Sunday, 27 May 2018

In Preview - ‘Daddy Day’ by Samuel C. Williams.




Daddy Day.


Created by Samuel C. Williams.


Published by Good Comics.


I just got a short preview of this cracking new book by Samuel. 


Some comics encapsulate the mood or the feeling of a particular period of your life. That time that impacts upon how we feel and deal with our every day issues. This new graphic novel from the Good Comics crew plucks little moments out of the day and places them with care onto the page.


As a father I recognise these little moments and they are translated with care and no small amount of humour. Short vignettes that speak to the parents amongst us. Although I’m sure that those who are not will enjoy it too.




The art has a caricature and funny and warm edge. I laughed at more than a couple of the moments Sam recounts. There’s still some work to be done on the comic but I was lucky to see an early copy.


I’m really looking forward to seeing the whole collection. Something of it reminds me of a British version of the comic diaries of James Kochalka - and that is high praise in my mind. Exaggerated smiles and tears with wide eyes innocence are presented in a combination of two colour and full colour pages. The art is on occasion a little rough around the edges but to me that will just endear you to the people at play in the panels. It is both an autobiographical diary comic and also a comic with themes of family and childhood.





We see this family play on the swings, catch sight of colourful garden birds, sneak a couple more minutes before bedtime and more. Touchingly shown on every page.


Good Comics continue to be a publisher worth watching.


You can find more of their books over at www.goodshop.bigcartel.com or follow them on Twitter @Good_Comics.


You can find out more about the creator on Twitter @samuelcwilliams



Many thanks for reading.

Lawgiver 2018 - a Con Report.

Lawgiver 2018! What a day!





I’ve always been a 2000 AD fan but never quite got into the message board scene that they have of recent become known for. It’s a fucking ace comic and full of some of the best and most imaginative comics you’ll see anywhere. The pod had kindly been invited to come along and cover Lawgiver by the organiser Su Haddrell. I have got to say that she puts on one hell of a show!


The guest list was a who’s who of the good and the great from the prog. Simon Bisley, Mick McMahon, Glenn Fabry, Dylan Teague, Steve Austin, Ryan Brown, Mike Collins, David Roach, Henry Flint, John Higgins and oh so many more. (Keep reading and you’ll discover a few more...)




(Mr V Hunt as we had a look at the original art!)


Held at the Double Tree in Bristol which many of you might remember as one of the homes of the old Bristol Comics Expo in the early 2000s. I have stayed at this hotel for three different conventions over the years and it always has a lively bar and pre/post con social scene. Today was no different. Upon arriving we were met by one of our favourite people in comics Iz McAuliffe who was there helping to make the day run smoothly.





The day opened with all the attendees and guests gathering in one of the talk rooms and being welcomed by Su. This is a trend that you used to see at the old UKCACs (United Kingdom Comics Art Conventions) in the 80s and 90s but has disappeared a bit since. I think they are a great idea. They make you feel part of the day. I was sat over the isle from Ian Gibson and chatted to people in front of me. Su got a big round of applause and opened the show. Come on Con organisers let’s see a return to this.





My first stop was our old mucker Dave Broughton. He and I did a just for fun Silver Surfer comic last year (If you haven’t read it yet then send me a message and I’ll give you the link) and he’s now finished his new superhero comic called ‘Slaughter Hawk’ and good god it looks ace. I grabbed an interview with Dave that’ll be appearing on a future episode of the pod and I can highly recommend anything he does. 


Look for Dave on Twitter @DbroughtonDavid He and I may also have a super secret project bubbling that you should look out for.


Myself and Vince ‘Nu Earth’ Hunt then spent the whole day chatting and shopping. 





It was great to finally catch up with Dan Cornwell after we loved Rock of the Reds so much. I’d managed to interview John Wagner at Leamington Comic Con and John (and all attending) marvelled over the gorgeous artwork that Dan had produced. Dan was great company and even took my ‘What bus can I get to Bristol Parkway?’ And ‘Do you send three pages at a time into 2000AD when they don’t expect it?’ Bus driver jokes. (For those that don’t know Dan recently gave up his job as a bus driver to draw comics full time.) This is a creator that you need to pay attention to.


Find more about Dan at www.dancornwell.wordpress.com





Next to Dan was Paul Williams who did me this excellent Torquemada head shot for FREE! It was great to hear that he listens to the pod and was introduced by our pal Gareth Hopkins. This geezer can draw. You can find some gorgeous examples of his black and white art (after a triumphant win at the 2000AD 2017 Portfolio Competition) and in the pages of the Prog itself. 


Have a look at Paul’s work over at www.sketchymagpie.com or follow him on Twitter @sketchymagpie




(A page from Sunflower - 451 Comics).


One seat on was the mighty Lee Carter (genuinely just these three guys would have made for an ace convention on their own). I bought a gorgeous sketchbook from Lee and he chatted about working for the prog and for the short-live 451 Comics publisher. I immediately then went and bought and downloaded his series Sunflower! Christ on a fucking trike it is beautiful. (No spoilers but he may be a guest on the pod sometime soon).


Find out more about Lee at www.mrleecarter.artstation.com or follow him on Twitter @MrLeeCarter



(Some Ian Gibson art!!!)


What followed was a long session of back issue and trade diving by myself and Mr Hunt. We both managed to fill our respective bags and also marvel at some slightly overpriced original comics art. 





(Vince even tried on the odd Johnny Alpha prop!)


We chatted to some great people both old friends and new and it was like going to a comic conventionfrom the 1980s. One that included an awful lot of drinking! One that wasn’t full of plastic toys and stuff that basically wasn’t comics! You know what a grump I am but even the cosplay didn’t get on my nerves.





We’ve had a little look behind the curtain about what is being planned for next year and I promise that you won’t be disappointed! A lot of UK Conventions could learn from this fun day.


And who says beer is bad for you!!


Many thanks for reading.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

In Preview - ‘SUTRA: Songs from the World of Om’ by Andy Barron.

SUTRA: Songs from the World of Om.


Created by Andy Barron.






The Story - The creatures of the World of Om return and navigate the landscape that in many ways mirrors our own. This is a world of beauty and savagery. It reveals much about these characters and in turn our own lives. Trajectories of narrative that can be fruitless and also life affirming. A visual song.





The Review - The artist, Andy Barron, takes another step forward in twisting my mental state with this new volume of his series Om. He takes another experimental step forward by introducing real world items into his comics. Whilst the previous incarnations and stories of this universe were totally drawn and coloured in this episode at certain moments he uses real life textures and environments. It makes you feel like these creatures are living in a place that is just outside of what you can see. Turn your head quickly and you might catch something disappearing behind the washing machine or garden shed.


Barron has become known somewhat for his imaginative use of dioramas on his convention tables. Small little puppet theatres that featured the creatures from Om. He swings the camera around thematically once more and makes use at a couple of moments in this story of these dioramas. This switches and changes views and meanings in ways I will let you explore yourself.


The comic has numerous knowing winks, moments of meta comparisons and mischievous parody. It opens with a wry grin as the character is portrayed like a certain Christmas Messiah and who then moves through time to become a middle eastern monarch. Barron’s characters traverse alien and often barren landscapes. But as they do they discover secrets of life and nature. Themes are gently poked in the readers ribs and we watch birth, death and rebirth through the pulsating and glowing alien nature that is shown so brilliantly in every panel. All moments are without any speech. One of my favourite sequences lampoons both religion and politics as a mob decides that due to the scratchings on a number of Hestonesque stone tablets that one character must be executed. As the crowd gathers they morph into a single entity with numerous cold white and angry eyes.





I could literally stare at the pages of this comic all day. This is a book that in some ways artistically reminds me of the movie Wizards by Ralph Bakshi and company. Not in any specific images or characters but more in this comic’s adult animation style conjoined with a strange and imaginative eye to transgressive movement and amorphous action and sexuality. It is erotic and brutal and emotional in ways you would never expect. It has sprung from the creative designs of Barron and never ceases to surprise and raise interest. The evolution of the series into a much bigger format suits the art excellently.


But there is more. There are hidden implications. The comic shows us in basic levels many of the mistakes being made with religion and social issues. (I’m going to take a guess and say that vegetarianism appears as a theme in one chapter.....?)


It is in every single panel this is a mind bending experience. A strip out of time but produced with modern technology, colours and print quality. This should be a big hit. Tell your friends.






This is getting a release on Sunday the 24th of June 2018 at the East London Comics Art Festival (ELCAF). For details of this event head to www.elcaf.co.uk


This is a big contender for my personal book of the year. Recommended without reservation.


You can find more about this series and other work by Andy Barron at www.andyillustrates.com or follow his work on Twitter @omcomics.



Many thanks for reading.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

In Preview - ‘Slang Pictorial issue 3’ by Nick Prolix.




‘Slang Pictorial’ issue 3.


Created by Nick Prolix.


Black and White - £3.99 - 28 pages.


It’s always a joy to see anything by Nick Prolix, a pal and a collaborator with me on Cockney Kung Fu. But it’s Slang Pictorial where I first noticed his coolly idiosyncratic art work. You can see the mastery, effort and love of the medium in every single panel. He’s one of those artists that pulls magic out of his pocket in a seemingly effortless scratch of a pencil and splash of ink.


Volume 3 is about to get released at Cardiff Independent Comics Expo (C.I.C.E) on the 2nd of June. I’ve been lucky enough to see a sneak preview of this and have just finished reading it all through.


Let me say this, you won’t be disappointed.





It expands on the stories of the gaggle of Londoners featured in the last couple of volumes. Done in iconic black and white it feels and reads like the coolest Sunday newspaper strip you wish you’d seen as a kid. Nick shows his love of European cartooning and sets up a story that is a cross between a crime drama and soap opera. His art is strongly lined with confidant inks and iconic personalities full of attitude and swagger. It is at once dramatic, funny and cool.


But there is a real edge to the characters’ journeys in this overarching narrative. We see the growth of worker’s rights and the lack of tolerance regarding sexual and personal freedoms. You feel the early days of the mixing of religious and ethnic diversity in London and also the problems that came from this mixing. Nick takes the time to make these issues a reality for the reader and for the people he populates his comics with. There are some harsh terms thrown around but they always come with the authentic backdrop of the gritty London streets and pubs of the time. A post war land that was undergoing a revolution. A place of flagrant street crime, wheeler dealer barrow boys, old school factory workers, closeted actors, hard drinkers ex soldiers and a growing feeling of racial and sexual freedom.





These geographical, albeit contrived in name by Nick, areas of London can be seen with historical and nostalgic viewpoints. As his players walk and negotiate the urban landscape you feel the bounce in their step with jazz music floating around them and the chance to find a few quid and booze it up. But there are always secrets and angles being played with. The story plays hide-and-seek with meanings and directions and deploys sharply cool dialogue like a drum solo of pacing and momentum.


I think you are in for a few surprises and possibly a couple of cliff hangers.


You might even recognise a familiar bus conductor.....


Magical stuff.


Go buy a copy.


You can get a copy direct from Nick at C.I.C.E or find him at www.thesheepandthewolves.com He’s also on Twitter @nickprolix


If you do head to Cardiff you’ll be able to get this awesome postcard from him!







Many thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

In Review - ‘The World Book of Records’ from Europe Comics.





The World Book of Records.


Written by Tonino Benacquista.

Art by Nicolas Barral.


Translated by Tom Imber.


Published digitally by Europe Comics - Full Colour - 64 pages - £3.99.


Released January 2018 in English language.


The Story - ‘Egg-balancing, hotdog-eating, baton-twirling—these are a few of the records people try to break in order to find themselves included in the World Book of Records. For those who make into the book, Paul Baron, a judge at the publication, is a hero. For others, whose dreams he denies, he's a villain. After one man's plan to achieve renown is destroyed, Paul learns that the man may have lost everything else, but he hasn't lost hope—the hope of joining other record-breakers in the book. But the record the man hopes to break is terrible, and Paul unfortunately has a role in his project. ‘




The Review - I talked about this on episode 149 of the Awesome Comics pod this week but felt like it needed a deeper dive and to show off some of the really great artwork.


There’s something about an opening of a comic where you see that moment before the alarm clock goes off. The city around us is waking up and beginning to get moving. A whole new day begins for Paul as his alarm clock goes off. He works he way through the morning rituals and heads out to the office of the Book of Records. Maybe it’s that you get a sense of the character of both the piece and the central character as he gets ready, it’s a kind of short cut to many little quirks of the story that always makes me interested.


When Paul gets to his desk at the office he checks his emails and sees the normal (for him) series of photos and messages of world record attempts. School kids try to cram themselves into a smart car or a photo of a rattlesnake that someone posted and is writing angrily about not getting a reply. Paul is a little weary of his world, he’s told by his colleagues that he is suited to his particular role at the business because he’s the sort of person who can let people down gently when they’ve fallen short of their dreams. But he is still a little restless.



To punctuate his ennui he heads off to meet a man who has written a 250 metre letter to his father who has passed away. Paul has to tell him that whilst it is an amazing achievement this man has got nowhere near the 800 metre letter written by some Japanese students. You get a great sense of Paul’s life and personality through these short little scenes.


During his travels Paul also meets a girl. Heading to the house of a woman who has written in he watches some hilarious attempts to twirl fiery batons with no success. Seeing the opportunity he asks the girl out on a date. It’s a credit to the tone and art of the story that this doesn’t come across as sleazy or opportunistic in any way but rather actually quite sweet. You really find yourself warming to Paul.


Then the story starts to take a strange turn. Paul receives a letter from a killer. A person who wants to set a rather gruesome world record by killing people he believes deserve it. He goes to the precinct house but is brushed off by a detective who tells him that this is surely some kind of prank. But of course they then find a body that has been dumped in a lake. I won’t spoil where it goes from there but its not what you might expect...





The story has multiple strands and implications but what hit perhaps the most for me was the emphasis on that deluded fifteen minutes of fame. People striving to complete an (often) ridiculous feat in order to give their lives some form of meaning. Paul is us in the story, he sees through the bullshit of the modern age and tells people, albeit sensitively, that they shouldn’t carry on with these attempts and just smell the roses. In one particularly touching moment Paul talks with a man who wants to set some form of record with his dog catching a frisbee. Paul very nearly breaks the fourth wall and tells him just to be happy with his life and that breaking a record doesn’t really have any huge meaning in the grand scheme of things.


As well as being a character study and a serial killer thriller it is also a love story. The relationship Paul forms with the baton twirling girl has reality and warmth. As a reader you really want Paul to be finally happy. I’ll leave you to read this comic to discover if he gets there... 


The art in this volume crosses the line excellently between a gorgeously realistically rendered world and the slightly caricatured facial features that we often see in European comics. Paul himself has a a slightly elongated face that ends in an almost Forsythian chin. Again this really adds to the charm of the whole book. the colour worth is natural and light. This story doesn’t need any bright sudden colours and the city and country scenes are just beautiful to sit and watch. Like the scenery outside the car window on a drive through the countryside with your parents.


Credit also goes to Tom Imber who translated this from it’s original language. Often I find translated comics to have a stiffness to the spoken word. None of that here. For the first time I think I’ll be paying attention to what else he works on in comics.





If I had one criticism it would be that serial killer element of the narrative is wrapped up a little too quickly and conveniently. This is a book that I would loved to have picked up as a series and could easily have run longer in my humble opinion.


I read this comic on the Izneo app. If you decide to have a look, and I hope that you do, then also be aware that they have it listed as ‘World Records Guide’. The title on the cover is slightly different.


Have a look for more from Europe Comics at www.europecomics.com or follow them on Twitter @EuropeComics


Many thanks for reading.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Get ready Cardiff!

Busy few weeks coming up!






Then on the 2nd of June is one of my favourite days of the year! CICE 2018 or as it’s also known the Cardiff Indie Comics Expo. Run by one of our favourite people the mighty Iz McAuliffe this is not to be missed! 


I’m going to be heading down the night before with enough time to get my head down, murder a few hookers and get ready for the day of the launch of the Awesome Comics anthology issue 2. Look at this ace cover by Andy Bloor!





Whilst the second issue is going to be launched as the convention opens you can also order a physical copy or a digital download at the very same moment from www.awesomecomicpod.bigcartel.com


The event is gonna roar. There’s no doubt! Guests include Christian Wildgoose, Laura Trinder, Jon Davis-Hunt, Godmachine, Rob Williams, the Etherington Brothers, Martin Simmonds and many more.


There’ll also be some cracking small press / indie talent manning their tables including our own Uber talented pal Nick Prolix!


Get tickets at www.eventbrite.co.uk and follow the antics at www.ciceevents.wordpress.com


They are also on Twitter @CardiffExpo


Many thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

In Review - ‘The man in the Gutter: The Collection’ by Dimitris Zach






The Man in the Gutter: The Collection’


Created by Dimitris Zach.


Available at Deadhead Comics, West Nicholson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DD.


The Story - ‘Have you ever felt stuck somewhere in between? In between the route to your flat to work and vice versa? In between your desire to create and destroy? In between comedy and drama? In between the gutter? And if yes, what do you do?


Well, we are all different! Aren’t we?! I make comics, Declan, or ‘The Man in the Gutter’ on the other hand, decided to become a superhero!’


That is the description from the back of the collection. It is all that and more. It is quite nuts! Outstandingly so!






The Review - What do we expect from the Comics that we purchase and read?


Do we expect vomit? Do we expect Latin? (See below.) Do we expect a drink named after the blood of our fathers? Or just the appearance of an actual real life comic shop and the murder or a member of staff? Or a superhero with Daddy issues? Big ruddy Daddy issues!


I didn’t expect any of the above but relished it nonetheless. This is a book that will surprise you and also remind you a little of comics that appeared in Deadline or Escape Magazine or Toxic! And the like. If I were running an anthology with an open submissions policy I’d be straight on the blower to Dimitris.


‘You fool.

I gave you the chance to be the light.

The chance to be a superhero.

And you betrayed me.

Now you are cursed.

And instead of flying you will crawl.

And you will remain just.....

The Man in the Gutter.’


This is a book that I first saw after it got posted in the Awesome Comics Facebook page by Dimitris Zach. He was asking for opinions and advice on his work. I was immediately taken with the heavy inking style. Almost akin to something by Paul Grist in his St Swithins Day period but with a more punky edge to its heavy inks and strong lines. This style then evolves in front of your eyes to suit the storyline and also into something that would easily be spotted in a Punk fanzine of the 1980s. (A huge tick in the plus column for me!)





The story is told in a landscape style of a work similar to a Sunday newspaper comic strip. Narratively it flies about in a free form and anarchic style. I like that the creator takes chances with his story and bumps about with the ideas, bouncing (often literally) about and around the streets of Edinburgh. It is raucously meta and self referential. It is also daft and humorously pokes fun at the over melodramatic elements of fiction.


Highly recommended.


Now I need a paper copy!


You can find the creator over at his Instagram account @Dimitris.Zach



(Translation).

For those that have read this and were wondering here is a translation ‘De filibusters bono rum et malorum’ means ‘On the ends of good and evil’. (No need to thank me....)