Wednesday, 28 June 2017

In Preview - 'Primas' from Alberto Pessoa


Created by Alberto Pessoa.

Based on research by Loreley Garcia of the Federal University of Paraiba.

Based on real experiences. Translated in English and published by Stache Publishing.

'My husband always told me "You depend on me for everything. You are nothing without me!" 'So I told him to fuck off!'

And so begins the story of Rosa. How she moved back in with her mother, couldn't find work and made the decision to work as a prostitute in a local Brazilian bar. For some time this seemed to go well. She made money, felt in power of what she was doing and earned a load of money. But things have a habit of changing....

According to what I see daily on social media the practise of not realising quite how great we have it in the UK seems a daily and growing business.

Occasionally you are brought back down to earth by something you see, read or encounter. This is a book that grabs you by the scruff of your neck and takes you to this reality and shows you it in an unflinching fashion.

It describes one life. That of a woman named Rosa. It describes the events of her young life.  A series of experiences that are not really something that you can describe as complex but are emotionally powerful and physically impactful. I'm not someone who I would describe as naive. I've encountered much in fiction and in life but the brutality of one true feeling moment in this comic brings a part of our world in to sharply focused clarity. The violence of the single drunken encounter that begins this story and is later dealt with in more detail is a moment that changes Rosa's choices and those made for her.

This is made all the more shocking by worrying failure of those around her both friends, colleagues and her employer to help her out. What kind of life is this if such an event is seen as part and parcel of the world. Even when a kindly stranger offers to taker her to the hospital after finding her wandering in the road she promises sexual acts in return - covered in blood she is drunkenly unaware of a kind act when it's offered.

It's moments like this that ring the bell of real life when I am reading. No romantic whore with a heart of gold saved my a good man. No bag of cash under a bed. No child saved. Just cold hard facts displayed in this comic art form.

'..... I only cried that one night...'

Nothing is black and white. A fact that you are reminded of throughout this book. The first half of the book almost has you admiring Rosa. She's a singleminded woman. Prostitution is a choice she makes. She describes how she holds the power. Dictates what she does with her body, who she's tells and what cash she makes. She enjoys the feeling that she is popular and wanted. This enjoyment of the moment seemingly blinds her to the chance of violence.

Even the word 'Primas' has two meanings. One is a 'female cousin' the other is a subtle way to say 'prostitute' - I suppose in the same way that 'Escort' has become a subtler word in English. 'Puta' is not translated yet still has the power that it is intended with both the actual men and women in the story and the writer. (A slang term for whore, I find out through Google, is seemingly spat out at times in the story).

The art in the story makes use of large panels that focus almost entirely on the faces of the players. We see them in their respective situations and the art is kept simple and to the point. Pessoa uses heavy blacks as a style choice and they work well. If I had one small niggle it is that the cover is not representative of the interiors? (I realise that I am reading a preview copy so this may change).

The ending is not an end to me. Just a change in direction. The use of symbolism works so well in the final pages. As the view shifts and the world turns we are reminded that some things are there, constant, in the dirty dark corners. Brilliant stuff.

The book contains some great back material including interviews and photos of the town and those living there with comparisons to the art used.

The project is due to go live on Kickstarter in July and is well worth a punt. Keep an eye out for it.

Pop over to to keep updated on the project and follow this interesting new company @Stache_Comics on Twitter.

Many thanks for reading.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

ELCAF 2017 - The Friday Review.

Friday is definitely the day to go I decided to remind myself next year, quieter and calmer than the weekend. In the burning hot early afternoon sun I bumped into co-founder Sam Arthur outside The Round Chapel in Hackney, he waxed philosophically about the hard work that had gone in to this year's (and every year's event). I then headed in. ELCAF had begun for another year.

This venue is now in it's second year as a home for the festival. A main hall of tables and a DJ has a quieter and more peaceful balcony above the hall. You can sit there and read purchases as I often did throughout the day. Adjacent to the main hall was a workshop and art room with a talks room nearby. Outside there are two marquees for further talks and tables as the weekend got busier. I took time and sat with the events organiser Angela Francis and it's artistic director Ligaya Salazar. Both were taking a well earned five minutes break as the event got into it's stride.

You can really feel the optimism in the air. ELCAF and it's parent company NoBrow are really holding open that door between experimental art and comics. People are pushing was can be done with the medium more and more these days and there is no greater champion of this approach than this crew. 

The content of ELCAF is something that is examined from every angle. A curated exhibitors list again this year with an eye to who has something new being released and access is given to creators on the Friday that may not necessarily reflect the same table structure on the weekend. Ligaya told me that this was to allow the opportunity to exhibit to as many people as possible in a very competitive field. I have to give a shout out to the volunteers as well. Helpful to a person. At least a couple of times over the weekend I was asked what I had bought and what I was looking for (eat your heart out MCM?)

I managed to catch up with some creators as well. Andy Barron is someone who I have been following since he sent me his trippy and (almost) indescribable book 'Mantra'. A colourful, psychedelic assault on the senses that deals with growth, death, sexuality and stripped down human emotion it is highly recommended. He has a new book out inn the same universe called 'Tantra' that I then went and sat and read. More of the same gloriously infectious crazy examination of a world far beyond the norm. 

Find out more about Andy at or follow him on Twitter @omcommics

II then caught up with old pals Avery Hill Publishing. Ricky Miller and Dave White had that creative locomotive of Tillie Walden with them. 'The Hill' continue to put out exceptional work that never fails to wow. All involved with running this groundbreaking company do so in conjunction with busy day jobs. Just goes to show what can be donee when you put your mind to it. Highly recommended from their recent releases is Goatherded by Charlo Frade.

Find out more about Avery Hill and buy some of their books at and follow them on Twitter @AveryHillPubl

I finally got to catch up with Josh Hicks. I got to interview him for downthetubes last year when he released the hilarious Glorious Wrestling Alliance issue 1. It was great to hear that issue 2 is on the way with a possible third issue next year. He's recently paired up with the folks at Good Comics and was releasing Human Garbage at ELCAF. An anthology of his shorter stories it has the greatest contents page ever in print!

Head over to to grab a copy. Follow him on Twitter @ajoshhicks

I finally tracked down Todd Oliver who had been as kind as to send his new series Boxes into The Awesome Comics Podcast. We are all fans of this comic. I did an audio interview with Todd that'll be appearing on the Pod soon but can thoroughly recommend Boxes as a crazy and original slice of life comic (if your life was like a Monty Python animation). I bought all three print issues (issue 3 was released specially for ELCAF) and grabbed a couple of £5 sketches as well.

This was actually Todd's first convention and it was great to see he was quite the popular figure. I can see this guy only getting bigger and bigger on the scene.

Get yourself some mind menacing comics as well at and follow him on Twitter @ToddOliver 

Next to Todd (who is on the left in this photo) was the man only identified mysteriously as Pencil Bandit. I hung about chatting to him and Todd for some time. I even got this excellent 'Batman' from him.

Find more Banditry at

There's been a a lot of talk recently in the comics community about the validity of Conventions these days. Many seem to be thinly veiled cash grabs based on the use of 'Comic' in the name and then cramming the place with plastic toys and fading celebrities. I would suggest that to those who seek a Comics event with true creative credibility that they look to the East London Comics Art Festival.

A visual feast of comics art and community this is in my opinion the UK Comics event of the year. I have been going for the last few years and have never failed to walk away with a sense of the real creativity growing up around the brilliant home grown comics indie publisher NoBrow. Always a hubbub of chatter, music and fun and original designs this is an event for all. No fanboy cliques here. 

OK, I'll admit it. There is a higher than average number of nose piercings and quite an annoying DJ playing music (please note here that I am old!) but generally the vibe is great.  You know what? In a way it's kind of refreshing that I don't recognise that many people inside. Fresh faces are always needed. Go away and create.....        

This is easily one of the high points of my comics and art year. Comics should be accessible to everyone. The creation from idea to being in someones hands being read is, to me anyway, what events like this are about.       

Find out more about ELCAF at or follow them on Twitter @ELCAFest

There's still time to make it down for Sunday?

Many thanks for reading.  

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

In Review - 'Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000AD and Judge Dredd: The Secret History' by Pat Mills.

Review - Be Pure, Be Vigilant.

Written by Pat Mills.

'Through a minefield of imbeciles and chimps.'

It occurs to me these days with worrying regularity that this hobby we hold dear is both being forgotten about by the average Joe and also at the same time being taken advantage of by big business. Like an American being sold Tower Bridge we seemingly throw ourselves into paying to see movies, buying merchandise and waiting with unbridled enthusiasm for the next big tv series.

Global organisations are taking the characters we love, giving them a commercial rub down and booting them in to movies of varying style and substance. As many of my friends (or 'comics lifers' as I like to call them) we are dubious of this bubble and when it is going to burst.

''Cappuccino Comics....'

So. Let's do something that we are often rubbish at doing and plan for the future. Let's plan for when the funkos and pencil case money grabbers back away. Let's plan to make popular and well crafted comics that will support this creative and splendid industry.

So, who do we look to? Who do we pay attention to? May I make a suggestion? This may be either completely groundbreaking (if you are an ignoramus) or the obvious choice (if you have a regular sized brain or better). Let's turn to those editors, writers, artists, letterers and professionals who have succeeded in the past in turning the industry round.

First on that list for me would be Pat Mills. Often called the 'Godfather of British Comics' he remains a veteran with more passion for the medium than a busload of millennials. And if you want an education on how comics can be both good and popular (no that isn't a swear word) then I couldn't recommend his new book more highly. If you have seen or heard Pat give an interview then you can hear the enthusiasm in his voice as he reads this book aloud. A passion for the UK comics scene that is unmatched. Eloquent and knowledgable, this book will knock your teeth out!

Of course we learn from our mistakes and the advice of our elders. Those who fail to get advice are very rarely heard of again. Pat came from the publishing world of the 1970s. Comics creators worked on word counts and thinly fleshed out and generic characters. What Pat did, along with John Wagner, Alan Grant, Kevin O'Neill and others was turn the industry on it's head by connecting with the feel of a nation. Action and followed by 2000AD where turning points in both comics culture and the society they reflected. They dared to have a frenetic hard edged pace and added to it a violently satirical narrative.

When Frank Bough ripped up a copy of Action on the BBC you knew there was a shift happening. Comics were changing and keeping up with the rebellious punk nature of the times. This book is a goldmine of advice. Read it and learn. It is also full of anecdotes that I will guarantee to have you chuckling. On the 2000AD Thrillpower documentary Pat let rip. Hilariously and with authority this book is very much in the same vein. As you read you can see that wry smile on his face and his eloquently energetic style. Pat and those other faces of the time were brave enough to rip up more than a single issue, they changed comics in ways that we all know are still felt here and in America.

This is also a book that is clearly an honest account. Falling between an account and a memoir it will open your eyes to a lot of the shennanigans from 2000AD's rich and long history. A forty years that hasn't always been plain sailing and Pat covers both the good and the bad times. A book that never holds back and a book that will also instruct us how and why comics are made.

'Paddy McGinty's Goat.....'

The story starts in that garden shed in Scotland that Pat and John Wagner shared and moves through to the London of the swinging 1970s when word count was King. The early pages are full of anecdotes about such comics as Hotspur, Valiant, Tammy, Cor!! and and Lion. We hear about individual stories like 'Yellowknife of the Yard', 'Cinderella Spiteful' and 'Boo Peter' (a parody of Blue Peter). Pat compares the comics 'Factory system' of the time as similar to the street scenes in Metropolis. Heads down, working long hours and enslaved by and uncaring overlord.

'Who or what is Judge Dredd.'

When it came to 2000AD this new comic idea fought through some not insubstantial nay sayers to be born with some incredible ideas, art and stories. Laid out her in detail and with no small amount of energy are the early origins of all our favourites. Most especially is the birth of Dredd, a lawman who is now etched iconically into our social and cultural memories he had some significant birthing pains himself. The sculpting and nurturing of the idea is mesmerising and, as far as I know, never gone in to with such detail. Originally envisaged as a parallel to England's last hanging judge and gifted the name of a reggae band of the time this police officer was to undergo some significant reimagining on the run up to Prog 2 and finally his first appearance. 

''Spanish pirate....'

From there Pat covers all the major and original 2000AD characters and how they began. Flesh, Harlem Heroes, M.A.C.H.1, Ro-Busters, Invasion, A.B.C. Warriors..... the list goes on and on. We begin to understand the landscape of the times and reflect upon why and how it has changed. Why one character is popular and one isn't can come down to a number of intriguing factors that I will let you read the book to understand. The section on the creation of Nemesis and Torquemada is delved deeply into, a history that I share with Pat in no small way. What is considered to be by many the Prog's greatest creation has a heartbreaking origin full of abuse and cruelty. You can hear the sadness and honesty in the text when Pat says;

''Nemesis the Warlock was my catharsis. It was my poetry.'

We also hear some excellent stories of those characters who were and still are intrinsic to the scene both in the 1970s and up to and in this more modern period. Creators like Doug Church, Gerry Finley-Day, Tony Skinner, Leo Baxendale, Simon Bisley, Neil Gaiman, Jenny McDade, Alan Moore, Matt Smith and many, many more. Pat champions those that the history books seem to have ignored and talks really touchingly about friends and colleagues over the years. (The Tony Skinner section is worth the cover price all on it's own.) The sometimes fractious relationship between the editor and the creators and the writer and the artist is both telling, shocking and on occasion eye brow liftingly intriguing. (Who were those night time calls from?) 

The narrative doesn't limit itself to the Prog but also to titles that followed. We get the history of Misty, Toxic! and a personal favourite of mine Crisis. Runs that were without a doubt groundbreaking in story and business approaches. Examples to learn from indeed. 

'2000AD was my first experience of fandom.'

Pat makes it clear in all his interviews and especially in this book that he considers the voice of the reader to be very important and also a factor in the creative process. Strips would survive or fail based on readership. He even calls a later chapter 'You are 2000AD.' But what he does do is point out that there is a difference between the average reader who picked a title up in a newsagents to the growth of fandom. An interesting distinction that is explored sensibly.  What this book also does is print the odd letter from fans. I absolutely loved this touch. Letters and emails that Pat has kept for years shows how much this writer cares for those that enjoy and are affected in some way by what he writes.

Yes, I can see that this book will ruffle a few feathers. Would I want it any other way? No, not at all. The history is laid bare by one of the few who knows the truth and more importantly can show us the way forward. I suspect that there will be a few who will turn the pages with trepidation. There have been some mistakes made over the years (Slaine in The Phoenix anyone??) and some creative milestones. All are dealt with unflinchingly. Sharp and Punchy. Bloody Class!

I was mean't to be reading this book with an eye on writing a review but it was so enthralling that I kept forgetting to take notes!!!

If you enjoy British comics, love the characters that they have produced and want to hear some home grown truths then this is the book for you. I read it in a day, and have returned to it a couple more times since. You'll be hard pressed to find a book so revealing.

Now where is that hard copy? I need one for my shelf.

Grab yourself a copy here 

Or follow Pat on Twitter @PatMillsComics or pop over to for details of a physical release and of other books released or in the works.

Edited by the fab Lisa Mills who can be found on Twitter @feistycuffs71

Many thanks for reading.

PS 'MEKOMANIA' When and how!!????

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Anyone fancy a round? 'Fantasy Sports 3' goes all golfy!

'Fantasy Sports 3: The green King.'
Created by Sam Bosma.
Published by NoBrow Publishing
ISBN: 9781910620182 | 300 x 215mm | 64pp | HB

'Wiz and Mug become separated after washing up on the shores of a gothic castle town, where a monstrous beast has taken over King’s lands and left the people to starve. Wiz breaks into the beast’s castle and finds herself thrown into a game of supernatural mini golf. Can she win the game and escape with her life? Meanwhile, Mug uncovers the sinister truth behind the Order of Mages…'

The Review - Have you ever played golf? I have to admit that I never have. But, if you thought that it was a bit of a boring sport that over the hill comedians and television celebrities played after reading Fantasy Sports 3 you may have to reassess your views on the subject. I for one would watch a lot more golf on the TV if it involved demon kings, graveyards, water monsters and animated mystical knights who guard the putting greens.

I was over the moon that Sam Bosma's series is back on the shelves. I have loved the first two that pitted our heroes against monsters who played basketball and beach volleyball so I was wondering what he could do with a game as slow as golf? What you get is another edge of your seat sports match but in this episode Sam elaborates on the mysterious back story of Mug and Wiz. Whilst Wiz tries her best with a putting wedge and a nine iron Mug gets told a few home truths about the Arch Mage.

The art is once again a masterpiece of pacing. You can see the kinetic full throttle Manga influences in Sam's work. It's a huge compliment to say about Sam's style that on some occasions it's difficult to read and turn the pages fast enough. The energy of this series is off the scale and after one read I'll guarantee that you'll head back to see what Easter Eggs you missed.

'I yoinked ye from the ocean and so ye must grant me one wish....'

It's also a very funny book. Mug and Wiz are now the perfect double act. They have grown into a hilarious pair of investigators rather than the mismatched wizards thrown together in the opening chapter. Sam introduces gallons of spiky character quirks into the speech of everyone on display. You see that they have a simple and often funny appearance but dive a little deeper and there is an underlying menace and darkness in many of them. The acceleration of the conspiracy theory behind these fun adventures has me really hoping that we don't have to wait long for the next installment. Don't skip to the last page but we might get some answers very soon....

Genuinely folks, this is a book that you need to own. This series is read as soon as it arrives through the letterbox and will put a smile on your face every time. Volume 4 soon please!

Sam Bosma was born in Chagrin Falls, Ohio and grew up in Pennsylvania. Having graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2009, he stayed on to teach in the Illustration Department from 2011-2013 before moving to Brooklyn, NY, where he lives now. His work has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles and internationally and he has been recognised by Spectrum, American Illustration and the Society of Illustrators. He won a Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators in the Institutional category, as well as a Gold Award from Spectrum in 2013. When he isn’t making comics and graphic novels of his own, Sam does background drawings for Steven Universe on Cartoon Network and has had illustrations appear in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly and other magazines. Find out more about him at his Tumblr page here or follow him on Twitter here.

Many thanks for reading.