Sunday, 18 August 2019

'Weevils' - a short from the late 90s!

Hi all.

I found the following on an old drive. It's written by me with art by David Drapper and from memory I think it was Ed Traquino who lettered the pages.

Those were the days huh!
(apologies for the low res images).


Sunday, 4 August 2019

In Review - ‘Hello To Jason Isaacs’ by Stuart Mulrain.



Hello To Jason Isaacs’
A Mini-Comic by Stuart Mulrain.

8 pages - black and white - A5.

The Story - Who is Jason Isaacs? Will he mind some random stranger saying ‘Hello’ to him? What will Stuart do? 

The Review - This is a short DIY comic that is all about a fan’s obsession with a possibly attainable meeting with a movie star, albeit it a rather short fantasy interaction. 

The cover adds to the mystery by giving it an Alfred Hitchcock/Saul Bass vibe similar to the poster for the movie Vertigo. I’d also like to comment that Stuart is wearing a rather nifty pair of Lionel Blairs in silhouette.


What you get inside is short, quirky, funny, warm and raw. The art comes from a 24 hour comics project that Stuart tried his hand at recently but doesn’t really feel like something rushed. You can see Stuart’s art improving with each outing and this one is solid readable stuff. I’ve been a pal of the creator for a few years now and was pleasantly surprised at this change of direction he has adopted in this project. 

More please!

The story and art adopts a gloriously weird inner monologue style that emphasises the psyche of an obsessive. We see single-minded plans knocking heads with nervous fanboy self doubt. Mixed up situations, feelings and narrative drive you through some excellently written and natural feeling inner thought processes.

It is also very funny.

For a comic about ‘Stalking’ there is no overt psycho-sexual element but rather the need to just say ‘Hello’ to someone you’ve seen in films. I do however suspect something deeper at play and cant wait to see where this project goes or more similar strangeness from the creator. I genuinely think Stuart is on to something here (and I’m rarely nice to him face to face!)

You can find a copy of the comic by heading to this handy link http://oktruebelievers.com/merch 

You can follow Stuart online on Twitter @TokenNerd or on Instagram @stuart_thinks_he_can_draw

Stuart is also one of the co-organisers of the True Believers Comic Convention coming at you on the 1st of February 2020. Find all the details here http://oktruebelievers.com/

Many thanks for reading.



Saturday, 3 August 2019

Not Another Comicon - A Punter’s Review.



Yesterday I attended ‘Not Another Comicon’ at Aston University. It ran between 10am and 4pm and a single ticket cost me £10.00 along with a small booking fee through the Eventbrite website. In preparation I looked at their website and facebook page and they had some impressive UK comics guests that included John Wagner, John Higgins, Steve Pugh, Al Ewing and Jamie Delano.

The event was something of a mixed bag.

I got the train from Euston to Birmingham New Street and followed the map directions from the event page on their Facebook page. Here is where it took me at 9.50am.


I stood in this spot for a while looking for banners or signposts to the event without luck. I messaged a pal who was tabling at the event to get him to press the ‘Location’ button on WhatsApp but due to nobodies fault the Wi-fi was wasn’t playing ball. Then behind me across a small green area i saw someone who looked like John Wagner with what I guessed may have been a convention volunteer. I gave chase.

This is where they took me.



Still nothing showing the convention? Look closer. To the left of the door... that small dark sign, that’s a convention poster. I continued onwards. I was still unsure if that had been John Wagner I had seen from a distance or if I was walking into the right place. Usually I would have expected to see other punters or cosplayers etc.

As I reached the entrance hall this is what I was greeted with.



No line and a table set way back into the building. I headed on and collected a wristband. I was handed a leaflet that I thought was a programme or something similar but turned out to be an advert for the event I was actually standing at with something about toys on the back. The volunteer pointed me upstairs after I asked where I should go. I walked up to the right of the right of what you can see in the photo and was presented with this....



This photo shows one side of the landing I had reached and there were in fact four doors. I was beginning to feel like I was in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain trying decide which door to take. As I stood there pondering I was joined by two more punters and a man carrying coffee. The coffee man declared that it was ‘a bit confusing’ but if we followed him he’d show us where the hall was. We walked down a long corridor and into this room.



This was the main sales room with games tables and a row of retro video game stalls at the far end. You can see that even twenty minutes after opening it was far from ready. I walked round a couple of times and thought that this surely couldn’t be the whole convention, I also couldn’t see any of the comics guests or small press. I explored a couple of the corridors off this room without luck and only found a restaurant that was closed and a student kicking a vending machine. I headed down to reception again as I had seen some people heading out to an area behind the ticket desk. I asked where the other rooms were and was told there was one more and I had to go through the main sales hall and out the other side.

I headed back upstairs and explored further. I saw up a small ramp a banner for Gary Erskine (he told me later that he had volunteered his banner so that people could find the room).

I had finally found the room I was interested in and this is what it looked like (apologies for the poor photo):



I spent most of the day here chatting to pals and comics professionals and finally left at around 2pm. It was very poorly attended and I spoke to six or seven of those tabling after the event who reported extremely low sales. There was a definite lack of signage although they had some amazing guests.

Here is a photo of Jamie Delano. One of my favourite ever comics writers. His table was badly located without any noticeable signage and seemingly next to where they dumped the unused sheets?




On the plus side when a convention is really quiet it was an opportunity to have a good chat to creators who in any normal circumstances would be mobbed by fans. I spoke to Dan Cornwall and John Wagner about ‘Rok of the Reds’ and the upcoming ‘Rok The God’. Dan showed me some of the art for the new mini series that launches next month on Kickstarter and it looks amazing (more news on that front soon).



(Another view of the comics room a couple of hours after opening).



(And another).

I also got a chance to have a good chat with Jamie Delano. His Captain Britain and Hellblazer are some of my personal favourite comics ever. I bought a signed copy of one of his prose novels entitled ‘Leeping Dizzy’ and started it on the train home and am loving it!

I’m a fan of the artist Paul Williams after meeting him at the Lawless Convention last year and it’s great to see him so busy with the Megazine and 2000 AD. He was offering sketches for a mere £10 so I took him up on the offer and got this excellent Shang Chi.



Other things in the plus column was the chance to catch up with creators I’ve met through the scene and the podcast. Stuart Mulrain (and family), Adam Falp, Corey Brotherson, Rich Carrington, Steve Tanner, Sally Jane Hurst and many more. I also got to pick up a couple of cheap trades from the Nottingham Forbidden Planet stall. There were panels but I’m afraid that I didn’t get in to any of them.

Later this was seen...





I will avoid both visiting as a punter or tabling at this event in the future. The main floor was slightly busier than the comics room but could never be referred to as busy by any normal convention standards. We had been offered a table and declined some months earlier. I was told that tables were priced in the £40/£50 area for the comics room.

Why was it so quiet? I’m not sure. The lack of signage could be a reason (there was also a rumour circulating that a guest got frustrated with trying to find the venue and gave up and went home but I’m yet to confirm this). Is August a bad month? Everyone on holiday? Are there too many conventions? Is there a feeling of general apathy towards comics events? Was it due to a lack of advertising?

If nothing else this is a worrying sign for UK comics fandom and comics in general. 

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Many thanks for reading.


Thursday, 25 July 2019

Kickstarter Preview - ‘The Seas’.



‘The Seas’

Published by Body Parts - Full Colour.

49 pages of story - landscape format.

Coming to Kickstarter 30/7/2019.


About the project from the publisher:

‘Independent comics publisher Body Parts launches a crowdfunder for its first anthology, The Seas, on Kickstarter, today, Tuesday 30th July 2019. Offering new strips by a diverse range of international creators, it features new work by acclaimed artist Gareth Hopkins - and the first new comics work by acclaimed illustrator Ian Miller since 1994.

Exploring the theme of the experience of being an individual drop in the sea of humanity, The Seas offers strips that range from the beautiful cartooning of Motobus and Zeno to fully abstract work by Gareth Hopkins. 

Designed and printed to be a beautiful object as much as it is a joy to read, The Seas contains 49 story pages in an A5, landscape format with colour throughout, offering confessional stories through to science fiction. The talented creators featured range from the seasoned to fresh faced, delving into the personal thoughts of twelve humans to open your mind and please your eyes.




“Many seek the solution to isolationism and bigotry with big answers,” says The Seas editor, Iestyn Pettigrew, a maker of zines often focusing on mental health or illustration. “The Seas quietly makes the point that being different makes things exciting for us all.”

“Each creator was asked to express something of their self to the world; maybe an interest, maybe their spirit or maybe just a little memory of being by The Seas. Everyone delivered something personal so that, for just a moment, you can see and feel as if you were someone else,” Iestyn continues. “From the simple pleasures of a trip, to the dark moments of barely controlled rage, all life is dealt with in this anthology of brand-new work.”

Publisher Body Parts is committed to the principle of giving as much back to the contributors as possible. Along with every penny of profit being split evenly by page contributed to The Seas, each tier has a matching option to pay an additional amount to go straight to the creators.’

The Review - I got sent this a few days by it’s editor Iestyn Pettgirew. It’s a big project and one that I’ve heard has been planned for a while. It came to me coincidentally after one of my regular rants about the lack of originality in comics/sequential art/graphics novels/zines (choose your medicine). I have high hopes for this one...... in I go.

The cover tells of deep and dark blues with countryside/seaweed greens floating upon it’s surface like oils dropped upon each other and floating upon a still pool. It works well and leads logically into the contents in art, vibe and palettes. On a shelf it wouldn’t be an immediate reach out for but doesn’t need to be that style of promotional eye-grabber. It has a lovely stillness and dignity to the landscape image. A tranquil piece that I personally find appealing.

From the introduction this then feels searingly personal. It speaks to the moments when we are alone and with nothing but that inner voice. It does so with chest-bearing honesty that is both a light shock and a refreshing approach.

I spoke to the editor whilst writing this review about the choice to name the creators with their online usernames only. This added some mystery that I’m still mulling over (it’ll make for the odd reviewer headache I’m sure). Some creators chose this approach and Iestyn decided to just go with it.  What do you think about that approach? I can’t decide..... 

What follows are a series of short anthology stories that I have to admit to being impressed with them in the most part. Rather than describe them all in this pre-Kickstarter review I thought I’d just mention a couple of ones that stood out to me as a reader.


Miranda Smart (found on Instagram @mir.and.or ) has created a short and wordless story about essential interaction, communication and the relationships with those close to us geographically but who are different in many ways. But rather than the obvious path this one makes use of aquatic plants and their growth and sprouting of vines and flowers. It’s a hard one to describe and needs to be seen. This has a clever narrative that shows you exactly what it needs to whist on a gorgeous blue/green/pink/purple underwater colour scheme. Upon closer examination I’d question the almost exact duplication of pages one and two in the story but it has subtle changes that I forgive due to where it keeps on walking towards narratively.



Gareth Hopkins makes a welcome appearance in this anthology (he can be found at http://www.grthink.com/ or @grthink on Twitter). This is again a stylistic change from what I have seen from him recently. It remains in the abstract but seems more controlled in the panel shapes and control/wrestling of the swirling images. Overlayed is a narration that feels like an inner monologue on top of the tiles at an ancient Roman bathhouse. But then suddenly you feel his joy as he pushes you off the path with quotes like;

‘The charity book sale at the Epping branch of Tescos.....’

Are we looking at a psychological book planting conspiracy or just an insight into the occasionally paranoid thoughts of the creator? This story feels more anecdotally everyday than the emotion on show in Petrichor for example. It is full of asides and observations. It feels like the creator is having fun and I’m always a fan of Gareth’s work. 


Catherine Motobus (who can be found at @motobus_draws on Instagram) is a new creator to me. If I was honest I’d say that her story seems a little bit out of place here. It is a story of a visit to the beach and the packed lunch the character takes. It is competently drawn with nice use of blues over the inked line but feels a little slight compared to the visual rush of the other stories. A moment of solitude on a beach with others playing in the sun and sand around you seems a tiny bit too on the nose. It does however provide a moment that takes you out of your expectations, something maybe you’re unprepared for in this anthology. As a fifty year old man I found it a little obvious and unoriginal but your interests may vary. After all it’s rare that an anthology has every story to your own personal taste.



Vacuum Books (aka @vacuumbooks on Instagram) produce something inkily black and mysterious. The comics equivalent of seeing faces and dreams in clouds or in the froth of the waves crashing on the beach. It alternates briefly between the heavily worked page to the minimalistic sketch and is definitely one of my highlights in the book. They seem to be an outfit worth searching out. To say more would be to ruin the impact of the art.


One small issue for me  in ‘The Seas’ would be the current trend in not crediting creators (even just by their online usernames in this case) until the end of the comic. I had to keep scrolling backwards and forwards to see who was who. Something on the preceding page to the individual story or if suitable on the first page itself always makes for a smoother reading experience, especially as a reviewer. It’s a smal matter.

This is a solid collection with some real standouts. I’ve only read the digital copy but am looking forward to seeing the physical product.

Well worth your attention.


You can find the Kickstarter here when it goes live on Tuesday the 30th of July https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iestynpettigrew/371465053?ref=4f8hgs&token=f45ce0d4 or follow the progress of the book here at https://theseasanthology.wordpress.com



Many thanks for reading.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Hilda is legging it to BAM!!!


This coming weekend, Saturday the 13th of July, at The Komedia, Westgate Street in Bath between 10am and 4pm is the second BAM!

This is a comics and zine event run by people with genuine love for the medium. You can have a read about all the guests and plans over at this site https://bamcomicfair.blogspot.com/

I had an absolute blast of day last year and it looks like this one will only be bigger and better!



And Hilda, Flying Eye, Nobrow and myself will be there!

This is really shaping up to be another fun event with loads of other great comics creators tabling. We're pulling out all the stops and will be there again in full effect. 

I thought we could talk about some of the products I'll be bringing down to the show.

(Hilda figurines will be on sale for a limited time).

As well as the excellent range of Hilda graphic novels, young fiction novels and Hilda Dolls (yes I'll have a few available at the table to those in early enough) we'll also have a range of free stickers, limited edition postcards (with a few teasers from the next so-far unreleased story), posters and bookmarks! Everything a dedicated Hilda fan could want.


What else will we have on the table. All the Flying Eye and Nobrow goodness that you would expect and all at great (and discounted) prices.



Who can doubt the brilliance of 'Kingdom' from the mighty Jon McNaught. This book is so good it will make you weep and has hit every 'Best Of' list worth it's salt from last year. It's basically a quiet and insightful retelling of a family holiday on the British coast. Full of rain, seaside entertainments and the attempts of a single mother to keep her family together and happy. It has incredibly rendered layers of texture and emotion that plays out gently in front of you. It is without a doubt my personal favourite book of 2018 and you need to see it.

Have a look for more of Jon's work over at https://jonmcnaught.bigcartel.com/ and follow him on Twitter @Jon_McN

Want another book that will blow your artistic socks across the room? 'Skip' from Molly Mendoza is a colourful swirl of emotion, imagination and adventure. Follow a human and his hirsute buddy as they travel through dimensions escaping danger and trying to find a way to safety.

I reviewed an early preview copy and this came out just this week. Have a read about what I thought about it here 

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


'In Waves' by AJ Dungo is everything you've heard it is and more. The heart-wrenching story of love lost combined amazingly with the world of the Californian surfing community. At moments alive with emotion and movement it moves over to meditation and thoughtfulness before actually educating. AJ Dungo is a genuine revelation with this, his first long-form graphic novel. The staff at Nobrow were floored by his poetry and artwork and so will you.



Come and explore the magical worlds created by Lorena Alvarez and you too can understand why she's been nominated in the recent Eisner Awards for Best Newcomer.

'Hicotea' is another one of our books that you just have to open, look at the incredible artistry on show and fall in love with straightaway.


We'll have copies of the new and recently released second volume at the table as well as a soft cover version of volume one.

You can find more work from this creator at her website here http://www.lorenaalvarez.com/ or follow her on Twitter @Artichokekid

------------------------------------------------

I cant say too much but we might also have a cheeky early release of a September release! More News Soon!

I'll be bringing loads of other books down so if there's something that you'd like and arent sure I'll have it then please let me know on here, on Twitter @Ezohyez or by emailing me direct tony@nobrow.net

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Many thanks for reading.





Monday, 1 July 2019

‘Actors’ by Stuart J McCune - Now on Kickstarter.


‘Actors’.
Created by SJ McCune.
Published by Millicent Barnes Comics.



Complex and sinister.
Relevant and beautiful.
Confusing and satisfying.
A conundrum that never ceases to inspire.
We are more than our physical existence is a state of knowing that SJM has always translated onto a comic page for me and his many readers and followers. He shows in this new book the complicated and multi-faceted reality of being a human now in this year 2019 and beyond. We carry around a digital shadow this is now frighteningly plain. Stuart J understands this and again asks us who we truly are. He pokes at us through enigmatic and iconic artwork with questions. Aligning truth and art with something you will never read elsewhere or elsewhen.
‘I like it. You can like it too. That would make you like me.’
As much as I hate to admit this as a fifty year old curmudgeonly angry male I also live this altered and other reality. This world in the palm of our hands or in the so-called Devil’s Window. The creator of this book translates that faked(?) world into the pages of something planned and staged and rehearsed like a play or a movie (maybe) but altogether unusual and surprising.
‘INT DEATHBOX’.
We see ‘actors’ and ‘scripts’ and ‘sets’. We see the false as it creeps into the real and the false creeping beyond it’s definition. Where and when does everything exist? I’m never sure, but I’ve a feeling there are at least a couple of answers here. And in touch with the forces around us Mr McCune has concocted another nightmare in full colour. It has depth and intelligence. It is a deadly mystery.



It will encourage you to ask questions or/and you can follow the pages and the text and enjoy this starkly strange half hour of reading. It has a deep bleakness to every glorious panel as well as it’s obtuse and alarming arc.
This is a book unlike anything else you will read. It speaks on levels I personally find inspiring and also profoundly disconcerting.
This is not a review. This is an echo of the feeling and thoughts I have from this comic. This comic makes the hairs on my arms stand up. This is a feeling and a wide-eyed stare. I will go back in and see how it affects me again and again. I feel that a rewind and a reread is in order.
‘Now everything is nothing.’
........one of the final images will haunt you all day.
I have a feeling that Stuart J McCune enjoys playing with our states of consciousness!
A book that asks many questions yet is also a joy to read and watch.



I consider him a pal - he also isn’t that strange or scary in real life!
I encourage you to back this Kickstarter asap https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/496548914/actors I’ve backed everything he’s created and have a growing library of wickedly brilliant art.
You can follow Stuart and his art on Instagram @sjmccunebc and on Twitter @StuartMcCune

Many thanks for reading.








Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Glasgow Comic Con 2019!

When Nobrow meets Glasgow Comicon.

Hey everyone. Now that I am in post at Nobrow and Flying Eye I'm doing the rounds of some of the UK's Comic Conventions and having a nose to see if they are worth tabling at in the future. After a brief retirement I was lucky enough to be hired by this excellent comics publisher and am loving every single minute.



Next up I am excited to be travelling north of the border to Glasgow Comic Con. An event that has been running from 2011 and goes from strength to strength!

I'll be visiting as a punter but will have a car boot full of our books to show about and sell if you want to pre-order from me. May I highly recommend 'In Waves' from AJ Dungo, 'Kingdom' from Jon McNaught and 'Skip' from Molly Mendoza. All are absolute corkers. I might even have some of those most sought after Hilda Dolls

I'll also be repping The Awesome Comics Podcast and looking forward to meeting all the Small Press Mafia and grabbing some interviews. If you have something new dropping then please let me know in advance and I'll come find you.


I've never visited this one and can't wait as I've heard great things from pals. There's also quite the guest list! Ian Kennedy, Chip Zdarsky, Frank Quitely, Brian Stelfreeze and many more. 




Here's the link to the event:

http://www.glasgowcomiccon.com/

You can book tickets (I think there are just a few left) here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/glasgow-comic-con-tickets-53543326531

See you there!

No I ain't eating your so-called 'Square Sausage'.

(Next up BAM!)

Many thanks for reading!