Monday, 3 December 2018

Hilda is coming to Bath for Christmas!




Next Saturday is Bath’s first Pop Up Comics, Art and Zine Fair. It’s being held between 10am and 4pm at the Komedia, 22 - 23 Westgate Street, Bath, BA1 1EP.


Along with some great artists and creators there’s a new guest heading down.


Yes! Hilda will be there. (Or just a table selling her books, novels and dolls.) Flying Eye Books and Nobrow will be there for all your comics and kid’s book needs.





Seen the cartoon on Netflix? Can’t wait for season 2? We’ve got you sorted! 


We’ll have all the volumes so far of Hilda’s adventures at a reduced rate of £7 a volume. We’ll also have a the newly released kid’s novel ‘Hilda and the Hidden People’.


And.... If you get in early enough I might even still have some of the Hilda dolls available. Cracking Christmas presents! (I have left Stan in this photo to show scale!) These will be discounted to £20 just for the day.





If you have any requests for these or any other Nobrow or Flying Eye Books and are popping down to this great event then let me know and I’ll pack some.


Or if you just want some recommendations for great presents for a loved one then message me on here or on Twitter @Ezohyez 



It’s going to be a blast! Here are the full details.



See you there and many thanks for reading!









Sunday, 2 December 2018

In Preview - ‘EAST - WEST’ from Europe Comics.




EAST - WEST


Written and experienced by Pierre Christin.

Drawn by Phillipe Aymond.


Published digitally in the English Language by Europe Comics.


America, which I often visited, was a place that both seduced and repelled me. 

The Eastern Bloc countries, through which I also traveled extensively, 

both attracted and saddened me. In those days, it was very rare to be able to visit both at the same time, due to the extreme ideological divide. 

But that’s exactly what I did, usually at the wheel of dilapidated cars so I could 

drive around at leisure and make up my own mind about these places.”PIERRE CHRISTIN


From the American West to the most remote parts of the Eastern Bloc, 

graphic novelist Pierre Christin brings us the tale of his travels on both sides of the Iron Curtain, something almost unheard-of during the Cold War. He recalls his encounters with major authors such as Jean-Claude Mézières, Enki Bilal, and Jean Giraud, aka Mœbius. Between Flower Power and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the writer of Valerian and Laureline takes us on an intimate adventure through the second half of the 20th century,in a narrative that mixes personal experiences and observations with his creative journey as an artist, beautifully and vividly illustrated by Philippe Aymond.’





I was sent this as a preview copy by Irina Polianina from Europe Comics. I jokingly refer to her as my ‘comics crack dealer’, but what she is really is a person with great taste and an insight into what I’ll really like. This is however no niche book in Europe. It has just won the Rene Goscinny Prize at the Angoulême Comics Festival. It is written by the European Comics Legend Pierre Christin who you should all already be aware wrote the Valérian series (yes, the one that movie is based upon).


This book comes out later this month in a digital format. I’m in Rome next week and hoping that the Italians have been clever enough to translate it. Europe Comics remains a great avenue to get an education in some amazing comics.


It’s common for me to skip the introduction in a trade paperback or graphic novel. I’m sure it’s a common habit of many of us. But please read this one before you begin. It shows the intent, the reasoning and the atmosphere of this autobiographical comic. It also gives an insight into the writer and in this case, more than many others, that is important. I am instantly taken with this writer and his style, a pragmatic, no nonsense attitude for sure, but one with strong realistic reasoning. 


One of my self-imposed rules has always been to write only about things I’ve seen (except at the far reaches of space, but even so, that’s what dreams are for), to use only my own photo records (I make sure my shots are ugly, so they don’t overly influence the illustrator), and to include only elements taken from my travels and my reading.’


This is a book that was an absolute revelation in many areas. It is both personally touching and intellectually stimulating. Not only did I connect with the characters I also leant something.





The book opens on Pierre in 1966 travelling across the States in a Greyhound Bus. The country is how we have come to realise a contradiction of friendly white picket fences and troubled racial tension. In one interesting section Pierre leaves the bus and finds himself in a record shop. Being a Frenchman he decides to look for some Jazz records and finds hidden away in the ‘Race Records Section’. Even at this early stage you feel the mood change and the beginning of the social revolution.


I ended up as a comics writer without really knowing how...’ PIERRE CHRISTIN.


Christin began to teach at Utah University and travelled the country during the downtime. You feel that he is a man blown by the wind from one experience to another, fearless but drawn by fate. He immersed himself in a country that he had previously only experienced through Cowboy movies and television. He encounters corrupt second hand car dealers who he hilariously is conned by time after time, American Jazz music, Diners, Polygomy and Mormons. He gets to pursue his dream of riding the range and allows the history in the book to be inspired by his experience of the moment. 


The art from Aymond is breathtaking. He shows the world in widescreen with the beauty of the desert and the city in equal measure. He frames each scene like a period specific photograph showing really dramatic scale. He also shows the personal and the street level beautifully. the story takes a number of time jumps and the artist’s style changes accordingly. We get full colour, sepia and black and white, the art also allows alternatively for discussion between individuals, a reportage style, very personal flashback sequences and a telling of politics and history. It’s an intense and clever experience and Aymond is perfectly suited to a book of this kind.


As the writer’s story progresses he returns to Europe and crosses over behind the Iron Curtain. But always uses comics as a touchstone to the life of the narrator. He sees himself at one point as almost a black market dealer in comic books and albums, taking them to places where they are not easily available. Once again Europe is feeling a huge seismic shift in political, social, sexual and racial changes. These personal experiences of the writer range from the discovery of a Romany Encampment almost stuck in a bygone age to the tense crossing at Checkpoint Charlie into the west, a journey from sinister and quiet to overwhelming capitalism. The world that is disappearing brushes harshly against the concrete giant that has stamped down on the beautiful past.





Throughout the book Pierre travels America, Germany (both East and West), Finland, France, Russia, Bulgaria, The Czech Republic and many other places. We see the impact on the world of the changes and challenges to all sides of politics. The passes and failures of Capitalism, Marxism, Socialism, Dialectic Materialism and all this other political/economical theories and redundant practises. He captures their essence at that time and repeats them here for us to read. But add to this his meetings with the giants of comics like Enki Bilal, Möebius, Rene Goscinny, Jean-Claude Mézières, Jacques Tardi and more. This is the joining of many things. But isn’t that what a life is?


Customs, Comics, Politics, Comics, Community, Comics, Human interactions and Comics.


We are both individually and collectively only a result of our experiences and history. This book is easily one of the best things I have ever read. I have to admit to being more than a little obsessed. Now will someone just pull their finger out and release a hard copy!


Have a look on Comixology in the upcoming weeks for the release of this book. You can also head over to www.europecomics.com or follow them on Twitter @EuropeComics






Many thanks for reading.


Sunday, 25 November 2018

In Review - ‘Through A Life’ by Tom Haugomat.



Through A Life.


Created by Tom Haugomat.


Published by Nobrow.


Hardback | 184pp | 174 x 247 mm £16.99 | ISBN 978-1-910620-49-6


‘Told through a series of poignant vignettes, Through a Life is a sweeping story of dreams, expectations, nature, and loss. Rodney spends his life looking through. Windows give way to screens as he comes of age dreaming of what lies beyond Earth’s atmosphere… This powerfully silent graphic novel by Tom Haugomat follows the saga of a boy who grows up to be an astronaut, just like he always wanted… until a fatal shuttle crash upends his life, and he begins to find solace in beauty here on earth.’



The Review - I have slept on what I think of this book for quite a few weeks. It is often far too easy to allow your mood to affect what you have purchased and read and then mulled over. ‘Through A Life’ it’s an unusual comic/graphic novel/book of illustration. It tells a story successfully in an original and at times beautiful manner.


It is everything that is described above in the quote from the Nobrow website. This is a series of wordless single page/double page images that form a sequential story in a way that the events in the days in someone’s life perform us that service. Each page has a bright and bold image that uses iconography of a period and a feeling to set a single stage. It has an element of block printing in that it doesn’t share any real detail of the image and strips it back to emote a universal (at times) message. Thrown into this mix are full bleed dramatic images of real beauty and impact.


We follow Rodney from a baby to a child to a teenager to a student to a NASA astronaut to a slow moving and melancholic retiree. It plays with those diarised and dated moments of this man’s life and we see it pass quickly before our eyes. This is in fact a quick read if that is how you are suited but my advice would be to take your time and drink in each page. Slow down the impulse to move onto what happens next as you might be prone in other comics. Read the image and the emotion you see there, just there and .....pause.





Some of the moments of solitary loneliness will play with your emotions. These counterplay between the deafening silence of space and the sadness of the quiet solitary figure later in the book as he walks his dog. It communicates much through this single image medium. It does this with flat colours and a quiet stillness.


The single aspect of a time in a life is captured with assured sharpness and pathos. A book of plaintive outpourings in single pages each of which could perform a role as a Pop Art Movement print. You breathe some of the better displayed moments and on occasion your heart stops just for a second.


Not to say that I came away completely satisfied and that is the reason that I have considered it with close examinations of what I felt and saw for some months. I bought this hardback towards the end of September at the Thoughtbubble Comics Art Festival and it seemed at first inspection to be a book that should be right up my street. But two things bothered me. 


The lack of detail is there with intent, that is clear to anyone. But I felt that it pushed me away and it felt stunted emotionally. I felt a nervousness on behalf of the artist about showing a true introspection present and one on the page. That lack of clarity in faces and location became a personal annoyance. Perhaps it is that it is also wordless that made it at moments an impersonal experience. It paints broadly on a canvas with emotion but never drilled down enough into a personality for my own personal tastes. That’s not to say that I am unable to see this as a great achievement of a graphic novel. Just perhaps one that stylistically failed to connect with me.


The second issue I have with this book comes in the earlier pages. Some moments are played, in my humble opinion, too obviously. A prime example would be the image of the space ships from Star Trek. We see the strings that are attached. Why? The child/teenager would not? This seemed rather obvious and a little slight. You may find it funny but it feels like we are looking back and laughing at the stupidity of the past. This unbalanced the poignancy of the read for just a second (don’t worry I recovered). I found some moments a tiny bit too contrived, twee even. Your experiences I’m sure will vary and my inbuilt cynicism may be a factor here.


All in all I would recommend this for those fans of illustration and art. It is an absolute steal of a price at £16.99 and as always Nobrow have put together a gorgeous book.






Find out more about Nobrow at www.nobrow.et and follow them on Twitter @nobrowpress


Tom Haugomat can be found at his website https://www.handsomefrank.com/illustrators/tom-haugomat 


Many thanks for reading.


Saturday, 24 November 2018

Bath’s First POP Up Comic, Art and Zine Fair!





We’re approaching Christmas and facing a slow down in the convention season. One event that should not escape your attention is this one put on by an enthusiastic bunch of local creators and artists that includes my pod brother Vincenzo Hunt.


Happening on the 8th of December between 10am and 4pm at Komedia Bath, 22-23 Westgate Street, Bath, BA1 1EP. This is a must attend event in a cool venue.


I shall be travelling down to the lovely green countryside and historic town of Bath (Pronounced Barth for us cultured fuckers) and having a grand old time of it. Featured there as well as the Red Mask and the Awesome Comics anthology will be art by the mighty Rachael Leigh Carter, Lise Richardson, Rebecca Bagley, Andrew Richmond and Sam Shafer.


If you fancy knowing more then follow @jesterdiablo (Vincenzo’s safety word) and/or @theawesomepod where we’ll be chatting about it over the next few weeks.


It’ll be a great social event and somewhere to get yourselves some Christmas presents!


Here’s the Facebook Event Link https://m.facebook.com/events/220439242042174/#_=_ 


Many thanks for reading.

Friday, 16 November 2018

In Preview - ‘The Intercorstal: EXTENSION’ by Gareth A. Hopkins.




The Intercorstal : EXTENSION.


Created by Gareth A. Hopkins.


56 Pages - £4.00 - Black and White.


‘It started as a drawing experiment, by accident, to see if I could literally extend the pages of 'The Intercorstal 2' by relearning to draw to match each page's style.


Then it took on a life of its own, and became a study of haunting, dreams and fear of the mundane, specifically drawing on reports of 'The Enfield Poltergeist', interspersed with personal observations and modern recordings of ghost hunts.’





A comic or just a piece of art should always take a while to process. This is always true of the work I see from Mr Hopkins. I make it clear from the outset of this review that I find his work emotionally complex. It is often complicated and complex in image and intent and can be viewed from a number of levels. Or at least that is how I approach and ingest this comic and others he has produced. 


I admit that I took a long time on each double page spread of this new work. I wrote this review after my third read through. Once for myself, once to interpret and again enjoy and once to somehow put into words what I felt and what I saw.


A piece of art (again with my overblown attempt at definition) should be something that is in some way existent but also emotional. It should hit some nerves of some kind somewhere. It is an imagining of something else and in this case this reimagining comes in the form of shapes in black and white on a comic page with a narration (of sorts) adjacent and coexisting.


I am personally dealing with this comic as a series of images, a poetry of a type visual and literary and also I see it as a series of chapters/short stories in a book. You may wish to deal with your reading otherwise?


I fear that I am not making that much sense so I have decided to begin at the start and write as it occurs to me. The emotional responses as they come along. 


Let’s start with the cover.


In many ways you can view the cover as a plain counterpoint to the complications that occur from within. It is mostly in inky black with marks and shapes that look like a kid has banged against a painted wall and left the marks of toys, scooters, bikes, kicked off shoes that reveal the whiteness below. The odd shape seems to have an intent but otherwise it seems to be a happy accident of shape and form and black/white coverings. Written onto this is simply the title and the credit. I note that the title is split between normal syntax and capitals to speak itself out loud with a whisper and a shout.





If the cover is a minimalistic shield of protection the first double page spread is a Pandora’s box of abstract that attacks the eye. Hypnotic and mesmeric in it’s detail. The first page begins as a whirl of image and movement. The lines are sharp and clean but cross and grow and merge in ways that will leave you watching it rotate and thrive for hours and return to later.


The opening words leave me agog:


‘It’s supposed to stop when the sun’s out.


It’s worse at night, obviously.


But it’s only at night.’


Combine the above with the image and yes you get something that is both cerebral and haunting. An intelligent encapsulation of a mood, a feeling, a mechanism.


As I turn the pages I am trying to interpret the visually angular and looped styles and shapes. What is it that I see? What is it that I am trying to intellectualise? What makes it such a rich reading experience. Gareth seems to grab moments from the day, something that creeps in when you are sitting thinking and turning the moment or day over in your mind. Some of them are merely single thoughts or annoyances or reflections and some are more complicated. 


‘The laugh you use at work.’


or


‘Clip Clop mouth noises.’


It’s almost like he has kept a record of those thoughts that are fleeting to most of us and we wave them aside and then consider what sandwich to get for lunch or if the trains are on time. Gareth turns these often banal moments into something more. From these moments he travels onwards and also deals often with the world below these thoughts, the dreams and the subconscious world.


‘Dream about a favourite book and wake to find it doesn’t exist.’


This is a comic that plays in the sandpit of so many themes. You dwell in feelings and mood and (to me the most important theme in this book) that of memory. Sounds and spikes and lies and truths and the machine that lays beneath us and amongst us. A machine that is us.


‘Rise and Repeat.’


Each double page is a story of itself. Gareth tears open the world and reveals tunnels and hidden workings. He grows the creatures and plants and buildings and faces that we see when we look at his pages and panels and hidden words and meanings. There is also a deep darkness at the edge of this world. An inkily filled void that rests like a star field without it’s stars at the edge of the art. 


Buy this fucking book!


This is getting a release at the upcoming Catford Comics and Zine Fair on the 9th of December at The Blythe Hill Tavern. Here’s a link http://www.millertown.co.uk/a-guide-to-cczf-communal-table/


Find out more about Mr Hopkins at this link https://grthink.bigcartel.com/ and follow him on Twitter @grthink



Many thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

In Review - ‘The Adventures of Captain Cosmic’ issue 2.




The Adventures of Captain Cosmic - issue 2.


Created by Andy W Clift.


29 pages - Full Colour - £4.00 (physical copy).


All communication has been cut off from Devron VII, a remote colony on the very edge of Commonwealth space. No one knows what has happened to the inhabitant. The galactic guardians known as Captain Cosmic and Kid Cosmic have been dispatched to investigate. What they find not only is their most dangerous mission, but possibly the most dangerous to the galaxy! What has happened to the people of Devron VII? Will the Cosmics be able to save the day and the galaxy?! Find out in DANGER OF DEVRON VII!!’





How do you like your cosmic superheroes? Like them with a bit of dramatic grandstand punching, some Star Trek: The Original Series self-referential humour, some iconic Warholian colour schemes and kitschy tension?


Then The Adventures of Captain Cosmic is what you should be demanding. This is the second issue in Mr Clift’s ongoing series. It’s another dollup of joy from this creator.


‘...Mighty Fists of Justice!’


This is a comic series that I have backed on Kickstarter over the first two issues and loved reading. It is a simple story of Silver Age space heroes who will solve that problem of your planet being invaded by Globulous and Skeletron (‘a Warlord from the Orion Cluster’) and still have time for a chirpy mid-fight comment.


If you’ve had a hard week in the office, on the streets selling your boney body or down that blood diamond mine then this is what will pick you up and put a smile on your face.


Don’t get me wrong though its not without some tension but it does so with a sense of Silver Age fun. It’s even got that chessboard header to the cover that is straight out of a 1967 DC Comic! The art has that animation/Bruce Timm influence that Andy plays with so well. Added to that the colours are flat and the page borders are faded brown to a period specific effect. It feels and looks like you have just pulled it out of a back issue box at a Sunday Comic Mart. This gives it that added Batman tv series feel to the hi-jinks and dialogue.





It’s full of glorious characters. Globulous is a Space travelling Alien Blob that sends his consciousness down to the planet in Starro sized bites that land on the faces of the citizens like a purple custard pie to the face. They will then take you over and bend you to the will of Skeletron!


It’s little touches like that aforementioned pie that just made me smile again on this recent reread.


Seriously, get yourself a copy.


If you are on Comichaus you can read it as part of your subscription. Or if not head here to get a copy.

https://frontiercomics.bigcartel.com/product/the-adventures-of-captain-cosmic-2-print-edition


There’s even a application form in the back so you can join ‘The Cosmic Patrol’.






Find out more about Andy and his outstanding art by heading to http://www.awclift.co.uk/ or follow him on Twitter @AndyWClift


Many thanks for reading.


Return of the Rant!

So, what has been happening....


This week’s mailer was going to be a whole different kettle of fish. I had tried to review a book (a comic that will remain anonymous for the moment) but after a second attempt to read it I just couldn’t find anything positive so say.


Then I thought that I wouldn’t post it at all. None of the below.


But then again what is a blog if it isn’t a way to post what you are thinking/feeling?


Back to that aforementioned comic.


(No I wont tell you who made it).


I had heard that this was a well selling comic and that it was good. I tried folks, I really, really tried to get through the pages of sub proficient faux manga melodrama. I tried to fight through the themes of diversity that to me seemed only there as an obvious and shallow selling point. (Please note that Diversity is good, using it just to sell your comic is not).


I posted a segment of the review on Twitter out of exasperation....


‘I have to admit to never having read this kid’s work. I’ve tried but it came over as obvious and shallow and that dreaded of all words in adult comics ‘cutesy’. It is ass clenchingly obvious in it’s direction and with language written by a random twitter conversation generator for millennials with rainbows and unicorn emojis next to their names.’


What has happened to these people? This gentleman is in his thirties and the comic he’s producing just sounded like baby talk to me. 


Bu, Bu, Bu, biscuit, biscuit from Mummy’. (Not actual dialogue).


The art looks like something a chubby cheeked kid would bring home from school and a posh mum would tell the child how ‘amazing’ the art looks whilst drinking from her second bottle of wine that evening. (SHE IS LYING TO SHUT YOU UP KID!)


Here’s another anonymised segment from the aforementioned piece - 


‘For a generation we’ve told our kids that what they think and say has value. Let’s face it their stupidity and attempts at true art rarely hold any kind of meaning outside of their own insipid instagram page! We’ve coddled and smothered these fat faced imbeciles over the years and told them that they are always the best at whatever crap they think they are good at doing. 


Their publishers have constantly sent them emails of adoration and applause. Nobody is truly fooled here. Lie after lie after fake compliment piles up on top of each other over and over and over again until this becomes some kind of false truth. We begin to accept this as some kind of sub par status quo and that slowly gets rolled along by brainless bimbos into something that pretends to be of value.’


We seem to be growing a generation of fakery. Adults who communicate in gifs and emojis and up-speak their way to casual from an originally comatose state of film-flammery. They think that going to the local newsagent to get a pot noodle is one of life’s hardships and then read and giggle at ‘super funny’ hash tags on Instagram.


I’m seeing a lot of this twattery daily and quite a lot of it gets delivered through my door or in my inbox for an opinion.


How are you enjoying that opinion so far?


Sub Steven Universe (is that a thing?) or bad webcomics seem to be overtaking actual storytelling. The acronym ‘OMG’ is not a story point, it is just three letters that are at best overused.


Of course you cant possibly voice this opinion because people will accuse you of being a ‘hater’ or ‘old’ or ‘out of touch’ or that people should be allowed to show their creativity in all different ways.


This is plainly a load of old C**t.


No I do not care if you are outraged. 


I don’t care that you pretend that your feelings are hurt. No, I will not worry in any way about what you pretend is your moral outrage at my opinion.


Look over there. Look at that crap.


Look over there. Look at me being worried about your opinion.


Let’s all fake scream, run around and adore people who have the drawing ability of my balls.


It’s probably our generation who have brought these tossers up who are to blame. Along with the hand wringing and often quite deluded publishers who are pursuing the diminishing coinage in the industry.


Now go, f off and read a comic (a good well written and well drawn one).