Reviews August 2012 week five

Understanding is all, and the first thing you have to understand is the Chinese people’s utter devotion to the Communist Party instilled in them by Chairman Mao whom they loved and worshipped unswervingly even during the height of the chaos, anarchy, cruelty and civil war which the Cultural Revolution brought with it.

 – Stephen on A Chinese Life

The Making Of h/c (£22-50, D&Q) by Brecht Evens…

Glorious Belgique tour de farce from the laconic watercolour meister that is Brecht Evens. I really did find it difficult to believe he was going to be able to top his riotous celebration of friendship and fun that is THE WRONG PLACE, but he’s managed it hands down here by simply upping the ante on the sheer implausibility of plot and the various neuroses of the characters involved!

The “moderately successful” (i.e. not very) Flemish artist and devoted urbanite Peterson is offered the opportunity to be the special guest at the Beerpoele biennial art festival, Beerpoele being a charming location way, way out in the countryside. When he gets there, though, he finds much to his chagrin that the festival is little more than a glorified village fete.

However, things haven’t exactly been going well for Peterson recently back in the big city, so when the villagers, led by the ultra-enthusiastic curator Kristof, hoist him straight up on their collective pedestal like a true colossus of the art world, his ego inevitably responds and he begins to throw himself into the festival with increasingly reckless abandon, advising all the locals on their various individual projects, before deciding what they really need is a grand collaboration, to really celebrate the spirit of the festival and bring them all together artistically.

Peterson’s subsequent choice of a huge thirty-foot-high garden gnome constructed from papier mâché gives you just a little flavour of Brecht’s mischievous and resolutely off the wall humour which tickles and titillates throughout. Marshalling his troops in the little time they have is going to be no easy task for Peterson though, and it’s going to go right down to the wire if they’re going to get their piece ready in time for the opening of the festival.

As the deadline approaches and the pressure on him increases, Peterson’s motivational techniques become increasingly less orthodox, as indeed does the behaviour of the participants, some of whom weren’t exactly the most coherent souls to begin with. Fortunately for Peterson though, he’s able to seek solace in the arms of the infatuated teenage Cleo. Well he’d like to, but given as the surreal and farcical factors are gradually being ramped up to Vaudevillian proportions by this point, clearly something, well let’s face it everything, is probably, err well, certain, to go wrong…

I should add, for those of you already intrigued by the above but who are not familiar with Brecht’s amazing watercolours, just take a look at the interior art I have posted. There really is nothing else quite like it stylistically in comics, that springs to my mind at least. Were Picasso actually to have produced some comics, which actually existed other than in the HICKSVILLE library of course, he would have been hard pushed to produce something as impressive as Brecht. Now there’s a bold statement to finish a review with…


Buy The Making Of h/c and read the Page 45 review here

A Chinese Life (£16-99, Self Made Hero) by Li Kunwu, Philippe Ôtié & Li Kunwu.

A vital piece of social history brought vibrantly to life through Li Kunwu’s eye-witness account of all that he and his fellow village children instigated, propagated and then endured during the Cultural Revolution… right through to China’s meteoric industrialisation, modernisation, and the opening of its borders followed by Beijing’s triumphant Olympic games.

That it spans all six decades – of destruction and reconstruction – is key to the book’s success, bringing with it the contrasts and context vital to understanding how China is perceived by different generations of its own population, and in particular Kunwu’s very personal take which I found far from predictable as a Westerner. Seriously, you’re in for several surprises.

Understanding is all, and the first thing you have to understand is the Chinese people’s utter devotion to the Communist Party instilled in them by Chairman Mao whom they loved and worshipped unswervingly even during the height of the chaos, anarchy, cruelty and civil war which the Cultural Revolution brought with it. It was also instilled in Li Kunwu by his father, a provincial Secretary in 1950 which is where the story kicks off, pretty much where Belle Yang’s own family tale FORGET SORROW left off.

Xiao Li, as he was known when born, didn’t understand the pressures and responsibilities shouldered by his father who took his work very seriously indeed. To him, village life was full of pageantry: hearty and colourful celebrations of traditional holidays. Then came the Great Leap Forward to “beat the Brits and catch up with the Americans” – a single-minded smelting or ore and anything with a trace of metal in it which meant the furnaces had to be fuelled which led to the frenzied demolition of the forests resulting in barren soil for the villages. Was this reported? No, for as well as communal cooperation there was a fierce sense of competition so no one wanted to lose face, and everyone reported bumper harvests while in fact they were all of them starving. Xiao Li’s father, now District Chief Li, decides to talk to the Regional Secretary:

“Don’t worry too much about it. Content yourself with working properly.”

Well, that will fill stomachs.

The famine lasts for years, and the details will make you weep. At the same time an anti-Feudalism movement began which set the younger generation against the old, leading to a little early rebellion in Xaio Li. But that was as nothing compared to the double whammy of Mao’s call to worship soldier Lei Feng who died aged 23 “in the service of the people” which began to militarise the village’s children… and, in Spring 1966, the coming of the Cultural Revolution as dictated by Chairman Mao’s ‘Yu Lu: Quotations’ known over here as ‘The Little Red Book’. The teachers, who loved Mao, dutifully commanded their pupils to learn each quotation by heart, and the children lapped this up too. But then the teachers began to talk of poisons which needed to be eradicated (basically it boiled down to anything perceived to be bourgeois… pleasurable… individualistic… traditional…) and the children, already fervent and pugnacious, took it upon themselves to rise up against their elders and do the eradication for them. Of them.

Haircuts were proscribed, menus decried and those who indulged in culture denounced. Whole shops full of art and artefacts were raided and raised to the ground, burning the books that they housed. Anyone contradicting the kids was threatened with being reported. And then… then it was time to turn on the teachers.

At this point my jaw was on the floor. You won’t believe it until you read it. And remember, Li Kunwu was amongst the most active, drawing those haircuts deemed acceptable, turning on a shop keeper and standing up to his father who’d long been worrying where this was all going, and joining in excitably with the hanging of signs all over the village denouncing whomever they could think of. There’s a lot of denouncing in this book.

A movement founded on the principals of discipline had ended up destroying it. Neighbours were at each others throats. It’s one big catalogue of self-destruction in which Li Kunwu was as guilty as anyone else. They came for his father next.

To his credit the artist and narrator shies not away from his own culpability, but his brilliance is in effectively helping us understand how it all came to this: the tiny details of their lives which foreshadowed what was to come. What follows is a sustained period of poverty of all, as Li leaves home to join the Red Army for a pittance. With his father in a re-education facility, his mother desperately ill and his sister away, his family is completely split up yet each member strives their hardest to keep in touch and keep each other’s heads up in spite of adversity. It’s a wonder any of them made it through alive.

What I’ve attempted to do is pick out the most salient points from the first fifth of the book which to me explain the creator’s attitude to what he observes around him in the second half after Chairman Mao’s death, the denunciation of the Gang Of Four, the gradual reversal of the Cultural Revolution and the sudden explosion of wealth. Far from having destroyed his faith in the Communist Party or the ideals behind it – the state providing for the people, the people in service to each other and a great big sense of community – he is desperate to join the Party and is frankly baffled to begin with when his artistic career takes off and the military encourage a sensuousness in his art which had been firmly forbidden during his apprenticeship.

Li is far more a witness than a commentator. He declines to cover the events of Tiananmen Square because, he says, he wasn’t even there (but that scene with his co-writer Philippe Ôtié shows him wriggling apologetically to avoid it – it was obviously a bone of contention), and you won’t see Tibet mentioned once. He’s far prouder of what China has accomplished in thirty-five short years and, as I say, once you’ve read the first half for yourself you will probably understand why.

Tellingly, however, the banners translated throughout in footnotes have stopped sporting slogans of social exhortation and become adverts for the worst in capitalism like “betting, pools, raffles”. What he sees around him is a squandering of food and money when once they had so little. There’s a funeral which takes a turn for the surreal (and surely expressionistic) when they sacrifice burnt offerings of money, brand-name clothing, a house and a car. Then there’s a grotesque display of gluttony and waste at a restaurant when one boastful boss, high on his own supply of ego and self-esteem, starts berating a waitress and innocent owner in terms of “Do you know who I am?!” – which is possibly the least impressive way of trying to impress people.

As to education, it becomes so valued and therefore competitive that the system itself justifies ways of earning a little extra cash so that those who can afford to open doors for their daughters or sons will do so – including Li Kunwu – and there goes equality for all. He also bears witness to outright corruption at the gates of a factory which, as a cartoonist now at the Yunnan Ribao newspaper, he uses his press pass to thwart. Meanwhile, within that factory – many about to close down having only just opened (over two centuries of industrial revolution in the west have taken just two decades in the east) – older workers are fretting about being left behind in a world they no longer comprehend. Then come the bulldozers, destroying old neighbourhoods and displacing neighbours to brand-new skyscrapers on the edges of town where there is no sense of community. But once again for a sense of context all you have to do is turn back to the first half of the book and, well, it ain’t perfect, but it’s predominantly progress as far as Kunwu is concerned.

There’s much to admire in the art with its fine sense of space, and which grows more precise rather representational the closer we move to the present. Some of the architecture is stunning (just flick to page 587 for a nocturnal courtyard of illuminated beauty) while the landscapes he visits later on are… pfff… off the scale.

If you’re wondering why this single review is as long as all last week’s put together, the book comes in at a whopping 700 pages. I’ve only scratched the surface, and it occurs to me now that because of graphic novels like this, FORGET SORROW, PERSEPOLIS, PYONGYANG, SHENZHEN, Silk Road To Ruin, and Footnotes In Gaza that I’ve learned far more about geography and history outside of Europe through comics than I ever learned during over a decade spent at school. Stuff I really needed to know, told through enlightening personal perspectives.

So the next time someone belittles this medium you love to your face, pick up this kilo of culture, and smack them over the head with it.

It’s closer to two kilos, actually, but I quite like the scansion; forgive me.


Buy A Chinese Life and read the Page 45 review here

Only Skin: New Tales Of The Slow Apocalypse (£16-50, Secret Acres) by Sean Ford.

“What are ghosts even made of anyway?”
“That’s immaterial, Clay.”

… says the ghost.

Both Stephen R. Bissette and Alison Bechdel commend this book to you on the back, and I do so here but not for the same reasons. I seem to have had a slightly different experience: that of an enjoyably staged, spacious affair set in and around small-town America with the tone and timing of THIEVES AND KINGS. It’s album-sized and pretty hefty; few very early works are this long these days.

Cassie and younger brother Clay arrive back at the petrol station run by their Dad after eight years absence. Chris has been running it 24/7 ever since their Dad disappeared a fortnight ago. He’s so bushed he’s virtually narcoleptic and seems to have slept through the latest incident: severed fingers found in a pool of blood by the petrol pump. He’s reporting it to Tracy the Sheriff just as they arrive.

Paul is dreaming of his father’s acute illness. The hospital room opens up to the woods – his father has disappeared into them. Still, at least he’s not ill himself, yet. He meets his friend Albert in the diner close to where the locals are protesting against all the people missing after venturing into the woods. The Sheriff wants to close them off while they investigate. Albert suspects ulterior motives: that she’s financially in bed with forest ranger Jonah, wanting to raise the woods to the ground for profit.

Jonah went missing a week ago. Whether or not he is financially in bed with Tracy, he’s biblically in bed with Rachel, and his wife Angie is far from best pleased. She brings their son Jordan over to play with Clay. Chris is drawing deer, Clay is drawing ghosts – specifically the sort of ghost that floats through the air like bed linen – just like the one that lured him out to the woods last night and showed a deer, slashed deep with claws. There was something else in the woods last night.

Jordan says he’s seen the ghost too, but he hasn’t. The floating bedsheet tells Clay that in no uncertain terms and has a little fun with Jordan to prove it. A woman falls through the diner door, exhausted.

It’s all very dreamlike and utterly charming. There is something dark in the heart of this as the mystery plays itself out, but no one seems to have picked up on the comedy. The ghost is hilarious. Although immaterial, it casts a shadow wherever it goes and when it rises from the paddling pool it drips water! It is at once demanding yet oblivious, and the piece at the party was in retrospect brilliant.

I won’t deny for one second that the blank-eyed art is slightly derivative, but hey, we should all choose our sources so well! No, my only qualm is the cover and format, both terrible throwbacks to something self-published twenty years ago when the launch party poster was infinitely sharper and gave you a far fairer clue to the contents.


Buy Only Skin: New Tales Of The Slow Apocalypse and read the Page 45 review here

The Manara Library vol 3 h/c (£45-00, Dark Horse) by Milo Manara.

“Milo Manara’s collaborations with legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini take centre stage in this latest volume of THE MILO MANARA LIBRARY! Together, these two masters produced the beautiful, surreal stories ‘Trip to Tulum’ and ‘The Voyage of G. Mastorna,’ the latter of which is presented in English for the first time! Completing this volume is Manara’s collaboration with Silverio Pisu on the satirical update of a Chinese fable, ‘The Ape,’ as well as a large selection of short stories displaying the maestro’s illustrative versatility!”

‘Trip To Tulum’ features some of the most beautiful, lakeside illustrations of all time with crisp, clean lines and ripples and reflections to die for. One splash later and you’re transported deep under the ocean where Galleons have long since sunk, more recently joined by passenger planes, all of them danced round by dolphins. Sharks circle as our heroine investigates and it’s all a bit Tombraider II.  As to the full-page city-scape looked down on at night from the top of an exotic, open-air restaurant, and the vast, crystalline tower rising up from the shore into a full lunar night glittering with all the stars in the Milky Way…breathtaking! Obviously all her clothes fall off at one point – that’s why most people buy Manara – but I’ve never seen a final-page punchline quite like this. Features Fellini too.

There’s a story set in Venice (more exterior shots would have been lovely) and one in space, while the ‘The Ape’ referred to above is an epic, fantastical horror affair.

Mostly black and white this time round, although “The Journey…” is certainly full-colour. For a more in-depth review of Manara please see THE MANARA LIBRARY VOL 1.


Buy The Manara Library vol 3 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Swamp Thing vol 1: Raise Them Bones s/c (£10-99, DC) by Scott Snyder & Yanick Paquette, Marco Rudy.

The natural balance is all out of kilter. Weather systems run riot. Pigeons by day and bats by night fall lifeless from the skies; in the ocean the fish are dying. Out in the dessert where plant life is scarce, something is stirring and making a home for itself. Something that feeds on death and disease and decay. Slowly, The Rot is spreading…

Six weeks ago Alec Holland woke up in a swamp. A botanist whose life’s work was a bio-restorative formula capable growing vegetation in the most infertile regions of a planet, he died in an explosion many years ago, and in his stead the Swamp Thing roamed the glades. It had memories of being human, but it wasn’t. A champion of The Green, that Swamp Thing was a pure earth elemental.

Now the roles are reversed, for Alec Holland has memories of being that muck monster he never was, and intense, romantic feelings for a woman with white hair he’s never met. Begged by The Green to resume his prior calling, he flatly refuses until The Rot comes calling in all its hideous, unstoppable horror, preying on the decay and disease in us all. The only reason he escapes with his life is a woman on a motorbike with a shotgun. A woman with white hair: Abigail Arcane.

Oh, this is good. It’s grim and a bit wordy but good. Alan Moore and then Rick Veitch are tough acts to follow and no one has succeeded until now. Nancy A. Collins’ stab wasn’t bad. But where this succeeds against all expectations is in starting from scratch whilst simultaneously building on what went before. There’s a very good reason The Green now needs someone partially human – and it’s all to do with the desert. Similarly Abby and half-brother William’s involvement is far from random given uncle Anton Arcane’s prior role in The Rot. Does it tie in with DC New 52’s ANIMAL MAN? Oh, it will, but you can approach it from either angle.

The faces and figure drawing are of the Lee Weeks, Ron Granger and Marc Laming school of attractive, sturdy and striking, while some of the page layouts with their organic frames in The Green aim for what JH Williams III accomplished in PROMETHEA. As to the covers, they hark back to Bissette and Totleben’s run on Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing over and over again, and there’s a cover and sketch gallery in the back whose final pages – as Yanick messes around with one particular cover layout – are stunning.

Will Alec Holland make the ultimate sacrifice and resume the mantle of the Swamp Thing remembering full well what it will mean, and knowing it’s irreversible? Will there be a Green left by then to help him? The disease is spreading faster and faster infecting all who stray near. As any gardener knows there’s only one way to stop the rot, and that’s by cutting off anything infected. Anything, or anyone.

Doctor Alec Holland says: if you have an inflamed knee, wrap it in cabbage leaves and cellophane. Cabbage leaves contain a natural anti-inflammatory amino acid.

Doctor Stephen Holland says: if you have an inflamed cabbage, for Pete’s sake keep John Constantine at a distance. He’ll only provoke it further.


Buy Swamp Thing vol 1: Raise Them Bones s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Queen & Country Definitive Edition vol 4 (£14-99, Oni) by Greg Rucka, Antony Johnston & Christopher Mitten, Rick Burchett, Brian Hurtt…

“Come on. I’m not dying in Prague.”

Which oddly enough are almost exactly the words I uttered to my best mate and former Prague resident, the indomitable Mr. Savage, as he returned unsteadily from the bar with yet another round of foaming Budvars, replete with tequila teasers and absinthe chasers. Much like Paul Crocker, more familiar to us as the Director of Operations of Her Majesty’s covert SIS service, but here in his previous role in the field – and firing line – as Minder One, I was beginning to wonder whether I would make it out of the city alive.

Obviously he and I did, just about intact in both our cases, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this review and Greg Rucka wouldn’t have been able to write the three QUEEN & COUNTRY collections set in the current day featuring the abrasive spymaster. This fourth collection therefore, wraps up the “Declassified” mini-series material detailing the back stories of Crocker, Tom Wallace and Nicholas Poole, including in Crocker’s case, the oft referred to ‘Prague incident’. I so, so wish this series was still going, and for anyone who hasn’t read it, but likes espionage based fiction, I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.

Also, many thanks to customer Justin Sheppherd who recently lent me the three Queen & Country prose novels penned by Rucka which directly follow on from the comics, and also his DVDs of the ‘70s TV show The Sandbaggers, which inspired Rucka to create QUEEN & COUNTRY, him being such a massive fan of the show.


Buy Queen & Country Definitive Edition vol 4 and read the Page 45 review here

The Man I Picked Up (£9-99, June) by CJ Michalski.

“I always want to do sexy stuff with you. But… if I tried to jump you every time I felt like it… it wouldn’t be very proper.”

It most certainly wouldn’t… Cue massive impropriety!

I do love the way he was holding his chin in deepest consideration, though. This is a man who has given much thought throughout his adult life to the nature of manliness. He is a big-quiffed, raven-haired stud, and has a motto to suit his every need.

“Accepting things with open-mindedness is… the spirit of true manliness!”

Especially when the young man is offering you his lunch box.

“It’s not manly to make someone that upset!”

So don’t turn him down.

This is the manifestation of my manliness…!”

I’ll give you one guess as to what just manifested itself, and where.

If you hadn’t yet guessed it, this is more of that hot boy-on-boy action we stock purely to piss off the puritans and show solidarity with our comicbook sisters who for decades have had to put up with comic shop shelves stacked with big-boobed bad babes in low-cut or non-existence skin-tights wrestling so physically with each other. That it makes us a fortune is irrelevant to this compromised capitalist, and I only give each a thorough once-over to make sure we are not transgressing the trade descriptions act by selling you something with less than the requisite Filth Factor Five.

This passes muster but there’s not much to fluster – in fact it’s predominantly sweet. There are four separate storylines, each involving a pleasure deferred until one of the protagonists finally throws his heterosexuality to the wind (propagandist translation: manifests his manliness by tossing it off) and gives in to puppy-eyed doting simply because of a snowdrift.

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, please note: real life rarely works out like this.



Buy The Man I Picked Up and read the Page 45 review here

I’ve Seen It All (£9-99, June) by Shoko Takaku.

At least, I thought I had until this.

It is precisely like an episode of Embarrassing Bodies left on the cutting room floor because Dr Christian Jessen, confronted with too many weeping willies, became obsessed with finding the perfect one and could detect it under two layers of clothing. Two layers and an armoured box if you’re a cricketer.

I have no idea how many Hippocratic oaths would have been broken in the hot pursuit here, but I suspect they’d be manifold. Also, laws and a sense of responsibility and fair play.

“On my pride as a specialist in men’s genitals…” is not a sentence I ever expected to read, but on closer examination – and I can promise you plenty of those – it transpires that a man called Ayumi has the golden goods which Dr Saikawa is after. A bit too clinical for cynical me, but therein lies the comedy: Dr Saikawa’s assistant / straight guy is hilarious.


Buy I’ve Seen It All and read the Page 45 review here

Essential Warlock vol 1 (£14-99, Marvel) by Roy Thomas, Mike Friedrich, Jim Starlin & Jim Starlin, Gil Kane, John Byrne plus more.

Homicide or suicide? Certainly it’s a sacrifice few would be willing to make.

Following his run on CAPTAIN MARVEL in which he created Thanos, the craggy-chin Titan besotted by Death, this is Starlin’s most significant contribution to comics, and one of those rare, enormously satisfying, self-fulfilling time loops.

The entire cosmic saga is here from black-and-white beginning to end, as well as the stuff that preceded it. Honestly? I’d skip all that and jump straight in at STRANGE TALES #178, only going back to the earlier material as a curiosity. Or you could buy the full-colour MARVEL MASTERWORKS: WARLOCK VOL 2 h/c which features the cosmic saga on its own, for never has butterscotch been so attractive as it is on Adam Warlock’s skin. Fans of Bryan Talbot’s ADVENTURES OF LUTHER ARKWRIGHT will relish the art as much as the introspection and the adversarial role of The Universal Church of Truth with all the ruthless repression, hypocrisy and indoctrination that comes with our own organised religions. So here we go, the cosmic saga:

Warlock is a star traveller with a Soul Gem which sits on his forehead ready to rip out opponents’ life force like a glistening vampire. But it comes with a cost – a burden of guilt – for very early on Adam comes into contact with The Universal Church Of Truth’s handywork, learns that it’s headed by The Magus, and discovers that this Magus is his future self corrupted and driven insane by his experiences. From that moment on he sees but one course of action: he has to cauterise the future by terminating his own lifeline before it’s too late. And that’s precisely what he achieves when he’s confronted by a bloody, broken version of himself lying in the ruins of some future battle:

“You… So my time has really come.”
“You know why I am here?! Then you must also realise I’ve no desire to do what I must now do!”
“Of course I understand, you idealistic buffoon! Are not you and I one and the same person? My final moments are upon me! I am dying and you have come to steal my soul so that it will never become the foe I defeated those long months ago!”
“Months… I didn’t realise it had happened such a short time ago!”
“Short time?! You fool, it’s been an eternity! During that time, everything I’ve ever cared for or accomplished has fallen into ruin! Everyone I’ve ever loved now lies dead! My life has been a failure! I welcome its end.”

That takes place approximately one-third of the way through. It’s only then that the rough stuff starts happening and Adam has to endure all that was promised until, in a final battle against Thanos alongside Captain Marvel and the Avengers, Adam Warlock falls, and you see precisely the same scene played out in a new perspective.


Collects MARVEL PREMIERE #1-2, WARLOCK (1972) #1-15, INCREDIBLE HULK (1968) #176-178, STRANGE TALES (1951) #178-181, MARVEL TEAM-UP (1972) #55, MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL #2, and AVENGERS ANNUAL (1967) #7.


Buy Essential Warlock vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Arrived, Online & Ready To Buy

Reviews already online if they’re new formats of previous books. Otherwise the most interesting will come under the microscope next week, while the rest will remain with their Diamond previews acting in lieu of reviews.


Amulet vol 5: Prince Of The Elves (£9-99, Scholastic Press) by Kazu Kibuishi

Courtney Crumrin vol 2: The Coven Of Mystics h/c (£18-99, Oni Press) by Ted Naifeh

The Voyeurs h/c (£18-99, Uncivilised Books) by Gabrielle Bell

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser: Masterpieces vol 2 (£14-99, BOOM!) by various

Wanted (£14-99, Image) by Mark Millar & J.G. Jones

Penny Arcade vol 8: Magical Kids In Danger (£10-99, Oni Press) by Jerry Holkins & Mike Krahulik

Star Wars Omnibus: Clone Wars vol 1: The Republic Goes To War (£19-99, Dark Horse) by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Classics vol 2 (£13-50, IDW) by Mark Martin

Farscape: Scorpius vol 2: Glorious Basterds (£9-99, BOOM!) by Rockne S. O’Bannon, David Alan Mack & Gordon Purcell

Rat Pack vol 1: Guns, Guts And Glory (£14-99, Titan) by Gerry Finley-Day, John Wagner, Pat Mills & Carlos Ezquerra, Massimo Belardinelli plus more

Sonic Saga Series vol 1: Darkest Storm (£8-99, Archie Comics) by various

Fear Itself: Thunderbolts s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Jeff Parker & Kev Walker, Declan Shalvey, Valentine De Landro plus more

X-Men Legacy: Five Miles South Of The Universe s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Mike Carey & Steve Kurth, Khoi Pham

Fear Itself: Journey Into Mystery s/c (£11-99, Marvel) byKieron Gillen & Doug Braithwaite

Bleach vol 44 (£6-99, Viz) by Tite Kubo

Bleach vol 45 (£6-99, Viz) by Tite Kubo

Bokurano Ours vol 6 (£9-99, Viz) by Mohiro Kitoh

Bakuman vol 13 (£6-99, Viz) by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata

Tegami Bachi – Letter Bee vol 10 (£6-99, Viz) by Hiroyuki Asada

New art-orientated Page 45 interview I gave to the wonderful Scarlett Daggers of Nottingham’s Dr. Sketchy’s! Includes a Page 45 secret never revealed until now. I probably shouldn’t have, but she was ever so lovely and did kind of ask! What can you do, eh?
A magical piece of animation whose backgrounds – choice of colour, textures etc. – and finale put me in mind of Shaun Tan’s THE LOST THING. Forwarded on Twitter by Alison Sampson AKA @itsthatlady from @mariocavalli: Metro by Jacob Wyatt

If it’s still up by the time I post this, SCOTT PILGRIM’s Bryan Lee O’Malley on his new book, SECONDS, due 2013.

 – Stephen

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