Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Update the First

Right then. I'm in an internet cafe type thing on Western Road. I'm still staying in a hostel, and I still haven't become gainfully employed as yet. However, I may have lucked into a flat. I'm off to take a look at it tonight, but things are looking rather positive, which makes for a nice change.

Brighton is lovely, and I'm convinced that this is where I want to live out at least the next phase of my life (although we'll see if my confidence continues to hold when the costs and pressures of real life set in). But living in a hostel (even a lovely one like Baggies) means that there's always a sense of being displaced, and I won't really feel at home until I can sleep in my own bed.

But things look to be going well. I hope it doesn't all go pear shaped.

Monday, April 17, 2006

If at first you don't succeed, cry like a girl and wait for Green Lantern

I'm flying back to Blighty today, to have another go at moving. This is the "do or die" part; we have a better plan this time, but it has to work, as I won't be coming back here for another pit stop. Frankly, I'm terrified!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Do You Remember the First Time?

Those pesky Two Guys (well, just one of them) recently put out a call to all and sundry on the comics blogothingie (of which Brainsplurge is an honorary member). "Tell us about the first comic you ever read!" they roared. I've had a think about it, and I really don't remember, but I think I've narrowed it down to a small number of suspects. It's likely that I read some comics before these, but I don't remember them; these are the ones that stuck, and undoubtedly had a major hand in forming my comics habit.


According to comics.org, one of my earliest comics was The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #12, dated December 1983, putting me at just over four years old. However, what I read was in fact a Marvel UK reprint, and although it had it same cover as this issue, the contents were likely very different. The first half of the comic was a reprint from Marvel's 1981 adaptation of the first Indy movie (I recall it opened with a big splash page in the snake pit and I think it ran until the Ark was opened and (SPOILER) all the Nazis melt (END SPOILER)), and the second half was some oddness about a magic nail (from Jesus' crucifix, I suppose) and some undead ninjas. All I could find out (comics.org doesn't list British titles) was that the British comic ran during 1984 and 1985 before being merged into Spider-Man Weekly. I think the issue I had was #4, but I can't say for certain. My Spider-Man fandom started with reprints too (mostly from the bizarre Spider-Man and Zoids title), and as such, while I distinctly remember stories from Amazing Spider-Man's mid-200's (circa 1983 to 1984, and about the same time as Calvin's Spider-fascination emerged), they were likely reprinted a year or so later in '85 or '86 and so technically weren't my first comics (but see below).

So, moving on...

I vaguely recall my Dad buying the Indiana Jones comic at a train station to keep me quiet, and I think he also bought me Blue Devil #17 at the same time. This one was an actual US import, which I know because I recently was overtaken by nostalgia and bought a copy, and the ads are the same as I remember (the UK ads would have been different). I don't think DC had a British arm in the 80's (or ever?), and reprints were very sporadic (although there were some); this is why, I think, I've grown up without much of an appreciation for DC stuff. This issue, dated October 1985, is actually a Crisis tie-in, as I'd find out years after finally reading Crisis itself. The tie-in consists of the supporting cast muttering about the odd weather and Green Lantern turning up at the end of the issue to interrupt Devil's sunbathing to drag him off into space. So hardly an essential chapter.

The other comic I remember very vividly from those days, and that I actually still have somewhere, is Judge Dredd #19. This one's also a reprint, but oddly enough, it's a US-format reprint of British stories. You've got the Dredd stories from 2000ad progs 241 to 244 (from the famous Block War arc) reprinted and edited together into a longer, more complete, story. The comic was also in full colour, and I don't think the original strips were. Steve Dillon and Brian Bolland Dredd art in full colour! How lucky I was! This one's dated May 1985, and is full of fun stuff. A renegade Soviet Judge poisons the rainwater so that everyone in Mega-City One goes mental, and Dredd discovers that the poisoning is just the preliminary move in the Apocalypse War. The issue ends on an image of nuclear missiles heading for Mega-City One, and it was a good decade or so before I found out what happened next. Cliffhangertastic.

Another oddity of the British comics industry is the British comics annual. Unlike its American cousin, which is usually merely a more expensive comic that contains dreadful stories produced by fill-in teams, the British annual is a hardback book, upwards of ninety to a hundred pages, that comes out at Christmas. These things are usually full of reprints and may have some original content, ranging from text pieces or special features, to brand new comic strips (the Transformers annuals were mostly new stuff). It was one of these annuals which forms my earliest comics memories, and is almost definitely the reason why I think Spider-Man is so cool and why it took me years to warm to Mary Jane. But unlike many Spider-fans, I'm not lamenting the loss of Gwen Stacy...

Amazing Spider-Man #226 was first published in the March of 1982, when I would be just two years old, but I remember it from a slightly later reprint in the 1984 Spider-Man Annual. I don't recall whether that means it was actually published in 1984 or in 1983, as those annuals were sometimes dated for the year ahead, and sometimes for the year leading up to it. Either way, it predates all of the above comics. It's a two-parter (continued in #227, also reprinted here) featuring an unlucky-in-love Spider-Man running into none other than the Black Cat and almost persuading her to go straight. But she just can't give up her thieving ways, and Spidey tries to bring her in, with (what looked like at the time) fatal results for her. The story is full of fun moments that any four year old will enjoy, including a great splash page full of those "phantom Spider-Men" all good Spidey artists use to show him bounding around, fights with random mooks in suits (what happened to all the mooks in suits? You never see them nowadays) and a scene at a costume party with Spidey going as a Jawa (and making a terrible pun about coffee). This little adventure was drawn by John Romita Jr, although he was aping his Dad here, and hadn't yet developed his signature style (that would come during his X-Men run). Even so, JRJR remains one of my favourite Spidey artists, and this remains a great-looking comic. I suspect I still have that annual somewhere, athough I recently found the story reprinted in an issue of the Spider-Man Megazine. It still holds up.

So there you have it. Amazing Spider-Man #226 from 1982 was (probably) my first comic, although I only got around to reading it in 1983 or 1984.

Crikey. That was knackering to put together. I'm off to bed.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Passion of the Kiefer

Jesus only has 72 hours to save the world!

Now I'm not ridiculing anyone's beliefs here, but this has to be the first time I've ever seen a church trying to pass of the crucifiction/resurrection story as a popular television action thriller. I eagerly await Christmas, where no doubt we'll see parallels drawn between the old nativity story and that week's episode of The Shield.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


From Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge:

Due to diminished readership and rising paper costs, it has been decided only fifteen comic titles will be published from this day forward. You have been charged with the decisions of which titles shall be printed and what creative teams will be assigned to them.

What fifteen comic books will we find on the racks next month and who will be the creative teams behind them?


(I'm assuming that the Japanese, Koreans and Europeans are quite happy with their healthy comics industries and don't need my "help".)

w: various
a: various
Continues as it is, except with more readers and fewer crappy strips. The comics world needs 2000ad. Where would DC get all its writers and artists from?

Amazing Spider-Man
w: Joss Whedon
a: Skottie Young
Whedon's wasted on the X-Men; as anyone who's seen Buffy will know, he's got the humour and characterisation down for Spidey and his supporting cast. He's a perfect fit, and I'm baffled that Marvel have him slogging away at forgettable X-Men stories. Skottie Young is an artist who seems to be universally reviled, but he's got a funky energy to his art that I think would be perfect for Spider-Man. See also: Spider-Man Tales

w: Robert Kirkman
a: Carlos Pacheco
Reading Marvel Team-Up, it's obvious that Kirkman could do this with ease, but I've been struggling to think of an artist. Pacheco is a great superhero artist who I'd like to see have a longer run on Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Doctor Strange
w: Alan Moore
a: Mike Mignola
'Nuff said.

Fantastic Four
w: Iain Banks
a: Bryan Hitch
It's a sci-fi adventure book, so let's get in a great writer who knows when the sci gets boring and when to put in some fi. Banks says he can't grasp comics on a conceptual level, but we'd teach him and then pair him up with Hitch for a glorious year or so of aliens, space ships, time travel and Doctor Doom. Alternatively, I'd hand it to Morvan and Bucher, the creators of Wake, and let them run with it.

Green Lantern Corps
w: Warren Ellis
a: Ed McGuinness
DC's best concept, and it's never been done amazingly well (although the current series is okay). No hero worship of Hal Jordan, and no particular emhpasis on Earth's Lanterns. Just full on space policery of the highest order. And if the Hallites bitch and moan, we take it over to Marvel and call it Nova Corps or Star Brand Corps or Quasar and the Quasons or something and it'll be just as good.

w: Grant Morrison
a: Frank Quitely
That's right. Hawkmen. Grant Morrison gets to use any or all of the various Hawkmen as he sees fit. If he can't make sense of the character's continuity, he can at least make some beautiful nonsense out of it.

w: Robert Kirkman
a: Ryan Ottley
Continues as normal.

Iron Man
w: Tsutomu Nihei
a: Tsutomu Nihei
I'd previously attached this writer/artist to Batman, but I've thought better of it, and Nihei's approach would bring something genuinely new to Iron Man, and that's that Cronenbergish mixture of technology and horror. He'd need a strong editor though, as Nihei tends to turn all of his projects into clones of his manga Blame!, only with different lead characters.

Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD
w: Greg Rucka
a: ? (suggestions welcome)
Just after Alias turned up, I thought Marvel were missing a trick by not putting out a spy/special ops book. Put Fury's name on the cover, but make it a team thing, really digging into the underbelly of the Marvel Universe. And tie it in, subtly, with the other books, so that if one of Doctor Doom's labs is raided in Fantastic Four, you never know who did it unless you read SHIELD and see them doing the raid. Everything will be behind the scenes, even their appearances in other books.

Sergeant Rock
w: Garth Ennis
a: Carlos Ezquerra
Ennis can write war stories, as well as the similar-but-different genre of stories about soldiers, in his sleep. Ezquerra hasn't done a lot of US work, but he's a veteran of proper war comics back when they actually existed, and his style is perfect for tales about grubby and weary soldiers engaged in endless conflicts. Alternatively, I'd stick both of them on Captain America.

Spider-Man Tales
w: various
a: various
Pare down the Spidey books to Amazing (see above) and this "anything goes" title. This could be used to tell out-of-continuity stories, or tales about supporting characters, or historical stories, or even reprints. Whatever. A combination of Tangled Web, Webspinners, Untold Tales, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane and MTU, perhaps even as an anthology (although US fans hate and fear anthologies).

Tales of the DCU, Featuring...
w: various
a: various
I don't know or care enough about the DCU to pick too many specific survivors, but there are enough good concepts and creators to put together an anthology and/or "anything goes" book. Perhaps it could even be weekly.

w: Neil Gaiman
a: Jim Lee
Gaiman has a gift for the mythology stuff, and Lee's bulky yet iconic style is perfect for the larger-than-life Asgardians. In it fortyish year history, Thor has had only two definitve creative teams, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and Walt Simonson. This would be the third. After a suitably epic twelve-issue run, I'd bring in Mike Mignola to draw, and if Gaiman leaves, to write too.

The Walking Dead
w: Robert Kirkman
a: Charlie Adlard.
Ain't broke.

That'll do.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Inspiration Hits Like a Brick in the Guts

For a long time now, I've been wanting to get stuck into drawing a regular comic, as it seems to me to be a great way to practise; the need to get at least a page done a week would keep me drawing and my skills would only improve with use (I hope). But I can't do humour strips, and I've been struggling to come up with any kind of plot for a dramatic, story-based comic.

(I've had a go now and then, but it's mostly been using other people's characters, and I really want to just go off in my own direction for a bit.)

But a few days ago some ideas started to come together, and I've been pretty regularly jotting down bits of plot as well as whole panels and pages (in rough of course). I don't know when I'll get around to actually starting it since I'm going to be in a state of hellish confusion in a couple of weeks (we're going to try to move again), or how it'll be published (I think online is a definite, but whether that's on my site or as a stripblog or whatever, I don't know), but I'm just pleased that I have an actual workable idea for a story, because all I want to do is tell stories.

So that's just to keep you posted on what's been going on here. Posts have been rare of late, and will be even rarer when I'm back in Blighty in a couple of weeks, as I'll have little or no internet access, but I shall attempt to keep, um, "you" posted on what's going on with both moving and my webcomic ambitions.