Friday, September 03, 2010

Comic Cuts - 3 September

Another fairly brief round-up of news again this week as I've not been up to much. Most of the week has been dedicated to scanning book covers, over 400 of them. Mostly my collection of TV tie-ins that I'm determined to sift through and try and halve in size, reducing two shelves down to one and free up some space for some of the reference books that are currently residing in boxes.

You'll have noticed that some of the information I've been grabbing from the books has been turning up on Bear Alley over the past few days. That doesn't mean that I've given up on the comics - far from it - but the books are to hand and I've rather enjoyed writing about one or two series that I remember watching as a kid (and a few others from when I was a bit older) and digging around to see what I can come up with on the authors. More cover galleries will be turning up over the next few weeks but I'm hoping to have a new comic strip running shortly.

Unbelievably, my copies of the Prion war library reprints that appeared back in April finally turned up. Only five months late but welcome. I've now posted pages for each of the books, which you can see if you scroll down. I've also received a copy of 500 Essential Cult Books from Ilex, published in June, which I'll post a piece on shortly so there's a permanent link available.

The only other thing worth mentioning work-wise is a piece I wrote on Matias Alonso for the Illustration Art Gallery blog which includes a complete strips' worth of original artwork from Pow Annual, the first page of which appears as today's column header. The IAG blog will hopefully be worth keeping an eye on - as will the Book Palace Books blog - as we're hoping to publish a regular series of pieces on various artists on the former and keeping people up-to-date on upcoming publications on the latter.

I've also been doing a bit of work on a book, but for the moment I'm going to have to keep that one under wraps as nothing has been announced yet. But it's something that I want to see published so I'm helping where I can to make it as comprehensive as possible. More news when I'm released from my vow of silence.

So not much news from me...

I guess the biggest news to hit British comics in... oh, ages... is the arrival of Clint. Issue 1 (September 2010) has just hit the newsstands and it's not bad. "Not bad" seems to be damning it with faint praise but I'm not one to throw superlatives around. There's some good bits and some not so good bits.

I'm not a big fan of lads mags and this seems to be aimed at the kind of teenager/young adult who picks up Nuts or Zoo. Most magazines would kill for the kind of circulations those two have, so it's positioning itself in the right kind of area with its provocative title (c'mon, you can't tell me they're not planning to cover up that gap between the L and the I) and celebrity photos on the cover (Frankie Boyle, Jonathan Ross, Jimmy Carr) and cover lines that include "Hot Mums" alongside a little pic of Holly Willoughby.

The contents lead off with "Kick Ass 2", the follow up to Mark Millar's hit comic and movie, drawn by John Romita Jr. I haven't read Kick Ass 1 or seen the film and 8 pages isn't enough to give new readers any of the back story, so it's not a very satisfying start. The features on foreign actors dubbing famous Hollywood stars and a list of five warrior princesses are brief, random and pointless.

So that's the not so good bits out of the way. Start reading from page 19 and you're into good bits territory with the opening (24-page) episode of Jonathan Ross's Turf, about vampires in Depression-era New York, beautifully evoked by artist Tommy Lee Edwards. The alien spacecraft might be a case of throwing in the kitchen sink but the story so far is strong enough for me to want to see where it's heading.

On the other hand, "Rex Royd" by Frankie Boyle & Jim Muir and artist Michael Dowling introduces too little and highlights the problem of splitting what should be a 22 or 24 page story down the middle (all of the stories here are being reprinted in US comic book form by Marvel Icon or, in the case of Turf, have already appeared). You get a sense of a world of superheroes, that the focus is on a Lex Luthor-type character, but nothing is fully introduced and I doubt that was intentional. This one is probably going to read better when issue 2 is out.

The fourth comic is "Nemesis", scripted by Millar and drawn by Steve McNiven. Unlike "Rex Royd" you learn in a few, bloody pages all you need to know about the hero and villain. Millar does widescreen violence well, but on the evidence here he's writing this one on autopilot.

While there's nothing cutting edge in Clint and it lacks the character that was immediately obvious in the pages of Deadline, the last attempt at a newsstand comic/magazine, I'd love to see Clint succeed. It's that rare beast: a British boys' adventure comic and if that isn't enough to attract you, think of the money you'll save paying £3.99 a month for Clint - compare that to what you'll have to pay for the Marvel Icon editions of the stories. And if it succeeds, who knows where it may lead.

Today's random scan. I clipped this out of the paper and I've had it stuck to a wall in my office for years. It still makes me laugh every time I see it... and although the original clipping is faded, badly creased and has gone a horrible smoky colour, it's about to go back onto the wall in my new office.

(* Mr. Tomorrow © IPC Media; Beau Peep © 2010 Northern and Shell Media Publications.)

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