Sunday, 31 August 2014

Review - Little Terrors: Origins - A Living Hell.

'Little Terrors: Origins - A Living Hell.'

Written by Patrick Cline.

Art by Brett Uren.

Colours and Letters by Jon Scrivens.

Cover art by Matt Rooke.

Published by Ian Hine for Dead Universe Publishing.




Hang on to your underwear this will get a little messy. This book isn't for the faint hearted.

Listen. I am old. I remember video nasties and the fact that us 14 year olds could wander into a video shop and rent whatever we fancied. 'Zombie Flesh Eaters', 'Cannibal Holocausts', Deranged Axe murderers. But the movie that really freaked me out and began my life long obsession with horror auteur David Cronenburg was the his movie 'The Brood'. Deranged mutant children and body horror at its best 1979 craziness. Disturbing more than any other movie I saw of the time.

And that's what Little Terrors seems to be channelling, at least in my brain anyway. Had this been made in the late 70s I'd suggest a solid 'X' rating.

This book suckers you in with with its fake photo booth chums on the cover then opens your eyes up with a scalpel with the interiors. It's based on a series by Jon Scrivens and designed as an intermission in the ongoing series between issues 3 and 4. I haven't read those issues yet so was coming to this blind.

This book is incredibly violent and gorey. It could put an Avatar comic to shame in that respect. It tells the stories of three characters who each in their own ways become deformed somehow. Told in each case within the confines of a few rooms in their respective houses. It's immensely claustrophobic. Eyes fly out of sockets, throats are cut and skin literally melts off a skeleton. 

It's pacey and has a specific mood with some strong horror styled speech. I enjoyed it mainly for what it was trying to succeed at and it feels like the origin issue of a much longer denser run. The splash pages on the whole work within the framework of the story as well. But (and this may be because of my unfamiliarity with the accompanying series) I was a little confused at first and it took me almost until halfway through the book to differentiate between protagonists. (Some titled panels indicating changes in location possibly? Just a suggestion.)

It's the narration that really crackled for me. It works excellently within a tight knit horror like this, adds to the tension and helps the flow between eye popping horror and slow build ups. The writer has a strong through line of creepy reminiscing and breathless tension. I particularly liked the opening pages that build to a shock page turn.

I did however have fun with it and haven't seen much like this on a shelf (or indeed a top shelf). If I had a niggle with it I would say that's the artwork could do with a brush up in the anatomy in certain panels. The colouring needs to shift palette in my humble opinion? They have gone with a mainly red background and had this been handled differently the blood and fire effects could have had more of a dramatic impact. 

But what it loses in some art aspects it makes up for in sheer enthusiasm. I had a chat with the writer Patrick on a recent visit to Dead Universe Comics in Aylesbury (both a comic shop and the publishers of this and other books). He and Ian (who runs the business) are quite literally two of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met and putting out books like this is great for the small press. I shall keenly watch for what they put out next. I see that Pat has another book due soon, now just hurry up so I can see it!

A solid 4/5.

You can visit the website www.littleterrorscomic.com or follow the writer on Twitter @patmancline 

Alternatively pop into Dead Universe in Aylesbury and spend a couple of hours going through their extensive back issues (I know I have on many an occasion). They can be found online at www.deaduniversecomics.co.uk or on Facebook.

Thanks for reading.

NIA.

Comic Club on Tour 31/8/2914 - Dead Universe Comics.

Yesterday I went with two of the other members of Comics Club to Dead Universe Comics in Aylesbury (Matt HP Harrower was at a Stag Do so couldn't make it).

So myself Marc 'Monkey' Laming and Alex 'Galactus' Martin headed to the mighty Dead Universe in search of back issues. It's a great shop if you haven't been and the staff Pat and Ian are perhaps two of the most enthusiastic people I know in comics and always great to waste a few hours with.

On the search for back issues we were more than successful. I picked up a load of diverse books that I was looking for.








(And many, many more).

The other two also filled a few holes (Alex made me say that!)

Dead Universe are also a bit of a small press publishing empire and I bagged a couple of their books to review.


Both books are really fun and watch out for reviews of them both soon.

I thoroughly recommend a trip to the shop and get Ian the manager to let you upstairs so you can wade through the long boxes (I think we were there somewhere in the region of three hours).

You can find the manager Ian Hine on Twitter @DeadUniverse and his partner in crime Patrick 'PatMan' Cline (and the writer of Little Terrors - Origins: A Living Hell) @patmancline

NIA

The Brothers James - Poster.


Friday, 29 August 2014

Review - 'The Brothers James' - Ryan Ferrier, Brian Level and MIchael Walsh.

'The Brothers James'.

Written by Ryan Ferrier.

Art by Michael Walsh (issue 1 and covers).
Brian Level (issue 2 - 4 and covers).

Published by Challenger Comics www.readchallenger.com
www.brotherjames.com

Having in my early years been a Catholic boarding school boy the title Brothers James had me cold with memories of Catholic Brothers and corporal punishment. This book is not that (apologies for a rather confusing introduction). But if Brother Lawrence turned up with a shotgun over his shoulder and hell behind him in issue 1 of this particular book I wouldn't be too surprised.

OK. 
Back on track.

'The Brothers James' is a book of violence sure but set in an altogether different but just as scary world. Its a revenge story that's raw and bloody. It's the baby of Brian Level who as well as art duties on this book for Challenge Comics works as an inker for Valiant and Image Comics and writer Ryan Ferrier who has some really interesting work at Monkeybrain and beyond. The art on the first issue and covers was by the currently super hot artist Michael Walsh who is currently drawing Marvel's 'Secret Avengers' (along with other projects).
Issue 4 (the penultimate issue of the five issue run) is about to be released but I urge you to pick up 1-3 and catch up. The term 'modern western' is often overused but this series sums up that definition perfectly.


It's the tale of two brothers who are on a bloody and violent mission to avenge the death of their parents.  They have a list of targets to kill and they travel through the US looking for and killing these men. We get quite a few twists and turns along the road and I have been lucky enough to see a preview copy of issue number 4 and it's going to seriously mess with your melons! No spoilers but the brothers get a companion who may or may not be good for them, I'll let you wait and find out.



You can see the noir influences and Level's style reminds me of artists like Gabriel Hardman and Michael Lark (who he works with on 'Lazarus' at Image Comics). It has that feel of the sadly gone but not forgotten 'Vertigo Crime' series from a few years ago. The change from Michael Walsh to Brian after issue number 1 is seamless and seems thoroughly natural. The art is gloriously grey toned and has that open line classic pulpy noir vibe. Having missed the ship on issue 1 and only catching up now I shall be actively seeking anything out by these two creators at the earliest opportunity.

'Who will put the brakes on their High-Octane Hell'.

I am actually kicking myself for not seeing Level's work before as it is solidly up my street in tone and style.



Akin to Lark and Hardman the pages move really well. Reactions and physical turns are fluid and resolve naturalistically within the pacing of the book. It's joyous in its bloody relentlessness. It's violent and gun crazy but seeks the repercussion of actions as the narrative unfolds. It's a splendid mash up of Biker Movies, 'Death Wish', 'Southern Bastards', 'Boondocks Saints', Richard Stark and Donald Westlake novels, 'Natural Born Killers' and 'From Dusk 'Til Dawn'. It makes no excuses and is a book that has a clear sense of its own tone and sticks to it. It's gritty and unforgiving at moments but because of this it has true edge. It has a really interesting structure and makes intriguing use of panels to elaborate and comment on the action. Genuinely a masterclass. I absolutely loved this book!
In fact issue one's opening scene in the diner with the quiet before the bullet storm seems like a homage to the Honey Bunny/Pulp Fiction closer/opener of that particular movie. The dialogue is crisp and (here's that adjective again) cool throughout. The two brothers are recklessly violent and intent on completing their mission but they are also fully formed individuals. The impetuous one and the more thoughtful one ('I sense trouble ahead?' I felt myself feeling at almost every page turn.) This will make a great collection for a shelf when finished.

'When these twins ride...... you die!'

This irrefutably Grindhouse inspired book had me hooked from page one. As a comics reader of some forty years it's always great to find that book that blows your staples off and this is that good. Is there redemption? How will it conclude? The ending is bound to be both cool (yep) and lead ridden. I have had a peek and it's gonna be messy (is my educated guess).

Ryan is the writer of 'D4VE' for Monkeybrain Comics as well as a host of other really interesting books.  He can be found on Twitter @ryanwriter and at his tumblr page referrer.tumblr.com

You can find Brian on Twitter @brian_level or at his blog www.brianlevelart.wordpress.com It's well worth a visit and he has posted some awesome commissions that are well worth a look. ('The Maxx' page being a personal favourite).

Michael Walsh can be found on Twitter @Mister_Walsh and at his own tumblr page mister wallah.tumblr.com

Challengers Comics can be found at www.readchallenger.com and the book has it's own site www.brothersjames.com where you can get your hands on this gritty nugget.


You can find my other reviews and interviews in the comic section on here or over at my blog www.neverironanything.blogspot.com Let me know what you think or pop over to @Ezohyez on Twitter and say hi. (Or you can have detention and a week of early Mass!)



Thanks for reading.





NIA.


Sunday, 24 August 2014

'Grand Gestures' - Simon Moreton.



A welcome change of pace on a Bank Holiday weekend kind of sums up why I picked up and read 'Grand Gestures' by Simon Moreton.

A stalwart of the UK indie comics scene Simon does more with a couple of lines than a lot of artists do with a whole comic.

Stories of everyday life are stripped down to the bare minimum in an experiment in poignancy. 

Gestures was printed in 2013 but is new to me. It tells three stories of travel. Of fields, motorways, service areas and of the moments that dwell in these places. It's restful, magnificently sequential and puts you at ease like music to the eyes.

Always thoughtful it has a continuous tone that is hard to pull away from.

I'd read this straight after The Multiversity by Grant Morrison had ripped my brain stem out and I couldn't think of a more perfect time to feel Gestures cooling waves.  Just perfection.

Find Simon's work over at www.smoo-comics.com or you can follow him on Twitter @smoo_comics

NIA.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Through the letterbox - 'Seasons' by Mike Medaglia.

For around the last year I have been reviewing comics for www.beardrock.com It's been fun and I have discovered some genuinely great books.

One such book was 'Seasons' by hyper talented Mike Medaglia. A book that was put out through Avery Hill publishing ( www.averyhillpublishing.com ). I have reviewed a slew of Avery Hill's books and they continue to be head and shoulders above the competition with interesting books.

I absolutely loved Seasons. It captured moments of real poignancy and beauty. It does so with great lines, outstanding colour and a real poetry of language. Mike's work relishes the stillness of the sequential, captured moments of thought and feeling. Just incredible stuff. I was an instant fan.

Here is the link to what I thought.   http://beardrock.com/eyebrow-art/comics/seasons

I have been following Mike's work since and have been enjoying his webcomic 'The Last Days of Nobodies.' over at his Tumblr page.

So it was a thrill to finally meet the guy at the recent Comica Fair at The British Library. He was great company and thoroughly impressed some pals of mine. I was overjoyed to hear that he appreciated the review and even happier when these beauties arrived through my letterbox. (I have included a shot of the finished product as well as the line art.)







These are the sort of moments that realise what a great hobby comics are. Real, genuine, hold it in your hands art. A thing of real beauty.

I am blown away by these pages. Superb!

You can find Mike over at his website www.mikemedaglia.com

Thanks for reading.

NIA.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Beardrock Reviewers Wanted.

Morning.

Myself and the fine folks over at www.beardrock.com are looking for a few more people to do us some music and movie reviews.

It doesn't have to be new or cool or hip. Just something written with passion and gusto.

Hit me up on here or at the site if you fancy it?

You can also get me on Twitter @Ezohyez

NIA 

Rant of the week - It's the little things.

Every morning of my life.

Me- 'Can I have a medium black coffee to have in?'

Costa Coffee - 'Americano?'

Me- 'yes please.'

Costa Coffee - 'Milk with that?'

Me - 'No thanks.'

Costa Coffee - 'To have here or to go?'

Me- 'To have here.'

Costa Coffee - 'What size?'

Me - 'Medium please.'

Costa Coffee - 'No problem'.



Is this just me?

Anyway. No time to waste. I have Magnus to catch up with!

NIA.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Weekly Rant - The New York Times and the Comic Reader.

The New York Times just ran a very favourable article on the comic book movie. It's a short article but they managed to hit a few interesting points.

Here's the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/movies/from-the-printed-comic-to-guardians-of-the-galaxy.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A7%22%7D

Amid the slew of great superhero and comics movies this year it's become obvious to those who love the medium that we won.

Remember the guys and gals at school or college who didn't understand comics. How they watched sports or soaps or shitty action movies but couldn't comprehend how words and pictures sequentially worked?

Remember people in the workplace saying. 'Oh, you read comics?' Or the date that said 'Don't you read comics or something?'

Well I have news for you.

We won.

Not only are superhero and comics movies great where it counts i.e., critically. But everyone both watches and enjoys them.

There was even an motion capture Hulk in goal for the football (soccer) World Cup 2014 trailer.

You can't turn a corner without seeing a Batman, Thor or now a Racoon.

We've even got to the point where people think being a 'comic nerd' makes them cool. I have encountered a couple of tattooed hipsters who upon finding out my hobby have said 'Hey, me too, I am a big Comic fanboy(girl)'. They weren't and had never read a comic but we let it go as we bask in the glow of fame and fortune.

But where the NYT really spiked my interest is when they described reading comics as having a '....satisfying sense of subtle subversiveness.' A really interesting turn of phrase. Who among us hardcore fans hasn't felt a tiny pang of jealousy that the 'outside' world of the average Joe has discovered our little hobby.

Comics now (as the NYT rightly points out) are lucky to sell 100,000 copies. It's a struggling market that is mostly ignored by the waves of people queuing up to buy cinema tickets or computer games. This wasn't always the case. Comics have had real boom periods. The period around World War 2 for example or the big biceps and big guns period of the speculator market of the 1990s. Back then comics sold in millions (admittedly for different reasons) but they were everywhere.

I'm not going to harp on about why there is a sales slump. That's for those with bigger business brains than this reader. However what would help (possibly) is if this feeling of 'subversiveness' just packed up and went away?

I'm not exactly sure thinking about it that 'subversive' is correct? Perhaps another description is more relevant these days.

Case in point. A pal of mine reads comics, works in the TV industry and has done for 20-30 years. But he won't read comics in public. We joke about it and I tell him that it's cool now and that he's only hurting himself by dwelling in the ' Comics Closet' as we refer to it. He'll read a Doctor Who novel or a red top paper (spits) on the train or in a coffee shop but not a comic. It's a stigma. Reading a comic. Does it imply something of the reader? It shouldn't but do we feel that it does?

I've never been bothered. Even as a teen and keen to impress the opposite sex I was never bothered (different times I suppose - it was the early 80s and comics were everywhere back then). But even now I don't care. I work in a fairly macho environment and have on the odd occasion had some friendly banter from a colleague. I usually reply with a combination of humour/admission and a piss take of football? But I can see how some thinner shoulders than my own might buckle?

Another example comes from a couple of years ago. I was hanging out in a comic shop in Camden Town (North London's hipster capital) when a particularly aggressive junkie beggar came in asking for some money. The guy behind the counter shook his head and refused. Said beggar pushed the point and upon being asked to leave said 'You lot are sad c**ts who read comics.' He then made an unconvincing threat about coming back before leaving with his heroin addled pride still intact. I remember giggling as he chided our hobby through the pure ridiculousness of the situation. 

You know what I say. 

Fuck you. I read comics. I'm neither a virgin nor an idiot. I played rugby for my county and have been in far too many drunken fights to count. I have a great job I love and that pays the mortgage. It's not a weakness that I read comics, it's a strength. I wish everyone tried them, there are a lot out there who would love them I am sure. There's something for everyone out there if you take a chance.

Ass I write this Guardians of the Galaxy has just come out to great reviews and outstanding ticket sales.

We won.



Thanks for reading.

NIA.