Sunday, 8 December 2019

Finally Wham BAM - It’s my haul. (Part 1)

It was BAM at The Komedia in Baththis past weekend and a fine old time was had by all. I shifted a few copies of The Whore Chronicles, Cyn, Making Comics With Springworth and The Spark and shared a table with podcast brother Vincent Hunt. The day was possibly more on the whole like a local Zine Fair and there was a lot of great art, zines, comics and experimentation on show. 

I was tabling for the podcast and not for Nobrow on this rare occasion and found it to be a chuckle fest and social kind of event. I didn’t really get round to have a proper chat with everyone so apologies. (Everyone did seem impressed that I wore a tie though so I suppose that’s a plus?)

Antony is a little tired this morning....




I travelled down with Mr Adam Falp and he gave me this great sketch he’d done at his table. Watch this space in the new year for something pretty nutty that he and I have been working on..... 

Meanwhile go and grab a copy of Satan’s Library whilst stocks last. You can find him at https://www.adamfalp.com/ Or follow him on Twitter @adamfalp

Otherwise, I thought I’d share some of the purchases, gifts and swaps I got at the event.



First up is My Cherie Jane issue 1. This is a love letter to the actress, model and musician Jane Birkin from Raechel Leigh Carter (with some lovely design work by Dave Tinkham). This is quite the Zine and is A4, perfect-bound and full of interesting articles and photographs that I had never seen before.  It also oozes both coolness and affection for it’s subject matter. I also now want to watch The Idol as it was in part filmed in my home town!

You can follow RLC on Twitter @tinynoggin and at https://tinynoggin.wordpress.com/ She makes comics and zines unlike anything you’ll find out there and are always fun, wacky and informatively beautiful to read and own. 

Raechel (RLC) was also one of the organisers of the day and put on a great event that involved much hilarity and vegan sweets! I had an absolute blast and was ruined the day after!



It was great to see one of my collaborators on The Whore Chronicles at the event. Rik Jackson was there selling his excellent psychedelic detective series Heads as well as his other self published books. He kindly passed me the above two zines.

Three Panels of What is a project that he and his son Dylan worked and and actually got it’s theoretical birth at the BAM event in May this year. Rik drew three panels randomly and handed them over to his Dylan to write a story around what he saw. He would then in turn write three panels of undirected dialogue and hand them back to his Dad to interpret. Pretty Cool Huh!

Rik also gifted me his Horror Movie character inspired Inktober collection. It was great to see his drawing of Blade from the Puppet Master franchise that I suggested on Twitter! Rik is an enthusiastic and inventive artist and writer and also never appeared on an episode of Heartbeat in the nineties (long story).

Find Rik over on Twitter @gojacksongo and buy his stuff over at https://rikjackson.co.uk/



I swapped a copy of The Whore Chronicles with the mighty Paul Ashley Brown for a copy of his new comic Bonbon Fabrika and I’m really pleased that I did.

This is a small A5 black and white self published comic that reads like Micky and Donald (yes, those ones) lived in the world of Tijuana Bibles after crossing through the pages of Private Eye. It travels roughshod over the sensitive feelings of the politically righteous on all sides of the divide and is at once transgressive and hilariously irreverent and also diabolically relevant. Fun with firearms, rampant perversions (your mileage may vary), hard intravenous drug use, satirically subverted cartoon characters and political allegory fill this fucking glorious book!

Highly recommended and my favourite book of the day!

Find Paul over on Instagram @paulashleybrown and at his website https://www.paulashleybrown.co.uk/



More to follow.

Many thanks for reading.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Saturday Recommendation - ‘Satan’s Library’ from Adam Falp.





Satan’s Library’

Created by Adam Falp.

Black and White - Hand Bound - Free.

The Story - ‘A comic about comic shops, buying comics and collecting unusual comics.’

The Recommendation - This is the new release from the prodigiously active and creative Adam Falp. Full disclosure here that I am currently working on a new series with Adam so I shy away from a full review of this new book. But what I can say is that this is original, creepy, seriously strange and one of the best things he has produced to date.

You really need to experience this story.



A young boy goes to a messy back alley comics shop. He talks to the wizened and unshaven owner and asks for a particular comic. A comic that stops the proprietor in his tracks before he heads off to find a copy of this bizarre underground produced issue.

But that’s not where this ends. Not only does Mr Falp tell the story of this unsettling interaction but he also staples into the release smaller sized copies of the comics the boy reads. One of these comics is The Unstoppable Kaijuman! And as well as some great Bronze Age inspired storytelling we also get recreated adverts that we all remember from those heady days of the seventies and eighties! The other comic is Brain Reel issue 21 and is an esoteric homage to underground and creepily arcane feeling comix. ‘This second comic also has a biography tone and may show the two sides of the creator - from boyish collector to murderous intent? The last page shows Adam himself at his drawing board and brings this meta head-trip full circle.


Adam has added the nostalgic with the experimental and wrapped the project in a chilling biography of what could happen at a comic shop of a type we all remember. He is really hotting up as a creator working in the British Underground Comics/x scene and one I advise you pay attention to.

Be warned! This book is free. It is also limited in availability. I’d suggest that you buy something else as well if you visit Adam’s website at https://www.adamfalp.com/

You can Also find Adam over on Twitter @adamfalp



You can also find Adam tabling at the upcoming BAM Comics and Zine Fair in Bath on the 7th December 2019. It’s going to be held in The Komedia on Westgate Street and is free entry.

You can find all the details of this great event here https://bamcomicfair.blogspot.com/ and follow them on Twitter @bam_fair Hope fully I’ll see you there.

Many thanks for reading.




 

Friday, 29 November 2019

Kickstarter - 'Get Woke'

'Get Woke'

Written by Tim West.
Art by Kevin McCullough.
Colours by Dimas Mohammed.
Edited by Ken Reynolds and Richmond Clements.

40 pages - Full Colour.

Now available on Kickstarter HERE

The Story - This is the story of a young man called John Woke. His family are not the trusting type but agree to send him on a school trip to the capital of the U.S of A. With only a slingshot and a redneck youthfully rebellious attitude he soon gets into hot water when he stumbles upon a Satanic Masonic ritual. As the blood is about to be spilt in bursts Elvis, Michael Jackson, Princess Di and a Bigfoot to save the day!

They escape with young John and head back to their secret headquarters on the Titanic where they meet the leader of this strange group who turns out to be John F Kennedy (well just his brain in a jar). John must use all his tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy knowledge to help save the world from little grey aliens.

Get WOKE!!!


The Preview - This has got both the words 'Cult' and 'Nuts' written through it like a stick of rock and I had a blast reading the preview copy that Tim sent through to me this morning. But reader beware - if you are easily 'triggered' then stay away!

'Who is the girl in black? Her eyes are prettier than a chemtrail-clear summer day!'

Imagine what would happen if Man vs Rock met Bubba Ho Tep met The Crown? Imagining? It's not really like that but you kind of get the idea of the madness involved in this comic. Get Woke raises the levels of not giving a fuck triumphantly and this book is a whole hunka class! So 'a little less conversation' and go pledge!


It is violent, disrespectful, crude, fast paced and full of witty off the cuff dialogue. Elvis speaks in lyrics and national treasure Princess Diana is an expert in Horse Riding, Exotic Weaponry and Seduction (obviously). 

'....the only black holes you'll be exploring are those in your prison block shower rooms.'

The art has a definite underground feel to it's unpolished edges but what it lacks in some of the action moments it makes up more than required in energy and anarchy. This is a ride that I have a feeling is only going to get nuttier!

Watch out for that last page!


This is the first issue in a proposed four issue mini series and well worth backing. 

Here's the link to that Kickstarter again Here

Many thanks for reading.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

In Review - 'short dark & peculiar'




short dark & peculiar

Words by J W Murray.

Art by
Jon Aye.
Zhou Fang.
Steven Ingram.
Hugh Madden.
Morgan Russell.
Bob Turner
and 
J W Murray.

A5 - Perfect Bound - Black and White Interiors.

Launched at the Edinburgh Comics Art Festival 24/11/2019.

The Story - 'Ten stories written by J W Murray and illustrated by Murray and six other artists’.

‘A mix of horror, drama, folklore and sci-fi - sometimes humorous, sometimes philosophical. One phrase unites all these stories: short, dark and peculiar.’

(Above from the back of the collection).

The Review - I saw this pop up just a few short months ago on Kickstarter and as I am already a fan of the art of Steven Ingram and Bob Turner I thought I would give it an otherwise blind punt. The crowdfunding amount was kept sensibly low and easily passed it’s total, I also received the book promptly and without delay or fuss. The stories and a good chunk of the art are completed by J W Murray.

This is a collection of short stories and as with all collections and anthologies some are more successful than others. I’m going to say straight away that the stories that Murray writes and does not draw are clearly the better elements of this comic.

You can find more about Murray at www.jwmurray.xyz On Instagram @jwmurraycomics and on Twitter @JWMurrayComics

The cover gives a minimalistic and iconic image that is definitely one of the other reasons I pulled the trigger on buying this book. It is very ‘peculiar’ and whilst I can’t see a credit inside I would guess that it’s come from the pen of Bob Turner? (I stand to be corrected).
**Update** The cover is in fact by Jon Aye - thanks to Bob Turner for the update.

Here are a few of the more noteworthy stories;



The Floor’ with art by Steven Ingram was a twist in the tale short that I found a little underwhelming in story. The art looks fine but it could have done with more exploration and development beyond the simple ending showed. 

Find Steven’s other work at www.steveningram.art On Instagram @steveningramart and on Twitter @steveningramart


Volcano’ by Bob Turner has all the beautifully rendered and clean artwork that we have come to expect from Bob and his experimental style. Like a Scottish Chris Ware Mr Turner has a concise control over the page and stages cascaded images with absolute mastery. Just in time for Christmas we get something absurd but with a message that I’d love to see get a colour treatment.

Find more of Bob’s work at www.castlerockcomic.bigcartel.com or on Instagram @castlerockcomic and on Twitter @castlerockcomic



Coat Check’ with art by Hugh Madden is probably my favourite story in the collection and explores what two workers in the coat check of a club should/would/did do when they found a human heart in the pocket of one of the coats they had collected that night. This adds an unusual twist into a weird story and has some great clean visuals from Madden.

You can find Hugh at www.hughmaddenart.mystrikingly.com On Facebook at HughMaddenArt and on Instagram @hughmaddenart



‘Zero’ art and writing by J W Murray.

Zero’ is one of the stories written and drawn by Murray and wasn’t to my taste. It tells a brief account of what you would do if everyone around you was doomed. The art isn’t strong enough and this could well have done with being a more detailed piece of prose. Page one shows an incident in space and I have looked at it a few times and cannot figure out what it’s happening. Sadly, Murray’s art was a weak point in this comic and in my humble opinion he should consider hiring an artist until his figure work and cartooning ability improves. You have to be careful with a collection of this type as his pages may be the ones that customers opens up first at a convention or in a shop. If I’d only seen this style of art I personally would not have spent the money. 



Good Hat’ with art by Jon Aye is much more up my street. It has a lovely clean and readable yet stylised art style and a complicated and well paced mystery of a plot. The necessities of party etiquette are turned into something much more sinister and multiply into a well thought out and dangerous dramatic situation. I’ll be looking for more from Jon Aye in the future.

You can find more from Mr Aye at www.thesidewindingbeat.weebly.com On Instagram @jonfrancisaye and on Twitter @JonFrancisAye


Altogether this comic had some great moments and some pretty darn bad ones. All in all I’m glad I bought it for a couple of the stories and especially for some of the art. I’ll be looking out for a second volume but will definitely pay more attention to the credits next time.

Many thanks for reading.





Tuesday, 26 November 2019

In Review - 'Bastard Galaxia Volume 1: Power Corruption and Lies'

Bastard Galaxia Volume 1: Power Corruption and Lies.

Created by Steve Gregson and Matt Simmons.
(I can't find any credits so that's what you are getting!)

Full Colour - Webcomic collected into trade paperback.

The Story - This is how the creators describe this collection:

'Bastard Glaxia has it all... money, power and a super awesome base that he really kinda wishes was shaped like a skull...

He's also somehow gotten his own toy line!

Now he's trying to straddle the line between being evil and being marketable whilst not letting his crew know that he has sold out. His latest plans involve him taking down the super RAD Brosef Manstar whilst wearing cool costumes and using toy grade weaponry...

Bastard Galaxia is a love letter to the shows and toys of the 80s and 90s! So grab a seat and bring back the joy of Saturday morning cartoons but with the bone crushing realisation that it was all a big toy commercial...

The comic where 'good' and 'evil' are meaningless and action figure sales are god.'


The Review - I'm not a reader of many webcomics so had missed this previous to this particular collection that I picked up from the creators at the Lakes Comics Festival a month or so ago. 

This is a great looking collection and has a really professional look to the production and designs. It recently easily passed it's funding goal on Kickstarter and is now available at the creator's tables at conventions.  It is also a genuinely funny book.

We all dream of having an action figure of ourselves don't we?

From the first moment where Bastard Galaxia (BD) is talking to himself in the bathroom mirror whilst taking a leak and onwards with more outrageous malarkey it raised more than a few chuckles from this reader. For example anyone who names the elevator in the secret 'Lunar Moon Space Base' the 'Bone Shaft' immediately has me on board. In fact, Simmons and Gregson take obvious pleasure in saying the word 'shaft' over and over again and it never gets old. BD claims he is also a little self-conscious about his secret base being in the general shape of a cock and balls - we all have our own worries at work I suppose.


The main reason that BD is so likeable for me is that he is so fucking off the wall and crazy. He is a skull headed super-villain (obviously) with skull shaped trains, ships and foot-soldiers surrounding him. He is also prone to moments of psychotically charged violence. In a moment of uncertainty about the actual reality surrounding him as he walks through his base he tests his sanity/insanity by squeezing the head of one of his soldiers until it bursts like an over rip strawberry. He then proceeds to wipe his hands on the face and tunic of his assistant before, without missing a beat, moving on to showing his staff the new 'Throne Room'.

He also can't remember the name of his snout faced man servant and calls him alternatively 'Pig Man' or 'Porkins'. He has an associate without a hand who he calls 'Hando' and his wife/not wife is described thus:

'Donnatrix Sinclair. A woman so evil I made her my wife...and so evil we divorced soon after!'

If this had actually been a cartoon when I was growing up I'd have watched the shit out of it. It vaults off into some pretty nutty adventures and I read it in one sitting and chortled along at my desk.


'WAIT-WAIT-WAIT-WAIT! DON'T CHOP OFF MY DICK!'

The comic has a modern animation style to the art and remains joyously anarchic but consistent throughout. The trade is also packed full of extras like adverts for toy swords that transform into skate boards and action figures (like ManStar, Rad Max, Gun Shark and 'BadGuy' Galaxia). You also get some great self-referential meta winks about play sets and a short back-up story that looks like it has been ripped off the back of an action figure backing board.

'There's a freakin' Shark! ...with a gun!

This volume ends on a crashed space ship and a prolonged battle (of sorts). You can tell, especially in the latter half of the book, that this has come from a long running webcomic and it felt like a couple of the talking heads pages affected the pacing a little. However I found this book on the whole though a funny and welcome surprise. Certainly not something I would normally read but now a book that I will look out for volume number two.


You can find these creators selling their books over at https://mattsimmonscomics.bigcartel.com/products and the webcomic over at http://www.bastardgalaxia.com/comic/

You can follow Matt Simmons on Twitter @SheriffFreak and on Instagram @Sheriff_freak

You can find Steve Gregson on Twitter @RoboticSteve and on Instagram @RoboticSteve


Many thanks for reading.

Monday, 25 November 2019

In Review - Schism: Act One from Aroha Comics.


Schism: Act One

Written by Mark Abnett.
Art by Chris Connelly.
Colours by Dom Regan.
Cover Colours by Ellie Wright.
Letters by Rob Jones.
Edited by Jenny Abnett.

Full Colour - 28 pages - £4.00

This is what the summary reads on the back page of the comic:

'The Earth shook and twisted.
New lands arose and the old were destroyed.
When man's technology betrayed him the Earth released a fever which was to change him forever.
So man created something else..
This is the story of the SCHISM.

Adriana Solero Hunter guards the walls of Olot.
The last remaining settlement in snow covered Spain.
She has been pushed to breaking point.
Controlled and corrupted by those around her. She will reclaim her life.
This is the story of her death.'


The Review - I met Mark Abnett the writer of this comic and one of the leading lights of Aroha Comics at the recent Lakes International Comics Festival in Kendal. He is launching a new small press/indie comics company and is full of enthusiasm for the medium and the scene.

The cover communicates a moment of loneliness in a strange environment. The lone female against the background of a broken moon with a starfield background has a sense of poignancy and the suggestion of a brief respite in a conflict that works well. The neon title running down the vertical outside edge of the cover also seems straight out of an Image Comics playbook and piqued my interest.

Page one (as above) makes use of the technique of dropping the reader straight into the action. A cybernetic bear looms over the female hero and revs the reader up ready to read onwards. This fight sadly lasts less than two pages and is followed by another two pages of our hero Adriana laying under the weight of the slain bear. I would have loved to have seen more choeography in this fight, more to prove the danger and more to set Adriana out as a character through this conflict. What follows are a series of pages with her unconscious/dead/near death or under the knife in an operating theatre. I feel like the character needed more establishment before she dove into a coma. One of the pages shows a truck travelling through a snowy city and lends little to the story or mood and is a little dull and lifeless.

The story takes a number of twists and turns and jumps in time and you are clearly not meant to understand or learn the true nature of Adriana's reality as she drifts through dream (?) states. She is grappling with her own sense of being and place and time and the reader is also purposely lost. This jumping in and out of the timeline is counterpointed by the use of plain white panels. I'm not certain that they worked in this and I found them somewhat of a jolt visually and the story more than a little confusing. This may well change on release of issue 2.

When playing with multiple venues/realities you need solid and consistent art and colouring. In my opinion the art is not quite up to the required standard for a story of this type. Adriana has a look that changed a couple of times and I'm still not sure who is who. There are a couple of colouring inconsistencies in hair colour for example that also have me wondering who is who. In fact I'm left wondering in general what is what throughout this issue one and have been flicking backwards and forwards trying to spot names so I can work out identities. I'm really hoping that it explains a lot of what has happened in the next issue. 


I must also admit to some real issues with the interior colours. Many of the pages make use of a blaringly eye-stinging single color. The green in the medical centre sequence, the red of the flashback pages and bluey/purple of the barracks sequence. There is very little nuance to these pages and they hit you in the face with a single colour much too obviously. I'm fairly certain that this is used to break up the realities but it is far too obvious and sudden for my eye.


I'm going to hazard a guess and say that this story would work much better as a standalone graphic novel. This first issue is really confusing and the art isn't strong enough to support the subtleties of the intended plot. I think that Mark is trying to weave something multi-layered and complicated here that would be serviced with better art and colouring and a longer format. Some of the pages feel a little rushed off - an example of this is below with the explosion effect.

I do however thoroughly applaud this writer's attempts at a big epic venture and will watch for more from him in the future.


You can find out more about this comic and this new company at https://www.arohacomics.com/ and on Twitter @arohacomics

Many thanks for reading.

In Review - 'Human' from Europe Comics.


'Human'

Written by Diego Agrimbau.
Art and Colours by Lucas Varela.
Translated by M.B. Valente.
Lettered by Cromatik Ltd.

Full Colour - 134 pages - £7.99 (digital only).

The Story - A spaceship crash lands on what appears to be an alien planet. An android gets out of the ship and makes it's way across the landscape. Due to the accident it's computer is malfunctioning and much of the memory of the mission is missing. This is a dangerous planet full of tribes of ferocious apelike creatures many of whom are bloodthirsty and will attack anything strange and uninvited. 

The android we later find out is called 'Alpha' and is one of a party of droids who are there to work for 'Robert' the lone human in the party. After teaming up with the other androids in the exploration party they find Robert in a suspended animation capsule. They manage, after some hilarious attempts, to resuscitate their master and that is really where all the problems begin.

Will the party survive? What are they really searching for? Will the lone human go mad and create a harem on lady ape creatures?

Things really go off the deep end!

The Review - There is no hiding the fact that the creators have followed the model of Hearts of Darkness or Apocalypse Now in the creation of Human Robert (and done so with relish). He is the lone human on what we soon discover is Earth in the far flung future (500,000 years to be exact). He is the lone man and is surrounded by robots of varying brain size, design, compatibility and ability. He soon descends into the madness that we watched Colonel Walter E. Kurtz encounter. And like Kurtz he takes his murderous madness out on those immediately at his side.

You also soon begin to realise that akin to many other great horror and science fiction films that the true humanity in the cast belongs in those who would not normally be expected to hold those sentiments. So through this twist it is Alpha who becomes the eyes and ears of the reader. This examination of what it means to be truly human/humane gives the reader that much needed connection and so through this the feelings of empathy to this sensitive android a worry that they will be hurt or survive at all.



The action amps up as Robert crowns himself a King, gives himself a throne and starts gladatorial competitions between patched together battle droids and spear carrying ape creatures of the forest. He experiments with technology and augments some of the soldier/worker apes as mindless slaves with cybernetic implants. He then gathers female apes and has them as sex slaves within his cabin in the settlement. King Robert's angry and unsettling madness only gets worse and worse and drives the actions of all those around him to take sides with lethal consequences.

This is some clever writing that upon examination of the art style seems simpler than you later realise. Agrimbau works alongside artist Varela to build a world that is both similar to ours (the ape creatures have easy comparison points to apes we see today for example) and yet is sinisterly weird. Huge structures of Mushrooms tower above the rocks and skeletons and skulls adorn the ground. The world mirrors in many ways the insanity of the human and also the vibrant imagination of the creators. The communication of what is going on within the page is an exceptionally well achieved joining of story and art. This could very nearly be a wordless book and still communicate the story with the impact it requires.



As you can see from the panels and pages that I have posted the art has a gorgeous clean line with some flat colours. I talked about this album on The Awesome Comics Podcast this week and described Varela's art as somewhere between Goran Parlov and Gilbert Hernandez but it also has some added idiosyncratic kinks all of it's own. It screams with consistency and some great design models. It's a shame that this currently isn't available to purchase physically but I may well purchase a French version as it doesn't have huge chunks of dialogue to contend with. I straightaway ordered a book that Varela made with Fantagraphics called The Longest Day of the Future.

This is a book that let's you fall into the trap of knowing what you are getting before pulling the carpet away from you time and time again. The downward descending cycle of crazy just keeps on trucking!



If I had one criticism it would be with the unusually high price for this Europe Comics catalogue book compared to their other releases at £7.99 for the Comixology version and 9.99 Euros on the Europe Comics site. This is a much longer book than many in their catalogue which might explain the higher price. But they are also a company that runs regular sales that you should keep your eye out for.

http://www.europecomics.com/album/human-2/ for a copy and sign up for their newsletter.

You can also follow this company on Twitter @EuropeComics and on Instagram @europecomics

Highly recommended.



Here is a little about the creators:

Diego Agrimbau is an Argentinian writer who has been creating comics since 1990. After gaining experience in self-publishing, he became a professional comics scriptwriter in 2003. Today, he is considered as one of the main forces behind the revival of Argentinian comics. He has collaborated with an array of illustrators and written for various genres, including science fiction, erotica, slice of life dramas, and children’s books, winning several awards. In 2019, he collaborated with Lucas Varela on the long-waited post-apocalyptic sci-fi graphic novel L’Humain aka Human (Dargaud and Europe Comics).

Lucas Varela was born in Buenos Aires in 1971. After studying graphic design in college, he gained experienced as an artist and designer for the press before turning his attention to comics fully in 2006. In 2012, he was an author in residence in Angoulême, which coincided with his entry into the Franco-Belgian market. In 2015, his graphic novel Le Jour le plus long du futur, a solo project, was published by Delcourt, and in 2017, together with writer Julien Frey, he published Michigan: On the Trail of a War Bride (Dargaud; Europe Comics in English 2018), based on the story of a young French woman who follows an American soldier across the Atlantic following World War II — one of 200,000 such European "war brides." His most recent work is the post-apocalyptic graphic novel L'Humain aka Human (Dargaud and Europe Comics), written by Diego Agrimbau.

Many thanks for reading.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

In Review - 'Sentient' from TKO Studios.

I've finally had a bit of time to myself this weekend and have been catching up on some of the read pile. 


'Sentient'

Written by Jeff Lemire.
Art and Cover by Gabriel H. Walta.
Letters by Steve Wands.

163 pages - Full Colour - £17.99 (£12.99 digital)
Published by TKO Studios.

The Story - The U.S.S. Montgomery is a colony ship travelling from Earth to a planet many light years away. Families make use of an Artificial Intelligence onboard who they call 'Valerie'.  When the ship reaches the 'Osler Radiation Belt' all communications with where they have been or where they are going are cut off. At this exact moment a separatist mother who is also part of this voyage makes use of this black-spot and murders the adults. Just as she is about to kill the children a dying law enforcement officer manages to turn off Valerie's mission protocols and the AI uses a mechanical arm to brutally kill the separatist.

From this point on it is down to the children with the help of Valerie to survive. They must learn the needed skills and become organised enough to survive the problems and traps that have been set for them on their journey.



Myself and my pod brothers Vince Hunt and Dan Butcher have been impatiently waiting for the next wave of books to come out from TKO. We went nuts for 'Sara' and 'The 7 Deadly Sins' especially and had the pleasure of interviewing Tze Chun a few months back. He spoke about these new series with great enthusiasm and this one does not disappoint.

This is the sort of science fiction that harks back to the pre Star Wars days and/or the darker little corners of late night movies. The AI has the echo in her voice like Hal did in '2001 A Space Odyssey' but also has a maternal empathy. But you are never not nervous of what hidden intentions there may be in her directions. The children are innocent enough to be moulded and, to a certain degree, brainwashed by the words and plans of Valerie. I can't/won't spoil the ending but you do suspect that something more will come of this codependent relationship with those hints that are left in the last few pages.



But simply because this is a story in the most part about children you should not be fooled into expecting it to be PG rated. There is a lot of bloodshed and horror that jumps out from the dark corridors of deep space in this graphic novel. Jeff Lemire writes with truth and a clearness of thought. He paces the story just right and everyone does things that are both totally within expectations and yet when they surprise you with something you are never confused. He saves some great twists and turns for moments you will not suspect and ends on a point that really got me thinking. 

Garbriel H. Walta matches the naturalism in Lemire's dialogue writing perfectly with the facial acting of his art. I really enjoyed his work on The Vision mini series from Marvel a couple of years ago and this is more of the same in quality and detail. His spaceships are never sleek and balletic they are instead big hulking trucks in space. Full of dankly lit rooms and shadowy edges. 

I bought the trade paperback version of this story. TKO produce their comics in a number of different formats. The hard copy versions are slightly bigger than normal American comic size and this gives added space to the art. I must admit to feeling that Walta didn't make enough of this added space and these pages could easily be downsized to the usual American shelf size without much changing in the reading experience. Saying that they are all gloriously rendered and that added size does otherwise remind me of reading a Treasury Edition from those days gone by.

The children are full of personality and play perfectly against the ordered and solemnly delivered lines of the AI. Steve Wand's lettering deserves a shout out here and is always both full of style yet never interrupts the flow of the narrative. 

It's the personalities and characters that the story depicts are what really warm me to this thriller tinged sci-fi tale. Everyone both looks and emotes differently. There's a moment when the ship is boarded and what you see are that the newcomers mirror visually the look of these kids with added undertones of foreshadowing regarding the future lives of these infant survivors. pencil and Inks wise there are moments in Walta's art that remind me of some John Romita Jnr overlaid with some brilliant choices in muted colours. 


This stands as a great one-off graphic novel but I wouldn't be adverse to seeing where the story heads to after the last page. Even if the creators and TKO Studios decide not to continue with this story it would be great to see Walta and Lemire work more together at this really interesting new comics company. I highly recommend this volume and that you follow anything put out by Tze Chun and his buddies.

If you head over to https://tkopresents.com/products/sentient you can read the first issue in this this six issue series for free. The books are not available to buy through Diamond but most good comics shops stock them. I bought mine from Gosh Comics in London and have seen TKO books in Forbidden Planet if that chain takes your usual weekly coin.

The trade and/or all the single issues are also available on Comixology here https://www.comixology.co.uk/TKO-Studios

You can also follow them on Twitter @TKOpresents and on Instagram @TKOpresents

Many thanks for reading.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

In Review - ‘Andromeda’ or ‘The Long Way Home’ by Zé Burnay.




Andromeda’ or ‘The Long Way Home’

Created by Zé Burnay.


128 pages - Black and White interiors - Hardcover.


The Story - ‘The book follows the journey of a nomad as he struggles to 

understand, thrive and conquer the landscape that surrounds him.’






The Review - This is a collection of Zé Burnay’s previously published Andromeda series with an added chapter and a heap of new back material. It also contains guest pin-up gallery of artists like Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Artyom Trakhanov (Slavic Nihilism), Frans Boukas (Bartkira), John Kenn Mortensen (Sticky Monsters ), Matt Smith (Barbarian Lord), Simon Roy (Prophet) , Aaron Conley (Sabertooth Swordsman) and Christian Degn!


I was lucky enough to encounter the creator of this graphic novel when he popped over to the Nobrow table at the recent Thoughtbubble Festival. He wanted to get the second volume of Geis by Alexis Deacon as the format had inspired him to go with the binding, paper stock and hardback treatment of Andromeda.


I asked to see his book and opened it with Lucy my colleague on my shoulder. 


Me - ‘Wow’.


Lucy - ‘Wow.’


Zé - (Grinned).


Me - ‘You a Jodorosky fan?’


Zé - ‘You know it man!’


Me - ‘Can I buy this copy now?’


This was an immediate must have. From a momentary scan of the super detailed and beautiful black and white interiors I knew that I had to have this book. There is a spectacular alchemy on show here. The pages feel at the same time like a mystical manuscript and also like something put out from Darguard or Humanoids by way of Avatar. It’s like Moebius, Juan Jose Ryp, Ralph Meyer and P. Craig Russell all fucked and this was their art baby! Whilst this has come from a self published project it has an ambitious assuredness and could easily have been released by any number of large worldwide comics publishers.






I have sat on this review for a week as I felt that I needed to mull over the comic a little longer. There are strands and themes that should not be tackled by rushing into a piece. The script feels like something Jodorofsky or Steve Gerber might attempt during a nightmarish hallucination. It gnaws at the edges of your emotions and makes you wonder where the next frightening vision will arrive. A Spaghetti western meets a Jerry Cornelius twisted reality by way of European art house sci-fi horror. There are well defined chapters that jump in time and surroundings - I might have liked to have seen more of the snowy wastes perhaps? After the heat soaking into the reader’s bones in the desert I’d have liked to have lived more in the cold - maybe another volume is coming soon?


Zé makes no secret that this world and the story we follow doesn’t have the logic of the real world behind it’s narrative. The reader’s problem solving tries to make sense of what is happened and who is good, bad etc. But you find it difficult to penetrate the world building and swirling plot. I find this a most refreshing approach. Too often are we spoon fed with the trite and the obvious. This is something different in approach that allows you to soak in it’s not unsubstantial mood and tone. Because the art is so detailed and the ideas keep flying you are allowed to soak in the pages without rushing to an everyday conclusion.






First on my mind is that Andromeda is a piece of outsider art in it’s indie financed creation but also in it’s leather jacket wearing hippy protagonist. He is the ultimate loner. This man is a hunter, a fighter and a survivalist in a world more dangerous than our own. He walks through the changing landscapes thin and starved but with an desperate eye out for danger. His moments of pause give way often in a sudden manner to the adrenalin rush of sinisterly tinged ferocious violence.


There are pseudo religious overtones on show throughout. The protagonist has that Christian messiah appearance. He even wears a loincloth in one dream sequence and has his side pierced with spears. This may be a stretch but he bears a Sun symbol on his chest that may actually present us with him as a ‘Son’? He arrives at a house standing alone in the desert and sits with eleven other people for a meal. I kept expecting Judas to turn up a little richer than before.... We also witness the iconography of worship throughout this volume with altars, biblical (yet zombiesque) demons and monsters and statues as votive images in often representational/alive story twists. The motifs of death, rebirth and life surround this story.


Treacherous aspects of the desperate human are paralleled in the actions of the beasts that surround them. I won’t spoil some of the action but a sequence with a recurring bird of prey/carrion is extraordinarily recreated and has more implications than the obvious. The people in Andromeda sometimes need to close their eyes to the true troubles and hide away - you can find a present day relevance in some of their actions. The people are lost and rarely speak and many of the cast are searching for what little meaning they can find even in the fallacy of religion/s.






The last theme of this triumphantly complicated morality tale is that of the environment. The world between the covers is a ruin and you know that this has happened because of the stupidity of people we can only refer to honestly as ‘us’. It is not only desolate but also infested with the dead and the rotting. The half dead demons/creatures that roam and attack are because of what we are doing/done to the beauty that surrounds/surrounded us. There is a mighty message hidden here in a fever dream.


This is inky nefarious magic - buy it!


Get you copy here and explore more work by this creator http://www.zeburnay.com/product/andromeda-or-the-long-way-home-hardcover-cd-1You can also follow him on Twitter @Ze_Burnay


Many thanks or reading.