Tuesday, 30 April 2019

In Review - ‘Defrost’ from Nick Mullins.


Created by Nick Mullins.

Published by Nijomu Studios.

(Digital via ComiXology) £1.49 - 40 pages.

(This story is also available as part of the ‘This wasn’t the plan’ anthology.)

The Story - ‘Lucia has just graduated from college with a double major in Fine Art and Art History. She moves to the big city and, along with her friend and former dorm-mate Amy, intends to take the art world by storm. But things don't go as planned. Follow Lucia's downward spiral of expectations as the world of dreams and the world of reality begin to separate.’

Her freezer also needs defrosting.....but watch out for werewolves....kind of.

The Review - This was bought on an impulse a few months ago from ComiXology. One of those books that takes you a while to get round to but you’re glad when you do. The creator was unknown to me at the time but I have gone back through and read some more of his gloriously peculiar stories.

The summary given on the ComiXology site does it a slight disservice. It’s more than a navel gazing biographical piece. It has surprisingly artistically sudden flights of fancy which I found most welcome. These moments of dreaming allow for both a pause and a counterpoint to the tale of loneliness in modern society. I’ll be honest and say that the appearance of a naked lady werewolf was something of a jarring surprise at first. But you need to howl at the Moon occasionally don’t you (literally). Given the right mood this is a good comic but some I must admit might find it a slow read. It’s all down to how you are feeling at that particular time I am sure. Sometimes not much happens and that could be frustrating for some.

Lucia is facing that moment when our expectations of succeeding in the wider world are crushed. She tries to find work and has to settle for the average and the hum drum. This is dealt with in a combination of relatable and surprising ways by Mullins. It’s a fast read but not a forgettable one.

The art has qualities of the indie scene evoking for me the work of both Gilbert Hernandez and Steven Appleby at moments but also adding the pacing of someone like Tim Bird. Mullins adds into the mix a few pages of the sky at night as the moon shines through the smog and mist. Quite simple and almost tragically beautiful. Moments do lack detail but this is by the looks of it a stylistic choice over and above anything else.

The dialogue is dealt with differently. The artist opts for a stylised use of word balloons with the arrows sweeping round the panel like a snake before landing at the mouth of the speaker. It makes for an interesting read but didn’t for me interrupt the flow at all after a few moments of adjustment. Lines are delivered with thought and a palpable pensiveness but seem totally real. I love a comic book that knows when to shut its mouth and show not tell. There are a few out there who should be paying attention to that technique in the wider comics world at the moment.

It also adds that moment when you’re talking to a man in a lonely hallway whilst he eats a sausage. We’ve all been there right?

Overall this book was a momentary calm moment in my busy day. It is a story built around what is essentially a broken freezer but keeps your interest. It’s nothing you’ll find in a mainstream comic and sometimes that’s what you need.

I’d recommend the collection quoted above rather than the single issue, it’s a better deal financially and delivers some equally strange tales I think you might also enjoy.

You can find more about Nick Mullins at http://www.nijomu.com or follow him on Twitter @nijomu

Many thanks for reading.

Monday, 29 April 2019

A Challenge?

The curse of the reviewer on occasion was that they would upset the creator and the publisher. I don’t often give anywhere near a bad review but over the years when I have dared to say that I didn’t like something or didn’t understand it I’ve received the odd idiotic email/message and often been ignored and rebuffed. (These days its called being ‘Blocked’ I hear).

I have to admit over the years in a tendency to hyperbole and get excited about a product and especially a comic. I have often been carried away in a wave of enthusiasm and ignored some of the shortcomings.

A fact that I have been pondering over recently and am in the process of giving myself a good shake over.

A reality check is needed.

Let’s face it folks much of the small press scene is not good. It’s always going to be like that because it’s the small press for a number of reasons. Many of these reasons are to do with this area being the place to learn your trade and craft. It’s also the small press because it is sometimes occupied by the people who will never get better and produce attempts at a good comic. They sit there and pretend that they are in it because it is cool, you know the ones. Some just prefer to make comics and aren’t interested in anything other than the art of it all.

I’ve seen some shabby attempts recently. They reek of something that is thought of and implemented but not considered for any time whatsoever beyond ‘Oh that’ll do’. Books so lacking any originality whatsoever that they could have been written by a robot grabbing phrases at random from the Millarworld Forum.

I’ve been prompted to put some of this down on paper over a number of events. One of which was an article on a particularly tacky certain website where the journalist rightly satirised the fact that if you read reviews these days you might think that we are producing the best comics ever in the history of the medium.

We are not.

Nowhere near.

Another reason is the effects of minor talents drumming up major support to the point where they have started receiving awards and becoming fizzing soda siphons of self congratulatory wank fountains. I see this every week. People going on to the Social Media du Jour and slapping themselves on the back or seeking through false modesty compliments from virtual friends/virtual reality strangers.

It’s our fault. We (me included) build these people up to levels of insufferable behaviour not seen since Chris Claremont put on a fake English accent and spoke on a panel at the Bristol Comics Expo.

Let’s get this straight shall we.

A well received book does not make you the next legend.

An award is something voted on by so small a pool of people that it is pretty much an irrelevance.

The world keeps clicking along and people are making better comics than you. Open your eyes and you will realise that is a fact.

What’s worse is that this is such a small pool of readers and creators now that the bigger so-called professional companies are now paying attention. One only has to look at some of the last few years at Rebellion and the Specials they have been putting out. Some of the art and writing is genuinely amateur level. I showed one to a long-standing comics creator recently and they could not believe what they were reading.

Comics has begun to eat itself.

Soon the circle jerk will not have enough people involved to pay for printing or distribution.

So why am I moaning?

I’ve decided that May 2019 will be the month of the honest review.

I’ll be trying to put out one a day. They wont be pieces trashing your comic but they will be constructively honest.

Are you brave enough to submit one for me to look at? 

Many thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 22 April 2019

In Preview - ‘CYDO’ from John Tucker.


Created by John Tucker.

A2 - Full Colour - £1.00

With books like ‘Plan A/Plan B’ (a flip-book with interlocking stories) and ‘Adrift’ (a partly erotic illustrated poem like tale) artist/writer John Tucker plays with both format and content. He continues to twist the concepts of comic presentation as well as what you might expect from a comics story.

CYDO (pronounced ‘SIGH-dough’) continues with this experimental edge in that it is a one sheet comic of A2 size with the above gorgeously rendered image on one side and on it’s rear a tale of freedom, love, fate and genitals.

What this new project has in common with John’s other work is it’s darkly humorous subject matter and narrative twists and turns. Trust me, this is another weirdly hilarious incident! I refuse point blank to spoil!

That front cover is surely worth the price on it’s own!

I will say no more about it other than that it can be bought from him at one of his glamorous convention appearances, it’ll come rolled in a cardboard tube and it’s not exactly what you might expect.

CYDO will be launching at Glasgow Comic Con on June 29th, 2019.

Find out more about John and buy some of his art and comics at http://www.johntucker.co.uk/ You’ll also find some free to read examples of his work.

You can also find John on Twitter @johntuckerart

Many thanks for reading.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Coming Soon......

Dave Kennedy is a dude and loves pickled eggs.

How Freakin’ Cool is that!

We have some exceedingly talented listeners to The Awesome Comics Pod and one of the best is Dave Kennedy. Dave is a great comics and concept artist who surprised us with the above image. We are enormously chuffed with it!

Here’s a little bit about Dave with some examples of his fine artistry:

‘Dave Kennedy is an illustrator and comic book artist currently based in the shining Metropolis of Wigan in the North West of England.


After many years of working in the design industry, Dave made the leap into illustration and comic art in 2013 and is now rolling through life via his company, Cherrysheriff limited.


Throughout his career, Dave has worked on wildly varied projects, all of which have led him back to his first love – drawing.


His experience ranges from children’s website design with d2 Digital to Videogame art and storyboarding with Head First Communications to more recent work with Doghouse Comics and collaborations with writer Mike Sizemore on projects such as Caper and beyond.’

Dave has also been hard at work recently on the excellent horror/sci-fi comics series with a master of the filmmaking medium. ‘John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction’ is a visual and storytelling treat that I highly recommend. It’s hard science fiction that will also play with your noggin!

It’s also no secret that Mr Kennedy is addicted to pickled eggs. He eats five in the morning and another seven before retiring to bed. 

Head over to http://cherrysheriff.com/comics/ and find out more and then head over to buy some art here http://cherrysheriff.com/shop/

You can also follow Dave around the streets of Wigan when he’s pretending to take the bins out or alternatively on Twitter @cherrysheriff

If you also have an egg addiction go to www.pickledeggmyarse.org

Many thanks for reading.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Webcomic Review - ‘G&T’ from Matt Harrower.

Webcomics of the World! 


Created by Matt Harrower.

Find new pages at https://www.gtwebcomic.com/about

The Story - ‘G&T is a cyberpunk eco-warrior saga set across The Tri Planet Star System. G&T will be an episodic style comic about a G, a mech who's lost his memory and T who has a hair trigger of a temper . They will work together to overthrow and defeat the villainous Lord Commander.’ 

The Review - There are few artists out there with the energy and passion that Matt Harrower displays in all of his work and especially in this new webcomic series. I’ve known Matt for a while and even been lucky enough to collaborate on a short Zine together. He never backs down from even the most complicated design challenge and has an instinctive style that once you get into becomes addictive and full of motion and purpose.

This new project is ground zero for Matt, he loves to draw Mech and warriors. I’d also say that he’s particularly adept at showing a warrior woman kicking some heads in. G&T is really amping up to be a webcomic that I seek out as soon as a new page drops.

Matthew Harrower is a freelance illustrator, artist and designer based in London, United Kingdom. Seek him out!

You can find Matt at https://www.gtwebcomic.com/about or follow him on Twitter @hp_matt

Now give me my arm back!

Many thanks for reading.

In Review - ‘Punks Not Dead: London Calling’ issue 1.

Punks Not Dead: London Calling’ issue 1.

Written by David Barnett.

Art by Martin Simmonds.

Flatting by Dee Cunniffe.

Letters by Aditya Bidikar.

Edited by Shelly Bond.

Published by Black Crown Comics and IDW.

The Story - ‘Teenage geek Fergie Ferguson and his BF Sid, the ghost of a punk rocker who only Fergie can see or hear, are on the lam for a murder they didn’t exactly commit. They’ve made it to London but on their tail are the police, the quirky paranormal investigation agency the Department of Extra-Usual Affairs, and some really freaky magpie monsters, so there’s not (much) time for sightseeing. While Fergie tracks down his long-absent father to get answers about his powerful new “abilities” (Sid calls them “psychic grenades”), DfEUA’s old-school mod super spy Dorothy Culpepper and her sensible young partner Asif Baig uncover evidence that links Fergie to the underworld. Fergie’s mum Julie and his not-a-girlfriend Natalie also join forces to save Fergie from life in prison… but with a psychopathic serial killer showing an interest, everybody might soon be running out of time.’

The Review - This is the second mini-series from the Punks Not Dead team and is looking to run for another splendid five issues. This issue both sets up the story and the current situation of Fergie and Sid but goes further to add some character and action. Too many issue ones these days are merely set-up and no pay-off but this thankfully bucks that system.

We interviewed Martin and David on The Awesome Comics podcast last year as well as the editor Shelly Bond and I, as a Londoner, have been waiting for this series to hit the more fashionably entitled softy south of England for a number of months. Almost from the outset you realise that Sid wants to breathe deeply of his old haunts in a London that has significantly changed. He wants to revisit the ‘100 Club’ and the Kings Road. Oh what a shock he’ll get when he discovers much of London is now coffee shops, JD Sports, knife crime, media companies and hipsters! I look forward to that undoubtedly hilarious revelation hitting him in later issues.

There’s a little of the old Soho left however as Fergie almost immediately is propositioned for a ten quid blow job from a passing stranger.

Sid questions this with, ‘Surely a blowjobs worth at least twenty these days?’

The book has a cast of strange bedfellows who exhibit in all their own ways a magical individuality but also a grounded realism. Even Natalie, a possible love interest for Fergie and something of a rebel herself, has her own brief moments of freedom and release as she makes herself over in a 2019 version of her own Punk Rock attitude and leaves her abusive and disgusting father behind. Dorothy and Asif are also becoming quite the investigative partnership as they chase Fergie to London, something else is also bubbling under in a magical plot twist that I fully expect to explode any page now.

Martin’s art is another example of his gritty yet fantastical post-post-post punk recreations. The page has an amphetamine tinged Lysergically augmented trippiness and I really feel that he is experimenting successfully with layouts and double page splashes more than on the previous series. I’d also like to note that with Marvel covers, The Immortal Hulk, Friendo and this he may be the busiest artist on the scene.

The dialogue frazzles with movement and naturalist pushing of the story onwards but never losing that edge of defiant character. Barnett manages this with great style and doesn’t fall into the all-too often current fashion of snark and quip. Fergie is still a kid, Sid is still a prick and Dorothy has a strange sex appeal that may just be only apparent to my fifty year old self (your mileage may differ?)

One small problem would be that this is now a storyline with an ever growing cast and we spend almost too little time with each strand. But as I’m off now to Orbital Comics to pick up issue two I feel that this may not now be a problem. Patience!

Highly recommended.

You can find David Barnett at https://davidbarnett.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter @davidmbarnett 

You can find Martin Simmonds at http://simmonds-illustration.com/ or on Twitter @Martin_Simmonds

You can find Dee Cunniffe at http://deesaturate.blogspot.com/ or on Twitter @Deezoid

Find Aditya Bidikar https://adityab.net/ or on Twitter @aditab

You can find Black Crown and grab a pint and a game of darts at http://www.blackcrown.pub/ and @blackcrownhq 

Many thanks for reading.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Having a Clear Out.

Boring isn’t it, being at home on a Friday afternoon?

I’ve been having a clear out this Easter Friday and been looking at some old tapes and singles that have been in the garage for far too long. Here are a couple of the tapes that I used to listen to non-stop in my mid teens.

They were released and distributed in 1985 in the United Kingdom by E.M.I. Records. They seemed to manage DC Comics as well as Marvel which I suppose is a little unheard of these days. They were released under the collection called ‘Super Heroes’. The Superman release is written by Cary Bates. Originally presented in issue 375 of Superman in September 1982. The art is from the originally Gil Kane cover. The issue however had interior art from Curt Swan on pencils and Dan Adkins on inks. The colourist was Anthony Tollin and the lettered was John Costanza. The story title was originally ‘The Stoning of Lana Lang’ which was probably a little too lively for younger audio listeners of the time. (Now they’d probably be off doing internet heroin and paying for it with Bitcoins?)

I found a handy link to the Superman tape audio ‘Superman in Death from a Distant Galaxy’ at https://www.supermanhomepage.com/radio/radio.php?topic=record-books

It’s part narrated and part voice actor stuff. It’s also pretty cheesy but enjoyable enough. There is the odd slightly surprising moments that mostly relate to Lana Lang and her Vartox Booty-Call. It’s got some great moments amongst the over enthusiastic voice acting. It doesn’t use the expected Superman The Movie theme but has some electronic nonsense added throughout. Hugh Shewring is credited with Sound Engineer on both cassette tapes. The geographical pin in the map named Carrington Wood gets ‘Directed by’ credits on both releases.

And then - “By Rao I should have known! It’s you Vartox!’

Here’s the cover to the Spider-Man cover that I need to take some time tracking down information on....

Many thanks for reading.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

In Preview - ‘Skip’ from Molly Mendoza.


Created by Molly Mendoza.

Published by Nobrow Press.

165 pages - Full Colour - Hardback 

£16.99 / $22.95

The Story - ‘When Bloom is suddenly flung into another world and meets the exiled and optimistic Gloopy, the two youngsters find in each other a much-needed kindred spirit. But as they skip through dimensions and encounter weeping giants, alligator islands and topsy-turvy 2D worlds, they find that their greatest challenge will be facing their own fears back home.’

The Preview - A scan of the previews so far of this book might lead you to the notion that this is a book dealing with a post apocalyptic world and how one of the characters escapes through a looking glass of psychedelic dimensions. 

It is so much more than that.

I will start by saying that this is no short read. I would recommend that you pace yourself and return to the pages on at least a few occasions. Allow the depth of the images on show throughout the book to sink in and grow through your later considerations. It is a story that bursts off the page with imagination and absolute breath stealing beauty. As I read through this book I took photos and sent them to comic reading friends who were equally blown away.

Don’t be fooled by the cover. This is no mere art experiment, although it does take a bravely experimental approach on almost every page, it is also the study of friendship and jeopardy. A boy alone finds some consolation whilst lost in strange worlds in a creature who it turns out is not too dissimilar from himself. As the story progresses you notice the mirroring between the pair both emotionally and at times completely literally. They travel together through landscapes and environments that are surreally beautiful, transformative, frightening, foreboding, disquieting and so much more. I became transfixed with the intelligent imagination on show here. It plays with your emotions and you worry and cheer and cry and grit your teeth as they throw themselves through dimensional doorways to the next danger.

The book artistically travels from lush water coloured natural inland waterways to twisted and sinister fairy tale kingdoms to blocked out and sterile computer simulated realities. As a story it is never afraid to drag you hither and thither with a cutlass and a sharp set of reptile teeth. We experience the counterpoint and emotional sting of bumping nightmares and fantastical dreams up against each other in ‘Skip’.

‘Gloopy, I feel like we are close to the end.’

The art changes and morphs in front of your eyes as you sit back for the ride. The page is forthrightly attacked by Mendoza and cascades through and over panels, page edges and storylines. It is episodic in nature as the pair travel and this is incredibly well represented at the turn of the page. The art is used as a narrative scythe cutting and pushing the reader onwards. When you think that you have something figured out you are wonderfully bewildered once again. There is a rough freeness to much of the art that never at any point seems over rendered, it makes you soar through the volume like you are strolling through the habitat yourself.

I would also warn you to be prepared for a dense reading experience, there is an awful lot for the eye to take in. Savour the journey of Bloom and Gloopy. I guarantee that you will return. This strange and awkward pair show us that beings from wildly different places can be more alike than anyone expected.

This will be out soon from Nobrow. Check out this great company and all their other books at https://nobrow.net

You can also follow them on Twitter https://twitter.com/NobrowPress

Molly Mendoza is an American illustrator and comic artist who graduated from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. She has gone on to develop a rich personal art practise, self publishing comics as well as working in the editorial world. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

You can find Molly at her website here http://www.mollymendoza.com or on Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/msmollym/

Many thanks for reading.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Kickstarter Call-Out - ‘Saffron’ from Samuel London and Rosie Alexander.


Written by Samuel George London.

Art and Lettering by Rosie Alexander.

Published by Fair Spark Books.

24 pages - Full Colour.

Currently on Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fairsparkbooks/saffron-spacetime-academy-adventures-1

The Story - ‘Whilst on holiday, Saffron Sizemore falls through a wormhole and suddenly appears at the Spacetime Academy For Fundamental Representatives Of NEXUS or completely coincidentally, SAFFRON for short.

Once at SAFFRON the academy, Saffron the girl manages to enlist herself into the academy and as well as training to become a spacetime officer, she tries to find her way back home but no one knows where, or even when Earth is.....’

The Preview - I have had a little look at the script and some of the design work that is going on in this great new project. Intended as part of a new series for young reader this is genuinely a breath of fresh air in the comics world. It’s intelligently written in a way that both younger readers and adults can enjoy. 

Like all good fiction this has real drama and a sense of danger for Saffron and her twin sister Jasmine. The series also has a bundles of fun and non stop adventure. You’ll fall in love with all these characters and get swept along with the story from page one.

Don’t just take my word for it, here are some recommendations from younger readers that Sam and Rosie have shown the book to:

"The colours are great and I love Jazz and Saff. I can’t wait to read about all of Saff’s adventures. I wonder if she will be in trouble with Mum and Dad!" Jemima, 10, Hampshire

"As a lover of science I found the story really captured my imagination, plus the art is awesome!" Mia,13, West Sussex

"The colours and drawings are awesome, and I can't wait to see more" Dexter, 9, London

"Saffron is very cool and I can't wait to see her next adventures in time!" Lara, 9, Worcestershire.

And as well as you receiving your rewards, if you back at a Hospital Gift Copy level (£12) and above you'll be adding a copy of SAFFRON: Spacetime Academy Adventures #1 to the Little Heroes Comics kit, who provide comic making kits to children with long term illnesses in hospital.

Rewards also include colouring books, sticker sets and enamel badges. There are also some top secret stretch goals ready that you are going to love!

So get pledging. Here is that link again https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fairsparkbooks/saffron-spacetime-academy-adventures-1

(It also has a super cool editor).

Many thanks for reading.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Cheeky Preview - ‘Shaman Kane issue 4’ from Dave ‘The Machine’ Broughton.

Shaman Kane issue 4.

Created by Dave Broughton.
Copyproofing by Dan Buhlmann.

Full Colour - 24 pages - American Comics size.

The Story so far....

‘Tasked with investigating a series of supernatural murders on his home planet of ‘Gefion’ Kane returns to find that the ghosts of his past have returned to haunt him.

Can Kane overcome... or will history repeat itself?’

The Preview - I’m a lucky reviewer. I always consider myself fortunate when I get to see an early copy of anything. This week was no exception as I got sent a preview copy of Dave Broughton’s sci-fi horror/adventure series Shaman Kane issue 4. The book will be getting a proper launch at the Lawless event on Saturday the 17th of May (here’s the website for this great day convention http://lawlesscomiccon.co.uk/ )

If you haven’t read this series from Dave you are in for a treat. It’s very much in the scary/science fiction mould that you get in comics like 2000 AD and Dave is the hardest working man in the UK small press scene. He consistently puts out books that rattle along at a great pace and are full of twists and turns. I read this without taking my eyes off the screen for even a second. I also mentally made a note at the time of reading about Dave’s use of colour. The widescreen alien vistas are looking really accomplished, Dave steps his game up with each outing, and they give an altogether mysterious vibe (‘Exhibit ‘A’ below Your Honour!’)

The story in issue 4 of Kane is entitled ‘Home World’ and I refuse to spoil what happens but you can look forward to some excellently nasty alien designs and a couple of sequences that reminded me of the sort of flashbacks you get in a Stephen King novel. There is the eerily ever-present air of a Hammer Horror style mystery on this strange world and we as the reader are swept along with Kane and his compatriots. None of the characters ever seem safe and you are kept guessing all the way through.

So head along to Lawless and find Dave at his table. He also always has a great deal on sketches and commissions. If you cant get down to Bristol you can order a physical copy from http://dbroughton.blogspot.com/ or email him direct at dboughton@hotmail.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @DbroughtonDavid or look at some of his art on Instagram @davebus1966

Many thanks for reading.