Archive for September, 2012

Reviews September 2012 week four

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

“All those comics for kids on display in supermarkets with plastic toys attached are bloody awful. Truly abysmal. This, on the other hand… this is on another level entirely. Can I have my wallet back, please?”

- Customer Justin Cook on The Phoenix weekly. It’s a hit.

The Nao Of Brown h/c (£16-99, Self Made Hero) by Glyn Dillon.

“Little do they know I’m a fucking mental case.”

Astonishing.

Exquisitely beautiful, with the softest of pencil lines and crisply lit, delicately coloured washes, this is the finest graphic novel I have read all year, and one of the best I have read in my life. Full of humanity, it is tender and compassionate and very, very funny in places. In others, it is startlingly dark.

Our young Nao is twenty-eight with an English mother who’s moved to Brighton and a drunken father who’s moved back to Japan. She’s adopted her mother’s maiden name of Brown. She’s playful, intelligent and culturally well versed. Sharply dressed, she is pretty to the point of chic, with dark hair tied up at the back, falling in a fringe across her brow with wisps curling down past her ears. She’s an artist who’s just had four setbacks: her boyfriend cheated on her, ditched her and dumped her from his publishing company, twenty-four hours after a promising relationship with an American toy company went tits up too. After an initial burst of enthusiasm, they’d gone radio-silent so Nao sent them an email to nudge them into action.

“I didn’t think I’d been rude or anything so I was quite surprised by the speedy and hostile response I got.”
“Hostile?”
“Well, in my attempt to be professional yet curt… I’d signed off with just “regards”… but the G and T are pretty close to each other on the keyboard.”

That’s Steve Meek, by the way, an old art school friend she’s bumped into in a pub. He offers her a job in his “kidult” designer vinyl toy shop where there’s a list of things they don’t sell drawn up, presumably, from everything he’s been asked if they do sell. You’d be surprised: I’ve been asked if we sell 7” singles, colanders and, on one notable occasion, guns. This being Nottingham, I was particularly polite to him. There they compare notes on their disastrous love lives – oh, the comedy of courtship! – until a washing machine repairman called Gregory pops in by mistake and Nao is immediately smitten. Dressed in denim, he’s broad, high-browed with a thick but tidily trimmed beard. To Nao he looks just like The Nothing from Japanese folklore, and she’s determined to meet him again.

“Well, I’ve not seen anything quite like that before…” he confesses, peering down the back of her washing machine. “Looks like someone hacked away at it with a carving knife.”
“Really? … We do have a mouse problem.”

Hmmm. Quickly they bond over Buddhism and Franco-Japanese animation, but you know what first dates can be like, right? Nerves? Overcompensation? A bit too much to drink?

“My Mum said you’re Japanese. Would it be fair to say… there are two types of Japanese… women? The autonomous, intrepid ‘escapee’, who makes it to the west because they weren’t cut out to live the life of the docile cliché… the repressed, suffering in silence, Milquetoasts, unable to speak up for themselv –“
“Milk toasts?”
“Exactly… Look… ‘Hello Kitty’… the archetypal Japanese female… unable to articulate. Why? For she has no mouth.”
“…”
[slumps]
“Yes, Hello Kitty may appear to have no mouth, but Winnie the Pooh has no pants and Action Man lacks… well, he’s unlikely to get any ‘action’. Anyway, according to Sanrio, she does have a mouth… it’s simply unseen beneath her fur. Ergo, it’s never drawn… but it does exist… in theory. And… what you fail to take into account is that Hello Kitty’s male counterpart, ‘Dear Daniel’, has no mouth… therefore negating your claim that Kitty is representative of the archetypal Japanese female and her ‘lack of voice’.”
“… Perha –“
“And if you want the official company line… they’ve said Hello Kitty appears to have no mouth because she speaks from her heart. And anyway this is not ‘Hello Kitty’… it’s ‘Lucky Lune’. …I’m not sure what the story is with her mouth…”

Brilliant. Charming. It’s all so delightful, just like Nao herself. Unfortunately ever since the very first page something has been simmering away, and not even in the background. To begin with that too struck me as funny, Nao appearing to comment on her own condition with a certain good-humoured – or at least dry – detachment as here, where she stands on a platform next to a Help Point as a train approaches. She could use a little help.

“The Underground is always… ‘challenging’. But with the jetlag kicking in, on an empty stomachh… I felt really on edge. All it takes is a little shove…
“… 9 out of 10… again.”

It is the perfect juxtaposition of words and pictures, Nao looking utterly unphased while seeing red.

But it isn’t funny at all.Nao, you see, suffers from a specific Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which is a very far cry from repeatedly washing your hands or touching each lamp post you pass. Beneath her seemingly limitless calm lurks a volcanic rage that can be triggered even during a relaxed Buddhist meditation class. And by ‘volcanic’ I mean bursts of murderous fury: violent flash-fantasies she can feel boiling up inside her, barely contained by the mantras she’s taught herself, like focussing on her mother’s unconditional love. She doesn’t trust herself around knives, scissors and especially small children, but even those she adores are at risk and gradually you begin to understand the full extent of her trauma, the fixations which consume her once a stray thought takes hold and send her into a spiral of self-recrimination and self-loathing that can paralyse her for hours.

It’s masterfully presented, and for me the key is that to begin with you don’t take her seriously – that you don’t comprehend her torture, just like those around her, oblivious to what she’s wrestling with. The only person who does understand the severity is her flatmate Tara and even she, to begin with, makes gentle jokes which Nao joins in with.

Where this all goes is what took me by surprise, and not just the once; how so many seemingly throwaway moments all tied together astounded me. Even the title is bursting with wit.

The Japanese fable, framed in black and fully inked, involving the squabbling family, the conker-headed son and The Nothing I will leave for you discover for yourselves. Like Nao herself the book is full of surprises including design elements, some of which were oh, so clever. And it is, as I’ve said, such a beautifully drawn and sublimely painted graphic novel. I love the way the light falls across Nao’s cheek in rounded triangles. Her mascara is immaculately applied – except when she cries with laughter. Yet it’s her bright red lips which amused me the most: her fixed grin of awkward apology, the pulled-in-tight smile of “I goofed”, and the bright delight of open-mouthed, exhilarated success.

There’s also so much culture here I hadn’t stumbled upon before, or at least in such depth, and the Buddhism in particular intrigued me. Nao visits the West London Buddhist Centre quite regularly, with much affection for Ray in particular who teaches more than just art.

“Enso is just the Japanese word for circle. It’s not a calligraphy character, it’s a zen symbol, symbolising enlightenment, the universe… the void… it’s an expression of the ‘moment’. So, once it’s done, that’s it, there’s no tidying it up or changing it.”

Painted with a single sweep of the brush, it can also look remarkably like a washing machine window in full spin. Nao has filled a whole wall with washing-machine Endos at home. It’s another of her fixations. She’s permanently set on the same cycle, round and round and round.

Something’s got to give.

SLH

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

The Phoenix #37 & #38 (£2-99 each, Phoenix Group) by various.

The good, the rad and the ugly-bugly.

“You know, a funny thing happened to me on the way to the web tonight. My friend Vincent the spider was having trouble tying his prey to his webbing and they kept flying away… “Vincent!”, I said, “You fool, Your flies are undone!””

Dear, dear Gary Northfield: half a hectare short of a suitably sized vegetable patch, he is the “Cor!” in the jet, the rot after the car, and totally in his element in ‘Gary’s Garden’, here performing to a captive audience of spellbound insects and youngsters alike.

It is vitally important we encourage the youngest generation to read and look forward to reading with all the zeal we had for our own weekly comics. And however much we wish they would read what we lapped up in the past, how infinitely more exciting to discover brand-new blood pumping through the veins of the British comicbook industry! (Please note: I’m not a vampire.)

This issue kicks off a whole new string of adventures like John and Patrice Aggs’ ‘Zara’s Crown’ starring schoolgirls Chloe and Zoe who’ve stumbled on a right load of loot left in a newspaper on the London Underground Tube. What a dilemma: hand in the bundled dosh or go on a spontaneous shopping spree? One is more mall-adjusted than the other. So who is the legal owner? Who is the illegal donor? And why is Zara clinging to the edge of The Gerkin?! I DON’T KNOW!!

Then you get the truly demented, like Jamie Smart’s ‘Bunny Vs Monkey’, a two-page outrage of bombastic glee plagued by miscreants and morons like Action Beaver, Pig, Skunky, Weenie and Le Fox, squabbling on all hyperglycaemic sides. Not seen Metal Steve yet. Here Monkey and Skunky attempt to infiltrate Bunny and Weenie’s best-laid private plans using a Trojan Moose.

“Ah, we’re here. I’ll press the door release… or was that the BUM ROCKETS?”

Oh, double bottoms indeed!

I love, love, love Neill Cameron’s art classes and so will your kids! (Your kids aren’t reading this, right? I just typed “bottoms”. Also: “bum rockets”.) I missed his ‘Pirates Of Pangea’ strip which will hopefully reappear as a graphic novel along with Kate Brown’s ‘Lost Boy’. I think the two are in cahoots come Christmas – or maybe before! Oh, it’s all just terribly exciting!!

Laura Ellen Anderson breaks the ice (and much more besides) in Evil Emperor Penguin, Thomas Fickling and Zak Simmonds-Hearn tell the epic, legendary tale of ‘Simon Swift’, and it’s also all-out, symbol-decrypting action for Cogg & Sprokit courtesy of Jamie Littler. You can join in and maybe work it all out for them first!

There’s a letters page where your own children’s art could easily be printed (just think of the affirmation and self-confidence that would ignite) and hats off in #38 for the Golden Monkey Cube puzzle which works really well, encouraging a spatial awareness and pattern recognition which I so woefully lack. There will be no shop-floor competitions: I will not lose to an eight-year-old. Similarly, I refuse to even mention Adam Murphy’s ‘Corpse Talk’ for it contains more moribund cleverness in a single panel than I have at my disposal in my woefully single brain cell.

So listen! You love comics, you want your kids to love comics and, yes, we stock oodles and boodles of prime graphic novels they’ll love. But how much more exciting would it be to fire them into a weekly frenzy which you can join in with too?!

You can try our samplers and sign up to THE PHOENIX online if you want by taking out a subscription! But if you shop with us regularly, why not take out a standing order for your kids here instead? We can also order back issues for you – just let us know! You don’t have to pay up front, just whenever you collect, and you can cancel if ever you want.

[Editorial warning: you will never want to cancel. THE PHOENIX is utterly addictive. Damn. Should probably not have mentioned that. As you were. Were you? I know I was. Shhh.]

I will do everything in my power to make this generation-spanning genius the most mammoth success, short of sucking on an actual mammoth’s mouth. They are so ICKY!

Within their first ten minutes on display customer Justin Cook had cleaned up a copy then ordered it regularly for both his children. He said that they loved it. Also (I don’t quote but it’s close): “All those comics for kids on display in supermarkets with plastic toys attached are bloody awful. Truly abysmal. This, on the other hand… this is on another level entirely. Can I have my wallet back, please?”

No.

SLH

Buy The Phoenix #37 and read the Page 45 review here

Angelic Layer Book 1 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Clamp…

Early work by the Clamp gang back in print for the first time in, well, forever. Arguably their first work to really feature what would become their distinctive art style as seen in CHOBITS and TSUBASA too, with much in the way of dramatic posturing and gesturing. Think of it a bit like Stephen just having slurped his second coffee and hamming it up… errr… I mean extemporising a review… on the shop floor to a captive Saturday afternoon audience (really, he’s blocking their route to the door) and you’ve nailed it. What a dramatis personae eh?

Seriously though, it’s really nice stuff and just the sort of material budding manga artist should be studying closely. Along with BAKUMAN of course, just so they know exactly how little chance they have of succeeding…

Whilst this work takes place in the same universe as CHOBITS and you also get appearances by many of the main characters from TSUBASA including Blanche the angel you can’t really call this a prequel, despite it saying exactly that on the back. To me it is more of a proto-version, particularly of CHOBITS, dealing with toy-like robots and much other general weirdness. It is a battle manga of sorts too I suppose, but also has much to say about human emotions and relationships too. Clamp fans will love it, others might be better off starting with CHOBITS and TSUBASA then moving backwards on to this, if you see what I mean.

JR

Buy Angelic Layer Book 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Penguin: Pain And Prejudice s/c (£10-99, DC) by Gregg Hurwitz, Jason Aaron & Szymon Kudranski, Jason Pearson…

“Wah wah wah.”

Deliciously nasty, blubbery little slice of the Bat villain who has probably become the biggest caricature of himself over the years at the hands of various writers and artists. Never mind Burgess Meredith! Rarely, if ever, has he been written and indeed drawn with such malicious glee as here by Gregg Hurwitz and Szymon Kudranski. As I finished reading I was literally thinking the only other time I’ve ever actually seen the character given such disturbing depth was the Jason Aaron / Jason Pearson tale that was collected in the JOKER’S ASYLUM series, when lo and behold I see they’ve thrown that very story in for good measure in the back of this collection. A great little bestial bonus.

Yes, you would certainly be forgiven for thinking that were one to find oneself on the wrong end of any of the various rogues’ gallery of Bat-villains, that the porky little pensioner with the protruding proboscis would be the one who you would have half a chance of escaping unscathed from. Not so, not so, as this chilling tale makes all too painful clear for the Penguin is a man who believes in revenge best served blast-chilled at veritably Antarctic temperatures, so cross him at your peril. He’ll pick your life apart piece by piece, leaving you a gibbering wreck, without leaving so much as a flipper of evidence to indicate he’s the one taking quietly sadistic pleasure in your mental destruction. Your savings will mysteriously disappear, evidence will be planted at your workplace that you are a vile pervert, loved ones will die inexplicably and horrifically, and what’s worst is this will all have happened in the few minutes whilst the Penguin is recounting it to you, morsel by morsel. Scarce wonder therefore that most then choose to end their own lives shortly thereafter.

Yes, you’ll certainly not be thinking of Oswald Cobblepot in the same light after this story in which, when he’s got a spare minute from wreaking destruction upon innocents who he believes have slighted him, we learn more about how he became the tough old bird he is now. It’s a heart-rending story but you’ll find it rather difficult to have much sympathy for him by the end. I actually enjoyed this just as much as the classic Azzarello & Bermejo THE JOKER, which is saying something.

JR

Buy Penguin: Pain And Prejudice s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Uncanny X-Men vol 3 h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Greg Land, Billy Tan, Dustin Weaver.

“We have the Creation Engines. Woman’s work is women’s no more. No need to have them cluttering up the place with their bodices and general frilliness.”

Ah, dear Mr. Sinister. He’s turned into quite the aesthete and contradiction: you wake until the blast-from-the-past punchline.

This is the first AVENGERS VS X-MEN tie-in to be released, and just the first half of Gillen’s UNCANNY contribution to the event involving a lot of biffing and banging over young, redheaded Hope whom everyone assumes is going to be the receptacle of the Phoenix Force which is heading towards Earth with all the ill omen of Halley’s Comet and an infinitely greater capacity for pestilence and death.

Where this really grows interesting, however, is with the diversion deep below the Earth’s surface where Mister Sinister has created a very different sort of London underground and finding his own top soil infested with Moloids who are simply ruining his lawn.

Almost everyone there is Sinister, even if they don’t see eye to eye, but then as he points out, “Sinister is a system. And rebels against the system are also part of the system”.

The pencilled art there by Dustin Weaver is splendid and coloured in stark contrast to the preceding testosterone with gentle, countryside hues by Jim Charalampidis, while the architecture is a grandiose mix of Italian Renaissance and mountain-top Bavarian. A little incongruous, perhaps?

“Oh, please! Who doesn’t love a castle?”

SLH

Buy Uncanny X-Men vol 3 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself Fallout s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen, Robert Rodi & Whilce Portacio, Pasqual Ferry, Richard Elson.

“Did you bring us anything, Dad?”
“Little Gudrun, I brought you the greatest gift of all. I brought you a story.”

Hear ye, hear ye! The best fantasy comic currently in town! And it’s funny!

Ignore the fact that it’s published by Marvel, in exactly the same fashion that SANDMAN came from DC. Exactly the same fashion. The comic’s a comedy. It’s also a blood-soaked high fantasy ripe with mystery and matured mythology. It’s a rollicking, full-blooded entertainment. It’s a battle of wits contested by a right royal cleverclogs, and written by another one too.

Its star is a Loki reborn as a boy with no memory of his former self, sponsored by Thor yet distrusted on all sides by those whose memory is all too vivid. He’s not interested in perpetrating evil, but the successful execution of a meticulously laid plan, acquiring leverage with cleverage in this case to save Asgard and Earth from the Asgardian Serpent. In the first half, FEAR ITSELF: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, young Loki gathered all his pieces in a manner which left us wondering what on earth they were all for. Here he moves them all into place, and when he finally makes his play I can promise you so many smiles of admiration both for the little tyke trickster and his author.

It’s written with a real love of language enriched with a singular wit, and when the dark lord Mephisto takes the stage, he frankly steals the show. Far from the two-dimensional soul-stealer of yore, this debonair devil (“I have the most luxuriant sideburns in all creation”) is a bon viveur with a penchant for power but also for pretzels. He’s an iconoclast who loves messing with minds and mocking the misfortunate from a position of relative impunity. Here he’s telling a barman about his trip to the Infinite Embassy created by Living Tribunal:

“They say that all realities’ Embassies are one and the same, and if you know the way you can emerge anywhere and anywhen. Which just proves that gods and demons are just as likely to make up myths about things they haven’t a clue about. But everyone agrees on one thing. You come in peace. Otherwise, the Living Tribunal gets a tad touchy… and, generally speaking, unless you want your existence privileges revoked, that’s a bad idea.”
“Is he… God?”
“Oh, you are just so cute. I could eat you up with a spoon. Maybe later… No, he’s not God. He’s just the biggest kid in all the playgrounds. And if he knows the principal, he’s not exactly chatty about it.”

It’s all about stories and storytelling. That is, after all, how Loki achieves his goals: spinning the right yarns to the right entities in exactly the right fashion. Volstagg’s tall stories told to his children are an exuberant joy. But back to the action – and there’s plenty of that – as Loki and his motley crew must navigate the halls of a far darker Asgard in order to, well, tell another story. You’ll see. Unfortunately the opposition is considerable.

“We need a distraction. Destroyer? Act in a suitably eponymous fashion.”

SLH

Buy Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself Fallout s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Daredevil vol 3 h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid, Greg Rucka & Marco Checchetto, Chris Samnee, Khoi Pham…

“For the first six months I knew Mr. Franklin W. Nelson…”
SNNNNOOORRREEEKKZZKKK
“…I hated him. I called him Foggy not because I thought he was dim, he was actually a brilliant student, but because to my ears, he was like a human foghorn.”

Waid wraps up his credulity-stretching plot concerning the Omega Drive with the aid of a Punisher / Spider-Man crossover, the relevant issues of which are collected here also. Megacrime want their new console back in time to exhibit at Nottingham’s GameCity, and if they don’t get it back, there’s going to be hell to pay. Well a hornhead at least. Then, just when you think it can’t get any worse for Matt, having put himself in the firing line of the veritable Who’s Who of crime cartels, syndicates and organisations he finds himself instantaneously… summonsed… to Latveria, to pay for his crimes. The punishment, well, it’s quite specific and rather ingenious to say the least.

I’m still very much enjoying Waid’s lighter and more frivolous take on DD, I must say. It is relentless stuff still, in fact you can barely catch your breath at times, but it’s as cleverly written and has just as much emotion as the dark triumvirate of Bendis, Brubaker and Diggle/Johnston managed, but with a more sprightly sense of fun too at times, neatly complimented with some very pretty art, this time around by Checchetto, Samnee and Pham.

JR

Buy Daredevil vol 3 h/c 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.

 

Wasteland vol 7: Under The God (£10-99, Oni) by Antony Johnston & Justin Greenwood

Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation2 (£13-50, IDW) by Scott Tipton, David Tipton, Tony Lee & J.K. Woodward

Saga Of The Swamp Thing vol 2 s/c (£14-99, Vertigo) by Alan Moore & Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, Shawn McManus, Rick Veitch, Alfredo Alcala, Ron Randall, Bernie Wrightson

Modern Toss presents Desperate Business (£7-99, Modern Toss) by various

Sonic Select vol 6 (£8-99, Sega) by various

Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Promise Part Three (£8-50, Dark Horse) by Gene Luen Yang & Gurihiru

American Vampire vol 3 s/c (£12-99, Vertigo) by Scott Snyder & Rafael Albuquerque, Sean Murphy, Danijel Zezelj

American Vampire vol 4 h/c (£18-99, Vertigo) by Scott Snyder & Rafael Albuquerque, Jordi Bernet, Roger Cruz, Riccardo Burchielli

Once Upon A Time Machine (£18-99, Dark Horse) by various

Near Death vol 2 s/c (£10-99, Image) by Jay Faerber & Simone Guglielmini

Flash: The Road To Flashpoint s/c (£10-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Scott Kolins, Francis Manapul

X-Men: War Machines s/c (£10-99, Marvel) by Victor Gischler & Will Conrad

Ultimate Comics: X-Men vol 1 s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Nick Spencer & Paco Medina

Ultimate Comics: X-Men vol 2 s/c (UK Ed’n) (£12-99, Marvel) by Nick Spencer & Paco Medina,Carlo Barberi

Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Men s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Greg Land

Spider-Man: Lizard – No Turning Back h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Dan Slott & Giuseppe Camuncoli

Wolverine And The X-Men vol 3 h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Chris Bachalo & Nick Bradshaw

Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates vol 2 softcover (Uk Ed’N) (£12-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman, Sam Humphries & Esad Ribic, Luke Ross

Marvel Masterworks: Iron Man vol 2 (£18-99, Marvel) by Stan Lee & Don Heck

Marvel Zombies Destroy h/c (£18-99, Marvel) by Frank Marraffino, Peter David & Mirco Pierfederici, Al Barrionuevo

House Of Five Leaves vol 8 (£9-99, Viz) by Natsume Ono

Barbara (£14-99, DMP) by Osamu Tezuka

Page 45 has shed its skin!

We have a brand-new window display installed for us by Philippa Rice in time for GameCity7 right here in Nottingham’s city centre, and families are squealing in the street and then taking photos of it. We could not be more excited! So what’s it all about? GameCity in Page 45’s window!

 - Stephen

Page 45’s New GameCity Window!

Monday, September 24th, 2012

 

 

Oh my days: we’ve been invaded!

We didn’t put up much of a fight. Instead Dominique and I spent the whole day squealing and grinning ourselves gormless!

Welcome to the brand-new, all-singing, all-dancing, first-ever Page 45 window outsourced, and created for us by the monumentally talented Philippa Rice, comicbook creator of ST. COLIN AND THE DRAGON (all copies here both signed and sketched in for free), and MY CARDBOARD LIFE (they’re defaced and doodled on too!).

Discover more about Philippa’s first-ever window display INCLUDING TOP SECRETS on Philippa Rice’s own Flickr. Her photos are infinitely better than ours, and you’ll only find out there!

So what’s this all about?

It’s all about GameCity, specifically GameCity7 here in Nottingham’s city-centre Market Square from October 20th to October 27th. Independently minded and independently driven by Iain Simons with the aid of Chris White, it is for me the finest celebration of games culture in the world: all about interaction, the individual games creators and, this year in particular, education as well as entertainment. It draws into Nottingham thousands of culturally inquisitive games devotees and big-name games creators – a lot of whom end up shopping at Page 45. Page 45 is all about Independents and Independence, and that sort of tourism is invaluable to Nottingham.

Philippa Rice designed GameCity7’s online banners and very early on in our clandestine meetings, Iain, Chris and I decided it would be brilliant if we could reflect in our window what Philippa will be also building around their own hub come October.

Because yes, 2012 sees the first year that Page 45and GameCity are in outight collaborative cahoots and I could not be more honoured. I promise we’ve only begun.

Expect announcements shortly: big announcements involving signings by comicbook creators we have never played host to before and, if I were you, I’d probably plan to be in Nottingham between October 20th and October 27th. They will be doing GameCity stuff too – that’s why they’re here – and therein lies some clues.

Read Iain Simons’ own GameCity blog and see Philippa’s banners going up here.

 

 

Stephen: “Are you feeling all self-conscious in the window?”
Philippa: “No, but I am feeling a bit like Godzilla.”

No cardboard creations, alive or dead, were trampled on or harmed in any way during the making of this window. Except maybe my Clopsy. Poor Clopsy!

 - Stephen

 

Reviews September 2012 week three

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

I promise the shek’s in the post.

 - redacted from Stephen’s review of The Judas Coin. Mercifully.

Wet Moon vol 6: Yesterday’s Gone (£13-50, Oni Press) by Ross Campbell.

GHOST WORLD for goths with pvc, piercings and hair dye – that‘s how WET MOON started out: an empathic exploration of the uneasy friendships between a group of hesitant, second-guessing, slightly paranoid girls at college, and a celebration of their far-from-standard body forms with the silkiest, most tender of art. Over five previous volumes those friendships have expanded, blossomed or withered and died. Some have shared secrets, as do more here.

But all along there were intimations of heart-ache and horror lurking beneath the surface, as if something was simmering in the swamp all around them… and then someone stewing within. In WET MOON VOL 5 she finally erupted, her seething psychosis taken out on one of those women in act of extreme violence which made everyone I know truly wince. This is the emotional fall-out, and it’s handled with the depth it deserves.

So many other creators would have cut all too quickly to the chase – the pursuit of the culprit concerned – but that’s not what happens in real life. Instead they are left dazed, bewildered by a butchery they could never see coming and oblivious to its source. All they care about is their friend. She’s the only person who knows who did it, and I’m afraid she’s deep in a coma.

Six volumes in, I have to be ever so careful what I say, but I hope I’ve intrigued potential new readers. I love this series so much I’ve reviewed every volume and this isn’t my best shot, I know.

Everyone handles grief differently, unpredictably, depending on where they are right then in their lives. Ross Campbell has entirely understood that. His humanity and sympathy leaps from every page. No one is judged, and as they struggle to console each other whilst needing consolation themselves, we wait for our woman to wake up. Will she?

“I hate this waiting, Mara. Waiting an’ waiting for somethin’ to happen. Takes so much energy.”

Lots of lingering silence and exceptional use of clothing. Again: far from predictable. Not everyone wears their true hearts on their sleeves.

SLH

Buy Wet Moon vol 6: Yesterday’s Gone and read the Page 45 review here

7 String vol 1 (£9-99, zetacomics) by Nich Angell >

I’ll start with the art because it’s very, very pretty. In fact we decided to stock the book almost as soon as we saw it just on that basis. Nich’s art is “manga-inspired” along with the big shoes pointy and hair lines, and is very clean and crisp; satisfying to look at on the page. The style of colouring would probably be too bright on shiny paper and in a traditional palette, but the matte paper and pastel shades give it a really gorgeous look. There are some fairly intense chunks of background details in some places which put me in mind of KING CITY and even some Paul Pope panels. Nich clearly has a good grasp on the mechanics of comic books in terms of layouts, well timed splash pages and storytelling.

The story is pretty cool with some classic fantasy-epic elements: a young hero finding his way, factions heading for war and a very bad dude manipulating all behind the scenes. What lifts it up above the average could-be-an-installment-of-final-fantasy story, though, is the musical allegory which runs through the universe and defines everything from the names of the factions to the weaponry and fighting styles they use.

The universe, we are told, is suffused with and sustained by an overarching melody which, when played right, keeps everything in balance. Sounds silly when I explain it but, when described in the first part of the book it makes for an intriguing backdrop, an interesting reframing of the human condition which is, after all, what so many of our fantasy stories are. I was particularly impressed with this prologue-y, narrated part of the book. It’s a device which is often used so badly it sets my teeth on edge, but here I though it worked well, setting the groundwork for the story and helping to explain the strange universe it is set in.

There was the odd bit of bad punctuation and on a couple of occasions the language skirted on the grandiose but I have seen far worse sins committed by much more experienced writers so it’s pretty hard to hold those few minor blips against Nich. In fact the whole book is so big hearted and engaging that I hesitate to pick fault because I am so looking forward to the next installment.

I would say this is a good book for fans of fantasy, fighty manga, Scott Pilgrim… which I think covers pretty much everyone so that’s good news! Also did I mention very, very pretty?

DK

Buy 7 String vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

The Hive h/c (£12-99, Jonathan Cape) by Charles Burns.

“What didn’t I tell her?
What parts of the story did I leave out?
I wanted to tell her everything. I wanted to tell her the truth.
…And I tried… I really did.”

The book of nightmares continues. The first instalment, X’ED OUT, freaked me out, playing fears that feature frequently in my dreams: food you really shouldn’t eat, holes that shouldn’t be there, getting hopelessly and helplessly lost only to be misled further by strangers. I don’t know what happened to the missing stairs, filthy latrines and my teeth falling out on the floor. Maybe they’ll be in book three.

Still, there’s more of that here in Doug’s head where he delivers romance comics on a metal trolley to bedridden female patients, pushing the cart down endless, roughly hewn tunnels in a semi-industrial warren prone to unseen accidents that render certain off-limit areas toxic. Apparently there was screaming in the late hours last night. It came from Cindy’s cubicle, and it went on for hours… until it stopped.

Meanwhile in his waking world, Doug is recalling his courtship with raven-haired Sarah: a stroll in windswept, autumn-leafed park where they picked up sixties’ romance comics from an old man at the flea market. Sarah was delighted at the find. Doug bought her the lot, and it bought him a kiss.

“You know what? That was really sweet of you. I know you think these are stupid, but… but wait.. here’s where you stop and kiss me… just like they do in the comics.”

“My kiss was awkward and clumsy,” recalls Doug. “But she made up for it… She made it perfect.”

The evening too seemed perfect, a simple dinner together back at Sarah and Nicky’s. Nicky was out, at band practice. But Sarah… Sarah is a little more fragile than she looks.

There’s more about the buzzer and the threatening voice behind it, as well as Doug’s stage performances behind a Tintin mask. More of Doug’s Dad too. Oh yes, and those photographs.

But it’s the romance comics that particularly fascinated me this time: the search for missing issues, and speculation on what must have happened in the gap. For those of us reading comics before the birth of the collected edition that’s got to ring bells, as well as dreams in which you finally fill your gaps at a second-hand stall – gaps that in real life might never have existed. The comics are in Japanese so it’s even more difficult to fathom what happened, and they’re drawn unmistakably by John Romita Sr. – Burns nails both the composition and the man’s brush strokes. The hair is quite perfect.

For those vaguely mystified for this somewhat allusive and, yes, elusive review, please see X-ED OUT. Or indeed Burns’ most famous, self-contained work, BLACK HOLE: he really is the very best at body horror.

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

Legends Of Zita The Spacegirl (£9-99, FirstSecond) by Ben Hatke.

“You think I’m a hero.”
“I think you’re just like the rest of us. Just trying to hold things together while you find your way.”

A drop of water “plips” from a leaking pipe into a battered old bucket that threatens to overflow. So much for state-of-the-art spaceships.

“But I also think the role suits you. Back at the station I saw it first hand. You shine in a crisis. And you inspire loyalty.”

Zita surely does inspire loyalty and shine in a crisis… which is just as well! There’s a enormous swarm of giant Star Hearts heading towards Lumponia, threatening to strip the planet to bedrock. With multiple, mucus-green eyes and savage, rotten teeth, they are an unstoppable puce-pink plague and there may be nothing Zita can do because Piper and the gang have blasted off without her! Why would they do that…?!

Like most surprises, good or bad, it all begins in a cardboard box: a cardboard box dumped on a waste tip outside the city walls. Out of it struggles a raggedy robot, wobbly and more than a little bewildered. It’s roughly the size of a girl.

High above Piper is pulling in the crowds by putting on a show, presenting, “Zita! The girl who saved Scriptorius!” She’d rather not come out. But she has hundreds of fans drawn by the posters plastered all round the city, even down by the waste tip and the robot has seen one. It’s… intrigued. It finds an old mop head and uses it as a wig; it finds some green and white rags it finds in a trash can, a bucket of black paint and a brush. Slowly but surely it begins to look just like Zita and, when the two bump into each other it, finally morphs into an exact replica. Zita can’t believe her luck: the robot can take her place for the duration of the show while she and Pizzicato, her giant, sign-languaging mouse go off and have fun!

Hmm, great idea. Except that the robot is an Imprint-o-Tron, a model of mechanoids able to mimic with ease, but with one big drawback: they tend to over-fixate, really growing into their roles and rather reluctant to give them up. Also, that cardboard box had been dumped with good reason: the entire line has been recalled! Uh-oh, Jungo!

Brilliant sequel to ZITA THE SPACEGIRL which had me chortling until I choked. Some great gags and much mischievous rivalry between our space-faring gang. Also battles! Big, bombastic battles, and a few hints for the future as we meet Madrigal who remembers our Piper all too well, and she has a surprise of her own for him. It does come in a box, yes.

SLH

Buy Legends Of Zita The Spacegirl and read the Page 45 review here

The Adventures Of Julius Chancer: The Complete Rainbow Orchid (£14-99, Egmont) by Garen Ewing…

Fans of a certain bequiffed Belgian lamenting the lack of new material (since Hergé sadly passed away in 1983 – read all about his own eventful life in THE ADVENTURES OF HERGE) no look no further as Garen Ewing has created a character in Julius Chancer who captures the classic ligne claire illustrated Boy’s Own adventure style that Hergé made his trademark for so long.

There’s a mystery to be solved and a rare orchid to be retrieved from the lost valleys of India to save a man’s honour, plus a distressed damsel or two to bowl over along the way. And it’s up to Julius Chancer, historical researcher and assistant to the retired Indiana Jones-like legend that is Sir Alfred Catesby-Grey, to seize the day and make a name for himself! This is great fun with a charming end of (British) Empire era feel to it that simply adds to the appeal. This album-sized work collects what originally appeared in three separate volumes, and it’s an enthralling all-ages read.

JR

Buy The Adventures Of Julius Chancer: The Complete Rainbow Orchid and read the Page 45 review here

Crossed: Wish You Were Here vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Avatar) by Simon Spurrier & Javier Barreno…

“You think you’ve seen everything. You’ve been through the mill, you know? You’ve been traumatised, fucked-up… you’ve been more frightened than one crispy little heart can bear…
“”But at least,” you tell yourself… “At least nothing’ll ever surprise me again.
“Then you glance up at the wrong moment and spot a bloke lungfucking a dolphin while screaming for his ma.”

Which is the opening page of Si Spurrier and Javier Barreno’s stab at getting the CROSSED franchise onto less disturbing ground…

This volume, which really could have had an additional sub-sub-title of “Bloody Glad I’m Not”, collects all the freely available webcomic material to date that the duo have been pumping out weekly on Avatar’s website à la FREAKANGELS. Now, I was a massive fan of volume one of CROSSED as penned by Garth Ennis and pencilled by Jason Burrows. Utterly vile wrongness, yes, but hilarious utterly vile wrongness, and thus just staying within the tightly stretched bounds of acceptability, if not good taste. Volumes 2 and 3 penned by David Lapham, minus the humour, well, I really didn’t care for them at all. Happily, though, the current ongoing series, penned in turn by Ennis, Jamie Delano and currently Lapham (who has clearly been told to wind it in, at least a little bit, I suspect) is getting the franchise firmly back on track. This material, I’m delighted to say, is very much in the slashed vein of Ennis, and Barreno has certainly gone for a style akin to Burrows, who is probably my favourite maniac illustrator. No one does grinning insanity quite like him, I must say, though Barreno is right up there too!

This material succeeds certainly because it has humour, but also because of the taut, claustrophobic episodic feel. Whereas characters in the CROSSED world have always been completely disposable – and rest assured the whole cast most certainly does not make it through volume one of WISH YOU WERE HERE intact – Spurrier has created a very credible rag tag bunch of survivors who have managed to make it to the relative safety of the Shetlands. It says much for the use of the word relative, that whilst in my fanboy head I would like to think I’d stand half a chance of surviving in the world of the WALKING DEAD, there is absolutely no way I would even want to think about being stuck in the living hell on Earth that is the world of the CROSSED. No sir.

You don’t need to have read any of the other CROSSED material to <ahem> enjoy this, in fact it would be a perfect jumping in-point to the boiling cauldron of insanity. The first page is probably the most shocking, so if the sight of man making somewhat unorthodox use of a dolphin’s blowhole doesn’t disturb you too much, you’ll probably make it through with your faculties intact.

JR

Buy Crossed: Wish You Were Here vol 1 s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Judas Coin h/c (£22-50, DC) by Walter Simonson.

When Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, he did it with a kiss, and it was for thirty pieces of silver.

Only when Jesus was tried and then sentenced to death did Judas attempt to return those shekels, but they were already seen as soiled: blood money, cursed. So Judas threw them on the temple floor and hanged himself. Good riddance.

Unfortunately there was no getting rid of the silver…

It’s a surprisingly short sequence in the New Testament but, oh, so powerful: the man who preached love betrayed by one his twelve closest confidants, and done so with the most intimate act of affection. No wonder the money which can’t buy you love was cursed – cursed to reappear like the proverbial penny and dooming all hellbent on acquiring it. Simonson has taken that idea and run with it, fusing it with DC legend and lore: the Viking Prince, the pirate Captain Fear, cowboy and quick-thinking mischief-merchant Bat Lash, right through to Batman and beyond…

It will come as no surprise to those familiar with Walt Simonson’s epic arc on THOR that the Viking sequence is one of the strongest here with massive visual flourishes like the giant Green Man statue carved from the most monumental living tree, but also the language:

“The susurration of the wind through the tree-tops is the only sound.”

The bucaneer episode is equally thrilling and frantically paced with great big Galleons and vast sails right from page one using the vertical axis for maximum, eye-piercing impact. On its last page alone the specific curse of the coin comes back into play several times over. Better still are Bat Lash’s multiple sleights-of-hand delivered with dexterity during “Ill-Gotten Gains” as an entire town sets off in hot-headed, post-poker pursuit of our man with the plan which he makes up on the hoof while admonishing the morons he fools. The colour art there is tinted with a sandy filter before arrestingly switching to stark black and white for the ‘Gotham Gazette’, an episode featuring Bruce Wayne, a newspaper seller and multiple broadsheet clippings.

There the silver shekel has resurfaced as part of a private collection exhibited in a public Museum and naturally one man above all others has set his skewed sights on acquiring it: one of Batman’s arch-enemies, Two-Face. Yet here’s the really clever bit: our coin-tossing criminal has spent his entire life understanding the odds – it’s what he does for an Obsessively Compulsive Disorderly living – and he’s the first to figure out the totem’s true nature. So the thin-skinned, fiery-tempered, dual-personality reknowned for going postal does so in a different, more deliberate and deliberated way.

Oh, very well done, Mr. Simonson! I can’t say I cared for the Roman chapter or really the bit in the future whose comicbook context I didn’t understand because I can’t know everything, can I? But I approached this book with minimum interest and left laughing heartily. Also with a new word: susurration. Expect it, now acquired as my own, in a new review imminently.

SLH

Buy The Judas Coin h/c and read the Page 45 review here

OMG!! Where Are My Shoes? card (£2-20, ) by Lizz Lunney.

A moment of sublime feline satori from one of Britain’s most sage socio-political commentators which you can send to your friends and help them understand what’s what in this world. It can be confusing, can’t it?

I have no idea why our intitial batch of Lizz Lunney cards didn’t contain this, or ‘Sorry to Hear You Got Old’ but they sold so well that we reordered. Lo and behold, two upgrades, and I am reliably informed by li’l Ms. Lizz that there are two brand-new designs on their way for 2013. I am so happy I could open the fridge door and get deliriously drunk by midday! Whoops, fait accompli! I leave you now with our default review on account of I can’t even feel my fingers.

FAQ: “Do you sell greetings cards?” WE DO NOW!

If Lizz Lunney was ever actually on a trolley, the cart has long since sped away, careered down the mountain and jettisoned Ms. Lizz into Page 45’s gratefully open arms.

These, then, from the creator of DEPRESSED CAT: NINE MISERABLE LIVES and all those shiny badges we mercilessly market like boiled sweets in a bowl right next to the till. And the delightful thing is that so many of these are comics: short stories told through sequential art! Each classy card comes matt in two or more colours, and enhanced with a slither of foil. Also, envelopes: you get a free envelope! I can’t tell you how much giving away free stuff sticks in my craw.

The cards weren’t in for five seconds before Jonathan bought ‘Congratulations! You’re Not Dead Yet!’ and ‘One Year Closer To Extinction’ for each of his parents. I’m praying for a week free from irony.

Please note: 10% Student Discount applies to these too in the shop, making them the most affordable greetings cards you will probably find around town. Neat, eh? Alas, unlike our DEPRESSED CAT books, none of these cards come signed. YOU HAVE TO DO THAT YOURSELVES!

SLH

Buy OMG!! Where Are My Shoes? card and read the Page 45 review here

Sorry To Hear You Got Old card (£2-20) by Lizz Lunney.

Yes, well, me too.

I just tweeted “Uh-oh, Chongo! It’s Danger Island next!” and no one had a clue what I meant. If you do recognise the Banana Splits call-out then I am sorry you too have grown old.

It wasn’t planned. I didn’t stick it in my diary or down on my to-do list. But then I never write “Get drop-down-drunk by midday!” Still, these things happen regardless, as I’m sure you’ll agree. I’m glad I made maximum use of my hair while I still had it: a great many colours and multiple styles of quiff. It was me that destroyed the ozone layer, and I am so, so sorry, okay? When you shave it all off, it’s the last hair style you will ever have. If you’re wise.

Anyway, penance. And I cannot thank Lizz Lunney enough for reminding me of my mortality in this beautiful card which I will send to all my friends in spite of the fact that they’ve weathered the temporal storm far better than I. The bastards.

I have no idea why our intitial batch of Lizz Lunney cards didn’t contain this or ‘OMG!! Where Are My Shoes?’ but they sold so well that we reordered. Lo and behold, two upgrades, and I am reliably informed by li’l Ms. Lizz that there are two brand-new designs on their way for 2013. I leave you now with our default review on account of I can’t even feel my fingers.

FAQ: “Do you sell greetings cards?” WE DO NOW!

If Lizz Lunney was ever actually on a trolley, the cart has long since sped away, careered down the mountain and jettisoned Ms. Lizz into Page 45’s gratefully open arms.

These, then, from the creator of DEPRESSED CAT: NINE MISERABLE LIVES and all those shiny badges we mercilessly market like boiled sweets in a bowl right next to the till. And the delightful thing is that so many of these are comics: short stories told through sequential art! Each classy card comes matt in two or more colours, and enhanced with a slither of foil. Also, envelopes: you get a free envelope! I can’t tell you how much giving away free stuff sticks in my craw.

The cards weren’t in for five seconds before Jonathan bought ‘Congratulations! You’re Not Dead Yet!’ and ‘One Year Closer To Extinction’ for each of his parents. I’m praying for a week free from irony.

Please note: 10% Student Discount applies to these too in the shop, making them the most affordable greetings cards you will probably find around town. Neat, eh? Alas, unlike our DEPRESSED CAT books, none of these cards come signed. YOU HAVE TO DO THAT YOURSELVES!

SLH

Buy Sorry To Hear You Got Old card 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.
The Phoenix #37 (£2-99, Phoenix Group) by various

The Nao Of Brown h/c (£16-99, Self Made Hero) by Glyn Dillon

The Hive h/c (£12-99, Jonathan Cape) by Charles Burns

Pearl Of Pandaria h/c (£18-99, DC) by Micky Neilson & Sean Galloway

Doctor Who: The Dalek Project h/c (£14-99, BBC Books) by Justin Richards & Mike Collins

Green Lantern Corps vol 1: Fearsome h/c (£16-99, DC) by Peter J. Tomasi & various

Penguin: Pain And Prejudice s/c (£10-99, DC) by Gregg Hurwitz & Szymon Kudranski

Winter Solider vol 1: The Longest Winter s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Ed Brubaker & Butch Guice

The Punisher vol 2 s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Greg Rucka, Mark Waid & Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano, Marco Checchetto, more

Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself Fallout s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen, Robert Rodi & Whilce Portacio, Pasqual Ferry, Richard Elson

Spider-Man: Spider-Island s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Dan Slott, Rick Remender & Humberto Ramos, Stefano, Tom Fowler

Uncanny X-Men vol 3 h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Greg Land, Billy Tan, Dustin Weaver

Daredevil vol 3 h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Mark Waid, Greg Rucka & Marco Checchetto, Chris Samnee, Khoi Pham

Invincible Iron Man vol 10: Long Way Down h/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Matt Fraction & Salvador Larroca

Lost Boys: Reign Of Frogs (£9-99, Wildstorm) by Hans Rodionoff & Joel Gomez

Wolverine: Goodbye, Chinatown s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Jason Aaron & Paul Garney, Renato Guedes

X-Men: The Wedding Of Cyclops And Phoenix s/c (£25-99, Marvel) by Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell, Glenn Herdling, Kurt Busiek & Richard Bennett, Andy Kubert, Aron Wiesenfeld, Ian Churchill, Mike McKone, John Romita Jr., Tim Sale, Ron Randall

Venom: Circle Of Four s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Rick Remender, Rob Williams, Jeff Parker & Tony Moore, Lee Garbett, Sana Takeda, Julian Tedesco, more

Until Death Do Us Part vol 2 (£12-99, Yen) by Hiroshi Takashige & DOUBLE-S

Higurashi vol 19: Massacre vol 1 (£12-99, Yen) by Ryukishio7 & Hinase Momoyama

Cardcaptor Sakura Book 4 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Clamp

Angelic Layer Book 1 (£14-99, Dark Horse) by Clamp

Berserk vol 36 (£10-99, Dark Horse) by Kentaro Miura

Yotsuba&! vol 11 (£8-99, Yen) by Kiyohiko Azuma

Fairy Tail vol 3 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima
Have you been in awe of CEREBUS over the years but perplexed by Dave Sim’s somewhat controversial statements? I have most certainly had issue, but kept my level head. Do you have a tricky question to ask him gnawing at your nethers? Then ask it!

Thanks to Tim Webber, we opened the doors with Dave Sim HARDtalk (it was a throw-away joke, but Dave liked it – full interview there online for free) but now you can blow them wide open and you may even get an original piece of artwork for yourself!

Dave Sim HARDtalk is going on world-wide virtual  tour, and if you click on that subclause you’ll see how you can get involved yourselves.

- Stephen

Reviews September 2012 week two

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012


Delirious instalment of Dave McKean’s POSTCARDS series (so far six in total), and all Page 45’s copies are SIGNED free of charge by the good man himself.

 - Stephen on Postcards From Perugia

Thief Of Thieves vol 1: I Quit (£10-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer & Shawn Martinbrough.

The magic of catching fireflies early evening with his son, who dashes through the penumbral woods into a low, golden-orbed sunset… That’s when Conrad Paulson AKA Redmond wakes up. Breakfast smells delicious.

“Morning.”
“You’re out of bacon.”
“Meant to go to the store.”
“Just eggs and toast, then?”
“Mm. Sounds good.”
“You want some juice?”
“Sure. Oh, and before I forget — You got a warrant?”

Oh, how I cackled when I read that. This is a book which won’t just surprise, it will astonish. Each smartly spliced scene in this classy crime caper has been meticulously arranged in far from chronological order for maximum gasps of “I never saw that coming”. It is easily the cleverest crime since CRIMINAL, and I love each slither’s subheading winks:

“What Goes Around.
Or, What Comes Around.”

“What Got Left Out Last Time.
Or, For Effect.”

Where to begin? Oh, right in the middle, I think. Redmond is the most notorious thief in modern American history, and Agent Elizabeth Cohen of the FBI is determined to catch him. That was her making breakfast, by the way, and we’re going to be calling him Redmond from now on because that’s what he wants: the reputation to spread. The problem Elizabeth faces is that Redmond knows how to dance, but she’s pretty nifty with the verbal fencing herself. Then finally a golden opportunity falls right in her lap: Redmond’s son, who hasn’t fallen far from the tree – he’s a thief too but with much less dexterity: he appears to have two right feet. Busted red-handed with kilos of stolen heroin, Augustus will be Cohen’s leverage. Wriggle out of that one, Redmond.

The dénouement is one big flash-flash of revelations spinning right back to the very first chapter and you’ll find yourself headed thataways immediately to re-read the whole thing with hindsight. It is watertight. So here we are, back at that beginning, which I review thus:

“I told you back then I didn’t need an assistant.”
Apprentice. You told me back then you didn’t need an apprentice. And you didn’t tell me we’d be sleeping together.”
“We’re not sleeping together.”
“But I think I’ve made it very clear we could.”

Meet young punk and single mother Celia desperately trying to clear her student loan by jacking cars. Redmond did. Meet her, that is. He caught her trying to steal the wrong car with the wrong tools, in the wrong way for wrong fools. The wrong car was his.

So the thief of all thieves gave her a quick lesson in grand theft auto, saved her from being mugged by her fence and told her she should totally give it up. She should do something else. And now he wishes he hadn’t, because now she has: she’s joined his team of international con artists and, boy, does she relish her roles.

I was asked last week by a most excellent customer whether this was like Brubaker and Phillips’ CRIMINAL. It isn’t – this is comedy not noir – but it precisely like BBC’s The Hustle and I love the art by LUKE CAGE: NOIR’s Shawn Martinbrough who plays it cool with most excellent timing. The set-up’s from WALKING DEAD’s Robert Kirkman while the first story arc here is written by Forgetless’ Nick Spencer. I’ve been suckered and sucked in – and so will you be.

SLH

Buy Thief Of Thieves vol 1: I Quit and read the Page 45 review here

Heartless h/c (£14-99, Ontario Arts Council) by Nina Bunjevac.

Kim Deitch is a big fan, and I’m far from surprised. On the very first page you’re greeted by a Los Bros Hernandez heroine with booted, Dave Cooper thighs as inked by Charles Burns – love-a that rocket!

And inside I would once more reference Dave Cooper with all the sexuality that comes with it, but this time given a distinctly Howard Cruse veneer completely with stippling, yes, but also homoerotic cowboys in bare-bottomed chaps, dancing on the spot-lit stage to an audience of awed gay guys. That is our Chip, vainly pursued by the middle-aged, chain-smoking, cat-faced Zorka, her tired eyes hooded, forever left hanging on the telephone. He’s also lustfully prized by hysterical, Divine-sized drag queen Fay, the nightclub’s receptionist, determined to stay sober against all her own expectations and failing in spectacular fashion after finding Chip without chaps – just a Native American head-dress – working his manful magic over an old woman’s breasts. Cue “Oh Momma!” meltdown as Fay resurrects her parental issues, hits the bottle and then the stage to tearfully sing, “Maybe this time…”

However, just when you think it’s going to be one long chronicle of romantic misadventures (and really, it is), Nina hits you with a pleasant surprise and then something decidedly more serious and political. Kim Deitch writes:

“HEARTLESS is just amazing! I laughed out loud a lot. It is chock full of great stuff and I’m hard to please! Nina Bunjevac’s art is a pleasure to look at. The writing is seriously demented, but in a totally brilliant, highly entertaining way. It is its own thing, imitating no one.”

SLH

Buy Heartless h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Message To Adolf part 1 h/c (£19-99, Vertical) by Osamu Tezuka…

This material was actually my own personal entry point into Tezuka many years ago, when I picked up this work which was then titled ADOLF – THE STORY OF THE 3 ADOLFS. Set between the 1930s and the 1960s in Japan, Germany and eventually Palestine, it tells the interlinked stories of three people called Adolf: Adolf Hitler, obviously, and a young Jewish boy, and his confused half-Japanese / half-German namesake and friend. Like many Tezuka works it combines several different genres: war story, thriller, mystery, even romance.

In other words, it’s a hugely real, rich and complex story about people and places. This is Tezuka’s great strength as a writer, his ability to make a vast and diverse range of characters really come to life, both in their dialogue and his relatively clean, simple yet wonderfully expressive artwork. His ‘more is less’ artwork style is definitely refreshing for those of us who can sometimes get slightly jaded of the incredibly detailed, technical and somewhat linear artwork of a lot of modern manga.

You only have to look at his portrayal of the moustachioed, maniacal Adolf where he perfectly captures the slightly unhinged manic ranting, fist-thumping look familiar from Hitler’s rallying speeches to realise just how clever and expressive an artist Tezuka is. But it’s the story that keeps you gripped with every turn of the page. As with many of his works, whilst it is eminently clear who are the heroes and who are the villains, there is much of the sense of an ongoing wider struggle between the forces of good and evil. Or perhaps more, as Tezuka would say, between enlightenment and ignorance.

Always through his deft handling we are brought to understand the human motivations and machinations of the personalities involved and how they arrive at the conclusion that whatever course of action they are taking is the correct one. Adolf is a fantastic story that draws you in and keeps you gripped right to the very end of the epilogue. One Adolf we obviously know what happens to, but it is the fate of the other two that keeps the reader compelled to keep on reading right to the bitter end…

JR

Buy Message To Adolf part 1 h/c and read the Page 45 review here

McKean: Postcards From Perugia (£11-50, Hourglass) by Dave McKean.

Delirious instalment of Dave McKean’s POSTCARDS series (so far six in total), and all Page 45’s copies are SIGNED free of charge by the good man himself.

The opening pages see you ascend and descend down the dark, narrow passageways of this ancient Italian city, the walls closing in as if swaying with vertigo, and you’re going to feel a bit giddy yourself, looking up through the arches or down steep, hill-top steps. Elsewhere Dave steps outside the city walls altogether or looks down from above, meandering through courtyards or into grand, open plazas, sketching the art and the art lovers it attracts, along with its citizens, its elaborate, hanging shop signs and restaurants.

Pencils, inks and free-form combos, along with a rich, thick charcoal, I think, these square, hardback pocketbooks summon the spirit of the places Dave McKean visits, paying tribute to their exotic inspiration. Please note: postcards not included.

SLH

Buy McKean: Postcards From Perugia and read the Page 45 review here

McKean: Postcards From Bilbao (£11-50, Hourglass) by Dave McKean.

Yet another hardback, pocketbook instalment of Dave McKean’s POSTCARDS series (so far six in total), and all copies here are SIGNED by the good man himself.

This one boasts the most beautiful, shiny, red and gold cover but – as we continue to advice – no actual postcards! These are sketchbooks.

Spain’s Bilbao is home to the legendary, gleaming Guggenheim Museum with its huge, ocean-liner profile, curved titanium-and-glass walls and, oh look, there’s Jeff Koons’ Puppy. Once more we are treated to those eating, drinking at chatting away, although I think my favourite might be the waiter looking across, arms hanging down, his chest thrust forward – immediate sense of weight. It’s either that or the empty bar stool and tall table at Café La Barmacia, which its delicately thin, single leg and knotted joints. I don’t know why; I just enjoyed the quality of the lines and could almost see it being drawn.

SLH

Buy McKean: Postcards From Bilbao and read the Page 45 review here

Aya: Life In Yop City s/c (£18-99, D&Q) by Marguerite Abouet & Clément Oubrerie.

An enormously fun and spirited fiction, this Anglouême 2006 winner tells of 1970s life on the Ivory Coast, “an Africa we rarely see – spirited, hopefully and resilient”.

Aya, 19, is studious and clear-sighted, with easy-going friends. Shame about the meddling relatives and neighbours.

For example, when not only is a baby boy’s paternity questioned but his maternity also, it leads to awkward bluffs and a quick return visit from the city to the family’s village in order to take photographs to show some family likeness. There aren’t any.

The thing is it is Adjoua’s baby boy (Bobby, named after Bobby Ewing – “I want him to be as kind as the one in Dallas”!), but it isn’t Moussa’s… which is a shame because Moussa’s parents are swimming-pool rich. But when Adjoua’s father, Hyacinte, continues to scramble round town frantically trying to find anyone resembling Bobby and claim him as a relative, he accidentally finds an almost identical match. Unsurprising since it’s the real Dad – but not the match he was hoping for!

This is charming on every level. Abouet neither patronises nor white-washes her cast: African men can be as unfaithful and manipulative (and women as gullible) as European and American men, but they can also have a heart of gold like Herv, a young man so skilled as a mechanic that the garage’s ailing owner wants to make him a business partner, if only he can learn to count and write. Also: African boys can have haircuts that enrage their fathers too!

Marguerite here makes a conscious effort to celebrate her native country’s people, their customs and kindnesses – particularly when it comes to the extended family of friends and neighbours who share the burden of nurturing children – whilst clearly showing the human traits and tendencies that we all have in common. It’s a thriving city too, not a dessert of famine and disease and gunmen out of control. It’s populated by roadside traders and the affluent middle class, and under Oubrerie’s crisp and detailed line it is both bright and beautiful with the most vibrant of colours, whilst his expressive cartooning lends the proceedings a comedic joy.

The dialogue is full of inflexions and exclamatory expressions delightfully different after reading thousands and thousands of comics set in America, Europe and Japan, and I thoroughly recommend a quick skim of the one-page glossary before proceeding so that you understand the wider social significance of words like “Tantie” and “Tonton”, which are indeed informal words for “Auntie” and “Uncle” but also “used to show respect or affection when talking to an older woman or man”.

There’s far more going on than that single strand involving Bobby and Adjoua – oh, there are secrets galore! – and, while this edition contains all three previously translated books, Drawn & Quarterly have promised a further bumper volume translating the fourth, fifth and six French stories for the very first time.

SLH

Buy Aya: Life In Yop City s/c and read the Page 45 review here

Dal Tokyo (£25-99, Fantagraphics) by Gary Panter…

Hmm, I should probably begin by first explaining precisely what Dal Tokyo is. Set in the distant future, Mars has been terraformed by Japanese and Texans (thus the Dal being appropriated from Dallas and the resultant cultural fusion – well, having been blended together by a 40-st food processor might be a more appropriate choice of words – is pretty much as you would expect: utterly insane. Thus the first four pages are transparent tracing paper showing, respectively, plans of the 1930 Tokyo Rail System, a map of the Upper Triassic Thethys Sea, a map of the Texas Highways (no date), a map of Martian canals as observed from the Lowell Observatory in 1896, all layered up over a sketch of Martian topography.

Mad.

If you’re wondering why Texan and Japanese, here is Gary explaining his rationale:

“Because they are trapped in Texas, Texans are self-mythologizing. Because I was trapped in Texas at the time, I needed to believe that the broken tractor out back was a car of the future. Japanese, I’ll say, because of the exotic far-awayness of Japan from Texas, and because of the Japanese monster movies and woodblock prints that reached out to me in Texas. Japanese monster movies are part of the fabric of Texas.”

Double mad.

This work collects the whole shooting match of strips from 1983 onwards and rather than begin to even try and explain Gary’s unique artwork, I’ve grabbed some interior art.

Triple mad.

The End.

Buy Dal Tokyo and read the Page 45 review here

The Manhattan Projects vol 1 (£10-99, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra.

“This is America… everyone gets a gun.”

It’s 1942 on the day the War Department hired child-prodigy turned physics-genius Dr. Robert Oppenheimer to join its quest to ensure that America is armed to the teeth. Officially tasked with building and deploying the world’s first atomic bomb, its actual avenues of exploration are far more esoteric:

“Dr. Seaborg and Mr. McMillan are currently mining something called pan-dimensional space for the fringe materials we need to build our impossible machines of expansion. For example – - We use divergence engines to recover mythological artefacts from discarded space. These are imaginary weapons made real through scientific exploration.”

That’d be the likes of Poseidon’s Trident. But they’re not the only ones who’ve been thinking outside the box, and as the War Department’s military commander enjoys giving thin, frail, white-haired Dr. Oppenheimer a tour of Base Zero (skipping swiftly past a familiar face locked in his own private laboratory), security is breached by a Red Torii gateway (“No doubt Zen-powered by Death Buddhists.”) delivered by a blazing Hinomaru and an automated invasion force sweeps in threatening to steal or destroy everything they’ve worked on so far. Entertainingly, however, the main action is intercut with the parallel lives of Robert and Joseph Oppenheimer, twins born six minutes apart, and their divergent paths through early study, experimentation and ‘areas of interest’ taking us right up to the present day. You’ll have to see why it’s so entertaining for yourselves. Neat punchline.

From the team behind RED WING, the art here displays a little bit of Frank Quitely, maybe a more fragile Geoff Darrow, while the terminology put me in mind of Matt Fraction’s CASANOVA. It’s not taking itself too seriously!

“Ever since the success of Pearl Harbour, the Emperor and his Warlords have gotten extremely aggressive. We’re even having to check every ream of paper that’s delivered to critical government offices after last month’s sentient origami incident. I saw the bodies, Doctor… Papercuts are no way for a man to meet his maker.”

True. If our Tom were a haemophiliac he’d be dead by now.

SLH

Buy The Manhattan Projects vol 1 and read the Page 45 review here

Incognito: The Classified Edition h/c (£33-99, Icon) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips.

Lavish hardcover reprinting both INCOGNITO and INCOGNITO: BAD INFLUENCES, with extras in the back designed like a secret dossier, complete with folder tabs. These include every one of the sexy, painted, wraparound covers in all their logo-less glory, the alternative cover to BAD INFLUNCES #1 presented with and without distressed wear and tear. Also included: the original two-page intro/advert previously unreprinted, the art for essays plus loads of preparatory sketch work. Basically, Sean had some from

From the creators of FATALE, CRIMINAL and Sleeper, then, we present Zack Overkill! The Black Death! Zoe Zeppelin! Ava Destruction! It’s that kind of a book. Or is it?

“Remember how Doc was always working on some device that could slow down time, but he could never crack it?”
“Sure, yeah… The Fluxinator or whatever…”
“Yeah, but you don’t need a machine for that… just an office job… Nothing slows time faster than having to punch a clock.”

Well yes it is actually, for in a surprise move the CRIMINAL team once again plunged one fist into the superhero stomach whilst keeping the other firmly in the underbelly of twilight crime. Three years ago The Black Death (not on the side of the angels, no) had finally been picked up and slung into prison, whence he still managed to organise his crime and in particular the elimination of several members of his crew he felt were a threat. That included Zack and Xander Overkill, preternaturally strong twins who shared more than just an affinity for each other: more of a psychic link which meant they shared sensations from sickness to sex and a certain level of power between them. Xander was killed outright, but Zack was picked up injured and offered Witness Protection. For this he has to take pills that reduce him to an ordinary human being and work in an office where he’s largely ignored and forced to fit in with this fellow, dull office minions. He’s finding it difficult…

“Become part of society… right. That’s easier said than done. Because the only society I ever belonged to was a secret one.”

When Zack starts taking recreational drugs just to take the edge off the ennui, along with something else in order to pass the urine tests, there’s an unexpected side-effect that arises stemming from the fact that he no longer shares his power but now has it all to himself. Now he’s back on the rooftops, getting his clandestine kicks at criminals’ expenses and it just feels good, you know? But when an office co-worker susses out what’s going on and who Zack really is, he wants his kicks too, vicariously. Blackmailed by that co-worker into hitting a bank, it’s only a question of time before he attracts the attention of both sides of the crime war. Then another test-tube is decanted…

Sexy, sophisticated, superhero noir with that customarily rich internal monologue you’ve come to expect from Brubaker, and the subtle expressions and powerful lighting you all love Phillips for. Plus, on the landscape covers reprinted here, big splashes of bolshy watercolour action. The cityscape backdrop to the fourth cover was simply stunning, and his professor was as mad as you like.

For BAD INFLUENCES, I think I was channelling ace American soap-spoof, ‘Soap’:

Second series of superhero noir this time dealing with the infiltration of a criminal organisation just like the creators’ magnificent Sleeper. But the infiltrator here doesn’t have to switch sides. Actually he does, because Zack Overkill is now working for the good guys but before that he was idling in witness protection after switching sides from the bad guys. Now that he’s working for the good guys they’ve sent him to work for some other bad guys because the first person the good guys sent to spy on the bad guys switched sides. Will Zack switch sides too?

Meanwhile Zack’s now sleeping with the enemy (if you consider his original position, anyway) but it’s emphatically not a relationship so far as Zoe Zeppelin’s concerned. Oh, and Zack is targeted by an aged bomber who mistakes him for one of the other bad guys who once sent him undercover with another lot of bad guys who sussed out that he was indeed a bad guy but not once of theirs. He was a sleeper so they put him in a coma…

For sixty-six years! Can you even imagine? Going into a coma in your youth, then the next thing you know you’re waking up in a body that’s 80 years old?! That’d be such a dive that I’d start bombing too.

SLH

Buy Incognito: The Classified Edition h/c and read the Page 45 review here

Glory vol 1: The Once And Future Destroyer (£7-50, Image) by Joe Keatinge & Ross Campbell…

I should confess at this point that I was utterly unfamiliar with the Gloriana character prior to reading this, or indeed Ross Campbell’s art, never having read his own WET MOON or SHADOWEYES, which probably means I was not the ideal person to review this work!! Pressing on… you do get an ultra brief recap of Gloriana’s past, explaining her unique heritage and her previous run-ins with the likes of SUPREME, but this is definitely intended to be a new episode for the character, even though what has gone before has substantial ramifications in the here and now. Moderately entertaining, certainly nothing new or groundbreaking, but always nice to see a rather different art style employed on a ‘supes’ book.

JR

Buy Glory vol 1: The Once And Future Destroyer and read the Page 45 review here

Batman: Knightfall vol 3 ( New Ed’n) (£22-50, DC) by Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, Jo Duffy, Denny O’ Neil & Mike Manley, Graham Nolan, Bret Blevins, Ron Wagner, Tom Grummett, Jim Balent, Joe Rubenstein, Barry Kitson, Mike Vosberg, Mike Gustovich, Romeo Tanghal, Lee Weeks, Phil Jimenez, MD Bright, John Cleary.

“The third and final volume of the epic 1990s tale that broke Batman’s back, collected in full for the first time. Collects BATMAN #509-514, BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #29-34, DETECTIVE COMICS #676-681, BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #62-63, ROBIN #8-13 and CATWOMAN #12-13.”

There you go: “The epic 1990s tale that broke Batman’s back”. Not only can DC’s hype-monkey type “1990s” in the correct fashion which eludes almost everyone else, but she or he picks out the only salient / selling point about this over-gorged gimmick stuffed by multiple broth-spoiling cooks. No word on its quality (wisely), just the bare facts which is what it contains. As you can tell from the list, these new editions are twice the size of the old ones, DC having previously ditched the bits which would have helped you create for yourselves at least some degree of dramatic tension as you wondered whether Bruce could indeed reconstruct his life and spinal chord.

I’ve left sticking my crab-creating oar in (I was rubbish at rowing) until the last volume so that those blissfully buying these books from our website could do so without my jaded churlishness and – oh, I don’t know – quality control.

SLH

Buy Batman: Knightfall vol 3 ( New Ed’n) 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.

 

The Adventures Of Julius Chancer: The Complete Rainbow Orchid (£14-99, Egmont) by Garen Ewing

7 String vol 1 (£9-99, zetacomics) by Nich Angell

American Elf vol 4: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries Of James Kochalka (£18-99, Top Shelf) by James Kochalka

Sekeris: Metamorfx: Art Of Constantine Sekeris (£17-99, DesignStudioPress) by Constantine Sekeris

Legends Of Zita The Spacegirl (£9-99, FirstSecond) by Ben Hatke

OMG!! Where Are My Shoes? card (£2-20, ) by Lizz Lunney

Sorry To Hear You Got Old card (£2-20, ) by Lizz Lunney

The Chronicles Of King Conan vol 3: The Haunter Of The Cenotaph And Other Stories (£13-99, Dark Horse) by Doug Moench & Marc Silvestri, Ron Frenz, Alan Kupperberg, Ernie Chan

Crossed: Wish You Were Here vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Avatar) by Simon Spurrier & Javier Barreno

Dorothy And The Wizard In Oz h/c (£22-50, Marvel) by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

Green Arrow vol 1: The Midas Touch softcover (£10-99, DC) by Dan Jurgens, J.T. Krul, Keith Giffen & George Perez

Birds Of Prey vol 1: Trouble In Mind s/c (£10-99, DC) by Duane Swierczynski & Jesus Saiz

Brightest Day vol 3 s/c (£12-99, DC) by Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi & Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Joe Prado, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark

Batman: Arkham City s/c (£12-99, DC) by Paul Dini & Carlos D’Anda

The Judas Coin h/c (£22-50, DC) by Walter Simonson

Uncanny X-Men vol 1 s/c (£11-99, Marvel) by Kieron Gillen & Carlos Pacheco, Brandon Peterson

Fear Itself: Secret Avengers s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Nick Spencer, Cullen Bunn & Scot Eaton, Peter Nguyen

Essential Punisher vol 4 (£14-99, Marvel) by Mike Baron, Chuck Dixon & Bill Reinhold, Mark Texeira, more

X 3-in-1 Ed vol 3 (£12-99, Viz) by Clamp

Ikigami The Ultimate Limit vol 8 (£8-99, Viz) by Motoro Mase

One Piece vol 64 (£6-99, Viz) by Eiichiro Oda

MAJOR GLEEFUL ANNOUNCEMENT: as of this Sunday original Page 45 member Dominique Kidd has joined Jonathan and myself as full-time co-manager! Even though she’s been with us – on and off – for nearly eighteen years, Dominique has never been full-time before, and we are beyond grateful that she’s stepped in permanently now that Tom has gone part-time to become the next Gordon Ramsay.

In celebration we reveal Dominique Kidd’s brand-new staff profile!

 - Stephen

Reviews September 2012 week one

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012


For those in love, the worst sin is silence, inaction the absolute killer. The good news is that Courtney and silence are far from synonymous, but will she be listened to in time?

 - Stephen on Courtney Crumrin vol 2 Colour Edition

Also this week: Amulet vol 5!

Building Stories boxed set (£30-00, Jonathan Cape) by Chris Ware.

The biggest, heaviest chocolate box you will ever buy. Chocolates not included.

“This is not a playhouse, understand?”
“Yes’m.”
“No… it’s not a playhouse…”

BUILDING STORIES is constructed around a single, century-old, four-storey tenement house and its occupants: their pasts dredged up during their routine, day-to-day present with barely a hope for the future. From time to time the building offers up its own often whimsical perspective, and there’s also a bit of a bee tour.

Their stories are spun out in different directions within fourteen separate segments of this enormous boxed set: two hardcovers; a huge four-piece portrait that folds out like a games board; thick, broadsheet newspaper comics, several more tabloid-sized affairs and some assortedly formatted mini-comics. Naturally in Chris Ware’s diagrammatically obsessed hands, the back of the box is itself an entertainment, suggesting whereabouts in your own well-appointed living quarters you might “set down, forget or completely lose any number of its contents”.

Opening your own copy of this box that keeps on giving is like no other experience in comics, with colours that will dazzle, particularly the enormous broadsheet whose cover comes with the lushest of greens if a leafy, summer suburb in a well-to-do neighbourhood. The hardcovers alone would set you back thirty quid, so I have no idea how Cape can afford this. Still, just in case my euphoria is proving contagious, however…

“Whether you’re feeling alone by yourself or alone with someone else,” writes Ware, “this book is sure to sympathise with the crushing sense of life wasted, opportunities missed and creative dreams dashed which afflict the middle- and upper-class literary public (and which can return to them in somewhat damaged form during REM sleep).”

That’s a pretty accurate overview of this catalogue of lives lived alone, including if not especially the couple whose light in their love life has long since gone out. The man imagines bringing home an unusual anecdote to which she responds with interest… but instead can’t resist another in a long line of snide remarks designed to destroy her self-confidence, and it all goes irreparably wrong. Over and again his first, ill-considered jibe is, “You’re not going out in that, are you?” before, “Hey! Hey, I was only joking.” He’s the sort of guy who’s jovial on the phone before putting it down and muttering, “Asshole!” What a dick.

The tenants never speak to each other, just of each other when they are speaking at all. Instead they hear each other move about through paper-thin walls, increasing the boxed-in isolation, while the spinster who looked after the building while she still could, who failed to seize on romantic gestures she forgets were ever offered, now thinks of her widowed, bed-ridden mother she cared for until death.

“It must’ve been dreadful being confined to these walls, living under the footsteps of those able to go out into the world.”

It is a work of the most extraordinary empathy. Ware astonishes with his ability to put himself in other people’s shoes, as these individuals dredge up their pasts rather than face any future. As they do so we begin to understand why.

Its centrepiece is a new, slightly larger edition of the long-out-of-print ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY VOLUME 18 (review reprinted below).

At the end of the second hardcover, however, (a day in the life of the building’s inhabitants told in hourly updates) ACME 18’s still unnamed protagonist dares to find hope in an old friendship rekindled during a rare interaction. The tenement in its wisdom poo-poos her optimism for it understands the cold hearts of men and dislikes their disruptive intrusion. It knows Phil won’t call, and if you’ve already read ACME 18 by this point (there is no set order of reading but I suggest you start there), you too will fear for the woman whose only boyfriend up to that point left on a world tour without even saying good-bye. Well, he did say good-bye and also he told her he loved her. But he never came back and he never called it off, the coward. Its epilogue, then, is very well played. I’d look at the date quite carefully.

The epilogue also informs several more of the comics in ways which I never saw coming and I wonder how cryptic I need be? There’s certainly plenty for parents to ponder on here, for Ware is an expert on generational issues, of histories repeating themselves often with increasingly fucked up, quantifiable consequences – as JIMMY CORRIGAN amply demonstrated, and the Rusty Brown saga is in the process of proving. There nature and nurture worked in tandem to compound problems in early childhood which go on to manifest themselves throughout those sorry lives, and one fears for any of Ware’s fictional progeny. Absentee fathers are so often at the root of things, and even during this rare ray of sunshine, so unexpected, that cloud looms large on the horizon during the longest landscape mini-comic here, a comic which is emphatically silent.

Structurally apposite, it is time for a brief, comedic interlude and a look behind the building’s historical curtain to learn what it’s racked up over its 100-year history:

13,246 lightbulbs
68,418 orgasms
32,655,497 water drips
6 suicide notes
2 Heimlich Manoeuvres

The sequences seen from the building’s perspective boasts some immaculate narrative paths, up its stairs then down its corridors and out of half-open windows. It’s seen a lot of tenants come and go over the years, but we never expected one particular tenant to leave except maybe in an ambulance, post-pill-popping. That she had any future, let alone this one, is astonishing.

It is, however, in her nature to dwell, whether alone or not, and Ware recognises the pull of the past: paralysing remorse for things long past, hot flushes of guilt when struck by a sudden resurgent memory. Especially when it’s too late to make amends.

Mortality looms large here: there’s no avoiding it, whether its parents, pets or friends snatched out of the blue, and I think if Ware has something to say it’s appreciating whom and what you’ve got while they’re still there, whilst understanding how swiftly such moments of clarity can be eroded by new irritants, and how easy it is to let friendships get buried under the weight of day-to-day details while you totally loose track of time.

“”I just talked to her, like, a month ago*, you know?”
“Mom. Mom are you going to come back out?”
“I know… I know…”

* Actually, four months — Ed.”

Communication – or lack thereof – is another recurring theme. No one really listens to each other in Ware’s works, and so often here the relatively comfortable couple in their new suburban enclave sit opposite each other, absorbed in their own individual laptops or tablets which light up their faces, their attention focussed on anything and everything except each other.

BUILDING STORIES, as it says, “requires some assembly”, but the order in which you assemble then devour each segment is entirely up to you. As you do so you’ll find they do fit together, scenes in one component being revisited in others, shedding light on a scene you thought perfectly complete or after wondering what Ware was getting.

It’s all wonderfully indulgent, including The Daily Bee, a newspaper devoted to Branford, the Best Bee In The World, himself in a marital crisis born of way too much self-awareness and a moral conscience to boot. And then a window’s reflection of a flower fools him and, oh dear, bees are stupid, aren’t they? Also, in his mini-comic: why you should never drink out of a Coke can in summer.

Many, many thanks to Joe at Jonathan Cape for securing me a rare advance copy of the single comics project I have most desperately wanted to get hold of in my entire career. At the time of typing it is assembled in all its three-dimensional glory behind the Page 45 counter. Come in and gawp, we implore you!

Acme Novelty Library 18 (included in Building Stories)

“I am entirely, 100%, horrifyingly alone.”

From Chris Ware, Master Craftsman, his strongest work yet. A self-contained volume, it opens with a young woman lying alone on her bed, curled up all foetal, trying to block out her own black thoughts which go round in circles but which boil down to this: “Is it possible to hate yourself to death? If it is, I’m trying…”

Beds prove to be the way that she measures the phases in her life. In only two of them is she not alone: one at the apartment of the boyfriend she once had, one in her old room at her parents’ house, where she takes that boyfriend at Christmas. Now…?

“Whenever I go home, I sleep on a sofa bed, since my Mom turned my old room into an office a few years ago. I don’t mind, though… because it helps me keep all the pieces in place.”

And there she is at four different times of her life in four different places in that single room. Over and over again we see her lying largely on her back staring up at the ceiling, until the final, silent page plays itself out…

It is one long, adult lifetime of isolation and loneliness as she rakes over her memories, and you might notice I’ve used the words “she” and “her” rather a lot so far, because in so surprisingly few panels is she ever being talked to that I don’t think we ever even learn her name. Her mother calls her “honey” a couple of times, and the family she lives with briefly after minding their house for a year on her own, refers to her solely as “Nanna”. Otherwise she lies, sits or stands alone, boxed in by the panels like the ripe and colourful fruit boxed in at the market.

Flowers recur throughout the book as well. The first is a daisy-like flower which she plucks from beside her tenement’s stone steps, carries upstairs to her apartment, “arranges” alone in an old jam jar and then sits and stares at. (She is very sedentary, and with good reason, but since it only dawns on you gradually within the book, I’ll leave that for you to discover). She works at a florists, which she opens on her own, having been left a note by the owner/manager. There the blooms are splendid sprays of beauty and colour, the lilies like labia – and if you think I’m stretching things there, I can assure you I’m not and must warn you of one particularly explicit image here in case you leave it lying around the family home before reading it – in marked contrast to her own dowdy and sexless existence. Although she did have a boyfriend once, if you remember, and therein lies a secret…

Now, I’m very aware that all this talk of depression, loneliness and despair sounds like a bit of a downer. It is. It is, if that is your life through no fault of your own. For once, you see, Chris has created a character who is neither culpably repulsive nor feeble nor socially inept. This woman is actually kind, compassionate, and yet her treatment (when she is being treated at all) has left her entirely without hope for her own happiness or future. It’s a terrible existence and it is upsetting, but it is some individuals’ existence and well worth reading about. It’s certainly very affectingly accomplished.

As lavish and lovingly coloured as ever, the pages here are a contrast of fixed, ruled lines around soft, shapely bodies. It’s the very pinnacle of ligne claire. They also range from large double-page spreads as a tenement building charts its own history (“”It’s been a good life,” it thought, shedding a shingle”) to densely patterned pages of tiny panels, and herein lies my caveat for those unused to the trickier compositions of comics, for even I had to spend some time on a few of the pages pre-planning what order to read the maze of memories in. I’m thinking specifically of those spent as Nanny to the family’s son. These double pages are arranged around a central photograph. If you look closely you’ll see a few helpful directional lines, but mostly it’s a matter of simply reading the left hand page and then the right, rather than being seduced across the spread.

If this is your introduction to Chris Ware, fantastic. I try not to use the word “genius” in reviews except glibly, but you are about to be introduced to someone whose own power of imagination and level of skill equals, in its own unique way, that of Alan Moore or Dave Sim. At which point people right-minded do tend to use the word “genius”.

SLH

Order Building Stories (Boxed set) by Chris Ware from Page 45: available October 4th

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

Collection of mostly new material from one of comics’ self-professed mildly neurotic and slightly depressed creators. Not quite up there in the excruciating ‘I’d probably rather not have known that but I’m glad you told me’ honesty stakes of say, Joe THE POOR BASTARD Matt, this is still a very amusing and simultaneously enervating  look into the mind of a comics creator. Gabrielle perfectly captures the gently tortured soul of the OCD-afflicted procrastinator, we’re just fortunate that keeping a journal is one of her obsessions!

I wish I’d read the sections involving Anders BIG QUESTIONS Nilsen before he came to sign at Page 45 as I would have loved to ask him about his recollection of their conversations depicted here. I get the impression that if he’d been impolite enough to pro-offer an answer (which, knowing the mild-mannered, genial chap he is, I suspect he wouldn’t have), the response would have been ‘intense’. It’s alright though as I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the sense Gabrielle was intending to convey!

Unless you’re a serious aficionado and / or follower of her website, probably the only material in this collection you might have chanced across, if you were having a good forage in Mark’s alcove, is in her mini comic SAN DIEGO DIARY, detailing her experiences as an unexpected special guest (to her at least, she can’t understand why she was invited) at said Convention. I shall therefore, without further ado (other than the comment that I wish her publishers would get CECIL AND JORDAN IN NEW YORK STORIES and WHEN I’M OLD back in print forthwith) leave you with my review of that work…

“Those guys over there are discussing some movie rights deal. Everyone here is pursuing their fantasy, confined within this hypercapitalistic world…
“Is there anyone here who believes in creativity more than commodification? Who would walk away from the temptation and think for themselves?
“Like Alan Moore when he said, “I will not allow my name to be associated with this movie. This is not what I do.””
“Maybe only people who can afford to can make such a statement.”
“I don’t think so. I think somewhere in the world someone is happily drawing pictures in the sand on a beach and when the tide comes in and washes it away he draws a new picture the next morning.”
“That person doesn’t exist, capitalism reaches every part of the world.”
“I disagree, because I believe there is magic in the world.”

Ever imagine what a comic convention must be like for a lesser-known creator? For someone who isn’t one of the slavering fan-boy favourites? Well, wonder no more as Gabrielle Bell takes her friend Tom to San Diego to ‘enjoy’ the delights of Comic Con in all its gaudy glory. Insightful, amusing auto-biographical material finely pencilled in a style which is what probably Chester Brown would be exactly like after 6 beers. That is, of course, a compliment.

JR

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

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

Courtney Crumrin desperately needs help to save the innocent faun-like Skarrow from summary execution at the hands of The Coven Of Mystics. That information may rest in the shadows of Radley Hall and the mind of dead demon Tommy Rawhead. But how to get in? Leave it to mystic moggie and actual cat burglar Tobermory – he’s getting intruder window.

“As ray of moonlight passes glass, so shall Tobermory pass.
“Take a note, Miss Crumrin. It’s much simpler to trick a spell than to break it.”

Young Courtney Crumrin will be taking a lot of notes here about how the world works around her: it’s full of self-interest and hate in the human heart. For those in love, the worst sin is silence, inaction the absolute killer. The good news is that Courtney and silence are far from synonymous, but will she be listened to in time?

Love, love, love this series, now in full colour and the covers so far have been in potion purple and library green. Ted Naifeh’s moonlit Council of Cats is like Kelley Jones’ equivalent work in SANDMAN: DREAM COUNTRY after an infusion of Mike Mignola and a wide- and shiny-eyed dose of his own design flair for a Crumrin transformed into cat. That which she finds sheltering in fear from two arcane archers is quite magical and long been the stuff of my dreams. Naifeh does soft, sleek and otherworldly to perfection; his monsters are hideously twisted. He is exceptional at making you believe in impossibly large things lurking in improbably small cabinets, like the next one you’ll foolishly open.

Following COURTNEY CRUMRIN VOL 1, this finds our belligerent young lady in her second year at school and under close supervision from Ms Crisp, a teacher with close ties to Uncle Aloysius but who understands that isolating yourself from the real world comes at a cost. That is a lesson which will be most painfully learned by all.

A demon has been summoned which dispatches whole families. A curse has been placed on witch Madam Harker, rendering spoken words into a cascade of frogs. When she tries to write, her hands become wriggling serpents. Someone is silencing all and sundry, while a mute woodland creature called Skarrow seeks sanctuary in Uncle Aloysius’ once well respected domain. Instead the villagers move in, their metaphorical pitchforks in danger of becoming cold steel. What under earth is going on?!

It’s time to convene the Coven Of Mystics, the council by whom all will abide. Wrap up warm, my lovelies; I’m afraid it’s about to grow chilly.

SLH

Buy Courtney Crumrin vol 2: The Coven Of Mystics h/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

In which the cycle of violence is followed back to its most incendiary sources, and all-out war finally erupts while our heroes are still far from ready.

AMULET has long since stolen even BONE’s golden crown here as our biggest-selling series to young readers, and each new instalment is met with a chorus of excitable squeals.

An epic fantasy infused by the spirit and visual flourishes of Hayao Miyazaki (all his Studio Ghibli films art books in stock!), it all began when young Emily and Navin rushed to save their single Mum who’d been abducted into a world full of bizarre and often deadly creatures. Now they are stuck in the middle of a brutal war perpetuated by centuries of resentment and retaliation between the two nations and, as history now reveals, neither side can lay claim to the moral high ground. But Emily… Emily is beginning to suspect the conflict’s true source.

The landscapes are as majestic as ever, the library in the lake in particular: surrounded by pale, mist-shrouded mountains, the ancient Gulfen structure was built on the back of a gigantic stone sculpture of the Erlking, the Elf nation’s very first leader, his face masked like each king to this day. Speaking of Elf Kings, the current one has two fierce new weapons at his disposal: race-traitor and stonekeeper Max – who is a great deal older than the teen he appeared last volume – and his own ancient ally, the hideous spider-legged and dragon-winged mountain giant, Chronos. But what was that turned Max against his own people? Oh, how we reap what we sow!

High in the sky in the city of Cielis, the Nation of Windsor has its own disillusioned enemy on its side: Elf prince Trellis. Like old Vigo, Emily and Max, he too is a stonekeeper, able to wield its vast power both offensively and defensively. But here a new aspect to the mysterious Mother Stone is revealed: a shared dreamspace made up of the stonekeepers’ memories which, if adept, they can enter. And if it’s composed of memories, it’s possible to meet up with your past. It’s amazing what you can learn there, as Trellis is about to find out.

Oh, it’s all terribly exciting, with new, giant mechs for Navin to pilot as both sides clash in an aerial battle to thrill. Our heroes have accumulated quite the motley crew of allies in their journey so far, and they’re going to need all the help they can get. A shame, then, that not every weapon at their disposal necessarily has their best interests at heart.

“Does Max’s stone have a voice?”

SLH

Buy Amulet vol 5: Prince Of The Elves and read the Page 45 review here

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…

“So… we are not free! This has all been a dirty trick! I fix you… Major Taggart!”

No, not a biographical look at the colourful lives and loves of Frank Sinatra, Sammy David Jr., Dean Martin et al, but instead the reprise of another squad of Battle Action’s finest fighting men… and err… Ronald Weasel. The basic premise of RAT PACK being that their leader, one Major Taggart, needed a suicide squad of commandos to undertake missions that only the truly insane would countenance trying – or perhaps those facing long sentences in the glasshouse for committing military crimes.

Thus, in the first instalment after ‘helping’ his unlikely bunch to escape their prison, he reveals his offer: serve with him and probably die, rather quickly and undoubtedly painfully, or spend several more years in the clinky hole. It speaks volumes about the psychopathic tendencies of three of his choices, Kabul ‘Turk’ Hazan, Ian ’Scarface’ Rogan and Matthew ‘so hard I don’t even need a nickname’ Dancer, that they decided the first choice sounded somewhat better than the second…

The fourth, reluctant member of Taggart’s men, needed a little ‘friendly’ persuasion from Turk to enlist on this madcap scheme, rightly thinking that spending eight years in an uncomfortable but safe cell sounded the rather more prudent option. But, falling squarely into the role of comedy relief / punching bag, I always had a soft spot for the ‘expert safebreaker’ and master coward, Ronald Weasel. Always the first to try and run away from even the merest hint of any violence, yet contriving to save the day on a surprising number of occasions, even by accident once or twice, he added a certain slippery finesse to the rest of the nutjobs whose primary, secondary and tertiary motivations seemed to be kill, kill and kill, which was obviously precisely the reason the strategic genius of Major Taggart had specifically chosen him (and them).

I had great fun re-reading this, including the foreword by John Wagner, which clearly states nothing serious was ever intended by this strip, unlike CHARLEY’S WAR. Every week was a different mission, each more improbable and ridiculous than the last, the premise often lifted and barely disguised from various war films. I did chuckle actually when Wagner commented it was quite difficult to come up with something different every week, and therein probably lies its weakness in comparison to CHARLEY’S WAR and even JOHNNY RED. Or I guess even DARKIE’S MOB which had a definite beginning, middle and end to the story in its one volume. It’s great fun, but it’s really the war equivalent of the gag strip, with no ongoing narrative, other than the various pack members increasing desire to bump off Major Taggart. Still great fun, though, and brought back some fond memories reading this and chortling as a kid. Awesome art in places from Carlos Ezquerra and Massimo Belardinelli, though the odd guest artist looks like they’ve hacked their panels out in about two minutes flat, armed only with a blunt black felt tip! Still, Turk probably ‘fixed’ them as most of them didn’t seem to get invited back…

JR

Buy Rat Pack vol 1: Guns, Guts And Glory and read the Page 45 review here

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

“I see your future, and it is knee-bound, tear-faced and bloody-lipped. It sees your eyes dancing at the end of meaty cords and your tongue sore-crowned in the belly of a beast. You are in the hands of Loki. You are deep in the land of Hell. From where you will find yourself, you will not even be able to see mere misery. You will gift me secrets and I will gift you death. You don’t, and you will truly know Loki.”
“…”
“…”
“The scroll’s seal is released. Inside you will find details of all The Serpent’s plans for Hel.”
“Good. Your death will send the clearest messenger to your master. That there’s more to fear than he.”
[A bucket of blood sprays across the room.]
“Oh, ick. Though… “more to fear than he!” Oh, Tyr! I do so enjoy this villainous talk!”

There’s nothing else quite like this in comics right now: a sparklingly literate fantasy from a writer well versed in mythology and with such an evident love of storytelling that it put me in mind of Neil Gaiman. In the hands of PHONOGRAM‘s Kieron Gillen, Loki as a cunning, mischievous and eloquent young tyke is infinitely more interesting than he ever was as a bitter and malevolent adult. He’s naughty, irreverent, gleeful and funny and here on the side, if not of the angels, then at least of the gods. As Thor and Odin do battle against the Serpent and his minions in Fear Itself, young Loki gathers his wits to marshal his resources in the form of Mephisto, Hela et al. But the King of Hell and Queen of Hel are no mere pawns – except in the hands of the ultimate trickster. Indeed Loki manoeuvres each of his pieces across a board only he can see clearly with an ingenuity that will make your smile crack into a big, broad grin.

Loki’s guile, of course, is completely dependent on Gillen’s and Kieron is thinking right outside the box. The very idea that a shadow can be transported, and that wherever the shadow goes so much what casts it, is a brilliant way to smuggle something out of captivity. Similarly Loki’s early quest to find himself – quite literally – is both far from obvious, taking on the form of a most original treasure hunt. All this Loki must accomplish without true allies, for after his last lifetime as a liar, trickster and revolutionary, no one in Asgard, Hell, Limbo, Midgard or Hell trusts him. Only Thor acts as his benefactor, his protector in a universally hostile environment. He’s like a kindly foster father and it’s this new dynamic which first makes the book. Here Thor’s caught Loki texting on a Stark Phone he bought with the proceeds of gambling:

“… Were you cheating, Loki?”
“Yes! But they were too! Cheating was the game, and I triumphed unfairly most fairly.”
“I do not think I approve.”
“There was no harm! Unlike this! The humans of the internet are uncouth. When I said I was an Asgardian God, they called me a troll!”

Braithwaite judges the young lad’s expressions to perfection and Thor’s body language, leaning down conspiratorially as he points out Loki is half-giant, is actually quite touching. While we’re on the subject of Braithwaite, this is like nothing I’ve seen from him before, coloured as it is straight over his pencils, and full of the requisite eerie light for these fantastical otherworlds. It’s a book of intrigue, machinations and so full of surprises; also big ideas and a real love of language, as here when Volstagg, in defence of Loki, unexpectedly takes the blame for Thor’s escape:

“But why? You hate me.”
“I hate Loki. You have destroyed us all, time and time over. But… I have children, Loki. A great, prattling, squelching brood who exist to do nothing but create smells and trouble and joy. I love them all. And by the eternal droppings of Huginn and Munnin, I find myself sentimental about even the worst of you little monsters.”

Oh yes, sorry, there’s also a great deal of dung.

Most importantly, however, you don’t need to read FEAR ITSELF to enjoy this separately: Loki’s feast of deceit may be in service to the gods’ fight against The Serpent but it’s another quest altogether. Even though Marvel have called it something different this book is most emphatically JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY VOLUME ONE, and continues in what Marvel calls JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY: FEAR ITSELF FALL-OUT. That’s important because I should warn you that the story itself ends on a cliffhanger a couple of dozen pages before you’re expecting it to, followed as it is by pages of Marvel Thor history, interviews with Gillen and cover art etc.

SLH

Buy Fear Itself: Journey Into Mystery s/c and read the Page 45 review here

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

Top-tier and indeed top-shelf Mark Millar freely available again with its original non-movie cover. If superhero comics are wish-fulfilment fantasies for young men, then this is the ultimate superhero comic.

Wesley Gibson lets people walk all over him: he lets his bullying  boss walk all over him during the 9-to-5, dead-end endurance test he calls a job, and he lets his girlfriend walk all over him when she’s not shagging his best mate – so I guess his best mate’s leaving footprints across his badly bruised back as well.

Then one day the veil is lifted when he suddenly discovers his lineage, for his father was a master assassin – no, THE master assassin – from a cadre of supervillains whom nobody knows exist because they stole our memories both of themselves and of the heroes they’d slaughtered. Now they control the world behind the scenes whilst pirating other dimensions, but one faction amongst them’s growing reckless: someone who misses random cruelty and sadistic joy, and wishes to start dishing it out again. Probably should have begun before Wesley found out what he could do, because now he’s going to do it. In fact, now he’s going to do whatever he fucking well wants to whomever he fucking well pleases. The man has skillz.

Millar mocks us all in our mundane worlds, but don’t take offence, relish it. For those who like toilet humour, there’s a creature made from excrement that dishes out “death by dysentery”.

You’ll like the artwork too: spectacular. If J.G. Jones had drawn The Matrix as a comic, you wouldn’t have needed to see the film.

SLH

Buy Wanted 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.

 
McKean: Postcards From Bilbao (£11-50, Hourglass) by Dave McKean – SIGNED!

McKean: Postcards From Perugia (£11-50, Hourglass) by Dave McKean – SIGNED!

Dal Tokyo (£25-99, Fantagraphics) by Gary Panter

Incognito: The Classified Edition h/c (£33-99, Icon) by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

The Manhattan Projects vol 1 (£10-99, Image) by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Pitarra

Prophet vol 1: Remission (£7-50, Image) by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis

Thief Of Thieves vol 1: I Quit (£10-99, Image) by Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer & Shawn Martinbrough

Glory vol 1: The Once And Future Destroyer (£7-50, Image) by Joe Keatinge & Ross Campbell

Wet Moon vol 6: Yesterday’s Gone (£13-50, Oni Press) by Ross Campbell

Heartless h/c (£14-99, Ontario Arts Council) by Nina Bunjevac

Aya: Life In Yop City s/c (£18-99, D&Q) by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie

Judge Dredd: The Restricted Files vol 4 (£19-99, Rebellion) by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Mark Millar, Pat Mills, Alan Barnes & Peter Doherty, Henry Flint, Trevor Hairsine, John Hicklenton, Colin MacNeil, Mike Perkins, Bryan Talbot and more…

Aquaman vol 1: The Trench h/c (£16-99, DC) by Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis, Joe Prado

Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns s/c (£12-99, DC) by Geoff Johns, Tony Bedard, Peter J. Tomasi & Doug Mahnke, Tyler Kirkham, Fernando Pasarin, Ed Benes

Teen Titans vol 1: It’s Our Right To Fight (£10-99, DC) by Scott Lobdell & Brett Booth

Batman: Knightfall vol 3 ( New Ed’n) (£22-50, DC) by Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, Jo Duffy, Denny O’ Neil & Mike Manley, Graham Nolan, Bret Blevins, Ron Wagner, Tom Grummett, Jim Balent, Joe Rubenstein, Barry Kitson, Mike Vosberg, Mike Gustovich, Romeo Tanghal, Lee Weeks, Phil Jiminez, MD Bright, John Cleary

Thunderbolts: Like Lightning s/c (£12-99, Marvel) by Jeff Parker & Kev Walker

Ultimate Comics Ultimates vol 1 s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Jonathan Hickman & Esad Ribic, Brandon Peterson

The Stand vol 4: Hardcases s/c (£14-99, Marvel) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Mike Perkins

Message To Adolf part 1 h/c (£19-99, Vertical) by Osamu Tezuka

Bunny Drop vol 6 (£8-99, Yen) by Yumi Unita

GTO: The Early Years vol 14 (£9-99, Vertical) by Toru Fujisawa

Oreieo vol 1 (£8-50, Dark Horse) by Tsukasa Fushimi & Sakura

Chi’s Sweet Home  vol 9 (£10-50, Vertical) by Konami Kanata

The Melancholy Of Harui Suzumiya vol 1 (£8-50, Yen) by Nagaru Tanigawa & Gaku Tsugano

Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys vol 21 (£8-99, Viz) by Naoki Urusawa

Fairy Tail vol 10 (£8-50, Kodansha) by Hiro Mashima

Gunslinger Girl Omnibus vols 11-12 (£12-99, Seven Seas) by Yu Aida

Starstruck (£25-99, IDW) by Elaine Lee & Michael William Kaluta, Lee Moyer

Optic Nerve #11 restocks?! (£2-99, D&Q) by Adrian Tomine

 
Street art: some astounding optical illusions linked to by Emma Viecelli.

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?

Finally, a very important blog by Heidi MacDonald exposing the horrific internet stalkings of a particularly pathetic piece of misogynistic pondscum (tautology, I know) who – thanks to Mark Millar – may be about to receive his comeuppance. Let’s hope it’s a deterrent to others, and even if it’s not, it’s a start.

 - Stephen