Sunday, 31 March 2019

‘Laydeez Do Comics’ - A Splendid Day!

Today was all about a trip to the Laydeez Do Comics event in trendy Farringdon, London. (Yes I did indeed consider calling this short Con Report ‘A Visit to the Laydeez!’) I ventured out with the publisher of Fair Spark Books, Aaron Rackley who is currently on the hunt for some fresh creators for his all ages line of comics. What better place!

Don’t be put off if you are of a persuasion other than a ‘laydee’ this is open to everyone! Whilst the Saturday was all about portfolio reviews the Sunday had more of a regular Comic Fair/Networking style feel to it. Although the walls were verging on the twee platitude the energy in the room was pretty darn buoyant. 

I’ll admit that some of the events in the trendy East End of London can be a little cringey and hipster pompous but this one was far from that kind of vibe. Friendly volunteers, a relaxed and spaced out venue and free entry. That’s how you run an event. I even bought a pack of badges.

It was also good to see some old chums and I had a good chat with Rachael Ball who, along with some other experienced comics professionals, had spent the previous day giving advice to prospective comic makers keen to learn the trade. She spoke very highly indeed of the newbies and sounded like they had quite a few people through the door for the one to one review sessions. 

The venue was sectioned into an area for small press and indie publishers to show off and sell their wares with tables from the mighty Good Comics, Self Made Hero, Myriad Publishing, Unbound and Liminal.

There was also rather hilariously a pink bed for those who needed to rest their ‘plates of meat’ after a long day selling, networking and chatting. Here’s a photo of one of the organisers of the day Nicola Streeten at rest (but also failing to prove that she was in fact also getting some work done- you’re fooling no one! ).

One side of the hall was set up as a screening room and adjacent to that was the long table of competition entries that you could sit and read at your leisure. 

It was a really relaxed and inspiring space full of welcoming faces and quite a few laughs. A group that creates both comics and community. Welcoming and friendly. I’ll happily attend and promote anything they attempt.

I even got offered some cake on the way out! (Beat that MCM!)

Don’t fear if you aren’t near London this great organisation is growing. they have branches all around the UK and are branching out further. You can head to their site at or follow them on Twitter for updates @Laydeezdocomics

Many thanks for reading.

Friday, 29 March 2019

In Preview - ‘Leaf’ by Nicole Bates.


Created by Nicole Bates.

Published by Fair Spark Books.

Full Colour - A5 - 22 pages.

Available for preorder - Released 1/5/2019.

The Story - ‘Follow the adventure of a leaf and a fox! All the little fox wants is someone to play with, and the leaf is his new friend. However, the wind has other ideas, sweeping the leaf and our fox on a journey. Will he find a friend to play with?’

The Review - It’s the small things that often matter. The little moments that grab us and even out the rushing noise of life’s waves. For just that second a piece of art can make you forget the dramas and worries of the outside world.

‘Leaf’ tells a story of one of those moments and also in this reader’s particular case created another of those tranquil moments for me, sat here on the train home.

I could easily go on about the art, which is gorgeous, or the parallels between the world inside this train carriage and the nature on it’s outside. Or the wordless narrative as it wanders through a watercolour forest.

But I won’t.

As with all great art, all great stories and all great comics I’ll be quiet for a change and let you drink in this beautiful example of our favourite medium by a creator who is turning into quite the one to watch. You need to get the whole story. It’ll improve your day.

Genuinely, listen when I say this...... preorder.

Here’s the link

Many thanks for reading.

Coming Soon to Kickstarter - ‘The Lang Walk Hame’ from Peter Watson.

‘The Lang Walk Home’.

Created by Peter Watson.

Art by Gordon Johnston, Neil Slorance, Jonny Cannon, Allan MacRitchie, Alan Henderson, Chris McAuley and many more.

24 pages - Magazine size format.

Going Live on Kickstarter on the 1st of April 2019.

‘A modern Scots poem in comic form telling the tale of a drunk man's journey in search of a toilet!’

Pete Watson first came to my attention posting a semi-naked photograph of himself (with only a treasured Edition to hide his modesty) on the facebook page for the Awesome Comics Podcast. Myself and the others on that rather saucy page knew immediately that we wanted to read his comics. This is a book that I’ve heard about for a couple of months and can’t wait to see the final product. Executed with pragmatic trademarked Glaswegian humour and with some really exciting artists onboard. This is shaping up to be a comic to back early so you can say you were there from the first pint!

Just watch out for the release of the ‘Bladder Bomb!’

This is a project that Pete’s been crafting for quite some time now and he has gathered some great talent to help him out. The creator’s pal Gordon Johnston was straightaway onboard and suggested approaching others including Neil "Dungeon Fun" Slorance, Jonny "Transylvanian Knights" Cannon, Allan "Grave Wax" MacRitchie, Alan "The Penned Guins" Henderson and many more.

The Lang Walk Hame’ is very a different book even in the realm of Scottish autobiographies. It covers those late night moments that we have all experienced and upped the pace to find somewhere ‘convenient’. I’ll let Pete explain a little more of what it’s about;

‘A few years ago, I wrote a poem. A classic tale of man's struggle against nature. They say most poetry is written from the Heart. This poem is written from the Bladder!

It chronicles the journey of an average Clydebank man who leaves the pub late one night after one too many and suddenly realises he's "dyin' fur a pish"!

It goes on to tell of the many fantasies and worst-case scenarios that play out in his head during his desperate journey. Is it based on real life? Let's just say it's based on a 'familiar' story!

The poem is written using Semi-Scots/Glaswegian language with a modern slant. You could say it's more like Burnistoun than Burns. ‘

If you ain’t onboard after that summary then you need to give yourself a good pinch!

This goes live on Monday and I’ll be backing it straightaway! We’ve all been there!

Now I wonder if that Starbucks has a bog?

You can find details over at the facebook page or follow this project on Twitter @langwalkhame

There’ll be all kind of shenanigans in the pledge tiers including getting yourself a cameo in one of the Glasgow pub scenes!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Kickstarter Call-Out! ‘Slang Pictorial4’ from Nick Prolix!

A little mention for something new on Kickstarter that is well worth your immediate attention.

Here’s a little background ramble.

I got another one of those conversations at a comic even this weekend about a certain comics creator. I get them regularly and I’m not just quoting it because I happen to be a pal of it’s subject or that I also happen to agree with it’s sentiment.

‘Why isn’t Nick Prolix a name in the industry?’

My answer follows later but here’s a bit of background on this gent.

I’ve known this guy for a few years now. Nick has only just finished his reign as the Art Genie on our series Cockney Kung Fu and the act of collaborating with an artist who knows exactly what he is doing on the page was a moment to moment joy as a writer. Nicky Boy Prolix has a deft control of the images at his command and one look at his sequentials makes you realise how much he is in command of his inky domain.

So why this now? Why am I bigging up this North London wide boy who is now transplanted to a home in the distant Fens?

Haven’t you seen? Pay more attention at the back. For.....

Slang Pictorial issue 4 is now on Kickstarter!

This is an ever expanding comicbook story of the people of north and central post war London. Their interlocking stories make for the best kitchen sink drama/crime escapade that you never saw on BBC on a Saturday afternoon as a kid. Part ‘Alfie’, part ‘The Servant’, part ‘League of Gentlemen’, part ‘Up the Junction’ this is a comic series that speaks of then and of now. It has depth and heart and hipness by the dodgy boot load. 

Mr P knows what he is doing.

His influences are a melange of New Wave French Cinema, cool back street jazz music, English weekly comics and European BD. Whilst his writing of characters contains a particular voice, one that is both of it’s time and also is well aware of that nostalgic hip vibe it exudes. Big hair, wiggling hips, razors in the seams of well cut suit jackets, double dealing London hoodlums, these victims and predators pace around his pages.

(If you’re lucky you might just get a copy of this Slang Pictorial Print from the one and only Roger Langridge!)

As I write the Kickstarter for Volume 4 launched on just twenty-four hours ago and it currently sits at 256% funded. People are catching on! This really is the current Hot Ticket in comics!

Head over to Kickstarter and pledge to this project. Here is the link

You can also follow this dude on Twitter @nickprolix or visit his website at 

To answer that question I started with, what I am fond of replying with is as follows.... 

‘When people wise up he will be. Can’t be long!’

Many thanks for reading.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

In Review - ‘Asleep in the Back’ by Tim Bird.

Asleep in the Back.’

Created by Tim Bird.

£5.00. - 32 pages.

A5 sized 148x210mm 

The Story - ‘I remember being a child and falling asleep in the back of the car on long motorway journeys. Hypnotised by traffic rhythms and monotone radio. These days its me who's driving and checking my own kids in the rear-view mirror, waiting for them to drift off as we head north, up the A1 to visit my family.’

The Review - This book comes fast on the heels of ‘The Great North Wood’ that appeared on a lot of ‘Best Of..’ lists last year including mine. It’s a shorter affair than the last release and different in many ways. But what it does share with it is that palpable empathic memory of the past. It hangs there in all our memories and we sometimes miss those days as children when everything was simpler and time stood still as we watched wide-eyed at the world and landscape around us.

‘Time drives onwards, Year after year like a constant stream of traffic flowing endlessly along the motorway.’

It’s this often insidious and ubiquitous land of the never-ending motorway vanishing point that Tim transforms into a nostalgic stage. The cover is calmly and beautifully representative of the world inside it’s card outsides. Easily one of the most striking covers in recent comics times it shows the flow of the busy highway, the red lights of cars leaving us and the white headlamps of the cars heading towards the city. Above are the rows of lamp posts like the eyes of illuminating long-legged creatures starring down at the travellers. And above all  of this is the nighttime dark grey sky. It has a mellow magnificence and made me press ‘buy’ without bothering to explore it’s interiors.

Inside the book Tim doesn’t let the reader down either. It is gently contemplative like much of his output and has that now familiar slow and measured pace. The family travel through towns to the motorway and the young man in the back dreams of flying high above the buildings, roads and countryside as his sister sleeps soundly beside him. He watches the side of his fathers face who is at the wheel and the tail-lights glow red ahead. This, later in the story, counterpoints to the current day with Tim’s wife and children taking their places in the family car and you realise that not much has really changed. Some pages are full of images and some are more minimalistic and show just a central single drawing. I have absolutely no problem with this approach and especially in the way Tim spins out a story I approach it with relish.

Having read Tim’s comics and interviewed him on occasion I know that this book contains two of his interests. Psycho geography that we saw on show in his ‘Grey Area’ series mingles with the more personal and introspective angles from books like ‘Rock and Pop’ and ‘Our Town’. Since the latter is part of the ‘Grey Area’ series this shows that the two subjects have that affinity and Tim shows the parallels with ourselves and our environment. It certainly reminded me of those long car journeys in days before iPads and only a single comic to read and reread. 

In the story as night draws in we see some lovely art on show. The ‘Red Sky at Night’ floats above the journey in a couple of panels - just gorgeous use of flat colour and iconic imagery. We are reminded that even in those moments where time seems to pause the world outside of our cocoon moves on and on.

This is not a book for those who only love punch-ups, disasters, alien invasions, Care Bears and Sonic, monsters or robots. But it is the book you should reach for on a relaxing Saturday afternoon just after you’ve watched the wrestling and before The Basil Brush Show (now..... THAT ages me!)

Head over to Tim’s website here or grab a copy of this great book at

You can also follow Tim on Twitter @T_J_Bird

Many thanks for reading.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

In Review. ‘Skullfucker’ issue 1 by Warwick Fraser-Coombe.

‘Skullfucker’ issue 1.

Created by Warwick Fraser-Coombe.

Full Colour - 30 pages - Lysergic Content.

The Story - A man opens mail that has been sent to his flat for the previous occupant. He’s rather pleased to see that in the envelope are some pink pills with a skull face emblem. It would appear that they are part of an experimental batch that is being sent out to be tested. They are described as being a form of extreme aphrodisiac. He talks to his very naked and very sexy girlfriend about trying them out and she agrees and suggests they take the whole day off work.

‘Babe you just read my mind!’

What follows can only be described as one of the most horrific visuals I think I have ever seen in a comic. The two lovers are transformed into alien beasts or demons of some kind. Their skin has changed colour and the woman has developed teeth for nipples. As the man pulls out her entrails with his own horrific jaws she screams ‘Yes, Yes, YES!!!!!!!’

The story then skips ahead and we watch a meeting between a bent Detective who is on the aforementioned case and his equally corrupt journalist/photographer contact. The detective is trying to sell this story to help claw back his mounting gambling debts.

The story takes off and you begin to see that the conspiracy goes much further than these body morphing and modernistic sex pills. Big business, drugs and governments are all involved.

And this is only issue 1.......

The Review - Sometimes I read something that might stick with me. Something that I will think of when I can’t sleep maybe? ‘Skullfucker’ issue 1 won’t just make me think of it from time to time but it will absolutely, one thousand percent stop me bloody sleeping! There are a lot of so-called Horror Comics and movies out there that could learn a lot from this particular series.

I loved this comic! I loved the story and the at moments sexy/grotesque/super realistic in your face art. I also especially loved the fact that Warwick goes there. He tells a story that is complex and horrific and relevant to the UK right now but he does so with authenticity and complete artistic freedom. Never afraid to insult, repulse, excite this is a comic that is an antidote to the fluffy Care Bear world fiction now often occupies. This is a true conspiracy thriller in a world that David Cronenburg has nightmares over. Smart and complex.

‘I get to crawl into the filth of the world..... I see around the edges and the truth.’

The art reminds me of something like ‘Strangehaven’ by Gary Spencer Millidge. The creator on this seems to use his pals as models for the players in the story and, I would guess, direct them as artists models. This gives the story a super realistic art style that works great in this context. Add to this the flabbergastingly incredible New Flesh designs he applies that mount both the horror and the tension up to quite a disturbing level. Real next level stuff!

The last few pages are exceptional!

You can order a copy by contacting the creator on

This review can in no way be blamed for your nightmares!!

Many thanks for reading.

An Early Preview - ‘In Waves’ from AJ Dungo

‘In Waves.’

Created by AJ Dungo.

Released 4/6/19 - Published by Nobrow.

376 pages - £16.99/$18.95.

The Story - ‘In this visually arresting graphic novel, surfer and illustrator AJ Dungo remembers his late partner and the shared love of surfing that endured throughout their time together. 

Dungo explores the beauty and complexity of the author's relationship with his partner as they face her prolonged battle with cancer. With his passion for surfing uniting many narratives, he intertwines his own story with those of some of the great heroes of surf in a rare work of nonfiction that is as moving as it is fascinating.’

The Review - This is a book that isn’t so much in two parts but does manage to instinctually and intelligently interweave two narrative styles. The history of surfing rides the rails alongside a very personal story of young love and loss. Both lines of story are true accounts but are approached differently. The autobiographical element is easily one of the most touchingly communicated stories I have read in many years. It’s quite an accomplishment, especially for a creator so young. 

The art has a clean and often iconically executed style but never caught me as sterilised or cold as some modern graphic novels seem to often. It’s never brash or complicated but conveys with a two colour approach with exactly what you need to see. It’s a book of many, many pages but never seems like a chore or a ‘long read’. It’s testament to the artist that at no point did I find views of surfing or beaches and California piers in any way tedious. The waves themselves are rendered in a variety of experimental ways that I found entrancing. You often watch the drama from a distance looking out to sea or back to the shore, this is a marvellous effect in emotional resonance for that sense of longing and loneliness. I’ve put a tick in the impressed column! I read it in two sittings and it would have been one solid session but I felt the need to walk away for a time and ruminate on what I was experiencing.

If I had one small niggle it would be that I found the ‘personal’ side of the story the more interesting of the two strands and would absolutely loved to have seen much more. Learning about the history and characters involved in surfing was interesting but I’m a sucker for the autobiographical.

‘His legacy began on the shoulders of a giant.’ 

In fact the sea and the surf are only part of what is going on here in both sections. What really gets you is the romance that is at it’s emotional centre. A perfectly captured awkward encounter at a school disco is followed by nervous contact, text messages and finally a kiss stolen in an all too brief moment. It’s these selected moments from the memory of a relationship that make this book so special in my opinion.

‘The headlights tore us apart.

Her parents were home.

And I was left in the dark.

With only the rain for company.’

The history of surfing is also told at a pretty great pace with a love for the sport and parallels thematically the story about love, loneliness and loss. The two parts begin as larger chapter sections that are delineated with a colour palette change. But as you progress through the stories the palette remains the same but the narratives reflect each other in very clever styles and shorter bursts. Whilst the history is told chronologically the story of the tragically unfolding relationship skips to and fro through timelines.

It’s not to say that this is just a heart jerker of a story (no spoilers) because you actually get to learn a thing or two about surfing and surfers, as I did, that you may not have previously realised;

‘Beach boys were part surfer, part tour guide, part entertainer and art escort.’

(Who knew?)

Being out amongst the waves on your board is spoken about with great passion and occasional injections of wit and warmth. The creator AJ shows an affinity with what he writes and draws and you begin to understand the allure of being out there all alone. The sea and your board becomes a home, a challenge and a way of life. This we see in the rise and the fall of love and it’s pursuit. You feel the actual cold rush of the waves and also allow the motions of these surfers to clarify moments of love and loss. The lives of those chasing the thrill are opened up and shown to us without anything being hidden. The time jumps and the emotional beats become a jigsaw for the reader to enjoy putting together. 

Like all good fiction this is a book that you can escape into. It affected me and just for that moment as I read it and for a time afterwards I was there living alongside it’s characters. When a story has depth and palpable art you do indeed inhabit it and it surrounds you as you observe it’s world. I hope that I never lose that feeling and this book only went to reinforce my love for the medium of comics.

‘Life is short, AJ. You better enjoy.’

And remember that emotions and feelings of all kinds....

‘Come in Waves.’

You can find AJ Dungo on Instagram @agedungs and follow the links to find out more about this creator.

Head over to to reserve a copy and follow them on twitter @NobrowPress

PS If this book doesn’t have you crying like a baby you may want to check for a pulse! 

Many thanks for reading.

Here’s a little about the creator from his website;

AJ Dungo is an illustrator from Los Angeles. He attended ArtCenter College of Design. He has worked with great people at Nike, Nobrow, The New York Times, Esquire, Narratively, Vissla, Skechers, etc. His work has been recognized by American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, and AD&D.

You can find him surfing shorebreak or loitering in an empty parking lot or at

Sunday, 10 March 2019

In Review - ‘Alone’ by Chaboute.


Created by Chaboute.

368 pages - Black and White - £15.99.

Published by Faber and Faber - 2018.

Originally published by Glenat at ‘Tout Seul’ in 2008.

The Story - ‘On a tiny lighthouse island far from the rest of the world, a hermit lives out his existence. Every week a supply boat leaves provisions, yet the fishermen never leave their boat, and never meet him.

Years spent on this deserted rock, with imagination his sole companion, has made the lighthouse keeper something more than alone, something else entirely. For him, what lies beyond the horizon might be... nothing. And so, why would you ever want to leave? But, one day, as curiosity gets the better of him, a new boatman steps onto the island…’

The Review - I got some vouchers from work and picked this up off a shelf in the Forbidden Plant on a whim. The cover has that feeling to it that perhaps we all seek, that mood where all we want is to be left alone to look out of the window. About five pages into this long book I fell in love with the pace and the art.

There are no big explosions or shoot-outs as this is a very quiet and slow book. I say neither ‘slow’ nor ‘quiet’ as any form of criticism just the opposite. This is emotion written silently and slowly in rough edged black inks on a spacious white and cold background. You move slowly through this small and insular canvas and discover the world at a perfectly delivered and executed speed. But it strangely never seems at peace with itself or even tranquil. The images and narrative push you forwards to a conclusion that may well surprise you. You feel every single glance between characters and every single splash of the sea on the rocky dock.

There is also very little dialogue. You feel the wind rattling at your eardrums and the stunning silence builds as the book unfolds. It slowly lifts and puts in place it’s building blocks and I never at any point wanted it to be any faster. As an example I would add that it takes some twenty-two pages before the comic reveals a human face of anyone and one hundred and two pages before we see the Hermit albeit briefly in silhouette against the seascape. Once he is revealed you move in with him and watch as the drama slowly reveals it’s intentions.

This Hermit is a man who looks similar to those popular depictions of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. He is unkempt and not someone who could be considered handsome but you warm over and over and over to him as he discovers what lays beyond the horizon. He is a dreamer and this allows Chaboute to take flourishes and flights of his own fantasy. The Hermit dreams of the battles that his dusty old toy soldiers could have fought through. He makes use of his dictionary and after discovering the word ‘metaphor’ day dreams of it raining tennis balls on a crowd of people with their umbrellas opened.

In fact it’s this dictionary that takes centre stage and pushed the Hermit on to both dream and at least consider what else there is for him to try. Every day he opens this book and picks a word at random, sometimes the book almost seems to sense his situation and mood - it’s a great story technique. I wont go further for fear of spoiling this incredible book.

All I will say however is that when you read the line: ‘Is there anything special you would like?’ The hairs on the back of your neck will shuffle about in anticipation.

The themes and moments of this book are simultaneously sad and enriching. It speaks to imprisonment, freedom, interdependency, loneliness, friendship and how we should all push ourselves to discover what is beyond our own garden gate.

How have I not heard of this before? Very highly recommended!

Find this book here