News & Letters January 2011

Happy New Year!

I trust you all made New Years Resolutions? Only some 8,300 hours left to break them. I once resolved never to buy a car or a mobile phone. I then promptly bought a car and decided I needed a mobile phone in case of accidents.

I’ve never had an accident as such, although my car did once spontaneously combust and the number of times I’ve let the battery go flat through not using the beast during winter has made me a laughing stock all down my road. It’s either that or the karaoke… It’s the karaoke, isn’t it?

The next year I wised up and resolved to do as many u-turns as possible. Thankfully I already had a car in which to execute them.

But I’m not always that hopeless. Aged sixteen, I gave up organised religion for Lent.

Here’s Neil Gaiman’s New Year Benediction: LINK.

Time permitting I’m hoping to write a column on 2010 and 2011 this weekend. Our followers on Twitter have already sent us their favourite comic or graphic novel from 2010 for the blog. If you want to join in please do email us at page45@page45.com. No essays, please, just a couple of sentences with the subject heading “Best of 2010 for Stephen’s next blog”. And remember that liberal-leftie, wishy-washing saying, “There are no wrong answers”? Don’t you fucking believe it.

Item! Chris Ware mural in situ – quite, quite stunning: LINK

Item! A reminder that there is no VAT attached to comics, so there have been no price increases here since its rise this January to 20%. Reading material is one of the few exceptions to this stealth tax designed to rob retailers while fooling you into believing you’re not paying an extra 20% income tax. Which you are! On almost everything you buy!

“Page 45: Telling it like it is since 1994.” – Ian Craig on Twitter.

Item! Bill Sienkiewicz (STRAY TOASTERS etc.) finally talks about his experience on Alan Moore’s BIG NUMBERS some 20 years ago. And it’s not what you think. It’s not an attack on Al Columbia; it’s a mea culpa for the way in which the work overwhelmed him and a real revelation about the practicalities of using models as photo references for any length of time. You’ve got to feel for the guy. Thanks to my good mate and occasional Page 45 reviewer Alex ‘Velveteen’ Sarll. LINK

Item! Fans of Brian Wood’s & Ryan Kelly’s LOCAL, prepare to go green with envy at this gorgeous, Nottingham-based drawing privately commissioned by Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month Club member Dan Howard. Swoon at will: LINK.

Item! Jamie Smart (BEAR, UBU BUBU etc.) is now appearing in the new, improved DANDY! Lots o’ mischief on Jamie’s blog including a video of him drawing and that 9 Ways Guys Pee strip which you can now buy as a print for your loo, or simply view here: LINK

Item! Daren White is interviewed by The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon on THE PLAYWRIGHT illustrated by Eddie Campbell, my favourite book of 2010: LINK

Item! Here are Tom’s other seasonal interviews with the likes of Dan Clowes, Jaime Hernandez, Dylan Horrocks etc. Beware the migraine-inducing adverts at The Comics Reporter.

Item! Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s FLEX MENTALLO will finally be collected this autumn as a hardcover. Includes bonus material. You want to wait for a softcover? I really wouldn’t risk it: this could go straight back into legal hell it’s only just emerged from.

Item! Conversely DC has just cancelled the second half of its AUTHORITY: THE LOST YEAR. “This title will not be published.” That’s a bit final, eh? Also AZRAEL: KILLER OF SAINTS but no one gives a damn about that.

Item! Oh yeah, now that I think about it Steranko’s RIED TIDE has been cancelled yet again, as has Richard Sala’s HIDDEN for the moment. We’ll hang onto your orders, don’t worry.

Item! Two Bryan Talbot signings, one in Nottingham, one in Glasgow.

Nottingham Wednesday 2nd March 5.00pm

“Grandville and the Anthropomorphic Tradition.”

Slide-show presentation followed by signing (we will have books, don’t you worry; you just bring your lolly). Open to the public and free of charge. Room A46 of the Trent Building at the University of Nottingham on the University Park campus, NG7. The Trent Building is the great big white jobbie with the clock tower, overlooking the lake and next to the Student Union building. If in doubt, ask: everyone’s very friendly there since Tom Paulin left.

Directions and maps: LINK.

GRANDVILLE volumes one and two: LINK & LINK

Glasgow Saturday 26th March 4.00pm

Signing at Plan B Books, Glasgow
5 Osborne St, Glasgow G1 5RB. Tel: 0141 2371137

Plan B is the new shop I’ve been championing without ever having seen it purely because I trust its partner/managers Pete Renshaw and Tom Green, and I cannot believe how hard Tom Green works. Also, I like a man with a plan, and theirs is refreshingly different.

Item! Alas, ScreenLit at the Broadway is off this year so you can unbook that last week in March, but it’s thrown open all sorts of useful info (thanks to the magnificent Linda Pariser) like the film adaptation of one of my favourite graphic novels, Raymond Briggs’ ETHEL & ERNEST. Here’s the film’s blog: LINK.

Item! Antony Johnston’s WASTELAND is neither dead nor being side-shunted because of all his DAREDEVIL work. I told you that’d never happen and he’s free of DD now anyway. Here’s an update with news, news, news: LINK

Item! Tom Gauld (have you bought his new Comicbook Postcards?) is compiling his favourite maps. They’re cool. They’re very cool. This one’s for you, Dmytro! LINK

Item! April 9th and 10th: London comicbook convention called KAPOW! With top names like Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch, Frank Quitely, Kieron Gillen, Liam Sharp, John Romita Jr., plus people off the teevee. LINK

Item! Classic moment during Stephen Fry in America. He’s just spent hours in Alaska’s Barrow, the most northern town in America (see vampire gore-fest 30 DAYS OF NIGHT), following some traditional Inuit hunters on the frozen seas as they try to secure themselves a whale or two. Fortunately it’s the height of summer when it’s light 24 hours a day and the ice is beginning to crack. He asks, however, what do they do in the depths of winter when it’s pitch-black all day? Do they stay in? No, they go out to hunt Caribou.
“Do you navigate by the stars?”
“The stars, yes.
“Also, GPS.”

The ‘S’ stands for ‘system’ not ‘satellite’ – in case that comes up in a pub quiz.

And so to the letters!

On 28th June 2010 Ben Read placed a considerable order with us. Not unusual, that, bless ‘im. But he did make a rather rash promise when ordering…

Grandville: Mon Amour (if you can get it signed again, I will be prepared to kiss a member of staff).

I’m afraid we didn’t have Bryan to sign this Christmas (we were waiting for his GRANDVILLE presentation on 02/03/11, above) but Bryan is an awfully lovely man, Ben is an awfully loyal mail order customer, and I can’t resist a Steve’ll Fucking Fix It challenge. So one thing led to another and we sent him a little something free of charge for Christmas.

Oh sweet people of Page 45!

You are too kind. Really. I’ve finally gotten off my snowed-in hill, and over to my equally snowed-in mail drop, and opened my lovely present.

What, this? LINK

Wow. I honestly choked up a bit. Stephen, you did indeed fucking-fix-it and I’m enormously grateful. You guys rock and have my undying customer loyalty. (Which, to be fair, you had beforehand anyway but it’s nice to be appreciated.) 

Our pleasure.

Pucker up, sunshine.

Hello Stephen, Tom and Jonathan,

Please accept my almost too-fervent wishes that you all enjoy a happy New Year!

Thanks so much for your support in 2010…

love,

Ellen Lindner

Portfolio:  http://www.littlewhitebird.com
Sketchbook: http://ellenlindner.livejournal.com
Studio: http://fleecestation.co.uk/

You are very, very welcome, and right back at ya when it comes to support.

Ellen is one of the wonderful WHORES OF MENSA whose fourth issue we declared to be Comicbook Of The Month, and sole creator of Undertow. Each batch of UNDERTOW she sends to us comes with the most magnificent sketches free of charge. Well, they have done so far, but no guarantees. I’d buy now…

Hey guys,

Thanks for the wonderful newsletter format and the web site you’ve now created. So much easier to handle and enjoy!!!

And many thanks (with some apologies for tardiness) to Jonathan for picking The Summit of the Gods vol 2 as his favourite of the year. The following three volumes are now all translated and first edit completed and he and customer Thomas will not believe how much better it can get!! We will try our best to get another volume out mid year but, like all small businesses right now, we have to sell the stock to go pay for more. Simple!!

Enjoy the festivities everyone and let’s make 2011 the best it can be, J

All the best,

Stephen Robson

Fanfare / Ponent Mon

We’ll be grateful for what we receive whenever we receive it, mate!

Dear Stephen et al,

I see I have neglected thus far to partake in the traditional seasonal exchange of greetings, or at least that element relating to the alleged time of joy and goodwill known as Christmas, so, having lamentably failed to wish you all Merry Humbug, and having little else to do, I will now express my wishes for a minimally atrabilious new year, albeit in scant expectation that it will do any good whatsoever.  Still. it’s the thought that counts, apparently. (Speaking of which – £70, was it? Working on it).

Andrew J McGuire

Ditto.

New word: atrabilious.

I went into your shop on Monday, after dragging my friends into every comic book store we could find. Each time I asked if they had JTHM in stock [JOHNNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC – ed.] and each time the answer was an apologetic ‘No.’ But then, someone recommended me to go find your store, so with tired feet and lots of bags, I entered the shop and asked if you had it in stock. I expected the usual answer of ‘No, we haven’t had that in stock for years.’ But instead, I was met with a very friendly and helpful person who told me that they indeed had it in stock! I was so happy and I bought it right away. I’d just like to say thank you so much, I’ve been looking for the comic for months and now I’m happily reading it to my hearts content. I was also informed that you’re ordering the new printing of I Feel Sick, and I honestly cannot wait! Thank you again, 

One very happy Jhonen Vasquez fan! 

Jemma Briggeman

HOMICIDAL MANIAC fans are often very happy. Worryingly enough.

Jemma, you should seriously check out Jamie Smart’s BEAR etc. (see Item!s above). Vasquez and Dirge (LENORE) have made us an awful lot of money over the last ten years with their Cute But Dead material, whilst Jamie Smart has made us laugh over and over and over again. Warren Ellis too. Although that’s not so much an endorsement as a reflection of their shared sensibilities towards the sick and depraved.

Hey all,

Just thought I’d drop you lot a line to let you know that after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, we have finally opened our new entertainment retail store in the Victoria Centre. “That’s Entertainment” sells CDs, DVDs, and games, but the emphasis is on value for money – we want people to pop in with a fiver in their pocket and find something interesting and feel that they have got their hands on some bargains.

Would be delighted if you could spread the word to your loyal and rabid customers, as we hope we can replicate at least some of that famous Page 45 customer service, though it may take some time before our fresh-faced staff achieve “acerbic”.

Perhaps we should pay them in wine?

Anyway our website is at http://www.thatsent.co.uk/, we’ve got another store in Derby amongst others. We’re up near Tescos, and the doors are open!

Hope all is well,

Cheers,

Craig

I’d expect the blue dots online to spread over the country like German Measles in the next 24 months. One customer whose name I swear I wrote down but can no longer find came in with a stash of 13 DVDs for just £30.

It’s not as if they’re a new company, either: there’s an experienced online entity they keep as separate as possible but which trades in second-hand CDs and has made a fortune. I’ve spent a tonne of money there and every single CD arrived in immaculate condition (they’re treated and tested first), plus the sheer breadth of what’s available using their search engine is staggering.

But. The bricks and mortar shop ain’t that. I visited today and it’s very much a rummage-through process. Masses of stock, ludicrously cheap, but you will need time to a good old capurtle. Nor is there room for the Page 45 standard of service whereby we can put our hands on exactly what you want within seconds then leisurely tell you what you’re after. Or provide recommendations. What I can tell you is that it’s 100% professional and here to stay, its assistant manager used to work at Selectadisc and he bounces like Tigger (hello, Andrew Jadowski!), and Craig Dawson did once pay in wine when I got his wedding blessed by Alan Moore.

Okay, here is a letter that brought a genuine lump to my throat, made me take a deep breath, and had Dominique slightly tearful. You’ll understand in a bit. It’s a lovely, lovely, lovely letter and we’re both enormously grateful.

Hi Stephen and Dominique (and the new bugs),

You won’t remember me. Well, maybe you will, but it’s easier to assume that you won’t.

I haven’t been to Nottingham for many a year. I haven’t been buying comics for many a year (though someone kindly spent £70 on a volume of the Trigan Empire for me recently).

Tonight, I started rooting around a little, trying to find information online about modern comics with superheroes and spacemen and monsters in that would appeal to a sensitive 9 year old boy. My son loves comics and cartoons and exploding robots in space and all those other things that 9 year old boys love. But I look at the Transformer magazines we occasionally get down here in Essex, and I look at the superhero books in Waterstones, and I feel a bit sad, wondering why he doesn’t get to read stuff like the Fantastic Four or Spiderman in all their fantastic 60s, 70s, 80s glory like I did when I was kid. Why he can’t sit outside a petrol station in Polzeath in

Comics that I find now seem to be either rather pathetic sub-Beano things, or incomprehensible movie tie-ins, or just too damn adult. I’m an adult, and you know what? I’m fed up of “adult themes”. I don’t want death and sex and dysfunction (I get enough of that already) – I want a cracking adventure story with beautifully crisp artwork. And I don’t want  my son to be faced with page after page after page of product, at the expense of a good comic strip; or sex and violence before he knows how to handle it.

Anyway. I digress.Page 45?”. Silly me.

So, I’m flicking about, trying to find some website that might be able to recommend some contemporary stuff that my son could enjoy, when suddenly I think “hang on, why don’t I look up

I lived in Nottingham between 1994 and 1998 – 4 of the best years of my life – post-college, first job, great city, good friends, fun, fun, fun. And part of that fun was being around when Page 45 first opened. Stephen – I can’t remember the name of that previous shop where you and Mark worked (was it really Fantastic Store?), but I do remember how welcome you both made me feel, and how excited I was when you opened your new premises.

I loved visiting you guys – not just to pick up my regular dose of whatever I was reading at the time, but because I liked the place, and I liked you. Though I was just a customer, in my heart, I considered you chaps friends, first you and Mark, and then Dominique. It wasn’t just about the books, (and boy, you turned me on to many, many books), but about care and kindness and fun. And you knew how to make a shop feel genuinely EXCITING.Australia for a bit of fun in 1998-99, and never really returned, to my shame. I stopped buying comics because, well, for many years, I simply couldn’t afford them. But I popped onto your site today, to try and find some things for my son, and was confronted with the news (ok, not so new news) that Mark is no longer with us.Nottingham. But tonight, I am transported back 15 years, and I can see Mark’s smiling face, his raised eyebrow, hear his low soft tones, and I feel genuinely bereft. I loved bumping into him around town, in a pub, in Rock City, and exchanging a few brief, always funny words. He brightened my day whenever I encountered him. He was a fantastic man, kind, witty, switched on, and the world is a much poorer place without him in it. But you know this, and I have no doubt that he is there with you every day. I believe in teams and friendships, and Stephen, you and Mark had one of the best, to this passer-by. You were like a an extra little social network in one place, and you guys complemented each other brilliantly. Page 45 was a home from home for me – my favourite shop in Nottingham. More than a shop. And reading about Mark has made me realise how much I miss you, and your kindness, and your love of art (not just comic art, but all art).

I trotted off to

It’s been many a year since I have passed through your doors. Many a year since I came to

I hope you guys are thriving, and I send my love and good wishes to you all. And to Mark.

Stay well, and keep up the good work.

Much love
Alistair Bland
A ghost in the machine…

You can’t really follow that, can you?

Except with something like this from a reader who’s been with us forever…

Just to let all my friends know that my weekly blog “The Laughter Journey” went live this week. Drop in, tell your friends, buy me a drink, give me a job … 😉

I’m musing about the nature of laughter every Monday at http://blog.thelaughterjourney.co.uk

much love

Jo

Xxx

Send us some emails, folks. Twitter is one thing and the Forums are another, but the Forums are the one thing I regretfully leave in the more capable hands of J-Lo, Dominique and Tom because I cannot do everything so I rarely see them. Send us emails as well! The stoopider the better: page45@page45.com.

I leave you with news that Page 45 has just bought the publisher out of its last 69 copies of THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN, Tom’s favourite book of 2010 and our preceding Comicbook Of The Month. It could be their hard-sell but they claimed there were no plans to reprint it, and we just couldn’t take the risk.

Also, I finally watched Scott Pilgrim last week on Blu-Ray (cinemas don’t let me smoke). Hilarious stuff. The whole way through I was obsessed with the idea that someone should seriously make a comic of it, then discovered that they already had.

Wow, did we drop the ball on that one!

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