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Friday, November 16, 2018

Comic Cuts - 16 November 2018

For comics' fans, the news was dominated this week by the death of Stan Lee. Normally I try to stick to writing about British artists as there are other websites far better versed in American comics where you can get your information. In this instance, I had written a piece for The Guardian, filed some six years ago; the Harlan Ellison piece used in July was written in 2013.

Also, we mustn't forget that Lee was instrumental in the development of Marvel UK, so I can legitimately count his as an important creative talent involved in British comics, and that's ignoring the huge amount of material written by Lee that was reprinted here in the UK most notably in Odhams' "Power Comics".

There's rarely the space to include everything in an obituary, especially now that newspapers are slimming down and giving over less space to paying tribute to those who have passed on. A few years ago, most British papers would have carried an obituary for Carlos Ezquerra or John Armstrong, but the broadsheets of old have halved the space they give over to obituaries. This especially limits the scope of those considered a little more esoteric. Comic strip creators fall into that esoteric area: for starters, most of them were anonymous toilers and it's the strips rather than the names of the artist or writer that is remembered; secondly, not everyone has created such a memorable character as Judge Dredd, who becomes known to the wider population. Anyone reading this is likely to know of Sleaze Castle, to give an example, but who outside of our circle will have heard of it?

Back in the day, editors could be persuaded that someone deserved to be included in their obituary pages; nowadays, unless they've heard of them, there's almost no chance.

Enough death for now. Let's think about something a bit more cheerful. My recent Ebay sales have hit the £120 mark, which is going to be put towards buying a new TV. The old one, which we bought second-hand about eight years ago, has started flickering every time you turn it on – it settles down after a while and, annoyingly, the picture of absolutely fine. But the flickering is lasting longer and longer – it's now up to ten minutes before it settles – and I doubt if it's going to get any better. We shall be looking for a bargain on Black Friday.

There are still quite a few things to be had on my Ebay sellers page, including some Modesty Blaise, lots of issues of Cinefex, the special effects magazine, and even a Dragon's Dream edition of Dan Dare: Rogue Planet. Some of these I'm going to be de-listing soon, so take a look and, in most cases, I'm open to offers.

Mel and I have been trying to catch up on Warehouse 13, which we've had sitting around on DVD for some years... there's just too many good TV shows on for us to watch everything we want, but we're going through a phase of wanting less depressing Scandi-noir-esque police dramas and have been seeking out more shows just for their entertainment value.

Warehouse 13 is as daft as a brush. Although not created by the same people, it shared a TV station (SyFy) and a tendency towards lightheartedness with another show, Eureka, so much so that there were cross-over episodes between the two shows.

The titular warehouse is a vast complex in South Dakota where a secret agency stores supernatural artefacts. The warehouse is watched over by Artie Nielson (Saul Rubinek), under the direction of a group known as the Regents, and it is he, as caretaker, who sends out agents Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) and Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) to investigate weird happenings that may be related to ungathered artefacts.

These artefacts are usually related to historical, mythological or fictional figures or events which have imbued the artefact with power. A pen, a mirror, a film projector, a necklace... even an innocent bell can prove dangerous if it was owned by a murderer or somehow misused by its owner. Artefacts that can freeze people, or freeze time, or transport them to other dimensions or into other bodies... there's no limit to what the agents might stumble upon. The gadgets and gizmos have a steampunk feel to them, especially the communication devices and the Tesla guns used by the agents.

By Season 3, which is what we've been watching, things have started to get serious, with the Regents under attack from a disaffected former artefact owner, Walter Sykes. A newly arrived agent is turned by Sykes, or so it seems, and loses his life. This has emotional ramifications for Claudia, who assists Saul at the warehouse and has become more of a field agent during Myka's (between seasons) departure.

Warehouse 13 is an entertaining mix of X-Files and Moonlighting, a lot of weight resting on the shoulders of the two leads. Thankfully they have a chemistry that makes watching the show a pleasure and while they're bickering and banter can sometimes get a bit annoying (you wouldn't want to be the driver on a long trip with these two arguing on the back seat) it doesn't distract from the overall fun of the show. There are some great guest characters, such as H. (for Helena) G. Wells (Jaime Murray), and Kate Mulgrew turns up in this series as Pete Lattimer's mum, Jane.

Random scans...

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