Sunday, 26 November 2017

Comics Panels - THEY ARE FUN!!


Hi All,

Myself and Nick Prolix are running a weekly mailer. This is an article that caused a lot of conversation a moth ago when we ran it. In an effort to get a few more people on the list it is reprinted here for your pleasure.

Sign up over at www.tinyletter.com/cockneykungfu

Enjoy.

An Idiot's Guide for Running a Comics Panel.

Yes. I'm not an expert. Who of us is? I've moderated around forty panels in the last five or six years at various venues and also over the last thirty something years attended hundreds. Even when you have a great guest they can be a gamble as to whether they are engaging or even just plain interesting.

Here are just a few things that have occurred to me over the last year or so.. Take 'em or leave 'em. I don't have a Scooby Doo what I'm talking about at the best of times...



A panel is at it's heart a communication between the moderator and the guests and also communication between the guests with each other. There is a definite energy in the room that you have to work off. Email the guests at least a day before with a couple of sample questions and ask them if there's anything they'd like to cover. I've opened group DMs on Twitter in the past so they can get to know each other beforehand.

I would suggest that as people wait for it to start that you update them. 'We'll be getting started in five minutes or so, later I'll be asking for questions from the audience'. That sort of thing settles people down. Panels rarely start on time as people are late, the mics don't work, people are chatting. Be relaxed, it's all good.

I love comics and I try to get that across. I smile and joke and try to get over what should be a fun event for those attending and appearing. But when you are standing out there trying to extract answers from some guests you have two pieces of armour:

1. Research. Know who you have on your panel. What they have worked on, what they are working on now (and most importantly) what they have coming up and if they can talk about them. Make sure you have read their work as they'll often throw a couple of tests your way.

2. Prepare more than the number of questions you think you'll need. It's a cold hard and uncomfortable silence if you are standing in front of a crowd lost for words. Allow these questions to head off in a couple of directions if required. I like to throw the odd fun one in there if the mood needs lifting. ('If you could draw a celebrity into a story who would it be and why? or 'Who would you love to see X beat the crap out of? - that sort of thing).


Keep the energy levels high. Some people love the sound of their voice. Some think that they are the only person who knows what they are talking about. And, let's face it, some people are just plain unfunny and not very charismatic. I'm a great believer in the host being on their feet. The focus of the audience should be on the people they have come to see and the host usually isn't the draw for them (although some think that they are the celebrities - lost in a Keith Lemon like malaise of deluded belief that they are liked and admired).

I love talking about comics and with the right guest you can get them all stirred up by asking about their influences. If they bite you'll all get lost in their nostalgic memories of comics and creators they loved and admired growing up.  It's a good little tip to get the juices flowing.

Comics professionals whilst normally great company can sometimes be a strange and occasionally obtuse bunch. I have witnessed a few who make use of arrogance and pomposity to hide their lack of social ability or just plain absence of confidence. One artist I recently interviewed could literally suck the air out of a room from the very start.  But, and this can be a hard pill to swallow on occasion, try and remain positive. I watched a car crash of a panel a few years ago where the guests were just plain rude to the moderator and kept ignoring the questions and holding their book up to show the audience. My advice would have been to move on to future projects at that point and then arc back to what you wanted to originally talk about ten minutes later..


When manoeuvring around your discussion it's also a good tip to let them promote (but not over promote) a favourite or current project/kickstarter they have. This little tickle on their ballsacks (other parts are available) is often enough to get them enthusiastic about other areas of the conversation.

If you have a number of guests on the same panel then don't just ask the same question down the line. Ask it from different angles depending on who is next up to answer. On a recent panel about 'Breaking Into Comics' I asked what tips they might have. One of the guests is an editor so I switched the inquiry to his field of work when we reached him to 'As an editor what tips do you give when you view a portfolio?' It keeps the audience engaged and stops guests trotting out prepared statements. Bump onwards between the guests, jump around between the order you ask the questions.

Different types of panels and approaches apply for different events. Who are the audience. High Brow? Some people love the 'influence' question and swim in a sea of 'the more obscure the reference the cooler you are'. Watch out for fake french accents and indie darlings.


Hardcore fans? Be afraid. When I have run 2000 AD type panels the fans are ferocious. You get something wrong or show any form of weakness they're on you like a pack of jackals. Chewing you up, spitting you out and chuckling as they do it.

Family audience? No swearing! (I find this difficult) Parents are actually quite forgiving but that doesn't stop me feeling mortified when I let the odd bomb slip.

Small Press? In my experience attendees at these events will quite often know the speakers and be there to support them. That's something you can play on by offering more than the usual amount of questions to the audience.

Spotlight panels can be fun but will drill down into the subject a little bit more than is asked for by your average convention punter. These panels are generally personality specific and require a lot of research. I was lucky enough to be asked to run the 'Pat Mills Spotlight' panel at the 2000AD 40th Anniversay Event. You really have to be an expert for these. Do loads of research and try if possible to watch/listen/read their other previous (especially recent) interviews. Try and offer something that these have not.

Don't make the questions obvious. I co-chaired a panel a couple of years ago and the other host wanted to ask 'Where do you get your ideas from?' (yes, seriously). Ruminate a little on what you think will work and keep notes. Hone down some of the more insightful stuff, showing that attention to the details will help with the answers.


This is very important. Make the questions short. Long questions are both boring and often designed for the interviewer to show how supposedly intelligent he/she thinks they are. The guest will also lose track. There's nothing worse than hearing a loooong question to which the guest (thinking they are hilarious) answers it with a 'No' or 'Yeah' or even a 'Sorry, what was the question?'


Let the guest talk about subjects they feel comfortable with. Probe their answers and discuss what they are aiming at. But don't look for that bit of dirt ('So, why did you try and kill Jim Shooter?) that will only accomplish the panel getting mentioned on Bleeding Cool (and nobody wants that).

Above all make it an event that everyone in the room will enjoy (including you). I don't get paid for these but really enjoy running them. There's nothing better also when you get a 'thanks dude' from an audience member.

Many thanks for reading.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

In Review - 'Dog Days' by Anja Dahle Overbye.



DOG DAYS.

Created by Anja Dahle Overbye.

Published in the UK by Centrala Books.

72 pages - Black and White interiors - £9.00.

The Story - This book draws inspiration from North-Western Norway where the creator grew up. 'Dog Days' is a phenomenon that takes place in the late summer. According to folklore this is a period that is especially hot, muck floats to the surface of the water, the food goes bad and dogs are more prone to go mad. It is during this period that the reader meets Anne, who is mid-way between her childhood and the dawning of adolescence. It is the stifling hot weather that affects her relationships with both her friends and her family.

Anne's best friend Marielle wants to hang out with the slightly older Carrie. When the two of them strike up a friendship Anne is left out. She is too young to make new friends at the youth club and too restless to find anything else worth doing that summer. What will happen to Anne during these Dog Days....'



The Review - I've reviewed a few of Centrala's books during the last few years and enjoyed them all. From the soaring urban beauty of 'Chernobyl - The Zone'. http://downthetubes.net/?p=29547 To the nutty artistic experimentation of 'Old Farts' http://downthetubes.net/?p=37474 What I have found out during my investigation of their titles is that they produce some weird-ass comics, weird enough to fit in nowhere that is currently going on in the UK scene. And for this fact I await the release of each of their books with high interest. And to a forty-something English man this book is one of the weirder reads.

'Erm, well, I'm going to meet Carrie tomorrow too. She's a bit older than you, so it's maybe not much fun for you if you come along? I'll call you later.'

But weird is good right? Weird can open your eyes to the plight and circumstances of people and events that had never and probably never would occur to you without the intervention of fiction and in this case black and white biographical comics. This is a book about girls in Norway. I, sadly, have never visited Norway. But I was once the same age as Anne, Marielle and Carrie. I experienced the pains of growing up and apart from what you knew or thought you knew. We have all experienced the cruelty of teenagers to each other. This is a book that explores the problems of adolescence and the anxiety and loneliness of the individual at that age. The sweeping wave of nasty jokes and taking sides and wanting just to belong echo on almost every page. One particular sequence where Anne is climbing up a hill and keeps being hit with a branch by the other girls is particularly heartbreaking. She refuses to be put off and you can see that she wants to be their friend no matter what. At certain points I found the cruel jibes hard to read as they seemingly became the first act in a horror movie where you expect a creature would arrive and exact revenge on those bullies. This of course never happens but you do feel a creepingly sickening mood affecting all those in contact with the girls. 

An awakening and realisation comes to the characters in all manner of ways. They experience the death of a neighbour, the creepy and possibly abusive advances of a sunbathing man and the chance of failure. This is a book with depth and realism. I found it affecting and disconcerting.

The art has a pencil like quality to its quirky and almost amateurish panels. This is purposeful and allows for the connection with the young and inexperienced characters portrayed in the pages. This comic won the Norweigan Comic of the Year Awards in 2016 and I can see why.

One small niggle would be the lack of flow in places to the conversation and it's translation. It loses a little of the nuance in the snark through some obvious short-cuts. In a way this adds to the other worldly quality to how the girls speak but I would have liked it to feel a little more naturalistic in places. 

It is a book I suggest that you explore if you are brave enough....

Find more out about Centrala at www.centrala.or.uk and on Twitter @icentrala

Many thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

In Review - 'white.NOIR' issue 1.



White. NOIR - issue 1.

Written by Matt Garvey.
Art by Dizevez.

Self Published. Full Colour.

The Story - A man wakes up in a crashed car that has apparently veered off the highway and hit a stag. You can tell that it has his this animal as it is sticking out of the windscreen. This man walks through the snow and cold to a local town. Once there he collapses and is cared for in a bar by the plaid shirt wearing locals. They call the sheriff and things get a little more complicated.



The Review - I was chatting to Matt recently over a coffee and he told me that this is a story that he has been wanting to write for a while. He had an image of a man coming to in a car with a stag's antlers sticking in through the windscreen and after working with artist Dizevez decided he had found the perfect person to carry out the art duties.

Straight out the bag I am taken by the cover. Simple and iconic but also hints at story and mood. This is probably the best cover I have seen in the small press scene for ages. A round of applause for whoever designed that beauty. Take note Small Press!

This is a story that follows the rules of Noir. Nobody is purely a hero or a villain, the sheriff has his own selfish agenda and as it turns out there is a beautiful woman who sets many of the events in motion. Matt dwells within the snowy visuals for just the right amount of time for the art to breathe on you and chill your bones. That long walk to a local town is dealt with beautifully and results in a look up at a blood red sky as the protagonist reaches the town sign. Matt is playing well in this duplicitous thriller sandpit it occurred to me when I saw that stunning visual. This is a story with both style and depth.



The scenes that deal with the flashback are mostly dealt with in black and white and at moments seem a little bit too washed out for my tastes. The use of narrative relevant splashes of colour however jump starts you out of the lack of richness in the visuals. I say this but need to point out that the very last page of this first issue is brilliantly realised and the use of facial acting is about the best you will see in comics, outstanding show-not-tell by the writer and the artist. I am treading very carefully here as not to spoil some of the story beats. 

This is also a first issue that has a lot of story packed in yet never seems overly rushed. Moments are left to ruminate and give weight to them. There is much to ponder and dwell on in this first outing.



I have read all of Matt's comics up until this point (I may even have written a cheeky intro to a collected hardback edition he put out last year) and I think this is the best written of the bunch (although I do have a soft spot for his series 'Chunks'). This falls squarely in the Ed Brubaker / Sean Phillips style of storytelling and for that I loved it and cannot wait to see the next issue.

Hurry up! I want to see where this goes....

Find more out at www.mattgarvey.co.uk or follow him on Twitter @MattGarvey1981

Look at some more art from Dizevez at www.dizevez.tumblr.com or follow her on Twitter @DIZEVEZ

Many thanks for reading.

Monday, 20 November 2017

A Comic Cover.


A Comic Cover.

One of the most popular Pods we have done recently was the episode about comics covers. So I thought that I would choose a cover and talk about it. I chose the cover to The Invaders Vol 1 issue 11.

I find the idea of a comic cover a fascinating subject in our little hobby. It acts as an advert, a sales pitch and an object of art all in one go. You get one go at selling the insides of a comic through what is displayed in (usually) one image on the front of the comic. It's that combination of art and sell, sell, sell that is an interesting crossroads. In many ways it stops us comics fans getting too pompous with our art snobbery. Especially back when this was produced 

I decided to take the plunge and try to explain to him why I liked a certain cover. What measurements should I use in my explanation? Art is completely subjective so how do I measure my love for something? The cover I have chosen is from Invaders issue 11. A comic that was printed and released just prior to December 1976 and features an image by Jack Kirby.

Ah... Jack Kirby. One tick.

Kirby is up there for me. I suppose it's his dynamism that really catches me. That image of the villain on the cover, swooping in a completely illogical way through a wartime hospital ward. All the story is squeezed into one page.

It features Captain America, Bucky and the Sub-Mariner. All classic Marvel characters. That gets it a second tick.

Marvel remains my favourite company. And the so-called Bronze Age is my favourite period. A time of weirdness and experimentation. This new at the time series had Nazi Vampires and reanimated Norse gods. I saw it as the Avengers with some added crazy based in WW2. The fact that the series also often featured a British hero called Union Jack was also a big draw to this London born and bred fan.

So, what am I really saying here. Nostalgia I suppose. It's an easy go to and never that simple. But one of the reasons that this cover came to mind was the good memories I had of it as a kid. Back in the 1970s we grew up reading comics. We didn't decide that it sounded like a cool hobby and get into reading them in our twenties (that is seemingly a modern crime!) Myself and my pals would all be reading Captain Britain or The Mighty World of Marvel and when we could get our hands on them we'd also read some American monthlies. One of my mum's pals lived nearby and her son was my age. I thought he was a bit of a wanker but at least we could both enjoy comics together. Then one day his mother decided she didn't want comics in the house and handed his collection on to me.

This included Invaders issue 11. I still have it. It is now scruffy and dog-eared and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Fucking glorious!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

In Review - 'Out of Nothing' - Daniel Locke with David Blandy.





Out of Nothing.

Created by Daniel Locke and David Blandy.

Foreword by Professor Brian Cox.

Full Colour - Hardback - 248 pages - £16.99.

The Story - 'Surreal sequences take us from Gutenberg's printing press to Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web, Grand Master Flash and more. Spanning millennia, this ambitious graphic novel explores humanity's inherent 'dreaming mind' and its impact on our world.'

It is also the story of a little blue-skinned alien girl who wanders through the events of time.....



The Review - I often ask a creator the question of why they choose a particular subject or period to make a comic about. It doesn't apply here because these two guys decided to make a comic about every time, both past present and future. This is a brick of a book. It is full of big ideas, the biggest in fact. And places us smack bang in the middle of those ideas as they formed. It is intelligent and thoughtful yet also colourfully fun and dreamlike.

'These humans are no longer just scurrying across the surface.... they are beginning to change it.'

Through the history of the Universe and Planet Earth in particular we see many events. We see the science of the creations and we see that comparable and inseparable to this science is the art of nature and of man. Through art we see the world around us and through the scientific developments of man we see the investigation of physics and biology and chemistry and in the intricate evolutionary designs we see the patterns of artistic beauty. This is a book that makes a whoosh as it pulls you down the time stream. From prehistoric fights with lions to drinking in a cafe in Paris to the sand clouds of Mars.
Out of Nothing makes use of time and space both in the narrative and in the style. Whole pages and sequences are allowed to develop in front of your eyes. We see the strands of DNA hang in the air, the lines of connectivity of the web, the clouds of a nuclear explosion and many, many more. I barely remember turning the pages as the scenes move along with intelligence combined with bright star fields telling us the history of the world and full colour comics.



Locke and Blandy use a guide. An otherworldly blue-skinned female child. She can seemingly go anywhere at any time. Each time jump is prefixed with her eyes opening to a scene. She finds herself in Mainz in 1450 in the workshop of Johannes Gutenberg or watching Braque and Picasso discussing art in the Paris of 1907 and then (in one of my favourite sequences) in the 1970s in New York City dancing to a funk DJ when the 'Get Down' hits. Through this alien girl we get both perspective and a wry winking humour. 

'When two human minds really connect, something truly powerful happens...'

The art is simplistic when it needs to be and then shifts gears and pacing to present more complicated images. The faces of the characters have an indie animation style to their often goggle eyed intensity but you are never at a loss to know who is who. At moments we can laugh at the ridiculousness of the human condition and some panels are played for both gravitas and laughs all at once. Don't think this is an overly serious book, it has big issues at it's heart but is done with a playfulness that makes you want to return to read a bit more.

On page 153 there is something that happens. History is given a little tiny nudge. It raised a smile......





I got to go last night to the launch party for this book at 'The Cube' in Shoreditch (many thanks to Zoe from NoBrow for inviting me) and got to spend some time with the two Daniels. They were both hugely excited about the book finally being released and spoke to me with grins on their faces about tackling such a big subject. They have been friends and comics creators since meeting at University. We spoke about the process of creating something and also the process of observing its formation, standing back and looking at what you have done. It wasn't lost on us all that being at a launch party is itself part of this chain of events.



They described their little blue-skinned guide as both a Muse to figures in history and also the aforementioned observer. She is the glue that holds their story together. She is also be great fun to write and draw.

When I was talking to these two guys I could see the passion they had for their project. They both spoke about the artistic process and their particular take on it with a refreshing thoughtfulness. I'll be looking for more from these guys from now on.



This was the last book launch of the year from Nobrow and yet another triumph. Geis, Dalston Monsterzz and now Out of Nothing. Bloody hell! How much better can their catalogue get? A big thanks to Sam, Zoe and Emma for keeping me in the loop and letting me see some of the best comics out there. Roll on 2018!

David Locke is an artist and graphic novelist based in Brighton. Much of his work has been informed and shaped by the discoveries of comtemporary science.

David Blandy is an artist who works with the image in the digital world; highlighting our relationship with popular culture and investigating what makes us who we are.

Find out more about this book and grab a copy at www.nobrow.net or follow them on Twitter @NobrowPress

Many thanks for reading.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

In Review - 'Mann's Best Friend' Sophie and Scarlett Rickard.

Mann's Best Friend.



Written by Sophie Rickard.
Art by Scarlett Rickard.

Published by Gluepot Books.

Full Colour 164 pages. £14.99.

The Story - Terry Mann has a dead-end job, a raft of mounting bills, an annoyingly needy sister and an inordinately large dog called Eric. One day whilst minding his own business at his office he is called in and suspended for a theft he claims that he did not commit.  He get's drunk and stupidly annoyed with Eric and does something he shouldn't have. 

What will come out of this spiders web of emotions and fraud....'



The Review - Occasionally I stumble across a book that hits a chord. A book that I want to shout about because it deserves a much wider audience. This is one of those books. I devoured it on a long train journey back from Wimbledon Comics Arts Festival last weekend. It's not a short read but I managed to read it without putting it down - a mark of quality in the Esmond household!

I am old now and past (mostly) blokeish posturing so I don't mind saying that I am a softie. I also a big fan of dogs. I have a dog and he wanders up to me when I get home every single day. I won't watch movies like 'Marley and Me' because I know I'll end up a gibbering mess. So when I met Sophie and Scarlet this weekend and they handed me this book I was straightaway onboard but as I read it my stomach was in knots. I was shouting at the book 'Don't do that!'



It's OK, it all ends up pretty much fine towards the end of the book (kind of) but it had me worried and invested and emotional and embroiled in this comic. It is genuinely compelling. The quintessentially English small-town characters are written with warmth and skill. The book works as a drama, a mystery and creeps up on you with a love story that is in places platonic and elsewhere romantic. People are people and that is perhaps the highest praise I have for both the writing and the art.

One of my favourite scenes is where a couple are chatting and a phone keeps ringing in front of them on the desk. They don't want to answer and the panels switch backwards and forwards to them talking and the screen of the phone. 'Mum' calls or Terry's boss and so on. This was written with some excellent pacing. It's easy to a certain extent to show a man punching someone or a spaceship crashing or a submarine surfacing but to keep that pace up and make it interesting in a scene just about a phone ringing and the implications of that small moment is really the sign of good writing and art.



Scarlet in the art department feels like an indie comics version of maybe Posy Simmonds with some of the more iconicly simple facial features of Scott McCloud. She works well with the intimate personal moments and also weaves in a landscape that you feel familiar with. A couple of the early pages seemed like she was trying to cram a bit too much into a panel but this soon shakes itself out to some beautiful spreads and a gorgeous double page spread towards the end that I would happily have on my wall at home. Just gorgeous stuff.

Come on Esmond.... stop blubbing....


But seriously. Buy this book. You'll love it.

Head over to www.GluepotBooks.com and follow these creators on Twitter @GluepotBooks

Many thanks for reading.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Never Cross a Stripper!

For those not signed up I thought I would repost a piece that got sent out on the Cockney Kung Fu mailer that myself and Nick Prolix slave over every week.

You cann sign up over at www.tinyletter.com/CockneyKungFu

Let uss know what you think...



I was recently at Notting Comic Convention chatting to Rachael Ball about her comics and she showed me an anthology that I had previously not seen. This was a book entitled Ye Olde Axe. She pointed out that it contained a story with the characters she used in one of my favourite books of the last year 'The Inflatable Woman' So I picked it up on an impulse.

It's actually a pretty darn good anthology. Rachael's work is always great and alongside hers you get a strip from Tim Hassan 'Royal Blue Finish' that looks and reads like a Charles Burns story and another favourite of mine for this volume is 'Feeding Time' written by Elena Jessup and art by David Hi Cooper that has a married couple pole dancing for a gaggle of strange aliens. 

Getting home I realised that it was an anthology that heavily featured the pub of the title. This is a pub with a rich yet slightly grubby  history. Situated at 69 Hackney Road in East London it is a Grade 2 listed building. The introduction to this anthology also tells me that in 1979 workmen discovered dead bodies buried underneath the basement.




It is situated in the Shoreditch area. You might know this is as the centre of the hipster world in London. An area of ironic hats, overly crafted beards, deluded artists and musicians spending mum and dad's inheritance and all the connected nonsense. (Just Google 'Rise of the Idiots' from the still brilliant TV series Nathan Barley and you will get a full dose of what I mean.) The pub is now a combination of gig venue, hipster hang-out and pound in the pot stripper bar for needy city gents.

When I visited this area in the early nineties it was an altogether different deal. Shoreditch in 91/92 was a crap-hole. There's no getting round it. I was living in inner city South London at the time and used to Brixton, Camberwell and Peckham but this East End flea-pit had an altogether different vibe. As you wandered the one-way system you saw all the junkies and prostitutes that you used to expect of the East End. But they were more in your face than anywhere else. I was there working with a colleague a couple of days a week and got to know the area pretty well.

Part of our day would take us to Ye Olde Axe and I got to know the manager and some of the staff quite well. For those that aren't acquainted with the etiquette of a London stripper pub here are a few pointers.

1. Act like it is a normal pub. Sit and drink and chat with your pals.

2. Take plenty of pound coins. 

3. Don't stare. There will be weirdos aplenty in there that have that locked down. 

4. A lady (normally) will strip in front of you, on the pool table, on the bar, or if you are in a more 'classy' establishment, on a stage with a pole.

5. One of the strippers will walk around with a pint glass and you put a pound in it. Even if you just walked in or 'wasn't watching' or 'in the loo' or 'about to leave' you still have to put money in the pot.

6. Never cross a stripper. They will cut you!



Back in the early 1990s this was a rough as fuck venue. I was quite fresh faced and in my best Marks and Sparks suit. I was prey. Strippers would play on my flushed face. My colleagues would chuckle at my naivety and slam me on the back and insist I buy the next round. I remember that there was one stripper, a slightly older lady who would be announced by whichever member of bar staff who could be bothered as 'The girl who was mean't to be here is late so the cleaning woman is gonna do a turn.' This stripper used the stage name 'Jo King' and would then strip whilst singing a Hilda Ogden inspired song. No doubt hilariously encouraged by my colleagues I got home one night much the worst for wear with a note in my pocket that read 'As long as you have a face, I'll want to sit on it x Jo King.' Different times I suppose.

One time a particularly tall and robust stripper asked to go to a swingers night with me. She said it was in a bar at the back of the High Street and that with me looking younger than most of the other men who go there I'd be sure to 'pull a good-looking bird.' Thankfully I declined and then some months later saw the aforementioned bar the centre of a News of the World scandal (with some eye-opening photos).

This pub was a strange combination of hardcore drinkers who were there mainly for the beer and some jaded strippers. It was a strange sight for me to see a lady literally putting it all on show to someone at a bar or at a table and the punter to be kind of not really bothered. At the time it seemed that these punters weren't looking away from some kind of embarrassment but rather through just having been there and seen 'that' most days of the week. I remember thinking 'Come on guys! She's really trying to dance. At least watch!'

I saw a fair share of fights in there, bottling and people being given a kicking for being too 'handsy'. The staff seemed in a strange way quite evenly handed. The strippers were offered protection, people crossed the line and felt the end of a boot because of it. Thankfully this wasn't my scene.

It was actually a surprise to see that the pub is still operating and seeing the anthology brought back some interesting memories. The world has moved on. Improved in some ways and driven itself to a sea of shite in others but some. Ye Olde Axe will go eventually. It represented a strange part of my life. 

Not sure you can still get a copy of this comic. It seemed to have been edited by Tim Hassan (I'm only guessing here). But if you ask him at www.inkstainstudios.co.uk you might be able to source a copy.

Many thanks for reading.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Preview - 'It's Cold In The River At Night' by Alex Potts.

'It's Cold In The River At Night.'

Created by Alex Potts.

Published by Avery Hill Publishing.

112 pages - Full Colour - £9.99.



The Story - 'Somewhere in an isolated area of Western Europe, Carl and Rita rent a house on stilts.

Due to the pressure of spending so much time in each other's company, cracks in their relationship start to appear. To relieve the pressure and secretly hoping to meet someone he can look up to who will take him on as an apprentice, Carl embrks on a search for the last remaining practitioner of an ancient local tradition. His quest brings him to a craftsman who is very different to the type of man he was hoping to find.' 



The Review - I think that it's a subconscious belief amongst the more neurotic members of the human race that it'll be the small things that will eventually destroy us. The petty jealousies, the crackpot delusions that we will one day be popular, successful or even likeable.

Alex Potts is a creator that I have now met a couple of times. He has that special type of laconic and dry humour that I enjoy. It's that type of humour that gloriously refuses to reveal itself to the stupid.

'It's Cold....' gives the reader an example of the small-minded and impractical adult man. A person that many of us fear that we have become. Alex transplants his story into a strange and unusual world of a house on stilts, over familiar landlord and an under appreciated girlfriend (maybe not that unusual then?). It has a logic of a supposed reality that is often only valuable through the life lessons and parallels it draws for us in the so-called modern and progressive world.



In saying that it tells us to grow up and buck up and in doing so is angrily and brilliantly obtuse. The spoilt modern and needy individual is laid bare in a joke of a man. We laugh at his delusions and self centred pratty behaviour. But it satirically describes the state of that modern man and his feelings of insecurity and lack of worth. It is funny and telling.

And.... let's face it, we've all been on that sort of holiday in some way or another...

Why the heck Mr Potts chose to tell his story in a broken down house on a river with boat shaped coffins is gloriously a loss to me as the reader. But I really enjoyed the ride it takes you on and it has a real pay off (that I won't spoil for you).

Does the creator wish us to draw more conclusions about the nature of death or is he just taking the piss out of us?

I suspect and hope it's a little of both.

Dreams, laughter and nightmares. Isn't that all there is to life?

This is released by Avery Hill on the 16th of November. If you pre-order you can get yourself a sketched in copy. Head over to www.averyhillpublishing.bigcartel.com

Or follow Avery Hill on Twitter @AveryHillPubl

You can find the creator at www.alexanderpotts.com or follow him on Twitter @AVPotts

Many thanks for reading.