Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Monday, 20 August 2018
Written by Chris Sides.
Art by Chris Travell.
Lettered and Edited by Ken Reynolds.
Cover design and art by Colin Lorimer.
Published by Comichaus.
The Story - ‘Given six months in prison and slapped with a restraining order against celebrity starlet Kerry Amos, Jared Close rejoices in his new found freedom by going back to doing what he knows - stalking Amos.
Things take a dark turn, however, when Jared witnesses Amos' murder at the hands of the detective, Coburn, who put him behind bars. Jared finds himself in an impossible situation; he has no alibi, he can't come forward without evidence and to make matters worse, he's suspect number one. Taking matters into his own hands, Jared sets out to prove his innocence, but Coburn has other ideas...’
This is a one-shot thriller released through Comichaus.
Preview - Well, looks like everything is hotting up. Thought Bubble 2018 is just around the corner and the wise members of the comics creating community are starting their engines. The preview copies have just begun their way to me and other reviewers. I was pleased to see that Chris Sides and Chris Travell were first out of the gate with their new book Close.
I was sent late last night the first twenty pages of this new crime book. It has a dark and dirty feel beyond the lush detail of the black and white interior art. It’s a bleak story of a stalker who may, or may not, become the detective in this tale but on his own depraved terms.
When we approach a story as the reader we in some way or other visit the lives of the people on the page. What the creative team does here is create a reality that sucks you in and keeps you holding on for the ride. Chris Travell has an ultra realistic style that uses what feel like real faces with real feeling emotions. They react and turn and glance and speak as we all do. But they do so within the confines of a horrific crime that comes as a sudden outburst by the one person you don’t expect. A good thriller subverts expectations often, this story does exactly that.
Chris Sides extends this reality by making use of clocks and moments of stillness. You feel the genuine passage of time as Jared Close arrives home and dwells on his life and what his degenerate plans and plots will become. The pages and the narrative are full of visual data and clues. I marvelled at the decisive and slow release of the story through the movements and face of this ex con. It takes at least a couple of twists in the first act and I fully expect that there will be more to follow.
One small niggle would be that there seems to be an awful lot of clues discovered at the crime scene. The revelation that there were tears on the body (‘Lacrimal Fluid’) was a nice moment but it did have me wondering ‘How did he know that?’ I’m guessing that this may become clear soon enough...
Worthy of note is also the excellently iconicly minimalistic cover that gives away just enough of the secret. Nicely done by Colin Lorimer (makes note to look him up for a cover for me...)
CLOSE is launching at Thought Bubble 2018 and will be available to buy via the Comichaus website (www.comichaus.com) and available to read digitally via the Comichaus app (www.comichaus.com/app). I shall be grabbing a physical copy.
You can find Chris Sides (IMPOSSIBLE, DARK MATTER, WHISPERING SANDS)
At www.chrissideswriter.com and on Twitter @Sidesy1982
Find more art by Chris Travell (DARK MATTER, WHISPERING SANDS)
At www.instagram.com/travellsky and on Twitter @travellsky
Edited, lettered & designed by Ken Reynolds (COGNITION, IN TROUBLE, SLICED QUARTERLY) www.kenreynoldsdesign.co.uk and find him on Twitter @ReynoldssKR20
Cover art by Colin Lorimer www.instagram.com/colin_lorimer
Many thanks for reading.
Saturday, 18 August 2018
Last week I wrote a piece on how I enjoyed watching people punch each other in comics and that I kind of miss seeing more of it. The piece had a satirical element that a few people caught on to. It got a crapload of reads and I kind of like the fact that people enjoyed it in different ways.
‘I liked ‘Repo Man’. Satire.’ - Harry Dean Stanton.
So... what will this grumpy old man talk about this week?
Let’s go from thumps to gentle Summers and those vacations of our childhoods.
This is a book that I’ve seen images of but never been able to read. I even follow the artist on Twitter just to drool over his art.
Then along came Europe Comics. The digital only publisher of comics from France and Belgium. We are lucky enough to be on the comps list for this company for covering on here and at the Awesome Comics podcast and I’ve loved books like ‘Desert Star’, ‘The Mermaid Project’, ‘The Eagles of Rome’, ‘Raptors’, ‘World Book of Records’, and many, many more.
Once again. This book is outstanding. If you have not discovered Europe Comics yet you need to have a look.
Glorious Summers: 1 Southbound.
Written by Zidrou.
Art by Jordi Lafebre.
Colours by Jordi Lafebre and Mado Pena.
64 Pages - Full Colour.
The Story - ‘In this nostalgic account, the Faldérault family sets out for a final summer vacation together before an impending marital separation disrupts the family dynamics for good. Along the way, heading south to France from Brussels, Pierre, Maddie, and their children revel in impromptu skinny-dips, family sing-alongs, and camping in the wild, ultimately finding a renewed zest for life—and vacation!’
The Review - This is a book that is funny and sad and nostalgic and I dare you to come away without a lump in your throat. As you read you can feel the breeze from the lake and feel the sun on your bones as you lay in the grass. Whilst it is set in Belgium and France it feels like those holidays you had as a kid. Those long car journeys arguing with your brother or sister and your parents in the front chatting in the heat of the dusty back roads.
But don’t make the mistake that nothing much happens in the 64 pages of story. There is something poking at your ribs in the side lines you feel something is going on beyond the idyllic settings. You feel that there is unhappiness in the relationship between the mother and father. Pierre is a comics artist who isn’t managing to break through with his work. Maddie is unhappy working in a shoe shop and the romance has gone stale, they are drifting apart with only the mischievous chorus of the children to distract and occupy them.
As the family set off on the journey they each come across as individual characters. Arguments break out as they climb and scrap in the back seat. But as the dusk and night draws in they fall asleep and the parents turn from talking to them to talking to each other. It’s then that you notice the cracks. This scene is absolutely masterful in writing and art. The weight of the conversation and maybe just a couple of lines speaks volumes. As this reality in a panel hit me I became a fan of both these creators.
It is that coexistence on the page and in the moment in the beauty of image and genuineness of dialogue that you realise that this is an incredibly important book, and yes, medium.
I’m been following Jordi Lafebre on Twitter for sometime after being tipped off to his art by Marc Laming. I understand only a portion of the French language but followed him on Twitter for his art (find him @jordilafebre where there is a lot in English!) So when Europe Comics translated his work I was over the freaking moon!
This is a combination of cartooning and caricature with detailed and richly coloured realistic landscapes. There is a vast depth to each scene and nothing cuts corners. The caricature in the faces has an animation feel to it that allows for displays of emotion and reaction. I have also never seen anyone play with light and shadow so beautifully on a comics page. You feel at ease when they lay and sit around at a picnic, you feel the cramped confines of the car, you feel the heat of the village streets and taste the food they eat. You can look at a panel for an age before moving on to the next.
This book is set in the 1970s. The border between Belgium and France is manned and identities are checked. I suppose that these were different times but at one moment Maddie slaps one of the kids in the face (fortunately a less common event now than it was then) and then storms off. She’s had enough. This happens at almost halfway through the book. You realise but not necessarily agree with her motivation. But, it resonates so hard on your emotions because you feel that you know the characters. This is due to the richness in the characterisation. That investment in carefully chosen lines and well crafted visual personalities pays off a thousand per cent. A lesson to us all when writing character. Outstanding, just pure comics.
Recommended to everyone who loves comics.
Find your copy at http://www.europecomics.com/author/jordi-lafebre/
You can also follow Europe Comics on twitter @EuropeComics and sign up for their newsletter for upcoming releases.
As if you prove my point I swipe to the back page and find the following. Put much better than I was able.
Many thanks for reading and have a great summer.
Thursday, 16 August 2018
Ramble of the week.
I’ve been reading a lot of old comics. I’ve been looking at some Warlords and Defenders comics. Then I listened to my Pod brother Vincenzo Hunt talking with Gareth Hopkins on his Alpha Flight podcast. They talked about an issue of Marvel Two-In-One which featured the Thing and Sasquatch.
It brought home to me two things.
- I wish there were more comics you could pick up and read and not really be that bothered about what the next issue holds. And...
- I miss comics that were just two characters punching fuck out of each other.
I grew up on the Herb Trimpe Incredible Hulks that were essentially a monster/creature/alien/villain of the week that the Hulk could fight with. Some great characters. Some of my favourites were The Cobalt Man, Hammer and Anvil, The Devastator, The Abomination, Doc Samson, The Golem and The Glob. I started on this series in the Marvel UK weekly The Mighty World of Marvel and ate it up every time my dad brought it home after mass on a Sunday.
Look at some of these ace designs!
How far away are we from some attention seeking princess saying that all the fighting in comics makes them sad or anxious or that it shouldn’t be allowed. Just look out for comments like;
‘Boxing should be banned and so should all the fighting in superhero comics’.
‘Why is it that men like reading about needless and bloodthirsty fighting.’
‘There’s a lot more to write about in comics than fighting, perhaps we should rest that trope for a while.’ (PS anyone who says trope is normally a twat by the way.)
What I’m saying is that I’m not a fan of people getting sad but that is rarely the motivation of people waving a ‘Look At ME!’ flag on the internet. Some people love to say something and think (yes ‘think’ aka ‘delude’ themselves ) that this is their new reason d’etre. That they are the lone freedom fighter in an unfair and facist world. They are in the underground, fighting the oppressive overlords. They are the lone voice of true morality. They are our saviours. They are the Ethical Messiah risen to lead the world to a new era of goodness.
They are cunts.
They are normally people stuck behind a computer. Not doing anything that actually helps anyone in any real sense.
I just like watching monsters/people/aliens/animals punching each other.
And I will fight your irradiated hide to maintain my freedom to watch made up people pummel reach other!
Who is with me!
Tony ‘Tooting Popular Front’ Esmond.
PS. If you are rallying to either side of the debate just remember that I made the argument up. It hasn’t happened (as far as I know) except on this page that I made up over an early morning coffee!
Evidence that this can be done.
I’ve got to get off I have a clock to wind up.
Tuesday, 7 August 2018
The Human Beings issue 6.
‘The Dark Family in the Golden Field’.
Created by Stuart McCune.
40 pages - Full Colour.
Published by Millicent Barnes Publishing.
‘As if in a trance Maria watched the woman.
For it seemed to her then that she was watching the dead still centre of the world.
The quintessential intersection of nothing.’
Joan Didion. (Play it as it Lays.)
I approach this review in the same way that I have approached the reviews of all of Stuarts work. I read the book, try and find how it affects me, and it always does. I try and examine what I think he is saying. I try and investigate the underlying truths of the book. And I compare it to nothing else out there.
My fingertips reach out to touch just the edge of Stuart’s reality, never totally in contact. I suspect that I’m picking up on a few things here and there that he will never admit. Nothing should ever be totally understood. None of us are that stupid or that insightful.
I make no claims that this review is accurate.
This week as I read I am struck that Stuart is in fact a hitman.
I messaged him.
A Brief Mention of the Story.
A man and a woman share a moment. A sensual and post coital moment in a bed. She nags him to repeat a dream that he has had. This world of the two people is a familiar one. We lay in that moment of total timeless existence. Sharing ourselves after the physical moment has ended. This takes place in a hotel in Rome.
We shift locations.
‘I tell people I’m an artist, I even hold exhibitions.’
A sniper picks out his targets. Narrating his life and never totally being what he seems. At once the world of The Human Beings takes a nasty and sinister turn. Faces are intensely gruesome and plans are teased at the players and the reader.
Maybe there is a moment that links back to a certain Monologue? Maybe not.
For this is a world of quietly spoken sentences becoming a nightmarish brutality. This is a twisted love story, a dark and dangerous romance. The images of the past, of stars being interviewed on a chat show couch. The reflections of the television screen giving it a sheen of glamour.
Added to the main story which is absolutely captivating you get a shorter story that is connected called Heist. It hints to future crimes. You also get a one page hint at issue 7. (Coming soon to a Kickstarter near you).
A Letter from The Creator.
What you also get that I found interesting is a two page piece of prose from Stuart. It is prefaced by this quote;
‘I no longer belong to anything you can imagine’.
Dr Thomas Oro (14/6/71).
A piece about an encounter in an old bedroom is not what you may expect. I read it with a smile on my face. The Roman equivalent of chasing a wasp with a shoe perhaps? Or something more? I smile again at it’s imagery.
Everything McCune creates has an extra layer.....
It is followed by an image of a woman in a photo. Her hair barely visible as the centre section has been torn out to obliterate the personality. Maybe?
A Few Further Thoughts.
The Human Beings is a series that interconnects with theme, character and story. It is, as I am often saying, not designed as a quick read on your lunch break. But it should indeed be read. It has both a literary feel and a beautifully sinister art style. It whispers at you with nuance like a great jazz solo.
I also assert that it is the nearest you will get to a David Lynch movie in a comic book. Intense moments are handled with supreme ability and also have a slight, ever so slight, wink at the reader. A wink that dares you to investigate, explore and uncover what is at it’s heart.
It is, as the early quote suggests an intersection of many things, themes, people and purposes. I consider Stuart to be a good friend, a man of depth and humour. His fingerprints, in fact anyone’s fingerprints, have never been so visible in a piece of art. The artist is the art. His story is verse and chorus bouncing the reader through a chaotic structure of a narrative. I enjoy what he does, find it a puzzle I want to at least try to solve and am also at the same time inspired to create for myself.
If you have never read his work before you need to open up your eyes. Just try, you never know what it will inspire you to do.
Stuart also sent me a couple of extra pieces that I’m not allowed to talk about at the moment but speak to future events in this great series. What out....
You can find out about Mr Stuart McCune at www.millicentbarnescomics.bigcartel.com
You can also find him on Twitter @StuartMcCune
I also suggest you follow him on Kickstarter. Just search for Stuart John McCune.
That bit I always put at the end.
Many thanks for reading.
Sunday, 5 August 2018
A Real Job.
Written and drawn by Alberto Madrigal.
Published digitally by Europe Comics.
129 pages - Full Colour - Release Date 15/8/2018.
The Story - ‘Javi has left Spain for Berlin. He doesn’t speak German and hardly knows anyone there. He wants to be a comic book artist, but all his friends advise him to find a real job. He desperately needs to believe in himself, and to be believed. Burning with the desire to leave his mark, yet patient like any professional observer, Javi tells the story of his world, which becomes his first comic.’
The Preview - I read this comic a couple of days ago. A preview copy was very kindly sent through by Irina Polianina from Europe Comics. I have found that it has been playing on my mind since. I’m not sure why but images of the pages and panels are drifting back into my mind. I think I am being totally fair when I say that not much happens in it’s narrative but that it is also totally entrancing.
Javi is a slightly lost character. He is full of the indecision’s of youth. He is a little directionless but believes that his dreams are attainable, just when it can be accomplished eludes him. For Javi wishes to be a comics artist. A familiar story for sure but this is done with the twists and turns of reality added to some outstanding artwork.
A story told with a smile and a sense of melancholy. I book of memories of how we form ourselves into who we are and want to be. A book of friendships and personalities.
Alberto Madrigal creates circumstances, a sense of place and a group of friends and colleagues who you feel familiar with. The outspoken one, the friend for life, the encouraging one. His characters wander round small bedsits and flats as well as the gloriousness of the big city. The creator pulls out from a small vision to a landscape of vast buildings and personal opportunities.
It is not missing a sense of humour and is mixed in with fatalistic pathos and combines these with a world opening up with opportunities and possibly, just possibly crashed on the rocks might be his dreams? (no spoilers). You wander the streets and thoughts of Javi. Many of the faces lack detail and are mere iconic cliches but this is done with a sense of artistic style and purpose.
Float along in this artwork. It might take a moment for your eye to adjust but when it does you won’t want this book to end. It has a lovely combination of water colour, washed out sepia scenes from memories past and the lines of a caricature artist.
Head over to http://www.europecomics.com/album/a-real-job/ to preorder a copy.
You can also find Europe Comics on Twitter at @EuropeComics Also make sure you sign up for their mailer.
This was originally published by Bao Publishing in Italy.
The Creator - Alberto Madrigal was born in Spain and has been living in Berlin since 2007. After a few short stories and freelance illustration gigs, Alberto Madrigal debuted on the comics scene in 2013 with Un lavoro vero (BAO Publishing; A Real Job, Europe Comics 2018). In 2015 he followed this by releasing Va tutto bene, again with BAO, in which he tackles the estrangement of a generation fighting to affirm its identity. In the same year he illustrated The Story Tree, novel for younger readers written by Gabriele Clima and published in the Battello a vapore imprint of Edizioni Piemme. Most recently, Madrigal has illustrated the graphic novel Berlin 2.0, written by Mathilde Ramadier and published by Futuropolis.
Many thanks for reading.