Friday, 28 April 2017

'What if I'm not a comic?'- A Review of 'The Human Beings' issue 1.

The Human Beings - issue 1.

Created by SJ McCune.

Published by Millicent Barnes Comics.

This is fully intended to be a non traditional review. This is a book that does not adhere to a world of cliche or even what goes on elsewhere in the comic world. It is freshly original in an intelligent fashion.

Stuart (SJ) McCune spins a complex and dark series of short comics stories into an anthology. A book that deals with different environments, places and times but tied by the interactions of the titular Human Beings (or so we are lead to believe).

As with all of Stuart's (SJ's) work it is the words that echo in your brain like secret whisper. At moments stark, at moments highly personal this is a comic drawn on an art canvas but retaining the beauty of the sequential comic we know and love.

The first issue combines the terrifying original images of fantastical worlds and at the turn of the page the furtive games of interaction we call a conversation. It mixes the sharp but hallucinatory reality of a Giallo thriller with some beautifully framed visuals. 

This is also my favourite of SJ's work from a dialogue point of view. One strip details a conversation between a man and a woman. He paces each panel, each word, each look, each hollow echo with a tension but also with a resonant reality. He plays with our preconceptions with each and every head tilt and crafted short sentence. Those that overwrite take heed, this is a stripped back interaction that says more with it's words and visuals in seven pages than some other lesser writers could manage in a whole paperback novel. Each line is a door opening, an explanation of place and time but also a marvellous contradiction of what the reader thought they were following.

The art remains a gorgeous kaleidoscope of colour and line that breaks free of the norm but remains perfectly flowing. Treating story like a compicated vein system that flows to the heart but shoots off in and at unexpected moments. 

SJ is a master of the strange, his stories kick you out of that comfortable chair into an unfamiliar landscape. I feel myself standing in a world I am unfamiliar with and completely out of my comfort zone awaiting a stranger to approach me and whisper into my ear telling of a reality that is mysterious and beautiful. I am never at any point able to predict what will happen. I don't try to second guess anything (ever) and am gloriously mesmerised by each moment. You can see a love for the medium but he questions each second with a focused unconventional eye - and I wouldn't have it any other way!

He is a creator that I follow and impatiently await the arrival of each new product. I suggest that you challenge yourself and do the same. SJ tells the predictable drivel elsewhere in the comics world to be quiet and leave the building immediately, an adult has arrived!

Follow SJ on Twitter @StuartMcCune and buy his work at

I would also highly suggest searching him out on Kickstarter by searching for Stuart John McCune.

PS Stay for the last few pages, something may be explained.

Many thanks for reading.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

The Need to Blah, Blah, Blah!

Ready, Steady, Rant.

I was listening to a comedy themed podcast this week and the host was talking to a comedian friend of his about how he doesn't watch anything on the sports channel (ESPN I believe) other than the actual game. This got me thinking.

Of late I have been avoiding the 'Making of' sections or actors interviews on the DVD extras style content we seem to get thrown at us all over the place these days. Why is this? A couple of reasons in my case. Firstly I find that knowing how the movie or TV series is made only leads to me being taken out of the immersion experience if I rewatch or watch the movie. And secondly, I find that most movie stars are too self obsessed to be likeable in any real way. This self obsession is obviously no longer owned by Hollywood.

This technique is awash with padded out material full of back slapping and a wank circle of compliments has, for me anyway, reached a point where I can't stand to watch the scripted interviews and fixed grins. Preprepared anecdotes are trotted out like the trite shite that they are and that we are apparently stupid enough to believe it all? interview after interview of want to be famous 'hip' TV presenters drinking this rubbish up like a thirsty man in the desert who finds a puddle of piss.

We are a long way past saving the situation but I'm sure there would be less of a market for it if people sat up and examined the lies we are fed. An actor speaks the lines that a writer, or often a room full of writers, create for them. They are on occasion grossly overpaid and treated like deities. They have lists of questions they are not to be asked and follow the party line like Starlin himself is standing over them with a big knife. Where are the honest interviews? Where are the ones that upset and describe these events as they actually happened? We have a pretence that the curtain is pulled aside and we are allowed to look behind it but all that can be seen is yet another curtain.

The intrusive and poisonous nature of the internet has us believe that everyone is a star these days. This is a delusion that has also now sank it's teeth into the comics industry. Full of the self flattering and pandering ranks of ephemeral 'stars'. How many creators are there out there that believe that their words carry some huge authority based on the arse licking followers they hear from. A circle jerk of life?

John Freeman and I have the odd bet when we do interviews or he commissions pieces from comics creators as to when the word 'I' will be used. One recent bet had me losing £5 because 'I' came as the fourth word and not the first as I had wagered. Why has this happened? Why do we often seemingly value the cult of personality above the enjoyment of the story. And most importantly is this internet preening and need for attention affecting the enjoyment of the stories? I would hazard a guess that managing to see past the overblown personality of the creator is becoming more and more of a problem.

There is no doubt that being visual within our small hobby, being that character in the field of writers or artists brings you minor fame and attention. You only have to look at someone like Grant Morrison. Known for his personality? Yes. But also known for his style and content in writing. This is a trend that many, many more less talented creators seem to have adopted wholesale as a short cut to the top. 

So where did it begin? There's no doubt that Stan Lee brought the personality and Circus Ringmaster promotions techniques to the sales table and he did so very successfully. I once had a conversation with a Marvel and DC writer however who told me that he liked a certain trenchcoat because it made him 'look like a writer'. A small example but a deluded opinion nonetheless.

Are we really so in need of this heady adulation. This little tiny buzz of adrenalin when we get a 'Like' or a flattering email? How far does this addiction carry on? Get on your knees dear fanboy/fangirl/fanperson (please check gentaliia at the door before entering) .... 'pucker up and suck me off!' Shouted the cocaine snorting, Whiskey slurping, viagra gulping, sweaty faced fading comics 'star'.


Let's go about creating a writer shall we? Here are a few easy steps...

Part 1 - Create a Personality for Yourself.

A slight aside to begin with if you'll excuse this indulgence. Have you seen the movie 'Gentlemen Broncos'? It is a pretty crazy movie and a comedy about a Science Fiction writer who appears in the story by the name of 'Chevalier' (played brilliantly with tongue firmly in cheek by Jermaine Clement). This is a pompous man, a writer full of slowly inflected speech patterns and a really high opinion of his 'craft'. He is also a man with lovingly quiffed dark hair, and a penchant for polar necks and matching waistcoats and leather jackets. He opens his arms and points to the sky like his word is the word of a fucking god and should never be questioned. Ring any bells? (Here's a hint. Sandman anyone?)

Play this game with me? Watch a few Youtube videos or documentaries on comics creators and you soon begin to spot the bluffers and the huffers. Those who have a fucking huge opinion of themselves, those who will take about an hour to say anything at all. In a recent 2000AD documentary I could have made toast, buttered it, eaten it and shared the crusts with the dog before the second word came out of one particular writer's mouth! A technique used by actors, priests and politicians attempting to stay in the limelight one more second. I bet they are great at phone sex?? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Image is also seemingly important for many creators these days. I follow a few comics artists on Instagram. A photo sharing social media platform that I thought would be great way to see the actual art they are creating. But, the second that I notice that all I am seeing is selfie after cunting selfie I immediately unfollow. One artist I (used to) follow had a series of photos of her trying on glasses to see what her fans thought of them. The comments were so vomit inducing that I smashed by phone and stuck it straight up my arse to deaden the noise of slurping oral!

(btw) Blue Steel - IS STILL A THING! 

Part 2 - Become The Moral Crusader.

Seemingly another shortcut to fame and fortune in this land of comics is to adopt the moral high ground. Everyone is so shit scared to have a controversial opinion in this day and age. They pander to what they think they should say, rather than what any right minded person would see as trivial in the every day life of someone who does not live on Twitter! I won't fixate on any current trend but anyone can see the waste of air that is writing about whether or not Gal Gadot should have hairy armpits? (and so on until death by blah, blah, blahring).

Part 3 - Believe The Hype! 'For you are the Kwisatz Haderach'.

Then, and only after following the previous two steps do you believe that you are the second coming and that people deserve and demand to hear what you have to say. Every single opinion you have must be treated as a fact. If you say that there should be a revolution because a trans person is shown having sex in a toilet cubicle (an actual true(ish) story) then all your fans should pick up their phones and tweet about how they love you because you are their moral godhead!

Opinion is not fact. Because XXXX XXXXXX says it does not make it a solid fact. He/She writes comics or TV or Music or some such cack and should not be believed without a thought or a momentary consideration. I have never believed everything a friend, colleague or associate has believed and neither should you. Make your own mind up.

Let me make that point again - Make your own mind up!

This is becoming some kind of internet quasi-religious hive mind. And we all know where religion got us?!

The Result and The Future of the Cult of Personality.

Too much information.

Too much.

All the time being battered with the tweets of people sitting in their studio or their bedroom creating comics and feeling the need every ten minutes to throw their inadequacies and need to be noticed out into the world.


This will not end well.

This will create a sub culture and will not make comics something that they should be and need to be - Popular!

Example 1 - I recently found out that a creator whose work I've always enjoyed was a hunter.  He was posting the bodies of the animals he was killing on Facebook with pride! Seriously!? I am a life long vegetarian. How can I support his pastime by buying his comics? I can't. The secret is to keep this shit to yourself surely? But, of this I am certain, if I never found this out I would still be reading his books.

Example 2 - I found a Bronze Age writer to be the most singular Pompous Man I have ever met. A fan of his for many years I found that I couldn't swallow his downright rudeness to me and others at his convention table. If I never met him I'd still be spending money on his work (or if he'd been a little less fond of himself?) I now can't abide his unnaturally shiny walnut head (but that is another matter).

Example 3 - The creator who never paid a large outstanding tax bill and in his own words hoped 'it would be forgotten'. He then set up a 'Go Fund Me' page when the Federal Government came knocking. 'Keep me out of jail, for this bill I knew I should have paid years ago' you hear him whine! The stream of nauseous replies to his social media begging are those of people looking for a friend, and are sad and embarrassing. I'm not sure I want to read anything further by this writer, ever!

I'll put this out there. Plain and simple. I do not care what your politics are, I do not care what you consider to be morally right or wrong, I do not care who, when or in what fucked up situation you choose to have sex and I don't care what you like in your sandwich.

Tell your friends about all this. Tell your mum. Just don't advertise your wares for sale on social media and then shout about all that banality through my phone screen. When people shout back all we get is 'they are having a go at me............'

Man/Woman/Person UP! FOR FUCKS SAKE!

Let's get back to the art of creating great comics. Stop trying to be famous. Just do what you do.

Many thanks for reading.