BEAR ALLEY BOOKS

BEAR ALLEY BOOKS
Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books

Friday, June 14, 2019

Comic Cuts - 14 June 2019

My efforts at tidying up and getting some stuff out of the house have been going quite well. The living room still looks like a disaster zone, but holes are beginning to appear where the carpet and walls can be seen. Who knew we had a radiator at the back of the room? It hasn't been seen since we moved in nine years ago.

The pic at the top is a flashback to twenty-five years ago to the 1994 UKCAC. The fetching young alien is promoting the independently published comic Vogarth. Doing a bit of digging around, I discovered that this was issue two, dated Sept/Oct 1994. The alien is Katika Mu, one of the stars of the comic, and Vogarth has a website, although I think it may have been inactive for some while. The character was the creation of Ben Hunt, who is still active on Facebook.

The question is... who was the alien. My memory always lets me down, but the clue, I think, is on the cover, drawn by Hunt Emerson "For Ben and Sonja". One of the strip creators who worked with Ben on Vogarth was Sonja Curtis who, according to Bryan Talbot, also played keyboards with Ben in a band, including a gig at the Preston Speculative Fiction Group when they celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Bash Street Kids (mentioned in his annotations to Grandville: Force Majeure).

I found a box full of miscellaneous junk, everything from a pencil rubber to a Trainspotting Zippo lighter. Amongst the contents were a load of old badges from the UK and Glasgow Comic Art Conventions.

I can't recall which was my first convention, but it would have been some time in the latter half of the 1980s when a small group of us got together to split the cost of hotel rooms. I'm not sure who was on the first trip, but it boiled down to a hardcore group of Me, Larry, Pete, Lance and Nicola. It would be great to find a few photos from that era, but I've managed to unearth just two. One you can see above and there's a second one taken on the last day of the last (1995) GlasCAC of a stripped and signed Frank Plowright.

These are the only two comic convention photos I've found – and I'm pretty certain I don't have any more. A couple of friends (Alan Woollcombe, Lance Rickman) were more handy with a camera and for many of the conventions I was either working at the Comic World table or drinking in whatever bar we were all in – the student bar at lunchtime and the hotel bar in the evening/early morning. I can't imagine what any photos I took would look like. As blurry as my memory is.

Here's my selection of  badges... happy days!

Below are some reviews of recently watched TV shows...don't read if you hate spoilers.

The moment the first nun exploded, you just know that Happy! is back and as uncompromising and hilarious as ever. The plot involves Sonny Shine (Christopher Fitzgerald) trying to put on an Eggs-tacular Easter Special by blackmailing head of network Kap Gostynski, Meanwhile, in prison, "Blue" Scaramucci (Ritchie Coster) battles for possession of his body with a demon named Orcus; and  sociopath Smoothie (Patrick Fischler) wants revenge on everyone, and plans to have Hailey (Bryce Lorenzo) the daughter of Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni) and Amanda Hansen (Medina Senghore), murder Sonny live on TV.

Although this sounds like it could be the plot of a regular cops, crooks and celebrities drama, let's not forget that this is based on a comic strip by Grant Morrison, who is also an executive producer and co-developer of the TV series. The 4-issue mini-series has become an 18-episode, 2 season series that is not for the fainthearted.

Front and centre is Meloni, who looks like he's having a whale of a time after 12 seasons of playing it straight in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (1999-2011). As former alcoholic ex-cop/hitman Nick Sax, he's just trying to hold his life together for his daughter while the world tries to tear him apart. His ex-wife is pregnant following an encounter with the Wishies, Sonny's alien backing dancers, and he's even fallen out with his daughter's imaginary unicorn, Happy (Patten Oswald). Adding to the shitstorm that is his life, his former partner Meredith (Lili Mironjnick) is obsessed with arresting Sonny and involves former children's entertainer Dayglo Doug (Curtis Armstrong) in her schemes.

This is the end of Happy!, after only two seasons, but maybe its for the best. Grotesque levels of violence are fun only for a while. As it stands, the 18 episodes tell a story that has a satisfying conclusion and I'd prefer to see the show end on a high rather than go through the motions of another ultra-violent season.

Mel and I have also been watching a few other shows that deserve a mention. Star Trek: Discovery season two was excellent, introducing the Enterprise and its crew – including Captain Pike and Mr. Spock – in a plot involving time travel and a rogue AI. There's a lot of science-bollocks explanations of how problems can be solved, which I find annoying – it removes any jeopardy from a situation if you can solve it by reversing the polarity of something and no amount of dashing around, welding bits of wireto circuit boards and watching a clock count down can cover up bad writing.

That said, for the most part it has the right balance of emotional heft and action, slipping up only noticeably on one occasion (expanding the role of a character in an obvious attempt to elicit some reaction when she is killed off). I'm glad to hear there will be a season three. Oh, and the opening credits are the most beautiful on TV at the moment.

What We Do In The Shadows has been utterly delightful. The film was good, but this 10-part series introduced new characters, expanded on some of the movie's ideas and gave them some breathing space. Kayvan Novak, as Nandor the Relentless, leads a small group of vampires sharing a house at Staten Island, his house mates including Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and her husband Laszlo (Matt Berry), and energy vampire Colin Robertson (Mark Proksch), who sucks the energy out of humans by being intensely boring or annoying. Nandor's familiar/slave is Guillermo (Harvey Guillen), who wants to be a vampire but is endlessly passed over.

Bored, dismissive and sometimes jealous of each other, the vampire life in America is not all it cracked up to be. One of the elder vampires, Baron Afanas (Doug Jones) visits, expecting to find the vampire's now rule over America, leading Nandor to suggest am alliance with another group of vampires. This notion falls apart due to a cursed hat and the accidental death of Baron Afanas.

Some of the funniest moments involve animal control and the meeting of the Vampiric Council, but there isn't a duff episode amongst the ten. A second season has already been announced as due out next year.

But before that, there's a second series of another What We Do In The Shadows spin-off, Wellington Paranormal, due this year. It features a couple of ordinary New Zealand cops, Officers Minogue and O'Leary of the Paranormal Unit, and their encounters with spooks, the possessed and zombies on the streets of Wellington. The 6-episode first series is well worth a watch, if you can find it.

No comments:

Post a Comment