to edit Captain Britain and MI:13 with Paul Cornell.

We the headed back out again for a few more pints before heading home.

All in all Kapow was a really enjoyable, enthusiastic and encouraging experience.  It worked.  It really did.  I will be going every year to this convention and fully expect it to grow and grow in prominence!

I think we need to admit in this country that the American Comics marketplace (due in no small part to the British writers and artists help and influence) is producing some of the best comics ever (yes ever).  We seem to dwell too much in the British comics of yesteryear and fail to celebrate what is happening right now.  A convention like this has been a long time coming.

Superb stuff!


Monday, 4 April 2011

One From the Read Pile - Jonah Hex 58.

I have had a couple of days off work on a short break and have been reducing the old Regina pile that has built up a little.  So I thought that I would pick one at random and review it. 

Not a Marvel book for a change.


Jonah Hex 58.   'Every Bullet Tells A Story.'

Writers - Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti.
Artist - Giancarlo Caracuzzo.
Colours - Rob Schwager.
Editor - Will Moss.

Publisher DC Comics.

Much has been written and talked about with the most recent series of Jonah Hex about it's 'one and done' series style.  Personally I find it quite a refreshing change every so often and continue to enjoy this series occasionally in a monthly format.  I recently picked up a pile of issues that I had missed at my local comic shop's sale. (Chaos City Comics).  I genuinely had forgotten how good it gets. 

I have never been a big Western fan.  I think this is probably more due to my age than anything else.  My father for example loved them and he would often watch old Black and White Western's on a Sunday afternoon.  In many ways Westerns were to him what the Star Wars space operas were to my generation.  Sure I enjoyed the classics but it as a genre never really took off for me.

So urged on by a number of podcasts and recommendations I decided to give Jonah Hex a go.  My only real experience to the character was the (and I think I am being fair when I say this) quite strange Hex series in the 1980s.  Written by Michael L Fleisher and drawn by Mark Texeira it ran some 20 or so issues and set Hex in the future.  I also have to admit to owning the recent movie but not to making it past the first ten minutes (one day maybe).

So I will on and off buy the floppys of this comic. I always enjoy them but never treat the comic as a priority.  I think that maybe I should do based on the quality of issue 58.

This issue plays heavily on a circular storyline of events causing dominos to fall.  It throws the reader straight in to the action and sets it's table out with the bullet motif that continues in one form or another throughout the story.  Page one is bookended with silver tipped bullets and a narration by Hex.  He speaks as to his purpose.  He speaks in short sentences setting out his raison d'etre  but as is common with this book nothing is how it seems.

We deal in many ways in false images.  The villainous character on page one (who has a passing resemblence to that clawed mutant) becomes the victim later in the book and the white haired business man is for a moment the villain (until he meets a typically bloody end).  Interestingly Hex is portrayed for the first two pages as a face only.  We see only his eyes and melted face.  You know that as soon as he only wings the other male that there is more to come.

Look.  This is a western so symbolism is high on the agenda.  We see the bullet motif continously throughout the issue.  We see it as a gleaming bullet and as a dirty rained on empty shell casing.  It is the trajectory of these bullets that have always driven the Western.  Who fires them and why.  We see later that there is a choice to this.  We see Hex giving a single bullet to the female villain and she is given a choice what to do with it.  Kill herself or another.  She chooses the latter only to have Hex turn the tables on her.  This book is about those choices.  Life is seen continously as cheap in this series.  We know that there will be bloody death rightly or wrongly.

Hex remains the cypher.  The morally ambiguous character that we read a situation through.  He is in many ways storytelling flotsam.  He floats through his own title allowing the characters and storyline to develop and explode around him.  His moral compass is never easily discernable.  We never know fully how we are to take his actions.  I am not sure, is he an anti hero?  He is clearly more than a storytelling technique.  He has had romances and short lived allies.  What I am sure about is that we never have to be concerned with the moral architecture, because there is none.  In many contemporary comics we know where people are coming from.  We know what Scott Summers is or should be thinking.  We have a good handle on what the Joker might do or want to do in any given circumstances.  With Hex this safety net is taken away from us.  He is as likely to kill and shoot someone as he is to put a blanket around them. 

Am I reading too much into this?  Hex would probably say that I was.  He would probably tell me to shut up (or just shoot me in the leg).

The dialogue in the book is always sharp.  It walks the line of a classic Western style and a blackly humorous more up to date style.  In keeping with the genre very few people speak at length, their motives become clear through the action and dialogue and not from just what they say. 'Show not tell' is never more evident than in this book.

The art in this issue was superb.  It has a slightly looser style than a book like 100 Bullets (Eduardo Risso) but maintains a Noir feel to it.  The images never shy away from the bloody violence.  I wasn't aware of Giancarlo Caracuzzo before reading this but will happily pay for more books he is involved with in the future.  I can see that an imprint like Vertigo could make geat use of his style.

I can thoroughly recommend this book.  A great read.


PS.  If you are going to KAPOW this upcoming weekend say hi and let me know what you think of this blog?  I will probably be over by the Dead Universe Back Issue stall (with an emptied wallet).

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Boy Wonder Reviews. (Deadpool Team-Up 883).

As part of our ongoing series.

This time I asked the Boy Wonder (my 13 year old son) what his favourite comic was in his stack and he chose the just ended and last issue of Deadpool Team-Up.

He reviewed it as below.


Deadpool Team-Up issue 883.

Writer - Skottie Young.
Artist - Ramon Perez.
Colours - Andres Mossa.

The main reason that I reviewed this comic is the charater.  Deadpool is a crazy, murdering psycho who talks to himself more than any other character.  He is definately my favourite character at the moment.  Though some would argue that he doesn't work in space I would disagree and that him being in space allows the reader to see his reactions to the strangeness of the Galaxy.  Space is where he belongs.

In this issue Deadpool becomes the herald for Galactus which leads to a fight with the Silver Surfer.  deadpool heads through space in his crazy mix of a surfboard and a tractor.  This issue has some brilliant and funny speech that you will have to read to enjoy.

The art for this comic keeps with the slightly cartoony style of the series.  The best art in the comic is the page where Deadpool destroys Galactus' patience.

I have read that this is the last issue of the series, it has gone out fighting.

Art - 9 out of 10.
Story - 9 out of 10.
Money spent on Guinea Pigs! - $25,896-92.


There you have it.  I have not read a Deadpool comic for a while but read this one on the recommendation of the BW.  I actually thought it was pretty funny and reminded me of a good Ambush Bug comic from the 1980s.

But then again, nobody wants to know what I think.

See you on the wrinkled other side of Wednesday!


Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Boy Wonder Reviews. (Avengers 11).


Anyone who has read this blog knows that I have a 13 year old son who I am forcing at gun point to become a comics reader.  What he and I decided to do this weekend was to read a recent comic that I have enjoyed an he will review it.

So here it is.  All his own work.


The Avengers - 11.

Writer - Brian Michael Bendis.
Pencils - John Romita Jnr.
Inks - Klaus Janson.
Colours - Dean White.

Publisher - Marvel Comics.

In the comic that I read the hood was trying to collect some crystals to repower him after he was imprisoned.  The Hood is a good villain he is basically a drug addict on the power he gets. The crystals are guarded by super-heroes and that causes conflict.

I believe that the best part of the comic was the art, especially the section with the giant purple robot.  I liked how the flames surrounded it.

I also enjoyed the narration of the Watcher and I think that he was my favourite character in the comic.

The worst part of the comic was that a completely new character came out of nowhere and messed up the storyline.

In conclusion it was a generally good comic but was quite confusing.

Art - 6 out of 10.
Writing - 9 out of 10.


There you have it folks. 

Personally I quite enjoyed it too.  (Not sure the series of splash pages worked but it looked great. )

Then again this isn't my review.