Friday, October 24, 2014

Comic Cuts - 24 October 2014

Reprinted for the first time: a classic story of one man's fight against
government oppression in the gladiatorial arenas of the near future.
"With reality TV overload and the rise of the risque and the brutality of today’s society, this story ... is more relevant today than it was in 1979." - Colin Noble, Down the Tubes
because it looks like me and Mel need a new washing machine.

I don't have a huge amount to report about my week. Steady progress was made on the next book from Bear Alley Books and I should have a title for you shortly. I had hoped to have the artwork side completed, but I found I was putting some extra time into bringing the pages up to scratch. Working "off the page" rather than from original artwork can easily double the time it takes to put a book together, especially when those pages may not have survived the years very well.

I've also had some distractions that have sidelined me in various ways. One was a curious problem with the washing machine which started acting up at the weekend, switching off unexpectedly and flashing a fault code message. Looking it up online revealed that it related to a sensor and the water levels. I spent a good half hour trying to get through to a human being at various companies advertising in our local Thomsons to talk about the fault.

The first number turned out to be a call centre where I was put on hold while a recorded voice interrupted the soothing music every now and then to tell me how important my call was. I hung up because it clearly wasn't important enough to the company to have someone actually answer. After a selection of other call centres, answerphones and engaged signals, I finally got through to a human voice; he talked me through prices and we booked an appointment for Wednesday morning.

Come the day, he turned up on time and got the job done, which is what you want out of an engineer. It seems to be working OK again (I'll reserve judgement until my smalls are safely on the washing line!). TEN MINUTES LATER: No, the same problem occurred half-way through the wash; it seems to be intermittent, so the washing machine is going to be visiting the engineer's workshop for more tests.

The other distraction was self-imposed. I picked up a copy of The Art of Sean Phillips, whose work I've admired since his first contributions to Crisis. I followed his career as it took him to the USA for Hellblazer and Kid Eternity, lost track of him in the late 1990s when he was going superheroes but spotted him again when he began collaborating with Ed Brubaker—Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito and Fatale are some of the only US comics I've read in the past decade.

Reading the book, I'd forgotten that Sean was also the inker on Scene of the Crime, which was the 4-issue series that reminded me how good comics could be; I'd been falling out of love with them for quite some time and was buying almost nothing. I picked up Scene of the Crime #1 because it looked interesting and it turned out to be the best crime series I'd read in years—probably since the demise of Sandman Mystery Theatre.

The Art of Sean Phillips takes the story way back to Sean's early work in girls' comics like Nikki and Judy, inking for Ken Houghton, and covers in great depth his development as an artist in the pages of Crisis, 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine and various specials and yearbooks.

Author Eddie Robson narrates the story through interviews with Sean and dozens of writers, editors and fellow artists, weaving together the story of Sean's varied career in the UK and US comics scene. The books is filled with fantastic artwork, some previously unpublished, much from original artwork.

The book was published in late 2013, so it's pretty well up to date with Sean's later ongoing work (Fatale), and I'm pleased to see on Sean's website that—as promised in the book—that he and Ed Brubaker have returned to Criminal to tell more tales. In the meantime, I can recommend The Art of Sean Phillips while you're waiting for the next series if you don't already have a copy. The price (expensive when it first came out) has started to drop a little for us folk whose pockets aren't so deep.

Random scans... were going to be something else, but I'm so caught up in Sean's work I dug out the following cover images for you.

Criminal: Last of the Innocent was the sixth in the series of Criminal story arcs, collected in 2011. Here are the covers to the four individuals plus the original artwork for the collected graphic novel.

Next week... um... I'll let you know.

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