Friday, 19 June 2020

A Rant - ‘Take A Bite.’

Hold onto your socks I’m off on another rant. It’s been a while.

I’ll start it with a phrase I’ve been considering for a while.

‘I believe that you have to have lived to be able to write.‘

Now, I’m sure that there will be people out there who immediately take objection to the above statement and consider that they are able to write convincingly from their bland lives as they believe they have enough ‘imagination’. Then I would counter that by asking them how much better their writing would be if they could add to that stew some flashes of genuine reality relocated into their craft.

I do not make any claims at being a great writer but I do push for that truth in everything I write.

For example, I may not have lived in a post apocalyptic world and drank in McGregor’s sleazy dive but I have been in a few fights in pubs that embrace dangerous personalities.

I may not have met and fallen in love with a prostitute but I have chatted to and laughed with working girls and I have fallen in love.

I may not have been an East End gangster but I have drunk and laughed and fought with and against them. Those complicated men and women are real to me, I can describe them in detail.

I may not have been a member of a ‘Monster Spotters Club’ but my son (and I) were in the scouts and we would go looking for animals (he loves hiding and spotting squirrels) as a 5 yr old. He would come up with cunning ways to hide without being seen all the while telling me to ‘Shush Dad’.

More and more these days I’m seeing a lack of reality in writing. No depth to the situations. No individualism to the people in or narrating the comic book stories. This problem stops the reader from being all in. It’s a disappointing trend that is making comics a laughable commodity at many glances. There is a lack of true investment. 

I used to say that you had to fight a bull to write about it. I never ever meant it literally and there are levels of understanding here that can be picked apart. I’m sure that Alan Moore was never Jack the Ripper but I’m also sure that he’s met rough men, he’s walked the streets of the East End, he’s heard and internalised the stories of Detectives and he’s practised in the diabolical darkness present on the Eddie Campbell gloriously illustrated pages. 

The experience never needs to be literal. I wouldn’t expect you to have met The Devil - however we all have our demons. Explore the experiences that have taken you down some dark alleys. Or alternatively to the top of some beautiful mountains. And if you don’t have those memories to explore then get out of your bedroom and live some life.

‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.’ Ernest Hemingway. 

We need to take a bite out of life to be able to describe how it tastes. We also need to be hurt to bleed. Feeling is part of writing and if you have never felt then you cannot translate it into words on a page. Being in love is unlike anything else in this world. That feeling in your gut and the moments you daydream about that other person are special and magnificent. So I ask you, how could you write about love in any of your stories without having had that experience. 

To be a writer you have to understand the feeling of extreme moments and you can’t do that by sitting at a desk and watching Netflix. As an industry we will end up writing ourselves into a box of dull shapes, banal reactions and stories written by the slightest and unreal motivations. 

It seems that at this moment in time we are more likely to get a comic about watching the recent Black Lives Matter protests on a television than from somebody who was actually there and has that truth to their work. 

Is this beginning to make sense?

‘I feel ever so strongly that an artist must be nourished by his passions and his despairs.’ Francis Bacon.

Don’t we need to experience high emotion to translate it into art? We need to use our art to be part of that emotional process. Feed off that moment. 

The adults have left the room and we are left with the OMG’ing faux polemic of the spotty millenial writing in a way to impress their Twitter bubble. Send it to their friends, get a pat on the back and wait for the moment to take hold before they smugly create more unchallenging, emotionless drivel. These attempts are obvious and trite and ultimately unsatisfying. 

We will be left with comics that show the emotional depth of a toddler shouting ‘Look mum, I saw a dog’. 

So go and experience. Feel the gambit of emotions. Let them penetrate your mind and enhance your soul. Not always easy I’ll give you that but enriching and very, very useful. And then strive to be that better writer.

Many thanks for reading.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

‘Atomic Hercules 2’ - Tribute Press in Full Effect.

(Variant Cover - Ben Mara).

Yesterday was a full day of enveloping, bagging, planning, recording and chuckling at the Socially Distant yet fully diabolical and sweary Tribute Press Headquarters in a dirty basement in St Albans. 

(Regulation Mask removed for aesthetic purposes but gel and antiseptic wipes on show!)

Myself and Co-Publisher Mr Adam Falp had a meeting at the offices along with a freelance Logistics Consultant to get this Kickstarter whipped into shape! It took a full six hours to get everything ready for posting and now all we are waiting on are the postcards to be added and they will be heading to the Post Office.

As those who are following the campaign will know there are two covers to issue 2. The standard cover by Adam himself and the variant by Benjamin Mara (see above). Like the variant we had from Ken Langraf on issue one this was another brilliant interpretation of Hercules by an artist both myself and Adam admire greatly. 

(Standard Cover by Adam Falp).

But as you can see above Adam was no slouch himself! 

We can’t wait to get this into your hands. This has been a huge satirical love letter from start to finish. Sure it’s not for the faint of heart but we hope that we hit what we aimed at again in this second issue. We tackle subjects like bullying, war, love, sex, racism and more with a psychedelic lens that will hopefully become clear when you read it through. But if you want to read this just for the crazy violence and just plain weird sexual practises there is that too! Oh, and I also have a dig at Hipsters and the lack of adults in our modern world.

Adam has absolutely killed on this issue and added some great characters and moments. Along with Mr Nick Prolix you can see the faux Bronze Age adverts that Adam has also created! If you pledged to the project you’ll also get an extra digital only story with fan-favourites Noodles and Kristal and an audio commentary that we also recorded yesterday.

Please head over to Tribute Press here and follow this new imprint on Twitter @TributePress

If you missed out on the Kickstarter project you’ll soon be able to order the second issue through the website.

Many thanks for reading.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Podcasting During Lockdown.

Hi Chums. Apologies that I've been a little quiet on here of late. I've been flooded with work and been creating some new comics (more on that soon). 

I've finally bitten the bullet and started up a spin-off podcast that is running to keep people (including me) amused during this lockdown. Myself and a comics buddy have been talking about a comic, graphic novel, story or creator and doing a deep dive. 

I thought that I would share with you a few of the recent episodes.

Episode 13 - 'Alex Toth an Angry Genius' with Jonny Canon and Russell Mark Olson.

This was cracking fun and I got to sit down with Mr Canon and Mr Olson who helped me define why Alex Toth was such an incredible artist and why he should be more revered in the modern comics landscape.

Have a listen here Episode 13.

Episode 14 - 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow' with Pete Watson.

Myself and Pete really get into the nuts and bolts of the two comic story that would mark the end of an era for Superman. Does it still work? How much do we miss Curt Swan? Is this the ultimate Superman story? 

Have a listen here Episode 14

(Some John M Burns for your eyeballs).

Episode 15 - 'Masters of British Comic Art' by David Roach with Richard Sheaf. 

Using the excellent new release by David Roach on the history of some amazing artists and showing their magnificant art myself and The Don of British Comics Richard Sheaf each choose three comics artists we love and talk about their history and body of work. It's a love letter to some amazing work that needs more attention.

Have a listen here Episode 15.

Episode 16 - 'Brian Lewis and the Halls of Hammer' with Jason Wilson.

Myself and comics creator Jason Wilson mix it up in the comics and movie adaption world of Dez Skinn's Halls of Horror comics magazine that featured the art of Brian Lewis. A creator with the ability to both recreate the character of Hammer Horror movies and then turn his style to action adventure, saucy comedy and much more.

You can have a listen here Episode 16.

Episode 17 - 'Marshall Law' with Dan Butcher.

I meet up with Awesome Comics Pod brother Dan Butcher and we examine the themes and legacy of one of our favourite series. This is a book that breaks down the hero myth and examines those that put on the cape, those that worship them and he that hunts them.

Have a listen here Episode 17.

Episode 18 - 'Born Again' with Eamonn Clarke.

What a story! Told my two absolute masters of the craft. Myself and Eamonn from the Mega City Book Club Podcast really examine the moments, art and story-telling in this classic Daredevil run. A book ahead of the pack at the time and still in pure quality.

Have a listen to here Episode 18.

You can find all eighteen episodes with more being added weekly over at the Never Iron Anything  Podbean Page here.

Many thanks for listening.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Honest Review Month Goes Audio Again! Adam Warlock with Dave Robertson.

I sat down this evening with Dundee’s own comics creating guvnor Mt Dave Robertson. We talk about the run that leads through Strange Tales to Warlocks’ own named series and finally into a couple of Marvel annuals.

This is a book at the height of the cosmic seventies weirdness. It is beautifully drawn with a multi-levelled narrative that makes it a classic of the time and still very readable. We compare highs and some lows and examine the themes and visuals in depth. Does the story end too soon? Should it have run onwards into those gauntlet comics? What is Starlin trying to say?

We also chat all about Dave and his comics imprint Fred Egg Comics. Some great releases such as his suburban time-travel story Belltime and many more. Hop over to and grab some to read. You can also find Dave on Twitter @FredEggComics

Many thanks for listening.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Honest Review Month Goes Audio - ‘A Death in the Family’ with Damian Edwardson.

ON this Audio Episode of Honest Review Month my self and one half of  Art92 Collective’s Damian Edwardson take a deep dive on one of the most controversial storylines ever to hit the Bat Books.

Batman issues 426-429 featured the death of the then Robin after a public vote decided if he should die or not!

Written by Jim Starlin with art by Jim Aparo, Inks by Mike DeCarlo and Colours by Adrienne Roy this really got some interesting conversation rolling. Was it a crass commercial decision? Did it work as a story? Why did the Joker hog most of the story and get the best costume changes? Why was Superman acting so strangely? 

There’s loads to ponder in this new episode that you can find here 

You can also find out about the mighty Art Collection that features Helena and Damian at their website here Have a look for their great comics and art.

Many thanks for listening.

Friday, 10 April 2020

In Review - ‘Cut-Man issue 1’

Cut-Man issue 1.

Written by Alexander Banks-Jongman.

Art by Robert Ahmad.

Letters by DC Hopkins.

Published by Action Lab - Danger Zone.

£2.99 - 25 pages - Released 

The Story - ‘Hank Kelly cannot die. With this revelation, his life is thrown into a world of fame and fortune. But can fame and fortune repair his broken family? Meanwhile, detective Rosalind Lovejoy makes a fateful discovery: Kelly’s immortality has a dark cost.’

The Review - This came out on the recent rather underwhelming New Comic Book Day. I had only a couple of weeks ago written a review of New York City Gallows that is also a comic drawn by Robert Ahmad. (He’s a busy dude!) So I thought I would buy this one and have a look.

I’ll start with the cover which I have to admit was also somewhat underwhelming. The colours and the framing are just not working for me. Who in editorial decided that such a drab colour scheme should be eye-catching in a sea of comics? The smoke from the car on the left of the page feels like it has cut or even torn the side off and the skyline with the Empire State Building in prominence is less than convincing. The lack of visible injuries also don’t really explain the large trail of blood? (It just looks like he’s had some red paint splashed on him?) It’s hardly a bold new issue is it? It’s not even a scene in the actual comic.

The story starts out with what appears to be an argumentative inner monologue within the mind of Hank Kelly. A tortured person who lays sadly on his bed in his humble apartment seemingly talking to himself. The story then switches to a discussion with a therapist after a credit box. This short discussion seems a little over-acted but I’m going with it for now. And then suddenly he’s back in his apartment having a shower. As an opening few pages I’m not exactly feeling thrilled. He then meets a girl and she comes back to his place, he calls his therapist and walks to a child custody hearing. And I’m already well over half-way through this comic. If I wasn’t reviewing it I would have given up.

Finally of page 16 of a total 25 pages something finally happens. I won’t tell you what as there is a chance you’ll want to read it.

Then in the period of only five hours a crowd of people are gathering outside a hospital and declaring Hank an ‘Immortal Man’ or a ‘Super man’. After Five hours? There’s even a banner declaring he is Jesus Christ reborn?! The end of the issue seems severely rushed. Sadly the writing and structure of the opening issue make it both dull and unconvincing.

The art makes use of the the one colour on black and white that we saw with Darwyn Cooke’s Parker books. It is in the most part very well done and communicates story and emotion (albeit at moments a little over intensified) with style. If this had a better cover and a little more of an engaging and less confusing plot (who was that voice in the opening scene?) I’d definitely be on board for the next issue.

I can’t help but think that the book would be better with more oversight from editorial. One of the panels clearly has the unused tail of a word balloon out of place over a character’s face for example. This oversight may also have spotted the uneven plot structure and failing cover.

Many thanks for reading.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

In Review - ‘Starring Sonya Devereaux: Naked Are The Damned 2’ issue 1.

‘Starring Sonya Devereaux: Naked Are The Damned2’ issue 1.

Written by Nick Capetanakis and Todd Livingston.

Art by Brendan Fraim and Brian Fraim.

34 pages - Main Story in full colour with a Black and White backup.

£3.99 (digital) - Released August 2016.

Published by American Mythology Productions.

The Story - ‘No budget is too low, no dialog too cheesy, and no plotline too thin to keep Sonya from appearing in these straight to DVD flicks. From horror - to action - to erotic thriller, each issue is a laugh-filled send up of a different genre and movie – but they all have one thing in common: Sonya Devereaux and FUN! Okay, that’s two things. But just like gravy on mashed potatoes is delicious, Sonya in a crappy movie is hilarious! Now showing: THE NAKED ARE THE DAMNED 2: Satan has possessed a greedy CEO that wants the farm land owned by Camille’s (Sonya Devereaux) family. With the help of a voodoo queen, Camille must use her wits, charm, and skill to defeat a zombie army!’

Review - I know what you are thinking! You are fully expecting me to dive into criticising this comic aren’t you. Well my comics chums I’m not going to. It isn’t perfect that’s for sure but it also doesn’t take itself seriously. I read this book in my lunch break today and I absolutely loved the bare-faced ridiculousness of the characters and the plot. But (NEWSFLASH) that’s what it is meant to be. 

The comic is bookended by Sonya introducing her own new straight to DVD movie at a Horror Convention. The audience is filled with geeky male fans who both adore the buxom Low-budget movie star but are also keen to point out all the plot holes and missteps in continuity in ‘THE NAKED ARE THE DAMNED:2’. So consequently most of the comic is an adaption of this movie. A flick that has Troma or Full Moon Studios written large across the story, genre and dialogue - and to me that makes for a saucy reading experience. For anyone who likes bad horror and science fiction movies this should be right up their street for a carefree half an hour of reading.

In the faked movie portion of the comic the writers throw themselves wholesale into cheeky and trashy dialogue. ‘Camille’ is at once an innocent farm girl with a Daisy Duke style of dressing but she also resorts to Karate Kicks and the use of heavy ordinance firearms and explosives and throws herself into Lesbian pornography. The Voodoo element of the story has one eye on a smart mouth and the other on a quick buck. My favourite written sections are when all the ‘models’ get together and one of them keeps calling Camille a ‘Slut’ no matter what the sentence is about.

The art isn’t perfect and has that Zenascope cheesecake feel to many of the pages and some of the action is a little stiff but it works pretty well in the most part. The colouring is a little on the nose here as well but for me I have to admit that it’s all I wanted in this read. It’s fun and takes the piss out of it’s own T and A over exaggerations to make it pretty darn hilarious.

Other ‘movie’ experiences you can have with Ms Devereaux include Vampire Academy 4 and Debutante Desperado. Not coming to Sky Movies anytime soon - BUT THEY SHOULD BE!!!!!

Look up some more of these sordid comics at I’ve just had a quick look and it seems that you can get a free digital copy of this comic over there.

Many thanks for reading.