Sunday, 17 September 2017

In Preview - 'Geis: A Game Without Rules' by Alexis Deacon.

Geis Book 2: A Game Without Rules.

Created by Alexis Deacon.

Published by NoBrow - 120 pages - full colour - £15.99.

The Story - 'The second test has begun. Contenders for the new chief find themselves divided against their will and flung into a dangerous game. While the struggle for power continues, Io and Nemas battle with their own identities.... but when allies are turned against one another, who can be trusted.' 

'Geis, pronounced gesh, is a Gaelic word for a taboo or a curse. When a geis is placed upon you, it is like a spell that cannot be broken and certain rules must be obeyed. You might be prohibited from trampling mushrooms, for example, or from sitting down on the stairs. If you ignore or break a geis the consequences are dire.

But a geis is always broken.

As soon as it is spoken or written, your fate is set.'

The Review - This is one of those series that I am confused why everyone isn't falling over themselves to talk about. Volume 1 (Geis: A Matter of Life and Death) came out last year and was a beautiful telling of the journey of competitors to reach the castle. They were competing to become the chief. To rule the kingdom. It was a competition set by magician politicians. A mystery box was opened and we rushed to see how it would unfold.

Volume two takes place almost entirely within the walls of the city/castle. It is a game of wit and manipulation. At it's heart it is magical folklore tale with some of the most beautiful visuals you will find in quite a while. It is also not a short read. 120 pages are packed with multiple panels and for a 'Game Without Rules' this has a claustrophobic nightmarish quality where things happen, unexpected and violent things that have a twisted logic to them. It is a gorgeous riddle that keeps you searching and theorising the solution.

Volume 2 also sees the various roles of the players fleshed out. They are never purely the scientist or the magician or the heroine or the soldier of the wizard. You see Deacon subvert the classical folklore and fantasy roles beyond the ordinary. The race for the crown and often just a race to survive have the contestants change and develop before the eyes of the reader. Deacon adds a huge range of character and emotion to the players beyond what you often see elsewhere in a fantasy story.

Like all good fairy tales it mixes the fantastical with the cruel. You genuinely have no idea as to who will survive at every turn of the page. It also speaks to the class system in a (small 'p') political style. The rich are not just idiots but do display the pomposity of their positions and those below stairs are more practical. Whilst above and out of reach are the meddling magicians who watch and wait and prod and survey the chaos they have created. Clever stuff indeed.

'The will that shapes the world.'

It is of course broad politics laid out on a folklore stage. It plays about with role and destiny and the games those in power often play. Isn't all power play and manipulation the art of guiding us through a narrow line of food and famine, life and death, power and weakness? This is a jigsaw for the reader to push in to place. One that I enjoyed watching fall apart and then again gain direction time and again over and over. This is done with a marvellous flourish and a bag full of darkness. 

The art is outstanding to say the least. It has a pastel feel to much of the backdrops with a great sense of colour and depth as you move through the halls, stairways, libraries, throne rooms and corridors of this maze of a city. Deacon packs many panels to a page and then opens the world up with some extraordinary splash pages. He has a sense of the urgent in the movement and a great sense of light and darkness. The light through windows and the shadows of the interiors are used to great effect throughout.

I won't spoil the cut and thrust of the story (insert smiley face here for the slower people who didn't see what a hint that was) but this is a volume that really packs some story punch. It is done with some excellent story beats and is in no way a quick read. I highly recommend you taking your time on it and read it slowly and in chunks to get the full impact.

'It's blood and poison out there.'

This is the second in the proposed three volume series and will be released from NoBrow Press on the 30th of September 2017. You can pre order your copy here

Follow NoBrow on Twitter @NobrowPress

You can find more about the creator at his Blog 

This is a fucking glorious series. I relished every single panel on every page in a way you don't generally with other comics. Seriously! You need this on your shelf. And at a price point of £15.99 0r $18.95 for a hadback it is hard to argue.

Many thanks for reading and I apologise for the crude language.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

In Review - 'Dalston Monsterzz' by Dilraj Mann

Dalston Monsterzz

Created by Dilraj Mann.
Published by NoBrow.
Oversized hardback format - Full Colour - 76 pages - £14.99.

'For years, Dalston has been home to monsters - not just the property developers who own the area. Out of the holes dug for new blocks of flats, huge beasts began to emerge. Gangs formed, territorial battles ensued... and now two friends must fight for their lives as they discover the true depths of Dalston's darkest secret.

Dilraj Mann's debut graphic novel explores friendship and corruption in an alternative vision of East London.'

I had the pleasure of chatting to Dilraj at the East London Comics Art Festival in 2016. He told me about his grand plans for this book and I've been looking forward to seeing what would be published since. I don't feel that I was let down in any way. This is a ruddy wonder of a book. It mixes the urban drama genre with the fantastical in a clever and beautiful execution of a comic!

Let's start with that cover! If you are looking to create an eye catching, bright encapsulation of a story in one image then this is where to look. The title on the left with the vertical horizontal yellow stripe and black lettering is striking and draws your eye. Next to it is a multiple person image that shows both the fantastic Manga meets Charles Burns stylistic art and the visual representation of an unfolding urban fable. If this doesn't catch your eye on a comic or bookshelf I'd check your pulse as you may be dead from the waist up...

The interiors are as good. They are retina burningly iconic in their individual and thoroughly consistent methodology. They have got a pace and a character that reflects an urgency of young and troubled city dwellers. The book opens with a fun moped vs car chase from the off. A chase that not only sets the stage visually but also sets up character and narrative. I sense a strong editorial hand on a stripped down to the bone story that reveals and extrapolates at perfect timings.

I'm an old fart. It's plain. I have to admit that I didn't like any of the characters on a personal level. But I don't think I am mean't to because walking through Dalston in real life London I doubt I would then either. Roshan, Kay and even Lolly are formulated to be real and not endearing. To say that this is 'Kidulthood' meets 'Monsters' is an over simplification. This gets into the guts of more about life in London and seems to me to have a hard reality playing alongside the fantastical elements. The voices are grounded and spell out the day-to-day lives of the kids involved (especially in the first act).

I'm typing much of this as I read this volume. Around half way through the book you begin to realise that Mann is a clever fucker. He's created this world and placed the players where they should be, he's then began to weave the story beyond what I expected. He is creating an enduring hero and a splendidly fleshed out world. It has all the hallmarks of the start of a series. It also has a cheeky sense of style and humour. There's a snark and flourish to the words spoken and the designs on show.

There is much more coming I sense. This landscape of hipster street markets and tower blocks has become the playground for something more akin to a saga with a deep running mystery at it's heart. I'm hoping as I read that this isn't a one and done graphic novel.... I will read on.

30 minutes later...

Right! I've just finished reading. I want to tell you what a fucking great ending this book has. The twists and the turns that you'll see on the page. The way that it will play with what you think you know about the story and characters and monsters and political games that are played. 

But I can't. I can't spoil this. It's something that you'll need to experience for yourself.

Just promise that when you have read the whole thing you'll go out and have a good shout about what you thought.

What I will say is that at £14.99 this is a solid gold steal! Every page is dynamite.

Buy a copy!

Find out more about the creator at or follow him on Twitter @dilraj_mann

You can find more great books over at the NoBrow website at

Or pop along to the book's release at Gosh Comics in London on Friday the 15th of September between 7 and 9pm.

Many thanks for reading.

Twenty-four hours later....

I showed this to a pal (he's not a big fan of comics or reading in general to think of it) who read it sitting next to me on a long drive and he said as follows...

'This is fucking great! It's like Pokemon meets The Warriors' (I kind of liked that one!)

Sunday, 10 September 2017

In Preview - 'Stir Fry' by Sarah Crosby.

Stir Fry.

Created by Sarah Crosby.

Published by Good Comics.

Black and White cover and interiors - £4.00 - 36 pages.

I've been reading quite a few books from Good Comics recently. They are getting quite the name for being an up and coming indie UK publisher and are much touted by Rich at Comic Printing UK.

'Stir Fry' by Sarah Crosby is one of three new releases that they will have at the upcoming Thoughtbubble Comics Festival in a couple of weeks. These also include 'SID' by Olivia Sullivan and 'New York (a holiday to remember)' from the wacky world of Elizabeth Querstret.

This is slightly different from the other releases in that it is a collection of three stories that are split up into chapters throughout the comic's pages. All of these have a dark and irregular sense of humour and turn of phrase. The creator chooses some very weird situations to examine. One example is the search of a common house fly looking for something to eat.

'Never have I seen such exquisite beauty!.... His stench, such a pungent aroma! I feel a stirring beneath my wings. We will meet soon my love.'

The fly sees a middle aged and pot bellied man laying out on a lounger in his garden sweltering in the sun. The fly falls in love with this sweaty man!

Another story, and possibly my favourite, is about a train carriage full of passengers. A baby is screaming it's lungs out and annoying those nearby. The passengers summon the Devil (obviously) who appears in his pants apologising about rushing when he was called (beware his satanic bum crack by the way). Sarah takes the story beyond what you would expect and does so with hilariously dark results.

There is some genuine originality on show here. It is a delight to thumb through. It has the initial feel that you are reading a UK small press title but takes you on a ride worthy of comics like 'Creepy' and 'Eerie' or 'House of Mystery'.   

The art is well constructed and you are never at a loss figuring out who is who. It has a comedic style with slightly caricatured faces and situations but never to the point of shouting about it. Faces are comically intense and full of expression.

I had real fun with this one and I would put it at the top of Good Comics' output so far. 

A small problem would be that it seemed too short. As a collection I would loved to have seen more. 

But for content this is highly recommended. Give it a go.

You can find more out about Sarah at and on Twitter @DI_Kittypants

Head over to Good Comics and grab some of their titles at and find them on Twitter @Good_Comics

Many thanks for reading.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

In Preview - 'Self-Care & Vegetables' by Rozi Hathaway.

'Self-Care & Vegetables'

Created by Rozi Hathaway.

Black and white - 40 pages - £3.00 - A6.

Currently available for preorder and to be released at the upcoming Thoughtbubble Comics Festival in Leeds on the 22nd - 24th of September.

Story - This is a comic about a break up and the implications felt by one side of the partnership. From the practical implications to the emotional complications.

The Review - This is described by Rozi on her etsy store as an 'Autobiographical Break Up Zine'. I have a lot to weigh up in describing a book and this review is based on my personal feelings about what I have been sent in preview.

I have read it a couple of times now and it has played on my mind as to whether or not I should present a review. Here are some of the questions I have been asking myself. These are my opinions and I note that they are only relevant to myself. You may have a different opinion.

 (Yes I understand that it is presented as a 'zine' in the advert but in messages to me Rozi herself has described it as a 'comic')

Does this comic go deep enough? Is it an explanation, a confession and/or a peek into the life and thoughts of the creator? Does it give insight? Does it educate or cause enjoyment? Does it work as a comic? Is the art pleasing? Do the words echo? Is it an improvement on that moment in the day? Does it educate and enlighten? Does it get you thinking and/or examining?

Is this enough as a piece of art?

It is by depth, length and time, enough?

Would I buy it? Would others like it?

Is it worth the price?

Does it provide help to others? Does it provide places that people suffering the same problems can go to? (Sadly it does not).

I have been questioning what I am doing here. Do I review this book that has left me a little frustrated and a little confused as to why it is offered for sale.

I understand that strong emotions and difficult situations can and have been used to create art of all kinds. I also understand that interweaving real life and autobiography is a type of comic that can be interesting to those not involved with the described situation. Some of my favourite comics are autobiographical and so-called Slice of Life. But the events must be given texture and depth. They must have something that makes them interesting or enlightening to read about. 

I feel for Rozi. Splitting up with a partner and suffering anxiety is not easy to deal with. But in my opinion a comic about that situation needs more to its pages than we get here.  This comic is in my opinion under realised. It appears to a stranger looking in like a lot of blank pages and some scattershot sketches. It looks like a couple of doodles in a sketchbook with scant interlocking prose. The cover feels like minimalism is an excuse, it's attempt to look like a diary or notebook scribble doesn't work in my opinion. I would personally have loved to see much more art.

This is a shame as I rank Rozi as a really interesting creator and her last few books are up there with some of my personal favourites this year. But this needs more. More depth and more of the beautiful art I am now used to seeing from her. What there is looks like a good start to me, albeit a little rushed and under rendered. I would like a bigger bite at everything she touches upon, she and the reader deserve more of a try.

But that is just my opinion. What do I know.

If this is something that is more to your taste you can go to to get a copy. I highly recommend Rozi's recent release 'Cosmos and Other Stories'. Her etsy store can be found at

You can also follow her on Twitter @angelsallfire

Many thanks for reading.

A Few Thoughts On 'The Human Beings' issue 3.

The Human Beings - issue 3.

Created by SJ McCuune.

Published by Millicent Barnes Comics - 24 pages - full colour.

Sometimes I like to get a press release. Often they are a handy explanation of a plot and a history of the creator or creators. It is an easy short cut when you are posting a review or a preview. With anything by SJ McCune I would never read a press release and I am glad that he never sends one or would consider he has a work that would or should be explained. The Human Beings is a story that is a four dimensional jigsaw puzzle. I read and reread issue 3 with a furrowed brow intent to work out the strands and pull them together. Some I catch, some I wonder if they are just my interpretation and some I will never find out. This is all part of the joy of reading a book that is written for clever people and in itself an experiment in art and it's transition into a real and palpable event.

This book is a mystery in so many ways in both traditional ways and ways that are freaking so out of the ordinary that your head will be reeling. It lays down mood and facts in equal measure that then entail you trying to be a mixture of Columbo and Jerry Cornelius (and much, much more) to work it out. A trans dimensional, creepy, whodunnit that moves between the most unsettling of worlds. I relish it appearing with every single instalment.

So, what is this series. Let's try and explain it in more simpler terms. It is an anthology of short stories. The stories range from horror, to sci-fi to biographical. They are none of that and all of that at once. This is also a series that is regularly Kickstarted by the creator. He has a a strong fan base and his work usually gets funded in less than twenty four hours - and rightly so. You know if you back one of his projects that you'll have it through your door or in you inbox promptly and with a mess of extra material.

The cover was an image that SJ teased early on in the process and shows how some hard shadows of the world crash into the light. Impenetrable in their darkness, hiding the truth. A cover that looks like a holiday snap crossed with an Argento movie still. It cunningly laid up the series to come and is echoed in a story called 'I am tomorrow' that appears towards the end of this issue. More on that in a second.

'They can both run, run, run .... and they should ... because this is my work now.'

I am trying not to spoil the story or the things that appear within the narrative that hint at other events. I want the reader to experience and extrapolate for themselves as that is where the joy exists in these comics. All the way through his previous series Monlogue and through this you sense something clever and knowing that will all be explained (maybe). 

'I just never notice myself'.

SJ plays with your reading experience. For example the story 'Windows' involves some unsettling visual imagery, some echoing words, some cute female friend interplay and some chatting backstage at a stripper bar. It is purposely counter intuitive yet playful. The peeled off strippers underwear for example shows a playfulness and may (maybe) have a revelation metaphor included. 

But... more than ever I sense the autobiographical crawl out from under the bed and look up at you. Comments on how 'jazz makes it easier' and the story 'I am tomorrow' where a man walks through sunny streets with the phantoms of his past all around him make me think we are seeing reflections of the creator everywhere in this comic. The strings are being pulled together, the world is unfolding and we will be shown the creative and real soul of this comic book maker. The last but one page also shows a painter as an easel. They are painting the face of a character in the story...... perhaps I should have been a detective? 

But then again I could be way off the mark....

'I walk out amoung them, among Human Beings and I remain a phantom.'

(Notice the capital letters in that line of dialogue.... he is his story.)

More!!! Now!!!

Buy this comic at and follow SJ on Twitter @StuartMcCune

Many thanks for reading.

Monday, 4 September 2017

In Preview - 'FLD' from Bob Turner.


FLD (Flood) Created by Bob Turner.

24 pages - Full Colour.

Remove the vowels and then it becomes a spell that will pull you down and under.

This book opens on a single drop of water splashing down and becoming part of the sea. We then watch a fish jump out of the water and seemingly swallow the world that hangs above it in the sky.

Once again Mr Turner twists our perceptions and toys with our emotions. He is at once playfully cruel and bright and colourfully imaginative in the short stories that he pulls you along on.

FLD returns us to our friend with the big old eyeball for a head. Under the covers in bed asleep he blinks with surprise awake and heads outdoors to see that the rain is coming down in bucketloads. With a boat to hand he loads his purple little blobby dog thing into the boat and heads out on the swelling seas. Will they survive? Will they find high ground? 

I have really enjoyed Bob's books and this is perhaps my favourite so far. It has less of the chasing that went on in his previous series DTHRTL, maybe less of the frenetic urgency? This is more of a legendary journey across sometimes angry and sometimes calm seas.

I watch and allow the movement and images to wash over me and I'm also carried along on the waves of the beautifully simplistic tale. It becomes a tranquil moment in my morning as I read it in preparation of this review. It's transitions have me in a storytelling trance as I am fascinated by this little eyeball man and his ever so traumatic life. Mr Turner manages to emote more through this uncomplicated story and some incredible visuals than most manage with more hurried details.

Another highly recommended comics from this Edinburgh creator. Take a moment out of your day to enjoy his work.

Grab a copy of FLD or Bob's other comics at or follow him @castlerockcomic

Many thanks for reading.